The Gifts Part 38
For something that in the estimation of some was to have come and gone as quickly as a comet streaking through the sky, it would seem God wasted an inordinate amount of ink in His word discussing the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
We know that God is not the author of confusion, we know that often times in His word He goes out of His way to clarify certain things that may seem dubious just so we might be on a good foundation, on a right footing, headed in the right direction and seeking after that which He is able to give us rather than the unattainable or inaccessible.
For something that some claim came and went within the span of a single generation, something that was distributed without equality and with disturbing partiality, since it is claimed that only the Apostles had access to, and wielded these mighty gifts, one can’t help but wonder why God would inspire so much writing on the topic, and bring about the inclusion of these writings in His holy word.
Yes, I’m still discussing the notion of cessasionism because it highlights one of the most dangerous trends within the church today, that being choosing denomination over the truth of Scripture.
‘Well, I don’t believe in the gifts of the Holy Spirit, or that they’re still available to the believer, because my denomination doesn’t believe in them.’
But what does the Word have to say about it? What does the Bible say concerning the gifts, the presence of the Holy Spirit, and the power to which believers are rightly entitled?
We like to pluck a verse that hints at something we are inclined to believe from the Bible, then make an entire doctrine around that singular verse. Whether it’s the discussion on pre-tribulation or post-tribulation, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the need for holiness, men seem to find that one verse that if read at an angle, with one eye closed and the other squinting, supports their preconceived notion. What is disquieting however, is the fact that in trying to make one verse fit their preconceived notion by twisting it and forcing it where it doesn’t belong, they neglect the hundreds of scriptures that rightly refute their ideology.
After penning his chapter on love, wherein cessationists have anchored their ships for long and long, since the words ‘But whether there are prophecies, they will fail, whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away’ are included therein, Paul continues, and dedicates the entire fourteenth chapter of his first epistle to the Corinthians to the gift of prophecy, the gift of tongues, and to setting about an order as to the exercising of the gifts in public worship.
When we juxtapose Paul’s words concerning tongues ceasing, prophecy failing, and knowledge vanishing away with the words of Jesus, that He would pray the Father, and He would give us another Helper that He may abide with us forever, we realize that the gifts will cease only when we see the Christ face to face, when He has returned to claim that which is rightfully His, His Bride which He redeemed with His own precious blood.
If the gifts had ceased, if prophecy, and healings, and tongues, and knowledge and wisdom and discernment were done away with, then the entire fourteenth chapter of first Corinthians is folly, trimming and excess that ought to have been done away with, unnecessary in the most basic and fundamental sense, because Paul is writing of things that were and are no more, making them irrelevant and immaterial to the believer.
1 Corinthians 14:1, “Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.”
Why? Why ought we to desire spiritual gifts, especially that we might prophesy if that which Paul is encouraging us to do is no longer available to us? Is He just being mean? Is he just trying to get us to do something that he knows will forever be out of our reach just to see if we’re dumb enough to try?
If the gifts were no longer among us and available to us, Paul exhorting us to desire spiritual gifts, especially that we might prophecy would be as cruel and mean-spirited as someone exhorting me to pursue fitting into a pair of size thirty two jeans.
I’m a husky fellow, I’ve always been a husky fellow, I’m always going to be a husky fellow, and I know full well that a size thirty two pair of jeans is not in my future. Anyone who has seen me, would likewise know that I could never hope to find in such a small pair of pants, so for them to exhort me to desire to do it, and especially the slim fit, would just be mean and unkind.
God is not so cruel as to exhort us to pursue something we can never hope to acquire; He is not so cruel as to encourage us to desire something that will forever be beyond our reach. He is a good God, a loving God, a merciful God, and a just God, so if He commands us to pursue something, we must know that it is attainable, and if He commands us to desire something we must know that it is achievable.
Some time ago I was walking through a park and happened upon a little boy holding a piece of sausage high above his head, encouraging his little puppy to ‘jump up and get it’. Although the puppy tried repeatedly, the boy was holding the snack too high for the puppy to ever reach it, but with a sardonic smile, the little boy kept encouraging the puppy to try nevertheless. Every time I hear discussions on the gifts no longer being available, while concurrently being exhorted in the word to desire spiritual gifts, I think back to that little boy holding that piece of sausage perpetually out of his puppy’s reach. God is not so cruel as to treat us like simple minded puppies, exhorting us to reach for something we can never hope to lay hold of.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.