Why do so many churches deny the existence of the
gifts of the Spirit?
There are churches, and people, that frown if you speak in tongues.
They will argue that there is no longer a need for prophets. They
don't pray for healing, but for God to make the ill person comfortable.
They may say they believe in the gifts but they deny and ignore that
manifestations of them.
Before we begin, let me
emphasize that this is not something that falls under the category of
"apologetics." I really don't like that term. The dictionary
describes it as: offered in 1.
defense or vindication 2. offered by way of excuse or apology
I am offering you no defense and no apologies. I'm
only offering you the possibilities of things of God. (If you haven't
read it yet you may want to go read, "How
to Determine the Truth of the Matter.")
Enough introduction. Let's go on with the study!
WHERE DOES IT SAY THAT IN THE BIBLE?
Many churches, pastors, teachers, and spiritual leaders are teaching
that the gifts are not for today. Where do they find that in the
Bible? The only scripture I have heard them use to substantiate their
1Cor 13:9-10, "For we know
in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is
come, then that which is in part shall be done away."
The portion of verse 10 where it refers to "that which is perfect"
refers to the written Word, the Bible, according to them. The
Bible doesn't actually state, "When the Bible, the written Word, is
published then there will be no need for those things which are in part.
They have interpreted "that which is perfect" to mean the Bible.
Some believe that it is only prophecy, knowledge (as it pertains to
prophecy), and tongues that have been done away as those are the specific
gifts mentioned in verse 8 as being in part. Others believe that
all the gifts were only needed up until the Bible was published and no
longer exist. The one thing that they all seem to strongly
agree upon is that God no longer chooses to use prophets. They
usually carry it as far as to say that God no longer needs to speak to
anyone because He now speaks to everyone through the Bible.
The main problem with that teaching is that people who have been taught
that God doesn't speak to us any more are not going to listen for His
voice. The problem with believing that the gift of tongues is no
longer necessary is that people who believe that are not going to be
receptive to receive that gift. Our minds can become closed to the
things of God.
I wonder why, if this is a doctrine
about something NOT existing, then why bother teaching it? What is
the value of teaching people that God won't do something? Most
of the time there is more value in teaching what God will do rather
than what He won't do! There is a lot of "God won't" being
taught. The "God won't" needs to be confined to specific topics that
are 100%, without a doubt, clear as a bell in the Bible. An example
is God will not lie. (Num 23:19; Ps 89:34; Jms 1:17-18) In
order to be clear it usually needs to be mentioned in more than one verse.
The Bible is full of verifications. There is way too much teaching
about what God won't do. Minds need to be opened to the spiritual
realm. We don't know everything God WILL do, let's not focus on what
There really aren't very many things that
the Bible says that God won't do. We have to be very careful
not to place limits on God. If we choose to believe God won't do
something then perhaps He really won't due to our unbelief.
So, let's explore some scriptures and see how they line up with the
doctrine of the gifts being done away. We'll start with the
scriptures before and after verses 9 and 10. As a matter of fact,
let's look at all of Chapter 13.
1: Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not
charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
2: And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries,
and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove
mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
3: And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my
body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
4: Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity
vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
5: Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily
provoked, thinketh no evil;
6: Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
7: Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth
8: Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail;
whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it
shall vanish away.
9: For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
10: But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part
shall be done away.
11: When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I
thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
12: For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I
know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
13: And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of
these is charity.
This is the famous "love is" chapter. Verses 1-8 emphasizes how it
is important to have God's love (charity) first and foremost above all
other things. They also describe that kind of love. Verse 9
singles out two gifts, the gift of knowledge and the gift of prophecy, and
points out how they are not complete. God doesn't share all the
knowledge about something with us, nor does He give us all the information
when giving us prophecy to share or to pray over. He knows the full
story and knows why He is giving it and what the ramifications are.
As a vessel receiving the knowledge or the prophecy we are only responsible
for the portion He gives us. That is what it means by "in part."
When it comes to love we are not limited in any way. The full
"love package" is available to us. The Bible tells us what Jesus said
in Mark 12:30-31: "And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with
all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the
first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt
love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than
We can do this because God gives us the love to do it
with. We just have to choose to use it. So, love is not in
part, but in whole. Our understanding of the other gifts is limited,
as is our knowledge when we are a child. Now we see through a glass,
darkly. We can't see clearly, in other words. We can only see
part of the big picture. God is only giving us a portion.
Verse 12 says, now we see through a glass darkly but then
face to face. When is then? Backing up to verse ten we
can pinpoint what it means by then. Then is when "that
which is perfect is come." If the Bible is that perfect thing and
since it is here, that means we are now seeing face to face and no longer
through a glass, darkly. Whom are we seeing face to face? How
come I still don't have full knowledge about the things of God? We
aren't seeing face to face yet! We are still seeing through a glass,
Paul wrote about something that was perfect
that was going to come and do away with the things that are in part.
Was the Bible the only perfect thing yet to come as Paul wrote those words?
No, it wasn't. Jesus is coming again and He is perfect. How can
we rule Him out as being the perfect thing that Paul mentioned? We
Then, chapter 13 closes out by returning
back to its original subject which is perfect love/charity. When
something is sandwiched in the middle of the same topic perhaps we need to
examine it to see it's relationship with the topic on either side of it.
So, if the topic is love, how does love apply?
Everything we do should be done with charity as the main factor. So,
if we begin there we see that we need to prophesy in love. When God
gives a prophecy that is a warning then His heart is love towards the
people and the prophet needs to make sure that the message is given in the
spirit God gives it, out of love.
It is because He loves us He speaks
to us. It is because He loves us He gives us knowledge about a
situation. Someone who is given a word of knowledge is able to speak
to someone and share something that they normally wouldn't know. If
someone came up to you and shared something about your life that nobody
knew and then proceeded to share how God would be your strength and help
you through the situation, would you have a tendency to pay attention?
I know I would! Over and over in the New Testament are examples of
people experiencing miracles which cause them to listen to the gospel.
There is no miracle and no gift that is worth anything without charity.
Everything we do must be done in love. God created us out of love and
He gives gifts so we can use them in love. Examining verses 8-12 in
the light of it being in the "love chapter" is to put the emphasis of
endurance and importance on love by giving examples of things that are not
going to be necessary when Jesus returns. Love is something that goes
on forever and is necessary forever. Love can't end because God IS
love! (1Jo 4:8) So, the mention of gifts that will end
emphasizes love's endurance and importance.
EXAMINING OTHER POINTS
However, it is being taught that God no longer speaks to us because we
have the Bible, "that which is perfect." Apparently everything we
need to know is in the Bible. That brings up some issues that don't
God tossed the Bible to us and expects us to understand
it without any further explanations
God still DOES things like heal people, but He no
longer SAYS anything
The Bible doesn't tell us which career path to choose,
whether or not to buy a house, or other personal things
How can we ask God what a scripture means if He won't
is still influencing people, why isn't God?
How do the same ones that say God doesn't speak to us
say, "God called me to ministry," or "God showed me something?"
We can' t pick and choose what we want to believe.
We must find out what God wants us to believe. The ironic thing is
that if people are teaching that God doesn't speak to us then they and the
ones that believe that same doctrine won't ask God for understanding of
scriptures. They won't ask God what His opinions are.
Interesting, isn't it? If satan
can get people to quit listening for
God then he has won a big battle, hasn't he?
scriptures that indicate that we still have the gifts today:
2:3, "In [Jesus] whom are hid all
the treasures of wisdom and knowledge."
supposedly done away in 1Cor 13:8 based on the "gifts are done away"
theory. Knowledge is when God shows you something and prophecy is
the telling of it. If knowledge is a treasure then why is it gone
and wisdom is not? Did Jesus hide one so deeply that we can't find
it any more?
"And [all Christians] are built upon the foundation of the apostles and
prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all
the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the
is the Body of Christ. In the Body Jesus is described as being the
head. The temple/Body is alive. It is a living, breathing
organism, knit together by the Holy Spirit dwelling within each person.
It is not built on a foundation of dead people, the Bible's apostles and
prophets. The foundation of apostles and prophets is referring to
what the apostles and prophets do and have done for the Body. What
they do is an ongoing thing. (See the
of what they do.) They are tied in securely to the cornerstone,
"But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and
exhortation, and comfort. He that speaketh in an unknown tongue
edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church."
Edification, exhortation, and comfort are still needed in the Body.
tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that
believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but
for them which believe."
Non-believers are touched by the things of God that they see in
Christians. If God only speaks to us through the Bible, then how
are non-believers, and even believers who don't read their Bibles, going
to connect with God? They won't.
Jesus, Himself, used miraculous things over and over to gain people's
attention so He could teach them. Why would God discontinue that
method of teaching?
"But if all
prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned,
he is convinced of all, he is judged of all: and thus are the
secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he
will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth."
sometimes gives a prophet the knowledge about what is in someone's heart
(a non-believer in this case) and they prophesy it. The person
falls on his face, worships, God, and reports that God is in the
prophet. They become a believer. Why would that personal
touch no longer be something that is needed? That non-believer
didn't have to read the entire Bible or even one book in the Bible to be
touched by God. Are we going to be so bold as to say that God
won't do that any more now that we have the Bible???
Let's say for
example that someone desperately needs to hear someone say, "God knows
about your struggles in your marriage (this is a Word of Knowledge not
specifically stated in the Bible). He loves you. If you
draw close to Him and allow Him to fill your heart with love and
patience then your marriage will be healed (prophecy which is not
specifically stated in the Bible for that person). Once your
marriage is healed then your problems at work will vanish." The
Bible does tell us lots of things like God loves us. However, a
non-believer or new Christian will most likely not have the benefit of
what the Bible teaches us. If they need to hear from God,
personally, is He going to refuse to speak to them?
have proof that God speaks. If you choose to hold the doctrine
that God speaks to us today, then you need to find your own proof.
If you choose to hold the doctrine that God doesn't speak to us today,
then that is your choice. If He tries to speak to you and you
don't hear Him because your mind is set against His speaking then you
are the loser. Perhaps your job in the Body will be hindered as
"And he [Jesus] gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some,
evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the
saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of
Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the
knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the
stature of the fulness of Christ: that we henceforth be no more
children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of
doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they
lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into
him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: from whom the
whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint
supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every
part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love."
gave these gifts and jobs. The jobs are good until we all come in
the unity of the faith... unto a perfect man.... So, if there are
no more apostles and prophets then that means we are a perfect man.
That doesn't seem right, does it? I don't feel perfect... do you?
Jesus created those jobs to minister to the Body. They are to keep
us from being like children, believing false doctrine made up by men.
The Body needs to have all those parts as well as all the other parts.
They each supply something that is necessary. The Body is
increased by the working of all the parts.
Some people just can't hear from God themselves.
Perhaps they aren't spending enough time with him. Perhaps they
aren't saved. There are lots of reasons why. Sometimes God has
a Word for them to encourage them, edify them, to draw them closer to Him,
or whatever. How is He going to get that message to them?
Did God give us the Bible so He doesn't have to speak to us any more?
Doesn't He want to speak to us? Does He expect us to interpret and
understand the Bible all on our own? Does He want us to apply our
human knowledge to the Bible to help us understand what it is saying?
In my mind I can see a picture of God tossing us the Bible and saying,
What about people who believe God uses
the Holy Spirit to speak to us but not prophets? What is the
difference? Why is one acceptable and the other is not? They
are choosing to limit God. I personally know of instances where God
has spoken to people in dreams while they are asleep, in visions while they
are awake, through bumper stickers and billboards, in their mind as if He
had just finished speaking verbally, through TV commercials, through songs,
and more ways than those. God communicates with us in whatever way is
suited to our ability to hear Him. He reaches out to each of us in a
personal and individual way. We really need to be careful when we
say, "God won't do that any more." God doesn't change
James1:17). He continues on wanting to communicate with His children.
My own Bible has a footnote that tries to explain away
Joel 2:28 with logical thinking,
"And it shall
come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream
dreams, your young men shall see visions: and also upon the servants
and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit."
as well as Acts 2:26 which refers to those verses in Joel. It gives a
feeble attempt to say that those things either have already happened or
won't happen until just before Jesus returns. They are basing their
comments on that same verse we discussed before, 1Cor 13:9-10. Once
again a great deal hinges on the interpretation of that scripture in
If all those things
mentioned in Joel have happened already do we have proof? No.
If they aren't going to take place until Jesus returns, or closer to the
time that He returns, do we have proof? No. Stating that they
aren't for today is as much fact as is teaching evolution.
at what it says in Joel 2:28! What does it mean? Is it for now?
Can we rule it out as NOT being for now? I don't think so.
There is no proof
other than what God can provide us! I can't emphasize enough that it
is our responsibility to find out from Him what is
truth and what isn't! God doesn't
work in logic that our minds can understand. We can try all we want
to explain everything spiritual in logical terms, but that doesn't make it
KEEPING AN OPEN MIND
We have to approach the things of God with a totally open mind. If
someone comes up to you and says they have a Word from God, what harm does
it do to listen? However, I'd say you are foolish if you accept that
Word without verifying that it is true. Ask God to confirm it.
He will if He wants you to believe it. Be open to His confirmation.
God has the use of the members of the Body of Christ. It is nothing
for Him to orchestrate His plan. He can bring 100 people to you to
confirm what He wants to tell you if He chooses.
must not believe something we hear just because it sounds good or just
because we want it to be true. That isn't the way God works. If
you read your Bible you will see where He has done some really strange
things and the people who walked in His will were very blessed. If
you were in an army, would you go to war with no weapons, just empty
pitchers and lamps, if God told you to do it? (Judges 7) We
can't predict God's ways nor can we control them. The only thing we
end up controlling is our own mind. We can close it to the things of
In order to find out what God wants us to
believe we have to read our Bibles ourselves and not depend on someone else
to read theirs and tell us about it. We need to absorb the things
that are in it. We need to learn how God does things. We need
to learn that He doesn't always do things the same way. Most
importantly, we need to read with an open mind. It isn't good to read
our Bibles just looking for scriptures to back our viewpoints and to back
doctrines we have been taught. Chances are good we will find them.
Chances are also good that we will bypass scriptures that indicate that
perhaps we are misunderstanding the scriptures backing our viewpoints.
God isn't keeping secrets from us. He wants us to know the truth
about Him and about the Bible. He is willing to help our
understanding. He has given many people the gift of teaching so that
they will teach others about Him. However, He expects us to take what
we have been taught and clear it through Him before we label it "the truth
Hearing from God takes practice. It
takes time to learn how to recognize His voice. That is one reason
why He still uses prophets today. Prophets who are accurately
speaking what God tells them have practiced listening. They have
learned how to differentiate God's voice from their own thoughts.
They have learned how to recognize the enemy's voice as well. They
also have learned what to do with what God is giving them. Sometimes
He wants them to pass the Word on to someone. Sometimes He wants them
to pray over a situation rather than share it with anyone. Sometimes
He is giving them a Word that is just for them and is not for anyone else.
The thing we must always remember is that prophets, pastors, teachers,
Godly people of all kinds are HUMAN! They will make mistakes.
That means we cannot rely totally on people for our information about God.
The only source of information we can totally rely on is God, Himself!
If a prophet makes a mistake don't condemn all prophets. A prophet
has a large responsibility in verifying that what they are hearing from God
is correct. Sometimes they actually heard correctly but did the wrong
thing with what they heard. Prophets are humans that have a job in
the Body of Christ. They are no more and no less important than any
other member of the Body and they are as fallible as any other person.
I have seen people who say the gifts are not for today asking God for
specific things such as healing or help with finances. They pick and
choose what miracles they want to see. They pick the ones that fit
within their comfort zone. Anything that assists us in living
comfortably is acceptable. Anything that causes us to have to
possibly move outside our comfort zone is rejected. Hearing a Word
from God through another person is not comfortable. We have to be
familiar with our Bibles, which most people aren't. We have to spend
time seeking God's confirmation which causes us to have to remain in a
listening and waiting mode. That isn't comfortable.
If we are open to any miracle then that means we don't look at a rock as
being a solid, dead, heavy object. It won't surprise us if it yells
(Luke 19:40). If we look out our window in the morning and see a
mountain that had been in the distance was gone we would know that God had
a reason to move it and we wouldn't be concerned (Matt 17:20). We
will be living in faith. That isn't comfortable.
Many people withdraw out of the area of the miraculous and retreat to a
comfortable zone where God doesn't come up with any surprises. They
close their minds to the fact that God is God and works in the spiritual
realm. We can't do that. In Isaiah 55:9 God said,
"For as the
heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways,
and my thoughts than your thoughts."
Proverbs 3:5 admonishes us, "Trust in
the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding."
Should we ignore those scriptures in order to embrace others? If we
are only interested in being comfortable I guess we could.
MANY DIFFERENT INTERPRETATIONS
False doctrine causes the Body of Christ to become splintered.
Different denominations have resulted. Splits within denominations
and within churches have resulted. People are afraid to share their
beliefs because of how violently some people react to different doctrines
than that which they learned. God doesn't want us divided.
He wants all of us to understand the scriptures as He presented them to us.
He doesn't want each of us to have an interpretation. He wants us all
to have HIS interpretation!
I've been attacked by
people over some of the Bible studies at the Clarion Call. I've even
been attacked for using the King James version of the Bible! Lots of
people would rather attack others of different opinions rather than take
their beliefs to God and verify whether they are true. The first
thing we must do is find out from God if what we believe is what He wants
us to believe. The second thing we must do is find out from God if He
wants us to do anything with those beliefs.
warns us about humans teaching things that aren't true:
"Be not carried
about with divers and strange doctrines. . . ."
Eph 4:14, "That we
henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with
every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness,
whereby they lie in wait to deceive;"
Don't just assume that what you believe is the truth and everyone else
falls under the "false teacher" role. Can you honestly say that you
know everything there is to know about what God will and won't do?
There are a lot of people that pretend that they do. They have an
answer for everything. Don't be one of those people. Be
continuously seeking to find out more about God. Be continuously
asking Him to reveal the things in your life that aren't put there by Him.
"And by the
hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people;
(and they were all with one accord in Solomon's porch. And of the
rest durst no man join himself to them: but the people magnified them.
And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and
As in the previous verse, the Bible contains verses that speak of signs
and wonders. If they no longer happen today then does reading about
them produce the same effect? No. What about people who don't
read the Bible and who don't know God. Will hearing about things that
happened over 2,000 years ago work as well as actually seeing those types
People listened to the
gospel because of miracles. We see examples of that over and over in
the Bible. Luke 5:7-8 and Acts 8:6 are two examples. You can
find more when you read your Bible. (I'm not going to do all
the work for you!)
Were you aware that
satan, the enemy of mankind, uses miracles to influence people? Why
I have placed more
emphasis on the prophetic gifting of God speaking to us because that is the
one that God has prompted me to emphasize. Without hearing God we are
adrift and at the mercy of "every wind of doctrine" mentioned in Eph 4:14.
There are scriptures supporting opposing viewpoints, so how can we say the
Bible is enough? It isn't enough. Now, wait, don't get excited!
It isn't enough if we don't have God's help in understanding it. We
need to hear from Him.
When people believe that
God won't speak to us any more then they are probably not taking into
consideration that the Holy Spirit was given to us so we can communicate
with God. If not, then why did He give the Spirit to us? Was it
just for spiritual hugs? If God hugs us, then why won't He talk to
MAKING A COMMITMENT TO
LEARN THE TRUTH
Perhaps the reason for
most miscommunication about the things of God is pure lack of commitment to
learning the truth. If we don't read our Bibles (again and again) and
we don't spend time attempting to communicate with God then we are like
clay, waiting to be molded by the first intelligent sounding teacher that
catches our attention. That is why there are so many intelligent
people firmly entrenched in the doctrines of their denomination or their
cult. The secondary factor is possibly pride. Once we get
locked into a belief and have proclaimed it to other people, we aren't
interested in hearing anything else because we don't want to have to admit
we were wrong.
It is a sad thing to see people not examining everything they hear for
themselves. Over and over we see examples of people believing what
they are taught about the things of God without questioning. Perhaps
they heard it from their parents and choose to believe it just because they
don't feel their parents would teach them something that was wrong.
They need to examine where their parents got their information. Maybe
they heard it in church. After all, a pastor is always correct about
what the scriptures mean because they went to school, right? Wrong!
Many people believe what they are taught because they are too lazy or too
disinterested to read their Bibles for themselves! Far too many
others believe what they are taught because they don't know that they can
check with God to see if it is true.
I don't profess
to be a Bible scholar. I had a class in college called The Bible as
Literature once, but it got cancelled for lack of interest.
Everything I know about the Bible I read for myself. I've
allowed God to teach me about the things I read. I've read my Bible
through a number of times and continue to read it. I have read it
from beginning to end more than once and have also done numerous studies on
different topics. The more I read it the more I understand. The
more I read it the more questions I have, too. So, I keep reading and
looking for the answers.
Where did I get all these Bible studies at the Clarion
Call? God did the Bible studies, not me. What I am trying to
tell you is that I know a lot about the Bible and never went to school to
learn it. God has been teaching me. You, too, can be
knowledgeable about what is in the Bible because God will teach you what to
believe. God didn't design it so that we would be totally dependent
on other people to understand the things about Him. He wants to teach
In conclusion, don't accept the fact
that the gifts have not been done away just because this article says it is
so. Accept it because God says it is so!