There are some individuals and churches that try to “explain away” the gifts of the Spirit in I Corinthians 12. Today, I want to help you understand that these gifts STILL exist to this day!
The chief verses that people use to say it has been done away with is I Corinthians 13:8-12, which reads, “8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke 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 in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. (or be fully known in the NIV)” Those with this view say that “…the perfect which is to come…” in these verses is a reference to the New Testament Cannon. They also say that Paul’s reference to prophesy, tongues, and knowledge are references to the nine spiritual gifts listed in I Corinthians 12. Thus, they believe that the complete New Testament caused spiritual gifts to cease.
There are several problems with this view. First of all, whenever a writer of the Bible refers to the Bible, the writer always specifically calls it the Word of God, the Scriptures, or the writings. Sometimes more specific references are used such as the Psalms and Law. Since no mention of a holy text is given here, then the above interpretation cannot be correct. Secondly, perfection in these verses refers to humans being made perfect in the image of our Creator. In Hebrews 5:9 and Hebrews 7:19, the writer mentions Christ being made perfect. Since Paul was an apocalyptic Jew and believed in the resurrections, the perfection he references is either the resurrection or New Heavens and the New Earth. At that time, a believer will not need to prophesy because they will be a resurrected spirit-being. Third, there is no indication from any verse of the Bible that the writers of the New Testament knew that there would be a compilation of the gospels, Paul’s letters, and other general letters into one book. The Bible says that everything must be confirmed by the testimony of two or three witnesses. There is not a second verse or set of verses to support the view that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit or the gifts of the Spirit are done away with. Lastly, Paul said that when the perfect comes we shall know fully. Clearly, no one knows fully until the resurrection of the dead when we shall be as Christ (I John 3:2). The combination of these facts means that the verses in I Cor. 13:8-12 have nothing to do with tongues. They speak of the future time of the resurrection and the restoration of all things.
The people who argue against the gifts will agree that they existed in the first century and then “faded away” when the Bible was completed. But I know some of these people will call you to ask for healing when a family member is sick. When they need to hear from God, they will talk to someone who does. Perhaps it’s because these people have never operated in any of these gifts that they knock them. Why knock a gift from your heavenly father?
In the Old Testament they used the gifts of the spirit, and we have a better covenant. This means we should have greater and more powerful manifestations of the gifts. Instead of “explaining away” the Bible, let’s seek God’s face to let these gifts manifest in our lives.