Q. Our son-in-law who attends a Baptist Church said his Sunday School teacher is going to talk about the “gifts.” He believes that they were given to the early church but are not for use today.
What is a good way to respond to this teaching?
Thanks for your help and consistently excellent articles.
A. In the early 1900’s, when the Pentecostal movement was born, some main line denominations who were not experiencing the manifestation of gifts in their midst, came out with an interpretation of 1 Cor. 13:9-10 to refute this phenomenon.
The passage reads, “For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.”
They interpreted it to refer to Spiritual Gifts. They explained that the gifts were given to help the Apostolic Church sustain their faith while the Bible was being completed, but that as soon as it was, the gifts disappeared.
That interpretation was never heard before 1906 and the advent of the Pentecostal movement, and in fact the New Testament was not completely accepted as Canon until the 1500’s although much of it was agreed upon by the 4th Century.
The truth be known, it was primarily the denominational church that had suppressed the gifts with their devotion to dead orthodoxy, and the gifts had been present all along.
The “imperfect” that Paul referred to is our limited knowledge of Spiritual matters, and the “perfect” is that someday, in our perfected state, we’ll know fully. At that point there’ll be no need for the gifts. Until then, even one manifestation of a Spiritual Gift, and there have been numbers beyond counting, means that the gifts have been operational in the Church all along and continue to this day.