“…The house of God, which is the church of the living God,
the pillar and ground of the truth.” (1 Timothy 3:15)
In this tenth lesson of our study on the Lord’s church, we will be looking at the accrediting of the assembly.
What do we mean by the term “accrediting of the assembly”? This phrase is describing the way that the Lord proved to all men that the local churches on earth are genuinely His assemblies. Although there are many religions and cults that claim to be His assembly, He has given us indisputable proof that only His local assemblies on earth were established and authorized by Him.
The Lord Accredited His Assemblies Through The Use Of Miraculous Gifts Exercised By Those Who Were Members Of His Assemblies…
The Exercise Of The Gifts:
1 Corinthians 12:
1) Now concerning spiritual [gifts], brethren, I would not have you ignorant.
2) Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led.
3) Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and [that] no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.
4) Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
5) And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.
6) And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.
7) But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.
Because there were many who did not recognize the authenticity of God’s Word nor His place of worship, the Lord graciously gave miraculous gifts to his local assemblies to endorse their message and their claims of authority. Through the workings of these miracles, the Lord clearly differentiated between His message and house of worship from all of the counterfeits that this fallen world has to offer. Although these gifts are many and diverse, they were all given by the same God for the singular purpose of accreditation and edification of His fledgling assemblies.
11) I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing.
12) Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.
13) For what is it wherein ye were inferior to other churches, except [it be] that I myself was not burdensome to you? forgive me this wrong.
Here, Paul helps us to understand that these gifts were given to accredit (give irrefutable proof) the God-given authority of the apostolic office (an office created to expedite the founding of His local assemblies).
27) Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.
28) And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.
29) [Are] all apostles? [are] all prophets? [are] all teachers? [are] all workers of miracles?
30) Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?
31) But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.
In this text, we see that the Lord not only varied the gifts that were given, but also He varied the individual recipient of the gift. Not all men received the same gift(s), but God distributed His gifts based upon the needs of the local assembly and their community. The recipient’s only responsibility was to exercise the best gift(s) that he was given in accord with the will of God for his individual ministry. What are the “best gifts”? The gifts most needed by the assembly. This phrase is basically teaching that each member should have desired to exercise whatever gift they possessed that would be of greatest benefit to the assembly for the current situation.
The Identity and Role Of The Gifts:
8) For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
9) To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
10) To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another [divers] kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:
11) But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.
Here we find a specific list of the accrediting gifts given by God. They are divided into three basic types:
1. The Revelation Of The Truth – The supernatural handing down of God’s Word to man:
a. “word of wisdom” (utterance of wisdom)
b. “word of knowledge” (utterance of knowledge).
2. The Signs Of The Truth – The supernatural marks that indicate the presence of the divinely authorized Truth:
a. “faith” (not the fruit of saving faith, this is extraordinary faith that resulted in the performance of miracles),
b. “gifts of healing” (using an individual as the instrument of a physical healing),
c. “working of miracles” (ability to exercise of power to accomplish what is naturally impossible), d. “prophecy” (to perfectly foretell a future event),
e. “discerning of spirits” (perfect judgment of the aim and content of a message)
3. The Proclamation of The Truth – The supernatural ability to proclaim truth in an unknown tongue:
a. “diverse kinds of tongues” (the ability to speak God’s Word in a human language that is known by the hearer but unknown by the speaker),
b. “the interpretation of tongues” (the ability to interpret God’s Word into a language known by the hearers.
This is a miracle sign gift because the language of the original message, or the language of the hearers is unknown to the interpreter).
The Ceasing Of The Gifts – The Word’s effect on them:
1 Corinthians 13:8-10
“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. 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 gifts involving “the revelation of the truth” ended immediately with the completion of God’s Word being given to man in approx. 100 AD. This can be seen in the phrases “they shall fail” and “it shall vanish away”. In the original language of Greek, these phrases reveal that the failing and the vanishing away would take place with something directly acting upon them. What was that “something” that acted upon them bringing them to an end? The completion of God’s Word…. “that which is perfect”.
The gifts involving “the signs of the truth” and “the proclamation of the truth” went out of existence gradually following the completion of God’s Word. Once the Word was completed, the Lord ceased from granting these gifts to His assembly. Those who possessed these gifts continued to exercise them until their physical death. These gifts gradually “died off” as the miracle workers died off. This can be seen in the phrase “they shall cease”. This phrase in the original language teaches us that these gifts will cease “in and of themselves”. Nothing would act upon them bringing them to an abrupt end, but they would cease of their own deficiency. Since the gifts were no longer granted, as the miracle workers died, these gifts went out of existence because they lacked an ongoing renewal.
There is no longer a need for these visible proofs of the authenticity of the Lord’s assembly. Now that we have the completed Word of God, we have a written record of this accreditation. It now becomes an issue of faith in the record of Word of God for proof of the accreditation of His assembly.
The Ceasing Of The Gifts – Their length of existence:
Over the years, studying the sign gifts of the Bible, I have learned something very interesting. It seems as if these sign miracles of God were basically performed in three “groups” throughout Biblical history. Please notice the following basic, generalized table to help explain my point:
|Description||Group 1||Group 2||Group 3|
|Miracle Workers||Moses, Joshua||Elijah, Elisha||Christ, Apostles|
|Message Accredited||Law||Prophets||New Testament|
|Place Of Worship Accredited||Tabernacle||Temple||Church|
|Dates of Accreditation (Approximate)Based upon Philip Mauro’s Chronology||1530 BC-1460 BC||835 BC-765 BC||30 AD-100 AD|
It has been so interesting for me to come to an understanding of the Lord’s motives in these sign miracles that were performed. Note that the Lord, through divine miracles, accredited the messenger, as well as the section of Scripture written, and the worship place used at that time.
In each case, the “sign miracles” were in existence for approximately 70 years.
In each case, a “silent time” existed after each group of miracles, where no sign miracles and few, if any, other miracles were performed. Why? Once God established the validity of each of the above segments, there was no need for miracles until another segment was about to take place.
For example, following the accreditation of the tabernacle and the message of the law, there was no reason to accredit anything, or anyone, until the temple and the prophets came on the scene. Likewise, there was an extended period of “miracle silence” after the completion of the Old Testament. It was only when Christ came on the scene that we have a period of sign miracles taking place to validate the message of the New Testament and the church as the new place of worship for God’s people.
So therefore, tongues, being one of several sign gifts came to an end approximately 70 years after they had come into existence (29 or 30 AD), probably about 90-100 AD. They would have gone out of existence in and of themselves, nothing had to act on them. This is unlike the gift of prophecy and knowledge which ceased at the completion of God’s Word.
The Lord has clearly displayed that the local assemblies on earth are the genuine, authorized places of worship for Jehovah God. As such, they are the assemblies that are to proclaim the true message given from God to man contained in the Bible.
Why should we should attend, join and support the ministries of a local church? God, Himself as proven beyond doubt that He has sanctioned the local assembly as His place of worship and His minister of God’s completed Word to mankind.
May the Lord bless us as we seek His truth.
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