“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.” (1 Corinthians 13:8)
In our previous studies we have seen that there are three basic types of Accrediting Gifts which include several gifts under each type. In the above passage, we find each type of Accrediting Gift is represented by one gift from each type …
|Type Of Accrediting Gift||Gifts Included In This Type||Representative Gift Mentioned In1 Cor 13:8|
|Supernatural Revelation Of The Truth||The Word Of Wisdom, The Word of Knowledge||Word of Knowledge (or Knowledge)|
|Supernatural Indicators Of The Truth||Faith, Gifts Of Healing, Working Of Miracles, Prophecy, Discerning Of Spirits||Prophecy (or Prophecies)|
|Supernatural Proclamation Of The Truth||Divers Kinds Of Tongues, Interpretation Of Tongues||Diverse Types Of Tongues (or Tongues)|
Please note the above verse (1 Cor 13:8), which includes one representative gift from each group, makes it plain that each type of Accrediting Gift will come to an end at some point in time. We now will turn our attention to the question at what point in time will these gifts go out of existence?
In this study, we will see that this question is answered by the Word of God using several different lines of teaching which all present the same answer for us. This will be the lines of teaching that we will be studying:
I. The Coming Of “That Which Is Perfect”
II. The 70 Year Accreditation Time Span
III. The Death Of The Apostles
IV. The Supernatural Beginning / Natural Perpetuation Of God’s Workings
V. The Prophecies of False Miracles In The “Last Days”
The 70 Year Accreditation Time Span:
Our texts for this lesson are:
Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, andthere is nothing too hard for thee: (Jer 32:17)
I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee. (Job 42:2)
And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you…And Moses answered and said, But, behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The LORD hath not appeared unto thee. And the LORD said unto him, What is that in thine hand? And he said, A rod. And he said, Cast it on the ground. And he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; … And he put his hand into his bosom: and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous as snow. … And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe thee, neither hearken to the voice of the first sign, that they will believe the voice of the latter sign. (Exo 3:14, 4:1-8)
God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will? (Heb 2:4)
To begin our look at the Scriptures, I would like us to quickly summarize the above passages in the context of our subject “Can the miracles of the Bible be believed?” Basically, we can draw from the verses above the following truths:
1. Our God is able to do all things…. This includes giving His followers the ability to perform miracles, as a sign of their ministries authenticity (1 Corinthians 12:8-11). If it is His will…. He can do these things! (Jeremiah 32:17, Job 42:2, Hebrews 2:4)
2. Both in the Old and the New Testaments, God’s motive for bestowing this miracle working power upon His followers was to accredit their message and the place of worship He had established. This is why these types of miracles are called “sign gifts” or “accrediting gifts” from God (Exodus 3:14, 4:1-8).
Over the years, studying the sign gifts of the Bible, I have noticed 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:
|Miracle Workers||Moses, Joshua||Elijah, Elisha||Christ, Apostles|
|Message Accredited||Law||Prophets||New Testament|
|Worship Place Accredited||Tabernacle||Temple||Church|
|Time Span*Dates Are Based Upon Martin Anstey’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 existance 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.
We have seen the end of the last period of miracles being described in 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. “(1Corinthians 13:8-10)
This verse is teaching us that the miraculous gifts of prophecies, tongues, and knowledge, shall come to an end. At the time of Paul’s writing this letter, the NT was not yet completed. This is why he makes the statement that “we know in part and we prophesy in part”. However, when the New Testament reached completion, bringing about the completed Bible (that which is perfect) then the revelation of His Word, bit by bit, (that which is in part) would be finished and no longer needed. The completion of the Word acted upon the sign gifts of prophecies and knowledge, immediately bringing them to an end. (Note:The sign gift of tongues died out as that generation of gifted men died and went home to their Lord, shortly thereafter.)
Also remember, prior to the Word’s completion, the church had already been established in Jerusalem as the worship place of the True God, through the sign miracles of tongues and healings etc.
This fits perfectly with the other times of accreditation that the Lord used. It was 70 years long followed by a period of silence. Since the completion of the Word and the accreditation of the local church (30 AD-100 AD), we find that there existed another time of “miracle silence” that continues on today.
Accepting the fact that the New Testament and the local assembly are established by God is now simply an issue of faith in His Word. In our day, we need no sign miracles to accredit anything… we have the Word that has recorded these previous accreditations for us to rely on today. In the last days, the working of counterfeit miracles will be on the increase, empowered by Satan, performed to mislead even God’s elect (if it were possible). (2 Thessalonians 2:7-10, 2 Corinthians 11:13-15, Matthew 12:38-39)
Does the Lord still perform miracles? Absolutely everyday, spiritual and physical healing is common place in today’s time.
Does the Lord still give men the ability to perform the “sign gifts” listed in 1 Corinthians 12:8-11? Absolutely not. He used the sign gifts to accredit the ministries He had ordained. There is no longer a need for these gifts to be exercised by men. We have a written record in His Word of the accreditation of these ministries.
In our next study, we will be examining the times of the Apostles’ deaths and how that affects the ending of the accrediting gifts of the Spirit.
Additional Information (Verses Referred To In This Study):
The 70 Year Accreditation Time Span:
(14) And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.
(1) And Moses answered and said, But, behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The LORD hath not appeared unto thee.
(2) And the LORD said unto him, What is that in thine hand? And he said, A rod.
(3) And he said, Cast it on the ground. And he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from before it.
(4) And the LORD said unto Moses, Put forth thine hand, and take it by the tail. And he put forth his hand, and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand:
(5) That they may believe that the LORD God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath appeared unto thee.
(6) And the LORD said furthermore unto him, Put now thine hand into thy bosom. And he put his hand into his bosom: and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous as snow.
(7) And he said, Put thine hand into thy bosom again. And he put his hand into his bosom again; and plucked it out of his bosom, and, behold, it was turned again as his other flesh.
(8) And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe thee, neither hearken to the voice of the first sign, that they will believe the voice of the latter sign.
(2) I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee.
(17) Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee:
(38) Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee.
(39) But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas:
(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.
(13) For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.
(14) And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.
(15) Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.
(7) For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.
(8) And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:
(9) Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,
(10) And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
(4) God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own