Charismatic Gifts Debate

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Joshua Gaskin
The Charismatic Gifts Debate
Theo 350-D10

The issue of the whether or not the charismatic spiritual gifts are for today has caused much debate and division in the body of Christ. There are groups that say that if you do speak in tongues, then you are under demonic control and are not saved. On the other hand, some say that if you do not speak in tongues then you are not saved. What's more, both extremes use scripture to support their positions. Fortunately for the Christian church, whether or not the spiritual gifts are for today is not a salvation issue. Therefore, we need to be gracious. Romans 14:5 say, "One man regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Let each man be fully convinced in his own mind" As we can see, the Bible leaves room for debate and differences of opinion on non-essential doctrines. The first argument is as follows; since we have the Bible we do not need spiritual gifts. 1 Cor. 13:8-13 is usually quoted as scriptural support for the position: “Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. 9For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; 10but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. 11When I was a child, I used to speak as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. 12For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I shall know fully just as I also have been fully known. 13But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (Bruce 1973). Some vigorously maintain that the "perfect" is the completed Bible and, therefore, the extraordinary gifts are no longer needed. Then again, I don’t think these verses can be used to support cessationism, and here is why. 1 Cor. 13:12 says, "...then we shall see face to face." The word "then" refers back to the phrase "when the perfect comes." Since the only infallible interpreter of Scripture is Scripture, a quick examination of the way God uses the term "face to face" should help us understand this passage better (Henry 1996). The phrase is used throughout the Bible and always means an encounter with a person. When God uses it in reference to Himself, it means a visual, personal encounter with Him (Gen. 32:30; Ex. 33:11; Num. 12:8; Deut. 5:4; and Jer. 32:4). Likewise in the New Testament it is also used in speaking of personal encounter (2 Cor. 10:1; 2 John 1:12; 3 John 1:14). "When the perfect comes... then we shall see face to face" seems, most logically, to refer a personal encounter; at least, that seems to be how God uses the phrase (Hendry 1993). If the position is taken that the "perfect" is the completed Bible, how then do we encounter God in the manner as the phrase suggests: an encounter with a person? Seeing Christ face to face occurs when He returns. Another "then" is mentioned in verse 12: "then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known." The word "then" again refers back to the phrase "when the perfect comes." Again, we need to look at how the Bible uses words. This time we'll look at the word "know." Scripture says that eternal life is to know God (John 17:3). Only the believer is known by Jesus (John 10:27; Gal. 4:8-9; Rom. 8:29). The unbeliever is not known by Jesus (Matt. 7:21-23). In every verse except for one, God says He only knows believers. ‘This is a salvific knowing; that is, it is a kind of knowing that God does of the Christians. He knows them and they are saved. The unbelievers are not known and are, therefore, not saved. ‘It would seem most consistent with scripture to say that "...as I am fully known" would refer to a salvation relationship between Jesus and the Christian. At the return of Christ we (the ones known) shall know fully; we shall see face to face the One who is our Savior. Also, we don't "know" Jesus through the Scripture; we know...
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