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Bible Answers about Continuing Spiritual Gifts for Your Non-Charismatic Friends

b. 1 Corinthians 13:8‑13

“Love never ends: it continues on into the age to come. But wherever the charismatic operations of prophecies, tongues speaking or revealed knowledge occur, they will be ended. Like childhood, they all represent an incomplete, yet necessary stage of God’s eternal plan.

But when will these three (representative) gifts,(i.e., the charismata) generally, cease? The principle is this: when the complete (end) arrives, at that precise point, the incomplete will be ended. Specifically, when Christ returns at the end of this present age, then, and not a moment before, the charismata—gifts of prophecy, tongues and revealed knowledge here offered as examples—which are incomplete compared to the ultimate heavenly realities they only now indicate, will all come to an end, having served their temporary purpose. Let us note four illustrations of this point.

First, when I was a baby (representing our present existence) I babbled, thought and reasoned (i.e., the present charismata of speech and knowledge) like a baby—a necessary and positive development to be sure—all of which would be related to what was to come. But at adulthood (our existence in heaven), this stage is superseded by vastly greater powers of communica­tion, thinking and reasoning.

Second, in the present age, the charismata only serve as indirect or indistinct perceptions of God or His will, like looking into a mirror or a photo­graph. But in heaven, the mirror or photograph (the charismata) are unnecessary if we can see God ‘face to face.’ At that point these items, which had helped preserve the somewhat distant relationship, will have served their purpose and will be discarded, since we will have the real person before us.

Third, in this present age, I know God, but the charismata reveal Him to me only in glimpses and hints. But then, in heaven, I will know (kathos) God exactly as, and to the same degree God knows me now. Of what use will be those tentative and imprecise gifts of revealed knowledge under those conditions?

(Fourth), in this present age, faith, hope and love, all three function, but like the other charismata, faith (which is a charism of revelation, which, if acted upon, can produce miracles or any other aspect of God’s salvation), and hope (another gift of God which is superseded if it results in the presence and reality of its object), will both be unnecessary because of their “waiting” characteristic; in heaven, the waiting will be over. By contrast, love is greater, because, unlike faith, hope and the other charismata, love never ends.”

c. Ephesians 1:13‑23

In the context of believers’ receiving “all wisdom and understand­ing” (1:8) and Paul’s continued prayer for the same (1:17) and to experience (“know”) “[Christ’s] incomparably great power”—like that of the resurrection], Paul describes the time frame: “In him, when you believed, you were marked with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit [or first installment—the first payment of the same to follow] guaranteeing our inheritance (described, inter alia as “incomparably great,” etc., like resurrection power in 1:19), until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.” This state of affairs is active in believers and is paralleled to the exaltation of Christ which occurs “not only in the present age, but also in the one to come” (Eph 1:21-23, see also 2:6).

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Category: Spirit, Winter 2000

About the Author: Jon M. Ruthven, Ph.D., passed away April 11, 2022. He spent his entire adult life in ministry, starting with David Wilkerson in Boston and New York City in the mid-60s. After spending a dozen years pastoring, a couple a years as a missionary in Africa as President and Dean of Pan Africa Christian College in Nairobi, Kenya, he ended up teaching theology in seminary for 18 years. Always interested in training and discipleship, Jon sought to develop a radically biblical approach to ministry training that seeks to replicate the discipling mission of Jesus in both content and method. Jon wrote numerous scholarly papers and books including On the Cessation of the Charismata: The Protestant Polemic on Postbiblical Miracles (1993 and 2009) and What’s Wrong with Protestant Theology? Tradition vs. Biblical Emphasis (2013). He emphasized the biblical grounding for a practical ministry of healing, signs and wonders in the power of the Spirit. Facebook.

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