The New Testament speaks of early believers in Jesus having gifts of the holy spirit or charisms.  These included speaking in tongues, prophecy, healing and so on.  It is marked how today no such powers exist.  Some think they never did and the early believers were mad.  One answer the Church has is that the gifts have passed away. 

The only place where the Bible says anything about the charismata being taken away is in 1 Corinthians 13.

Paul writes in it that, “Love never fails [never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end]. As for prophecy (the gift of interfering the divine will or purpose), it will be fulfilled and pass away; as for tongues, they will be destroyed and cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away [it will lose its value and be superseded by truth]. For our knowledge is fragmentary (incomplete and imperfect), and our prophecy (our teaching) is fragmentary. But when the complete and the perfect (total) comes, the incomplete and imperfect will vanish away (become antiquated, void, and superseded).”
It seems to be saying the gifts will not be needed when we are in Heaven and so we will have them until then.
The perfect is not full union and knowledge of God in Heaven so perhaps it means the Christian scriptures being completed. The New Testament never promises any new prophet or pope or infallible Church but promises, by implication, new Christian scripture that will some day be finished and closed. The completion of the New Testament, in other words, with the book of Revelation. Paul uses the word teleios for perfect which he used to mean the perfect communion with God that will take place after the end of the world but it cannot mean that here. In Heaven and with God you would have to have all the charisms to make the union with him possible. But he said they would pass away to allow the perfect to happen. Paul saw salvation in terms of union with God.
When even Paul stated that divine revelation is hard to grasp the way God wants, it follows that when he reported seeing the risen Jesus that he could be saying that Jesus rose but his interpretation of what the resurrection was could be wrong. Language could be too crude to express the reality. It advises anybody who says the tomb was empty and Jesus raised his whole body up to be careful for nothing is exactly as it looks. Paul’s statement undermines the evidence Christians offer for Jesus and therefore the ability of Jesus to give charismatic gifts that are, in truth, supernatural.

The Charismatic interpretation of what Paul wrote has the charisms lasting, at least in potentiality if not actuality, until the next age: the Heavenly age which they say is the perfect he means. But the Bible denies this stating that the charisms are “the mighty powers of the age and the world to come” (Hebrews 6:5). There will be more charisms in Heaven than on earth. The next age is the age in which all people will be safe in the world of Heaven. Paul believed the charisms would end on earth permanently with the coming of the perfect and then after that they would happen in Heaven.

It is significant that Hebrews 2:3,4 speaks of the Charismatic miracles as if they are a thing of the past. It does not say it is just about the apostles’ gifts either so all miracle-workers are meant such as the man who was not a part of Jesus’ religious group who cast out demons in Jesus’ name (Mark 9:38,39).

Some Charismatics say that the reference to the charisms passing away in 1 Corinthians 13 just means that the gifts will not be exercised for a long time for they were ignored throughout most of Christian history not that they would be withdrawn.

Is this interpretation right?

It cannot be proved that Paul meant that the gifts would simply fall into misuse. He says cease and not neglected. When he said that the charism of love would never cease and the rest would, the charism would lead to the other charisms if they were still on offer. Paul said that speaking in tongues would cease and the word he was used for ceased was pauo which means stopping never to start up again and they will not stop until the perfect comes. Millions of Christians have always believed in divine guidance as in inspiration. If this guidance is from God and not their imagination then Paul was wrong. But perhaps the Christians were wrong for looking to an inner light instead of letting God guide them through the authorised scriptures. The Bible promises that God does it that way and Paul would not have intended to exclude that charism.

Since Paul told his flock not to forbid tongue-speaking and prophecy (1 Corinthians 14:39) some argue that he couldn’t have said or meant that these powers were temporary. Does telling people to help somebody imply that he or she will need them forever?

The Bible claims that the message of Jesus was thoroughly confirmed by the signs and wonders of Jesus and the apostles (Mark 16:20; Hebrews 2:3,4). Many believe that to demand Pentecostal wonders today is to cast doubt on the sufficiency of the evidence the Bible gives. The Bible says the faith is once and for all given to the Church (Jude 3) and that God had given all knowledge necessary for life and spiritual life to the Church (2 Peter 1:3). The apostles would say that if any miracles happen today the Devil has a part in them somewhere or they are hoaxes.

When Paul wrote that the apostates of the future would listen to seducing spirits it is most probable he had false charismatics in mind (1 Timothy 4:1). To avoid being seduced one would need to be supervised by the apostles or those who have been designated by the apostles. No supervisor can qualify today for the apostles are gone.

According to the Bible, the charismata no longer exist.

By the time of Irenaeus there was only one person saying that charismata still existed in the Church and that was Irenaeus himself and he was only reporting what others were saying about these miracles (page 11, Counterfeit Miracles). The powers had gone by then. When the early Church departed from them so easily – even if the godly gifts were abolished there were natural and satanic counterfeits that would have been retained - what else did it part from? There is no evidence that the powers continued after the apostles (page 29). St John Chrysostom declared that there were no miracles in his day (page 47). Augustine reported miracles but he was a crank who believed in predestination and even that peacock’s flesh was incorruptible and would never decay and claimed to have seen this with his own eyes (page 77). When he could not see what was real with his own eyes how could he be trusted in relation to what anybody else saw?
Medjugorje is a place where there have been apparitions of the Virgin Mary reported since 1981. Some – not all - experts are saying Medjugorje really is a place of miracles.  The Bible clearly opposes the teaching of the vision.  Its support and endorsement for the Charismatic Movement help raise the profile of Medjugorje.  With all that, it is clear that if there is anything happening there then some opponent of the God of Jesus Christ is behind it. It reflects badly on the charismatics if their gifts cannot make them perceive who this lady really is.


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