1 Corinthians 11-13

"And now I will show you the most excellent way."                                     I Corinthians 13:1, NIV 

One of the greatest struggles people have in understanding the New Testament is in the area of miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit. The 12th and 14th chapters of I Corinthians talk a great deal about these gifts, and the 13th chapter gives us a bit of insight as to how long they would continue.

Love never fails. But where there are prophesies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled. Where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears."                   I Corinthians 13: 8-10, NIV

I am going to give you a brief (for a preacher, anyway) analysis of what my studies have led me to believe about the gifts of the Holy Spirit, but you need to study this for yourself and draw your own conclusions. If they differ from mine, we can still be friends - so here goes:

The New Testament talks about two clearly separate gifts of the Holy Spirit - the gift that we all receive when we hear the word, believe that Jesus is the Son of God and Lord of our lives, repent of our sins, and are baptized. At the culmination of this simple plan of salvation, we are told that we receive the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38 ff). That "gift" Scripture tells us is our seal of redemption (Ephesians 1:13-14), and that we ourselves are therefore temple of the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 6:19).

The second type of gift - the one that allowed believers to perform miracles like speaking in tongues, prophesying, having a miraculous understanding or knowledge, healing the sick, and so on, was given in two ways: It came upon the Apostles and the household of Cornelius with power ((Acts 2:1-4 & Acts10:44), and for all other believers it was given by the laying on of the Apostles hands after the believer had repented and was baptized(Acts 8:13-17 & Acts 19:1-4).

I believe that the second type of gift of the Holy Spirit that allowed the believers to perform miracles has passed, since the last Apostle died over 1900 years ago and can no longer lay hands upon believers, and due to the fact that, unlike the time that I Corinthians was written, we now have the complete inspired word of Gods in our hands - the Bible. That is the perfection that I believe Paul was talking about in I Corinthians 13. As to the receiving of the Holy Spirit Who dwells within each Christian when we obey God's plan of salvation, Peter indicated that that promise would be for every believer of all ages (Acts 2:39).

To sum up, it appears to me that the miraculous gift were no longer available after the church was established and the Bible was in its completed form and in the hands of the church, but the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is still given to all believers after they have believed, confessed their belief, repented of their sins and have been baptized.

Now, as to the most excellent way:

 

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth, It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails." I Corinthians 13:4-8, NIV