I Corinthians 13:8 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.
9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
Yesterday we looked at the importance of understanding the times. God, in His wisdom divided the history of the world into dispensations. We are living the dispensation that is commonly known as the dispensation of the church. This dispensation will end with the Rapture which will usher in the Tribulation time. Jesus Christ ushered in the church age while He was on earth. Acts 2 gives us the details of the empowering of the apostles as the foundation (Ephesians 2:20) of the church age, under the headship of the Lord Jesus Christ. God gave the apostles the power to use certain signs to prove the authenticity of their ministry. There were false teachers at the time of the apostles. The common people did not have access to God’s Word. God’s Word was still being written during the time of the apostles and that which was written was written on scrolls.
In order for the people to know who were God’s apostles, God gave His apostles the ability to do certain signs. They could heal people in a way that is not possible since their time. God still heals, but not in the manner in which He did by the hands of the apostles. They also had the gift of tongues. They could communicate with people of different languages without having to go to school for years to learn the language. They also had the gift of prophecy. For example, God gave the apostle John insight into the future in the writing of the book of the Revelation.
God tells us in His Word that there were certain signs that the apostles would have that would prove that they were God’s apostles (II Corinthians 12:12).
As we notice in our opening verse, prophecies shall fail, tongues shall cease and knowledge shall vanish away. Verse 10 tells us that these three gifts would no longer be needed when the perfect is come. There are several interpretations of verse 10. The one that fits with the Scriptures is that the perfect is the completed Word of God.
James 1:25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.
James 2:12 So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.
We know that tongues ceased during the time of the apostles. There are false “tongues” being used today. A better word for that would be “vain babbling”. The Charismatics claim that when a person asks for and receives the “baptism of the Holy Spirit” one of the evidences will be “tongues speaking.” That is a false teaching they have developed, but it has no basis in Scripture.
We have mentioned before that the way to understand Bible doctrine is to look at where God introduces it and how He develops it in the Bible. Genesis 10 briefly mentions tongues. Genesis 11 gives greater detail of what God means with tongues. God confounded the language of the people so that they could not understand each other. Tongues was introduced into the world as a judgment upon the rebellion of man. It was not a blessing, but a judgment. God later rebuked the nation of Israel by telling them in the book of Isaiah that He would speak to them with a people of “stammering lips”.
In the book of Acts, the apostles spoke to the people and each different group heard them speaking in their own language. God gave the apostles the ability to speak to the people in their mother tongues.
As we mentioned, God had many prophets in the Old Testament. There were false prophets and there were true prophets.
Deuteronomy 13:1 If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder,
2 And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them;
3 Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
4 Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him.
There are many false prophets today, however in this dispensation we are not told to kill them for speaking against God’s will and word. However, we are commanded to reject them. Not very many people pay attention to that admonition.
Deuteronomy 18:22 When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.
Due to space restrictions we are not quoting all the verses in these two chapters that deal with prophecy. In chapter 18, God taught the people that His prophet would always speak the truth. The false prophet might suggest that the LORD had spoken to him or her, but if the thing did not come to pass, then the prophet spoke of his own will and not according to God’s will. They were to be rejected if they did not prophesy the truth all the time.
We have no further need of prophecy today because the Word of God is completed. God gave a final warning in the last chapter of the book of the Revelation regarding those who want to add to or take away from His Word.
The wise person, the person who can understand the times, will run away from the false prophet. He might stop to rebuke him, but he certainly will not entertain his wickedness.
Knowledge is that word of knowledge that was also a particular gift that Old Testament prophets had. The apostles also had that gift. However, that gift also ended with the completion of the Word of God. We can warn people through God’s Word, but God is not giving any new word of knowledge today. Again, there are those who want to claim to speak words of knowledge to others. Many gullible people fall for that sham. It is sad to see so many who do not have discernment and are not teachable either. God’s Word is sure and It is true. We do not need any further Word from God. He tells us that. We need to submit to that which He has given us.
Those who have the ability to understand the times will understand that these particular gifts have ended. Rather than create confusion they will seek to humbly serve the true God with the gifts that are still available for His saints today.