The question of whether the miraculous gifts of the Holy
Spirit have ceased to function in the church today is a “hot topic.” We have spent considerable time and space examining and refuting an article by Joel McDurmon of American Vision. In his article, McDurmon espoused some distinctive views:
1.) He denied that 1 Corinthians 13 actually foretold the objective cessation of the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit, and particularly the revelatory gifts, such as prophecy, inspired knowledge, wisdom, etc.. This view is diametrically opposed to the historical view of the church.
2.) He claimed that Paul’s focus of attention in 1 Corinthians 13 is on the individual, not the corporate body.
3.) As a direct corollary, McDurmon claimed that what Paul was teaching in 1 Corinthians 13 is that when particular “gifted” individuals arrive at a given point of personal spiritual maturity, which is McDurmon’s definition of “that which is perfect”, that the miraculous gifts of the Spirit cease in their lives, while they continue to function in the rest of the corporate body.
By way of response we have examined several passages that patently do teach the objective cessation of the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit. Those same passages place the emphasis on the corporate function / cessation of the gifts of the Spirit, and, significantly, they posit an objective time for the cessation of those miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit.
The Gifts of the Holy Spirit and God’s Promises to Israel – A Key Fact!
I want to take a look at an issue that McDurmon, both in his article and in our formal debate, sought desperately to ignore. Yet, it is a foundationally important issue, and critical to any understanding not only of eschatology, but of the gifts of the Spirit.
Nothing But the Hope of Israel
In my formal debate with McDurmon, I pointed out that Paul said “there is one hope” (Ephesians 4:4f). I noted that in his discussion of his resurrection doctrine, the apostle said that hope and expectation sprang exclusively from Moses, the prophets and the Law (Acts 24:14f). In fact, Paul said he preached nothing but the hope of Israel found in Moses and the Law (Acts 26:21f). By way of contrast, McDurmon claimed that his eschatology was related to Adam, the Garden and Abraham– not Israel. Be sure to get a copy of the debate book for yourself.
McDurmon even went so far as to claim that the (supposed, but highly suspect) resurrection promise of Job 19 is unrelated to Torah. McDurmon’s implied argument therefore was that Job is different from the resurrection promises made to Israel. I challenged McDurmon to answer specifically whether the resurrection promise of Job was in fact different from the resurrection promise of 1 Corinthians 15. Here was my challenge and comment: “Is Job’s resurrection hope the same as 1 Corinthians 15? If it is, what did Paul say? “I preach nothing but the hope of Israel.” Israel after the flesh.”
McDurmon labored to answer the question without entrapping himself. He finally answered: “Is Job’s resurrection hope the same as the New Testament resurrection? I have a definitive answer to that actually. It is yes and no.” (End Times Dilemma, p. 116). That is quite an answer, isn’t it?
The point here is that in spite of McDurmon’s desperate obfuscation, he could not avoid the undeniable Biblical testimony that Paul preached nothing but the hope of Israel. What does that have to do with our study of the gifts of the Holy Spirit? Everything!
Stated succinctly, the argument is this:
Paul taught of the coming “that which is perfect” (1 Corinthians 13).
But, Paul preached (taught) nothing but the hope of Israel found in Moses, the prophets and the Law.
Therefore, Paul’s doctrine of the coming “that which is perfect” was found in, based on, and was nothing different from Moses, the prophets and the Law.
The Gifts of the Holy Spirit — Israel — That Which Is Perfect
To make the initial point, remember that McDurmon’s view of 1 Corinthians 13 and “that which is perfect” essentially has little, if anything (nothing) to do with God’s Old Covenant promises made to Israel. McDurmon’s view demands that when Paul was discussing the gifts of the Holy Spirit in Corinthians that he was dealing with the church, divorced and isolated from Israel and her promises.
Of course, in another amazing bit of self-contradiction, in response to my question about when God’s Covenant with Old Covenant Israel was, or will be fulfilled and terminated, McDurmon said that will be at the physical resurrection! Of logical and scriptural necessity, this demands that Torah– every jot and tittle of it– remains valid and binding today, until the end of human history. It demands that Israel remains as God’s covenant people. After all, if God’s covenant with Israel remains valid until the “end of time” then, well, Israel remains God’s covenant people! So, in McDurmon’s jumbled theology / eschatology, God has two covenant people today: Israel under Torah, and the church under the Gospel! Shades of John Hagee! See what I mean by jumbled theology?
Anyway, to our point: Paul said he preached nothing but the hope of Israel. Of logical necessity therefore, somewhere in the OT, we should find the doctrine of “that which is perfect” and the “face to face” that Paul discusses. We do not have to look long or far.
The Gifts of the Holy Spirit– Israel and the Face to Face!
Isaiah is a prophetic book full of predictions of the perfect state, i.e the New Creation! Furthermore, Isaiah specifically foretold the coming of the “face to face” state. Take a look at Isaiah 52:1-10:
“Awake, awake! Put on your strength, O Zion; Put on your beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city! For the uncircumcised and the unclean Shall no longer come to you. Shake yourself from the dust, arise; Sit down, O Jerusalem! Loose yourself from the bonds of your neck, O captive daughter of Zion! For thus says the Lord: “You have sold yourselves for nothing, And you shall be redeemed without money.” For thus says the Lord God: “My people went down at first Into Egypt to dwell there; Then the Assyrian oppressed them without cause. Now therefore, what have I here,” says the Lord, “That My people are taken away for nothing? Those who rule over them Make them wail,” says the Lord, “And My name is blasphemed continually every day. Therefore My people shall know My name; Therefore they shall know in that day That I am He who speaks: ‘Behold, it is I.’” How beautiful upon the mountains Are the feet of him who brings good news, Who proclaims peace, Who brings glad tidings of good things, Who proclaims salvation, Who says to Zion, “Your God reigns!” Your watchmen shall lift up their voices, With their voices they shall sing together; For they shall see eye to eye When the Lord brings back Zion. Break forth into joy, sing together, You waste places of Jerusalem! For the Lord has comforted His people, He has redeemed Jerusalem. The Lord has made bare His holy arm In the eyes of all the nations; And all the ends of the earth shall see The salvation of our God.”
While volumes could be written on this marvelous text, notice just a few of the particularly salient tenets:
1.) It predicted the resurrection. Zion would be “in the dust” but would be raised out of the dust (Cf. Isaiah 26; Daniel 12:2, etc). The call to awake and rise from the dust is nothing less than a prophecy of the resurrection. And note how this is patently a “corporate resurrection” concept.
2.) It is the time of the “remarriage” of Israel, for she is called to put on the beautiful garments. These are the Wedding garments, and echoes the promise of Isaiah’s contemporary, Hosea. See my book, We Shall Meet Him In The Air, The Wedding of the King of kings, for an extensive discussion of this critical eschatological doctrine.
3.) It is the time of the establishment of the Kingdom! The voice of the Messengers would be “your God reigns!” Of course, in Romans 10 Paul quotes from this very verse to speak of the gospel being preached to Israel of his day. Thus, the application of Moses and the prophets to Paul’s gospel is established.
4.) It is the redemption of Jerusalem / Zion. This incredibly rich motif is throughout Isaiah. In the previous chapters, Zion is depicted as downtrodden, captive, oppressed and despised. Here, Zion is redeemed without money (cf. 1 Peter 1:18f). The parallel, of many, to this text is Isaiah 62, where the redemption of Zion– and like Isaiah 52, at the Wedding– is posited at the coming of the Lord in judgment. Significantly, Jesus directly echoes Isaiah 62 in his prediction of the establishment of the kingdom and the judgment at his parousia in the first century (Matthew 16:27-28).
5.) It is the redemption of Zion– the resurrection– that would be the arrival of the “eye to eye” state (cf. Isaiah 25:6-9)! Needless to say, the “eye to eye” and the “face to face” state of 1 Corinthians 13 are the same. This “eye to eye” stands in stark contrast to the language in which YHVH had cast Israel out of His presence; He had cast them away from His “face.” He had departed from them (cf. Hosea 5:15) but, in the day that He would remarry them, He would return, raise them from the dead, and they would dwell in His presence (Hosea 5:15-6:1-6– In Hosea, we have God’s Divorce– His Departure– the Death, of Israel. We likewise find the promise of His Remarriage, His Return, and the Resurrection. All of this is posited in a covenantal context, not the context of biological death and resurrection. Needless to say, these motifs are all found here in Isaiah 52 as well).
One might be prompted to ask: what does the prophecy of the redemption of Zion have to do with 1 Corinthians 13? A very legitimate question and one that we will discuss in the next installment.
For further reading on the question of the cessation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, see Kenneth Gentry’s book, The Charismatic Gift of Prophecy, available here.