The Holy Spirit
This study deals with the various miraculous spiritual gifts of the Holy Spirit. The distribution of these gifts is the second of the three works of the Holy Spirit which we charted in lesson 4.
Paul shows that there was a variety of miraculous gifts, and he lists nine of them...
The word of wisdom,
2. The word of knowledge,
4. Gifts of healing,
5. Working of miracles,
7. Discerning of spirits,
8. Speaking in tongues,
9. Interpretation of tongues.
This may not be an exhaustive list, but it is comprehensive enough to show a variety of powers for revelation of the word or for confirmation (1Co 12:1-11).
Most of us know someone who has an extraordinary gift of some kind. They may excell to an amazing degree in wisdom or knowledge, or languages, or some other art. We are likely to know someone who has an uncanny ability to discern people's thoughts or to predict the future, or who has a gift for healing the sick in body or mind. Perhaps a person we know can control and communicate with animals, or divine underground water, or walk barefoot on hot coals, or swallow the blade of a sword. Or perhaps the person is often enough involved in stunning co-incidences, that it seems he can influence events. Or perhaps the person has a weird story to tell, like having been struck by lightning fourteen different times in his life. The world is full of people who amaze us, however we would be very loose with language if we referred to these powers or curiosities as miraculous.
People seem to have lost the distinction between miraculous gifts of the Bible and the extraordinary gifts and events that everyone occasionally experiences or sees. It is rather sad that you can go to church and see what are claimed to be astounding miracles from God, which are less remarkable than something you've seen on a television curiosity show or at a circus.
When we study the miracles recorded in the Scripture, they are not just extraordinary gifts, they are real miracles. The healing of the man lame from birth is just one example (Acts 3:1-10). We looked at several real miracles in lesson 3 as well as the miracles of Jesus in lesson 1
The miraculous spiritual gifts had two purposes...
The initial preaching of the gospel, and the writing of the New Testament were made possible by miraculous spiritual gifts of divine inspiration. This laid the foundation for the church (1Co 14:29-31, Eph 3:9) (2Tm 3:16-17, Eph 2:20). People claim to have these gifts today, yet not a single page of new revelation has been added to the Bible in nearly 2000 years.
The miracles and wonders and signs which were done, confirmed that what was preached was indeed the word of God (Mrk 16:20, Heb 2:3-4. Having been confirmed, and with the testimony on record, the word of God needs no further confirmation.
The possession of miraculous gifts was not essential to salvation. Belief and baptism are mentioned by Jesus as prerequisites of salvation, but not the signs. Jesus does not say, "He who believes, and is baptized, and performs signs shall be saved" (Mark 16:15-17).
Nor were they essential to the knowledge and ministry of the truth. Paul passed on his word to Timothy, and told Timothy to pass it on to faithful men, who in turn could teach others also. What has once been revealed miraculously can thereafter be learned and taught without a miraculous gift. Paul mentioned a number of gifts for ministry, only one of which required a miraculous gift (Rom 12:3-9).
People came to possess a gift by having an apostle’s hands laid on them (Acts 8:14-18, 2Tm 1:6). Consequently, when the last apostle died, the gifts ceased to be transmitted.
Paul said that miraculous gifts such as tongues, prophecy, and knowledge, were to "cease... when that which is perfect has come" (1Co 13:8-12). This does not refer to the second coming of Christ as some say, because Christ is a person and he would be described as "he who..." not "that which..." Furthermore Paul is speaking of "that which is perfect" as the completed whole of "that which is in part". Since Paul was thinking of revelation when he spoke of "that which is in part", he was also thinking of revelation when he spoke of "that which is perfect".
Revelation was already being committed to writing by inspired men, who were writing various letters and records. When enough of these new scriptures were available, there would be no longer any need for miraculous gifts to continue revealing and confirming the word, so they would be done away and the New Testament scriptures would take their place. (As a matter of interest, if gifts like tongues and prophecy still operate, then revelation is still being added; so why aren't new scriptures being added to the New Testament?)