A new message preached from 1 Corinthians chapter 14 verse 1 by J Stewart Gillespie:
Outline notes from this message:
We noticed last time that we considered 1 Co 13:10; ‘that which is perfect‘
We suggested that this was a reference to the completeness and perfection of Divine Revelation not presently in the Bible but in a future day at the return of Christ
We suggested 3 major reasons why ‘that which is perfect’ cannot be a reference to the completed canon of scripture:
We noted that in verses 8 and 9 that ‘prophecies’ fell into the category of the passing (verse 8) and the partial (v9). That is that prophecy by its nature is subject to a frame of time and moves through distinct phases of revelation, expectation and then fulfillment. Until that prophecy is fulfilled exactly what it means is the subject of interpretation, and until it is fulfilled its full meaning will remain unclear. Any revelation therefore dependent upon unfulfilled prophecy cannot be the ‘perfect’ or fullness of revelation. The Bible contains unfilled prophecy, it is in fact, ‘a more sure word of prophecy,’ and thus cannot be that complete revelation.
Perfect revelation requires perfect preparation of the individual to receive it (13:11); that perfect preparation is the ongoing work of God in us, transforming and conforming us to the image of His Son (Romans 8:29), a work which will only be complete when we meet Christ (1 John 3:2), perfect revelation and comprehension, ‘to know even as I am known,’ must await that future day.
The imagery of 1 Co 13:12, in referring to seeing through the glass darkly uses the image of the Bible – the glass, used in 2 Corinthians chp 3:18 and James 1:23, that is the position of the present, the future position is, ‘face to face.’
That perhaps leaves us with something of a problem then, if I am saying that, ‘that which is perfect,’ lies in the future, am I then left with the continuance of sign gifts till then? Do I expect miracles, tongues, prophecy and wonders to continue until the return of the Lord Jesus Christ?
7 reasons for the cessation of sign gifts:
Specifically of ‘tongues’ verse 8, we are told that they shall ‘cease’ – middle tense, they are given for a purpose, discussed in 1 Corinthians chp 14 and then of their own accord will stop. They only appear 3 X in the Acts of the apostles, and then here in 1 Corinthians, when they are abused / misused.
The sign gifts were essentially signs of the apostles; Acts 5:12; 2:43; 2 Co 12:12; Heb 2:3-4. The apostles were those who saw the Lord in His death (11/12) and His resurrection (12/12) (Acts 1:22). If someone today claims to have the gift of miracles / prophecy / wonders then your first response can be; ‘you must be an awful lot older than you look.’
Prophecy was foundational to the church (1 Co 3:10-12; Eph 2:20) – we cannot go back after 2000 years and re-lay the foundation! Well that’s not entirely true, outside my house you can see 2 or 3 great foundation stones from the Arthur memorial church, layed over 100 years ago. You can change the foundation, but to do so, they had to first demolish the church. That is precisely what happens when we re-lay the foundations!
The faith which we hold and believe has been “once and for all” (Vincents Word Studies), delivered unto the saints; Jude 1:3 and is now to be passed on (2 Tim 2:1-2) rather than being freshly revealed (2 Tim 2:1-2). The passing of the baton.
Revelation 22:18-19 makes it clear that we cannot add to the NT scripture – no new revelation
The overall pattern of the Bible – supernatural signs and the gift of miracles were never normative; they occur during only 3 phases of history:
Moses and Aaron,
Elijah and Elisha
Christ and the Apostles
When we come to later epistles, the exhortation is not to prophesy but to expound scripture; read, study, and teach scripture: 1 Timothy 3:1-2; 4:6,13-16; 2 Tim 2:15; 3:14-17. Herein leis the real problem with the charismatic movement; not so much in the gifts which they think they have and do not possess but in dwelling on the fake and fraudulent they miss what God really does have for us.
The problem with all of that was not so much what he said – babbling in tongues; the problem lies more with what he did not say; all of the blessings which God has in His Word for us, were ignored.
‘Follow after love and desire spiritual gifts but rather that ye may prophesy’ (1 Corinthians 14:1)
So we might find at Corinth, brother Jim, he has the gift of prophecy, you may ask, well why does brother Jim prophecy? From 1 Corinthians 14:1 you could rightly say that brother Jim prophecies as a consequence of love. It is because he loves Gods people at Corinth that he prophecies. But you knew brother Jim from years ago; from when he worked and lived in Corinth, you may well scratch your head at that explanation and tell me, but I knew brother Jim years ago, when he bought and sold and lived in Corinth, all he was interested in was himself, in maximising his profit and pursuing his pleasures.
If brother Jim is now acting out of self sacrificial love, well that is something new! Where did he get that love from? You know the answer to that of course. Brother Jim got saved. Brother Jim was born again, he is a new creature in Christ, filled by His Spirit and the fruit of that Spirit which is; ‘love, joy, peace, longsuffering…’
Let’s just bring all of that together then, all of that means that the exercise of brother Jim’s gift, that gift of prophecy is ultimately a product of Gods love for Jim and Gods love for His people through the ministry of Jim? Is that correct?
So if I ask the question, how do I know that God loves me? I can look back into the past and remember Calvary (John 3:16) but I can also look into the present and perceive His ongoing love and care for me in the provision of the ministry of His Word.
Sometimes you will hear Christians say some very ill thought out things and I wouldn’t like you to imbibe them! Statements such as:
I’m not so much interested in the Word of God, I’m more interested in the love of God
There really wasn’t enough love in that place, a lot of Bible teaching.
You see God continues to express His love for us, in the care that He shows for us in the teaching and ministry of His Word.
Disregard for that, prioritising other things before that is really a disregard for the love of God and that has costs and consequences.
I’ve noticed it over the years, a particular Word of ministry, Word in the Gospel, that would have been particularly helpful to some of Gods people, but they had absented themselves that evening for other things. God’s love had been extended and rejected. They were the poorer for it.