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« Reply #15 on: March 30, 2008, 08:22:48 PM »

By Paul M. Sadler

2. “...And let one interpret. But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God” (vs. 27,28 ). The interpreter was also one of the supernatural sign gifts of the Acts period. Translators will tell you that it is impossible to translate from one language to another word for word. In fact, they sometimes pour over a text for days searching for a word that’s close to the term they are translating. Normally it takes years for someone to master two languages. In addition, the interpreter must have a working knowledge of the various definitions of each word to convey the proper sense in another language. The interpretation of tongues provided this understanding instantaneously to those blessed with this gift.

If those who spoke in tongues received further enlightenment from the Spirit on a particular doctrine, they were not permitted to use the gift of tongues unless an interpreter was present. They were commanded to be silent. The interpreter was God’s connection between language barriers. If these gifts were practiced according to His will, they produced unity in the assembly and provided the means for all to be edified. However, if there is one thing that characterizes the modern day tongues movement, it’s confusion!

3. “...For greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying” (vs. 5). As mentioned earlier, the gift of tongues was never intended to stir the assembly into an emotional state. Rather it was an important teaching tool to impart a fuller understanding of the Mystery to those who spoke another tongue. This insured that they, too, could be built up in the faith along with the other members of the assembly as the Scriptures were being taught. With no room left for boasting, everyone could give God the glory for the “great things He hath done.”

4. “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak” (vs. 34). While most understand the principle that the woman is not to teach, nor usurp authority over the man, Paul also makes it crystal clear in the context of I Corinthians 14 that she was not to prophesy or speak in tongues in the church. Even though these were supernatural gifts of the Spirit, the women were only permitted to exercise these gifts outside the local assembly (Acts 21:8,9). It has been said that if you were to remove the women from the present-day tongues’ movement it would collapse. Apparently, that’s how prominent of a role they play. But what saith the Scriptures?

Some have been troubled by Paul’s statement: “Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues” (I Corinthians 14:39). Beloved, it is important to remember that at the time of this writing these gifts were still being used by God to establish the Body of Christ. They were manifestations of the wonderful workings of God. Therefore, Paul instructed the Corinthians, “forbid not to speak with tongues,” that is, use them for God’s honor and glory. As we know, the sign gifts were soon to become a passing memory. But until that time, the apostle tirelessly contended for their proper use.

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« Reply #16 on: March 30, 2008, 08:26:44 PM »

By Paul M. Sadler


“But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet show I unto you a more excellent way.”  — I Corinthians 12:31

Confusion is perhaps Satan’s most effective weapon of warfare against the Body of Christ. He uses this weapon so effectively that most are totally unaware of its destructive force. This is certainly the case today with the confusion that surrounds the supernatural sign gifts of the Acts period. Once again, the solution to this and a host of other tactical errors the Church has made is a proper understanding of the Word, rightly divided. This rule of thumb must also be applied to Paul’s epistles, especially in regard to the apostle’s early and later ministries.

As we have seen, there are essentially three reasons for the emergence of the miraculous sign gifts, each of which played a significant role at the beginning of the dispensation of Grace.

First, these miraculous manifestations were a sign to Israel that God was setting the chosen nation aside in unbelief in order to introduce a new program among the Gentiles. This was a sure indication that the blessing of God had been removed from the wayward nation and given to the Gentiles. Since this was accomplished by the close of the Acts period, the sign gifts gave way to the next phase of God’s plans and purposes for the Church.

Second, with the unveiling of the Mystery came the need for a new apostle. Paul, of course, was the one chosen by the Lord of glory to hold this apostolic office. In order to safeguard against impostors, strict guidelines were placed upon those who were called to be apostles. It was mandatory that the one who held this position be an eyewitness of the resurrected Christ.

In addition, the signs of an apostle had to accompany the ministry of those who claimed to be apostles. Paul’s apostolic credentials were impeccable, insofar as he had seen the resurrected Christ on the road to Damascus and demonstrated all of the signs of an apostle (I Corinthians 9:1 cf. II Corinthians 12:12). Since Paul’s apostleship was a well-established fact by the end of his early ministry, these gifts were withdrawn.

Third, these miraculous manifestations also served to draw the attention of the unsaved masses to Christ in a dramatic way. Consequently, multitudes were saved into the Body, thus giving credibility to the gospel of the grace of God. Once the Church came into full bloom the sign gifts gradually faded from the scene.

But what exactly brought these miraculous demonstrations to a close or are they still to be sought after today, as some teach? Of course, some will defend their tongues experience until the day they die. But, shall we place experience above the Scriptures? God forbid! It is always essential that our faith is resting on the firm foundation of the Word of God, rightly divided!


“But whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away” (I Corinthians 13:8 ).

Shall prophecies fail? By no means; the apostle is referring here to the gift of prophecy. Shall tongues cease? Obviously not, for even to this very day tongues or languages are being used as a means of communication. Paul is speaking about the gift of tongues, that is, the ability to supernaturally speak an unknown foreign language for the purpose of imparting the gospel (I Corinthians 14:22). The gift of knowledge shall also vanish away, which, as we have seen, enabled the believer to know the mind and will of God in any given circumstance. This is how Peter knew that Ananias and Sapphira had lied to the Holy Spirit and kept back part of the price of the possession they sold. He had the gift of knowledge!

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« Reply #17 on: March 30, 2008, 08:47:12 PM »

By Paul M. Sadler

Have you ever paused to consider why the apostle selected these particular sign gifts from a long list of others that could have been chosen? We have found that they all bear a direct connection to the Word of God. Those, for example, who exercised the gift of prophecy, literally spoke the Word of God as they foretold future events. The prophet Agabus warned Paul not to go to Jerusalem, for in so doing he would be bound hand and foot with chains. As we know, his words were fulfilled to the letter (Acts 21:10-12).

Today if we desire enlightenment on “things to come” we must diligently search the Scriptures. So then, the gift of prophecy has given way to the written revelation. In like manner, if the believer is seeking the mind and will of God it is no longer conveyed through the supernatural gift of knowledge, but through the written revelation. The gift of tongues was the vehicle through which prophecy and the knowledge of God were communicated in oral form. But it, too, became inoperative with the completion of the Scriptures.

Consequently, God speaks to us today through His written revelation. Even in Paul’s day the original manuscripts and copies thereof were already being circulated among the churches for the saints to read and study (Colossians 4:16 cf. II Timothy 4:13). Through the centuries thousands of translations have been produced in nearly every language. And with the invention of the printing press the Word of God is now available around the world.


“But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away” (I Corinthians 13:10).

Those of the Charismatic persuasion normally interpret the above passage accordingly: “When Christ, who is the perfect One, comes, then the supernatural gifts will be done away at which time faith, hope and love will abide throughout eternity.” In short, they teach the continuation of the sign gifts until the Rapture and therefore those who do not possess these gifts are looked down upon as living in carnality. Need we remind our Charismatic friends that the Corinthians were anything but spiritual minded, yet they exercised these gifts to the glory of God. You see, it was not a matter of one’s spirituality; rather these gifts were given according to God’s plans and purposes at that time.

The pressing question here is this, when were these gifts withdrawn? Paul is very clear that a change was indeed in the wind: “But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet show I unto you a more excellent way” (I Corinthians 12:31). The apostle instructs the Corinthians that, for the time then present, they should choose to exercise the most profitable gifts, such as prophecy. But they were to understand that these miraculous manifestations would soon give way to something far superior.

The time line for this change is given to us in I Corinthians 13:10. If we consult the Greek we find the construction of this verse is in the neuter gender, which indicates an inanimate object is in view, such as a book. The translators did a superb job of carrying this thought over into the English as well. This is important for the mere reason that if the person of Christ is the subject of this passage the construction would require the masculine gender. To be grammatically correct the verse would have to read, “But when He who is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.” However, since the noun “that” is in the neuter gender we believe that the passage should be interpreted in the following manner:

“But when that [the Word of God, in particular Paul’s epistles] which is perfect [Gr. Teleiosis ‘Completion —  an end accomplished as the effect of a process.’] is come, then that [supernatural sign gifts] which is in part [the incomplete way] shall be done away.”

In other words, with the completion of Paul’s epistles the sign gifts vanished away. This interpretation is in keeping with the grammatical construction of the passage and even more importantly with the context and experience. The position is reinforced further when we remember that it was given to the Apostle Paul to fulfill or complete the Word of God insofar as extent (Colossians 1:25). He completed the Scriptures in regard to the Mystery.

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« Reply #18 on: March 30, 2008, 08:50:11 PM »

By Paul M. Sadler


“When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things” (I Corinthians 13:11).

Interestingly, Paul uses two illustrations to confirm his argument. He begins by contrasting childhood with adulthood — the immature with the mature. When our youngest, Timothy, was about three years old he was cute as a button. Of course, that’s a papa speaking.

One day my wife was sewing across from Kevin’s room when she heard a voice faintly say: “Do you need help?” Apparently Kevin, who was a teenager at the time, had gone downstairs but forgot to turn off his electronic baseball game. After about five minutes it repeatedly says, in intervals of fifteen seconds, “Do you need help?” Just then Timmy came scampering down the hallway when he heard this mysterious voice from his brother’s bedroom — “Do you need help?” He slowly pushed the door open and softly said, “He’ll be right back!!” Now a seasoned veteran in these things, Timothy obviously knows the difference between an electronic voice and the real thing.

In like fashion, the sign gifts were the immature way. When we became adults we put away all our childhood toys. Hence, our immaturity was gradually replaced with a fuller understanding of things once we became adults. Thus, the supernatural gifts were put aside with the maturing of the dispensation which came with the completion of Paul’s revelation.

“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face...” (I Corinthians 13:12).

Here the apostle uses a mirror to further illustrate his argument. Unlike mirrors today, in biblical times they were often pieces of metal from which one could barely make out his image. Similarly, the sign gifts were like looking into an ancient mirror; they were an indication that everything had not yet come into focus. Therefore, with the advent of God’s written revelation further clarity was given so we could see, as it were, face to face. That is, God made it possible for us to see more clearly the whole counsel of His will.


“And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity” (I Corinthians 13:13).

Whenever God takes something away from His children He always replaces it with something infinitely better. Thus, upon withdrawing the sign gifts, which were temporary in character, God has replaced them with three crowning graces that will abide throughout the remainder of the dispensation. As we have seen, some claim that these three graces won’t be realized until eternity. We, however, beg to differ with them.

Paul says, now abideth faith. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” The keystone in the arch of grace is faith. I have never seen or audibly spoken to the Lord face to face, although I do look forward to that day. Nevertheless, I have faith that He exists based upon the living Word of God. However, when I step into the glory of His presence my faith shall turn to sight.

If faith is the keystone, then hope is the bow in the arch that reaches from the beginning of our Christian experience to the end. Our hope is Christ who will someday soon shuttle us to glory on the Rapture express. (As you can see, my years of traveling through major metropolitan cities are beginning to effect my thought process!)

Christ is our surety of the resurrection, translation, eternal life, reigning position and heaven. Once we are called home to heaven our hope will become reality. We will no longer hope to behold heaven after we are there and gaze upon its beauty. As Paul says, “For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?” (Romans 8:24).

The final jewel in the crown of grace is love. Love is the bond that holds the arch of grace together. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” “But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Christ’s sacrificial death at Calvary is the greatest love story ever told. Do you know the love of God in Christ Jesus? If the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts as the Book of Romans teaches us, should we not love one another and bear one another’s burdens as members of the Body of Christ? This redeeming love will one day bring us to glory where we will abide forever.

The supernatural sign gifts of the Acts period have passed with the transition period and NOW abides faith, hope and love. The mark of a genuine assembly is not if they speak in tongues, but do they exhibit faith, hope and love in accordance with Paul’s gospel.


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