Vol. 8, No. 5
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The Lord God provided abundantly for his children while they were wandering in the wilderness for forty years. In Exodus Chapter 16, we learn that God instructed and informed Moses of the manna that he intended to give the people. And for six days of every week while Israel journeyed in the wilderness, God rained manna from heaven until they came into the promised land (Exodus 16:4, 35). After Israel crossed Jordan, they encamped in Gilgal and kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month. The Holy Scriptures clearly state that "the manna ceased on the morrow after they had eaten of the produce of the land; neither had the children of Israel manna any more; but they did eat of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year" (Joshua 5:10-12).
Therefore, we know definitely and beyond a shadow of a doubt that manna ceased. No need to speculate about the matter. The Bible informs us that manna ceased when God stopped providing Israel with manna. That should be evident enough for all to understand. And yet, I can't help but to wonder if years later while Israel dwelt in the land of Canaan that a group of young folk didn't approach the elders of the people and make some inquiries about this miraculous matter of manna being supplied to the previous generation. You can just about hear them saying something like, "Why, brother, the Lord is the same today as he was yesterday." Or, brother elder, you are just too steeped in church traditions." Some might have said, "You don't believe in the Spirit of God strongly enough." Or, "If you elders 'felt' the Spirit like we do, you would know that manna will still come down out of heaven today."
We read in the New Testament of the miracles of our Lord, the miraculous powers of the apostles and of the imparting of the spiritual gifts upon members of the first century church (1 Corinthians 12:28-31). All Bible believing people accept the miracles, wonders and signs recorded in the New Testament. Basically speaking, these miracles confirmed the Sonship of Christ, the spoken Word of God and guided the infant church in the absence of the complete, written testament of Jesus Christ (John 10:30-31; Hebrews 2:1-4; Ephesians 4:11-16). But in 1 Corinthians 13:8-10, we read that a time was coming when the miraculous would end. Paul declared that "love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish." These three miraculous gifts stood for the whole of the nine mentioned in Chapter Twelve. Paul is simply saying that there was coming a time when miracles would "be done away" and would "cease." Furthermore, Paul tells us in no uncertain terms when the miracles would cease. He continued, "For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part shall be done away." The revelation of the New Testament was fragmentary. In the beginning of the church age, the Word of God was in the inspired man (2 Corinthians 4:7). Later, as these inspired men began to write epistles to various congregations and individuals, the Word of God was partly in man and partly in written form. It was during this time that miracles continued, at least to some degree. However, Paul said, "But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part shall be done away." There is no doubt but Paul speaks of the cessation of the miraculous when he wrote "when that which is perfect has come." The "perfect" is in contrast with "that which is in part." That which was "in part" was the incomplete, written Word of the Lord. Therefore, we must conclude that which is "perfect" had to be the complete, written Word of God, that is, the New Testament of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 9:15-17; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:3; Jude 3). Also, the word "perfect" from the Greek word teleion means "to bring an end by completing or perfecting, of accomplishing, of bringing to completion." Perfect "signifies having reached its end (telos) finished, complete, perfect" (Vine's). The word "perfect" is an adjective that is here used as a noun. It is in the neuter gender and nothing in the context suggests that it refers to a person. And it does not in any way refer to the second coming of the Lord.
Miracles ceased just as surely as manna ceased. And yet, there are religionists who 'feel' that the miraculous still lingers today. There are brethren who have left us who have written books advocating the miraculous working of the Holy Spirit for us today. The most dangerous are those who have chosen not to leave the church, but who influence the young, the unlearned and the 'tired of the book only in religious matters' folk that miracles still occur today, and thus they are sowing seeds of unrest and discord among brethren. The threat of pure Pentecostalism is rampant in religion and even prominent among many of our own people.
May God continue to bless elders, Bible teachers and preachers who labor diligently in the fight against such error and who teach sound doctrine for a healthy, spiritual growth in the church of Jesus Christ.
Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words. McLean: MacDonald Publishing, n.d.