|Volume 17 Number 2 February 2015||
When miracles were performed in the first century, they gave the speaker credibility (Mark 16:20). When the Holy Spirit empowered someone to perform a miracle, the listeners more readily believed the message spoken.
One miraculous gift was the ability to speak in a language that was not the speaker’s mother tongue. It should be noted that “tongue” (Acts 2:4 ASV) is used as a synonym for “language” (Acts 2:6 ASV), so on that Pentecost morn, the travelers who had converged upon Jerusalem heard the preaching in their own “language” wherein they “were born” (Acts 2:8), that is, their native language.
While the books of the New Testament were still in production, various Christians were given gifts of the Holy Spirit (conferred by the apostles). Nine gifts of the Spirit are mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10.
Some in Corinth were selfishly using such gifts to gain personal attention. Paul had to stress that each Christian is important, and one member should not be elevated above others (1 Corinthians 12). Those who had been showing off needed to learn the “most excellent way” (1 Corinthians 12:31); they needed to learn to serve out of love (Chapter 13), rather than for self-aggrandizement.
Those who had been gloating in their miraculous ability needed a dose of ego-deflation. They needed to learn that the special gifts were temporary. “For we know in part, and we prophesy in part” (1 Corinthians 13:9). Such revelation was piecemeal. Paul wrote of a time when such would no longer be needed. He explained, “but when that which is perfect is come, that which is in part shall be done away” (1 Corinthians 13:10). This verse is woefully misunderstood. Some folks claim the “perfect” speaks of Jesus coming again.
However, the New Testament was originally written in Greek, and therein lies great help. The word rendered in our English versions as “perfect” is from “teleion” and is in the neuter gender in the original – thus, not a person (masculine gender) but a thing. This term, when used of quality carries the meaning of perfect, but when used of quantity it is better translated “complete” (Vine’s Expository Dictionary). The context is contrasting fragmented revelation with complete revelation. Spoken revelation is contrasted with written revelation.
The part by part revelations by miraculous prophesying would be “done away” (1 Corinthians 13:10) once the complete thing was available – that is the completed, written revelation. The last written document of the New Testament collection is the Book of Revelation (ca. A.D. 96). The written New Testament is complete (2 Timothy 3:16-17; Jude 3).
[Editor’s Note: The purpose for which miracles were employed has been fulfilled, and therefore, miracles are no longer needed. “And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen.” (Mark 16:20 NKJV). Since the purpose of miracles was about providing and validating the Word of God, now that we have the completed, written Word of God (the New Testament), miracles are neither any longer available. ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]
Where there is design, there must be a designer. This is a fundamental axiom. Take for example the design of a pair of pliers – composed of only three parts (two levers with jaws and a pivot pin). The clamping action is simple, useful and evidences design. The modern automobile requires a much higher level of engineering in order to properly coordinate the many systems (braking, combustion, cooling, exhaust, electrical, etc.). When our cars do not function correctly, we might begin to cast blame on the designers for flaws, but we certainly do not question the existence of automotive engineers. Whether looking at the working of pliers (simple design) or an automobile (complex design), anyone can deduce that each had a designer.
Have you ever played with two magnets? When you get them close enough together they will usually snap quickly together. In a similar way the gravitational pull between the sun and our earth is trying to draw them together. However, the earth’s speedy elliptical orbit (approximately 66,000 miles per hour) creates a centrifugal force in the opposite direction. While on its circuit our earth has its own dedicated orbiter, the moon. It orbits the earth at about 2,200 miles per hour. The forces between the earth and the sun are perfectly balanced, as are the forces between the earth and moon. If any of these forces were altered, even slightly, these heavenly bodies would not remain in their dependable orbits.
Furthermore, this exact distance between earth and sun that results in orbital stability is also perfect to allow the sun’s heat to produce moderate, habitable climate on earth’s surface. What do we deduce from this display of perfectly balanced design? “For every house is builded by someone; but he that built all things is God” (Hebrews 3:4).
Remember our reference to the automobile? It evidences design by its interrelated systems. Now consider the human body. There are ten major systems of the human body (skin, skeletal, muscular, digestive, circulatory, nervous, respiratory, excretory, endocrine, and reproductive). These all function ingeniously in concert. “I will give thanks unto thee [God]; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). See the fine book, The Human Body, Accident or Design? by Wayne Jackson (https://www.fortifyyourfaithbookstore.org).
The designs that abound all around us testify to the Great Designer. Read Romans 1:20 and Psalm 19.