In our last study of Romans we looked at the temporary nature of spiritual gifts. In order to properly understand the spiritual gifts, you must know what time it is. In Romans 12:6-8 Paul talks about spiritual gifts and encourages the believers at Rome to use their gifts according to the proportion of their faith:
Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. Romans 12:6-8 NASB
Paul says, "...we have gifts" and many read this as if it was written to them. The "we" here is Paul and the first century saints at Rome. I tried to demonstrate last week that all the gifts ended with the end of the Jewish age. The gifts were supernatural provisions during the second exodus or transition period. When the bride reached maturity and married Yeshua, the gifts ended.
Now let me say, and please get this, Yahweh still does miracles, there are people today who are being healed. I know of several people who have been physically healed. But it is not the norm, it's the exception. And please understand that salvation is a miracle! Yahweh gives life to dead people, that is the greatest miracle of all.
I think that the subject of spiritual gifts is important because there is so much confusion in the church today over this issue. So I would like us to look at the subject of spiritual gifts again this morning.
Paul tells the believers in Rome that if they have the gift of prophecy they are to exercise it properly. Now prophecy was a very important gift. In fact, the Apostle Paul, in writing to the Corinthians, said the most about prophecy and tongues. Notice what Paul says about prophecy in 1 Corinthians 14:
Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. 1 Corinthians 14:1 NASB
But one who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation. 1 Corinthians 14:3 NASB
Therefore, my brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak in tongues. 1 Corinthians 14:39 NASB
So prophecy was obviously a very important gift. In 1 Corinthians 12 Paul says:
And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues. 1 Corinthians 12:28 NASB
There seems to be an order of importance here: "first apostles, second prophets, third teachers." Paul also tells us the importance of prophets in Ephesians:
having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, Ephesians 2:20 NASB
They, along with the apostles, were responsible for laying the foundation of the Church.
What is prophecy? John MacArthur writes, "It simply means to speak before people. It is the gift of public speaking." I think this is way too watered down. Prophets were gifted men who were second only to the apostles in the founding days of the Church. A prophet in the New Testament refers to one who has the insight into divine things, and who speaks them forth. Sometimes prophecy was predictive, as we see in:
Now at this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. One of them named Agabus stood up and began to indicate by the Spirit that there would certainly be a great famine all over the world. And this took place in the reign of Claudius. Acts 11:27-28 NASB
Sometimes prophets spoke for God rather than predicting the future. For instance, not everything Isaiah said was predictive. So prophets gave present and future truth. When they spoke of the future, they were to be 100% accurate, or they were to die:
'I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. Deuteronomy 18:18 NASB
This is speaking of Yeshua. He calls Him a prophet and then says, "I will put my words in His mouth." A prophet is the mouth of God. He is speaking for Yahweh.
A contemporary writer, Ron McKenzie, who was a Presbyterian Minister, says this, "The most urgent need of the modern church is for the restoration of the prophetic ministry." He goes on to say, "There are no perfect prophets. There are very few perfect prophecies. I would expect that even experienced prophets get it wrong sometimes. I suspect that most prophets would be very happy, if they got it right 90 percent of the time. An even larger percentage of prophecies from God will be slightly contaminated by something the prophet has added from his own heart. This is normal even for experienced prophets, because all prophets are human." He goes on to say, "We must also learn to reject prophecies without killing the prophet. The church should accept a mistake as a reminder that all prophets are human. The prophets should be glad to hear about their mistakes, so they can learn from them." Is this in line with Scripture? Not even close:
'And it shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him. 20 'But the prophet who shall speak a word presumptuously in My name which I have not commanded him to speak, or which he shall speak in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.' 21 "And you may say in your heart, 'How shall we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?' 22 "When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him. Deuteronomy 18:19-22 NASB
So a prophet is to be accurate or die! A prophet is the mouth of God:
Then the LORD said to Moses, "See, I make you as God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet. Exodus 7:1 NASB
Aaron was to speak for Moses, who was as God to Pharaoh. John Piper writes, "But the spiritual gift of prophecy is different from the inspiration of Scripture." I really don't see it as different than inspiration because a prophet was the mouth of Yahweh. Marvin Vincent says of prophecy: "Prophecy is utterance under immediate divine inspiration; delivering inspired exhortation, instructions or warnings. The fact of direct inspiration distinguished prophecy from teaching." Before the completion of revealed truth in the Scriptures, the prophets were inspired revealers of God"s teaching to the churches. They told the infant churches what they should do, believe, and teach. Their ministry was later superceded by the Bible.
Are there prophets today in a secondary sense? Aren't those who preach the Word with power and authority prophets? Not unless they are speaking under inspiration directly for God.
Are there prophets today who could write something that would have the authority of Scripture? No! John MacArthur says, "There are people who want to eliminate prophecy as still existing today. They have a problem, because if they eliminate prophecy, then what do they say the people are doing who proclaim the Word?" I would say they are teaching or preaching!
Can we prove that prophecy ended in A.D. 70, and thus all the gifts; and that the Lord Yeshua Ha'Moshiach returned at that time bringing the Church to full maturity and into a face to face relationship with Yahweh? I think we can if we take a close look at some First Testament verses. Let's start by looking at Daniel chapter 9. In Daniel 9, the 70 years for the Babylonian captivity was just about over:
In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of Median descent, who was made king over the kingdom of the Chaldeans--in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, observed in the books the number of the years which was revealed as the word of the LORD to Jeremiah the prophet for the completion of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years. Daniel 9:1-2 NASB
In verses 1 & 2, Daniel had calculated the number of years of the Babylonian captivity based upon the prophecy of Jeremiah 29:10. He knew that the time was near, and he went to Yahweh in prayer asking Him to remember His covenant and restore Israel. The restoration of Israel is at the heart and core of Daniel's prophecy. The angel was sent to speak unto Daniel, and this is what he said:
"Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place. Daniel 9:24 NASB
Daniel was told that 70 weeks had been determined on his people Israel and city Jerusalem. By the end of this prophetic time period God promised that six things would be accomplished. One of the things that Daniel was told would happen by the end of that period was that God would "seal up vision and prophecy."
If you have done much study using commentaries, you know that there is little that Bible scholars agree on. That gives great force to this phrase, which has almost unanimous agreement of Bible scholars across the board. The Hebrew commentaries are in agreement on the meaning of "seal up vision and prophecy"--they say it means: "to give or reveal," it is the process of inspiration, but it's not just that, it also means: "to confirm by the fulfilling of the prophecy." Keil and Delitzsch, highly respected Hebrew authorities, states in volume 9 page 344 that "seal up vision and prophecy" means: "Prophecies and prophets are sealed, when by the full realization of all prophecies prophecy ceases, no prophets any more appear." What does "seal up vision and prophecy" mean? Hebrew scholars agree that it means the end and complete fulfillment of all prophecy.
Even John Walvard, who is "Mr. Dispensationalists," says this:" probably 'seal up vision and prophecy' is best understood to mean the termination of unusual direct revelation by means of vision and oral prophecy. To seal means that no more is to be added and that what has been predicted will receive Divine conformation in the form of actual fulfillment."
To "seal up vision and prophecy" clearly means: "to give prophecy and fulfill it." Daniel's prophecy, then, tells of the time when all prophecy would cease to be given, and what had been given would be fulfilled. When would this be? Daniel's vision ends with the destruction of Jerusalem that occurred in A.D. 70 (v26). Let's compare Daniel 9: 25-27 with Matthew 24:15 and following where Jesus said the Abomination of Desolation and His coming would occur in his generation:
"So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress. "Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined. Daniel 9:25-26 NASB
Who is, "the prince who is to come" of verse 26? Some say this is the beast. The nearest antecedent for the coming prince in verse 26 would carry us back to the "Messiah the Prince" (verse 25), who was cut off (verse 26). Therefore, Christ becomes the One and only "Prince" in the whole context. The "people of the prince" speaks of the Jewish people who were the ones responsible for the destruction of the City Jerusalem and the Temple in A.D. 70 when all of the facts of biblical and secular history are considered.
"And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate." Daniel 9:27 NASB
In the middle of the 70th week, comes the abomination that makes desolate. When this happened, prophecy ceased. We know from the teaching of Jesus when this happened:
"Therefore when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains. Matthew 24:15-16 NASB
The "Abomination of Desolation" is referring to the Roman army in the holy place, which is the city of Jerusalem:
"For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. Matthew 24:21 NASB
"Then"--being when the Roman armies surrounded and laid siege to Jerusalem in A.D. 67-70. There is no tribulation to equal what happened in A.D. 67-70, prior to it or after it. The great tribulation is over, it happened in A.D. 67-70.
"Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Matthew 24:34 NASB
Some have tried to twist the etymology of the word "generation" here to make it mean: "race,"and try to make Jesus say that all these things would happen before the "Jewish race" had passed away. The word for race is genos. The word in our text is genea. There is no biblical or linguistic justification for such a position. Generation does NOT mean: "race"!
Some say, "The generation that sees these signs will not pass away..." That is adding words to the text that are not there. Jesus uses the near demonstrative "this" generation. Every time "this" is used in the New Testament it always refers to something that is near in terms of time or distance. If I said, "This building" is going to be remodeled. What building am I talking about? You know that I'm referring to the one close to me. The one we are sitting in. But if I said, "That building," I'm referring to one further away, not the one we are in. Jesus could have said, "That generation." But He didn't! Jesus is saying that everything that He has spoken about will happen before the generation that He was speaking to would pass away; including the Great Tribulation and His Second Coming.
So Daniel tells us that his vision ends with the destruction of Jerusalem, which would bring an end to all prophecy. This is exactly what Luke tells us:
"But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is near. "Then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains, and those who are in the midst of the city must leave, and those who are in the country must not enter the city; Luke 21:20-21 NASB
All prophecy was to cease and be fulfilled by the time Jerusalem was destroyed, which happened in A.D. 70. Paul says, in 1 Corinthians 13, that prophecy will end when the perfect comes:
Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. 1 Corinthians 13:8-10 NASB
What is "the perfect" that was to come? This is the crucial phrase in the whole passage. "The perfect" refers to the maturity of the body at the rapture of the church, which happened at the Second Coming of Christ, in AD 70; bringing in the New Heavens and New Earth, which closed the cannon of Scripture.
The word "perfect" is the Greek word teleion. The literature of the New Testament usually equates the Greek word teleion with maturity. In its eight occurrences in Paul's Epistles, six are translated: "mature." The phrase "the perfect" is often used in the Greek language to speak of purpose or a goal. In this context, it is the goal of Yahweh for the Church. What was Yahweh's goal for the Church? It is that it be conformed into the image of Yeshua. That took place in A.D. 70 when the Lord returned, bringing in the New Heaven and Earth where we see Him face to face. So the coming again of our Lord for His people brought them to full maturity and closed the cannon of Scripture.
The reason that spiritual gifts were temporary is that when we came into a face to face relationship with Christ, we entered into a perfect maturity, and there is no longer any need for spiritual gifts. Gifts were for the purpose of maturing the body, and when the body is completely matured, we will no longer need spiritual gifts.
And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. Ephesians 4:11-13 NASB
Daniel says prophecy would cease, and Paul says the same thing in 1 Corinthians 13 and Ephesians 4. If "seal up vision and prophecy" means: "to give and fulfill all prophecy," and if all prophecy is not yet fulfilled, then all prophecy has not yet been given. That would mean that there is still prophecy being given, which would mean that the Bible is not complete, and that the Charismatics are right; God is still speaking through the gift of prophecy. Can you live with that?
The charismatic gifts of the Spirit were to continue throughout the last days according to:
but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel: 'AND IT SHALL BE IN THE LAST DAYS,' God says, 'THAT I WILL POUR FORTH OF MY SPIRIT ON ALL MANKIND; AND YOUR SONS AND YOUR DAUGHTERS SHALL PROPHESY, AND YOUR YOUNG MEN SHALL SEE VISIONS, AND YOUR OLD MEN SHALL DREAM DREAMS; EVEN ON MY BONDSLAVES, BOTH MEN AND WOMEN, I WILL IN THOSE DAYS POUR FORTH OF MY SPIRIT And they shall prophesy. 'AND I WILL GRANT WONDERS IN THE SKY ABOVE AND SIGNS ON THE EARTH BELOW, BLOOD, AND FIRE, AND VAPOR OF SMOKE. 'THE SUN WILL BE TURNED INTO DARKNESS AND THE MOON INTO BLOOD, BEFORE THE GREAT AND GLORIOUS DAY OF THE LORD SHALL COME. Acts 2:16-20 NASB
The last days began at Pentecost and ended in A.D. 70. The charismata were to continue until the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. If the Lord has not yet come and the Last Days are still in progress, then the charismata still have to be around. All the revelatory gifts of the Spirit would still be around and the cannon of inspired Scripture would not be complete. But if the cannon of Scripture was complete in the first century, then the gift of prophecy ceased as well. To further emphasize this point look with me at:
that in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge, even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you, so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 1:5-8 NASB
Are the "revelation," "the end," and "day" of the Lord still future? If so, then all the gifts of the Spirit must still be available today, because it says that we would not come short of any of them while waiting for the Lord to return. Let's remember the principle of audience relevance--Paul was speaking to the Corinthians in the first century, THEY were eagerly waiting for the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. When the Lord returned in A.D. 70, the Last Days ended and so did the gifts.
Believing that Christ has not yet returned makes holding the position that SOME of the gifts have ceased indefensible. Believing the last days ended in A.D. 70, and that the destruction of Jerusalem was God's "Revelation of Jesus Christ" completely removes the dilemma and inconsistency! Preterists are not consistent unless they believe the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit have ceased, and the Futurists are not consistent unless they believe that all of the gifts are still available. You can't say that the perfect has not yet come, but that the gift of prophecy has ceased. That is INCONSISTENT!
Let's look at some other First Testament Scriptures that show us when prophecy was to cease:
"Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness, Who seek the LORD: Look to the rock from which you were hewn And to the quarry from which you were dug. "Look to Abraham your father And to Sarah who gave birth to you in pain; When he was but one I called him, Then I blessed him and multiplied him." Indeed, the LORD will comfort Zion; He will comfort all her waste places. And her wilderness He will make like Eden, And her desert like the garden of the LORD; Joy and gladness will be found in her, Thanksgiving and sound of a melody. Isaiah 51:1-3 NASB
Isaiah is calling Israel to remember the Abrahamic Promise. The Abrahamic Promise involved the redemption of Israel, true spiritual Israel. Who is Zion? It is the heavenly Jerusalem, the bride of Christ, the true Israel of God:
But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, Hebrews 12:22 NASB
How lovely on the mountains Are the feet of him who brings good news, Who announces peace And brings good news of happiness, Who announces salvation, And says to Zion, "Your God reigns!" Isaiah 52:7 NASB
We know this is a Messianic prophecy, because Paul quotes it in Romans 10:15. Now watch the next verse:
Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices, They shout joyfully together; For they will see with their own eyes When the LORD restores Zion. Isaiah 52:8 NASB
Isaiah said that Israel would be in a face to face position when God, in fulfillment of the Abrahamic Promise, redeemed Israel. Israel was to see eye to eye when the Lord restored her. When was the Lord going to restore Israel? At the consummation of the 70 weeks of Daniel 9, which was the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.
Now, Paul says that the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit would cease when Israel would see face to face:
When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. 1 Corinthians 13:11-12 NASB
Therefore, the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit ceased at the consummation of the 70 weeks. We cannot divorce Israel's promise of seeing eye to eye from 1 Corinthians 13, and therefore, we must acknowledge the first century miraculous gifts have ceased:
Go through, go through the gates, Clear the way for the people; Build up, build up the highway, Remove the stones, lift up a standard over the peoples. Behold, the LORD has proclaimed to the end of the earth, Say to the daughter of Zion, "Lo, your salvation comes; Behold His reward is with Him, and His recompense before Him." And they will call them, "The holy people, The redeemed of the LORD"; And you will be called, "Sought out, a city not forsaken." Isaiah 62:10-12 NASB
This is the same theme of Isaiah 52:8, "They shall see eye to eye when the Lord brings back Zion." Now look at verse 11: "Say to the daughter of Zion, 'Surely your salvation is coming; Behold, His reward is with Him," Now let's go to:
"For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and WILL THEN REPAY EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS. "Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom." Matthew 16:27-28 NASB
Whose salvation was Yeshua to be? He was to be Israel's salvation. Is He the promised redeemer of Isaiah 62:11? I don't think anyone would argue that. In Matthew 16:27 Yeshua is quoting from Isaiah 62:11. Now, Isaiah 52:8 and 62:11 both speak of the same time and event; the redemption of Israel at the coming of the Lord. Yeshua, quoting Isaiah 62:11, said that His coming for the salvation of Israel, when Israel would see face to face, would be in the life time of his first century disciples. When Israel saw face to face, the miraculous would cease, and this was to happen in the life time of the first century disciples at A.D. 70 when Jerusalem was destroyed.
If Matthew 16:27-28 was fulfilled at Pentecost, as some say, then the miraculous ended at Pentecost, which is when they began.
So what have we seen? Paul said that prophecy would cease when the perfect came. Daniel said prophecy is to end at the destruction of Jerusalem. Jerusalem was destroyed in A.D. 70. Therefore, the "Perfect," of verse 10, has come! The "Perfect" referred to the Second Coming of Christ that took place in A.D. 70, bringing in the New Heaven and Earth where we see Him face to face. So the coming again of our Lord for His people brought them to full maturity and closed the cannon of Scripture, which means that the miraculous gifts of the Spirit have come to an end. The gifts were for the period of the "last days"; when the last days ended, so did the gifts.
Someone asked me, "If we don't have spiritual gifts today, then why do we need you?" Implying that if there is not the gift of teaching today, what is my role as an elder? Did Old Covenant Israel have elders? Yes, they did. Did they have spiritual gifts? No. The New Testament Church is to have elders, also. There is no spiritual gift requirement for an elder. It simply says he must be "apt to teach." Meaning that he knows and can handle the Scriptures, to teach sound doctrine, and be able to refute error.
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