Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Knowledge Has Not Ceased

An argument often used against the doctrine of the cessation of the gifts is that the passage that says tongues will cease also says that prophecy and knowledge will pass away. They state then that since knowledge has not ceased to exist, the rest of the gifts must also still be available. The error in their reasoning comes from their inability to make the distinction between the gift of knowledge and knowledge itself. It is obvious from Scripture that the gift of knowledge is not required to gain all knowledge. Let us look at Scripture to see how this gift was something distinctly different than the ability to access knowledge under normal circumstances.

The first point we should make note of is that the gift of knowledge did not become available until the day of Pentecost in Acts. Each one of the spiritual gifts were a unique ability first given to the apostles when they were baptized with the Holy Spirit as recorded in Acts chapter 2. Until this time, no one had been permanently baptized with the Holy Spirit and no one had any of the gifts of the Spirit. To suggest that if the gift of knowledge has ceased then all knowledge has ceased must also mean that until the gift of knowledge was given there was no access to any knowledge before that time. So according to this reasoning Solomon, Moses, Abraham, David, or any other person in the Old Testament had no access to knowledge since they did not have the spiritual gift of knowledge. This is simply ridiculous. We know that not only was knowledge obtainable but they were instructed in the Old Testament about how to find knowledge.

Prov 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge,

Prov 2: turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding... 5 then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. 6 For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.

Prov 8:10 Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold,

Prov 14:6 The mocker seeks wisdom and finds none, but knowledge comes easily to the discerning.

These are but a few passages and there are many others that show us that knowledge was available before the gift was ever given. In fact I do not believe that people who make this argument against the cessation of the gifts really believe that knowledge was not available before the day of Pentecost in Acts. I just do not think they have thought their reasoning through and looked at what it actually implies. As we can see, that the gift of knowledge was not necessary to obtain knowledge itself otherwise there was no way to gain knowledge before the gifts were given.

The next thing we need to realize that is that the spiritual gifts were not given to every single person. Even before the cessation of the gifts, when they were actively being used by the early church, we are told in Scripture that only some people were given the gift of knowledge. It was not something that every Christian had access to.

1 Cor 12:7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.

The entire chapter of 1 Corinthians 12 explains the importance of each person and each gift in the church. No one person or gift was more important than another. Each part of the body had a different function but all parts were necessary to make the body function properly. In this context Paul shares with us that each of them were given different gifts. To one was given the message of wisdom and to another knowledge. This proves that not everyone was given the gift of knowledge. However, we know from Scripture that all Christians are supposed to grow in knowledge.

2 Peter 1:5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge ; 6 and to knowledge , self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Peter 3:18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

So if the gift of knowledge was only given to some people and yet all Christians are to grow in knowledge then we know that these verses are not talking about the spiritual gift of knowledge, but about knowledge itself. So, since knowledge is available without the gift, then why was the gift necessary to begin with?

There was a time when certain knowledge was necessary but not readily available to us and that was during the time of the New Testament church. After the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus we entered a new covenant. We were no longer under the old covenant of the law.

2 Cor 3:6 He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant - — not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

That is why we have the New Testament, to teach us about Jesus and the new covenant he brought to us. This information is necessary for us to grow in the knowledge of this new covenant.

2 Peter 3:18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

2 Peter 1:2 Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

We need a certain type of knowledge to grow in the faith and that is the knowledge of Jesus Christ, our Savior. So how do we gain that knowledge? Today the answer is quite simple, we go to the Bible. We know God's Word provides everything we need and it is useful for all instruction and training in righteousness.

2 Peter 1:3 His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.

2 Tim 3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Our knowledge of the Lord through God's Word thoroughly equips us and gives us everything we need. Today we know that God's Word is completely sufficient. It is the complete and final revelation of God. However, what most people fail to recognize is that the early church lacked this most valuable resource. Before the the apostles recorded these events for us, the church had NO physical resource such as Scripture to look to for answers concerning this new covenant. If they wanted to know about how to use their Spiritual gifts they could not just grab their bible and turn to 1 Corinthians because that had not been written yet. If they wanted to know if they needed to be circumcised they could not just turn to Acts 15 or Galatians or any other passage that teaches it is no longer necessary. They could not even turn to the gospels yet to read the words of Christ Himself. These letters and gospel accounts were written to the churches to instruct them in this new covenant but it took time to write and circulate this information. Until then the Lord empowered people with spiritual gifts to give them both information and understanding about the new covenant as well as signs to confirm that this information was really from God.

Heb 2:3 This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. 4 God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.

Acts 14:3 So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to do miraculous signs and wonders.

So the gift of knowledge, along with the other gifts, was something that was necessary and useful for the early church alone. That gift was given to allow people to have access to the information that the New Testament provided before it was complete. Peter who experienced many gifts of the Spirit, who healed the lame, and gave sight to the blind, who was miraculously freed from prison, spoke in tongues and preached boldly the message of the gospel said that we had something even better than all that in the Scripture.

2 Peter 1:19 And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation . 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

The Word of God is better than prophecy, it is the words of those prophets fulfilled, inspired and inerrant which is permanently recorded for us. We can turn to it and trust in it. It is through the reading and study of God's Word that we can grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. That is something that we can have and must do, it is not something only given to a select part of the church and only given during a certain era of the church. The knowledge of the Lord is as eternal as He is and it is something that each one of us needs to be seeking. Not through the use of some miraculous gift or experience, but through the diligent study of God's Word.

It is apparent in Scripture that knowledge is something we obtain by studying and understanding the message left to us. We can be instructed in knowledge.

2 Tim 2:25 Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth,

We can grow in knowledge

2 Peter 3:18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Col 1:10 And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,

We must add knowledge to our faith.

2 Peter 1:5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge ; 6 and to knowledge , self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.

We need these qualities to be productive Christians. Without them we are ineffective.

2 Peter 1:8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.

Scripture tells us that we must choose knowledge, not gain it by a spiritual gift.

Prov 8:10 Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold,

And that knowledge is indeed more valuable than gold or rubies.

Prov 20:15 Gold there is, and rubies in abundance, but lips that speak knowledge are a rare jewel.

So we can see that even though the gifts of knowledge, wisdom, tongues, and the others have ceased we still have access to all the knowledge we need and we must seek that knowledge daily as we study and meditate over God's most perfect and precious Word.



Print Page