Is It Finished? Clarity and Conviction about the Miraculous Gifts (1 Corinthians 12 -14)
On the cross Jesus exclaimed this glorious truth: Tetelestai! It is Finished!
Our eternal security is settled by this truth. And this week we celebrate Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday because Jesus Christ finished his gracious work of redemption on on the cross.
Strangely, we are less certain about the finished work of the Holy Spirit. Some might even question whether he has finished anything. Isn’t the Holy Spirit still working in our midst today? Of course he is, but this doesn’t deny his finished work of revelation and the inspiration of God’s Word. In the Bible, we find the Holy Spirit’s finished work.
Considering both the finished work of the Son and the Spirit, Sunday’s sermon marked the final message on spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12–-14, where I answered the question: Is the work of the Spirit finished?
After seven messages on 1 Corinthians 12–14, this message sought to summarize our findings in those chapters, understanding their historical context and making practical application today. This was not intended to be a typical exposition of the text, but an doctrinal and applicational sermon answering many questions related to the cessation of the miraculous gifts and the continuation of their intended purpose—the confirmation of God’s Word and the ongoing work of the Spirit by that Word.
Seven Sermons on 1 Corinthians 12–14
- Holy Spirit Power: The Gift, The Giver, The Goal, and the Gifts (1 Corinthians 12:1–11)
- The Church’s One Foundation: Spiritual Gifts and the Universal Church (1 Corinthians 12:1–13)
- Building Up the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12–31)
- The Necessity and Definition of Love (1 Corinthians 13:1–8)
- Love Never Ends (1 Corinthians 13:8–13)
- Speech Therapy: Training Our Tongues to Build Up Others (1 Corinthians 14:1–25)
- A Well-Ordered House: Paul’s Spiritual Policies For Speaking in Church (1 Corinthians 14:26–40)
- What are ways that our culture (subjective experience, personal expression, FOMO) teaches us to read the Bible? Or, in what ways does it incline us to understand spiritual gifts?
- What are ways miraculous gifts have been misused? Are there examples of churches that have practiced tongues, prophesy, etc. according to the “policies” of Paul?
- Read Acts 4:29–30; Romans 15:19; 2 Corinthians 12:12; Hebrews 2:3—4. What is the stated purpose of miraculous gifts repeated through the New Testament? How do these verses teach to approach 1 Corinthians 12–14.
- What is the purpose of 1 Corinthians 12–14—is it a guide for spiritual expression or a corrective for misusing gifts? How does that inform our application of these gifts?
- Paul says not to forbid speaking in tongues in 1 Corinthians 14:39. How does this apply to the church in Corinth? How does this apply today? What are reasons to believe tongues has ceased today?
- Does the cessation of ongoing miraculous gifts and/or gifts of revelation mean the Spirit is not working? What effect does it have on the church (local or universal) when the continuation of gifts is emphasized? How does it impact unity?
- After studying 1 Corinthians 12–14 for the last eight weeks, what conclusions have you come to? What questions remain? If someone comes to church believing in the continuation of gifts, what would you say to them? Do you know what our statement of faith says?
For Further Study
- Richard Gaffin, Perspectives on Pentecost — a redemptive-historical approach to gift of the Spirit and the gifts he gives to the church
- John MacArthur and Richard Mayhue, Biblical Doctrine, pp. 800–20 — a succinct defense of cessationism
- Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, ch. 52–53 — the leading evangelical proponent of the miraculous gifts continuing
- Ebenezer Henderson (1784–1858), Divine Inspiration; or, The supernatural influence exerted in the communication of divine truth and is special bearing on the composition of the sacred Scriptures : with notes and illustrations, pp. 148–200 — a 19th C. defense of the miraculous gifts ceasing with the apostles; and yes, that is the whole title :-)
- Why I am Cessationist by Thomas Schreiner — a brief article explaining why the New Testament denies the continuation of the miraculous gifts; Sam Storms wrote a companion article (Why I am a Continuationist)
- On Pentecost and Its Centrifugal Effects: Acts 2, 8, 10, 19 and 1 Corinthians 12:12–13
- Apostles, Prophets, and Evangelists (pt. 1): The Church’s Three Foundational Offices and Apostles, Prophets, and Evangelists (pt. 2: The Church’s Three Foundational Offices — these two posts (with a third forthcoming) explain the rationale for why the early church needed miraculous and revelatory gifts.
- ‘Power’ in Paul’s Letters: How Apostolic Miracles Magnify the Gospel Message — an exegetical look at “the working of miracles” in 1 Corinthians 12:10
- Understanding the Spiritual Gifts: A Few Translation Notes on 1 Corinthians 12:1–11
- 15 Propositions on Tongues from 1 Corinthians 12–14
Soli Deo Gloria, ds