Copyright © 1996, by Roy Dunavin, Fort Smith, Arkansas


    1. When you and I read the Bible we will know as much as can be known about spiritual gifts because all that can be known about them is found in the Bible.
    2. We cannot fully comprehend all that is involved in these gifts because no one possesses them today.
    3. Many think the Bible teaches that these gifts are available today, so they try to help God out by trying to manufacture these gifts.
    4. These people are hindering the cause of Christ rather than helping. They are causing unbelief among thinking people. Many think these gifts and the Bible stand or fall together and since they see nothing they can come to grips with they dismiss the Bible as the word of God.
    5. On the other hand there are those who deny the indwelling Spirit. Perhaps they think to admit to the indwelling Spirit would be to accept the miraculous gifts of the Spirit. This is not true.
    1. The Holy Spirit is a person. One of the three modes of being in the Godhead. "Howbeit when HE, the Spirit of truth . . ." (John 16:13).
    2. The Spirit dwells in every obedient person. (Acts 5:32)
      1. Before Christ died the Spirit was in the world (Genesis 1:2) but did not in-dwell. The Spirit could not dwell in an unclean tabernacle. Man was separated from God because of sin and until the sin problem was solved man would remain so. (Isaiah 59:1-2; Hebrews 10:4, 9:13-15)
      2. Jesus said "He that believeth on me as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive: For the Holy Ghost was not yet given because that Jesus was not yet glorified." (John 7:38-39) After Jesus died man could have forgiveness of sins by obedience to the gospel (Romans 6:17-18) and at that time his body would become a temple of the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 6:19-20). Notice John 14:17 concerning the indwelling Spirit. "For He dwelleth with you and shall be in you." Jesus is speaking of a new relationship. The Spirit has been beside you but He shall be inside you.
      3. The first gospel sermon preached after the death of Jesus is recorded in Acts chapter 2. In this sermon Peter told the people to "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." We cannot tell from this text whether or not he was speaking of the Spirit himself or gifts of the Spirit. But we can tell from other passages he was speaking of the Spirit as in chapter 5:32. Peter said, "and we are His witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey Him." (Acts 5:32)
      4. In Galatians 3:26-27 Paul tells us how to become children of God. And in chapter 4:6 he tells us what happens because we are sons. "And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father."
      5. We have people who tell us God dwells in us through the Word. There is no passage that teaches this as far as I know. But there is a passage that tells us how God in-dwells. Paul said to the Ephesians "Ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit." (Ephesians 2:22)
      6. When we think about the Spirit dwelling through the Word we must realize there is no difference in a man's knowledge before and after baptism. We recognize a man's body is not the temple of the Holy Spirit before baptism and we recognize it is after baptism. He must accept the Word before baptism or he is not scripturally baptized. We receive the Spirit at baptism (Galatians 3:26-27; 4:6) but we do not necessarily possess more of the Word. Therefore the indwelling of the Spirit is based on forgiveness of sins and not how much knowledge one possess of God's Word.
    3. What does the indwelling Spirit do?
      1. The realization that my body is a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in me serves as a restraint against the abuse of my body. Paul said to the Corinthians "What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of THE HOLY GHOST which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." (I Corinthians 6:19-20)
      2. The Spirit helps us bear fruit. (Galatians 5:22-23) Love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. This is not your fruit but "the fruit of the Spirit." Concerning love notice John 13:34-35; Romans 5:5.
      3. The Holy Spirit working in cooperation with our spirit enables us to put to death the deeds of the body. "If ye through the Spirit do mortify (put to death) the deeds of the body, ye shall live." (Romans 8:13)
      4. The Spirit helps us in our prayer life. (Romans 8:26)
      5. The Holy Spirit is given as an earnest and a seal. (Ephesians 1:13-14) A seal indicates ownership. One of the functions of the Holy Spirit is to make actual the ownership of God in my life. (I Corinthians 6:19-20) An earnest is a pre-sample, plus a guarantee of something to come. What does that mean? I believe this has to do with the quality of life the Spirit enables me to live. The Holy Spirit has been given to enable me to live now the same quality of life that I will live hereafter in the eternity to come. (Romans 8:13; Hebrews 6:4b-5) That is an "earnest" or pre-sample. (Galatians 5:22-23)
      6. When we abuse our body, or do not produce the fruit of the Spirit, or fail to "put to death the deeds of the body", or neglect our prayer life, or do not display the seal and earnest of our inheritance, we "grieve" and "quench" the Spirit of God. (Ephesians 4:30; I Thessalonians 5:19)

    We have looked at the indwelling of the Spirit. Now let's look at the gifts of the Spirit.
    1. There are nine gifts of the Spirit listed in I Corinthians 12:8-10. Wisdom, knowledge, faith, gifts of healing, working of miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, kinds of tongues, and the interpretation of tongues.
    2. How did a Christian receive these gifts?
      Through the laying on of the apostles hands! It is recorded in the 8th chapter of the book of Acts "that Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ unto them" (verse 5). Verse 12 says, "But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ ,they were baptized, both men and women." According to what we have already learned they received the indwelling of the Spirit but not gifts of the Spirit. (Acts 2:38; 5:32)
      1. When the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the Word they sent Peter and John that they might pray for them to receive the Holy Spirit. "For as yet He was FALLEN UPON none of them." There is a difference in indwelling and "falling upon." We know from Acts 5:32 that they had already received the indwelling of the Spirit. Verse 17 says, "then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Ghost."
      2. And Simon saw that through laying on of the Apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given. Why didn't Philip lay his hands upon them to impart the Holy Spirit? Evidently only the apostles had this power. Verse 18 says, "and when Simon saw." What did he see? Can you see the Holy Spirit? No! But you can see manifestations of the Spirit, such as speaking in a tongue or prophesying. I would conclude from this that the Samaritans received the indwelling Spirit at baptism and gifts of the Spirit through the laying on of the apostles hands. (Acts 19:1-6)
    3. What was the purpose of these spiritual gifts?
      1. Revelation: Man needs a revelation from his Creator "It is not in man to direct his own steps;" therefore God gave the gifts of knowledge and wisdom. (Jeremiah 10:23)
      2. Proclamation: Man needed to proclaim the right message in the right language; therefore God gave the gifts of:
        1. "Prophecy" - the message.
        2. "Discerning of spirits" - the right message. (I John 4:1)
        3. "Interpretation of tongues" - the right language.
      3. Confirmation: Early Christians did not have the Bible as we do today. They had to prove that the revelation they had received and were proclaiming was from God. How would the audience know they were speaking God's Word without miracles. (Acts 8:6) Therefore God gave the gifts of:
        1. Faith - I Corinthians 13:2.
        2. Healing - Acts 3:11.
        3. Miracles - Acts 13:11.
        4. Tongues - I Corinthians 14:22; Acts 2:1-5.
          "These signs shall follow them that believe; in my name shall they cast out devils; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them. They shall lay hands on the sick; and they shall recover. So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, He was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. And they went forth, and preached every where the Lord working with them; and confirming the Word with signs following." (Mark 16:17-20) "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him." (Hebrews 2:3) "Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; though it be but a man's covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto." (Galatians 3:15)
    4. How long were these miraculous spiritual gifts to last?
      To answer this we must look again at their purpose.
      Revelation, Proclamation, Confirmation.
      1. A complete revelation from God was given in the first century or during the life time of the apostles. In John 16:13, Jesus promised the apostles that the Holy Spirit would guide them into ALL TRUTH. That doesn't leave any truth to be revealed. Jesus said in John 17:8, "I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them." Paul said in Ephesians 3:3-5, "How that by revelation He made known unto me the mystery as I wrote afore in few words. Whereby, when you read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ, which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit."
        1. Paul said the Holy Spirit revealed the mystery unto him. He wrote it down and we can read it and understand it. Our faith is to be based upon the written Word (John 20:30-31). It is complete and final (II Timothy 3:16-17). This statement would take into consideration the concluding work of the then living apostles and prophets.
        2. Jude said "contend for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" (verse 3). Not over and over again, not even twice but "ONCE".
        3. Therefore, since we have a complete and final revelation from God, I would conclude that no one has the gift of "wisdom" and "knowledge" (miraculous) today. These gifts served their purpose and terminated in the first century.
      2. Proclamation: There are three gifts of the Spirit that fall into this category.
        1. Discerning of spirits. John said, "believe not every spirit. But try the spirits whether they are of God: Because many false prophets are gone out into the world." (I John 4:1) We do not need this gift today because we test a man's message by the Bible. (Revelation 22:18, 19)
        2. Interpretation of tongues. Within 29 years after the church was established the gospel was preached in every nation to every creature. (Colossians 1:6, 23) The ability to translate the message of God into a man's own language helped to make this possible. After this was accomplished this gift was no longer needed.
        3. Prophecy. "The speaking forth of the mind and counsel of God . . . it is the declaration of that which cannot be known by natural means." (W.E. Vine, p. 221) With the completion of the canon of scripture prophecy passed away. In his measure the teacher has taken the place of the prophet. (I Corinthians 13:8, 9) Note the significant change in II Peter 2:1. The difference is that, whereas the message of the prophet was a direct revelation of the mind of God for the occasion, the message of the teacher is gathered from the completed revelation contained in the scriptures. (Notes on Thessalonians by Hogg and Vine, pp. 196, 197) Therefore this gift ceased with the completion of scripture in the first century.
      3. Confirmation: Men of God received a revelation from God and the abiltity to proclaim it; but they also needed to confirm it, so God gave the gifts of "FAITH" that could remove mountains (I Corinthians 13:2), the gift of "healing" (Acts 3:11), the ability to perform "miracles" (Acts 13:11), and the ability to speak in other "tongues" (languages) as a sign. (I Corinthians 14:22) All of these "gifts" were to back up or confirm the message they taught. Once the message was revealed, proclaimed, and confirmed, there was no further need for these gifts. The message was revealed, proclaimed, and confirmed in the first century. (Mark 16:17-20; Hebrews 2:3; Galatians 3:15) Unless a man has a new revelation from God there is no need for these gifts today. And if any man preaches a new message he is to be "accursed;" and he "hath not God." (Galatians 1:7-8; II John 9)

    Until "that which is perfect is come." (I Corinthians 13:10)
    1. In view of their purpose and the fact that that purpose has been fulfilled I would conclude that these gifts ceased with the death of the apostles and prophets and at the death of those on whom the apostles laid their hands to impart these gifts.
    2. "Whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away." (I Corinthians 13:8-10)
    3. We notice here instead of bringing all nine gifts from chapter 12 to chapter 13 Paul only brings three, one from each category.
      1. Prophecies: Having to do with the proclamation of the Word.
      2. Tongues: Having to do with the confirmation of the Word.
      3. Knowledge: Having to do with the revelation of the Word.

        I understand this to be inclusive of all nine gifts.
    4. We understand these gifts will cease when that which is "PERFECT" is come. What is that which is perfect? There are three views that I know of.
      1. LOVE.
        Some say love because of the dominating theme of the chapter. I am looking at this answer from a critical view and it doesn't make sense. Did the apostle Paul not possess love? And did he not also possess these spiritual gifts? Many at that time possessed love and sprititual gifts. Love is the new commandment. (John 13:34-35) Without love we do not know God. (I John 4:7-8) Love is proof of our sonship and spiritual life. (I John 4:10-14)
        God was not waiting on an overwhelming of love to engulf them before He removed the spiritual gifts! But He was waiting on that which is "PERFECT."
      2. CHRIST.
        Christ is perfect and some say that when Christ returns then these gifts will cease. We know this is not true by what follows. Some things are ceasing (spiritual gifts) and some things are remaining (faith, hope, and love - I Corinthians 13:13).
        1. The Corinthians were envious and jealous of each other over these gifts. Paul is saying you are desirous of something that is of a temporary nature. You should be seeking those things that abide: faith, hope, and love. If "that which is perfect" is Christ, then "spiritual gifts" faith and hope will cease at the same time. This would destroy Paul's argument on the time differential between the two. What will happen to faith when Christ returns? It will become sight. (Hebrews 11:1; I John 3:lff)
        2. What will happen to hope when Christ returns? It will become realization. (Romans 8:24-25) Love is eternal!
        3. Besides there is no point in saying these gifts will cease when Christ returns. That is self evident. When Christ returns we will not be given the message but judged on the basis of what we did with the message. (John 12:48; Revelation 20:12).
        4. These miraculous gifts will cease. But faith, hope and love will continue until Christ returns.
        Paul said, "We know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away." That which is "in part" gives way to that which is complete. The things that were in part must balance with that which is complete. The things that were in part, the spiritual gifts, were used of the Lord to bring the revelation of His will to man. But when this revelation was committed to writing as it was in the first century, there remained no further purpose to be fulfilled by these gifts. Therefore, when the completed revelation, the Bible, came the things that were in part were abolished.
        1. Notice the amplified Bible on this text: "For our knowledge is fragmentary (incomplete and imperfect), and our prophecy (our teaching) is fragmentary (incomplete and imperfect). But when the complete and perfect (total) comes, the incomplete and imperfect will vanish away, become antiquated, void, and superceded."
        2. There are many scriptures that point out the perfection and completion of the scriptures. "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." (II Timothy 3:16-17)
          1. There are some, before they would take the apostle seriously in this statement, would have him and his fellow apostles lay aside their pens at this point.
          2. I believe this statement (II Timothy 3:16-17) would be inclusive of the remaining work of the then living apostles and prophets. However, I believe it would be carrying it a bit too far to take on a second generation of apostles and prophets. The apostle John was privileged to put that final touch to the scriptures. (Revelation 22:18-21)
        3. There are some who apply Mark's statement, "these signs shall follow them that believe," to all believers. (Mark 16:17-20) If this passage applies to all believers then all believers perform miracles! If not, why not? I see three alternatives from Mark's statement.
          1. I perform miracles.
          2. I do not believe.
          3. I admit Jesus was speaking to the apostles.

            I do believe! I do not perform miracles! I am forced to the conclusion He was speaking to the apostles. What is your conclusion?


    1. To appreciate the indwelling Spirit we should read Romans 7:14-24, "man without the Spirit." And Romans 8:1-18, "man with the Spirit."
    2. Some feel that because we do not have these "miraculous spiritual gifts" we have a sub-standard spiritual life. They feel this way because they do not really understand what the Christian possesses.
      1. When I was baptized into Jesus all of my sins were forgiven; God made me as though I had never sinned. (II Corinthians 5:21; Romans 6:3-4)
      2. As I walk in the light His blood continues to cleanse me from sin. (I John 1:7)
      3. Over nineteen hundred years ago Jesus went to heaven to prepare a place for me. (John 14:1-3) And now reservations are made. (I Peter 1:3-5) It is "a place that is incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven" for me.
      4. He told me, if I would "seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness" I would not have to worry about food, shelter, and raiment, these would be supplied. (Matthew 6:33)
      5. He said, He would not allow me to be tempted above my strength. (I Corinthians 10:13) That He would never, never, never, leave me. (Hebrews 13:5)
      6. He said, if I continue to love Him He will work all things for my good. (Romans 8:28) I know all these things are true because of what Romans 8:32 says.
      7. The substandard spiritual life is seen in the one who would neglect these things and go back to those "childish things" that were needful in the infancy of the church. We need to act like men and put away childish things. (I Corinthians 13:11)
    3. Miraculous spiritual gifts of  I Corinthians 12:8-10 are no longer available. They have ceased. But the gospel still remains God's power to save. (Romans 1:16) Will you not obey?

Please send questions and comments to:

  Link to:  Roy Dunavin's Home Page

  Link to:  West-Ark Church of Christ