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Particulars of Christianity:
310 Pentecostalism,
the Charismatic
and Faith Movements

Preliminary Proof: Conclusions

Preliminary Proof: When the Gifts Would Cease
Preliminary Proof: Counterargument 1
Preliminary Proof: Counterargument 2
Preliminary Proof: Counterargument 3
Preliminary Proof: Counterargument 4
Preliminary Proof: Conclusions
Preliminary Proof: Additional Commentary

Section 1 | Section 2 | Section 3 | Section 4
| Section 5

With all the counterclaims disproved and the original proof as well as the supplementary refutations still intact, it is clear that any interpretation that the gifts were supposed to pass away before the return of Christ is incompatible with the grammatical-historical method and the understanding of both Paul and the early Church. Thus, we must discard the doctrine that the gifts were supposed to pass away before Christ's return. Instead, we must accept the fact that the gifts were supposed to continue as a confirmation of sound doctrine until Christ's return but were lost as the Church deviated from that sound doctrine give by Christ to the apostles and by the apostles to the early Church of the first few centuries.

But, before we close, we would like to say a few short words on what is required in order to believe that Paul taught the gifts were supposed to cease once the apostles were no longer around. Such a belief requires that at least one or more of the following assertions must be true.

1) Justin Martyr and Irenaeus were mistaken in their eyewitness account regarding the relative abundance of those with the gifts in their days.
2) Justin Martyr's argument to Trypho in favor of Christianity was flawed because he appealed to new converts receiving the charismatic gifts, which was not really going on. This makes Justin a poor apologist and witness to the Church in his own day at the least and a liar or a devious debater at the worst.
3) Modern scholars are better at determining what was going on in the Church of Justin Martyr and Irenaeus' day than were those two men themselves who were alive at the time and bore direct firsthand, eyewitness testimony for us.
4) Although believers were supposed to cease operating in the gifts when they became mature and only the apostles could distribute the gifts, "many" believers remained immature for 35-40 years or more and retaining the gifts all along.
5) When defending the faith from unbelievers, able apologists like Justin Martyr and Irenaeus pointed to these 55-60 year-old believers who had been immature for 35-40 years as evidence of the validity of sound doctrine. In other words, they pointed to the spiritually retarded who didn't grasp sound doctrine as proof that Christians had correct doctrine and the unbelievers and heretics did not.
6) Only spiritually immature believers could cast out demons, heal the sick, prophesy, speak in tongues, and raise the dead. Mature believers were unable to cast out demons, heal the sick, prophesy, speak in tongues, or raise the dead. These were the activities of the immature, not the mature.
7) Even though it originates as a reference to the end of the Age in Jesus' teaching during the Olivet Discourse, the phrase "unto the end" does not mean "the end of the Age" despite the fact that it is sandwiched in context between the phrases "coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" and "day of our Lord Jesus Christ."
8) A concept association can be inferred into a passage where it does not occur from a passage 27 verses earlier and interrupted by alternate associations, but a concept association cannot be inferred 1 verse earlier when there are no interrupting alternate associations.
9) The Church became mature before the deaths of the apostles, which meant according to Ephesians 4 that the Church was no longer "tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine." But despite this maturity, by the time of the Nicene Council, the Church at large was swept away by Gnostism as well as other heretical doctrines.

If you realize as we do that the 9 assertions above are absurd and filled with contradictions, then you too should reject the notion that the gifts were supposed to pass prior to the return of Christ, since that notion depends on these assertions for its survival. In the end, the original proof, that Paul taught that the gifts were not supposed to pass until Jesus' return, is still standing and intact.