“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;” – Eph 4:11
When it comes to divine gifts of the Spirit it is traditional to parse away gifts that are uncomfortable and retain those that are most familiar. There is something wrong about that.
How can we separate “apostles” from “pastors” in Ephesians 4:11? How do we retain “teachers” and eliminate “workers of miracles” and “gifts of healing” in 1 Cor 12?
“Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?” – 1 Cor 12:29-30
Of course, there is no biblical reason why these verses should be divided. Our own Berean Society is wrong when they divide these verses arbitrarily, and the Charismatics are right in identifying the misuse of these passages. Then, should we agree with the New Apostolic Reformation that says that all of these divine gifts are in operation today? No, not at all. The contrary is true.
Pentecost = Ignorance of the Mystery
These passages have caused difficulty because of the obstacle of thinking the church began at Pentecost in Acts 2. If Pentecost is our pattern then it is necessary for these Spirit gifts to continue until God’s Pentecostal program was complete:
“Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all thing…” – Acts 3:19-21
Anyone who believes the church began in Acts 2 and that the gifts have ceased must prove the fulfillment of these passages. Any attempt at this would be ludicrous!
While this may seem to defend the Charismatic perspective, it does not. In their continual search for new revelations they have missed the one significant revelation described in scripture after Pentecost. There will never be a Pentecostal or Charismatic who understands the revelation of the mystery of Christ given to Paul.
“How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words,…” – Eph 3:3
I say they do not understand it, because if they did they would be working to perpetuate the Pauline pattern and not the Pentecostal pattern (1 Tim 1:16).
A change in God’s dispensation greater than at Pentecost occurred with Christ’s revelation to Paul.
Paul describes the creation of a new entity called the “body of Christ” in which there is no Pentecost, no Jew, no Gentile, and no more incomplete position in Christ (1 Cor 12:27, Eph 4:12).
“ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:” – Col 2:10
Gifts in Paul’s Early Ministry
The Spirit gifts in Paul’s early ministry were given for the building of this new creature upon the foundation of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery (Rom 16:25; 1 Cor 3:10).
The gifts ceased when the body of Christ was functional to provide the edifying of itself in love according to sound doctrine (Eph 4:16).
When any of the Spirit gifts are claimed today it is a result of the improper functioning of the church to do what it was first designed to do by the apostles, prophets, pastors and teachers in the day when the foundation was laid.
From this time forward we no longer need to be tossed to and fro in waiting for Spirit gifts and trusting in so-called apostles with new revelations. Instead we can stand firm in the knowledge of the mystery of Christ, the Son of God, who is our head and trust in the Spirit which is our seal (Eph 1:13, Eph 4:14-15).
None of the Spirit gifts in Eph 4, Rom 12, or 1 Cor 12 are in operation today as the foundation has been laid for all men to be made perfect in Christ Jesus (Col 1:25-27). Present day workers in the body are merely building upon the already established foundation. Faithful men understanding what is complete can proceed to do the good work of ministering to the church this fellowship of the mystery (Eph 3;9, 2 Tim 2:2).
When grace groups claim even one of the Spirit gifts for the operation of the body of Christ, it places the church on a shaky foundation which is destined to lead us back to Pentecost where there is an ignorance of the revelation of the mystery of Christ.