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Jon Ruthven

This paper was written by Jon Ruthven.

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Jon Ruthven is a Professor of Systematic Theology at Regent University School of Divinity, Virginia Beach, Virginia.


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Articles > Charismatic Theology > On the Cessation of Charismata

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    Let us note three or four illustrations of this point. First, when I was a baby (representing our present existence) I babbled, thought and reasoned (i.e., the present charismata of speech and knowledge) like a baby--a necessary and positive development to be sure--all of which would be related to what was to come. But at adulthood (our existence in heaven), this stage is superseded by vastly greater powers of communication, thinking and reasoning.

    Second, in the present age, the charismata only serve as indirect or indistinct perceptions of God or his will, like looking into a mirror or a photograph. But in heaven, the mirror or photograph (the charismata) are unnecessary if we can see God 'face to face.' At that point these items, which had helped preserve the somewhat distant relationship, will have served their purpose and will be discarded, since we will have the real person before us.

    Third, in this present age, I know God, but the charismata reveal Him to me only in glimpses and hints. But then, in heaven, I will know God (kathos) exactly as, and to the same degree God knows me now. Of what use will be those tentative and imprecise gifts of revealed knowledge under those conditions?

    (Fourth), in this present age, faith, hope and love, all three function, but like the other charismata, faith (which is a charism of revelation, which, if acted upon, can produce miracles or any other aspect of God's salvation), and hope (another gift of God which is superseded if it results in the presence and reality of its object), will both be unnecessary because of their 'waiting characteristic; in heaven, the waiting win be over. By contrast, love is greater, because, unlike faith, hope and the other charismata, love never ends."

3. Ephesians 4:11-13 "[The ascended Christ] gave some apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastor/teachers (not to accredit the gospel or its bearers, but) for the perfecting of the saints toward the work of ministry, toward the building up of the body of Christ. [But for how long?] These gifts are distributed, in principle (vs. 7) 'to each' until (mechri)--an ongoing process of distribution--the following state is attained, i.e., that we all arrive: at the unity of the faith, at the full knowledge of the Son of God, into full, mature adulthood, that is, to the level of stature (maturity) of the fullness of Christ." (Note: even Paul has not "attained" to this state [Phil 3:12]).

4. Ephesians 1:13-23 In the context of believers' receiving "all wisdom and understanding" (1:8) and Paul's continued prayer for the same (1:17) and to experience ("know") [Christ's] incomparably great power--like that of the resurrection], Paul describes the time frame: "In him, when you believed, you were marked with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit [or first installment--the first payment of the same to follow] guaranteeing our inheritance (described, inter alia as "incomparably great," etc., like resurrection power in 1:19), until (eis) the redemption of those who are God's possession--to the praise of his glory." This state of affairs is active in believers and is paralleled to the exaltation of Christ which occurs "not only in the present age, but also in the one to come" (1:21-23, cf 2:6).

5. Ephesians 3:14-21 Paul's prayer is that the readers may "have power through the Spirit" that in love they "may have power together with all the saints [an explicit universal application]... to the goal that you may be filled to the measure of aR the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to the power that is at work within us, to Him be glory, in the church and in Christ Jesus, throughout all generations for ever and ever. Amen." Cf. Isa 59:21.

6. Ephesians 4:30 With Eph 1:13-23 above, the time period of the Spirit's prophetic presence in the believer is restated: "Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God [an allusion to ignoring prophetic warning, e.g., Isa 63:10? cf. Eph 4:29] with whom you were sealed [an ongoing mark of ownership and protection] until (eis) the day of redemption."

7. Ephesians 5:15-19 In the present e,%il days (characteristic of the time of the Messianic woes [Mt 24:9-12; 1 Tim 31 preceding the parousia, don't be drunk on wine, but continue to "be filled with the Spirit (cf Jer 23:9; Amos 2:12; Acts 2:13,15; Lk 1:15). Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs" (i.e., glossolalic singing? 1 Cor 14:13-17)--perhaps representative of the whole range of charismatic prophetic operations to continue during these "present evil days."

8. Ephesians 6:10-20 "Be empowered (closely assoc. with "miracle/mighty work" in the NT) in the Lord and in his mighty power... struggling against demonic forces... with sword of Spirit--the word of God (prophecy)--and constant prayer. [Since we are in the time of the Messianic woes that Jesus predicted about standing before magistrates, etc. I pray that words will be given me"[divine passive] (Mt 10:19b-20;  Mk 13:11--"it is not you speaking but the Holy Spirit").

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