"Tongues ... They Shall Cease" (III)

Jerry F. Bassett
Cottage Grove, Oregon

Although many today claim to have miraculous power, and despite the fact that many sincere people axe duped by such claimants, the miraculous gifts of the 1st Century were never intended to be a permanent feature of Christianity. On the contrary, these gifts were designed to reveal the New Testament to the world and to confirm that those men through whom it was revealed spoke the truth. Once the New Testament was delivered to the world its writings were to stand as a full revelation of salvation in Christ and that by which faith is to be produced in the hearts of men. Of the miracles of Jesus John wrote, "And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name" (John 20:30-31).

This conclusion is expressly stated, and is therefore certainly true, concerning the gift of speaking in tongues. In I Corinthians 13:8 Paul specifically names three gifts (actually representative of all miraculous gifts) which would eventually be taken away. Of tongues he clearly said "they shall cease." Then in verses 9-13 he gave this explanation: "For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in Dart shall be done away. When I was a child, I understood as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass darkly; but, then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity."

In other words, when the New Testament was being revealed in the 1st Century, its various prophets were given various parts and so each spoke "in part." However, when the whole was revealed, the partial measures necessary to its revelation, including miraculous gifts like tongues and prophecy, were to pass away. This is what is meant by the statement, "But when that which is perfect is come (the complete New Testament) that which is in part (the miraculous gifts) shall be done away." In verse 11 Paul illustrated these facts by his own childhood when he needed to be dealt with as a child, but said that when he grew to maturity he put away childish things. Even so with the revelation of the gospel. In its childhood it needed the extra help of miraculous gifts, but when it had become full grown, or was fully revealed, these things of its childhood were outgrown and no longer needed.

Again Paul illustrated this relationship between miraculous gifts and the revelation of the gospel by the idea of looking into a mirror and seeing only a reflection of part of himself. However, he pointed out, when the revelation is complete then shall a man have access to the full knowledge of God's will even as a man who is fully seen and known by those who behold him. Thus, when the gospel was completely revealed the miracles which bring it into existence were no longer needed and therefore passed away.

The New Testament leaves no doubt that its revelation is complete. It is called the perfect law of liberty (James 1:25); the faith once delivered (Jude 3); that in which we have everything given to us that pertains to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3); and that in which our fellowship and joy in the Lord is made full or complete (I John 1: 1-4). Therefore, since miraculous gifts were to pass away when the gospel was completely revealed, and since the New Testament leaves no question as to the fact that the revelation was completed during the 1st Century A. D., it must be concluded now, nineteen centuries later, that these gifts no longer exist in the world. And since tongues were among these gifts, it can also be further concluded, Paul's statements of I Corinthians 13 being fulfilled, that tongues have ceased.

July 1968