Want Some Answers ???
Thanks for your email. Perhaps I could suggest a few comments? You wrote,
>>Dear Sir, I find a bit of fault in your logic about spiritual gifts. You stated that that which is "perfect" is already come. I disagree. If that were the case then we would "know" God, even as He "knows" us. While I know Him as my Lord and Saviour, I don't know Him as well as He knows me (which is no better that Paul knew Him). The most likely interpretation is that when God's kingdom comes, then prophecy, tongues, healing etc... will be done away with. <<
I don't believe that expression (know in part and know fully) refers to having the Omniscience of God, whether here or in glory. The expression contrasts to "know in part and know fully". And refers to the increase of knowledge that came by way of the NT compared to the limited knowledge they had before the NT. We agree Paul's subject is illumination. When Paul says, "I shall know even as I am known," he means, as God knows us, our character, our names, our life and purposes, our hopes and desires. So we also may fully know His Character, Life, Purposes, Hopes, Desires, Power, Grace, Love and Glory. And what a wonderful revelation of Christ God's Word is!
The Corinthian's knew Him as "Lord and Saviour" but they didn't know what we know. They [and Paul] had a disadvantage. We can read the Gospel's, Peter and James, Jude or John's and all Paul's letters and "know" all God wants us to know. They had only a "part" illumination. The gifts provided the early Church that which was later provided by the NT "that which is perfect". When Paul wrote to the Corinthians, the only part of the NT in existence was 1 & 2 Thess., hence their disadvantage. God therefore gave miraculous revelatory gifts to enable an assimilation of truth [so readily available to us]. But it was "in part" compared with the "perfection" of the completed Scriptures. When the perfect came, the part vanished and they could then know Him fully, as He Himself knew them. You wrote,
>>You give the testimony of the church over many centuries as evidence of cessation. Several hundred years on mainstream partial rejection of God's word means nothing to me (I think the mainstream is still kind of screwy in some ways).<<
There is clear evidence the sign gifts occurred during the apostolic era - but not thereafter [2 Cor.12:12 Heb.2:2-4]. But in the three centuries that followed that era there's only two references to tongues-speaking [Montanus and Tertuliam also a Montanist]. The early church fathers opposed Montanus as heretical because of his prophesying and tongue speaking. There are no genuine uses of glossolalia in the post-apostolic era because it had ceased. It's not until the Pentecostal denominations of the 20th century that we have the modern tongue speaking practice. You wrote,
>> I can tell you from personal experience (I know it's a poor arguing tool, but believe me when I say it's true) that I have both spoken in tongues, interpreted tongues and witnessed people who were miraculously healed.<<
Paul would "rather" that you seek the "greater" gift 1 Cor.14:5. So why focus on tongues? Marks Gospel lists five sign gifts that "shall follow them that believe" [vs.17]. Why not handle snakes or drink poison? Should I beg God for these wonderfully gifts? The only condition in the Bible to receive these is to "believe" [vs.17]. Surely then, either all five sign gifts are valid for everyone today or none is valid. And surely you agree, these miracles authenticated the message of the gospel revelation. They were not simply divine exhibitionism; they substantiated and authenticated the prophet's claim that they spoke for God. What does it mean when Roman Catholics speak in tongues, does it confirm their doctrine?
Those who speak in tongues today don't speak real languages but gibberish (strong evidence against the practice). A big difference between divine abilities to speak languages never learnt, and those who lose control in a frenzy state and blabbering incoherently. Regarding healing, you wrote,
>> One missionary who visits our church sometimes tells often of the healing which occurs in Gutlahara, (I think that's spelled right) Mexico; sometimes God even raises people from the dead! A Jehovah's Wittness in one of the villages they preached in insisted that divine healing could not occur: He was quickly silenced by the testimonies of the entire village about the blind man that the missionaries healed.<<
We often hear various stories from all kinds of religious people these days. Eg Roman Catholics - describing healings in distant lands and we're supposed to subconsciously accept these as if they substantiate, Mass, worship of Mary etc. Never-ending stories from people, who would swear on the Bible they are not lying, but their stories are clearly not true. And we are supposed to just believe them.
I've been to healing meetings, and never seen ONE genuine obvious divine healing. Faith healers say, of course, 'I don't heal, it's the Holy Spirit'. But all the showmanship, bravado, and gimmickry deny that. Ever heard about healings of shattered bones? Or someone in a car accident who is had his lacerated face or skull straightened out? What of the terminally ill? Restored limbs for amputees etc? No. Instead what we see mostly seem to be imagined illnesses, imaginarily healed. Or razing dead in far away lands that we are supposed to believe or we are criticized for unbelief.
The fact is, although God is concerned about our bodies, He is infinitely more concerned about our souls [Mtt.10:28]. Even if Christians could heal all in sundry, the masses still would not believe the gospel. After Jesus' miracles what did the people do? They crucified Him. And the apostles, they were jailed, persecuted and even killed. Salvation for your Jehovah's Witness could not come through experiencing or seeing physical healing. Salvation comes through hearing and believing the gospel [Rom.10:17]. God does not give us signs today to walk by them, He requires a walk of faith today [Rom.1:17 Gal.3:11 Heb.10:38]. You wrote,
>>Outside of a few passages in the Bible and my personal experience, I cannot very well argue the existence of spiritual gifts. For me though, you might just as well tell me that the sky is green: I've seen it too clearly to believe that.<<
You are telling me your scriptural support is poor [I agree] but your "personal experience" argues for what you believe. So nothing [including Scripture?] can change your mind. To argue your theology you must belittle God's "perfect" Word and magnify Pentecostal experiences. Your evidence from Scripture is not the best, and your argument from experience is your ultimate evidence. In a world where millions cry out about their religious 'experiences' your argument means little. This is why God's Word is 'that which is perfect'. It answers and delivers where Pentecostalism can never. Thanks for writing, feel free to point out my error.
Your brother in Christ,