The Acts Period Gifts Are Not Operative Today

By Arthur J Licursi

Jesus performed seven miracles as recorded in John’s Gospel. The first miracle at Cana, the Bible says “this was the beginning of ‘miracles’ (Gk. semeion, meaning, signs).” Jesus spoke of the “signs” (Mk. 16:17) that would follow His Jewish disciples as they preached His “the gospel of the kingdom” to lost Israel only. Recall that Jesus said He had come “but (only) unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matt. 15:24). He explicitly directed the Twelve Apostles to “go not into the way of the Gentiles but to “go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matt. 10:5-6) preaching the long promised “gospel of Kingdom” was then “at hand.”

In Luke 24:49 Jesus told His disciples behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry [wait] ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued (Gk. enduo, clothed) with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49). With this Jesus’ sign-gifts appeared among them as they were “baptized with the Holy Spirit” on the feast day of “Pentecost” (cf. Acts 2:22). They immediately began to “speak with other tongues [recognizable languages which they had not learned]. Thus, Jews from all over the known world heard them in their own language (Acts 2:6).

In contrast with the Spirit” coming upon the120 Jewish believers we should note that “the Spirit” had earlier come into the members of Jesus’ “little flock” (Luke 12:32) when the risen Lord breathed on them” saying receive ye the Holy Spirit(Jn. 20:21). His “Spirit” was then dispensed into their “spirit of man” to be their new core life. Then the Spirit coming “upon” them was for the “enduement with power” to serve God, as seen by the miraculous ‘sign-gifts.’ Paul wrote “the Jews require a ‘sign (1Cor. 1:22a). The miraculous gifts were to be a ‘sign’ to Israel that the kingdom was in fact “at hand,” and later the Kingdom actually was ‘offered by the “twelve” during the early Acts period with signs following.” For Israel, the Pentecost sign-gifts among Jesus’ Apostles witnessed to the validity of their offer of the long-promised kingdom - “Thy kingdom” to “come on earth.”

Paul here lists the miraculous ‘sign-gifts’ as “manifestation(s) of the Spirit” (v7) that were only to be operative during the early Acts period.

“Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. 6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. 7 But the manifestation of the Spirit’ is given to every man to profit withal. 8For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; 9To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; 10To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues (known languages, without being taught); to another the interpretation of tongues (to hear and understand other languages without being taught): 11But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.” (1Cor 12:4-11)

But, after “the fall of them [Israel]” (Rom. 11:12) with the stoning of Stephen, these sign-gifts were totally lost from Israel. The sign-gifts then went to the members of Paul’s Gentile believers and that only for a short time. They were then to be a “sign” to add validity to Paul’s preaching of the new “gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24). Note that Paul’s Gentile grace gospel was offered to ALL men(Eph. 3:9), including individual Jews, who were now seen by God as ‘lost Gentiles,’ without any racial advantage or distinction (cf. Gal. 3:28).

Paul’s two letters to Corinth were written about mid-Acts, (~AD57), while the gifts still were functioning… but then only among the Gentile grace churches. So, after Israel’sfall,” the sign-gifts went to the Gentile “body of Christ” only to give credibility to Paul’s preaching of the ‘grace gospel’ that the ascended Lord Jesus gave to Paul directly from heaven (cf. Gal. 1:12) “for ye Gentiles (Eph. 3:1-5). After Paul wrote his final epistles (Ephesians to Philemon) all the gifts passed away, as no more signs were needed After Paul completed his epistles, they and we today as believers now have the full revelation of the word of God concerning His Cross, and His mercy, grace, and love while being securely sealed by the indwelling spirit (cf. 2Cor 1:22). Having such we are equipped to endure to the end even while suffering as we look for Him unto our resurrection to dwell and co-reign with Christ “eternal in the heavens” (2Cor. 5:1b).

Now go back and read Luke’s account in Acts 18:5-8 where we note that the sign-gifts had left Israel’s synagogue in Corinth and literally passed to the House Right Next Door, which was an early Gentile grace house church, where Paul stayed for 18 months. Some Jews (v8) as well as Gentiles were being saved by grace... under Paul’s “gospel of the grace of God” (Act 20:24) totally apart from Israel’s ‘Law and works requirements.’ Paul’s sign-gifts for a time added credibility to the preaching of Paul’s new grace gospel. Now both Gentiles and Jews could be saved into the “one new man” (Eph. 2:15), Christ’s “one body” (Rom. 12:5). Paul’s sign-gifts were used by Gentiles only during the Acts period to ‘provoke them [Israel] to jealousy’ (Rom. 11:11, 14), to offer and provoke them to receive Paul’s “the gospel of the grace of God.”

Note in 1Cor 14:18-19 that Paul particularly valued the knowledge gifts for a time for speaking forth truth that had not yet been written. At that time the full knowledge of Paul’s “mystery” gospel of the Cross and the indwelling “Spirit of life in Christ” was NOT YET fully revealed and known.

Paul progressively received abundant “revelations” (2Cor 12:7). Paul had not yet written his Post-Acts last seven pure grace epistles to fulfil (Gk., pleroo, complete) the word of God.” (Col. 1:25). Paul brought the message of “the Mystery” … “the gospel of the grace of God” that “had been kept secret since the world began.” (Rom. 16:25), explaining it to the full in his last seven epistles of Ephesians through Philemon.

There were four such communication gifts during that short period of time in early Acts; 1) “prophecy” (inspired speaking, and/or foretelling), 2) “the word of knowledge,” and 3) “word of wisdom” and, 4) “tongues,” (the speaking in unlearned but known languages.’ They all spoke information by inspiration of the Holy Spirit that they had not learned. but “Tongues” was not the Pentecostal gibberish we hear of from many who claim ‘tongues’ today. The genuine gift of “tongues” was the reversal of the confounding of languages that occurred at Babel. At Pentecost everyone heard Peter in their own language – that was the real tongues. By these ‘knowledge gifts’ “the grace gospel” could then be heard, and understood. So, Paul particularly valued these knowledge gifts to communicate His new grace gospel truths. In 1Cor 1:24 Paul commended the believers at Corinth for their knowledge and utterance(v5); but at the same time, he refers to these believers as infantile “babes” who were “yet carnal [fleshly, superficial].

“And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal (fleshly), even as unto babes in Christ. 2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. 3 For ye are yet carnal [fleshly, not spiritual] …” (1 Cor 3:1-3a).

With the Corinthians being yet carnal, Paul had to correct the misuse of the knowledge gifts of prophesy, tongues, and interpretation with strict controls. These gifts were real, appearing only in the years, before Acts 28:28.

“… when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying [enriching]. 27 If any man speak in an unknown tongue [language], let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret. 28 But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God. 29Let the prophets (speakers) speak two or three, and let the other judge. 30If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace. 31For ye may all prophesy one by one, (so) that all may learn, and all may be comforted. 32 And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. 33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. 34 Let your women keep silence in the churches (as in Jewish synagogues): for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith ‘the law.’ 35 And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church [assembly].

36 What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only? 37 If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I [Paul] write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. 38 But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant. 39 Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy [speak forth], and forbid not to speak with tongues [other languages beside Hebrew]. 40 Let all things be done decently and in order. (1Cor. 14:26-40)

In my years in Pentecostal/Charismatic Church groups I never saw the above rules enforced; neither did I see a real known language being spoken miraculously as real “tongues” were during the Acts period. I only heard what could be said to be gibberish or unintelligible mouthing that was assumed by many to “tongues.”

Incidentally, I do believe in and have the experience of what Paul refers to here. the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which CANNOT BE UTTERED [by us]. 27And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he [Christ our intercessor, 1Tim 2:15) maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. (Rom. 8:26-27). This may occur in my times of great distress or perplexity. But also, I’ve since learned from Paul’s instruction found in Philippians 4:6-7, the best way to deal with our serious wants and needs. Notice below we are not promised to get what we desire… but we do get the peace of God in our hearts and minds if we will let go.

“Be careful [anxious] for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 (KJV)

Today the “word of knowledge” (1Cor. 12:8) has become commonly assumed among Pentecostal/charismatic Christians, gaining prominence among others in the recent past years. It’s defined by them, more or less, as the ability of a person to know what God is doing or intends to do in the life of another person, or knowing the secrets of another person's heart, etc. This is not a real “word of knowledge”! The real “word of knowledge” was Spirit imparting the yet unwritten words of truth, to proclaim gospel truth that God was then revealing during the Acts period, before it was written by Paul!

“But when the complete and perfect [total] comes, the incomplete and imperfect will vanish away [become antiquated, void, and superseded].” (1 Corinthians 13:10 AMP)

Some Christians today try to mimic the sign-gifts’ that appeared only in the Acts period church. But this was when Jesus’ “little flock” (Luke 11:32) of Messianic believers were proclaiming and making the bonafide offer of the restored kingdom” to Israel “with signs following (Mark 16:20). Later in Acts we see this with Paul’s grace gospel being proclaimed to “the Jew first.” This reoffer of the King and His kingdom was rejected again when Israel killed Stephen who was the final witness of the Holy Spirit to Israel – this was the unforgivable sin for Israel. This was the death nell and ‘the fall of Israel.’

Nevertheless, in their vain effort to claim these sign-gifts, many today do not understand the real purpose of these knowledge gifts. They try to claim what has passed, and practice ‘pop psychology,’ such as in inner healing, healing of memories, etc. What believers really need is to claim and stand upon their new identity in Christ, thus “putting off the old man” (Col. 3:9) and living as “new creation” believers who are in union with Christ (2 Cor 5:17).

These deceived Christians fail to see that the time of these ‘knowledge gifts’ and ‘miracles by the hand of men’ (the apostles) has expired for a good reason. The reason is that Paul’s thirteen epistles give us thefull knowledge’ of the Mystery (God’s secret plan)(Rom. 16:25, Col. 1:26-27). Something much better has come to replace the gifts of the Spirit.’ Paul’s “mystery” gospel is that Christ is fully alive and all-sufficient for believers by His Spirit indwelling every believer’s spirit (cf. Rom. 8:8-10) such that the believer today has need of nothing outside himself, except to study, know and believe the truths of Paul’s epistles.

It was only after Israel’s “fall” by the stoning of Stephen, thereby rejecting the witness of the Holy Spirit in Acts 7, Jesus from heaven called Paul to be “THE (one) Apostle to the Gentiles” (Rom. 11:13) and the gifts began to “diminish” among the Jews of the synagogues (cf. Rom 11:12), then temporarily going to the Gentiles and fully passing after Paul’s final epistle were written after Acts, from his Roman prison before his beheading.

The gifts among the Gentiles were gone entirely after Acts 28:28, when Paul had turned fully from Israel to the Gentiles with the full, pure, absolute grace gospel doctrine as seen in Paul’s final 7 epistles (Ephesians to Philemon).

“Be it known therefore unto you [Israel], that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that [by contrast] they will hear [hearken to] it.” Acts 28:28 (KJV)

NOTE: Later in Acts (AD58), Paul no longer could miraculously heal others or himself (2Cor. 12:9). Paul then later wrote to Timothy saying “Take wine for thy stomach sake and thine infirmities” (1Tim. 5:23) and that he had left “Trophimus sick.” Paul then no longer had power to heal because that time had passed. Today we walk under grace, living by faith alone, trusting that all things are working together for the good” … “that we might be conformed to image of His Son” (Rom. 8:28-29, paraphrased).

Today, the knowledge gifts are unnecessary for believers since every believer has permanently received the indwelling all-sufficient Spirit of life in Christ Jesus who has been “made unto us wisdom(1Cor. 1:30), “we have the mind of Christ” (1Cor. 2:16). Paul wrote that Christ is the sum of all “knowledge and wisdom” (1Cor. 1:24), and now He dwells WITHIN every believer’s spirit (cf. 1Cor 6:17). Therefore, we need only to recognize and be “led by” His Spirit’s innermost speaking (Rom. 8:14) in accord with the ‘rightly divided word of truth.’ Christ’s Spirit-union with believers is now clearly and fully revealed and known to us by Paul’s later epistles (cf. Col 1:27).

Paul prayed for believers to grow in their knowledge of the “Mystery of Christ” (Eph 3:4) who indwells them as their very life (Eph. 1:16-18). Believers can put away those infantile incomplete gifts of “knowledge and utterance.” Paul’s gospel was and is today the only means of salvation, since Israel’s kingdom program had been set aside temporarily. “Have they (Israel) stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.” (Rom. 11:11) “… blindness in part is happened to Israel, UNTIL the fulness of the Gentiles [body of Christ] be come in [at the Rapture]. (Rom 11:25)

The ‘sign-gifts’ moved from Israel’s Synagogues to the Gentile home churches of “the body of Christ” in order to provoke Israel, seeing that God had left Israel and gone to the Gentiles. Paul tells the Gentile believers at Corinth that their sign-gifts were to be only for a time, then they will cease.”

“Charity (love) never faileth [Gk. ekpipto, falls away]: but whether there be Prophecies (Gk. Proheteia, Anointed Speaking), They Shall Fail (All Away); Whether There Be Tongues, They Shall Cease; Whether There Be Knowledge, It Shall Vanish Away (Gk. Kartargeo, Become Of No Use) (1 Cor. 13:8).

Paul explains to the Corinthians that these wonderful gifts will cease to be of use or value after he receives full revelatory knowledge that provides us with the breadth of the grace gospel of “the Mystery” of the total sufficiency of Christ” as the sum of all things now in you(Col. 1:25-27).

“Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.9 For we know in part, and we prophesy (Gk. propheteou, we speak by inspiration) in part. 10 But when that which is perfect is come (Gk. teleios, meaning “complete”) then That Which Is In Part Shall Be Done Away. 11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I Put Away Childish Things. 12 For now (at the time of Acts 20) 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.” (1Cor. 13:8-12)

Paul says these knowledge and witness’ “gifts” were to vanish. “when the complete and perfect (Gk. teleios, complete)) comes, the incomplete and imperfect will vanish away (become superseded).” (1 Cor. 13:10 AMP). The word “perfect” here is the Greek ‘teleios,’ meaning, “that which is of full age, meaning “complete.” Paul’s multiple progressive “revelations(cf. 2Cor 12:1, 7) completed (written) word of God for us today.

“Whereof I (Paul) am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is Given to Me (Paul) For You, (in order) to fulfil (Gk. pleroo, to fill or COMPLETE) the word God;” (Colossians 1:25 (KJV).

How can Paul say he completed the word of God? The fact is that everything written before Paul’s epistles was prophetic of or concerned Israel. Then we have Paul’s words were for the Gentile “body of Christ” since Acts 9. The letters that after Paul’s epistles concern fulfillment of the prophecies concerning Israel and the coming kingdom. So, Paul’s epistles interrupt the two sections of the Bible about Israel, with information that had “been kept secret since the world began” until it was revealed to Paul for the Gentile “body of Christ.”

“Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my (Paul’s) gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,” (Rom. 16:25)

The revelation of the mystery that came through Paul, made the ‘total sufficiency of the Christ by His ‘cross-work’ known to believers… according to Paul’s grace gospelofChrist IN you the hope of glory (cf. Col. 1:27). The “Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” now resident in the believer’s spirit is the fulfillment of “ALL KNOWLEDGE” (Rom. 15:14), now for every believer, no longer for only the so-called gifted ones.

Paul said; “… though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries,all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity (love), I am nothing. 3 …though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor… though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity (love), it profiteth me nothing.” (1Cor. 13:2-3) Paul tell us what really counts is God’s “love,” now in us and for loving others.

“Charity (Gk. agape, God’s love) never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail (Gk. kartargeo, be done away); whether there be tongues, they shall cease (Gk., pauo, stop); whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away (Gk., kartargeo, be made of no effect). (1 Corinthians 13:8)

We as believers today, as will Israel later in the Millennial and eternal kingdoms on earth,KNOW ALL things” that we need to know by the written word and by Christ as the Word IN us. He personally prompts or restrains from within, but always in accord with the written “word of truth.”

“But ye have an unction (an inner anointing) from the Holy One, and YE KNOW ALL THINGS. 27 But the (permanent) anointing which ye have received Of Him (Christ) Abideth IN You, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in (union with) him. (1 John 2:20, 27)

Today, believers have no need of supernatural “tongues,” “prophecy,” “wisdom,” or the ‘word of knowledge’ from another believer to direct them. We already “know” what they need to know by Christ in us and by the revelation of God’s “word or truth” that we have through Paul’s thirteen epistles to “the body of Christ.”

Listening to and be directed by any other source is an offence to the Lord; potentially deceiving us, stunting our spiritual growth. Yes, The Lord may use others around us, as he does all our external circumstances, but what we must still hear directly from Him and His word that is “hid in our heart(s)” (Psalm 119:11).