Greetings In the Name of the Lord:
1 Corinthians 13:10-12 (NLT)
10 But when full understanding comes, these partial things will become useless. 11 When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. 12 Now we see things imperfectly as in a cloudy mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.
When I was very young in the faith my spiritual life was radically changed by an experience known as the baptism in the Holy Spirit. I discovered this experience quite by accident at a 2nd Chapter of Acts concert in the late 70’s. During a time of worship, I began to sing in a language I had never studies, learned, or been taught. This was a traumatic experience, and afterwards I had a new passion, excitement, and spiritual empowerment. Since then it has baffled me that some Christians believe that this experience no longer exists, and some even teach that is it evil. This is the main text that they use to support their belief. They presume that the “full understanding,” usually translated “perfect or complete” refers to the completion of the New Testament at the end of the first century. They teach that since we have the New Testament we no longer need the gifts of the Spirit. Really? Is that what Paul is talking about? Would his readers have understood it that way? I don’t think so! Pentecostal as well as many non-Pentecostal scholars refute the notion that Paul is saying anything like this here. It seems more in line with the context that here Paul is looking forward to the Parousia, or second coming of Christ, not the close of the canon. Also, in these verses Paul is not even writing about the baptism in the Holy Spirit. His statements really have little if anything to do with the question of the availability of a distinctive baptism experience today (Horton, Systematic Theology, 445). Furthermore, Paul’s audience would never have understood it that way. They would not have understood Paul to be saying that “perfect” had to do with the completion of the New Testament, a concept that would have been foreign to them. Moreover, if Paul were talking about the completion of Scripture he would have been more explicit than implicit. Additionally, why would he spend so much time (three chapters) talking about something that in a short period of time would be extinct? It seems to make much more sense that Paul is talking about the second coming of Christ. After all, it is only then that we will understand completely. It will only be then that we will see with perfect clarity (face to face, NIV). Do we still need the gifts of the Spirit today? Absolutely! Are they still available today? You bet they are!