Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. (1 Corinthians 13:8-11)
The Scaffolding Is Gone
Jesus promised to build His church and following His return to the Father, the church was established on Pentecost. The twelve apostles received the baptism of the Holy Spirit and began speaking in different languages of those gathered for the great feast in Jerusalem. Peter stood up among the apostles and opened the door of salvation to the Jews as promised by Jesus. It was the first day of the church, and three thousand souls obeyed the gospel of Jesus Christ. God added to the church those who were being saved. The day following Pentecost saw more teaching and preaching as the infant church began to grow daily. Disciples of Christ began to learn the new message of salvation apart from the Law of Moses. It was not an easy transition, and questions arose on the new worship and teachings of a risen Christ. More Jews were baptized for the remission of sins. Disciples increased daily.
The teaching, worship, practice, and organization of the church was new to everyone. There were only the writings of Genesis through Malachi in existence in Hebrew and Greek. Philip would begin at Isaiah 53 and teach a man from Ethiopia the gospel of Jesus Christ, leading to him asking why he could not be baptized in water. It would be over ten years before the first book of the New Testament would be written, and throughout the coming years, the canon of the books Matthew through Revelation would be written and reproduced. One of the great providential works of the Godhead is found in the manner of the church’s remarkable growth during the time of its infancy. This work was accomplished by the promise of Jesus to the eleven when He told them a Helper would come and guide them into all truth.
When a building is planned and designed, one of the most important parts of the construction occurs in the early phases of its design. To properly build a firm foundation and construct its walls, scaffolding is used to shore up and hold together the building. Without the scaffolding, it would be impossible for the walls to remain secure and the building to be finished. There comes a time when the building can stand on its own, and the scaffolding is taken away. Then the building’s beauty is seen apart from the skeleton structure of what helped form its structure in the beginning. Jesus said His church would be built, and like a building, the church required a time of scaffolding to help the new kingdom of God come into existence. One of the most critical parts of the success of the early church was the nine miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus promised to send the Helper or the Holy Spirit to guide the church into all truth. The Spirit’s work was found in the gifts of wisdom, knowledge, faith, healings, miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, different kinds of tongues, and the interpretation of tongues. Within forty years, when Paul wrote the epistle of Colossians, the church had been preached to every creature under heaven. The remarkable speed of the spread of the gospel was accomplished through the scaffolding of God’s divine plan to establish the church. When the work of the Holy Spirit was no longer needed, the gifts were taken away. Only those baptized with the Holy Spirit baptism could pass the gifts to others and when those who possessed the gifts died, so did the power. When the generation of those who had the gifts died, the Holy Spirit’s work ended through the agency of spiritual gifts.
Paul explained to the Corinthians a day was coming when the gifts would cease. The reason for the ending of the gifts was because, like scaffolding, a day would come when the church would stand on its own with the fully revealed word of God given to all men. The nine gifts of the Holy Spirit are not needed because the Bible has everything a man needs to know how to be saved. Contained within the sixty-six books of the Bible is the mind of God. Paul wrote that when that which was perfect came, that which was in part was to be taken away. The spiritual gifts were necessary to the building of the church as scaffolding is necessary for the early construction. But the day comes when the structure of support is no longer needed. What can a spiritual gift accomplish that is not found in the word of God? Its purpose is finished, and the Lord removed the spiritual scaffolding so the beauty of His word can be seen.