OUT OF THE WOODS

by J.F.T. Woods

Q. Why does Paul say that he "thinks" he has the Spirit of God? Didn't he know?

A. You refer to 1 Corinthians 7:40. "And I think I also have God's Spirit" (literal translation). The Corinthians boasted that they were second to none in spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 1:7). In chapter 14:36, Paul asks them, "What? came the Word of God out from you? Or came it unto you only?" And then says, "If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord." If any man were a prophet or otherwise spiritually gifted, he would automatically recognize the authenticity of Paul's apostleship and the divine origin of his message. Many Corinthians then were doubting both, as many "Corinthians" do now. It is also important to note that, of the several Greek words rendered "think," Paul selected the one that means I think in the sense of I conclude. There was no doubt in Paul's mind that he was indwelt by the third Person of the triune Godhead. Is he not using a little sanctified sarcasm when he says that he thinks that he also has God's Spirit? That the Corinthians are not the only ones who do? His first reference to tongues in this section is to false tongues. Now he intimates that some of the other "gifts" in the Corinthian assemblies were spurious, and some of their "prophets" false.

Paul surely knew that he had the Spirit of God, and that the Corinthians had the Spirit as well. The indwelling Spirit never withdraws from the believer...once indwelt always indwelt! (Ephesians 1:13-14) Paul also knew that the way in which some assemblies there were conducting their meetings made them appear to be insane asylums (1 Corinthians 14:23). While a local congregation teaches accurately and operates orderly it glorifies God. God is never glorified by assemblies which have become, or appear to be, madhouses. God, Christ, the Bible, and Christians are dishonored by many "churches" today. They meet for the worse and not for the better. The revelatory and evidential gifts that Paul and the Corinthians exercised were temporary gifts given to accomplish God's purposes until the canon of Scripture was completed (1 Corinthians 13:8 and following). The information communicated through the use of these gifts was for that time only and God has not included it in the Bible. The Bible is complete and contains all that we need to know to be complete. In this sense, those gifts were inferior to the Bible.

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