Mike Bird’s Case for Spiritual Gifts Today

According to New Testament scholar Mike Bird spirituals gifts are for today.  Bird makes his case from 1 Corinthians 1:7.

If the spiritual gifts help the church in its life and mission prior to the parousia, and if Christ has not yet returned, then it is sensible to think that some of the gifts will carry on until Christ’s second advent.  An apocalyptic hope of Christ’s return and a belief that God has not abandoned the church seem to necessitate the view that the Spirit remains active in gifting the church to succeed in its mission until the second coming.” —Evangelical Theology

While other spiritual gifts will carry on until Christ’s second coming, Bird do not think the offices of prophet and apostle are among them.  For Bird, the offices of prophet and apostle were “eschatological ministries to provide ‘foundation’ for the church (Eph 2:20),” and since the foundation has been laid, “the apostolic office and prophetic voice is largely subsumed into Christian preaching, witness, and teaching.”

Making a case from 1 Corinthians 1:7 for the continuation of spiritual gifts is really nothing new.  For example, in his classic commentary on 1 Corinthians, Gordon Fee, a Pentecostal New Testament scholar, has advanced similar arguments.

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5 Responses to Mike Bird’s Case for Spiritual Gifts Today

  1. Craig Benno says:

    I get annoyed that he mentions the Apostolic and Prophetic office as a deceased gift.( He uses the standard arguments which I believe fail scrutiny.) My comment is that I am hard pressed to find any NT prophet, who wrote any of the NT. Perhaps Jude, could be considered one? Yet, the prophetic role and prophetic voices are commonly addressed in the NT.

    While indeed we can solidly state that there are no Apostles in the like of the original 13 and Paul – there is ample precedent in the NT writings that those same Apostles sent others on apostolic missions and called them apostles.

    If the original Apostles were comfortable in calling others apostles – I really can’t see why we should be uncomfortable using the term today.

    • TC Robinson says:

      Craig, good argument. Wouldn’t they be our missionaries and preachers today? What is the difference?

      • Craig Benno says:

        I believe that the prophetic is distinct to that of preaching; though, preaching can be prophetic. There are real exegetical and consistency problems for the reformed camp who equate preaching with prophecy (as is often the case) and not allowing women to preach to mixed congregations. Especially when Paul gives very careful and clear guidelines to allow women to prophesy in the congregation.

        I see the prophetic working alongside preaching, when the preacher may have planned to preach from a certain text – and has a distinct feeling that they are to preach something else. Or it can work through prayer – when you have a distinct sense to pray in a certain way, and find out that those you were praying for, were in deep need at that time. I was at a restaurant once and had a firm conviction to go to someone sitting at another table and tell them – “That God was in control, and wasn’t surprised by what was happening.” (scary stuff) The man thanked me, telling me he needed to hear that at that time and moment.

        In 2001 I had a vision of God holding my hand, as I walked through a back paddock (field) with my son. Fast forward to 2009 when the doo doo hit the fan for myself – a friend rang me, saying “Craig, I have argued with God for telling you this, as it seems way to simple – but I have a deep sense that God is telling you that he still has you by the hand, and hasn’t let go of it.”

        While it may sound simple and that anyone can say such a thing – those experiences were deeply personal, very encouraging, and fruitful as coming from the Spirit of God.

        The point about missionaries is a helpful one though it needs some careful nuancing as many missionaries may have other gifts and talents, which help the missionary effort (whether on the front line or behind the scenes.) Perhaps the Apostolic is more through the ability to start up and sustain new work and movements.

  2. TC Robinson says:

    Craig, yes, it depends on how we choose to define prophecy. If Wayne Grudem, a continuationist, definition is correct (prophesy is “telling something that God has spontaneously brought to mind”), which corresponds to your definition, then, yes, I concur.

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