Did Paul Predict the End of the Miraculous Gifts of the Spirit #4

This is the fourth part of a short series examining an article by Joel McDurmon, Head of Research at American Vision in Powder Springs, Ga.,  in which he addressed the question of the charismatic, revelatory gifts, and particularly 1 Corinthians 13. In that article, McDurmon denied that 1 Corinthians 13 discusses the objective end of the charismatic gifts, and he denied that the text has any eschatological content: “I think that the whole endeavor to see 1 Corinthians 13:9ff as an indicator of any major eschatological, doctrinal, covenantal, or revelatory shift is to miss the point of the passage entirely.” Be sure to begin reading this series of articles here.

One fascinating thing about McDurmon’s article is that he tells us he was part of the charismatic movement for at least five years. Yet, he says that during that time he never witnessed even one example of  genuine tongues or miracles. This is more than a little challenging to the claims that miracles are abundant in the charismatic movement. I recently heard one charismatic minister, for instance, claim that miracles are (or should be) “an every day” affair for the true believer!

How would it be possible to be a member of the “miracles movement” for five years, and yet, never witness even one undeniably real example of the miraculous working of the power of God?

Would it have been possible to have been a member of the Corinthian church for five years, and never witness even one example of genuine miracles? Could one have even attended – without being a member– the Jerusalem assemblies and never witnessed a single incontrovertible healing, prophetic utterance, tongue speaking– for five years? The idea is truly challenging to say the least! McDurmon’s admission is very telling indeed.

Incidentally, I have personally spoken in-depth with numerous individuals who have shared the same experience with me. They were members of large, active charismatic churches for multiple years- some as long as a decade or more– and yet never witnessed even one single undeniable miracle.

I would also take note that as a result of my own personal, deep seated interest in this question, I have personally attended many, many charismatic meetings where, I was assured, the power of God would be moving. Yet, like McDurmon, I never witnessed even one true miracle.  In a similar vein, years ago, I asked, in all sincerity, a good friend of mine, a charismatic minister, to heal my mother of her terminal cancer. I promised, very sincerely, that if he would do so, I would preach the message the rest of my life. He would not even try. He simply offered the same common “argument” i.e. I was simply testing God. Well, I commonly hear charismatic ministers tell their audience to “test God” in regard to their giving, but, it seems, that is okay. In other words, they are challenged to test God in regard to the claims that if you give, God will give to you. But, you are definitely not allowed to put Him to the test in regard to the claims about healing and miracles!

But now, to the question of whether or not the Bible posits the objective cessation of the charismatic gifts at a given, punctiliar time, or, whether, as McDurmon claims, the cessation is tied solely to the spiritual maturation of the individual. If it can be shown that the Bible did/does predict the objective cessation at a given time, then McDurmon’s entire article is falsified.

Daniel 9: Seal Up Vision and Prophecy
Daniel 9 is considered one of the most important of all Biblical prophecies. Succinctly stated, Daniel 9 foretold the eschatological consummation, the end times, including the resurrection. See my Seventy Weeks Are Determined…For the Resurrection, in which I show that each of the constituent elements and blessings promised in Daniel 9:24 are inextricably related to the resurrection. Failure to see this has caused many commentators to divorce Biblical eschatology from the climax of Old Covenant Israel’s aeon, and posit it at the end of “human history.”

McDurmon attempted this very dichotomy in our July 2012 formal debate, insisting that there was an eschatology for Israel, but, it is not the “real” eschatology of the “real” end. You can get your own copy of that debate, now in book form, from this site. In truth, Biblical eschatology has nothing to do with the end of human history, or the end of the Christian age.

For brevity, we will confine our comments to the promise that “Seventy weeks are determined…to seal (“up”- the word “up” is not in the text) vision and prophecy.” In my book Seal Up Vision and Prophecy, I give an abundance of evidence, from scholars of all perspectives, testifying to the definition of this phrase. There is, with very few exceptions, a consensus that “seal vision and prophecy” means the ultimate cessation of the prophetic office through the fulfillment of all prophecy. Payne says, “Classical and dispensational conservatives unite in asserting that the verb hatam must signify some kind of comprehensive ‘stopping’ or ‘fulfilling’ of prophecy.” (J. Barton Payne, The Goal of Daniel’s Seventy Weeks, “The Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society,” 21/2 June, 1978, 107-108).

Now, unless it can be demonstrated that this consensus of definition– and it is important to understand that we are talking about lexical definition, not theological interpretation– is in error, then what we have in Daniel 9 is a prediction of the objective cessation of the prophetic office. Daniel is not discussing individual spiritual maturation. He is focused on the “restoration of Israel” and the arrival of her soteriological and eschatological consummation.

Notice the language of the text: “Seventy weeks are determined on your people and on your city” (v. 24). This is undeniably a promise concerning the corporate body, not a discussion of individuals and their personal spiritual maturation.

Furthermore, the promise concerns a given point of time– the climax of the seventy weeks. Just as the work of making the atonement does not extend beyond that time, the sealing of vision and prophecy does not project beyond that promised seventy weeks.

An important note here that I fully document in my books: when Daniel was told that seventy weeks were determined to seal vision and prophecy, the phrase is comprehensive, as Payne and others observe. In other words, there is no definite article in the Hebrew, to indicate that the promise was “seventy weeks are determined to seal the vision and the prophecy.” Daniel was not being told that the sealing had to do with a specific, particular prophecy. Daniel was not predicting that the seventy weeks were determined to fulfill the prophecy of Daniel 9 and no other prophecy.

This is important to say the least. Interestingly, Gentry takes note of the use- or non-use– of the definite article in the text in regard to the other blessings. He notes how the definite article is present in regard to “transgression” and “sin”, but is missing in regard to “reconciliation.” He says,  “There (the two previous usages of the definite article, dkp) it referred to the particular situation of Israel; here it is considers the more general predicament of mankind.”

Then, however, he totally ignores the fact that the definite article is absent in “seal up vision and prophecy”! When commenting on Daniel 9 he then renders it as, “This means that Jesus fulfills (and thereby confirms) the prophecy (Luke 18:31; cf. Lk. 24:44; Acts 3:18″ (Gentry, Dominion, 2009, 314f, n. 30).  So, on the one hand Gentry honors the presence or absence of the definite article, but then, where the definite article is absent, he implicitly inserts it, demanding that in Luke and Acts, referent is made to the fulfillment of “the prophecy.”

The definite article is simply not present in Daniel 9.  It is not: “Seventy weeks are determined to seal ‘the’ vision, ‘the’ prophecy’…” Thus, the meaning of this, as I document, is that vision and prophecy, comprehensively considered, was to be finalized by the end of the seventy weeks. (In a formal debate with Thomas Thrasher, Amillennialist some years ago, I repeatedly made this point. Amazingly, Thrasher actually claimed that the definite article was present, because it was in italics in his Bible! That debate is available from me in Mp3 form).

But let me reiterate, even if one were to grant– in spite of the undeniable textual evidence– that Daniel 9 foretold that seventy weeks were determined to fulfill (just) Daniel 9, then since the constituent elements of Daniel 9 are directly, undeniably related to the eschatological resurrection, then this demands that the resurrection would occur no later than the end of the seventy weeks.

Let me make this significant point, however. It should be noted that even if one were to argue- as as Gentry and others do– that the sealing of vision and prophecy referred only to the prophecy of Daniel 9, this would not negate the critical fact that Daniel 9 predicted the resurrection– which virtually everyone agrees is when all prophecy is fulfilled! To reiterate a point made earlier, virtually every constituent element found in Daniel 9 is inextricably and undeniably tied to the resurrection.

So, let me summarize what we have from Daniel 9 so far.
☛ Daniel was given a prophecy that dealt with the climax of OT Israel’s covenant age– not the end of time or the end of the Christian age.

☛ Daniel’s prophecy was concerned with the corporate body of Israel “your people and your city.” Daniel is in no way focused on the faith of individuals and their personal spiritual journey to maturation.

☛ Daniel’s prophecy deals with the objective cessation of the prophetic office.

☛ Daniel’s prophecy gives a definite, objective temporal point for the terminus of the gifts– the end of the seventy weeks.

Naturally, this raises the question: when would the seventy weeks come to an end? We will explore that in our next installment, so stay tuned!