The topic of spiritual gifts has caused much confusion in the religious world. Some religions say they exist. Some say they don't. Let's examine this topic in light of the scriptures. What is or was the purpose of spiritual gifts?
From this verse we can see that the purpose of spiritual gifts was to show that Jesus Christ was the son of God. Has this been done? I pose to you that it has been. We now have the written history and evidence of many men that witness or testify that Jesus Christ was the son of God. It's the same as any other history figure. Do you believe in George Washington? Do you need anything to "prove" who George Washington was? Probably not. There is plenty of history and even physical evidence that there was a man named George Washington and that he lived the life historians tell us about. The same goes with Jesus Christ. We have evidences and written records of his life.
So I raise the question, "What need is there of spiritual gifts today?". The answer based on our conclusion and on scriptures would be that there is no purpose for them today. The purpose of spiritual gifts has already been fulfilled. This is even what the Bible shows.
We see in these verses that in the time of the early church they were prophesying in part. Little by little the mystery kept secret since the world began (Rom 16:25) was being revealed. When that mystery was completely revealed, the things in part (the spiritual gifts used to reveal the word) were done away with.
The odd phrase that these would be done away with when "that which is perfect has come" has confused many. What is that which is perfect? Some pose that it is Jesus. This is incorrect.
Let's for a minute use human wisdom as we examine the possibility of Jesus being "that which is perfect" as referred to in this verse. Let's look at the existence of spiritual gifts as they pertained to Jesus' life. When Jesus was born of Mary, were there still spiritual gifts? Yes. When Jesus was resurrected, were there still spiritual gifts? Yes. This leaves that the only time Jesus "appearance" might mark the end of spiritual gifts is his final return at the end of the earth that we read about in 2 Pet 3:12. I pose to you that even Jesus final return is not what is referred to by "that which is perfect". Spiritual gifts have ceased even before his return.
So we ask the question again, "What is that which is perfect". That which is perfect is the perfect law of liberty that James talks about.
This perfect law of liberty is the Bible in full, the completed word of God. When the Bible was completed, then that which was in part was done away with. In other words, when the entire revelation of the Bible was finished, the spiritual gifts (such as prophecy and tongues) which were used to reveal it were done away with. What would be the use of them if they still existed? You might say to invoke faith in people today. That might appear to be a good plan, but this is not what the Bible shows us that God has chosen. It reminds me of the Lord's words to Thomas.
We can see here that not everyone will get to see Jesus in person, yet they must believe on him. This verse does not directly refer to spiritual gifts, but the same concept applies to them. Not everyone is going to get to witness spiritual gifts, but none the less they must have faith that they did occur. Also they must have faith on the very things the gifts were performed to verify. Namely that Jesus Christ was the son of God. Even without passages such as 1 Cor 13:8-10 that tell us spiritual gifts have ceased, a little study can prove it to an open minded reader. You need to understand that only the apostles could give the ability to others to perform spiritual gifts.
If you read in Acts 8, you'll find that even the inspired man Philip was among the saints who couldn't pass on the spiritual gifts. He had to wait till Peter and John came to pass that ability on.
Now think for a minute. Only the apostles could pass these gifts on to others. The apostles were "middle aged men" at the time of Christ's death (around 33 A.D.). Even at this time 70 years was a pretty typical life span. Secular history shows us the death of all the apostles. Therefore, only the people they passed the gifts to had them. If there are people around today with these spiritual gifts, then they must be nearly 2,000 years old! Think about it.
Based on what we've studied in the Bible, you need to think about your faith and religion. Have you been mislead by your emotions? What you need to do is obey from the heart (Rom 6:17) the word of God. You need to study like the Ethiopian eunuch did and believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God. Listen to some of Jesus' own words.
I believe this verse has more to it than often meets the eye. I used to feel this simply showed that spiritual gifts would cease, but that's not even the point that Jesus is trying to make.
Even during Jesus time people were always seeking a sign. Even though He and those who would receive the spiritual gifts in the future could perform signs, Jesus said the only sign they would see was the "sign of Jonas". Jesus let people know that he would die, be buried and raised like Jonah was from the great fish. I believe Jesus was pointing out that even the adulterous generation during his time wouldn't accept the obvious facts. They slandered and persecuted Him. Since this was true He wouldn't perform signs for them. We see this happen in His hometown. He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief. He also refused to do signs for Herod during his trial.
The verse somewhat applies to our adulterous generation. People are still seeking a sign even though the gifts have ceased as we've shown in this article. So we can say exactly what Jesus said, but because of a different reason in our day and time. "An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas."
In a since Jesus resurrection is still a sign for us today. The tomb is still empty. We still have the record of many witnesses that say it happened. Our generation is left to accept the sign of His resurrection without anyone performing other signs to prove it happened.