Sign gifts

One undeniable fact of Scripture is that the message of salvation through Christ was accompanied by miraculous phenomena.  All bible believing Christians agree on this fact.  From Pentecost throughout the Apostolic era there were miraculous events that confirmed the credibility of the message and the messengers of the gospel.  Jesus had revealed Himself as the Son of God through signs and wonders and in the apostles He was at work through the Holy Spirit to reveal His continuing presence in the world.  These miracles also gave credibility to the Scriptures of the New Testament since they were of an Apostolic origin.  The much debated issue of today is whether or not the sign gifts have ceased.  Do people still sometimes speak in languages they have not studied by the power of the Holy Spirit?  Do people have supernatural ability to interpret languages they have not studied?  Do people have the capacity to perform miracles in the name of Jesus?  Does God still heal diseases miraculously through the ministry of gifted servants?  Does God communicate knowledge mystically and mysteriously to certain servants of His in our own time?

          My own opinion and experience is that much of what is passed of as “speaking in tongues” today is really just gibberish.  Languages have syntax.  Syntax is the structure which allows a language to communicate ideas.  There is no structure in much of the “tongue speaking” that is done today.  However, I would stop short of saying that God does not still provide miracles of communication.  The real issue of the tongues at Pentecost involved two important realities.  The multiple languages were a sign of Judgement on Israel for their failed opportunity to respond to the Christ.  The multiple languages also caught the attention of the numerous people in Jerusalem for the feast and heard the message of God in their native tongue.  I am confident that God can still enable people to communicate who have barriers of language.  I am personally aware of many such instances.  I also see a giftedness in the lives of those who can study a language without benefit of any written notes and decipher the language.  Some actually invent a written form for languages that are spoken on earth and have never been written down.  They then teach a people who had no written language to read their own language and read Scripture in that new language.  If that is not something of a miracle then I am puzzled that there are so few who are so gifted as to do this. 

    Neither Jesus nor the Apostles healed every sick person they were around.  Neither Jesus nor the Apostles paraded themselves as faith healers.  Each healing was a special event involving a specific purpose of God.  First Corinthians speaks of the gifts of healing rather than the gift of healing.  Each healing is a gift.  The gift may experienced by the individual or the Church.  Yes, I believe God still miraculously heals, but He and He alone should receive the glory.  Other miracles still happen, but they are rare.  They seem to happen with more frequency in settings where God’s messengers are seeking to get a hearing for the gospel.  I am aware of dozens of such occurrences in the lives of people that I personally know.  I have been directly involved in some instances.  Again, I do not think that there are miracle workers today so much as that God still works miracles today.  More to come.

Dan Wooldridge

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