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On this page we want to present biblically teaching on a various subjects, because this ministry believes doctrine is important.  
 
This is a new page started on the 11th October 2008, and we will be adding more subjects as time goes on
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A Biblical And Theological Explanation Of Signs And Wonders In The Gospel Ministry Today

By David McKivett

 

In this essay I will attempt to prove that the continuist doctrine is not based on experience and emotion as many in the cessationist camp claim, but is a Biblically sound doctrine based on good hermeneutics.  It is true that many have experienced healing and the manifestation of the gifts.  There is nothing wrong with experiences but the question that needs to be asked is, is our experience biblical?  It is my position that healing, tongues, prophesy, miracles, and the five-fold ministry have not ceased but will continue until the time of Christ returns (Eph 4:12-13).

 

To be fair the cessationist it is not true that all cessationists deny that God works miracles today.  Robert L. Saucy writes:

Contrary to the impression sometimes given that cessationist deny that God still works miracles, I personally know of no cessationist who denies that God can and does work miracles throughout the church age today.  The issue of cessationism therefore, is not whether God still works miracles, but whether the same phenomena or miraculous spiritual gifts seen in the early church of the New Testament are normal for the entire church age.[1]

 

However, the fact is that many cessationists say they do not deny that God still works miracles today, but in reality most are sceptical and even hostile to any reports of the miraculous.  

 

 

The unchanging attributes of God

In dealing with the subject ‘A Biblical And Theological Explanation of Signs And Wonders In The Gospel Ministry Today’ it is important to look briefly at the attributes of God, because this will show that it is in the very nature of God to heal, save, deliver and work miracles. 

 

By attributes we mean the characteristics, or descriptions of what God is. For example:

Eternal (in and beyond time, without beginning or end) - Psalm 90:2

Gracious (giving beyond measure, from love) - 1 John 4:8

Holy (sinless and opposed to sin) - Leviticus 19:2

Immutable (unchanging) - Malachi 3:6

Just (fair and intent on making justice) - Deuteronomy 32:4

Merciful (overflowing with compassion) - Psalm 145:9

Omnipotent (unlimited power) - Genesis 17:1

Omnipresent (everywhere at the same time) - Jeremiah 23:24

Omniscient (all knowing) - John 21:17

 

It is not the purpose of this essay to give a thorough examination of the attributes of God.  I will not be looking at all the attributes, but only dealing with some of them as they relate to the continuist doctrine.

 

Omnipotent

All-powerful: possessing complete, unlimited, or universal power and authority.[2] The attribute of God, which describes his ability to do whatever He wills.  God's will is limited only by His nature, and He therefore cannot do anything contrary to His nature as God, such as to ignore sin, or to lie.

“God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good”

Numbers 23:19   

 

God’s omnipotence is revealed throughout the Bible (see Matt 19:26, Job 42: 2, Jerem 33:17,27, Luke 1:37, and Rev 19:6)

 

The omnipotent power of God is seen in many places in the Old Testament for example creation, and the opening of the Red sea.  In the ministry of Jesus, (Second person of the trinity) we see the omnipotent power of God. The miracle of turning the water in to wine (John 2:9) shows that Jesus had power over the elements.  The raising of the dead (See John 11) reveals power over life and death.  The healing of the lepers shows His power over disease.  The walking on the water (Mk 14:25) and the calming of the sea (Mat 8:26) displays that Jesus had authority over nature.  The casting out of demons (Luke 4:35) demonstrates his power over the satanic world.

 

One of the reasons God worked miracles is to display His omnipotence.  He raised up pharaoh for this very purpose.

    “And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to shew in thee my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth.”

Exodus 9: 16

 

Throughout the Bible we see the manifestation of God’s Omnipotent power.  We see it in the Old Testament; we see it in the life of Jesus, and we see it in the early church.  The question that needs to be asked is why would God not continue to do so in our day?  Why would God reveal so much in the Bible about signs and wonders only to cease doing them once we have the Cannon of Scripture?   I intend to prove from scripture that He has not ceased. 

 

Immutable

Immutable means  not changing or not able to be changed’[3] Wayne Grudem gives a good definition of God’s unchangeableness:

Unchangeableness. We can define the unchangeableness of God as follows: God is unchanging in his being, perfections, purposes, and promises, yet God does act and feel emotions, and he acts and feels differently in response to different situations.  This attribute of God is also called God’s immutability.[4]

 

  The Bible reveals God to be the unchanging.

“For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.”

Malachi 3:6   

 

God is perpetually the same: not subject to change in His being, attributes, or determinations. Therefore God is compared to a rock (Deut 32:4, etc.) He can know no change. He is everlastingly "the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning" (Jas. 1:17).  He cannot change for the worse. Altogether unaffected by anything outside Himself, improvement or deterioration is impossible. He is perpetually the same. He only can say, "I am that I am" (Ex. 3:14). He is altogether uninfluenced by the flight of time. Therefore His power can never diminish nor His glory ever fades.    The attributes of God can no more change than God can cease to be. His veracity is immutable, for His Word is "forever settled in heaven" (Ps. 119:89). His love is eternal: "I have loved thee with an everlasting love" (Jer. 31:3). His mercy never ceases, for it is "everlasting”. 

 

The immutability of God is strong evidence for believing that the God that worked miracles in the past will not cease to do so in the present.  The God that gave the gifts to church for specific purposes would not change in His dealing with the Church.   Wayne Grudem makes an interesting statement about the gifts in relation to God’s Immutability.

 

James reminds his readers that all good gifts come ultimately from God “with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17). His argument is that since good gifts have always come from God, we can be confident that only good gifts will come from him in the future, because his character never changes in the slightest degree[5]

 

We shall later in this essay reveal the purpose of the gifts and to prove that they are needed today for that same purpose.   

 

Were miracles only used to confirm the original apostles until we had the Cannon of Scripture?

 

The main argument that cessationists use is that the gifts of Spirit and signs in the early church, were only for the time of the original apostles and ceased when their writing were completed.  

 

 The most common position is that the "spectacular" or "sign" gifts (prophecy, miraculous healing, tongues, etc.) ceased with the apostolic age. These gifts were manifested for the purpose of validating the gospel and apostolic authority. Once the apostles' ministry had been sufficiently validated, the Spirit ceased to give these gifts. This view appeals in part to the phrase "foundation of the apostles and prophets" in Ephesians 2:20. From this phrase, it argues that the prophetic gifts were "foundational," pertaining only to the foundational period of the church, that is, to the apostolic period (from "apostles and prophets"), though some extend this period until the formal closure of the Canon. It also appeals to the evidence in the New Testament that the more spectacular gifts seemed to be on the decline even while the apostles were still ministering. This position tends to limit its list of gifts to those mentioned in the New Testament (Rom. 12; 1 Cor. 12; 14; Eph. 4).[6]

 

The reformers argued that the primary purpose of the New Testament miracles was to authenticate the apostles as trustworthy authors of Holy Scripture. How would this argument prove that miracles were temporary?  Because after the apostles had written the New Testament, miracles would have fulfilled their purpose and would no longer be necessary, for now the church would possess forever the miraculous attested written word of God.  This remains the primary argument among modern cessationist. [7]  

   

Robert L Saucy believe that the gifts were only given until we had the Cannon of Scripture

 

The important role of prophecy at this time for example, had some relation to the fact that the revelation intended as canonical for the church was only in the process of being given.  The presence in the later church of the complete canonical Scripture suggests a decrease in the need of this prophetic activity in favour of the teaching of the canonical apostolic doctrine.[8]

 

These arguments cannot be supported from scripture.  There is not a single verse in the whole Bible that says that gifts will cease when cannon was complete, or that that they were only used to confirm the apostles who were going to write scripture.   Most Reformers do admit that there is no text that specifically teaches the spiritual gifts, and miracles were confined to the New Testament period, so they are forced to resort to theological deductions.   The cessationist doctrine is built on a form of anti-supernatural hermeneutics.

 

An anti-supernatural hermeneutics is a system of interpretation that eliminates the supernatural elements of the Bible. German liberal theologians such as Bultmann did this by ‘demythogizing’ the New Testament Miracles.  They claimed the miracles did not occur at all; they were stories invented to give expression of myths that had been current in the ancient Near East.  Conservative writers who would never dream of treating Scriptures in this cavalier manner have another way of employing antisupernatural hermeneutics.  They have a system of reading the Bible which says that all the miracles occurred back then, but they are not meant for today. [9]

 

For the main cessationists’ argument to stand any kind of credibility they must first show from scripture that miracles were used to authenticate the apostles, and secondly prove this was the primary purpose for miracles.  However, when we look at miracles in the New Testament they are used to confirm who Jesus is, not who the apostles are (Mark 16:20, John 5:36. and Acts 2:22).

 

Jesus worked miracles to show that He had the power to forgive sins (Matt 9:6-7, to show that he was the Messiah (Matt 11:1-6), to show the kingdom of God was among them (Matt 12:28), to show to show He was the Son of God (Matt 14:25-33), and His unique relationship to the Father (John 10:37).  Miracles were use to show God’s approval of His Son and His message

“Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:”

Acts 2:22

 

There is nothing in the miracles recorded in the gospels that reveal they were for the purpose of authenticating the apostles, or that they were used to reveal any future inspirations of Scripture.   No one reading the miracles in the gospel with an honest mind can see any relationship between the miracles of Jesus and future inspired books, or that they would cease after the first century. 

 

Nowhere in the New Testament do any of the apostles ever appeal to miracles to authenticate their apostleship.  When we examine the miracles in the books of Acts, we do not find any apostle appealing to the miracles they performed to authenticate who they are.  They never said now that you see these miracles you will know when we write our epistles that they are inspired.   When Peter and John healed the man at the gate beautiful, they did not teach that they had done so because they were apostles; they never used the miracle as evidence for any future inspired Scriptures.   In fact Peters says it was not by his authority or holiness (Acts 3:12).  He used the miracle to testify of Christ not themselves (Acts 3:13-16).

 

We can see from Pentecost onwards the main, but not only, reason for miracles was to authenticate the message (the gospel) of Jesus not the evidence of apostleship.

    And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.

Mark 16:20

 

Jack Deere, a one-time cessationist, now a continuist, was unable to find a single verse that taught miracles attested to the apostles.

 

When I looked up all the references, I was astounded to discover that not one reference ever said that miracles bore witness to the apostles, confirmed the apostles or attested to the apostles!  And if we think about the theology of the New Testament, this makes perfect sense.  With the coming of Christ, God wants all attention directed to His Son.  The primary talk of the Holy Spirit is to exalt Jesus Christ.  God is not interested in bearing witness to his servants but rather to his Son and the message about his Son. [10]

 

 

The 11 Corinthian 12:12 problem

Some but not all cessationist use 1 Corinthians 12:12 to try to argue that signs and wonder were only to authenticate the apostles.

2Co 12:12Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you,.... Not only the doctrine which he preached, the power that attended it, and the success it met with among them, were clear signs and evident proofs of his being sent by Christ; not only they themselves, who were converted under his ministry, were testimonials and seals of his apostleship[11]

 

Some like Robert L. Saucy are more cautious but sill hold that this text suggests this.

(2 Cor. 12:12) at least suggests that certain of the certain miraculous works were related specifically to the apostles.  With the absence of the apostles, some change in the manifestation of such signs could be expected.  The disappearance of apostles in the church thus argues rather clearly that not all has remained the same in the church with regards to miraculous gifts.[12]

 

Hampton Keathley points at the problems that cessationist face with this interpretation.

2 Cor 12:12 is often used to prove that miracles were only done by apostles and that it was the sign of a true apostle. The logic is that this would be no argument for Paul’s apostleship if anyone could do miracles. The problem with this view is that the Greek grammar does not support only that interpretation. It allows it, but does not prove it. The first word “signs” is in the nominative case, but the “signs, wonders and miracles” are in the dative case. If Paul wanted to say that the signs of an apostle were “signs, wonders and miracles” he could have been more precise by putting them in the nominative in apposition to the first word “signs.” The NIV wrongly translates the verse this way.[13]

 

I found Jack Deere’s comments on this quite informative

In this passage Paul uses ‘sign’ (semeion) in two different ways. The first use of ‘signs of an apostle’ cannot refer to miracles, for then Paul would be saying that ‘the miracles of an apostle were done among you with signs, wonders and miracles.’ What would be the point of such a statement?  Paul does not say the ‘sign of an apostle’ are miracles, but rather that ‘the signs are accompanied by signs, wonders and miracles.   If Paul had meant the signs of apostleship were signs and wonders and miracles, then he would have used a different construction in the Greek language.[14] 

 

Those that teach the miraculous were to authenticate the apostolic ministry in order that we may accept the writing as inspired are faced with many problems.  The first one being the apostles made no such claim.  The second problem is what do you do about the counterfeit miracles done by false apostles (11 Cor 13-15).   Are we expected to accept all writings as scripture based the fact that the writer could show proof of signs and wonders?   Ralf P Martin does not believe that these signs can be used by themselves to determine the apostolic ministry, since they can be counterfeited. 

 

Paul is insisting in 12:12a that these signs were not-- the primary criterion for deciding whether or not a person is an apostle.  Instead he is suggesting that the true signs of apostleship – his life and ministry – are the signs that matter the most ….. to say that ‘signs and wonders and mighty works’ are the primary signs of apostleship goes against Paul’s teaching of chaps 11-13) [15]

 

When dealing with the issue of false prophets Paul never uses the miraculous signs to prove the genuinality of his calling but instead refers to His suffering (11 Cor 11:16:33, Gal 7:17, 1 Cor 4:9,  11 Cor 6:9).

 

If signs and wonders were given to validate the apostles, why then did those that were not apostles have these signs?  We read in the bible that when Philip, who was not an apostle, went down to Samaria and preached, signs and wonders followed his preaching.

    “And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.”

Acts 8:6

 

Also Stephen was not an apostle yet miracles accompanied his preaching.

    “And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.”

Acts 6:8

 

The cessationist may say that this happened because the apostles laid hands upon them, and it was done during the time of the apostles, however that answer does not deal with the point, if the miracles were, as they say, to authenticate the apostles.  Another question that no cessationist has ever given a biblically satisfactory answer to is, why were these gifts given to the church, if they were only meant for the apostles (1 Cor 12:7-10, Gal 3:5)?

 

The cessationist teach that we can be trustworthy and effective witnesses of the Lord without miracles, then the question they need to ask is why couldn’t the apostles also do so?   Why could not the apostles just report the miracles that Jesus performed without having miracles and the gifts of the Spirit?  That is what they are teaching we should be doing.   How comes the word the apostles, Stephan, and Philip preached needed to be confirmed with signs, but when we preach their same message using the Bible it suddenly becomes so much more effective than it did when they preached it?

 

Can you be Sola Scriptura and None Cessationist?


            Some have claimed that those who hold to the continuist doctrine cannot be Sola Scriptura, because they believe that all the gifts of the Spirit are for today.  Yet the fact is the reason continuists believe in the gifts of the Spirit is because they stand on the Word. The belief that healings, tongues, prophecy etc have not ceased is not based on experience.  The belief in the gifts being for today has nothing to do with the fact that they have seen and witnessed them being manifested, which many have.  Continuists believe in the gifts because they believe the Bible and stand on the word. The continuist doctrine is not founded on extra biblical revelation, but from the very Bible itself.

          Many today will read into scripture or twist scripture to make it say what is not there in order to fit in with what their denominations teach or with what some man made creed or confession proclaims. A good example of this is found in 1 Cor. 13:8-12, 

 

Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

1 Cor. 13:8-12


          Some claim that this verse teaches that when the Bible is completed, tongues and prophesy will cease. However, those verses make no such statement. The word ‘Scripture’ (graphe) is not there, the word ‘Bible’ is not there, and the word ‘cannon’ is not there. To state it means the Cannon of Scripture is not exegesis but eisegesis. There is no biblical precedent for interpreting the word ‘telios’ (perfect) this way. If Paul wanted to say that tongues and prophecy would cease when the scripture was complete, why did he not plainly say so? This teaching is in the biased minds of men that want to make the Bible fit in with there cessationist doctrine.

 

 

The Geneva Bible translation notes places the cessation of tongues and prophecy in the world to come.

Again he commends the excellency of charity, in that it will never be abolished in the saints, whereas the other gifts which are necessary for the building up of the church, so long as we live here, will have no place in the world to come.[16]

 

The Geneva Bible translation notes written in 1599 seem to indicate the gifts were still in existence and needed.

1Co 13:9 - (4) For we know in (h) part, and we prophesy in part.

 

(4) The reason: because we are now in the state that we have need to learn daily, and therefore we have need of those helps, that is, of the gift of tongues, and knowledge, and also of those that teach by them. But to what purpose serve they then, when we have obtained and gotten the full knowledge of God, which serve now but for those who are imperfect and go by degrees to perfection?

(h) We learn imperfectly.[17]

 

       Continuists do not deny 1 Corinthians chapter eight teaches the cessation of the gifts but denies that it would have taken place at the death of the original apostles or when the Cannon of Scripture was completed.   Continuists believe they will cease when the Bible says they will cease. Not when we have the sixty-six books of the Bible but ‘when that which is perfect is come’. We need to look at the New Testament and discover how the word ‘perfect’ is used. When we do we will discover that it is never referring to the completed Cannon of Scripture anywhere in the New Testament.

       We believe the Bible is perfect, infallible, inspired, and inerrant. However when seeing how the word perfect is used in the New Testament, I realised that there is no way that it can used to mean the completed Cannon of Scripture. Unless one is going to foolishly claim that every time the word perfect is used in scripture it means the completed Bible. Let us see how the word ‘perfect’ is used in the New Testament.


1. We discover that it means a perfect man


” I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.”

John 17:23


”Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.”

 Philip. 3:12

 

“Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.”
2 Cor. 13:11


2. It refers to Jesus Himself


 “But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building;”
Hebrews 9:11


        The word translated ‘perfect’ in I Cor 13:8 comes from the Greek word ‘telios’ and according to Strong’s concordance means complete in various applications of labour, growth, mental and moral character. A Similar definition is found in Vines. The only other place this word is translated perfect is: 1 Corinthians 2:6

“Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought:”

1 Corinthians 2:6

       If we say the word perfect refers to the completed Cannon of Scripture then we would have to say that it would mean the same whenever the word is used. It would be ridicules to state that Paul was saying in 1 Corinthians 2:6 Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are Cannon of Scripture.


When will Tongues Cease?


       When will tongues and other gifts be done away with? I believe at the same time that pastors and teachers will be done away with. Ephes. 4:11-13

“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:  Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ:”


        We still have not come into the unity of the faith unto the perfect man, Jesus ‘ has not returned, so the gifts have not ceased.


Tongues were never used to determine what is scripture

There is not one place in the New Testament to suggest that tongues and interpretation were ever used as a means of determining scripture. There is no scripture that one can use that specifically says they will cease when the Cannon is completed.


         The argument that now we have the Bible we do not need these gifts is an opinion but not a biblical fact. Such a teaching by those who claim the gifts have ceased, ignore the fact that Prophecy, tongues and the interpretation of tongues were never used in the past to establish doctrine.

The authority of scripture does not rest on miracles, tongues or prophecy.

None of the writers of scripture ever appealed to miracles to support their claim that they were writing scripture.   They certainly knew they were writing scripture. For instance, Paul wrote, ‘if anybody thinks he is a prophet or spiritually gifted, let him acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command’ (1 Cor. 14:37, cf 1 Thess. 4:15).  However, Paul did not appeal to the miracles in his ministry to support the fact that he was writing Scripture.  Nor did Peter, when he referred to Paul’s writing as Scripture  (2 Pet. 3:16).[18]

 

If the cessationist argument was correct that the New Testament gifts were only for the time of the apostles, to prepare the world for the New Testament cannon then we should expect to find that only the apostles wrote books of the New Testament, however this was not the case.  Most of the apostles did not write books that were inspired. There are no books of Thaddaeus, Bartholomew, or Andrew found in the Bible.  However, men that were not apostles wrote large portions of the New Testament, and no miracles are accredited to them, for example Mark, Luke and Jude.   Some cessationist will argue that they were friends or companions of the apostles.  However, such an answer takes the emphases of miracles and states that that as long as you were a friend or companion of an apostle that means your writing was inspired.   And what do we do with the writer of Hebrews, because no one can say with any certainly that it was an apostle or anyone one that accompanied the apostles.    For the cessationist to be consistent in their doctrine, they would have to reject the book of Hebrews as being none inspired.  However none do that.  

 

I do believe that that apostolic authority was important to the New Testament cannon, but disagree with the cessationist claim that this was the purpose of miracles, tongues and prophecy. Certainly no continuist would deny that apostolic period was a determining factor by the early church as to which books made up the New Testament cannon.

 

Because the apostles, by virtue of their apostolic office, had authority to write words of Scripture, the authentic written teachings of the apostles were accepted by the early church as part of the canon of Scripture. If we accept the arguments for the traditional views of authorship of the New Testament writings, then we have most of the New Testament in the canon because of direct authorship by the apostles. This would include Matthew; John; Romans to Philemon (all of the Pauline epistles); James; 1 and 2 Peter; 1, 2, and 3 John; and Revelation.

This leaves five books, Mark, Luke, Acts, Hebrews, and Jude, which were not written by apostles. The details of the historical process by which these books came to be counted as part of Scripture by the early church are scarce, but Mark, Luke, and Acts were commonly acknowledged very early, probably because of the close association of Mark with the apostle Peter, and of Luke (the author of Luke-Acts) with the apostle Paul. Similarly, Jude apparently was accepted by virtue of the author’s connection with James (see Jude 1) and the fact that he was the brother of Jesus.

[19]

 

The church as long held that scriptures are dependant on divine authority, not miracles or signs.

 

4._____ The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed, dependeth not upon the testimony of any man or church, but wholly upon God (who is truth itself), the author thereof; therefore it is to be received because it is the Word of God.
(
2 Peter 1:19-21; 2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 John 5:9 )

5._____We may be moved and induced by the testimony of the church of God to an high and reverent esteem of the Holy Scriptures; and the heavenliness of the matter, the efficacy of the doctrine, and the majesty of the style, the consent of all the parts, the scope of the whole (which is to give all glory to God), the full discovery it makes of the only way of man's salvation, and many other incomparable excellencies, and entire perfections thereof, are arguments whereby it doth abundantly evidence itself to be the Word of God; yet notwithstanding, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth, and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts.
(
John 16:13,14; 1 Corinthians 2:10-12; 1 John 2:20, 27) [20]

 

Cessationists teach we do not need, tongues, prophesy, signs, wonders and miracles. It is the cessationist not the Bible that makes such statements.   It is claimed by cessationist that all we need is the Bible, not gifts, and miracles.  I disagree with that statement.  It is not enough just to have a Bible. We need the God of the Bible.  We need what is found in the Bible.  We need to live according to the Bible.  Simply having a Bible is not enough.   One cannot simply say I believe in the sufficiency of scripture, and then say we do not need what is found in the scriptures.

 

What was the purpose of the New Testament miracles?

 

The answer to this question will reveal why miracles are still needed today.  There are several reasons for miracles revealed in the New Testament. I shall examine a few of them.

 

1.   He heals because of Compassion  

Compassion is ‘sympathy for the suffering of others, often including a desire to help.’[21]  The New Testament reveals that many of the miracles Jesus did were the result of compassion.  The miracle of feeding of the four thousand (Mat 15:32-33), the healing of the two blind men (Mat 20:29-33), the healing of the leper (Mark 1:40-45), and the raising of the widow’s son (Luke 7:11-15), are all said to have happened because Jesus had compassion.

 

Jesus worked miracles, healed the sick and raised the dead because he compassion. He cared.  Are we to believe that Jesus has less compassion today than He did then?   Does Jesus feel that same compassion when He sees Christians sick and suffering?  The answer is Yes! He still has compassion, he still cares, and for that reason, healing, miracles still happen today and will continue until the second coming. 

 

Charles Spurgeon was in no doubt that the same compassion Jesus showed to the sick and suffering before the cross was still being shown in his day.

 

The compassion of the Master making up for all the abuses of his enemies. And, believe me, there is nothing sweeter to a forlorn and broken spirit than the fact that Jesus has compassion. Are any of you sad and lonely? Have any of you been cruelly wronged? Have you lost the goodwill of some you esteemed? Do you seem as if you had the cold shoulder even from good people? Do not say, in the anguish of your spirit, "I am lost," and give up. He hath compassion on you. Nay, poor fallen woman, seek not the dark river and the cold stream—he has compassion. He who looks down with the bright eyes of yonder stars and watches thee is thy friend. He yet can help thee. Though thou hast gone so far from the path of virtue, throw not thyself away in blank despair, for he hath compassion. And thou, broken down in health and broken down in fortune, scarcely with shoe to thy feet, thou art welcome in the house of God, welcome as the most honoured guest in the assembly of the saints. Let not the weighty grief that overhangs thy soul tempt thee to think that hopeless darkness has settled thy fate and foreclosed thy doom. Though thy sin may have beggared thee, Christ can enrich thee with better riches. He hath compassion. "[22]

 

“To argue that Jesus has withdrawn his healing ministry from the church today is to argue that he has also withdrawn his compassion from the church.  But if we believe in a compassionate Saviour, we ought to have confidence in his desire to heal in the church today”[23].

 

Doubting or ignoring His love and compassion grieves the heart of Jesus.  It made Him weep over Jerusalem.  So many times have minister said, in these days, that we do not need miracles now, thinking of miracles only as a sign to prove the Lord’s deity, etc.  I have said to them. “If you had cancer eating your head off, you would need a miracle, would you not?  Most people today are in the dark on this subject that it would never occur to them that there is mercy also for the sick.  They never think of the gifts of healing and miracles as being the manifestations of Christ’s compassion; and that, hour after hour, and day after day, for three years, He healed all that came to Him because of His compassion.  Are not the needs of the sufferers the same as they were in that day?  And do they not need as much compassion as ever in the past?[24]

 

He heals for his Glory

 

From the very first miracle onwards they were done for the glory of God.

    This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.2

John 2:11

 

God (as previously said) does work miracles out of compassion but ultimately everything Jesus does is for His glory. All his promises to us are for his glory (1 Cor 1:20), we are predestinated for His glory (Eph 1: 4-7), and we shall be presented faultless before God for His glory (Jude 24). 

 

The Bible specifically states that miracles were for his glory for example turning the water into wine (Jn 2:11), the healing of the lame man (Acts 3:12-13), the raising of Lazarus from the dead (John 11:4,40).

 

Miracles usually caused people to glorify God

    “And great multitudes came unto him, having with them those that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus' feet; and he healed them: Insomuch that the multitude wondered, when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see: and they glorified the God of Israel.”

Matthew 15:30-31 (Underlining mine)

 

 

    “And immediately he rose up before them, and took up that whereon he lay, and departed to his own house, glorifying God. And they were all amazed, and they glorified God, and were filled with fear, saying, We have seen strange things to day”

Luke 5:25-26 (Underlining mine)

 

    “And there came a fear on all: and they glorified God, saying, That a great prophet is risen up among us; and, That God hath visited his people”

Luke 7:16 (Underlining mine)

 

    “And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.”

Luke 13:13 (Underlining mine)

 

   “And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee. And immediately he received his sight, and followed him, glorifying God: and all the people, when they saw it, gave praise unto God”.

Luke 18:42-43 (Underlining mine)

 

In fact Jesus expected the people that had been healed to give Him glory.  It concerned Jesus that only one of the ten lepers returned to give him glory.

    “And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? [There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.”

Luke 17:17-18

 

If Jesus got glory for miracles then, why would not miracles today give Him the glory?  How can miracles give Him the glory one day and no miracles two thousand years later also give Him glory?  God is just as concerned about his glory now as he ever was.

 

“Like God’s compassion, this purpose is not rooted in some temporary historical circumstance.  God has always been concerned to bring glory to himself and to his son.  Healing today serves the same function. I have observed on many occasions that when God heals someone.  Whether publicly or privately, in a hospital or at home, people respond by glorifying God” [25]

 

Miracles were used to confirm the message.

 And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.”

Mark 16:20    

 

The main purpose of miracles was to supernaturally confirm the message.  The purpose of Pentecost was to endue the church with the power to preach the gospel (Luke 24:47-49) Act 1:8-9).

That was the purpose for which He sent forth His disciples!  This is why He sent the Holy Spirit back to them – to endue them with supernatural power and boldness to go out and face the unbelieving world with the message of the gospel, and to make them capable of giving proof of their testimony with signs and wonders and miracles.  They could do the ONE JOB (evangelism) with supernatural proof that Jesus Christ is the ONE WAY to God[26]

 

An unbiased reader of the New Testament would be in no doubt that preaching the gospel along with healing and miracles were the normality in Jesus ministry and the apostles.  Nowhere in the Gospels do we find Jesus sending people to preach without giving them the power to heal and work miracles. 

 

    “And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease.”

Matthew 10:1

 

   “ And as ye go, preach, saying, the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.”

Matthew 10:7-8

 

That power was not just for the apostles, as some would have us believe, because later Jesus sent out seventy, and gave them the same message and the same power.

 

    “After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come.”

Luke 10:1

 

    “And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.”

Luke 10:9

 

Both in the Gospels and in the book of Acts we find people believed when they heard the message and saw the miracles (John 7:31). Nicodemus believed that God sent Jesus when he saw the miracles (John 3:1-2).   The word of knowledge spoken by Jesus caused the woman at the well to believe, and later resulted in many Samaritans’ believing, (John 4:19, 39), Later when Philip went to Samaria many believed as a result of hearing the message and seeing miracles (Acts 8:5-7).  Many of the Jews believed on Jesus after witnessing Lazarus being raised from the dead (John 11:45).  The Philippian jailor and His family believed after a supernatural move of God loosed Paul and Silas from their chains (Act 16:25-33).

 

When John the Baptist sent his disciples to Jesus to find out whether Jesus was the Messiah.  Jesus used the miraculous to prove that He indeed was the promised Messiah.

 

    “Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another? Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.”

Matthew 11:2-5

 

The message preached today has not changed from the time of Jesus and the apostles, so why would the manifestation of the supernatural that gave witness to the message change?  The answer is, it has not.  Neither Jesus nor the apostles taught that it would.   As long as the gospel needs to be preached, there will be signs, wonders and miracles.

 

Some will argue that now we have the Cannon of Scripture, there is no need for the miraculous.  To me this makes no sense.  Why would the gospel message in written form be more effective than when it was actually spoken by Jesus and the apostles?   If the reporting of miracles today is enough, how comes it was not enough during the time of the original apostles, along with Stephen and Philip, to just talk about Jesus’ miracles?  

 

Nowhere in the Bible do we find that miracles were used to prove that some were called to be apostles.  Nowhere do we find that miracles were used to prove future inspiration.  Where did Paul or any apostle ever say, these miracles will prove the epistles I write will be inspired?  However they were used to confirm the message.  Today we preach the same gospel, proclaim the same message as the apostles did, so therefore the same results will follow.  Signs, wonders and miracles are needed just as much today as they were two thousand years ago.

That is the kind of ministry that will sweep the world, as it swept Europe, if the church today will unite in prayer, as the early church did, and instead of disproving or minimizing the miraculous, will pray: Lord … Grant unto thy servants, that in all boldness they may speak Thy word, By stretching forth Thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of Thy Holy Child Jesus Ac. 4 29-30.[27]

 

 

In Summary

The attributes of God reveal that He is the omnipotent God that is able to do all things.  He has worked miracles in the past to display His power (Gen 9:16).  His immutability reveals that He is unchanging; therefore we can expect that the God that worked miracles in the past will continue to do so. 

 

Nowhere in the Bible were miracles ever used to prove inspiration or that the miracles testified that a person was called to write scripture.  The apostles never taught that the miracles that took place in their ministry were evidence that their future epistles would be inspired.   So there is no reason to believe miracles have ceased now we have the Cannon of Scripture.

 

Continuist do not use their experience to establish doctrine.  The belief that the Signs, wonders and miracles are for today is not founded on extra biblical information but from the Bible itself.

 

Miracles took place as a result of Christ’s compassion. They were used to bring glory to Him, and as a means to verify the message (the gospel).   Jesus is just as compassionate now as He was then.  He desires no less glory than He did then, and the gospel message has not changed.  We conclude then that miracles are just as much needed today as they have even been in the past, because the purposes for the miracles have not changed.


BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

Grudem, Wayne A Are Miraculous Gifts For Today 4 Views (Zondervon Publishing house  1996)

 

Encarta® World English Dictionary © & (P) 1999 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. Developed for Microsoft by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.

 

[1]Grudem, Wayne A.: Systematic Theology : An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, Mich. : Inter-Varsity Press; Zondervan Pub. House, 1994,

 

Ra McLaughlin, Have the Gifts of the Spirit Ceased?  internet accessed 1st October 2008http://www.thirdmill.org/answers/answer.asp/category/nt/file/99785.qna/site/iiim

 

John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible, accessed from E-Sword. (e-sword version .7.8.5 Copyright 2000-2007 Rick Meyers)

 

Ralph P. Martin 2 Corinthians (Waco, Tex: Word Books, 1986)

 

The Geneva Bible translation notes taken from E-sword  (e-sword version. 7.8.5 Copyright 2000-2007 Rick Meyers)

 

THE BAPTIST CONFESSION OF FAITH 1689 Available from http://www.grace.org.uk/faith/bc1689/1689bc00.html; internet accessed 4th October 2008

 

Charles Spurgeon,  The Compassion of Jesus, From the Spurgeon Archives. Available from  http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/3438.htm; internet accessed 4th October 2008

 

FF Bosworth, Christ the Healer (Publishers Old Tapping Company  1973)

 

T. L. Osborn, The Purpose of Pentecost. (OD/FO International 1963)



[1] Robert L. Saucy Are Miraculous Gifts For Today 4 Views (Zondervon Publishing house  1996) Page 100

[2]Encarta® World English Dictionary © & (P) 1999 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. Developed for Microsoft by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.

[3]Encarta® World English Dictionary © & (P) 1999 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. Developed for Microsoft by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.

[4]Grudem, Wayne A.: Systematic Theology : An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, Mich. : Inter-Varsity Press; Zondervan Pub. House, 1994, S. 163

[5]Grudem, Wayne A.: Systematic Theology : An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, Mich. : Inter-Varsity Press; Zondervan Pub. House, 1994, S. 163

[6] Ra McLaughlin, Have the Gifts of the Spirit Ceased?  internet accessed 1st October 2008http://www.thirdmill.org/answers/answer.asp/category/nt/file/99785.qna/site/iiim

[7] Jack Deere, Surprised by the power of the Spirit, (Kingsway Publications 1993)  p 109-110

[8] Grudem, Wayne A, Are Miraculous Gifts for today. Zondevan  Pub. House P  121-122

[9] Jack Deere, Surprised by the power of the Spirit, (Kingsway Publications 1993 p 122

[10] Jack Deere, Surprised by the power of the Spirit, Kingsway Publications p 113

[11] John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible, E-Sword.

[12] Grudem, Wayne A, Are Miraculous Gifts for today.( Zondervan  Pub. House 1996)  P  103

[13] By: Hampton Keathley IV , Th.M Are Miraculous Gifts for Today? Available from http://www.bible.org/page.php?page_id=2248, http://www.grace.org.uk/faith/bc1689/1689bc00.html Internet accessed 1st October 2008

[14] Jack Deere, Surprised by the power of the Spirit, (Kingsway Publication 1993)  p 113

[15] Ralph P. Martin 2 Corinthians (Waco, Tex: Word Books, 1986) p434-436

[16] The Geneva Bible translation notes taken from E-sword

[17] The Geneva Bible translation notes taken from E-sword

[18] Jack Deere, Surprised by the power of the Spirit, (Kingsway Publications 1993) p 115

[19]Grudem, Wayne A.: Systematic Theology : An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, Mich. : Inter-Varsity Press; Zondervan Pub. House, 1994, S. 62

[20] THE BAPTIST CONFESSION OF FAITH 1689 Available from http://www.grace.org.uk/faith/bc1689/1689bc00.html; internet accessed 4th October 2008

[21]Encarta® World English Dictionary © & (P) 1999 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. Developed for Microsoft by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.

[22] Charles Spurgeon,  The Compassion of Jesus, From the Spurgeon Archives. Available from  http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/3438.htm; internet accessed 4th October 2008

[23] Jack Deere, Surprised by the power of the Spirit, Kingsway Publications p 131

[24] FF Bosworth,  Christ the Healer (Publishers Old Tapping Company  1973) p78

[25] Jack Deere, Surprised by the power of the Spirit, (Kingsway Publications 1993) p 131

[26] T. L. Osborn, The Purpose of Pentecost. (OD/FO International 1963) p 24-25.

[27] T. L. Osborn, The Purpose of Pentecost. OD/FO International  p 66-67

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