Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 30, 1950

Confirming The Testimony

Luther G. Roberts, Clovis, N. M.

(Editor's note: The very foundation of all our Christian teaching is the Bible. This note must be sounded over and over again in every problem or controversy that arises, whether that controversy be with the premillennialists, the digressives, or the modernists. Much of the material in brother Roberts' article has its background in the writings of Alexander Campbell's Millennial Harbinger, from which the main arguments of this treatise were taken).

After Jesus was crucified and raised from the dead he was with his eleven apostles some forty days before his ascension. During this time he gave the apostles the Great Commission as recorded by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. In Mark's account of the commission Jesus came to the apostles, "And he upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them that had seen him after he was risen." "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to the whole creation. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that disbelieveth shall be condemned. And these signs shall accompany them that believe: in my name shall they cast out demons; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall in no wise hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover." (Mark 16:14-18) Mark further records that this really did occur. "And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word by the signs that followed. Amen." (Mark 16:20).

Christianity, in fact all revealed religion, is based on facts. Testimony has respect to facts only; and that testimony to be credible must be confirmed. Facts refer to something said or done. The words of God and the works of God are those facts recorded in the Scriptures, Laws call for obedience, facts for belief. Where there is no law there can be no obedience; and where there are no facts there can be no faith. Testimony should be confirmed to make it credible. To confirm a fact is to present evidence to enable people to believe it; to make it credible.

How has the testimony of the apostles and inspired evangelists of Christ been confirmed? To confirm the testimony of the apostles and other inspired writers concerning the death of Christ, his resurrection, ascension and coronation in heaven, means that these facts are made credible or so presented as to enable persons such as we are to believe them. The apostles emphasized the confirmation of their testimony. Supernatural facts require supernatural confirmation. Hence, the facts of the gospel of Christ were confirmed by the extraordinary and miraculous powers displayed by the apostles themselves.

Jesus of Nazareth proved his claim to be divine by the works which he did as well as by his matchless teaching and sinless life. Matthew records, "And Jesus went about in all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of disease and all manner of sickness among the people. And the report of him went forth into all Syria: and they brought unto him all that were sick, holden with divers diseases and torments, possessed with demons, and epileptic, and palsied; and he healed them." (Matt. 4:23, 24) Again, in Matthew 11:2-5, this writer says, "Now when John heard in the prison the works of the Christ, he sent by his disciples and said unto him, Art thou he that cometh, or look we for another? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and tell John the things which ye hear and see: the blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good tidings preached to them."

In the record of the gospel by John, the apostle, we have the account of Jesus healing the man born blind. (John 9:1-34) Again, John gives the record of the raising of Lazarus from the dead after he had been dead four days. (John 11:1-44) John gives the reason for these "signs" being done in these words, "Many other signs therefore did Jesus in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book: but these are written, that ye may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye may have life in his name." (Jno. 20:30, 31).

We, also, have a record of the confirmation of the message of the gospel of Christ as preached by the apostles. In addition to Mark's statement that the apostles preached everywhere, "The Lord working with them, and confirming the word by the signs that followed," we have Luke's history of the labors of the apostles showing that this was particularly done in certain instances. In Acts 3, verses 1 to 10, we have the story of the healing of the man who had been lame from his mother's womb, who at the time was more than forty years old. The people not only acknowledged that this healing was a fact, but, also, the Jewish council in Jerusalem confessed that a miracle had been wrought. "They conferred among themselves, saying, 'What shall we do to these men? for that indeed a notable miracle hath been wrought through them, is manifest to all that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it'." (Acts 4:15, 16) The apostle Peter, by a word, raised Aeneas from a sick bed where he had been kept by palsy for eight years. (Acts 9:32-35) In the same narrative we are told of the raising from the dead of Dorcas, by the same apostle. The result was that "many believed on the Lord." (Acts 9:36-42).

The purpose of these mighty acts was not only to have mercy on those healed or raised from the dead, but to confirm the message proclaimed. The Hebrew writer states, "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great a salvation? which having at the first been spoken through the Lord, was confirmed unto us by them that heard; God also bearing witness with them, both by signs and wonders, and by manifold powers, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to his own will." (Heb. 2:3, 4).

Does the message of salvation, the gospel of Christ, need to be confirmed now? A message once confirmed is confirmed forever. If the same message, the gospel of Christ, is preached today, it does not need to be confirmed for it has already been confirmed. If miraculous works are being done now to confirm what is preached, what is preached is not the gospel of Christ, for that has already been confirmed. The Scriptures states that the gospel of our salvation "was confirmed unto us by them that heard." Faith in Jesus as the Christ is produced now by the testimony of the inspired writers of the New Testament which has already been confirmed, and not by miraculous works, so-called, which have ceased. "So belief cometh of hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ." (Rom. 10:17) "Peter rose up, and said unto them, Brethren, ye know that a good while ago God made choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel, and believe." (Acts 15:7).

But these miraculous works performed by the apostles were to cease. The Holy Spirit says through Paul, "Love never faileth; but whether there be prophecies, they shall be done away; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall be done away." (1 Cor. 13:8) When were they to cease? Since the purpose for which they were performed was to confirm the testimony, when the testimony was confirmed they were to cease. Paul says, "But when that which is perfect is come, that which is in part shall be done away." (1 Cor. 13:10) James, in speaking concerning the word of God, says, "But he that looketh into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and so continueth, being not a hearer that forgetteth, but a doer that worketh, this man shall be blessed in his doing." (Jas. 1:25) Jude affirms that "the faith," the system of grace and truth, the gospel, was once for all delivered. "I was constrained to write unto you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered unto the saints." (Jude 3) It has always been a principle that the word of God must not be added unto nor subtracted from. This was true of the Law of Moses, and is true of the Law of Christ. (Rev. 22:18, 19).

What about those who claim to be divine healers today? They are described by the apostle Peter or rather, by the Holy Spirit as he moved the apostle to write. "But there arose false prophets also among the people, as among you also there shall be false teachers, who shall privily bring in destructive heresies, denying even the Master that bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their lascivious doings; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And in covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose sentence now from of old lingereth not, and their destruction slumbereth not." (2 Pet. 2:1-3) The Holy Spirit through the apostle John, also, warned against such false teachers. "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but prove the spirits, whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world." (1 John 4:1) "These things have I written unto you concerning them that would lead you astray." (I John 2:26) "Whosoever goeth onward and abideth not in the teaching of Christ, hath not God: he that abideth in the teaching the same hath both the Father and the Son." (II John 9) These scriptures in principle warn us today against all false teachers regardless of what their error may be.

But why do not these modern so-called miracle workers raise the dead? One miracle is no more difficult to perform than any other. Also, Jesus and the apostles did raise the dead. If those who claim today to be able to heal the lame, blind, deaf and the sick could really do so they could also raise the dead. But the fact that they cannot raise the dead is positive proof that they cannot cure the sick or perform any miraculous work of any kind.

But when these so-called miracle workers are call in question, or when it is denied that miraculous cur take place today, the plea is made that you are denying the power of God. For they tell us that God and Christ are the same today, yesterday, and forever, and this, of court is true. However, just because this is true is no argument that God and Christ are doing the same things or a doing things in the same way that they have always do things. God has the same power that he had when formed Adam of the dust of the ground and when made woman from a rib taken from the man's side. But God is not making man nor woman the same way that did in the beginning. So, this sophistry falls down. Again God required man during the first four thousand yea of his history on the earth to offer animal sacrifices worship. Now, if just because God is the same today, yesterday, and forever, he is doing things the same way the he has always done, why do not these modern healers, so claimed, offer animal sacrifices? This is sufficient show that this is no argument at all.

But, again, when these claims are denied, the retort is made that you do not have faith in God and Christ. But I wonder how much faith the ones who claim to exercise miraculous powers have themselves? Jesus said: according to Mark 16:18, that, "If they take up serpents and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall in no wise hurt them." They shall not even be hurt is the promise to the apostles. Since the modern self-styled workers miracles claim that "if you have faith it will not hurt you" and since they claim to have faith, why will they or why can they not take up deadly serpents or drink any deadly thing without being hurt? The fact that they will not or cannot do so is proof that their claim is false. It is not a matter of faith, then. How much faith did Lazarus have when Jesus raised him from the dead when had been dead for four days? On one occasion we read where the disciples of Jesus failed to cast a demon out of a boy, but the reason was not lack of faith on the part of the boy possessed of the demon, but lack of faith on the part of the apostles themselves. (Cf. Matt. 17:14-20).

What we need today is for people to believe the facts of the gospel of Christ as recorded by the inspired write of the New Testament and obey the gospel and trust GI for his promises. If we will not believe Christ and the apostles we would not be persuaded if one should come from the dead. Jesus says, "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy by thy name, and by thy name cast out demons, and by thy name do mar mighty works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me ye that work iniquity (Matt. 7:21-23).