Vol.XIII No.VII Pg.4
September 1976

Miraculous Gifts

Robert F. Turner

Surely no Bible believing student doubts that various signs and wonders (miraculous gifts) were manifested by members of the early church. Nor can such a believer doubt that God has the power to give such gifts today. The question is, does He?

It is ridiculous to argue He must, or be a respecter of persons. Not all early Christians had the same gifts (1 Cor. 12:4-11). He made Paul an apostle, not me. Nor is our lack of faith the answer. The apostles hands seem to have been required in usual cases of spiritual gifts, even for believers (Acts 8:12-18; 19:2-6; Rom. 1:11).

Some say God has promised such powers (Mk. 16:11). If this verse refers to all believers in all ages, it certainly raises questions about those who do not manifest such powers. But if not all believers are included, then who are intended, and why? For a starter, notice the immediate context of the citation. The apostles went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. For special reasons (the why?) only special ones (the who?) had miraculous gifts and powers. Even Jesus said, That ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins. . . and then healed. (Mk. 2:5-12)

A lady once told me she was tarrying for the Spirit (Lu. 24:49), and was embarrassed when I pointed out she must tarry... in Jerusalem not in Urbana, Illinois. We must not appropriate to ourselves promises made to others. Jesus promised the Holy Spirit to the apostles as another (allos, similar to Himself, Trench) Advocate. He had been their teacher, but now the Spirit of Truth would guide them (14:16-17, 26; 16:12-13). Inspiration would stand by their side when they were brought to trial (Lu. 21:12-15). Attention to context would remove many so-called promises of Holy Spirit functions claimed for today.

The apostles confirmed the word with signs following. Bagster says confirm means establish, render constant and unwavering; to establish by arguments or proofs, ratify. Notice its use in Heb. 2:3-4, confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, etc. The Holy Spirit miraculously delivered truth, and miraculously proved its divine origin. (Compare signs of an apostle 2 Cor. 12:12.) Will charismatics of today claim apostolic powers?

A distinctive outpouring of the Spirit (as on us at the beginning) marked the bringing of the gospel to Gentiles (Acts 11:15-f), and there is no evidence of a repetition of this. Do those who claim current miraculous spiritual powers believe new divine revelations are being given, or that the New Testament needs reconfirming?

The apostles were accompanied in their work of delivering the New Covenant by others, called Prophets (see Eph. 2:20; 3:5); and it seems spiritual gifts served the same purpose with them. Stephen (Acts 6:8-10), and Philip (8:6, 26-39), are examples of men who, in the absence of the written New Testament, were directly aided by the Spirit to deliver truth. (continued next page)