Question: Are Sign Gifts operational today?

Question: Are Sign Gifts operational today?

 

Many good students of Scripture will rest on 1 Cor. 13:10, when it comes to answering the question whether the sign gifts are available today or not.  Basically, the perfect [the Bible] has been completed, so the partial [sign gifts] are removed. It is a valid thought process, but likely not the best supported interpretation of that passage.  There are many well-thought-out reasons why this simplistic approach is not a correct interpretation.  There are much better reasons taking into consider the context of 1 Corinthians 12-14, within which 1 Corinthians 13:10 is found and other explanation. 

For example, in the context of Ephesians 2:20, the gifts of apostle and prophets were the foundation for the building structure of the church.  Those gifts ceased during that first century foundational era with the completion of the canon of Scripture. However, you cannot argue the sign gifts have ceased because of that passage. 

There are other passages like Philippians 2:26-27 and 2 Timothy 4:20, in which Paul was present with very sick co-laborers in the gospel.  Paul, who had healed others, gave no indication that he was able to heal again as he did in Malta (Acts 28: 8,9).  Is it possible that God took away the gift of healing from Paul?  If so, why?  Was the purpose for which Paul had the gift of healing now completed?   

Much of church history shows a vacuum of sign gifts until the beginning of the 1900s.  It was in the modern Charismatic movement in Los Angeles, California, in 1904, when the power seemed to be restored.  Yet with all the writing, there have been objective investigations to verify the veracity of “the miracles.”  The dead were not raised, the lame were not healed.  The blind did not receive sight.  The modern tongues movements seemed to be questioned because modern tongues are a repetition of a small number of phrases, in contrast to the biblical examples of Acts 2 and 10. The miraculous do not match the miracles presented in the New Testament.

I’m very open to the presence of sign gifts, but I see that with the provision of greater amounts of the canon or “measurement” of Scripture, sign gifts were not recorded as in the initial apostolic days of beginning the church.  The reason may be because of the purpose of sign gifts.  The reason is the same reason as any of the miracles in Scripture.   

God allowed miracles in order to draw attention to the truth.  Moses was one who worked many miracles (Ex. 4:1-5)

Then Moses answered and said, “But suppose they will not believe me or listen to my voice; suppose they say,`The LORD has not appeared to you.'”
 2 So the LORD said to him, “What is that in your hand?” He said, “A rod.”
 3 And He said, “Cast it on the ground.” So he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from it.
 4 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Reach out your hand and take it by the tail ” (and he reached out his hand and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand),
 5“that they may believe that the LORD God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.”  (Ex. 4:1-5)

God gave Moses miraculous powers, so “that they may believe that the Lord God…has appeared to you.” (Ex. 4:5).  God also worked the plagues and other miracles to give the entire nation of Israel reason to trust God was speaking through Moses. God gave Elijah miraculous powers, so Israel would believe God appeared to Elijah and was speaking through Him. 

God also worked miracles through Jesus, so the people would be attracted to Him and believe His words.  After Jesus fed 5000, people came back for more.  Sometimes when you give people what they want, they only want what they want rather than the truth, so Jesus didn’t give them more food.   

During one of the Passovers, Jesus had 5000 men and their families, who needed to eat.  Jesus directed the disciples to feed them (John 6: 4-10). They recognized they could make the provision, so God used the opportunity to reveal His ability to provide through Jesus and they should listen to Jesus. Jesus fed the people and an abundance was recovered (John 6: 11-13).  Those who saw the “sign” recognized Jesus as “the Prophet who is to come into the world.”  But when Jesus perceived the people were going to “take Him by force to make Him king, He departed…”(John 6: 15)  Jesus knew they only wanted Him to be a Bread King, not a Suffering Messiah Savior, so He withdrew from letting the “sign gift” or “miracle” from being a distraction.  The importance was the message, not the sign.  The sign was to lead to the message – Jesus Christ, sent from God for the world. 

If the message is clearly communicated in Scripture, are sign gifts needed today?  Jesus told the account of the rich man and Lazarus and how the rich man wanted Lazarus to go back to the world to tell the rich man’s brothers that they must repent.  The rich man was counting on the miracle of someone coming back from the dead waking his brothers up from their complacency,

27 “Then he said, `I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house,
 28 `for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’
 29“Abraham said to him, `They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’
 30“And he said, `No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’
 31“But he said to him, `If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.'” (Luke 16:27-31)

Abraham was very clear, [“If they don’t believe what was written, they will not believe.”] The issue of the sign gifts is not having a great miracle.  The issue of the sign gifts is to draw attention to the truth of the Word.  If the Word is completed today, then is there a need for sign gifts?  I’m open to explanations, but I’ve found explanations for present activity wanting for substance.  

Maybe you have some Scriptural support that God is using sign gifts today.  I know they will begin again during the Tribulation and the Millennium, but I’m not seeing the need today.  Could God use sign gifts in primitive places?  I’ve heard some experiences that seem plausible.  I know God can do what He wants to do.  If He puts Himself in a box during this dispensation and restricts them because of the completed canon, I cannot change that.  Let us dialogue for unity and peace.  Let us also ensure we rely on the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to live godly lives in the discussion process.  We want to follow the excellent words:

In essentials, unity; in nonessentials, liberty; in all things, charity.  We should strive for unity in the sphere of love as we pursue the truth.
 

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