by Rick Duggin
via Westvue Messenger, Vol. 29, No. 7, July 1986
Members of the Faith Assembly, an Indiana-based religious sect, have lost as many as eighty-eight members to treatable illnesses or injuries because they believe that going to a doctor is wrong. A federal and state study concluded that the mortality rate for their newborns is three times higher than the statewide rate, and the rate of maternal deaths is one hundred times higher. A Mr. Freeman who started this sect claimed that he would never die, that he would live till the Second Coming. He was buried in December 1984, and yet the sect continues to exist.
No Bible believer will deny that healing is divine or that we should pray for the sick. The question is: Does God heal miraculously today? A miracle is an act above the laws of nature; something which nature could not do in its ordinary course of operation. Our society has so perverted this word that anything from a narrow escape to a successful telethon is called a miracle.
Even in the first century, the gift of healing was never used merely as an end in itself. In fact, not all the sick were healed (see Philippians 2:25-30; I Timothy 5:23; II Timothy 4:20). The ultimate purpose of such gifts was to produce faith. "And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing ye might have life through his name" (John 20:30,31).
Why do we flatly deny the existence of miraculous gifts today?
- Miraculous power was given through Holy Spirit baptism and by the apostles laying their hands on certain ones (Acts 2:1-4; 8:14-18). But there is now only one baptism (Ephesians 4:5), which men can perform (Matthew 28:19). And there are no apostles alive today, thus no means of receiving spiritual gifts.
- Those who claim to have miraculous gifts do not claim all of them. I Corinthians 12:1-10 lists nine spiritual gifts. If one gift still exists, all do. If God's inspired prophets are still on earth, we should be adding their words to the New Testament. But this is contrary to those scriptures which affirm that revelation is complete (II Timothy 3:16,17; Jude 3). In addition, modern"prophets" contradict the revelation which God has already given! (Galatians 1:6-9).
- The purposes of miraculous gifts have been fulfilled. God's messengers once used miracles to prove their message came from Heaven, "Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds" (II Corinthians 12:12). But God's word is now confirmed (Hebrews 2:3,4), and we can know what to believe by reading God's revelation (Ephesians 3:4).
- The New Testament itself says that miracles would cease when "that which is perfect" would come (I Corinthians 13:10). We now have God's "perfect" revelation (James 1: 25), thus miraculous gifts have ceased. (Note: The effort to make "that which is perfect" refers to Christ is not only out of context for I Corinthians 13, it is actually contrary to the context. The perfect must be of the same nature as the "in part" referred to in verses 9, 10. Paul did not have "Christ" or "His coming" in part. He "knew" in part. This knowledge would be made perfect when the revelation of God was made complete.)
- The miracles of the New Testament were performed by godly men who never begged for so much as a dime for any miracle. What a contrast to the fake healers of our day. Further, the apostles did not have to debate with anyone over their ability to work miracles, for even their enemies could not deny the facts (Acts 4:16). They were willing to be put to the test. Jesus commended the church at Ephesus for testing those who claimed to be apostles (Revelation 2:2). Is this true today? "Whoso boasteth himself of a false gift is like clouds and wind without rain" (Proverbs 25:14). Don't let boastful deceivers lead you astray.