by Jeffrey W. Hamilton
I. For decades now many of the traditional denominations have been in decline.
A. The more liberal the beliefs, the larger the decline. Those espousing conservative views show growth. But the ones showing strong growth are the charismatic groups
B. Name the largest groups in a region, and over half are charismatic in belief.
C. We don’t often think of it as so, but even the Catholic church is a milder charismatic group
1. Charismatic is the belief that the Holy Spirit is continuing to give Christians miraculous gifts
D. However, there are numerous denominations who believe the gifts ended during the first century.
1. The beliefs of denominations for or against does not make it God’s teaching.
2. We need to examine His Word and see what God said would happen.
II. If we are to understand if miraculous gifts continue today, we first must understand the purpose God had for giving men miraculous gifts.
A. Miracles were not done for miracle sake
B. The Scriptures consistently teach that the gifts were to confirm the truth of the words of the speaker.
1. Moses before Pharaoh - Exodus 4:1-8
2. Moses before the Israelites - Exodus 4:29-31
3. Jesus to convince John - Matthew 11:2-5
4. The reason for recording the miracles of Jesus - John 20:30-31
5. The apostles confirmed the word with signs - Mark 16:17-20
6. The power of the Spirit came on the apostles so they could witness for Christ - Acts 1:8
7. Philip’s preaching was heeded because the miracles confirmed his words - Acts 8:6
C. The Truth has now been confirmed
1. The Spirit was given to the apostles to guide them into all truth - John 16:13
2. That promise was fulfilled - Acts 1:8; 2:4
3. God has confirmed his word - Hebrews 2:3-4
D. Once confirmed, the truth is forever confirmed
1. Truth does not change
2. The evidence has been written for us to examine - John 20:30-31, II Timothy 3:16-17
3. The written evidence is sufficient - Luke 16:27-31
E. The gifts I have seen these days are used to give the believers emotional highs, a sort of confidence that God is with them
III. The miracles done in the first century were significant and obvious. A witness of the miracle was not left guessing as to what was seen
A. Acts 3:6-10 - Healing of a man lame from birth.
1. No recovery period, no time for unused muscles to rebuild
2. Notice that even non-believers acknowledged the event
B. The raising of the dead - Acts 9:40-42; 20:9-12
C. Receiving deadly snake bites with no effect - Acts 28:5
1. A fulfillment of the promise in Mark 16:17-18
D. None of these are seen today.
1. We do see God granting healing. Sometimes we call them miraculous because we had given up all hope.
2. But there were still medicines to take, recoveries to deal with, scars that remain
IV. What of those speaking in tongues?
A. What are tongues? They are the speaking of languages - Acts 2:4-6
B. Some claim the babbling, which is not any known language to be the tongues of angels as per I Cor. 13:1 but how can this be proved?
C. The miracles of tongues was only effective if understood - I Corinthians 14:6-19
D. Tongues were to convince the unbelievers - I Corinthians 14:22
E. Tongues, along with other gifts, were promised to cease - I Corinthians 13:8
V. Those who believe in the continuance of miraculous gifts believe that you are not a true Christian unless you possess a gift
A. The passage cited is Acts 2:38-39
B. The assumption is that the gift referred to here were miraculous gifts. There were other gifts of the Spirit
1. There is the gift of salvation - Ephesians 1:13-14, II Corinthians 1:22
C. The gift in Acts 2:38 accompanied becoming a Christian, but miraculous gifts did not automatically come to Christians - Acts 8:5-22
D. Not all Christians had miraculous gifts - I Corinthians 12:29-31
E. However, the Spirit dwells with all Christians
1. Romans 8:9 - You cannot be a Christian without the Spirit being with you
2. Either some Christians in Corinth were not Christians, or the presence of the Spirit is an indication of something other than miracles.
VI. The Spirit commits sound words to our keeping. The word of God that saves our souls - II Timothy 1:13-14
A. What will you do with that word? The teaching is plain. The need is evident. Will you not rescue your soul, committing your life in the hands of the only one who save you?
B. Your are adrift in a restless sea, drowning as wave after wave threatens to pull you under. God has offered his hand to bring you out and yet you hesitate! Why! The very next wave may be too much. Why not obey while you can?