Have signs, wonders, and miracles ceased in the Church today?
The Charismatic/Pentecostal doctrine of today which preaches, promotes, and practices signs, wonders, and miracles is the fastest growing doctrinal movement in the christian community. This doctrine has had the most profound and dynamic impact and influence on other Churches that the Protestant Church has ever launched. The impact is significant for three primary reasons - - -
Its basic claim is that the miraculous events which occurred at the time Jesus Christ walked the earth and the gifts of the Spirit which were distributed to the early Church fathers continue today in the same manner as then. At the center of the miracles is that of "Speaking in Tongues" and the instantaneous healing of sick people.
The Charismatic/Pentecostal Church doctrine claims a continuation of the early church doctrine (at Pentecost) with its associated practices matches that of many other churches in that regard. It is indeed a strong selling point to a potential proselyte that their origin is authentic. Actually, that claim is quite true, for their doctrine was taught in the early church as "unsound" doctrine and as was combatted by not only the Apostle Paul, but the writers of II Peter and Jude. Their doctrine is summarized, analyzed, and rebuked by our Lord Jesus Christ as He addresses the representative Church of Thyatira found in the book of Revelation Chapter two.
The effect that this doctrine would have on Christ's Church was given prophetic ally by our Lord Jesus Himself in one of the kingdom of Heaven parables found in the book of Matthew as follows . . .
33 Another parable He spoke to them: "The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened."
34 All these things Jesus spoke to the multitude in parables; and without a parable He did not speak to them,
As noted in the parable above, the leavening affect increases throughout the leavening cycle and we today are seeing the near completion of this doctrinal affect. This parable is discussed in detail in another Bible Topic Study, but getting back to the passages to be reviewed...
Actually, grabbing a Bible Concordance and looking up signs, wonders, or miracles is not going to produce much with the intent of determining if miracles are occurring within the Church today or not. If a Bible Student is "inclined" to this doctrine, then they most certainly exist. On the other hand if one is "not inclined" to this doctrine, then they do not exist. This latter analysis is based more on "observation" of supposed miracles rather than scripture content. However, at the conclusion of this study, the Bible student will be directed to a more fruitful approach to this doctrinal study.
Many Christians who are confronted by the Charismatic and Pentecostal doctrines of today often ask the above question. Even within those churches, some novice Christians make the statement, "Show me one verse where miracles have ceased in the Church today and I will believe it." This type of question hangs on a very thin doctrinal thread even within the charismatic movement as some hold to the popular teachings, but with an element of doubt.
This Bible Topic Study should not be considered a complete exhaustive study of the issue but will give the interested Bible Student a direction to pursue while studying for themselves this most popular doctrine of our time. The direction and teaching revealed here will not be readily found within those type Churches themselves.
I was exposed to the doctrine many years ago, so have some experience with what goes on within. Actually, there is not one single verse that answers that type of question in a nutshell, but there are four passages that come to mind which does address their question. These are not the only passages to address the issue, but they come to mind readily... Therefore, this Bible Topic study will address four passages as follows"
1 Corinthians 13
8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.
9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part.
The Apostle Paul is saying in the above that (the gift of) prophecies and knowledge will be rendered ineffective, will go away. The same greek word is used for both "fail" and "vanish away" is found in the following verse . . .
11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things
The idea is that it will slowly be done away with. A child does not "instantly" put away his toys as he grows older. These gifts most likely expired prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. This is because so few passages refer to them anymore, especially the epistles written after 1 Corinthians.
The following passage in Ephesians states that the special offices appointed by God would be needed only UNTIL the Church could edify itself in love. For example, ...
11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,
12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,
13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;
14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,
15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head--Christ--
16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.
The epistles encourage the Church edify itself in love. It can do that now that we have the written "Word of God" to instruct us...
20 Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, "The kingdom of God does not come with observation;
21 "nor will they say, 'See here!' or 'See there!' For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you."
22 Then He said to the disciples, "The days will come when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it.
23 "And they will say to you, 'Look here!' or 'Look there!' Do not go after them or follow them.
24 "For as the lightning that flashes out of one part under heaven shines to the other part under heaven, so also the Son of Man will be in His day.
25 "But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.
II Peter 3
1 Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder),
2 that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior,
3 knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts,
4 and saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation."
5 For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water,
6 by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water.
Well, the bible does state that Signs, Wonders, and Miracles have ceased and that they would not be an observable character of the Church. However, the above passages do not prove conclusively that they have ceased. In order to determine that the scripture teaches against such "unsound doctrine", the Bible Student must be aware of a phenomena called "Spiritual Fornication". This fornication differentiates itself from fornication which is of a sexual, physical nature.
The definitions of each are as follows:
PHYSICAL FORNICATION => an Illicit Sexual act committed by an Unmarried person and is a Pre-Marital sin
SPIRITUAL FORNICATION => the "Seeking After Signs" (Signs, Wonders, and Miracles) by a Born Again, Believer, Redeemed, Child of God and is a Pre-Glory sin
(Note: The definition then of Spiritual Adultery should then be intuitively obvious...)
The study of this issue as mentioned above is not found by using a Bible Concordance and looking up the words Signs, Wonders, or Miracles. Instead, the following words must be studied in context and they will be usually found two or more grouped together - - -
The most interesting word study in the list above is the word "Endurance"... You will quickly find that the greek definition and use of this word is not similar at all to the English use and definition. Even in the greek, there is one definition for those who are "Apostles" and another for those who are not.