There are denominations of Christendom who believe that the miraculous spiritual gifts of speaking in tongues, prophesying, and so forth are essential to confirm one’s salvation. These gifts consist of word of wisdom, word of knowledge, faith, healings, wonders, prophecy, discerning of spirits, kinds of languages, and interpretation of languages (1 Cor. 12). These miraculous gifts from the Spirit were for the confirmation of the message of Christ (Heb. 2:2-4), which the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Rom. 1:16). Know that this article is not at all questioning the occurrence of Jesus’ miracles, His Apostles, the miracle of Jesus’ second coming, the coming transformation of Christians into spiritual beings, or the coming flight of Christians to meet the Lord in the air.
The idea that these miraculous gifts are essential for salvation stands in contrast to what the Spirit teaches through the Scriptures. Look at John the Baptist. He was filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb, and he did no miracles (Luke 1:15, John 10:41). Though under the old Law, who would say that he was not important and not saved? Regarding the working of the Spirit on Christians, some operations are upon all Christians and some were only upon a select few. Not everyone received the same gifts or works of the Spirit, and this is certainly true in regards to the Spirit coming upon Mary for her to be with the child, Jesus (Matt. 1:18, 20; Luke 1:35). Not everyone who has the Holy Spirit conceives a child especially a child being the Christ. The Church in Rome did not have these spiritual gifts (Rom. 1:11), and still they had the indwelling of the Spirit and they were still saved (Rom. 8:9, 24). This is a vital point that refutes the idea of the necessity of miraculous gifts. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit and the baptism of the Holy Spirit are wholly separate since the Christians of Rome had the Spirit and not the gifts. The gifts of the Spirit came by the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:44-46, 11:15-16).
It is true that those who did miracles were no more spiritually mature or elite for doing these. Yet, many today claim for themselves a higher maturity and leading when falsely claiming gifts. The Jewish High Priest Caiaphas prophesied, and yet plotted, tried, and had Jesus put to death (John 11:45-53). Also, Judas Iscariot did miracles and betrayed the Lord (Matt. 10:1-12). Peter denied Christ and acted with partiality though he healed the sick, prophesied, and wrote two epistles of Scripture (Acts 3:6-8, Gal. 2:11-14). The Corinthians had the spiritual gifts, but they were still carnal (1 Cor. 3:1-2). These examples certainly show no elitism or maturity connected with gifts and certainly no such gift is necessary or shows one’s salvation. The Lord said, “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy by your name, and by your name cast out demons, and by your name do many mighty works?’ And then will I profess unto them, ‘I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity’” (Matt. 7:22-23). There will be those who claim these gifts who will be condemned. Below these Scriptures, take a look at charismatic leaders and see the many divisions regarding faith and practice among them. Should not they be united since they all have the Spirit and miraculous gifts like prophesy? This fact does not refute their claim, but shows that most of the groups making the claim are lying or delusional. With no many spiritual leaders among many denominations claiming to do miracles have the Spirit, how can anyone know which are right? One must go back to the Scriptures.
Why is it that so many claim that churches who do not demonstrate these gifts are “dead churches”? It is very much the contrary today, which the Scriptures show. The Scriptures teach that these miraculous spiritual gifts were limited to those who received power from the Spirit and these gifts directly from God (Acts 2:1-21, 10:44-46, 11:14-17) and then by those who the Apostles laid their hands on (Acts 6:3-8, 8:14-17, 19:1-9). The necessity of these gifts for every Christian is easily refuted. If everyone must receive the miraculous spiritual gifts directly from God by “Holy Spirit baptism”, then the laying on of hands by the Apostles would be pointless and was not necessary at all (Acts 8:14-17). Yet, the Apostles had to lay on hands to give these gifts. See, the gifts of the Holy Spirit are only given directly from God twice in Scripture to the Apostles and then Cornelius’ household, and also implied one more time to have happened Paul being a later Apostle. Therefore, this happened 3 times in a span of 30 years in the Scriptures. Significantly, the baptism of the Holy Spirit clearly marked the beginning of the pouring out of the Spirit and the spread of the Gospel into the Church for the Jews first (Acts 2) and then the Gentiles, the Nations (Acts 10-11).
Remember that the baptism of the Spirit was promised by John the Baptist to come by Jesus (Matt. 3:11, Mark 1:8, Luke 3:16, John 1:33, Acts 1:5, 1:8). There is only one baptism for all Christians, which is water baptism in the name of the Lord (Eph. 4:5, 5:26, Acts 10:47-48). Do these scriptures contradict? No. The Holy Spirit is not excluded from the baptism of water in Jesus’ name, because the Spirit gives life, sanctifies, and justifies by that baptism and that baptism is in the name of the Holy Spirit too (1 Cor. 6:11, Matt. 28:19, John 3:5, Titus 3:5).
What about the laying on the hands of the Apostles to give miraculous spiritual gifts (Acts 8:14-17, 19:1-6)? There is no one living today who qualifies to be an Apostle, since the Apostle’s qualification is to
“…have accompanied us [the 12 disciples] during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us–one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection” (Acts 1:20-22).
Therefore, there is no medium for one to have these spiritual gifts, which were only to confirm revelation in the first place (John 20:30-31, Mark 16:20, Heb. 2:3-4).
The most supernatural and miraculous workings of the Holy Spirit were through people for one specific purpose to establish the Spirit’s eternal message for working salvation unto people. Miracles in the Scriptures have one most important purpose, and this is to confirm those who spoke for God and the message they delivered (Mark 16:20, John 20:30-31, Heb. 2:3-4). The Lord Jesus told the Apostles that the Spirit would come in Jesus’ name teaching the Apostles all things, bringing to remembrance all that Jesus said, and guiding them into all Truth (John 14:26, 16:13). These words were not to all Christians. Miracles confirmed those revealing the Gospel. Referring to this revelation, Peter stated by the Spirit that, “[God’s] divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Pet. 1:3). Knowing this passage and understanding that God’s revelation has been recorded in the Scriptures, it is clear that for the Scriptures to make one complete and equipped unto every good work, then all revelation is found in the Scriptures (2 Tim. 3:16-17). See, there is not need for further revelation from the Spirit in later times since the faith was “once for all delivered” (Jude 3).
The Scriptures do teach the “passing away” of miraculous gifts is as 1 Corinthians 13:8-10 revealed that the gifts of being able to prophesy “in part” and have knowledge “in part” will “pass away” when the complete has come. “Complete” is the Greek word telion, which is only used three other times to refer to God’s Will (Rom. 12:2) and His Word (James 1:17, 25), so it makes perfect sense that the completion of spiritual revelation would be the completion of the written Word, the Will of God. It is absolutely apparent that gifts ceased when complete spiritual understanding had been revealed. There is no way for miraculous gifts to exist today and there is no need since the message has been completely revealed.
Yet, believers still have the gift of the Spirit when we are baptized in Jesus’ name (Acts 2:38). That baptism is also a baptism in the name of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19). The Spirit has been thus poured out upon all believers when we were washed (Titus 3:5-6). We were sanctified and justified by the Spirit when we were washed in Jesus’ name (1 Cor. 6:11). This is when we are born again by the water and the Spirit (John 3:3, 5). By one Spirit, we are added to the one body (1 Cor. 12:13).
I don’t think that I said that miracles could not happen. I just mean not through the hands of men.
I am glad to see you using scriptural proofs that I wasn’t even aware of, regarding the specificity of who qualified to be an Apostle and who was promised they would be “clothed with power from on high”.
I have never been comfortable with anyone claiming the name “apostle”, but I would not go so far as to say there “is no way ” that miracles can happen today. God is the same as He ever was, and He can perform public miracles if He so chooses. I qualify that by adding that it seems pretty evident that Satan will be the one to use miracles and signs to deceive many, so, perhaps your absolutism is more correct than I suppose.
The example Christ gives about those who say “Lord, Lord…” being unknown to Him validates my argument about when Saul’s conversion took place. Simply calling Jesus “Lord” does not a convert make!