Some today claim that the miraculous powers (sometimes called charismatic gifts) of the apostles (Acts 2:4, 43; 5:12; II Cor. 12:12) which they gave to others by the laying on of hands (Acts 6:6; 8:18; 19:6; II Tim. 1:6) are still available to the church and individual Christians today. This is especially emphasized when they claim the gift of “speaking in tongues.” However, if this is available to us then all the others must be also, such as: healing, miracles, prophecy, inspiration, and raising the dead. If one is available then they all should be available.
Some claiming that the first century gifts are still available today seemingly have a weak God. He is not like the powerful God of the New Testament which I worship. If the New Testament teaches that we are to have these gifts today, after the apostolic age, why doesn’t God give them in the same depth of power as then? The powers these charismatic teachers claim today are frail and superficial compared to the powerful acts of the New Testament.
In the New Testament “tongue speaking” was the ability given by the Holy Spirit to speak a foreign known language that someone of another race other than your own could understand, so you could preach the great truths of God to them (Acts 2:11) in order to convert unbelievers ((I Cor. 14:21, 22). This gift, of course, came without having to study the language for years. Yet today “tongue speaking” is merely ecstatic babble which accomplishes no purpose at all, which no one can understand, which does not convert the unbeliever, and which anyone can learn to do with a little practice without the supernatural aid of the Holy Spirit of God. Some will say it is in order to pray to God in this “prayer language”. But God can hear us in our own language without such devices. The proof that tongues speaking in the New Testament was not “prayer language” but an evangelistic tool is seen in the fact that Jesus who had the Spirit without measure (John 3:34) never is said to have spoken in tongues. Why? Because He didn’t need it for prayer and He didn’t need it to convert foreigners for He went only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. But when He sent the apostles into all the world He gave them this necessary evangelistic tool of the ability to speak in a foreign tongue. Paul, of course, says that this is its purpose in I Cor. 14:22 after quoting Isaiah 28:11 in 14:21 which promised such power to teach (not pray) in other languages.
Today’s miracles of healing are not the healing of a blind man or a lame man from birth by a word, without even prayer (Acts 3:1ff). But unlike these people who claim the same powers are available today and yet do not have them, I know the God of the Bible did not have this as His plan or purpose. My God does not fail to perform these miracles because He is weak but because it is not His purpose or plan. They never raise anyone from the dead. They never prophecy accurately of a famine (Acts 11:28). They certainly do not have the ability to write the inspired scriptures as the powerful literature of the New Testament, only false literature (Mormonism claimed tongues speaking long before the modern charismatic movement).
Miraculous powers were the sign of an apostle (II Cor. 12:12) who were the foundation of the church (Eph. 2:20 - one does not keep laying a foundation), who were given these powers to confirm their message (Heb. 2:34; Mk. 16:9-14, 17-20), who had to be eye witnesses of the resurrection (Acts 1:22). That the promise of Mark 16:17 ff was only for the apostles and those with whom they shared it by the laying on of hands is seen in that after Pentecost only the apostles were doing these signs (Acts 2:43; 5:12) until they laid hands on the elected deacons (Acts 6:6).
God could still bring forth a man from the dust, or a child from a virgin’s womb, but no Christian who believes in His omnipotence would deny this; but no Christian expects Him to do this because that would not be part of his plan of salvation through His Son. A man could still raise from the dead by the power of God’s Spirit as Jesus did but it will not happen until the general resurrection of the dead for it would defeat His plan of salvation through the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
So, because I realize it is not part of His plan, my God is still powerful, but those who claim He still purposes to have them perform miracles and then don’t do what was actually done in the New Testament make Him a weak God and cause His name to be blasphemed among unbelievers.
Now, when I say they can not perform miracles, I mean the power is not present within them as in the apostles of the New Testament who healed with a word, without prayer, without faith on the part of the recipient (Acts 3:1 ff). I am not denying God can and does answer prayer today and many times in seemingly miraculous ways. This is the promise of James 5:14, 15. But answered prayer is far different than claiming the apostolic gifts of tongues, healings, miracles, inspiration, which no one today can truly display. If they claim they can, their God is weak for He does not work as the God of the New Testament whom I worship and serve.
I in no way will say that God does not work miracles today, as this is His world and He can do whatever He chooses to do. However, I do contend that He does not work through individuals as He once did. God no longer creates humans from the earth as He did Adam. He now uses His “Law Of Reproduction”. I do not know of a single time when one has been healed from blindness as Jesus did, but the Medical Profession is fast to acknowledge that they have had numerous unexplained healings. Thus, God is normally given the credit.
Once again, I would pray that we always be open to the views of other Bible students and teachers and always allow the Scriptures to be your basis of all of our beliefs. Be careful, as one can be correct in doctrine, but wrong in attitude.
Plainly, don’t get short changed. Let’s be ready to meet our Maker. The Bible (in Acts) teaches that to avoid hell and gain heaven - one must:
1) Believe In Jesus As Savior (16:31)
2) Repent Of Sins (17:30)
3) Confess Christ Audibly (8:37)
4) Be Baptized In Water (2:38)
5) Live A Christian Life (14:22)
6) Be Active In the Church (2:47)