Prayer is a spiritual discipline that most Christians are familiar with but most of us are frustrated with at times. Why don’t Christians pray more? We don’t know how. If you didn’t grow up in church, or even if you did, praying can be incredibly intimidating, especially if you grew up in a formal church where the pastor […]
When you enter into any discussion about spiritual gifts, sooner or later the topic will come up, “What about the miraculous gifts?” I recently spoke on the topic of spiritual gifts and wanted to carve out some space to discuss the issue of the miraculous (or signs) gifts: prophecy (depending on how you define it), miracles, healing, speaking in tongues and the interpretation of tongues.
When it comes to the miraculous gifts, the variance of beliefs tend to fall on a single spectrum. On one end is what is commonly known as cessationism, the belief that the miraculous gifts are no longer valid for today. On the other extreme of the spectrum is hyper-charistmaticism, which holds that evidence of the sign gifts (speaking in tongues most notably) is necessary for salvation. The most commonly used passage of Scripture to support cessationism is 1 Corinthians 13, which states,
“Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.” (1 Corinthians 13:8-10)
The argument is made that “completeness” came with the canonization of Scripture, meaning the miraculous gifts are no longer necessary. But when you look at the greater context (verses 11-12), it is obvious (at least to me) that Paul is referring to the completeness that will happen when Christ returns for his bride. If that is the understood context, then this passage actually proves the continued validity of the miraculous gifts rather than disproving it.
As a born and raised Baptist, I’ve never been comfortable around the miraculous gifts. But just because I’m not comfortable doesn’t make them unbiblical. Over the years, I’ve grown in my understanding and appreciation for all of the spiritual gifts listed in the Bible, including the miraculous gifts. Do I want to be in a church and help pastor a body where genuine miracles take place? Absolutely! Who would honestly say that they’d rather be in a church where God’s power never is manifested in miraculous ways? When you take some of the mysticism away from the miraculous gifts, they can actually become quite practical. The gift of prophecy carries the idea not just of foretelling the future but of forth-telling, of taking a strong and uncompromising stand for truth. We need prophets willing to draw lines in the sand and speak truth to power. I’ve been blessed to work with several Baptist pastors over the years who had the gift of prophecy. You could make the argument that there are many believers working in the medical field who have the gift of healing and that they’re utilizing their God-given gifts and passions to heal others. I met a missionary once who became functionally fluent in a new language in two weeks with no language training. I’m convinced speaking in tongues (languages) is one of her gifts.
So, do I believe the miraculous gifts continue today? Yes! Just because there may be abuses of the sign gifts doesn’t mean they are less valid. Consider me a continuationalist. I believe all the spiritual gifts are still valid today.