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Don Stewart :: Does Evidence from the Plan of God Indicate the Sign Gifts Have Ceased?

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Don Stewart
Some people say that the sign gifts have now ceased because they no longer play a part in the plan of God. The argument reasons that miraculous signs have only appeared during new periods of revelation to confirm the Word of God.

When the program of God is examined from the pages of the Bible, one can find only three periods of history when God worked miraculous signs. One was during the time of Moses. Exodus 1-11 indicates that the purpose of these miraculous signs, done through Moses, was to authenticate the Word of God before Pharaoh. When the Israelites entered the Promised Land, the miracles died out.

Elijah And Elisha

The other examples were of the lives of Elijah and Elisha. They were sent to confirm Gods Word to a sinful nation. When they died, the miracles died with them.

God worked during other Old Testament times without having to display any supernatural miracles to confirm His Word. During the time of Ezra and Nehemiah, for example, God was working His program without the confirmation from miraculous signs. Therefore, it is not necessary that the miraculous signs exist for God to perform His program.

The miracles appeared in clusters only two different times in the Old Testament: the time of the Exodus, and the ministry of Elijah and Elisha. The ministry of Jesus and the apostles represented the third and final cluster of miracles. Each cluster of miracles occurred for a specific purpose: to authenticate Gods Word. Now that the Bible is complete, no further authentication is necessary. Hence the purpose of the miracles in the plan of God demonstrates they are no longer needed.

Response

The argument for the cessation of the gifts from the purpose and plan of God is not convincing for several reasons. First, other miracles occurred besides the ones during the so-called confirmation periods. Scripture is full of examples of God performing miraculous deeds in the lives of believers, including Gideon, Samson, Daniel, Jonah, and Joshua. To argue, as some do, that they are found only in clusters is not accurate.

In addition, it is difficult to put the miracles of Elijah and Elisha in the category of confirming signs. There was no new revelation when they performed their miracles. There was no written Scripture to confirm. The period in which they lived was no more pivotal than the time of Jeremiah and the destruction of Jerusalem. To say that the cluster of miracles happened during their time to confirm a new period of revelation lacks biblical support.

Done In Private

Most of the so-called confirming miracles at the time of Elijah and Elisha were done in private, out of view of most of the nation (1 Kings 17:22-23; 2 Kings 2:11-14, 19-22; 4:32-37; 5:14; 6:5-7; 13:21). It is difficult to understand how these can be considered as confirming new revelation when they were not done in public.

Even if it were true that the miracles only came in two clusters during the Old Testament period, it still does not mean that this would necessarily be the case in the New Testament.

Therefore the argument from the plan of God for the cessation of the sign gifts is not convincing.

CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.