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The Blue Letter Bible

Don Stewart :: What Does Experience Say about the Permanence of the Sign Gifts?

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Don Stewart

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The last and most frequent argument mentioned against the sign gifts is experience. Does experience show us that the miraculous gifts no longer function in the church?
The following contentions are often raised:

Why Are They Not Visible?

If the sign gifts still exist, why do we not see them being exercised? Why are there no miraculous healings, people being raised from the dead, or the blind receiving sight? If the sign gifts are indeed being exercised, we should expect to see them used.

Sign Gifts Cause Division

Some people argue that the divisive nature of the gifts demonstrates that they are not from God. Many times when people come into a church and exercise sign gifts they cause divisions within that group. Dividing the body of Christ is not the work of the Holy Spirit. Thus, it is argued that those who exercise the sign gifts show a lack of spiritual maturity.


The miraculous sign gifts may not occur frequently, but God can still produce them if He so desires. The situation as recorded in the Book of Acts is that miracles were the exception to the rule, they were not happening everywhere with every believer.

Without a doubt spiritual gifts are overemphasized by some charismatic Christians, but their misuse or abuse of spiritual gifts has nothing to do with their authenticity. The practice of spiritual gifts does not belong exclusively to immature, ignorant, believers. It is unfair to place all those who practice the sign gifts in this category. Nor do they always cause division within the groups where they operate.

The argument from experience proves nothing, for many would testify that their experience teaches them that the sign gifts are still with the church. Experience does not determine doctrine. We should not conform our doctrine to our experience, but we should conform experience to doctrine. The issue is not what we have personally experienced but rather what the Bible says.

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