The topic of signs and wonders, or miracles, is a hotly debated issue in our day. The association between miracles and religious faith has been strong throughout all history. This is not only true of Christianity, but of all world religions. Extra-revelatory knowledge or supernatural gifts are accepted as being of divine origin and are promoted as proof of the validity of a particular theology or leader.
Amongst professing Christendom, one group in particular has always claimed divine sanction in the area of the supernatural, i.e., the Roman Catholics. Rome has for centuries claimed that the Pope is the
successor of the apostles' office and power and so boasts of extra-revelatory knowledge by divine inspiration. Rome has also boasted numerous supernatural powers over the years in the form of healings, exorcisms, visions and such like.
It is evident, though, that interest in miracles and supernatural phenomena is definitely on the increase. In the last 170 years, this movement has extended far beyond the Catholic church into almost all areas of professing Christendom. It is affirmed by its supporters to be the standard by which faith, sincerity and spirituality are measured.
I. A catch-all term for the modern "signs and wonder" movement is "Charismatics." But what are Charismatics?
A. The Greek word "charisma" = gifts.
B. It is a broad movement emphasizing the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
C. Rather than a formal church or denomination, it includes and affects many churches and denominations.
D. Denominations officially charismatic in intent include Pentecostals, the Church of God, and Assemblies of God.
E. It is the most influential force giving practical support to the ecumenical movement. Various church groups with major historical and doctrinal differences are uniting under this common umbrella.
F. Avoiding most doctrinal distinctives and emphasizing emotional experiences, it has broad appeal to much of "Christianity."
II. The history of the Charismatic movement is roughly thus:
A. 1830. A revival of "apostolic gifts" breaks out in western Scotland and other parts of the British Isles.
B. 1886. Holiness movement promotes sanctification as an experience and speaking in tongues.
C. 1901. Pentecostalism begins under Charles Parham at Bethel Bible College in Topeka when Agnes Ozman speaks in tongues.
D. 1906. Azusa Street Mission in Los Angeles becomes center of Pentecostal growth.
E. 1914. Assemblies of God formed by uniting Pentecostal churches into an organized body.
F. 1950's. Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship. Oral Roberts ministry grows nationally.
G. 1960. Father Bennett, an Episcopal rector in Van Nuys, speaks in tongues. Pentecostalism appears in virtually all denominations. Beginning of Charismatic Movement.
H. Today. Virtually all churches have been affected by this movement in one way or another. Extensive television programming promotes it, as do interdenominational conferences.
III. Scripture does declare the imparting of supernatural gifts to men.
LUK 9:1; 10:1, 17-20.
A. Note Luk 10:20, which implies that supernatural gifts may not equate with grace.
B. Election into the Lamb's Book of Life from the foundation of the world (REV 13:8; 17:8) trumps any sensational gift since the foundation of the world.
C. Real Christian joy derives from knowledge of salvation, not from sensationalism.
1PE 1:8-9 c/w ROM 5:11.
IV. Jesus Christ, in commissioning His apostles, promised that miraculous signs & wonders would accompany them (MAR 16:17-18). These sign gifts can be categorized as follows:
A. The gift of faith. MAT 17:20 c/w 1CO 13:2.
1. This faith stands in distinction to the common faith of all true believers. TIT 1:4.
2. This faith was a special measure of confidence and trust in God that could seek and expect great things from God. ACT 6:5, 8.
B. The gifts of healing, which included healing of diseases and casting out devils.
MAT 4:24; ACT 10:37-38; 19:11-12.
1. Dire consequences awaited people whom God had not authorized to use these gifts. ACT 19:13-16.
2. The anointing of the sick with oil was connected with the gift of healing.
MAR 6:13 c/w JAM 5:14-15.
C. The working of miracles would cover any other extraordinary displays of power.
ACT 9:40-42; 28:3-6.
D. The gift of divers kinds of tongues was the ability to speak in another language that one had not learned.
1. There are 165 uses of "tongue" or "tongues" in Scripture. 111 times it refers to the physical organ of speech, 52 times to languages, and twice referring to objects shaped like a tongue.
2. The divers tongues were actual known human languages. ACT 2:1-11.
3. The tongue was unknown to the speaker in that he had never learned it before.
4. The "tongues of angels" in 1CO 13:1 is clearly hyperbole.
c/w 1CO 13:2-3; ECC 6:6; JOH 21:22-23.
5. Any usage of the gift of tongues must meet ALL of the criteria of 1CO 14. See attachment, "Thoughts on Tongues."
IV. The sign gifts in and of themselves do not evidence:
A. Spirituality. 1CO 1:4-7 c/w 3:1.
B. Charity. 1CO 13:1-2.
EXO 7:10-12 c/w 2TI 3:8; MAT 10:1-4 c/w JOH 17:12; 6:70-71; MAT 7:21-23.
V. Scripture teaches that there is more than one spirit that produces miracles.
JOB 1:16 c/w REV 13:13-14.
A. Satan can produce counterfeit miracles to deceive men.
MAT 24:24 c/w 12:43-45; 2TH 2:8-10.
B. Satan's ministers excel when they closely counterfeit God's ministers. 2CO 11:13-15.
VI. The purposes of the sign gifts were two-fold.
A. Sign gifts were given to confirm prophecy and the apostolic ministry.
EXO 4:1-9 c/w JOH 6:14; MAR 16:20; ACT 8:5-8; 2CO 12:12.
B. Sign gifts were also given to persuade and convict unbelieving Jews. They were given a space of repentance which was replete with the signs and wonders they looked for from God's prophets. 1CO 14:21-22 c/w ISA 28:11-14; 1CO 1:22 c/w JOH 4:48; 15:22-25.
VII. These sign gifts were foretold in the O.T. ISA 28 & DEU 18:18-19.
A. A definite time period was prophesied concerning the duration of these gifts.
MIC 7:14-20 c/w LUK 1:67-75 c/w ACT 7:36. (Note: the word "marvellous" is connected with miracles, PSA 78:12).
B. The time period started around Christ's baptism at about age 30.
JOH 2:11 c/w LUK 3:21-23.
C. The clock would therefore have run out by 70 A.D., the time of the destruction of Jerusalem.
1. God had prophesied numerous times in the O.T. that He was going to someday cast off natural Israel in favor of a new order of covenant people. ROM 9:22-30.
2. Daniel also prophesied about God's dealings with Israel. DAN 9:24-27.
a. Among the things that would happen before God's termination of natural
Israel was the sealing up of vision and prophecy.
b. The last thing in the chain of events was the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, the date of which is well established as 70 A.D.
c. Thus, by 70 A.D., the stated purposes of the sign gifts (confirming prophecy and persuading unbelieving Jews) would be unnecessary.
3. There are other evidences of a cessation of sign gifts.
a. Near the end of Paul's ministry, he could not heal Epaphroditus
(PHP 2:25-27), nor Trophimus (2TI 4:20), and he recommended wine for Timothy's infirmities (1TI 5:23). Why not mail him a handkerchief (ACT 19:11-12)?
b. Second generation pastors are given no instruction regarding sign gifts in the three pastoral epistles. 1TI 3:15; TIT 2:15.
c. 1CO 13:8-10 shows an end of sign gifts commensurate with the perfection (completion) of the New Testament.
d. Late in his ministry, Paul described mighty signs and wonders in the past tense. HEB 2:2-4.
VIII. Scripture prophesies of a resurgence of miracles after the apostles' times, but it would be after the working of the devil as he tries to establish a world empire. 2TH 2:1-12; REV 13:11-18.
A. Pre-millennial doctrine accommodates this movement: it anticipates a future antichrist system which will be destroyed by a coming 'messiah' who will establish a world
government. But, Re.17:7-11 identifies ALL EIGHT world governments as Satanic!
B. Modern Pre-millennialism was born out of that charismatic movement which started in the early 1800's in England and western Scotland. J.N. Darby, the founder of the Plymouth Brethren and considered to be the father of present-day dispensationalism, was greatly
influenced by "prophetic revelations" given in this movement. (See the book: "The Incredible Cover-Up" by Dave Macpherson. LOGOS Intl.)
C. See also the Appendix at the end of this outline relative to this topic.
IX. Signs and wonders, like everything else, must be tested by Scripture. ISA 8:20; 1JO 4:1, 6.
At the time of the writing of Revelation, the Roman empire was in power, so if we plug that bit of information into REV 17:7-11, it is obvious that Rome would be the sixth king, with two more to follow, BOTH of which are identified as being after the power of the beast. Remember, the pre-millennial doctrine does recognize a seventh world government which would be Satanic and would be overthrown by a purported 'messiah' who would rule the world for 1000 years. Pre-millennialism overlooks the fact that the governmental system which would follow the seventh empire is specifically identified as being "of the seven, and goeth into perdition" (v.11).
The line-up of world empires can be identified from Scripture thus:
5) Macedonia (Greek)
7) ------(Here is where pre-millennialism puts Antichrist's rule.)
8) ------(The pre-millennial 'Messianic kingdom'.)
REMEMBER: Scripture identifies ALL EIGHT systems as being Satanic in nature.
WHAT ARE SCRIPTURAL "TONGUES"?
Following is a listing of all Scriptural references to "tongue" or "tongues" that do not refer to either (1) the muscle in the mouth that facilitates tasting, chewing, swallowing, and speaking and (2) the New
Testament gift of speaking in an unknown tongue. Tongues = Languages.
Genesis 10:5. By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands; every one after his TONGUE, after their families, in their nations.
Genesis 10:20. These are the sons of Ham, after their families, after their TONGUES, in their countries, and in their nations.
Genesis 10:31. These are the sons of Shem, after their families, after their TONGUES, in their lands, after their nations.
Deuteronomy 28:49. The LORD shall bring a nation against thee from far, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flieth; a nation whose TONGUE thou shalt not understand;
Ezra 4:7. And in the days of Artaxerxes wrote Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel, and the rest of their companions, unto Artaxerxes king of Persia; and the writing of the letter was written in the Syrian TONGUE, and interpreted in the Syrian TONGUE.
Isaiah 11:15. And the LORD shall utterly destroy the TONGUE of the Egyptian sea; and with his mighty wind shall he shake his hand over the river, and shall smite it in the seven streams, and make men go over
Isaiah 28:11. For with stammering lips and another TONGUE will he speak to this people.
Isaiah 33:19. Thou shalt not see a fierce people, a people of a deeper speech than thou canst perceive; of a stammering TONGUE, that thou canst not understand.
Isaiah 66:18. For I know their works and their thoughts: it shall come, that I will gather all nations and TONGUES; and they shall come, and see my glory.
Daniel 1:4. Children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king's palace,
and whom they might teach the learning and the TONGUE of the Chaldeans.
John 5:2. Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew TONGUE Bethesda, having five porches.
Acts 1:19. And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper TONGUE, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood.
Acts 2:3. And there appeared unto them cloven TONGUES like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.
Acts 2:8. And how hear we every man in our own TONGUE, wherein we were born?
Acts 2:11. Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our TONGUES the wonderful works of God.
Acts 21:40. And when he had given him licence, Paul stood on the stairs, and beckoned with the hand unto the people. And when there was made a great silence, he spake unto them in the Hebrew TONGUE, saying,
Acts 22:2. (And when they heard that he spake in the Hebrew TONGUE to them, they kept the more silence: and he saith,)
Acts 26:14. And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew TONGUE, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
I Corinthians 14:26. How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a TONGUE, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto
Revelation 5:9. And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and TONGUE, and people, and nation;
Revelation 7:9. After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and TONGUES, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with
white robes, and palms in their hands;
Revelation 9:11. And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew TONGUE is Abaddon, but in the Greek TONGUE hath his name Apollyon.
Revelation 10:11. And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and TONGUES, and kings.
Revelation 11:9. And they of the people and kindreds and TONGUES and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves.
Revelation 13:7. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and TONGUES, and nations.
Revelation 14:6. And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and TONGUE, and people,
Revelation 16:16. And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew TONGUE Armageddon.
Revelation 17:15. And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and TONGUES.
THOUGHTS ON TONGUES
1. Bible tongues were always definite languages of mankind (ACT 2:1-11; 10:46) so that today's incoherent babbling is not even close to the Holy Spirit's gift.
2. Bible tongues were a sign to unbelievers (1CO 14:22), so that today's emphasis on speaking among believers is contrary to God's stated purpose.
3. Bible tongues were the least or lowest gift of the Spirit (1CO 12:28), so that the emphasis on this gift subverts the purpose and opinion of God.
4. Bible tongues were a sign to confirm the speaker's authority (MAR 16:17), but today's babbling is evidence of insanity (PRO 23:29-30; 1CO 14:11, 23).
5. Bible tongues were only used in worship with an interpreter (1CO 14:27-28), so today's babbling without interpretation or interpreter is manifestly wrong.
6. Bible tongues were never spoken by women in an assembly (1CO 14:34-35), so allowing and emphasizing women by Charismatics is contrary to God.
7. Bible tongues were only spoken by one person at one time (1CO 14:27), so any assembly with more than one person speaking in tongues is unscriptural.
8. Bible tongues were never sought by spiritual saints (1CO 12:31), since God gave the New Testament gifts according to His own will (1CO 12:11 c/w HEB 2:4).
9. Bible tongues had a very definite ending time (1CO 13:8; MIC 7:15 c/w ACT 7:36), so any use of them today is contrary to Scripture and therefore not of God.
10. Bible tongues were under the control of those using them (1CO 14:32), so spontaneous use outside of Scriptural limits is wrong.
11. Bible tongues were spoken only by some in the church (1CO 12:30), and the rest were to be content with never speaking in tongues. Therefore, the presumption that all in the church should speak with tongues is wrong.
12. Bible tongues were the gift to speak foreign languages without learning, but Charismatic and Pentecostal missionaries must study languages vigorously.
13. Bible tongues were sought and exalted by the Corinthians, but the church at Corinth was likely the most immature and carnal of churches.
14. Bible tongues were a very inferior gift compared to apostleship (1CO 12:28), but reasonable men know that the gift of apostleship disappeared during the First Century (ACT 1:15-26).
15. Bible tongues were a gift to the apostles and their hearers (MAR 16:14-17), so seeking this gift today completely overlooks its promise and purpose.
16. Bible tongues of ten thousand words were inferior to preaching of five words (1CO 14:19), so that preaching is far superior in God's purpose.
17. Bible tongues were always willing to submit to Paul's commandments (1CO 14:36-38), and any other attitude regarding tongues is ignorance.
18. Bible tongues were recognized by the hearers as definite languages (ACT 2:1-11; 10:46), but today's babbling has been repeatedly shown to be gibberish.
19. Bible tongues never proved spirituality (1CO 1:7; 14:26 c/w 3:1), so the notion that a spiritual Christian is defined by tongues is wrong.
20. Bible tongues never proved charity (1CO 13:1), so the notion that tongues are sure evidence of true charity is wrong.
21. Balaam's ass miraculously spoke an unlearned human tongue (NUM 22:28-30 c/w 2PE 2:15-16), so the notion that tongues are sure evidence of a regenerate nature is wrong.