Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Jesus escorts all who are bound for heaven, by Jay Quine

c. 1632 Jesus' Death is Universal!!1 John 2:2 Unlimited Atonement of Jesus Death and Resurection
DidJesus die only for the sins of those who would be saved, or did He also pay forthe sins of those forever lost? Theologians have wrestled for centuries over limited vs. unlimitedatonement. Logic tells us that work ofChrist would never be wasted. He wouldnot die for the sins of the lost where it would have no effect. But we understand spiritual truth notprimarily through a grid of logic, but one first by faith. We are first biblicists, not logicians. The Bible tells us that Christ died “not forour sins only, but also for those of the whole world.” I’m Dr. Jay Quine. This is an amazing truth: Christ’s completepayment for sin is sufficient for all, but efficient only for those whobelieve. Jesus died for everyone youmeet. So tell them: every person in the restaurant, on the football field, and in the stands. Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. Jesus is coming back!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Spiritual Gifts: Chapter 8 - Concluding Hypothetical, by Jay Quine

The Flagellation of Our Lord Jesus Christ (1880)The Flagellation of Jesus, posted by Jay QYour Gifts, Your Values -- Quine

Conclusion—What Gift?

It is Easter dinner. Everyone who should be is there. Mom and Dad, your brothers and sisters are there. Cousins, nieces and nephews: all present. It’s a great family gathering! The lamb is perfectly done—with a nice wild herb marinade, having penetrated the meat wonderfully. There it sits on the center of the platter, surrounded by a ring of new potatoes and parsley. And here it comes—carried out to the dining room table where everyone is seated. It’s heavy, and your holding it out, slightly unbalanced—whoa! you stumble on the rug! Down it all goes on the floor. You dive for it, but too late!

Notice how the spiritual gifts come into play. The person gifted in service jumps up, and heads into the kitchen for paper towels, and another tray.

The teacher stands up and explains, “the reason why that happened is that it was unbalanced—two thirds of the weight was towards the front so that even a slight angle would spill the entire contents.”

The exhorter adds, “there are three things we can learn from this experience…”

The merciful smiles and says, “Hey, this is no big deal. I remember when I did the same thing when I was first married in front of my new mother-in-law.

The administer gets up pointing, “Okay, okay, where do we go from here? Is it salvageable. Tom, look up a number for pizza. Jill, take a look at those potatoes—will they work? Sam, see if you can get that lamb picked up off the floor and wash it off. Is it too late to make any more herb marinade?”

The giver puts on his coat and declares, “Don’t worry about it, I’m off to the nearest deli to buy some more meat. I’ll take care of the whole thing.”

The person with faith says, “This is no problem for God. Don’t get upset. Let’s just take a moment and pray.”

The wise sage among them says, “God has His purpose behind this. If we work together, forgive and love one another we can still enjoy a marvelous meal. Remember, in all things give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus.”

The beginning of this study noted that God has called us. He has called us to a great banquet—a banquet in celebration of that which the Lamb of God, the Lord Jesus Christ has done for us. In the meantime, get involved, discover and employ your spiritual gifts and enjoy the journey, for there is a great meal coming!


Spiritual Gifts: Chapter 7 - Survey Challenge, by Jay Quine

Your Gifts, Your Values -- Quine

The Values Based Spiritual Gift Maturity Survey

A Call to Action

Businesses and consultants, colleges and universities, marriage and family counselors all use a similar tool: personality and aptitude tests. We should do the same to discover and provide more avenues and outlets of our spiritual gifts. There should be something to measure our progress, and evaluate our maturity. The following survey is just that tool.

The Values Based Spiritual Gift Maturity Survey is a tool to help you evaluate where you are in identifying and utilizing your spiritual gifting potential. It is an instrument to bring to light those areas of maturity, and to expose your need for maturing transitions. It is deliberately written in non-Christian language. It is not designed to help you discover your gifts (for you have more than you will ever utilize!). It is designed to challenge, prod, and encourage you toward maturity in view of those gifts measured against your personal values.

The results of the Survey are stated in terms of values. The values influence our decisions and actions at every stage in life. They reflect our current understanding of our spiritual gifts. As we make stage shifts through our maturation process our spiritual gifts have opportunity to blossom and flourish. The values are related to the descriptions and definitions of spiritual gifts explained in this booklet. Although not determinative, we include a chart to only help you correlate your values to your spiritual gifts. Accompanying the output of your results are discernment or discipleship questions. These questions are designed to probe into your gifts and values to look at what lies behind your current level of Christian maturity. They are for you to reflect upon your own journey and progress in Christ. We hope you take the survey, and thoughtfully reflect upon its output.


Spiritual Gifts: Chapter 6.5 - Music, by Jay quine

music to the hymn An Wasserfl├╝ssen Babylon by ...Is there a Gift of Music? post by Jay Quine

Your Gifts, Your Values -- Quine

Music

A strong case can be made that there is a gift of music. In the lengthy passage on spiritual gifts in general (1Corinthians 12—14) Paul includes this instruction in 14:26.

What then shall we say brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church.

Paul mentions some coming to the assembly with a “hymn,” just as he mentions others coming to utilize other spiritual gifts. It seems likely then that some are gifted in music for the common good, just as others are gifted, for instance, with the ability to instruct.

Conclusion: The person with the gift of music is enabled by the Spirit to enhance a local congregation’s praise and worship of God through music.

Spiritual Gifts: Chapter 6.4 - Craftsmanship, by Jay Quine

Moses with the tablets of the Ten Commandments... Rembrandt: Moses with the Tablet of the Law, post by Jay QuineYour Gifts, Your Values -- Quine

Craftsmanship

In the past, God has given special abilities of craftsmanship to certain individuals for special projects. Exodus 31:1-6 records one example:

Then the Lord said to Moses, See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts—to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of craftsmanship. Moreover, I have appointed Oholiab son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, to help him. Also I have given skill to all the craftsmen to make everything I have commanded you.

Some suggest that just as the Holy Spirit gifted certain men in the in this way in the past He does so now. Since no list is an exhaustive compilation of all the spiritual gifts, it can be argued that there are others not mentioned in the New Testament which God still gives. The gift of craftsmanship may fall into this category.

Conclusion: This gifted person is empowered by the Holy Spirit to use their hands and minds for the common good through building, designing, artistic, and creative expression.


Spiritual Gifts: Chapter 6.3 - Gift of Missionary, by Jay Quine

Your Gifts, Your Values -- Quine

Missionary

Although it is never explicitly mentioned as a spiritual gift, it is possible that Paul, the missionary to the Gentiles, described the characteristics of someone with this inclination in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23.

Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to wine the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (through I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

Some people are just given to reaching out to other cultures, whether across the ocean, or across the fence.

Conclusion: The Holy Spirit gives certain members of the local church the desire to minister whatever other spiritual gifts they have in a second culture or second community.


Spiritual Gifts: Chapter 6.2 - Gift of Hospitality, by Jay Quine

Your Gifts, Your Values -- Quine

Hospitality

Good reasons can be stated that there is a spiritual gift of hospitality. Many of us worry about seemingly every detail when they have people over that they make everyone uncomfortable and tense. They spend so much time being nervous that no one can relax or have any fun. But others seem to be able to put everything together, and effortlessly, and are able to enjoy themselves as well. When they have guests, they even have people help out—participate in the dinner, or in the dishes. Somehow it all works for them. The difference is dramatic. It is a spiritual gift.

I Peter 4:9-10 may be speaking of this gift.

Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.

Notice, in the context of mentioning spiritual gifts, hospitality is mentioned in the prior verse. Although this is the only place where it may so clearly be found, hospitality seems to be a spiritual gift.

Conclusion: Hospitality is a special gift whereby the Spirit enables certain Christians to open their homes willingly and offer lodging, food, and fellowship cheerfully to other people.


Spiritual Gifts: Chapter 6.1 - Natural v. Spiritual Gift? by Jay Quine

Your Gifts, Your Values -- Quine

Are They Natural or Spiritual Gifts?

Many wonder about the difference between a natural talent and a spiritual gift. Does God just change our natural abilities or tendencies into spiritual gifts when we become Christians? No. A spiritual gift is the endowment of a special ability for service given by the Holy Spirit upon a member of the body of Christ. There are similarities, but spiritual gifts are different than natural talents.

Natural Talents; Inclinations

Spiritual Gifts

Source:

from God; from the time you are born

from God; from the time you are born again

Purpose:

for your benefit; the good of others

for the common good of the church body (1Cor 12:7)

Process:

must be recognized, developed, and practiced

must be recognized, developed, and practiced

Goal:

to glorify God; provide livelihood; joy

to glorify God; serve and mature the church body (Eph 4:13)

Certainly God uses natural abilities or tendencies for His glory and to serve the church as well. While, for example, a person may be a gifted teacher (saved or unsaved) there is nevertheless the spiritual gift of teaching given by the Holy Spirit for service in the local body.

There are several other natural abilities or personality traits which add to the confusion. A strong case that they are spiritual gifts can be made for some; less of a case for others. Here are a few of them.


Saturday, September 3, 2011

Spiritual Gifts: Chapter 5.8 - To Thine Own Self be True, by Jay Quine

Amedeo Modigliani - Portrait de Pablo PicassoPicasso: Capitulating to the Critics, posted by Jay QuineYour Gifts, Your Values -- Quine

Examining these gifts challenges us to discover who we are as God has gifted us. We then need the courage to employ them. Whether a natural or spiritual gift, the challenge is to live for the glory of God rather than for the service of self or in an attempt to satisfy the world. Read the sad yet revealing words of a famous artist, who lived his life pleasing the world.

From the moment that art ceases to be the food that feeds the best minds, the artist can use his talents to perform all the tricks of an intellectual charlatan. Most people today can no longer expect to receive consolation and exaltation from art. The refined, the rich, the professional do-nothings, the distillers of quintessence desire only the peculiar, sensational, the eccentric, the scandalous in today’s art. And I myself, since the advent of cubism, have fed these fellows what they wanted, and satisfied these critics with all the ridiculous ideas that passed through my head. The less they understood them the more they admired me. Through amusing myself with all these farces I became celebrated, and very rapidly. For a painter, celebrity means sales, and consequent affluence. Today, as you know, I am celebrated; I am rich. But when I am alone, I have not the effrontery to consider myself an artist at all, not in the grand old meaning of the word: Giotto, Titan, Rembrandt, Goya, who were great painters. I have understood my time and have exploited the imbecility, the vanity and the greed of my contemporaries. It is a bitter confession, this confession of mine; more painful than it may seem. But it at least and at last does have the merit of being honest.[1]

In contrast to the wasted talents of Picasso, a desire to first serve and please God should be our motive. The words of Daniel Webster are fitting: “The most important thought to ever occupy my mind was that of my responsibility to God.”


[1]From an interview with Picasso in Il Libro Nero by Giovanni Papini (1951), translated in Robertson Davies, What's Bred in the Bone, New York, Penguin, 1986, pp. 406-407.


Spiritual Gifts: Chapter 5.7 - The Gift of Wisdom,by Jay Quine

Your Gifts, Your Values -- Quine

What is the gift of wisdom? We love this spiritual gift! The person with this gift is able to pull things down from the theoretical clouds to the earthy, practical, real life and risky day-to-day gut level. Wisdom heads the list in 1 Corinthians 12:8.

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit.

First observe that wisdom, like all the gifts, is for the common good: for the good of the local body. Second, notice that the gift of wisdom is not defined in this passage but merely mentioned as a gift given under the direction of the Holy Spirit. We have to look elsewhere to understand what this gift actually is. The best place to start is in the context of the same book —1Corinthians 1:20-25.

Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.

In this passage God’s wisdom is contrasted with secular human wisdom. We see that God’s wisdom is related to the message of salvation, and is contrasted to the wisdom of the Greeks. The Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block for Jews, and foolishness to Gentiles. It is foolishness to them, for why trust a God who died? Why acknowledge someone who allowed himself to be executed as Savior and Lord of your life? It seems foolish. But the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom.

Not only is wisdom related to the message of salvation, but also to the entire revealed word of God. In the next chapter of 1 Corinthians (2:7-10) Paul further explores God’s wisdom.

We speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for it they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, nor ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”—but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.

Again we first see that God’s wisdom is related to the crucifixion of Christ. God planned a practical means of saving sinners by providing a substitute—the Lord Jesus. But the passage also speaks of a wisdom given by the Spirit of God which is beyond the gospel—wisdom revealed to us by his Spirit. This incorporates all things, even the deep things of God. In this context, wisdom is understanding the word of God: first the message of the gospel, and second, of deep theological concepts of God. This understanding of wisdom is also seen out in Ephesians 1:17.

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.

Wisdom comes through understanding the word of God. However, don’t mistake wisdom for just knowing factual information—even things about God. It is understanding Him and His word with a practical purpose.

In the practical section of the epistle, Paul tells the Ephesian believers (in Eph 5:15-16) to be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Here wisdom is related to how you live. We are exhorted to live carefully, economically and judicially—making the most out of every opportunity the Lord gives us. That is wisdom. Wisdom is very practical, very realistic, and very earthy. The person with the gift of wisdom is one who has keen insight into the word of God, and is able to see its impact for practical day-to-day living.

This connection of wisdom to practical living only echoes what James wrote years earlier. The first New Testament book written clearly refers to wisdom as practical. In 3:13 James writes,

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.

Wisdom is not only something you know, but is something you do. It reflects core values that allow a person to understand what to do and how to do it.

Conclusion: The person with the gift of wisdom has an ability to keenly understand deep theological truths of the word of God, and to take them and make them simple and applicable in every day living.

Spiritual Gifts: Chapter 5.6 - The Gift of Mercy, by Jay Quine


Romans 12:8 “…if it is showing mercy, let him do it with cheerfulness.”

“Mercy” refers to having compassion, pity, or charity to another regardless of their personal merit or level of deserving.[1] One is merciful because another is in need and suffering, deserved or not.

Mercy is related to justice. It was a concept found in the ancient courtrooms. While a rule of justice would say, “a violation of the law results in a sure and certain penalty” human experience soon recognizes that there are difficult cases where a cold application of the rule of law actually results in injustice. The rule of mercy would then apply. Mercy enters and the crushing hand of blind justice is stayed, and a more fair, equitable solution is found.

Mercy is a characteristic of God. God is a person of mercy. When used of God it comes to denote grace. “He has freely bound himself to his people, so that the righteous can appeal to God’s (mercy). In the NT…God’s eleos (mercy) is often thought of in the original OT sense of “faithfulness.”[2] “Mercy” expresses God’s commitment to His independent sovereign choices of those to whom He bestows His love.

Mercy is God’s first preference. For example, in explaining the first commandment in Exodus 20:4-6, God says, You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments. Although He does judge, it is limited to few generations, whereas His love is for thousands.

Other passages show God’s priority of mercy. Isaiah 28:21 refers to his justice as his strange work (KJV). Ezekiel 33:11 states, As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel? Even toward the wicked God does not enjoy punishment.

God’s propensity is toward mercy, not judgment or punishment. Mercy is His first desire, even though it may violate our understanding of blind justice. From the viewpoint of justice it was not fair that Jesus Christ, sinless and innocent, be judged for each and every sin of the human race. That was not justice. But because of God’s mercy to us Christ went to the Cross. Ephesians 2:4 reminds us, but because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.

The Theologian Charles Hodge writes of God’s mercy:

Goodness in the scriptural sense of the term includes benevolence, love, mercy and grace. By benevolence is meant that disposition which promotes happiness. All sensitive creatures are its objects. Love includes complacency, desire, and delight, and has rational beings for its objects. Mercy is kindness exercised toward the miserable, and includes pity, compassion, forbearance and gentleness which the Scriptures so abundantly ascribe to God. Grace is love exercised toward the unworthy.[3]

While there is a gift of mercy, all believers are exhorted to be merciful. The Pharisees were cursed for their lack of mercy in Matthew 23:23.

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.

Jesus told them to show fruit of righteousness. But they extended no mercy to those in need. They had no fruit. More positively, James encourages his readers to produce fruit (4:17). But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Not to be Pharisees, we are to produce the fruit of mercy.

While all Christians are exhorted to be merciful, there are those who are passionate about it. They are entrusted with the gift of mercy. Some are bent to reach out to those in need, take pity upon them, and extend a loving hand to them. There are those with the gift of mercy. These are not blind to the error and sin of others, but embrace a values grid that is quick to look beyond it to extend to them a loving and helping hand. They reflect the propensity of God.

Conclusion: The person with the gift of mercy responds to others with compassion, understanding and grace, not to overlook their sin, but to point to God’s faithful provision in spite of it.



[1]Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich and Danker, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, University of Chicago Press, 1979, p. 249.

[2]G. Kittle, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, reprint, 1987, 2:482-84.

[3]Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, reprint 1981, 1:427.


Spiritual Gifts: Chapter 5.6 - The Gift of Giving, by Jay Quine

Your Gifts, Your Values -- Quine

As much as any gift, there are certain people entrusted with the gift of giving. However, from outside evidence, it can appear that this is also one of the gifts that have passed off the scene. Here is a summary of giving as a percentage of income from research based on 29 Protestant denominations:

In 1968 people gave to their churches 2.5 percent

In 1993 that number dropped to 2.25 percent of their income

In 2003 that number remained constant at 2.3 percent[1]

Often we hear about the tithe—giving ten percent of your income. Of course, the tithe in the Old Testament was a required tax. Benevolent giving was beyond ten percent. Today’s data shows we can’t even begin to think about giving beyond 10 percent—or even ten percent! I wish people gave five percent of their income. Could you imagine? What if our local churches had twice as much from giving! Think what they could do—increase support for missions and mission projects; sponsor outreach events to creatively present their communities with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

This is not an appeal for money, but is exhortation to be faithful to God. And if you have the gift of giving, then you are given to give. So, give! Use your gift as you would any other. Many have received financial blessing by the Lord to be able to give more. With them it seems that with the gift of giving came the gift of making money. God entrusts them with this gift to use in amplified ways as they mature.

The Macedonians were givers like that. Paul writes to the Corinthians about them in 2Corinthians 8:1-4.

And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints.

They begged to give. What unique people!

The richest storehouse on earth is not found in the gold mines of Ghana. The largest deposits in the world are not found in the diamond fields in South Africa. Nor is the world’s greatest accumulation of wealth stored in the safe holdings of Fort Knox. Where is the world’s greatest repository of wealth? The graveyard. The world’s largest bank is the graveyard. There are buried riches of all kinds. Not only bank deposits left to be fought over by heirs (where the lawyers get paid first!), but in the grave you will find dreams never fulfilled, visions that were never realized, books that were never written, songs never sung, ideas which never became reality, inventions that no one ever experienced, solutions to problems not taken advantage of. Buried in the grave are great preachers who died without ever preaching a single sermon, givers who never gave a dime, leaders who never led anyone to any mountain top. There in the cemetery are world movers and shakers but could never shake their bad habits or addictions. The graveyard is the richest place on earth! Our challenge is to rob the grave of its wealth, and live the potential God has given us. Leave the grave empty of riches having done all to serve the Lord our Savior before he calls you home. If you are gifted in giving, then now is the time to give!

Conclusion:

Those who “live to give” are blessed with time and resources to give even in their poverty.



[1] The Barna Group, www.barna.org, “Barna by Topic,” “Stewardship.”


Spiritual Gifts: Chapter 5.5 - The Sign Gifts (miracles, healing, raising the dead, etc.), by Jay Quine


Mark 16:17-20[1] says,

And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get will.

These “signs” accompany the preaching of the Gospel. They seem to accompany belief. But notice the variety of these signs—not just healing and tongues, but snake handling and drinking of poison, and exorcism. These are unqualified, unequivocal statements—that upon belief these signs will be present, and, there is no exception for failure in the passage.

However, experience shows that people die even after the laying on of hands. Christians bit by snakes get sick. Some die. Believers drink poison and die. Even though the verse doesn’t allow for any, it seems like the exceptions rule. “Therefore this passage cannot mean that all believers will do these signs or that these signs will always be present in the Church.”[2]

It is possible that since Jesus associated these signs with those who “have believed”[3] He was referring only those he was addressing who were believers. This seems to be affirmed in verse 20. Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it. It is even possible that the use of the past tense here indicates that by the time Mark wrote his Gospel that these accompanying signs with belief had ceased.

The limitation of the signs gifts to the Apostles is also evidenced in Acts. Clearly, not everyone performed these signs. Acts 2:43 limits them to the apostles.

And many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles.

Similarly, Acts 5:12 states,

The Apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders among the people.

They were not done by all believers, but specifically by the Apostles (but for two exceptions, namely Stephen and Philip). These signs were accomplished regardless of the faith of the person healed (Acts 3), in public and private, even when they were unaware of doing it (Peter’s shadow falling on people). There were no failures, no exceptions, no faith meetings or faith requirements, no sideshow. It is the Apostles, and only the Apostles who fulfilled the promise of Mark 16:17-20.

It makes sense that these wonders and miraculous signs were limited to the Apostles. Paul refers to them in 2Corinthians 12:12 this way:

The things that mark an apostle—signs, wonders and miracles—were done among you with great perseverance.

Since they mark an apostle then it is likely that they were not performed by every believer. They are the exception - to identify an Apostle - rather than the norm. Since the requirement for an apostle was to have seen the resurrected Jesus, it is not surprising that Hebrews 2:3-4 connects these signs with those who were eyewitnesses of the Lord.

As with the signs and miracles the Lord performed, the purpose for these signs of an Apostle was to validate the claims of the gospel message (the benefit for the person healed is almost a second thought). For instance, even though it occurred in private, when Peter raised Dorcas, many believed on the Lord (Acts 9:36-42). The principle is stated in Acts 14:3,

So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there (in Iconium), speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to do miraculous signs and wonders.

The miraculous signs were given to the Apostles to substantiate their preaching of the good news of salvation.

Today’s claims of signs and wonders fail to live up the New Testament expectations and purpose. This has been true throughout church history. Since the apostolic days, no one in the history of the Church has performed miracles and healing as described in the book of Acts. This ability was restricted from the beginning—to those few to whom it was given, the gift was without fail (one exception in Mark 9:2-29), and under any circumstance (public and private; purposeful and unknowing; upon these with faith and without; willing and unwilling), for the purpose to confirm, support and validate the message of salvation.

Conclusions:

1) The sign and miraculous gifts were with rare exception for the Apostles.

2) They were called “signs of an apostle” in 2Cor 12:12.

3) They were used by the Apostles in a multitude of circumstances and situations.

4) All evidence throughout church history of the continuation of these gifts fail to meet the kind of use revealed in Acts or given in Mark 16:17-20.

5) These gifts were given to validate and support the message of salvation the Apostles preached.

Because of these observations, the gifts of signs and miracles are not included in the spiritual gift assessment survey explained in this book.



[1]We recognize that the precise ending of Mark remains an unresolved mystery of textual criticism. While a preferred ending may be at 16:8 (as represented by codex Siniaticus and Vaticanus), the ending “for they were afraid” seems very odd, and requires additional explanation. Arguments can be made supporting every possible ending.

[2] Thomas R. Edgar, Miraculous Gifts, Loizeaux Brothers, 1983, p. 89.

[3] The aorist tense generally indicates an unspecific past tense.