By Carol R. Lumpkin
Can people really perform miracles and healings today as were performed in the first century of the church? Either they can or they cannot. The only way to determine whether miracles and healings are possible today is turn our attention to what the scriptures teach.
A miracle is something above the laws of nature which could not happen in the ordinary course and operations of nature. For example, the law of nature could not have brought Adam and Eve into this world full-grown. It is not a miracle for the oak tree to produce the acorn, nor for the acorn to produce the oak tree, but it was a miracle to produce the first oak tree without the acorn. Every species of life-animal, insect, and vegetable began by a miracle. A miracle is above the finite mind and ability of man. For example, it is not possible for man to raise the dead, give sight to the blind, or speech to the dumb. Jesus performed a miracle when he fed the 5000 with 5 loaves and 2 fishes. A miracle is above the human concept, law and regulation; it is Divine.
Is it possible to perform miracles and healings as they were performed in the first century? Christ and the apostles performed miracles, such as taking up deadly serpents without harm, raising the dead, and healing the sick. “And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them, they shall, lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover” (Mk. 16:17-18). When Jesus sent the twelve apostles on the limited commission He gave them a similar charge (Matt. 10:8).
The designs and purposes of miracles and healings were two-fold: (1) to confirm the truth. “And they (apostles) went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following” (Mk. 16:20). (2) To make men believe that Jesus was the son of God. “For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward: How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him: God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to his own will” (Heb. 2:2-4). This is further stressed as John wrote, “And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name” (Jn. 20:30-31).
Miracles performed by the apostles were to serve notice to the world that the message of salvation which they spoke was from heaven, and that they were sent from God. From Mark 2:1-12, we read that Jesus healed the person with the palsy “that ye might know the Son of God hath power on earth to forgive sins.” Nicodemus was led to Jesus because of the miracles Jesus performed (Jn. 3:2).
The apostles were the only individuals in the Jerusalem church who could work and perform miracles until they imparted this power to others. “And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles” (Acts 2:43). “And by the’`..4ands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people” (Acts 5:12). The seven men who were selected to minister to the Grecian widows received certain spiritual gifts by the laying on of the apostles hands (Acts 6:6). Stephen, one of the seven, received such power. “And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people” (Acts 6:8). Philip, another of the seven, also received miraculous gifts. “And the people in one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did” (Acts 8:6). Even though Philip could perform these Works, he could not impart this power to others because he was not an apostle. Later we see, Philip preaching to the people of Samaria concerning the kingdom of prod, and the name of Jesus Christ, and men and worm were baptized (Acts 8:12). Peter and John, apostles, came down from Jerusalem to lay hands on certain of the Samartians that they might receive spiritual gifts (Acts 8:15-16). Since the apostles have been dead fit about 1900 years, there can be no spiritual gifts today.
Miracles .have ceased. “Charity never failrth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail: whether there be tongues, they shall cease: whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away (1 Cor. 13:8-10). Spiritual gifts were to continue to, be used until the completed will of God was revealed. Those spiritual gifts have served their purpose and no person has a single one of them today.
Pretenders fail and will continue to fail. No one knows any better than they that they are deceivers and do not have any more power than the next person. Healing campaigns today serve to deceive people and to rob them of their money. Not once was money asked for when spiritual gifts where in force. A gospel preacher, while preaching in a meeting in Cotton Valley, Louisiana, had a conversation with a supposed healer who said, “He had been baptized in the baptism of the Holy Spirit like the apostles were.” He claimed to be able to speak in tongues and heal the sick. He was asked if he could raise the dead. He replied, we have raised some near about dead. The days of miracles and healings have passed. We are living subject to the “perfect law of liberty” (Jas. 1:25).
The apostles were the only individuals who had the power to lay hands on others to impart spiritual gifts. The apostles have been gone from this earth for hundreds of years. Spiritual gifts were useful and served their purpose for the early church until the full, complete law of Christ was revealed; after which they passed away. There is no person who can perform a single miracle on earth today, those who claim that they can are’ deceivers and false teachers.
Truth Magazine XXII: 3, pp. 60-61
January 19, 1978