Have you ever heard that line? Better yet, have you ever used it yourself? Oh, you know… You’re speaking with somebody and during the conversation, the discussion takes a weird turn and the other person says something like, “You know, it’s a God thing…” or “God told me to…” Your eyes roll back in your head and you wonder what planet this person came from. Or you are in a small group and people start talking like God is right there in the middle of the room with you. Or how about when someone says, “God called me to do…” I admit, I am as skeptical as the next person.
Another thing I am hyper-alert about is when people tell me that they have the spiritual gift of prophecy. That is when a person supposedly has a divine enablement to speak prophetic words about the future. In other words, what God would have us do in a certain situation. There is great debate about whether the gift of prophecy is active in the world today. The topic of spiritual gifts, especially what we refer to as the “sign” gifts, is one that always solicits strong dialogue between theologians. The list of the “sign” gifts include healing, miracles, prophecy, tongues and interpretation of tongues.
There are spiritual assessments that have been given to many thousands of people attending churches all over the world. And while there are questions that can be asked to see if people possess some of the better known spiritual gifts such as leadership, teaching, wisdom, knowledge, mercy, giving, helps or faith. But what about these other ones?
Well, we generally don’t test for these because, frankly, you know if you have them. For example, if you can point your finger at somebody and heal them, then I guess you have the gift of healing. And if you can call down miracles and make things happen on command, then I guess you have the gift of miracles. If you can speak in tongues or interpret somebody else speaking in tongues, then I suppose you could claim those gifts. Now I want to be clear that I don’t doubt that God could instill these gifts in people today. Indeed, I firmly believe that He can… And I also believe that God can intercede directly and perform miracles and do acts of healing without any human assistance at all. I have seen miracles and acts of healing with my own eyes. So I don’t in any way doubt that these things still happen. In the truest sense of the word, it’s a God thing…
The problem I have is when people claim that they can do these things on command. While I agree that God can do this, I have never witnessed miracles or healing when some human “ordered it”. So how do we deal with this? After all, the Bible clearly tells us that Jesus and also the disciples performed miracles and healed people. And we all know that the Old Testament is full of prophets who represented God to the people – as well as priests, who represented the people to God.
Well, the discussion hinges around the interpretation of a verse of the Bible. Because we know that all the sign gifts were operating in the first century. But it appears that these gifts ended with the death of John, the last of the apostles to die. In fact, there are no reports in the Scripture even alluding to these gifts being used by humans after the end of the first century A.D. Certainly the apostolic fathers and the early church fathers didn’t have these gifts at their disposal. So it does tend to lend credibility to the idea that these special spiritual gifts were given to the apostles and those who studied and were exposed to Jesus directly.
Now I know that many people still believe that these gifts apply even today. I remember the day that I was first commissioned, one of the pastors at my ceremony whispered in my ear that he saw the gifts of miracles and healing in my future. That sound like he was prophesying as well. And as I said earlier, I have seen miracles. But I know that I have never been able to make healing or miracles happen on my watch. At least none that I know of.
When I have a difficult time, I may ask God for help, and I am almost never disappointed, but I think it is because Janet and I live our lives fully expecting God to perform miracles. Whether you believe that these gifts still exist depends on how you interpret a verse that appears at the end of the famous love chapter in 1 Cor. 13:8-10. Paul, the author of the book, tells us, “Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.”
Some theologians believe that “perfection” is the second coming of Christ and that means that all these gifts will exist until then. Others, however, believe that the Bible represents perfection and since the last book, Revelation, was written around 95 A.D., these gifts ended when the writing of the books of the Bible was complete. Which side of this interpretation you land on will determine how you feel about these special gifts.
But however you end up on this discussion, my encouragement this evening is that God still performs acts of kindness and love, including miracles and healing. So please believe that these are possible. My prayer is that when you need God’s special touch in your life, you will pray for your need. Because God answers prayer, particularly those prayers that are in accordance with His will for your life. It’s a God thing… Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…