Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 12, 1967
NUMBER 35, PAGE 10b-12

Miracles Abolished

Jack Meyer, Sr.

By miracles we have reference to the miraculous gifts or signs of the Spirit--the "signs and wonders" that were to accompany those who believed, and the baptism of the Holy Spirit of apostolic days. There are those who believe and teach that such miraculous gifts are in force today. Some think that they receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. We grant their honesty, but respectfully insist that they are misled. It is to those who will study with one absorbing desireto know the truth and with unprejudiced minds that we address this tract. It is manifestly impossible to study all passages bearing upon the subject within so restricted a space, but we shall notice enough to prove that men do not have such miraculous gifts today.

In Eph. 4:11-13 we read: "And he gave some to be apostles, and some prophets and some evangelists, and some pastors and some teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, unto the work of ministering, unto the building up of the body of Christ, till we all attain unto the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God unto a fullgrown man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ." These men were, of course, inspired with such ability in a miraculous way. Three things are told us in the passage: (1) What the gifts were; (2) Their purpose; (3) How long they would last. Their purpose was "for the perfecting of the saints." They were to continue till they "attained unto the fulness of the knowledge of the Son of God." That fulness of knowledge came in the full revelation of the New Testament--which they did not have in fulness when the special gifts were in force. The gifts were, therefore, to continue until the full revelation of God's word. Since that was accomplished with the completion of the New Testament, the special gifts were to be discontinued with that event. With the completion of the sacred writings, there is no longer need for the miraculous gifts to confirm the word as then preached.

In the above passage of scripture, where the King James Version says: "Till we all come in the unity of the faith," the Revised Version reads: "Till we all attain unto the unity of the faith." And the marginal reading of the King James Version is "into the unity of the faith." Men say that Paul meant here the final unity for the warring sects, and that the gifts must continue until that takes place. Hence, they think that with this argument they prove that the special gifts are still in force.

But we can know that Paul had no such things as sects or denominations in mind in making that statement. The denominations of the day had not been established. They came after the New Testament and the New Testament Church, and that volume has nothing to say for them. Paul does not teach that there will ever be unity among the denominations of that day. The pronoun "we" of this passage refers to members of the body, or church, of Christ. And please observe something else about the passage. Paul said, "Till we all attain unto the unity of THE faith." You will find that expression "the faith," often in the New Testament. "The faith" means more than the faith of an individual in Christ, but includes the whole teaching of Christ in the gospel, or covenant, of Christ, and thus means, "the gospel." An example is in Jude 3: "earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints." Therefore, we scripturally say that Paul's meaning was: "Till we all come to the unity of the gospel. " They attained unto the unity of the faith when they reached faith as a unity. So, they attained the unity of the gospel when the gospel as a unit was given--when the full and complete revelation was given to the church. That took place when the New Testament was completed, which marked the time when the men named in this passage would cease to possess special gifts. There are no apostles today, for the New Testament says not one word about them having any successors, but they speak with authority today through their writings. Since apostles were eye witnesses of Christ from His baptism until ascension (Acts 1:21-22), there could be none today, unless the Lord gave him such a witness in a miraculous vision as He did to Paul, and there is no New Testament evidence of such taking place.

Any one who claims such a vision and to be an apostle today is, therefore, a fraud to be avoided. (Rom. 16:17) Neither are there inspired prophets today. There are, of course, evangelists, pastors (elders) and teachers, but not with supernatural gifts. Those gifts were needed "for the perfecting of the saints, unto the work of ministering, unto the building up of the body of Christ." (vs.12) But that is done now by the written and revealed word of the New Testament. Since we have "attained unto the unity of the faith" in receiving the faith, or the gospel, as a unit in the New Testament, as certainly as that volume was written, just that certainly have the special gifts, or signs, that these teachers, etc., possessed, stopped.

But, let us consider another enlightening passage. "Love never faileth; but whether there be prophecies they shall be done away; whether there be tongues they shall cease; whether there be knowledge (special, miraculous knowledge, as a direct gift from God), it shall be done away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when that which is perfect is that which is in part shall be done away." (1 Cor. 13:810) In chapter 12 Paul was discussing these and other spiritual gifts. That being the context, that is the reason that we insert in the parenthesis above, "special, miraculous knowledge, etc." That does not teach that prophecies would fail to be fulfilled, but that the gift of prophecy would fail to be bestowed. It does not mean that tongues, or languages, would cease to be used, but that the gift of tongues would stop. Neither does it mean that all knowledge would vanish from the earth, but that the gift of knowledge would be withdrawn. (We do not have gospel knowledge today by any miraculous gift, but it is given in the New Testament, and if we obtain it, we will have to study.) As it was affirmed that they knew in part and spoke in part, the gospel was revealed in portions and they spoke only as it was revealed. The apostles had revealed unto them only such parts of the gospel as were necessary for the occasion. "But when that which is perfect shall come, that which is in part shall be done away." None will deny that when the New Testament was completed, the perfect will of God had come. No longer would they have part revelations. The special gifts and miraculous signs were simply to be used in the first days of the church, to serve until "that which is perfect" should come. Since it was affirmed that they would be done away "when that which is perfect" should come, and since the completion of the New Testament scriptures was the coming of that which was perfect, necessarily then the New Testament displaced the special gifts and remains in their stead today, confirming the word.

Now read 2 Tim. 3:16-71: "Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work." (American Standard Version.) A little reflection will cause one to see that this passage bears out the idea that the New Testament took the place of the special gifts, even including the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Bear in mind that in the first case of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit fell upon the apostles (Acts 2) and not upon the crowds of sinners. The purpose was to convince the audience that God was with the apostles, for that is the use Peter made of the miraculous events. In the other case of the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Acts 10), that chapter and chapter 11 show that the Gentiles received the Spirit in order to convince the Jews that Gentiles could become Christians on the same terms as the Jews. in Acts 11 and also Acts 15:7-21 the incident was used to prove that, which shows the purpose that God had in it. Hence, the purpose of the baptism of the Holy Spirit was precisely the same as that of special gifts: to confirm the word.

Now, if under the text quoted above, the man of God is "furnished completely unto every good work" by the scriptures, what need does the man of God have for spiritual gifts? According to this text, the Christian is thus furnished by the scriptures and not by the spiritual gifts. If that is true, there is no place for miraculous signs and special gifts as to furnish us. If we have spiritual gifts and the baptism of the Spirit, then we would have to say that the special gifts also furnish us unto every good work.

But they are eliminated by the scripture's statement that the scriptures furnish us completely unto every good work. If the advocate of spiritual gifts insists that he has them, he then flatly denies the Spirit's own testimony that He furnishes us completely with the scripture. Then, if one says that the scriptures furnish us with spiritual gifts, that cannot be true, for God, and not the scriptures, always furnished these gifts. If we are furnished with miraculous signs in addition to the scriptures, then certainly we are not furnished completely by ;he scriptures. But Paul says that we are so equipped. Hence, this passage alone proves that when the Lord gave the complete scriptures of the New Testament, for that was required to complete the Bible, He took away miraculous signs and gave us the scriptures of the New Testament instead.

After telling his apostles to go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation, Jesus said: "And these signs shall accompany them that believe; in my name shall they cast out demons; they shall speak with new tongues-' they shall take up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall in no wise hurt them; and they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover." (Mk.16:17-18) Vs. 20 shows the purpose of these signs was to "confirm the word". But Divine Healers use this passage to prove their ability to heal people today.

We grant that these signs did follow believers, and not merely the apostles. Yet, they did not accompany all believers. They did not follow the believers in Samaria for sometime and not at all until apostles from Jerusalem were sent to them to lay their hands on them. (Acts 8:12-18) By reading this passage you will see that, if the apostles had not laid their hands on them, such signs never would have accompanied these believers. The same happens to the Ephesians in Acts 19:1-7. Such signs did not follow the church at Rome, for Paul expressed a desire to visit the church That he might impart some spiritual gift. (Rom.1:8-11) There is no record (except that of Acts 10, already noted above) of such signs following any believers except the apostles in that age until apostles laid their hands on them. The same method of transmission would be necessary today for people to have the same power. Since the apostles are dead, such power could not be obtained.

The reason for that is easy to see. When the last person died upon whom the apostles laid their hands, then the power to perform miracles would be dead. The apostles having died, there would be no way of transmitting that power.

Some think they find an exception to the foregoing rule in 1 Tim. 4:14. Remember that in the preceding paragraph it was stated; there is no record (except that of Acts 10, already noted above) of such signs following any believers except the apostles in that age until apostles laid their hands on them. But 1 Tim. 4:14 reads: "Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. "The presbytery" refers to the assembly or group of elders over a given congregation. So, Timothy received some spec- ial gift "with the laying of the hands" of the elders of a congregation. Hence, some today reason that these elders transmitted this special gift to Timothy, and argue that here is a case of someone receiving a miraculous gift without the laying on of the hands of an apostle.

But Paul ruined this argument in2 Tim. 1:6, saying: "For which cause I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee through the laying on of my hands." So Paul says that Timothy received his special gift through or by, the laying on of Paul's hands. The "through," or "by," established Paul as the transmitting agent. Then, the 1 Tim. 4:14 would concede that the elders laid their hands on at the same time, but that Timothy then received his gift with the laying on of their hands--but by, or through, the hands of Paul. So, this case again shows that even if elders laid on their hands, here again a man received special gifts only by the laying on the apostolic hands. That cannot happen now; so no one can have such miraculous gifts.

Someone asks: "Why would belief and baptism of vs. 16 continue, and the signs of vs.17-18 stop?" You can see that if you discern the difference between the gospel and the signs that confirmed the gospel. (vs. 20) Belief and baptism are part of the word, are conditions of the gospel, and remain as long as the gospel remains. The signs are not the word--they merely confirmed, or proved the word. The word must continue (1 Pet.1:25), but the miracles to prove the word were discontinued with the writing of the New Testament, by which a man can prove what he preaches.

Too, Divine Healers are proved fraudulent on this count: in Mk. 16:18 Jesus made it plain if they were bitten by serpents or drank poison, "it shall in no wise hurt them." That happened in Paul's case. (Acts 28:3-6) You often hear or read of people today allowing snakes to bite them or submitting to other tests to prove that they can be "divinely healed." But you have yet to hear of one who suffered not at all. Often they suffer violently, and are at the point of death. When they recover, they proclaim loudly a case of "miracle healing." But that is not the kind the Lord said it would be. He said, "It shall not hurt them." Such cases today, then, are frauds.

No, miracles served their purpose, to prove what the early Christians preached. That can be proved now by the New Testament, so miracles have ceased. The church of Christ of your community regrets that people claim something so clearly abolished in the New Testament, and urges the authority of the scriptures of God to furnish us completely unto every work.

(From tract published in 1950)