by: Austin Church
There are "sign gifts" and "gifts of the Spirit" in the New Testament and they are different dispensations. "Sign gifts" have ceased according to 1 Cor 13:8, but the "gifts of the Spirit" in 1 Cor 12:7 have always been for the church's profit since its institution.
Regarding the wonderful and extravagant "sign gifts" such as raising the dead, casting out devils, speaking in new tongues, taking up serpents, drinking deadly things, healing the sick, and cleansing lepers (Mar 16: 17-18, Mat 10:8); these were all confirmation "sign gifts" given primarily to the first-century Apostles of the Lamb (Rev 21:14) for the purpose of authorship confirmation of the sixty-six books of the Bible (1 Cor 13:8-10, Mar 16:20, Heb 2:1-4).
Therefore "signs" and "sign gifts" were expressly designed for the Jews. The Jews required a sign the scripture says (1 Cor 1:22). However, for the post-apostolic dispensation (i.e. when the Bible was complete and all the apostles died off), it is deemed an evil and adulterous generation that seeks after a sign (Mat 12:39). In Mar 16:17 it says "these signs shall follow" but was in the context of the eleven Apostles of the Lamb specified in Mar 16:14. Moreover, "signs" and "sign gifts" were always intended to illuminate unbelieving Jews only (1 Cor 14:22); this divine principle was to assist the Jews in fully seeing the transition from the Old Testament law where only the Jews flourished under the law: to the New Testament system of justification by faith where the Jews and the Gentiles now flourish under grace. Moreover, because of the scriptural cessation of "sign gifts" (1 Cor 13:8) with the completion of the Bible (1 Cor 13:9-10), signs in general (as in Luke 11:29), as well as the "sign gifts" of Mar 16: 17-18 and Mat 10:8 respectively, are NOT enforceable for any Jew or Gentile of today.
Regarding the "gifts of the Spirit" such as the gift of healing, the working of miracles, prophecy, and divers kinds of tongues; these are all spiritual gifts necessary to carry on the Kingdom's work from the first century until now. The "gifts of the Spirit" are very DIFFERENT from "sign gifts" because when the "sign gifts" were employed, there was 100% certainty that they would be fulfilled: that is, if the Apostle said "rise up and walk" (Act 3:6) behold, the lame man leaped up and walked, immediately! The "gifts of the Spirit" on the other hand, are employed "severally as God wills" (1 Cor 12:11) so that "gifts of the Spirit" can be given to anyone at any time, or can be withholden from anyone at any time. John Wesley who rode 225,000 miles on horseback healed his dying horse and then made it safely on horseback to his preaching appointment the next day. However, John Wesley never once called himself a faith-healer! God gave Wesley this gift because there were no other means of grace available to him to travel, and the king's business required haste (1Sam21:8). So God himself, (according to the promised "gifts of the Spirit") filled in Wesley's unmet spiritual need by giving him the "gift of the Spirit", (healing).
Now then, leaving "sign gifts" to the Apostles, let me summarize the "gifts of the Spirit" controversy. There has been a mighty misunderstanding and misapplication of the "gifts of the Spirit", and especially since the falsely so-called "REVIVAL" of Azuza Street in 1906 wherein gibberish tongues prevailed. Aside from this indictment, speaking in tongues is (by Biblical definition) the speaking of nonnative languages as in Act 2:8. Therefore tongues would be likened to a Portuguese preacher speaking 'Portuguese' while being fully understood by a nonnative French hearer. Tongues are NOT gibberish languages but are fully intelligible languages translated instantaneously by the Holy Spirit, from one mind to another mind: and from one spoken language (Portuguese) into another spoken language (French); all this is done while both parties are hearing and speaking in their own language, as again stated in Act 2:8 (and these tongues were expressly for the edification of believers as in 1 Cor 14:23).
Two main heresies prevail with the misused doctrine of the "gifts of the Spirit": First, even to a novice reader, 1 Cor 12:30 debunks the assertion that speaking in tongues is the quintessential "evidence of one's salvation". Second, today's "gift of the Spirit" (prophecy) IS NOT the "FORETELLING OF THE FUTURE" as with the Apostle and Prophets (2 Pet 1:21). The 40 Biblical authors from Moses to John in the Isle of Patmos "FORETOLD THE FUTURE" and delivered 66 books of the Bible by means of these prophecies (please Read Deu 18:20-22, 1 Cor 13:9-10 for more justification).
The real sense of the "gift of the Spirit", (prophecy) is that it was first given to the church expressly as an endowment of spiritual power to preach the gospel (1 The 1:5, 2 Tim 4:2). Second, the "gift of the Spirit", (prophecy) was given to the church to edify itself upon a prophetic voice characterized by "edification, exhortation, and comfort" (1 Cor 14:3), and built upon the authorship of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone (Eph 2:20).
In conclusion, I still believe in miracles today, even in the twenty-first century! Why? Because God gave us nine "gifts of the Spirit" including "miracles"! However, these miracles, tongues, healings, prophecies, etc., are given at God's exclusive prerogative, and only in a proper biblical context such as "language" and NOT "gibberish tongues" and "prophetic empowerment" and NOT "prognostications". So much for the Charleton gibberish tongue-speakers, phony faith-healers, miracle-workers, and soothsaying-prophets of this wicked and adulterous generation. The controversy is settled that God still endows his "gifts of the Spirit" severally as he wills, while "sign gifts" ceased 2000 years ago with the completion of the 66 books of the Bible.