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Should Christians Expect Miracles Today? Objections and Answers from the Bible, Part 2, by Wayne A. Grudem


23. The KJV translates verse 4; “God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders.” This translation suggests that the miracles bore witness to the people who heard Jesus and first preached. But the word “them” is represented by no word in the Greek text, and this translation is not followed by modern versions.

24. See Walter Chantry, Signs of the Apostles, pp. 18-19: “New Testament miracles are viewed in Scripture itself as God’s stamp of approval upon the message of the apostles, which was an inspired record of the things they had seen and heard while with Jesus. Recalling these wonders should deepen our respect for the authority of their words and prompt us to give the more careful heed.”

25. It might be objected at this point that speaking in tongues is not speech empowered by the Holy Spirit, but is speech that comes from the speaker’s own human spirit. But Paul clearly views all these spiritual gifts as generally empowered by the Holy Spirit, even the ones in which personality comes fully into play. This would be true of teachers, helpers and administrators, as well as those who speak with tongues. In each of these cases the active agent in performing the activity is the Christian who has the particular gift and uses it, but all these are nonetheless empowered by the Holy Spirit in their functioning, and that would also be true of the gift of tongues.

26. Also relevant at this point is John’s reassurance to his readers, in the context of demonic spirits that had gone out into the world: “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

27. See, for example, C. Fred Dickason, Demon Possession and the Christian (Westchester, IL: Crossway, 1987), pp. 126-127; 188-191; 193-197.

28. Dickason, Demon Possession, p. 127.

29. We should remember that Dickason has a cessationist view with respect to speaking in tongues today (see p. 189: “I told her I doubted that there were any genuine tongues from God today in the New Testament sense”). Therefore, from his perspective, he is not making Scripture subject to experience, but sees these experiences as confirming his understanding of Scripture.

30. See this interpretation in 0. Palmer Robertson, “Tongues: Sign of Covenantal Curse and Blessing,” Westminster Theological Journal 38 (1975-1976), 43-53.

31. I have discussed this passage in more detail in Wayne Grudem, “1 Corinthians 14:20-25: Prophecy and Tongues as Signs of God’s Attitude,” Westminster Theological Journal 41:2 (Spring 1979): 381-396; see also Wayne Grudem, The Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament and Today (Eastbourne, England: Kingsway, and Westchester, IL: Crossway, 1988), pp. 171-182.

32. This paragraph and the next five paragraphs are taken from Grudem, Gift of Prophecy, pp. 177-179.

33. O. Palmer Robertson, “Tongues: Sign of Covenantal Curse and Blessing,” WTJ 38 (1975-1976), pp. 43-53.

34. Zane Hodges, “The Purpose of Tongues,” Bib Sac 120 (1963), pp. 226-233.

35. Robertson is followed at this point by Richard B. Gaffin, Perspectives on Pentecost (Presbyterian and Reformed 1979), pp. 106-109.
John F. MacArthur, Jr., The Charismatics: A Doctrinal Perspective (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan 1978), sees tongues both as a judicial sign of judgment to Israel and as a sign of the transition to a period of gospel proclamation to all nations. But a fundamental flaw in this argument is that here MacArthur also overlooks the fact that in 1 Corinthians 14:20-25 Paul is talking about an abuse of tongues (speaking without interpretation), not a proper use of tongues (speaking with interpretation, vv. 27-28). MacArthur repeats this argument in Charismatic Chaos (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1992), p. 232.

36. Carson, Showing the Spirit, p. 111, in response to Robertson and Gaffin.

37. Of course, our greatest example of dealing with demonic powers by speaking to them directly and commanding them to leave is the example of Jesus Himself, who frequently did this in the Gospels, and by example and word He taught the disciples to imitate Him (see question 15). But I have mentioned these other examples at this point because someone might object that only Jesus had this kind of authority, and it was not given to other human beings.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible. ©Copyright 1946, 1952, and 1971 by the Division of Christian Education of National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA. Used by permission.
Quotations from the KJV—King James Version are public domain.

This four-part series is taken from Gary S. Greig and Kevin N. Springer, eds., The Kingdom and the Power: Are Healing and the Spiritual Gifts Used by Jesus and the Early Church Meant for the Church Today? A Biblical Look at How to Bring the Gospel to the World with Power (Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 1993). Used with permission.

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Category: Pneuma Review, Spirit, Spring 2000

About the Author: Wayne A. Grudem is Professor of Theology and Biblical Studies at Phoenix Seminary, Phoenix, Arizona. He has authored over twenty books, including Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (1994), Politics According to the Bible: A Comprehensive Resource for Understanding Modern Political Issues in Light of Scripture (2010), The Poverty of Nations: A Sustainable Solution (2013), The Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament and Today, Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism, and "Free Grace" Theology: 5 Ways It Diminishes the Gospel (2016). He was also the General Editor for the ESV Study Bible (Evangelical Christian Publishers Association Book of the Year, 2009).

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