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

Coming as it does at the beginning of a discussion of spiritual gifts, 1 Corinthians 12:3 is intended to function as reassurance to the Corinthians who may have suspected some Christians who came from backgrounds of demon worship in the temples at Corinth. Might this demonic influence still affect their use of a spiritual gift? Paul lays down the ground rule that those who genuinely profess faith that “Jesus is Lord” are doing so by the Holy Spirit working within, and that no one speaking by the power of the Holy Spirit will ever speak blasphemy or curses against Jesus.26

This fear, then, is not one that seemed to trouble Paul. He simply encouraged believers to pray in tongues and said that if they did so they would be edifying themselves (1 Corinthians 14:4).

What shall we say, then, about the stories of Christians who say they spoke in tongues for a time and then found there was a demon within them who was empowering this speech, and the demon was cast out?27  These are just examples of cases where experience is to be subject to Scripture and tested by Scripture, and the teaching of Scripture should not be subject to experience. We must be careful that we not let such reports of experiences cause us to adopt a different position than Scripture itself on this issue.

Specifically, if 1 Corinthians 12-14 views tongues as a good gift from the Holy Spirit that is valuable for edification and for the good of the Church, and if Paul can say, “I want you all to speak in tongues” (1 Corinthians 14:5), then interpretations of contemporary experiences that, in effect, say, “I want you all to be afraid of tongues,” go contrary to the emphasis of the New Testament. (Note, for example, C. Fred Dickason’s quotation of Kurt Koch: “Seeking this gift for ourselves can be a very dangerous experience.”28  This is just not the perspective Paul has in the New Testament.)29

An alternative explanation for the stories given by Dickason is that the demons who said they were “tongues spirits,” and that they came in when some charismatics laid hands on the Christian in question, were lying. Satan “is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44), and he would love to have Christians afraid of as many of the Holy Spirit’s gifts as possible.

The possibility of demonic counterfeit of every gift certainly exists in the lives of unbelievers (see Matthew 7:22). But in the lives of believers, especially when there is positive fruit in their lives and positive fruit from their gifts, 1 Corinthians 12:3; 1 John 4:4 and Matthew 7:16-20 tell us these are not counterfeit gifts but real gifts from God. We must remember that Satan and demons do not do good, they do evil; and they do not bring blessing, they bring destruction (John 10:10).

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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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