Devotional: ‘The Sign Gifts’


Thus far we have studied the Serving Gifts, the Leadership Gifts and the Equipping Gifts. The last group of gifts we will study are what many call the ‘Sign Gifts.’ In brief we may say that Sign Gifts are special abilities that the Spirit gave to the early church for the purpose of confirming the gospel.

The Promise of the Signs

Scripture teaches us that after His resurrection, Jesus spent forty days on earth with His disciples. Apparently the disciples had a difficult time believing that Jesus could actually be alive; therefore, according Acts 1:3, Jesus showed Himself to be alive with man ‘infallible proofs.’ Exactly what those proofs were we do not know, yet no doubt many of them were more of Christ’s miracles. The Lord knew that the disciples would be facing great opposition, therefore they had to be convinced beyond any shadow of a doubt that the Gospel message was from God and therefore something worthy to die for.

In addition to the miracles, scripture says that Jesus taught them many things. He then commissioned them to preach the gospel –

Mark 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. 17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; 18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. 19 So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. 20 And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.

Note that the word ‘signs’ is used twice in this passage. A careful study of this word reveals that it means: {a sign, a mark, a token; that which a person does that distinguishes them from others; miracles and wonders by which God authenticates the men sent by Him, or by which men prove that they cause they are pleading is God’s.}

The Sign Gifts were a mark of authentication God placed upon the messengers and their message.

The Performance of the Signs

As we get into the book of Acts, we begin to see the apostles not only preaching, but also performing these miracles. In his first message, Peter refers to the signs and miracles of Jesus.

Acts 2:22  Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:

Though many of the miracles Jesus performed met peoples’ needs, the primary purpose of His miracles was to prove that He was the Son of God. Note the words of Nicodemus in John 3:2 ‘Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.’ Therefore, in order to authenticate the early church’s message concerning Jesus, God continued to perform these miracles through the apostles.

Acts 2:43  And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.

In his plea for the Jewish Christians to stay true to the Lord, the writer of the book of Hebrews makes reference to these signs performed by the Apostles –

Hebrews 2:3 How shall we escape , if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; 4 God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?

Were the Apostles the only ones to perform these signs and miracles? Apparently not, for we note this about a man named Stephen –

Acts 6:8 And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.

The question many will now ask is – “Are there Christians still performing these miracles today? Is the Spirit still giving these Sign Gifts to the church?” There is much debate over this. Some say yes, others say no. This we know for sure, much of what is going on today in relation the modern Charismatic Movement is not according to scripture. Paul rebuked the Corinthians for misusing many of the Spiritual Gifts, especially the Gift of Tongues. (Note 1 Corinthians 12-14) One wonders if he might rebuke many in the church today as well.

The Purpose of the Signs

In order to better understand these Sign Gifts, we must determine their purpose. Why did the Spirit give these special Gifts to the Apostles and leaders of the early church? Scripture says that He did in order to ‘confirm the word.’

Mark 16:20 And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following.

Hebrews 2:4 God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost …

These Gifts were not for personal glory (1 Cor 12-14) or for determining who does or doesn’t have the Spirit. (Note Jn 3:5; Rom 8:9; 1 Jn 4:2) Actually, in the days of the early church, Sign Gifts were to be exercised outside of the church and not within the church.

1 Corinthians 14:22 Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe.

It is unclear whether or not the Spirit is still using these special Gifts today. As already stated, much of what is being demonstrated today is not according to scripture, therefore there is reason to question whether or not it is actually from God.

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