With convincing “signs and wonders” being wrought all about us in increasing numbers, some are being carried away from the truths so clearly set forth for our day in the epistles of Paul.
Some have concluded from these “supernatural manifestations” that toward the close of this present dispensation we may expect a revival of the divine gifts of tongues, healing, etc.
As to healing, may we first point out that no instructed believer in Pauline truth questions that God can and often does heal the sick and infirm as, for example, in the case of Epaphroditus (Phil. 2:25-27). We believe too that God is constantly working miracles. But we deny that healers and miracle workers, or that signs and miraculous demonstrations, have any part in God’s program for today.
First, the apostle did not say in I Corinthians 13:8 that the gifts of prophecy, tongues and knowledge would be done away until the closing days of the dispensation. He simply declared that these miraculous manifestations were to be done away (i.e., In this new dispensation), and that “faith, hope and love” would “abide” (Ver. 13). Nor is there any indication in the Pauline epistles that the Pentecostal signs are to be restored at the close of this dispensation.
The apostle does declare, however, that after the close of the dispensation of grace, the “man of sin” will appear “with all power and signs and lying wonders” (II Thes. 2:9). In this the apostle confirms what our Lord says in Matthew 24:24 about the same period of time:
“For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.”
During the “tribulation period,” then, after the members of the Body of Christ have been “caught up” to be with the Lord, the ministers of Satan, from Antichrist down, will come with “all power and signs and lying wonders,” to deceive, if possible, “the very elect.”
But now let us see how this affects us today.
In the very same passage about Antichrist and his “power, and signs, and lying wonders,” the apostle warns that
“…the mystery of iniquity doth already work…” (II Thes. 2:7).
What does all this tell us about the multiplied miraculous manifestations we are seeing all about us as the days grow darker: tongues, healing, prophecies, ESP, witchcraft, spiritism, exorcism, etc., not to mention false doctrine? Obviously it tells us that these are not of God, but of Satan.
A wondrous manifestation is to some the end of all argument. So-and-so must be of God or he could not work these miracles! But the above passages from the Scriptures tell us differently. Satan has power. He can work wonders, but he does so to deceive men and draw them away from the truth of God’s glorious purpose and grace.
Indeed, the apostle, in I Timothy 4:1, issues a stern warning to this effect:
“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith,1 giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils [demons].”
This is why the apostle rightly urges all believers:
“Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness [wicked spirits] in high [heavenly] places” (Eph. 6:11,12).
Be not deceived. Satan is not a grotesque creature with horns, hooves, a tail and a pitchfork. He inspired that caricature to draw attention away from himself, for when the apostle warns of “false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apos-tles of Christ” (II Cor. 11:13), he adds:
“And no marvel, for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.
“Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness…” (Vers. 14,15).
There you have it! If Satan did appear as men portray him, the multitudes would flee from him. But “an angel of light” with “ministers of righteousness”! This attracts the unwary.
But here is one who is stricken with some deadly disease. He is taken to a healing meeting and, seemingly at least, is completely restored. Can this possibly be of Satan?
Why not? Besides all his other powers, is it not he that inflicts sickness and disease? Think of the case of Job. Did not God permit Satan to bring Job to the point of death, physically (Job 2:4-9)? Think of Paul himself. Was it not “a messenger of Satan” who was sent to “buffet” him until he cried again and again for deliverance (II Cor. 12:7,8)? And is it not clearly stated in Hebrews 2:14 that for the pres-ent Satan has “the power of death”?
If it is Satan, then, who inflicts sickness and disease, why cannot Satan stop inflicting them? Why can he not—why would he not, withdraw the illness he has inflicted if this will cause you to center your interest on the wrong thing, and cause you to walk by sight, rather than by faith?
We specially mention bodily healing because most people are attracted and convinced by this sort of supernatural demonstration. But the physical healings under our Lord’s earthly ministry and at Pentecost were “signs.” Signs of what? They were signs of the Messiahship of Christ. Had He been accepted as King, all those thus healed would have gone into the prophesied kingdom, where sickness and disease would never again overtake them.
This is not so today, for the King and His kingdom have been rejected, and the reign of Christ on earth now awaits a future day. Thus it is that those who are “healed,” all finally die like the rest. Though “healed” again and again, there always comes that last time when nothing avails.
One of the saddest aspects of the modern healing campaign is the long, sad trail of disillusionment and shaken faith it leaves behind. Some are not healed at all, and even those who are “healed” finally come to “that last time” when Hebrews 9:27 is fulfilled, for “it is appointed unto men once to die.”
What a list could be made of all those who once sincerely preached that it was a lack of faith, a sin, not to claim and expect from God a strong, sound body, yet they themselves all died. After the long list of the greatest of all these “healers” could be copied those familiar words from Genesis 5: “and he died…and he died…and he died”!
Pastor J. C. O’Hair rightly said that despite the claims of all the Christian Scientists, the Roman Catholics, the Pentecostalists, and all the other “healing” folk, the death rate still remains one apiece.
How much better, then, to walk by faith and leave ourselves in His loving hands to do as He sees is best for us?
Thus we beg our Christian readers not to be carried away with amazing demonstrations that can only beguile us to take our eyes off Him. Rather let us heed the Spirit’s exhortation through Paul:
“Be careful2 for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.
“And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6,7).
- Obviously, “the faith” he had proclaimed, hence “the latter times” of this “dispensation of the grace of God” (Eph. 3:1-3).
- “care full,” or anxious.