Sign Gifts

T. B. Baines

Besides these gifts for edification, there were sign gifts, such as that of tongues, which was "for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not" (1 Cor. 14: 22). They were all of a supernatural kind, "the powers of the age to come," and were not meant for the professing Church, but for Jews and heathen, to whom the Lord thus "confirmed the word with signs following" (Mark 16: 20).

So the "great salvation which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord," "was confirmed unto us by them that heard Him, 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" (Heb. 2: 3, 4).

We see how effectually these signs wrought among the persons for whom they were intended. Thus when ├ćneas was cured of his palsy, "all that dwelt at Lydda and Saron saw him, and turned to the Lord" (Acts 9: 35); and when Dorcas was raised from the dead, "it was known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord" (Acts 5: 42). The object of these sign gifts, therefore, shows their temporary character.

They were early abused, and if perpetuated in a Church in ruins, their abuse might have led to fearful consequences. Having answered their immediate purpose, they were mercifully withdrawn, and no hint is given of their revival. The only signs and miracles spoken of in the future have a very different origin from those of the early Church.