The Spiritual Gifts of 1 Corinthians 12
Are they still in force today?

By Dr. Ken Matto

1 Corinthians 12:7-11 (KJV) But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. {8} For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; {9} To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; {10} To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: {11} But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

The controversy continues to rage throughout Christianity as to whether the sign gifts found in 1 Corinthians 12 are still in force today. Many Christians continue to believe that they are still active today. I would venture to say that the majority of Christians believe that tongues and healing are still going on today. Even many who do not speak in tongues will claim that they believe the gift of tongues is still valid for today. Has the body of Christ in our time been sold a bill of goods or are these gifts still functional? We will look at each gift to see if the gift has ceased or if it continues through today. I have heard through the medium of Paltalk on the Internet some claim to have seen the dead raised, instant healing, the speaking in of other tongues, the casting out of demons, and other such events typically associated with the charismatic movement.

It should be noted that these sign gifts are not just peculiar to chat rooms on the internet but are a part of many churches, even those that are not designated as charismatic. For Christians to claim that the sign gifts are valid today is as if they are the ones partaking in them. These gifts have made their way into the majority of churches and for fear of losing members aka weekly donations, many pastors or church leaders will not deal with this subject. Somehow they believe that they will go away but just the opposite happens, they begin to permeate the entire church and eventually the church becomes a sign gift church, even if it is not written in their statement of faith. Now it is important that we go over these gifts and reach a biblical verdict as to whether they are valid for today or not.

The provisional gifts are found in 1 Corinthians 12:8-11:

(1 Cor 12:8-11) For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; {9} To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; {10} To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: {11} But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

These gifts are also commonly called "the sign gifts" which were exclusive to the church in its embryonic stage. We will see that these gifts were definitely temporary. When the Bible was completed, six of these temporary gifts were transferred to all believers throughout history and will be till the last day. Three of them ceased when the completion of the Bible occurred. These three will be the first ones we will examine.

The word “tongues” comes from the Greek word “glossa” which simply means a language especially a legitimate, established one. This gift was given on the day of Pentecost. Acts 2:4 (KJV) And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. It was used to bring God's message to those of different languages as plainly seen in Acts 2:4-12. There were seventeen established languages mentioned in those verses. The Holy Spirit came upon each of those disciples and immediately they had the ability to speak in the different languages represented in Jerusalem that day. If you also notice, that no interpreter was needed because the Bible states that the people heard the Gospel in their language clearly. Acts 2:11 (KJV) Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.  This is very important concerning the word “hear” in this verse. The word “hear” is the Greek word “akouw” or “akouõ” which means not only hearing physically, but hearing with understanding.

Why were these people able to understand what they heard? It was because they were hearing the gospel taught in their language. If a Hungarian speaks to an audience of Hungarians, they will hear and understand what is being said. If a German is speaking to an audience of Cambodians, they will not understand. So the word tongues refers to an established language such as French, Spanish, or Russian. It is not some esoteric mystery language. Why were tongues given on Pentecost? Another reason why was because there was no written word except the Hebrew Scriptures and the Holy Spirit was giving them utterance. Acts 2:4 (KJV) And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.  The word “utterance” in the Greek carries with it the meaning of “speaking publicly, speaking forth, or speaking out.” What were they speaking forth on Pentecost? It was the Gospel of Christ and all they had was the Old Testament which they had proclaimed but they now added the teachings of Jesus which were not written down yet. As of 33 A.D. none of the Gospels were written down yet, let us boldly say that none of the New Testament had been written yet, so the Holy Spirit gave them the message which they proclaimed publicly in the 17 languages which were represented that day in Jerusalem.

Once we leave the book of First Corinthians which was written abut 54 A.D., we do not read anything about tongues until we come to the book of Revelation which was written in 95 A.D. So the rest of the New Testament is silent on the subject and the next time we hear the term tongues, it is 41 years later and it is not concerning the actual speaking in of tongues but the fact that the believer has to continue to prophesy the Gospel message until the last one is saved. Revelation 10:11 (KJV) And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.  Then we read that the great religious Babylon sits on the waters but it contains nations and “tongues.” Revelation 17:15 (KJV) And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.   We also see in both Revelation verses above that the nations mentioned has their own tongues or language. This is important because modern tongues has only one sound and that is gibberish. The tongues of the Bible are associated with individual nations or countries as we saw in Acts and Revelation.

So we can safely conclude that the spiritual gift of speaking in tongues is no longer mentioned in the entire New Testaments after 1 Corinthians. This means it was a temporary gift to begin preaching the message of the Gospel in its embryonic stage until the Holy Spirit started giving the message of the individual books of the Bible to be written down. This gift was given when the Bible was nearing completion and God was still giving direct messages to the church via the spoken word. Once the written word was completed, tongues were no longer needed because the word was now in its canonical form.

Now when we compare the tongues of the Bible to the tongues of today we get a completely different sound. We saw that the Bible associates tongues with individual nations which means each language has its own characteristics. Russian, Dutch, and German will have guttural sounds in their words. Probably the least guttural are Spanish, French, and Italian. So modern tongue speakers all have the same sound which means they are counterfeit because they cannot be associated with any particular established language. Another scary fact is that many false religions will have tongues speakers in them. Roman Catholics, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and even witch doctors have spoken in ecstatic utterances. The Bible plainly teaches that the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles and they started speaking with other tongues. The Bible also states that if you do not have the Holy Spirit, then you are not of Christ. Romans 8:9 (KJV) But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.  Since the Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Roman Catholics, and witch doctors are not Christians and not having the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, it means their tongues have a different source than God. It means that counterfeit tongues are sourced in the kingdom of Satan. The sorry fact is if you put a Mormon and a charismatic next to each other and closed your eyes and had them speak in tongues, you would not be able to tell the difference.

So just to summarize this section we have discovered that tongues are established, legitimate languages and are associated with individual countries. The true tongues were given to initiate the spread of the Gospel and was in 17 languages on Pentecost and after 1 Corinthians, the speaking in of tongues is never mentioned again. This means that the gift of tongues had waned and was now out of existence since it was no longer needed, especially since the Bible had become completed.

Interpretation of Tongues
The next gift was associated with the gift of tongues. It was the interpretation of tongues. The word “interpretation” in the Greek is “hermeneia” and it carries with it the meaning of “translation” which is a cognate of the word “hermeneuo” where we get the English word “hermeneutic.” In Acts on Pentecost the apostles spoke in tongues or languages. There were people from seventeen different countries present and they heard the gospel being preached in their tongue or language. In Acts no interpreter was necessary because the message was very clear to those who heard and understood. We now come to the tongues of 1 Corinthians. 1 Corinthians was written in 54 A.D. which places it 21 years after Pentecost. This means that in just 21 years, the gift of tongues had become corrupted to the point that it was now necessary to have an interpreter for the speaker. The interpreter would have been someone who was fluent in the language being spoken with the ability to translate properly to the audience. It may have been that the tongue speakers were giving false messages and maybe fleecing their hearers by claiming a divine message that was not a divine message but a counterfeit. This is why Paul had to install interpreters so the real message would not be corrupted. It must be remembered that Corinth was a major seaport and trading was done with many countries meaning many languages were present at any given time and so Paul wanting to make sure they carried out the right messages to their ships and homelands, made sure by having proper interpretations. Once the gift of tongues had waned into extinction, the gift of interpretation of tongues had also ceased.

The English word “prophecy” comes from the Greek word “propheteia” which carries with it the meaning of “foretelling.” It was for the purpose of foretelling events which were important to the body of Christ. This gift was one which also received messages from God and relayed them to the people akin to the prophets of old. These messages were verbal in nature. Before the Bible was completed, different people had made prophecies through which God communicated His truth to them. For example, the book of Revelation was considered a prophecy because it laid out what was going to happen to the church from the first coming of Christ until the second coming. Revelation 1:3 (KJV) Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.  Prophecies were bits and pieces but not total pictures. 1 Corinthians 13:9 (KJV) For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.  These prophecies offered only partial revelation and not entire messages as the books of the Bible are. Once the book of Revelation was completed, there would be no more prophecies because all God had wanted us to know was now written down in the Word of God. God would include the prophecies from time past which He chose to make part of His written revelation. So once the Bible was completed, prophecies also ceased to exist because the canon of Scripture was now complete. So anyone who makes a prophecy and insists it is of God, are giving a false prophecy and it will not come to pass. Remember every prophet who prophesied in the Bible was 100% correct. Anything less than this means a false prophet has spoken.

Summary of These Three Spiritual Gifts
As you can plainly see these three gifts were involved with receiving messages from God on a verbal note. Since the Bible was completed we no longer have any need for new divine communication since God has told us in Revelation 22:18-19 that He will no longer communicate with us through the use of audible words but will communicate with us by means of His Word, the completed Bible. These legitimate gifts ceased because there were no longer a need for them.  (Rev 22:18-19) For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: {19} And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

The second part of the provisional gifts are the ones which were made available to every Christian since the completion of the Bible. We will look at these six gifts which were at one time temporary but now are permanent in the body of Christ and are given to every Christian. I will list them and give scriptural reference for each one.

Wisdom is the ability to make proper discernments and judgments. It was a temporary gift up until the time of the completion of the Bible. A good example of a person having wisdom is found in the narrative of Solomon when a child was brought to him by two women who both claimed the child was theirs. Solomon handled the situation with great wisdom and because of that the child was returned to its real mother. The narrative is below.

1 Kings 3:25-27 (KJV) And the king said, Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one, and half to the other. {26} Then spake the woman whose the living child was unto the king, for her bowels yearned upon her son, and she said, O my lord, give her the living child, and in no wise slay it. But the other said, Let it be neither mine nor thine, but divide it. {27} Then the king answered and said, Give her the living child, and in no wise slay it: she is the mother thereof.

Once that situation was resolved, the knowledge of what Solomon did became well known throughout Israel. If you notice in1 Kings 3:28, all the people saw that the wisdom of God was in him

1 Kings 3:28 (KJV) And all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had judged; and they feared the king: for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him, to do judgment.

No longer is wisdom a gift to be enjoyed by a few but it is available to every believer as the verse teaches us. James 1:5 (KJV) If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.  James 1:5 teaches us that now God gives His wisdom to “all men” in other words, to all believers, and liberally, which is bountifully. One must be indwelled by the Holy Spirit to have the wisdom of God. One important principle found in 1 Kings 3:28, and that is the verse tells us that the wisdom of God was “in” Solomon not “upon” Solomon. Unfortunately many believe that the Old Testament Saints somehow were Saints without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Just because it is not written in the Hebrew Scriptures plainly, does not mean they were not indwelled. God is not mentioned in the Book of Esther, does that mean God was absent from that period of time?

The answer is no and to believe that the Holy Spirit came and went on the believer in the Old Testament is like saying they could lose their salvation ten times a day and then gain it back ten times a day. Romans 8:9 (KJV) But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.  The bottom line is that if a person did not have the Spirit of Christ, then they were not Christians and did not belong to Christ. Did Abraham belong to Christ? Did David belong to Christ? Did Nathan belong to Christ? And along with many others such as Moses, Elijah, Elisha. So for the wisdom of God to be in Solomon, he had to be indwelled by the Holy Spirit.

In 1 Corinthians 12:8, it speaks about “…the word of knowledge…” which can be understood as having knowledge of future things such as the Prophets in the Old Testament had. Then there would have been a knowledge of the Scriptures and their teachings which someone like the Apostle Paul had and was able to teach other Christians. There would also be the knowledge of sin.

The word “knowledge” is taken from two Greek words “gnõsis,” which is found in 1 Corinthians 12:8, and “epignõsis,” which is found in 1 Timothy 2:4. Gnõsis carries with it the meaning of “knowledge, science, doctrine, or wisdom.” Epignõsis carries with it the meaning of “knowledge, recognition, or consciousness.”

No longer is the “word of knowledge” confined only to a few individuals such as the Apostles and Prophets. Now knowledge is now available to all Christians because of the completion of the Bible.

Colossians 2:2-3 (KJV) That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; {3} In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

(2 Pet 3:18) But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.

Colossians 2:2-3 is a good example that the gift of knowledge has become universal in the body of Christ. Those that are in Christ will have access to all treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 2 Peter 3:18 teaches us that we are to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ and that applies to every believer, not just a certain few.

Romans 3:20 (KJV) Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

1 Timothy 2:4 (KJV) Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

Part of having knowledge become universal in the body of Christ will be the ability to recognize sin, truth, God, the Lord Jesus Christ, etc. Knowledge gives the believer the ability to recognize the spiritual things of the Lord. They will have the knowledge of sin and will be able to recognize a situation which might cause distress and therefore they will be able to avoid it.  Proverbs 22:3 (KJV) A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished.  Then we will have the ability to have knowledge of the truth. We will know what is false teaching by simply comparing what we hear to what we read in the Scriptures.

(Rom 1:17) For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

Who are the just? The just are every born again believer. With that in mind, we see the gift of faith is no longer a provisional gift since every child of God is to live by faith. Nowhere except in the early church does God call this a gift. After the completion of the Bible He expects every believer to exercise faith and we are not to refer to those people with great faith as having the gift of faith, because this is not biblical. Every believer will possess a measure of faith. Romans 12:3 (KJV) For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.  Romans 12:3 is also another proof that the faith is now a universal gift in the body of Christ.

Galatians 5:22 (KJV) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

In Galatians 5:22, we read that faith is a fruit of the Holy Spirit and whenever anyone becomes saved, they are indwelled by the Holy Spirit which means they receive all the fruits of the Spirit, including “faith.”

The word for discerning in the Greek is “diakrisis” which carries with it the meaning of “judicial, differentiation, or distinction.” In other words, it calls for a clear separation between two parties. In this case, it is calling for a separation of truth from falsity. It is the ability of a saved person to discern between a false and true teaching or doctrine.

(1 John 4:1) Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

1 John 4:1 is probably the best verse in Scripture where it plainly tells us that we are not to believe every spirit but for our own spiritual protection we are to try those spirits as to whether they are from God or the kingdom of darkness. The word for “try” in 1 John 4:1 is “dokimazõ” which carries with it the meaning of “prove, test, examine, or discern.” Isn’t that what the gift of the discerning of spirits is, discernment? An excellent example of discerning of spirits would be when Jesus was having a conversation with Peter.

Remember when Jesus was telling the disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and be killed by the chief priests. Peter than took Jesus aside and told Him that he basically would not let that happen to Him. Remember what Jesus told Peter? Matthew 16:23 (KJV) But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.  Here Jesus looks at Peter and rebukes him for looking at Jesus’ ministry from a human point of view. Peter’s desire was not to let anything happen to Jesus because he loved Him but Peter’s desire was not in keeping with the reason Jesus came to earth and that was to gain salvation for all of His elect. If Jesus did not go to the cross, then salvation would not have been effected in anyone’s life. Now Jesus looks to Peter and says “get thee behind me Satan.” Was Jesus calling Peter Satan? No, he was not but what he was doing was discerning the statement that Peter made and He knew that it was not in line with what the Scriptures taught and His ministry. So Jesus made a distinction between Peter’s emotions and the false teaching which Peter spoke but Jesus rebuked the false words which Peter spoke while not condemning Peter.

Since the completion of the Bible, every believer now has the ability to discern between false and true teaching. All one has to do is compare what is being taught to what the Scriptures teach. If they harmonize, then there is no problem but if they do not, then the Scriptural teaching must take precedent. 1 John 4:1 tells us to try the spirits and we try them by means of the Bible. No longer must we seek out the gift of discerning of spirits to help us determine if a doctrine is false. With the completion of the Bible, we have all that is needed to verify a doctrinal teaching and verify we must.

The word "miracle" in 1 Corinthians 12:10 is the Greek word "dunamis" which means "power, force, or ability." During the time of Christ in the Gospels and the time of the Apostles in Acts, we read about the many miracles which were performed. These miracles had one purpose and one purpose only. To confirm the ministry of Christ and the Apostles after Pentecost.

Hebrews 2:4 (KJV) 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?

Mark 16:17-18 (KJV) 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.

Acts 19:11 (KJV) And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul:

An explanation of a miracle would be on this wise. For example, a miracle would be an instantaneous replacement of a lost limb or a withered hand made whole or someone raised from the dead. Even the miracle of Jesus turning the water into wine which was an act of creation. It showed that he was the creator and had the ability to create something. The Bible itself calls the Cana creation a miracle.

John 2:11 (KJV) This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.

Then the word “dunamis” is also translated “power” in the New Testament.

Romans 1:16 (KJV) For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

2 Timothy 1:7 (KJV) For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

2 Peter 1:3 (KJV) According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:

As we start getting toward the end of the New Testament, the word “dunamis” is mainly translated “power” instead of miracles. This was because the gift of miracles was beginning to wane which would eventually end. The miracles had only one purpose as we saw and that was to confirm the word of the Apostles as they began to spread the Gospel. It also confirmed the ministry of Christ as He cast out devils or raised the dead. Now as we head toward the end of the first century, the gift of miracles would cease and the Bible would now transition itself into speaking about the power of God in the life of the believer to continue to send out the Gospel until the last day.

(Acts 1:8) But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

2 Timothy 1:8 (KJV) Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;

Ephesians 3:7 (KJV) Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.

If you would take a concordance, you would see that this word “dunamis” is used as working miracles, especially in the four gospels and in Acts. Once you get beyond Acts, the usage concerns itself with spreading the gospel. The miracle worked today is the miracle of salvation. This gift is universal in the body of Christ since every born again Christian is endued with the power of God, the Holy Spirit. Acts 1:8 will apply to every believer until the last day. Acts 1:8 (KJV) But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. 

Before the completion of the Scriptures, God used the healing of the sick to show visually what salvation is like. The sick person represented a sinful person and the healed person represented a saved person. God used physical healing for the sole purpose of showing the difference between the saved and the unsaved. Every healing was a visual parable, the earthly story with the heavenly meaning.

Then we find another good example of physical healing in Mark 3:5. A man came into the synagogue who had a withered hand. Now, the chief priests would have never allowed a man inside the synagogue with an infirmity like that because they would have looked down on him. In this case, they brought him in so they could catch Jesus doing work on the Sabbath day in order to make an accusation against Him.

Mark 3:1-2 (KJV) And he entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand. {2} And they watched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse him.

Here they tried to catch Jesus so they could accuse Him. Jesus knew what their intentions were and what they were trying to do. He knew they were using this man to for their own purposes but the tables would be turned on them.

Mark 3:5 (KJV) And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other.

Jesus healed a withered hand right in the synagogue. This would be considered a miraculous healing because it went against the laws of nature. In our day, no one is healing a withered hand, a shortened leg, or replacing a missing limb. Whenever we hear stories like that, it is always some guy had a third cousin who had a friend that lived 5000 miles away and whose third cousin’s uncle knew of a guy who was healed. Whenever Jesus healed someone, He did right in public. If the gift of healing is still active today, then why doesn’t someone go into their nearest hospital and clear everyone out by healing them? How about going to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital and curing all the children? The only reason that these faith healers today don’t do that is the same reason psychics don’t know the winning lottery numbers for tomorrow, because they are frauds and phonies.

Philippians 2:27 (KJV) For indeed he was sick nigh unto death: but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.

In Philippians 2:27, a fellow helper of Paul, Epaphroditus, was sick unto death. Why couldn’t Paul heal him? Philippians was written 60-62 A.D. which means at this time already the gift of physical healing was waning and would cease very shortly.

Since the human body is destined for physical death, if there was a gift of physical healing active today, then no one would die. It really amazes me that these charismatic churches who believe in healing all still buy parcels of land for cemeteries. Where is THEIR faith?

What we have today is something called spiritual healing. The soul of man is dead because of sin and what needs to happen is that soul needs to be made alive, so when the body fails, the soul lives on eternally.

Probably the best example of spiritual healing is found in Mark 5 where we find the Gadarene Demoniac.

Mark 5:4-5 (KJV) Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him. {5} And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones.

Here we see a man who was totally bound by devils which caused him to have super human strength and always “crying” day and night. The word “crying” carries with it the meaning of “a loud shriek or a scream.” So he was making very loud intimidating noises which would build fear in those who would hear him. He also did himself bodily harm to himself by cutting himself with stones. Then Jesus comes to him and once Jesus casts out the devils and saves him, then a different man emerges.

Mark 5:15 (KJV) And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid.

There is no doubt in my mind that Jesus can heal physically today but it is in response to two methods:

• THE WILL OF GOD - Many times we see unbelievers who were healed of a deadly disease. Now the unbeliever chalks it up to luck or modern medicine, but they never give God the credit, even though they might give God or whoever is up there a passing thought. If it is God’s will for a person to be healed of an infirmity, then that person will be healed.

• FERVENT PRAYER - Many times God will allow sickness in a family or church to arouse an apathetic group. He may heal in response to the sincere prayers of His people. Many years ago, I knew of a woman who was cured of terminal cancer by God in response to the prayers of an entire church.

Since we are dealing with spiritual healing, this is why in James 5, we are exhorted to send for the elders of the church. If we are physically sick, then we see a medical doctor or nutritionist, but when it comes to spiritual affairs, we invoke the elders of the church for prayer and counsel. Galatians 6:1 tells us that we are to restore a believer who is caught up in a sin. This is the type of healing God has in view for the believer. For the unbeliever, the healing God has in view is becoming saved. God is more interested in healing our spiritual sickness than our physical sickness, which He does with great joy if it is His will to do so.

Spiritual healing focuses on eternity's values, while physical healing focuses on temporal values. Out of these two, which one is important? Whenever a believer opens the Word of God and begins to declare it to someone, they are in essence initiating spiritual healing in that person's life. This is the type of healing we Christians shall partake of and pursue, not physical healing. Miraculous physical healing was never part of God's great commission. We are to teach all nations and make disciples, not physically heal all nations.

(1 Pet 2:24) Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

One of the best verses concerning spiritual healing is found in 1 Peter 2:24. If you notice healing is tied to two events in that verse. First, the suffering of Christ before the cross and secondly, Christ going to the cross. Notice that it says “by whose stripes ye were healed.” By the way, the word “ye” means that the word is second person plural meaning a specific group of people, namely those who Christ came to save. It does not mean everyone, if it did, it would be third person plural (they or them). If 1 Peter 2:24 was speaking about physical healing among the Elect, then why were Christians dying, even at that time? Remember Epaphroditus! Paul could not heal him. If physical healing was in the atonement, then why wasn’t he healed?

With biblical references we have concluded that the provisional gifts were turned into universal gifts in the body of Christ, except for three of them which were discontinued by the end of the first century. Those who still seek those sign gifts are showing their spirituality to be very low and they are seeking to be the center of attention, especially tongue speakers. As we saw, tongues were tied to individual nations and not gibberish. Instead of going backward in your Christian walk by seeking sign gifts, seek to go forward by sending forth the Gospel.