The question about whether or not miraculous gifts such as tongues, prophecy, healing, etc., remain operative today is important. Although historically the Church has believed that these special gifts have ceased, there has been a resurgence in recent years in the belief that these special miraculous gifts continue today. There are many important parts of this discussion, but in this post I simply want to look at the correlation between one’s eschatology and the belief about miraculous gifts.
If we overview the Bible, we find that there are specific times in history when there are major displays of miracles. Further reflection shows that these miraculous exhibitions are linked with time periods that are related to the Kingdom of God. To show this in summary form, I have adapted a chart from Mike Vlach:
|Kingdom Situation||Time Period||Kingdom Mediator(s)||Result|
|Signs and wonders to deliver Hebrews from Egypt||The period of the Exodus||Moses||Israel established as a kingdom|
|Signs and wonders as the kingdom in Israel deteriorates (1 Kings 17–2 Kings 13)||Time of Elijah and Elisha||Elijah and Elisha||Israel continues downward spiral to captivity|
|Signs and wonders as the kingdom presented to Israel (Matt 3–12)||Early ministry of Jesus||Jesus the Messiah||Israel refuses to repent; kingdom to come in the future|
|Signs and wonders as Jesus and kingdom presented to Israel after Holy Spirit’s outpouring (Acts 2–28)||A.D. 33–70||The Apostles||Israel refuses to believe; kingdom to come in the future|
I don’t think many people have a problem with this chart. The major disagreements deal with what happens after the last category. Some advocate a cessation of the miraculous until the time foretold in Revelation 6–19, while others argue for a continuation of the miraculous in the current day.
The simple point that I want to make is this: what one believes about the Kingdom of God influences his or her belief about the miraculous gifts.
The Kingdom of God is linked with miracles. Jesus himself declared that His miracles pointed to the Kingdom (cf. Matt 12:28). In Matthew 11:2–5 Jesus answers John the Baptist’s question about His identity by quoting Isaiah’s prophecy about the miracles which accompany the Kingdom of God and the Messiah.
For the traditional dispensationalist, since the Kingdom of God was rejected and still awaits a future coming, the miracles which we expect to accompany the Kingdom also faded out to await a future time. However, for amillenialists and some progressive dispensationalists, since the Kingdom of God is present in some form now, there is no reason not to expect the accompanying signs and miracles which we would expect to accompany the Kingdom.
I am not saying every amillenialist or progressive dispensationalist believes in the continuation of the miraculous gifts today. However, what I am saying is that it seems an inconsistent position to hold to a present Kingdom of God model, and yet deny the miraculous—which was evidence for the Kingdom.