God's Word For You is a free Bible Study site committed to bringing you studies firmly grounded in the Bible – the Word of God. Holding a reformed, conservative, evangelical perspective this site affirms that God has provided in Jesus Christ his eternal Son, a way of salvation in which we can live in his presence guilt free, acquitted and at peace.




When Jesus Christ sent his Spirit to live in those who believe in him they were taught by the Spirit and enabled by the Spirit to witness to the truth about who Jesus is and what he accomplished by his death. That was what he commissioned the disciples to do. That was his purpose for them, his mission for which he called them – to know him and to make him known to the whole world.

In keeping with this, many of the ‘gifts’ that are today commonly referred to as ‘spiritual gifts’, are communication gifts – gifts related to knowing and communicating the truth about Jesus Christ. They are the only gifts Paul mentions in Ephesians 4:11 – apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. Acts, Romans and 1Corinthians mention other communication gifts – wisdom, knowledge, the ability to speak in human languages not known by the speaker, and the ability to interpret those languages.

This Spirit-enabled knowledge and communication of God’s truth is what is anticipated in Joel 2:28, 29 and fulfilled in Acts 2. Although the specific details about the kind of knowledge and communication are different in Joel and Acts 2, the promised knowledge and communication occurred. Taught and gifted by the Holy Spirit, the Apostles (the faithful eleven, plus Matthias, plus Paul), defined and documented the truth about Jesus, and his death and resurrection. On the basis of that Spirit-built foundation (which we call the ‘New Testament’), this Spirit-given knowledge of Christ and Spirit-empowered verbal communication of the truth about Christ continues to this day as the church studies, understands and proclaims it. The New Testament affirms:

That the truth about Jesus Christ is the foundation on which all preaching and teaching must be grounded – 1Corinthians 3:10 – 15.

That the church is built on this foundation laid by the apostles and prophets – Ephesians 2:20.

This gospel message about the incarnation, life, teaching, death, resurrection, ascension and glorification of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, the Messiah, was not an easy one to preach. Nor was it an easy one to understand and accept. It was, Paul tells us, ‘a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles’ (1Corinthians 1:23). It was offensive to the Jewish understanding of God; it was offensive to anyone with a merit-based perception of religion. The concept of God taking on human identity and dying, the concept of the physical resurrection of the dead, the concept of sheer grace – of unmerited, underserved acquittal ... all of these and more made people struggle to believe it.

But God, by his Spirit, enabled the apostles to understand it and to teach it. And God provided confirmation of the authenticity of both the apostles and their message.

Unlike Jesus’ mission for his disciples in Matthew 10, the risen Jesus did not send the disciples out to do miracles. However, to confirm the new and extremely radical message about Jesus Christ and his death and resurrection, and to authenticate those who communicated that new and radical message, the Holy Spirit also enabled the apostles, and a very small number of other preachers, to perform miracles in the name of Jesus. The New Testament tells us that:

Many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles – Acts 2:43; 5:12 – 16.

When the apostles performed miracles, it was in or through ‘the name of Jesus’ – Acts 3:6, 16; 4:7 – 10, 29, 30.

Stephen and Philip did miracles among the people – Acts 6:8; 8:6.

God did extraordinary miracles through Paul – Acts 19:11.

The New Testament tells us that these miracles were God’s confirmation of both the apostles and their message:

God confirmed the message of Paul and Barnabas by enabling them to do miraculous signs and wonders – Acts 14:3.

Signs, wonders and miracles done by Paul were ‘the things that mark an apostle’ – 2Corinthians 12:12.

God attested the authenticity of the apostles’ message by signs, wonders and miracles – Hebrews 2:4.

[Because miracles were understood to be God’s authentication of the apostles and their message, the false messages of false apostles are powerfully deceptive. They also performed miracles, and continue to do so, which makes them and their messages appear authentic. Jesus warned of this deception – Matthew 24:24; Revelation 13:13, 14. Paul referred to its occurrence in Corinth, where a different Jesus, a different spirit and a different gospel were being preached – 2Corinthians 11:4, 13 – 15, and warned us against it – 2Thessalonians 2:9. Miracles do authenticate the messengers – Deuteronomy 18:21, 22, but not if they have altered the message – Deuteronomy 13:1 – 5.]

Now that the authentic, apostolic message is clearly defined and documented as the New Testament, the question arises: Is there any need for its proclamation to be authenticated by miracles as it was in the days of the apostles? Christians are divided on this point – at one extreme are those who claim that evangelism can only occur if miracles accompany the message; at the other extreme are those who say that God ceased to do miracles with the completion of the New Testament. Both of these extremes are clearly denied by the history of the church.

© Rosemary Bardsley 2024