The Gospel Observer

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...teaching them to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19,20).
April 22, 1990


1) Miraculous Gifts -- Their Temporary Nature (Part One) (Tom Edwards)
2) Sailing for Souls (Tom Edwards)


Miraculous Gifts -- Their Temporary Nature (Part One)
by Tom Edwards

There are many people today who believe that miraculous gifts are still for our time. Tragically, this has led to some serious consequences.  Just recently I read of another person who died from the bite of a poisonous snake that he had been holding in a religious service. Apparently, he was trying to show forth his "faith" in God; but, sadly, he simply manifested a lack of Bible knowledge. Where has the Lord ever commanded an individual to pick up a deadly viper in order for that person to prove his trust and loyalty?

A young couple who belong to a denomination that believes "physical disease, like sin, can be healed by spiritual means alone" went on trial April 17, 1990 for manslaughter charges. Rather than seeking the needed medical treatment for their two-and-a-half-year-old son, they were led by their religious convictions to rely on just prayer itself and reject any medical assistance -- consequently, the boy died.

These and other such cases are not uncommon. Many of our contemporaries strongly believe that the age of miracles and miraculous gifts have not ceased. This persuasion is held, however, in contradistinction to what the Bible teaches -- not to mention the fact that God is often made to appear to the world -- by those who believe such -- as a powerless being who cannot do what they have claimed He supposively will. Even the psuedo-miracles have a tendency to raise question and doubt.

The issue is not, "Does God have the power to work miracles?" The Lord never changes; and what He has done before, He still has the power to do again. However, the Bible shows that after God miraculously imparted His complete revelation to man (along with its confirmation by miraculous signs), and after the death of the apostles (who were the only people who had the ability to give the Holy Spirit through the laying on of hands), the time of miraculous gifts had soon phased out -- their purpose being accomplished.

During the establishment of the early church, miracles were abundant.  Obviously, man then was greatly in need of them. Their primary purpose, however, was not merely for the sake of healing the sick -- for God can even use physical infirmities in order to help man's spiritual well-being -- but rather to reveal God's message to man (1 Cor. 12:8-10) and to confirm that message which was being preached (Mark 16:15-20; Heb. 2:3,4; 2 Cor. 12:12). During this time, man did not have the complete word of God, so the Lord had to impart His word little by little. How, though, could one know for certain that the person claiming to speak God's divine revelation actually was inspired by God? The answer to this: by the miracles performed. These miraculous signs served to bear witness both to the validity of the inspiration of God's word and also to the credibility of the one who was speaking.  By these attesting miracles, people could know beyond all doubt that what they were hearing was from God Himself.

This article is the first in a series of lessons that will deal with the subject of Miraculous Gifts and the Holy Spirit in connection with these gifts. I trust they will help you in your understanding of this topic. May we each always strive to base our beliefs on not merely what the majority or others are saying about God or practicing in their religion; but rather on what God is declaring in His word to us, as to what we should believe and what we should do.


Sailing For Souls
by Tom Edwards

As we who are Christians skillfully navigate our ship of faith through the calm or billowy seas of life, we must never refrain from being on the alert -- keenly watching for not only the obvious dangers of the deep; but, especially, for the less perceptible hazards. We must keep our eyes peered for those hidden sandbars of indifference which have detained even the largest of ships that had become inextricably lodged on their shoals and hindered from their destined voyage.

Equally threatening, if not more so, are the inconspicuous reefs of falsehood, which conceal their grim dangers below a surface of gentle, blue waters. These coral-menaces have been the destructive cause of many a once-seaworthy vessel that had drifted off track during a harrowing storm, only to ram them headlong and become stuck on the shallows until their barnacle-laden sides were ripped apart by the deleterious beating of the waves.

Though our trustworthy ship of faith has been soundly built, it can still end up in ruin if we do not properly maneuver it with the rudder of a good conscience; this is necessary if we want to avoid the perils of our journey and remain on that straight course that leads to God's heavenly port. Sadly, Paul alludes to some who had spiritually "suffered shipwreck" prior to their having made it to the shores of God's majestic harbor. Their problem: they had rejected faith and a good conscience (1 Tim. 1:19).

Sometimes the seas do become agitated, and a sudden squall or an unexpected gale will sharply whistle through the riggings and cause the sails to flap violently and loudly; but the apostle Paul, who also experienced his share of turbulent seas, would not have us to be merely "tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine," but with wisdom we must chart the right course and locate our bearing by using the trusty sextant of God's unchanging word and the reliable compass of His heavenly-polarized decrees.

Even though these howling storms of adversity often arise, we must not become discouraged. Instead, let us endure with patience the raging tempest -- battening down the hatches with prayer and making sure everything is well-secured by the cords of love and the bonds of peace -- for we must cast off for those who are drowning in a sea of sin and indifference: this is our mission. Whether high tide or low tide, storm or calm, let us hoist our anchors of slothfulness and unfurl the sails of involvement; launching out with the deep sentiments of the following song stimulating our hearts to action:

"Throw out the lifeline across the dark wave; there is a brother whom someone should save...See he is sinking; O hasten today and out with the lifeboat, away then away...Throw out the lifeline to danger-fraught men, sinking in anguish where you've never been. Winds of temptation and billows of woe will soon hurl them out where the dark waters flow.  Soon will the season of rescue be  o'er; soon will they drift to eternity's shore; haste then, my brother, no time for delay; but throw out the lifeline and save them today" (Throw Out the Lifeline by Edward S. Ufford, who lived from 1851 to 1930).

With spyglass in hand, let us climb to the crow's-nest in order to hopefully catch sight of those who are pitifully sinking in sin and despair. Yea, though the sea be turbulent and the strong winds fierce, let us not lose heart; but rather launch out courageously in this endeavor today. For ships are not made for merely the harbors, to remain moored in a haven of inactivity, but rather to find their purpose upon the open waters -- venturing wherever the helmsman directs. May it be our concern to set sail in order to seek for the lost ones who are helplessly bobbing in the waves of iniquity.

The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17;  John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).

First published for the Tri-state church of Christ in Ashland, Kentucky, at 713 13th Street.

evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards