When Did Water Baptism and the Sign Gifts Cease?
The Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian church that "they came behind no other church" when it came to the gifts of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 1:7 ), no church had more of the gifts of the Holy Spirit than the Corinthian church, yet Paul says that he spoke in tongues more than all of them (1 Corinthians 14:18 )! However, the Lord revealed to him that those sign gifts were going to cease, "whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away" (1 Corinthians 13:8 ).
Here, the Apostle Paul writes of the gift of tongues, the gift of prophecy and the gift of knowledge (1 Corinthians 13:1-2 ) and states that the risen Yâ-hwéh Yâhuwshúa`, The LORD Jesus Christ, had revealed to him (1 Corinthians 11:23 ; 15:3; Galatians 1:11-12 ) that a time was coming when these sign gifts were going to cease to operate. The question has always been…when?
So…fellow LLMr’s, let’s tackle this: When did water Baptism and the sign gifts cease?
First Step: Arranging Paul's letters in the order that he wrote them:
Let’s begin by setting up a time line of the Apostle Paul's ministry. Paul was saved in Acts 9 when Yâ-hwéh Yâhuwshúa`, The LORD Jesus Christ, appeared to him on the road to Damascus. Paul would go on to write 13 books in the New Testament (from the Letter to the Romans to the Letter to Philemon). When we remember that the Apostle Paul is the subject of at least half of the Book of Acts, we realize that half of the 27 books in the New Testament are either about him (The Book of Acts) or were written by him (13 Books).
The Apostle Paul's letters are arranged in The Bible two ways: The letters to the churches are put first, nine letters from Romans to 2 Thessalonians, then the four letters written to individuals, from 1 Timothy to Philemon. The letters are also arranged by length, Romans is longest and is first, then the Corinthian letters, then Galatians, etc. Longer letters are first, shorter ones later.
However, to understand when the sign gifts ceased, we need to read the Apostle Paul's letters in the order that he wrote them. When we arrange the letters in the order that they were written, all becomes clear!
The first 6 of Paul's letters can be fit into the Book of Acts. Therefore, we can read the Book of Acts and then read the Apostle Paul's letters and we can see where Paul was when he wrote these letters.
The Letter to the Galatians is first
In Acts 13-14 Paul and Barnabas went on their first apostolic journey which took them into Galatia, with cities like Antioch, Lystra, Derbe, etc. Soon after Paul returned from this journey he wrote the letter to the Galatians (see Galatians 1:6 where Paul writes to the Galatians and says, you are "so quickly turned."). Galatians was written soon after Paul returned from that first journey, therefore, soon after Acts 14:27 . That makes Galatians the earliest of Paul's letters.
Then 1 Thessalonians and 2 Thessalonians
The next letters the Apostle Paul wrote are the two letters to the Thessalonians. In Acts 17 , Paul, on his second apostolic journey, came to Thessalonica and preached there. Many were saved, but Paul was driven out of town. Paul continued on to Corinth where he wrote the two letters to the Thessalonians. Timothy's return from Macedonia mentioned in Acts 18:5 is also reported in 1 Thessalonians 3:6 . And in 2 Thessalonians 2:5 Paul reminds the Thessalonians of his teaching, as if it had not been very long since he had been with them. So the writing of 1 Thessalonians and 2 Thessalonians can be placed into Acts 18 during the Apostle Paul's ministry in Corinth, and that makes them the second and third letters that Paul wrote.
Next is 1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians
The next two letters that the Apostle Paul wrote are the two letters to the Corinthians. In Acts 18 Paul spent a year and a half ministering in Corinth (Acts 18:11 ). He later returned to his home base at Antioch (Acts 18:22 ), and later in his third apostolic journey he arrived in Ephesus (his ministry in Ephesus extends all the way through Acts 19 , a period of more than two years, see verse 10). It is here in Ephesus, during Acts 19 , that Paul wrote 1 Corinthians (1 Corinthians 16:19 ). Shortly after that the Apostle Paul traveled to Macedonia (Acts 20:1 , and 2 Cor. 2:13 ) and that is where he wrote 2 Corinthians.
Then comes Romans
In Acts 20:2-3 Paul arrived in "Greece," actually Corinth again, and spent three months there enjoying the hospitality of a believer named Gaius, mentioned in 1 Corinthians 1:14 . In Gaius's home, in Corinth, the Apostle Paul wrote the letter to the Romans (Rom. 16:23 ). This is the last letter written during the Book of Acts. In Acts 21:33 , the Apostle Paul was arrested in Jerusalem, and would spend the next 5 years in prison, right through the end of the Book of Acts.
Summary of Above
So, so far, from Acts 9- Acts 28 we read of the earlier ministry of the Apostle Paul and find that during these years he wrote 6 of his 13 letters. Once again, for those not really paying attention…lol, the order of these first six books is: 1) Galatians (end of Acts 14 ), 2) 1 Thessalonians (Acts 18 ), 3) 2 Thessalonians (Acts 18 ), 4) 1 Corinthians (Acts 19 ), 5) 2 Corinthians (Acts 20 ),6. Romans (Acts 20 ). In Acts 21 Paul was arrested and remained a prisoner through to Acts 28 , and beyond.
Now, The Prison Epistles: Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon, and Philippians
Shortly after the end of the Book of Acts, while he was still a prisoner, now in Rome, Paul wrote four letters, the "prison epistles": Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon and Philippians. In each of these letters he writes of his "chains" (Ephesians 6:20 , Colossians 4:18 , Philemon 13 , and Philippians 1:13 ).
Then, The Pastoral Epistles: The letters to Titus, First Timothy and Second Timothy
The Apostle Paul was released from this imprisonment and continued his ministry for a few years, maybe 3 years. During this time he wrote the three letters known as the "Pastoral Epistles," because these letters were written to the Apostle Paul's co-workers…Pastor Timothy and Pastor Titus.
At the end of his life he is again in prison. This time he anticipates being beheaded for the Lord and writes the last letter, Second Timothy.
Now let's read the epistles in the order Paul wrote them
Having surveyed the 13 letters and having put them into their chronological order, let's see what they tell us about our question: when did the sign gifts cease?
In the first six letters, all written during the period covered by the Book of Acts, we find that the sign gifts, including water baptism were operating in all these churches. All through the Book of Acts we read of tongues, the gift of prophecy, the gift of healing, etc. We read of, tongues and prophecy in Acts 19:6 , the gift of prophecy in Acts 21:10-14 , the gift of healing in Acts 19:11-12 and Acts:28:8-9, and so on. Correspondingly, in the "Acts Epistles" we read of the gifts operating in the churches that the Apostle Paul founded. In Galatians 3:5 , 1 Thessalonians 5:20 , 1 Corinthians 12 , 1 Corinthians 13 , 1 Corinthians 14 , 2 Corinthians 12:12, and Romans 12:6 , in all of these we read about the gifts in operation right through to the end of the Book of Acts.
But, during this time in the Book of Acts, the risen Yâ-hwéh Yâhuwshúa`, The LORD Jesus Christ, revealed to the Apostle Paul that the sign gifts were going to cease, as we read earlier in 1 Corinthians 13:8-12 . The gifts were all in operation all through the Book of Acts period and are mentioned in the letters written during that time, but, again, Yâ-hwéh Yâhuwshúa`, The LORD Jesus Christ, had revealed that the sign gifts were going to cease at some time in the future.
HERE is where the gift of tongues ceased
Now we turn to the prison epistles, the four letters written shortly after the end of the Book of Acts, while the Apostle Paul was a prisoner in Rome, these are Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon and Philippians. In them we find that there is not one word about tongues, or the gift of healing. Even where we might have expected the Apostle Paul to write of tongues in the passage about being "filled with the Spirit" in Ephesians 5:17 , he has nothing to say about tongues. Then, concerning the gift of healing, we read of a co-worker of the Apostle Paul's, Epaphroditus, who fell seriously ill during this time, Philippians 2:25-30 , and the Apostle Paul no longer had the gift of healing, and was no longer able to heal as he did only a few years earlier in Acts 28:9 . The sign gifts were no longer operating at the time that Paul wrote the Prison Epistles.
So, we ask, can tongues be found in the Pastoral Epistles?
In the 3 Pastoral Epistles, as in the prison epistles, we do not read of tongues or the gift of healing operating at this time. We do read of prophecies that had BEEN made about Timothy in 1 Timothy 1:18 , 1 Timothy 4:14 , and 2 Timothy 1:6 , but these were given years before. So far as we read in these three letters, we wouldn't even know that there had been a "gift of tongues."
And, again, in places where we would have expected the Apostle Paul to mention the sign gifts, he is silent. When Paul gives Timothy and Titus instructions regarding the choice of men to be elders in the churches, Paul says nothing about the desirability of these men having a gift such as prophecy, or healing, or other sign gifts (Titus 1:6-9 , and 1 Tim. 3:1-10 ). The gifts of tongues, prophecy, etc., were no longer in operation by the time the Apostle Paul wrote the pastoral epistles.
It is clear that the gift of healing has ceased because, as in Philippians, Paul was no longer able to heal, even his co-workers. Timothy was suffering stomach problems and frequent infirmities (1 Timothy 5:23 ) and the Apostle Paul can't heal him, also, he doesn't recommend that he go to a healer in the church, doesn't send a prayer cloth or a bottle of anointing oil (remember the miracles of some 8 years earlier in Acts 19:11-12 ). Likewise in 2 Timothy 4:20 , Paul has to leave behind his co-worker Trophimus who had fallen sick on the last journey. The Apostle Paul's gift of healing (Acts 28:9 ) was no longer operating in Philippians 2:27 , 1 Timothy 5:23 and 2 Timothy 4:20 .
What Have We Learned So Far
The sign gifts, water baptism, tongues, prophecy, the gift of healing, etc. were operating all through the Book of Acts, and these gifts are mentioned in the letters that the Apostle Paul wrote during the Acts period. But when we turn to the letters written AFTER the Book of Acts (the 4 Prison Epistles, and the 3 Pastoral Epistles), we find that the sign gifts either aren't mentioned at all or we see, as with the gift of healing, that they were no longer operating in the Apostle Paul's life. What he could do in Acts 28 , he could no longer do in Philippians, or in 1 Timothy and 2 Timothy. He could heal all the sick on the island in Acts 28:9 , but he couldn't heal any of his closest co-workers…Timothy, Epaphroditus, Trophimus…after the close of the Book of Acts.
Therefore, arranging the Apostle Paul's letters in the order that he wrote them allows us to see the pattern of truth that is found in the Word of God:
The sign gifts were operating in Acts and in all of the Acts Epistles: Galatians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, and Romans.
Let’s take note again, in this time period, in 1 Corinthians 13:8-12 , the Apostle Paul tells us that Yâ-hwéh Yâhuwshúa`, The LORD Jesus Christ, had revealed to him that these gifts would cease some day. THEY DID. In the letters written after the Book of Acts, the sign gifts had ceased, just as Yâ-hwéh Yâhuwshúa`, The LORD Jesus Christ, said that they would. The pattern could not be clearer, and the contrast could not be sharper between the earlier letters and the later letters, between the time when all the sign gifts were operating, and the time when all the sign gifts had ceased.
Therefore, we can now give a scriptural answer to the question that we started with: when did the sign gifts cease? The answer is that the sign gifts ceased at the end of the Book of Acts. There is no record in Scripture of any of the sign gifts operating in any of the letters that Paul wrote after the end of the Acts period, and it is clear that the gift of healing had ceased since the Apostle Paul could no longer heal even his closest co-workers after the close of the Book of Acts.
So all of this begs the question: WHY did the sign gifts cease?
The Holy Spirit, through the Apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13:8-12 , "Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known."
The gift of tongues, prophecy and knowledge during the Acts period were only "in part", they were incomplete, they did not communicate the full knowledge that Yâ-hwéh Yâhuwshúa`, The LORD Jesus Christ had to reveal. But the LORD revealed to the Apostle Paul that "that which is perfect" was coming. In English, as in Greek, this is a neuter pronoun, "that thing which is perfect." Paul was not writing about the coming of "He who is perfect" but of the coming of a "thing" which is perfect. When it came, then the gifts which were only "in part" would cease.
Before the end of the Book of Acts, during the Acts period, and in the letters written during the Acts period, the risen Yâ-hwéh Yâhuwshúa`, The LORD Jesus Christ, had only revealed part of the "Dispensation of Grace" (Eph. 3:2 ) to the Apostle Paul, but He had not yet revealed the entire message to him. It was still only "in part" during the Acts period, but with the close of the Book of Acts, the risen Yâ-hwéh Yâhuwshúa`, The LORD Jesus Christ, completed the revelation of the "Mystery" (Eph. 3:3-9 , and Colossians 1:26-27 ). "That which is perfect" was finally revealed in all its fullness to the Apostle Paul and at that moment, those things which were only "in part" passed away from God's program.
The Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13:12 , "Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known." When the Apostle Paul wrote "now I know in part," he used the common word for "know," the Greek word gnosis. But then, when he wrote "but then I shall know..." he changes the word from gnosis to epignosis, "to fully know." To paraphrase: "Now, as I'm writing 1 Corinthians in Acts 19 , I have gnosis…I know, in part, what God's message is for us today in the Dispensation of Grace, but then, when that which is perfect has come…I shall have epignosis, the full knowledge of God's message of Grace for us today."
All through the Book of Acts the Apostle Paul had only "gnosis," partial knowledge of the message of Grace, but when we turn to the Prison Letters we suddenly find Paul using that word "epignosis", he had now received that "full knowledge" which he didn't have when he wrote to the Colossians, "For I want you to know what a great conflict I have for you and those in Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge (epignosis: full knowledge) of the Mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ" (Colossians 2:1-2 ).
"For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge (epignosis: full knowledge) of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light" (Col. 1:9-12 ).
In all the seven letters written after the close of the Book of Acts, the Apostle Paul uses this word "epignosis", the full knowledge. What he had not yet received in 1 Corinthians 13 , he NOW has. That which is perfect HAD come, completing that which was not, and so the sign gifts had passed away.
Let’s not forget, the "sign gifts" were signs for God's "sign people"
The close of the Book of Acts was also the temporary close of God's dealings with the Nation of Israel. Acts 28:25-28 stands as God's last words to the Nation of Israel for more than two thousand years. The Jews sought after signs (1 Corinthians 1:22 ) so God gave them signs…among the Gentiles! This was done in order to provoke Israel to jealousy (Romans 11:14 ). But with the close of the Book of Acts, God sets aside Israel for a time, and when God gave up on the "sign people" for a time, the sign gifts passed out of His program. Pentecostalism is the mixture of Judaism and the Grace of Christ and while their error differs somewhat from that error that the Apostle Paul sought to correct in his Epistle to the Galatians, the same principle is involved.
So what do you tell someone who says “I speak in tongues, what should I do?”
Many true Children of God today have had an experience that they think is the scriptural gift of tongues. However, after studying the Apostle Paul's letters and the scriptural teaching concerning the cessation of the gift of tongues, they ask, "So, what should I do now?"
There are several possible explanations for the experience. It may be a psychological experience or even a spiritual experience, but clearly, from the Word of God, The Bible, it is not the Holy Spirit's gift of tongues. Also, let’s not forget that Satan is the great imitator, and his demons are very active. So, what should they do? There are two simple words to bring this to resolution. Those two words are: Stop It. Simply: Stop! Stop speaking in tongues because it is not from the Holy Spirit. Regardless of what you might feel. Regardless of what you might think, or even want to believe. If it is not from the Holy Spirit of God, YOU DON’T WANT IT!
There are many that have been taught that a person has to speak in tongues to prove that he is really saved, or that he really has the Holy Spirit dwelling within. So they've "learned" to speak in tongues, but when they see from Scripture that this gift is not in operation from Yâ-hwéh Yâhuwshúa`, The LORD Jesus Christ, today, they can at last cease their effort to prove their salvation and start to walk by faith and not by sight and signs.
The Holy Spirit’s instruction through the Apostle Paul to the prophets at Corinth is pertinent, "If anything is revealed to another who sits by, let the first keep silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged. And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints" (1 Corinthians 14:30-33 ).
If you are of the Pentecostal persuasion and are having an experience, (as has been shown exhaustively above from the Scriptures is NOT from the Holy Spirit and therefore not from Yâ-hwéh Yâhuwshúa`, The LORD Jesus Christ), it is time to "KEEP SILENT". Then, remember that our spirits are to be under our own control, and NOT under the control of whatever spirit is trying to, or has possessed you. Again, "the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets."
Yâ-hwéh Yâhuwshúa`'s, The LORD Jesus Christ, WARNING:
"Many will say to Me in that day, `Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, `I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'"(Matthew 7:22-23 ).
Yes, they really had had these experiences. They had prophesied in Jesus' name, they had cast out demons and done miracles in His name. The LORD does not deny that they had done these things, notice that. HOWEVER, then He tells them that even while they were doing these things, He had never ever known them. It is important that our belief be based on the Word of God, The Bible, and not on experiences, because experiences and signs can deceive us.
And, about the gift of healing:
As we have seen, the Apostle Paul was able to heal many sick people all through the Book of Acts. He healed every sick person on the Island of Malta in Acts 28 . And he wrote to the Corinthians about the gift of healing that was operating in their church during the Acts period (1 Corinthians 12:9 ). But we have also seen that with the close of the Book of Acts, the gift of healing ceased to operate. The Apostle Paul could no longer heal anyone, not Epaphroditus (Philippians 2 ), not Timothy (1 Timothy 5:23 ), and not Trophimus (2 Timothy 4:20 ). The gift of healing had ceased to operate, along with the other sign gifts.
Today God no longer gives the GIFT of healing, and there are no "healers." But we should not think that God Himself no longer heals! LOOK, in Philippians 2 we read of a healing that God did after the gift of healing had ceased to operate, "Yet I considered it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker, and fellow soldier, but your messenger and the one who ministered to my need; since he was longing for you all, and was distressed because you had heard that he was sick. For indeed he was sick almost unto death; but God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. Therefore I sent him the more eagerly, that when you see him again you may rejoice, and I may be less sorrowful. Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness, and hold such men in esteem; because for the work of Christ he came close to death, not regarding his life, to supply what was lacking in your service toward me" (Phil. 2:25-30 ).
The Apostle Paul commends Epaphroditus very highly for his faithfulness even unto death. But when Epaphroditus fell sick, near to death, Paul was no longer able to heal him because the gift of healing had ceased to operate. But we read that Epaphroditus was healed, directly by the Lord: "He was sick unto death but the Lord had mercy on him...." There is healing today, but there is NO GIFT of healing, there are no "divine healers." There is no gift of healing today, but God still heals... sometimes. He healed Epaphroditus, but He did not heal the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:8-9, or in Galatians 4:13-15 , or Timothy in 1 Timothy 5:23 , or Trophimus in 2 Timothy 4:20 . He heals according to His will today. However, the promise that He gave to the Apostle Paul is still our promise today in the Dispensation of Grace, "My Grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness" (2 Cor. 12:9 ).
Therefore, whether we are well or sick, whether we are like Epaphroditus or like Timothy, we can always claim this promise from Yâ-hwéh Yâhuwshúa`, The LORD Jesus Christ, that His Grace and strength are sufficient for us. He never allows us to suffer something that He doesn't give us the strength to live through.
OK…So what have we learned?
We have learned that we cannot scripturally free the Gospel of Grace from Israel’s Kingdom program, from religion, water baptism, signs and symbols, by closing the overlapping, or Transition, period with Stephen’s message and martyrdom, in the year 35 A. D.; or with the Apostle Paul’s message and program at Ephesus, in the year 54 A. D.; or with Paul’s Epistle to the Corinthians in the year 58 A. D. The only intelligent conclusion must be that the sudden closing of the Book of Acts, in the middle of the Apostle Paul’s epistles, must be the close of the overlapping or Transition period.
Therefore, once again, Israel’s Kingdom program, religion, water baptism, and signs are absent in the Holy Spirit’s messages, through the Apostle Paul, to and for the Gentiles, after the close of the Book of Acts.
In those messages, after the close of the Book of Acts period, the unmixed Gospel of Grace is so clearly set forth by the Apostle to the Gentiles. Do we not see that all of the attempts today to duplicate or perpetuate the signs of Jesus Christ and His apostles are worse than futile? And can we not see that it is the subtlety of Satan to corrupt minds from the simplicity that is in Yâ-hwéh Yâhuwshúa`, The LORD Jesus Christ, by perverting the Gospel of Christ? Do we not see that every endeavor to prove the signs of Mark 16 , or 1 Corinthians 12 , for this Age of Grace, can only produce skepticism, unbelief, fanaticism, or demonic infiltration?
The absence of the signs is NOT due to unbelief. Let me say that again…The absence of the sign gifts is NOT due to unbelief, but due to God’s change in His program at a later time. It is our duty to find, and KNOW that time. As defenders of The Faith we must maintain something more than a passive attitude toward this delusion of the absence of sign gifts resulting from unbelief.
If we have the curative for this menace, shall we withhold it because of the fear of controversy?
There are FAR too many Teachers, and Pastors among Christian Fundamentalists who can NOT offer any intelligent Scriptural explanation as to why the Transition period program is or is not God’s program, for the Body of Christ during this Dispensation of Grace, the Dispensation of the Mystery. THAT is a real shame. For that matter, I have yet to find the first unprejudiced, honest, intelligent, sincere student of the Word of God, who believed in some form of sign gifts including water baptism, who did not change those views after studying the subject thoroughly in the light of what we have shown above in this article, and in other writings here on LLM.
As we observe that the last record of a believer’s baptism with water is in Acts 19 , about 54 A.D., and that various signs are recorded in that same chapter, we should be not only willing but eager to diligently search the Scriptures until we find why and when those accompanying signs became separated from water and ceased; and why the “Church” during the centuries has held on to the water without the signs.
What intelligent student of the Word of God can disprove or will refute the statement that in Romans 9 , Romans 10 , and Romans 11 , God is setting the nation Israel aside? That Epistle was written not earlier than the year 60 A. D... Who can follow Paul from the time he wrote that Epistle, on to Jerusalem, and there behold him in the temple with a vow, and then on to Caesarea, and Rome, without learning that Israel was NOT set aside until the Apostle Paul pronounced that final judgment recorded in Acts 28:25-28 ?
Therefore…What intelligent student of the Word of God has not discovered a mixture of Israelitish Kingdom truth with the Grace of God in the Book of Acts?
Most significant are these words, “Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it.” These words are found in Acts 28:28 . After this declaration there is the general statement that the Apostle spent two years in his own hired house in Rome. The Book of Acts closes suddenly with this statement, but gives no details. Undoubtedly, many students of God’s Word have often wondered why the Book of Acts ended this way. The last fourteen chapters of the Book of Acts deal principally with the ministry of the Apostle Paul. Paul’s ministry did not cease with the close of Acts, but that Book does not give us a record of his ministry after this general statement referred to.
We read and learn in Romans 11 , that blindness was God’s judgment sent upon Israel, and that that blindness would remain upon the nation until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in. In Romans 11:13 , the Apostle Paul magnifies his office as the Apostle to the Gentiles. In Romans 11:11 he states that salvation is sent to the Gentiles to provoke the Jews to jealousy, having quoted in Romans 10:19 from Deuteronomy 32:31 , that the Lord would anger Israel by a foolish nation.
Again we state that any Bible student should learn from reading these three chapters in Romans and the closing verses of the Book of Acts, that the Jews, had retained their priority rights until after the Apostle Paul’s declaration in Acts 28:25-28 . In the seven Epistles that Paul wrote after that judgment was declared, surely, his ministry was exclusively to the Gentiles, and so different in many respects.
The overlapping Kingdom transition period had ceased and with the cessation of that transition, God’s order to the Jew first had ceased. Miracles, water baptism, signs, wonders, and tongues, mentioned 198 times before Paul reached Rome, cannot be found once in his Epistles written from Rome.
During the transition period, the Apostle Paul in the Jewish synagogues had reasoned out of Jewish Scriptures that Yâ-hwéh Yâhuwshúa`, The LORD Jesus Christ, was the Messiah. And as this declaration in the four Gospels and in the ministry of the twelve apostles in the Book of Acts was accompanied with water baptism and signs, so was the same ministry of Paul to the Jews.
Healings and other signs were God’s proof to Israel that Yâ-hwéh Yâhuwshúa`, The LORD Jesus Christ, was their Messiah: these signs, including water baptism, were so that Christ might be made manifest to Israel. Israel was temporarily set aside with the close of Acts. Signs and water baptism had served God’s purpose, and he, or she, who would go on to perfection, from babyhood to full age, must pass out of the Transition period into the full revelation and blessing of Body truth!
So There You Have it!!
1. #10 PastorDavid
2009-08-1301:28:58 Dear Brother Tonym77,
Today God no longer gives the GIFT of healing, and there are no "healers." But we should not think that God Himself no longer heals! LOOK, in Philippians 2 we read of a healing that God did after the gift of healing had ceased to operate, "Yet I considered it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker, and fellow soldier, but your messenger and the one who ministered to my need; since he was longing for you all, and was distressed because you had heard that he was sick. For indeed he was sick almost unto death; but God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. Therefore I sent him the more eagerly, that when you see him again you may rejoice, and I may be less sorrowful. Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness, and hold such men in esteem; because for the work of Christ he came close to death, not regarding his life, to supply what was lacking in your service toward me" (Phil. 2:25-30).
The Apostle Paul commends Epaphroditus very highly for his faithfulness even unto death. But when Epaphroditus fell sick, near to death, Paul was no longer able to heal him because the gift of healing had ceased to operate. But we read that Epaphroditus was healed, directly by the Lord: "He was sick unto death but the Lord had mercy on him…" There is healing today, but there is NO GIFT of healing, there are no "divine healers." There is no gift of healing today, but God still heals… sometimes. He healed Epaphroditus, but He did not heal the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:8-9, or in Galatians 4:13-15, or Timothy in 1 Timothy 5:23, or Trophimus in 2 Timothy 4:20. He heals according to His will today. However, the promise that He gave to the Apostle Paul is still our promise today in the Dispensation of Grace, "My Grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness" (2 Cor. 12:9).
Therefore, whether we are well or sick, whether we are like Epaphroditus or like Timothy, we can always claim this promise from Yâ-hwéh Yâhuwshúa`, The LORD Jesus Christ, that His Grace and strength are sufficient for us. He never allows us to suffer something that He doesn't give us the strength to live through.
Here, then, is something of God’s “sign-less” program after the close of the Book of Acts. Physical remedies for physical diseases mixed with prayer. Some saints were raised up to the glory of the LORD, and some were left sick to the glory of the LORD.
“For which cause we faint not; for though our outward man decay thoroughly the inward man is renewed day by day”. 2 Corinthians 4:16. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are called according to His purpose” Romans 8:28 .
And, let us never forget the truth of Romans 8:23, “And not only they but ourselves also, which have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.”
We groan as Children of God, because we have bodies of humiliation, corruptible bodies, bodies which are daily decaying, and thoroughly. It doesn’t matter whether saint or sinner resorts to physical remedies, to religious cures, or to Divine healing, the death rate will continue to be one apiece until Yâ-hwéh Yâhuwshúa`, The LORD Jesus Christ, appears to change the bodies of His saints that they may be fashioned like unto His own glorious body.
Now, it is a fact that our Heavenly Father does hear the prayers for saints who are sick, and does restore some of them, no Child of God will or can deny, but this is so different from the “SIGN” gift of healing.
The Child of God who is a careful student of the Book of Acts, and the “Acts” period, will learn that during the first nine chapters of Acts, God’s order was, “to the Jews, and NOT to the Gentiles”, (Acts 3:29-32, Acts 10:28, and Acts 11:19). Then from Acts 13:1 to Acts 28:28, God’s order was “to the Jews first and also to the Gentiles. Acts 13:46; Acts 18:5-6; Romans 1:16; and Romans 11:11-30. The SIGN gifts were for God's SIGN people, Israel!
Then in Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians, Titus, and 2 Timothy, written after the close of Acts, God’s order was no longer “to the Jews first.”
We know that it was certainly NOT an OVERSIGHT on the part of the Holy Spirit that He made no mention of “signs”, “miracles”, “tongues”, and “healings”, in the Apostle Paul’s Epistles, written after Acts 28:28. There is a marked absence of signs, and the sign gifts in Paul’s prison Epistles. In this connection we should study in 1 Corinthians 13:8 and 1 Corinthians 13:13 what was to pass away and what was to abide.