Q. Which gifts in the New Testament are considered “sign gifts”? Is it just the gift of tongues (1 Corinthians 14:22)?
A. Certainly tongues were one of the “sign gifts” but in 1 Corinthians 12:28, we have others mentioned. “And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.”
We can quickly see that the underlined gifts are “sign gifts.” They were special gifts given at the beginning of Christianity, with the descent of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2. These signs were to confirm the word that the disciples were sent to preach, because the written Word of God was not complete, nor the full revelation of truth yet given the way it is now.
“So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, He was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen” (Mark 16:19-20).
“I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:1-3).
When was the last time you prayed for the President, Prime Minister, or leader of your country by name? Are you praying daily for the salvation of those in power over you? Scripture is very clear that we need to be specific in prayer. We tend to be very general sometimes and with one sentence cover everyone from pole to pole. God wants us to pray for individuals, by name. Let’s pray this way in connection with world leaders, and see what power there is in specific prayer.
If Christians would spend more time and energy praying for those in power, it would have a greater effect than trying to lobby against them.
“Only let your conversation (behavior) be as it becometh the gospel of Christ” (Philippians 1:27).
The story is told of one of the Dauphins (heir to the French throne) who had an English tutor. This teacher found his princely pupil very difficult to handle. Proud and haughty, and impatient of restraint, the young man submitted unwillingly to schoolroom restrictions, and his foreign instructor was at his wits’ end to know how to deal with him. One morning as his pupil came to him the tutor placed upon his jacket a purple rosette, saying, “This is the royal color, and as you wear it I want you to remember that you are the Crown Prince of France, and that it is your duty to always behave in a princely way. If you are willful or disobedient I shall, of course, not attempt to punish you, as that is not my business, but I shall simply point to the purple, and you will understand what I mean, that I do not feel your behavior is worthy of a princely lad.”
Let’s remember at all times that we are a “son…an heir of God through Christ” (Galatians 4:7).
“Then was Jesus…tempted of the devil” (Matthew 4:1).
“He is able to succour them that are tempted” (Hebrews 2:18).
Never lose sight of the fact that your Lord has walked the same pathway as His people. He was not exempt from temptation—in fact we read that, “He Himself hath suffered being tempted” (Hebrews 2:18). To know that the Lord Jesus Himself has passed this test is a great comfort to the sorely tried child of God.
The devil is a master at tempting the believer, but he himself has a master. What a source of strength it is to know that God’s Word declares that “God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). As Christ overcame temptation, so He will give strength to His people to overcome, and He will do this because of His faithfulness. Temptation is common to all believers, but grace to resist the devil with all his subtle approaches is available from the “God of all grace” (1 Peter 5:10).
“This is my beloved, and this is my friend” (Song of Solomon 5:16).
“What a friend we have in Jesus.”
Are you ready to start the week in company with your best friend; the “Friend that sticketh closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24)? Don’t leave your room or home today without the conscious sense of the presence of the Lord Jesus, so that you can enjoy sweet fellowship, and so that you can turn to Him at anytime and in any situation.
Life may not be easy this week, and you have no idea what unexpected twists and turns the road of life may have, but with the Lord by your side, and dependence on Him, you can make it through. One of the Old Testament prophets tells us: “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31).
“And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight” (Acts 20:7).
Here is what characterized the believers at the beginning of the Christian era, and here is the example for us to follow even though we are at the end of that era now. You may have wondered why we remember the Lord every “first day of the week” rather than some other day or only a few times a year. We get our example from what is recorded here in God’s Word regarding the early Christians who came together with the purpose of remembering the Lord in the breaking of bread on Sunday, or as John refers to it later on, “the Lord’s Day” (Revelation 1:10).
Don’t ever let it become an empty ritual—one that means nothing to you. This time should be the highlight of a Christian’s week, the time when we spend a few moments thinking of Jesus our Saviour and what it cost Him to get us to heaven.
This is a day when, in general, people are turning away from the light of the gospel, and choosing rather to walk in darkness. The following account shows how God worked to first bring the gospel to England several hundred years ago.
When the first missionary who came to England arrived in Kent, he presented himself before the king to solicit permission to preach the gospel in his dominions. After long deliberation a negative was about to be put upon his application when an aged counsellor, with his head silvered over with grey hairs, rose, and by the following speech obtained the permission which was requested. “Here we are, like the birds of passage; we know not whence we came, or whither we are going; if this man can tell us, let him speak.” That missionary’s visit was the morning star of the day of Gospel Light, which has so long shone through. Many today are turning their back on it.
“God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6).
“Four living creatures…and they had the hands of a man under their wings” (Ezekiel 1:5,8).
The living creatures in Ezekiel’s vision had “hands…under their wings.” What an ideal for the Christian. Hymn-writers and singers have written and sung about both wings and hands. For example: “Give me the wings of faith.” And also: “Take my hands and let them move, at the impulse of Thy love.”
Here we see the necessity of combining heavenly aspirations with earthly duties. The wings of faith carry us into the place of holy contemplation and communion, when the things of earth grow dim and the glories of heaven shine brightly. But while we remain here on earth we have to serve, and hands are essential for this. There is no doubt that they who exercise their wings daily will know better how to use their hands in service for Christ and others.
If through constant use of our wings we have learned the secret of communion with God, we shall be the better equipped for communication to our fellow men through our hands.
“And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice” (1 Kings 19:12).
The loudest speaker is not always the most effective. It is possible to rant and rave and make a tremendous din, yet make little or no impression on the hearers.
Leaves and flowers unfold silently, and the most profound thoughts may be expressed in quiet utterances. The whisper of God is more powerful that the shouting of men.
Elijah on Mount Horeb had an ear that was tuned to catch the whisper of God, while he had remained unmoved by the crashing and flashing of that which preceded it.
Lovers have secrets between themselves, and they whisper to one another of their love.
We can expect that He whom we know as the Lover of our souls will from time to time whisper in our ear.
Pray for such sensitivity to His voice that we shall hear His whisper, and distinguish His voice amid the reverberation of the world around us, and say, like Samuel, “Speak; for Thy servant heareth” (1 Samuel 3:10).