There may be no greater controversy and misunderstanding in the Western church today than the subject of the Gifts of the Spirit, including the “sign gifts”–tongues, miracles of healing, and prophecy.
Most believe these gifts passed away with the disciples or with the completion of Scripture, but history tells a far different story. Justin Martyr, in the 2nd century, said, “For the prophetic gifts remain with us even to the present times.” He described church initiation as “baptism in the Holy Spirit.” And Irenaeus and Origen, among many others of their day, all practiced and witnessed numerous miracles. Augustine, in the 5th century, who originally believed the gifts had passed with the disciples, later said he witnessed more miracles in his lifetime than he could possibly record. Symeon, in the 11th century, called on believers to “return to the charismatic and prophetic life of the primitive church.”
In the modern era, John Wesley, “God’s firebrand,” said God had given numerous witnesses that his hand was still “stretched out to heal, and that signs and wonders are even now wrought by his holy child Jesus.” The same could be said of Jonathan Edwards, George Whitfield, and Charles Finney.
One of the main texts used by those who claim the gifts have passed away is 1Cor.13:8-12, which in part says, “when the perfect comes (which they claim is the completed Bible), then the childish things (sign gifts) will be done away.” But even if one believed their interpretation here, it further falls apart in vs.12: “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face…now I know in part, but then I will know [Him] fully, just as I have been fully known.”
Face to face? With who? The completed Bible? I think not. “Face to face” requires a person, and that would be Jesus when we get to heaven. The Bible has been completed for almost 2000 years. Do we now know Him fully? If we did, then we would have no further revelation of Him when we get to heaven. I don’t believe it is possible to “known Him fully” in this world, but only in our resurrected future.
And, of course, we won’t need the sign gifts, or any of the Spiritual gifts in heaven, they will seem like “child’s play” compared to being with Him “face to face”