In order to answer this question, it is important to understand what was the actual purpose for
the first century miracles. These miracles were carefully planned, and executed according to
God’s purpose. They were not done merely to create an emotional sensation or atmosphere. Nor
were they primarily done for their immediate physical effect. The Bible tells us that the first
century miracles were done in order to confirm the word of God.
As the gospel was first preached and propagated in the days of the early church, the New
Testament had not yet been written. It was a work in progress. The inspired writers would
eventually pen the words which have been preserved to our day and time. But until this was
written down, it was not possible to check and verify what was being taught. They did not have
the means to “confirm the word” as we do today. Thus, God empowered the apostles, and those
upon whom they laid their hands, to perform signs, or miracles of confirmation in order to verify
that their message was indeed from God. That’s why the Bible says that as the early Christians
went everywhere preaching the word, the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word “by
the signs that followed,” (Mk. 16:20).
A thing once confirmed need not be confirmed over and over again. The written Bible is from
God, and is His ultimate confirmation of the word, and we now have it in its completeness and
perfection. Therefore, Jude says, that we must “contend earnestly for the faith which was once
and for all delivered unto the saints,” (Jude 3).
The apostle Paul corroborated these facts, and explained that the miraculous, spiritual gifts of
the first century were temporary. They were given for a limited time, for a specific purpose, until
“that which is perfect is come,” (1 Cor. 13:10). But when the perfect, completed gospel was
written down, the partial revelations, miracles and signs ceased. They had fulfilled their purpose.
Today, we must be diligent about checking that which is taught according to the standard of
God’s word. By comparing it with the written word, we can know whether it is truthful or not.
Like the noble Bereans, we can search the scriptures to see whether these things are so, (Acts
17:11). There is much error being taught in the name of religion. The only way to pierce through
the confusion is to carefully study and humbly accept God’s word, (2 Tim. 2:15).
We can also know that the miracles of the first century were temporary by noticing that they
were bestowed by the laying on of the apostles’ hands. When the gospel went into Samaria, the
Samaritans believed and obeyed, being baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus, (Acts 8:16).
But the miraculous gift of the Holy Spirit was not imparted to them until later, when apostles,
Peter and John, came from Jerusalem and laid their hands on them. “Now when Simon saw that
through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money,”
wrongfully seeking to purchase the same power for himself, (Acts 8:18-19). Since the power to
perform miracles was bestowed through the laying on of the apostle’s hands, as the apostles died
off, those miraculous powers ceased. We do not have apostles on earth today laying their hands
on people in order to bestow the miraculous gifts. These gifts have fulfilled their purpose, and
were finished in the first century.
We need to respect and appreciate the power of God’s word, rather than seeking to go back to
a time when miracles were necessary. As Paul would say, “When I was a child, I spake as a child,
but now that I am a man I have put away childish things,” (1 Cor. 13:11). Trying to go back
reflects poorly on our confidence in the word of God, which in reality is “living, and active, and
sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both
joints and marrow, and quick to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart,” (Heb. 4:12).
Indeed, the scriptures are given “that the man of God may be perfect, furnished completely unto
every good work,” (2 Tim. 3:16). When we are equipped with the powerful gospel of God, we
have no need for partial revelations, signs, miracles, and special operations of the Holy Spirit.
He has given us in his word all that we need (2 Pet. 1:3)!
– by Robert C. Veil, Jr.