A gracEmail reader writes, “You said that early Christian writers document miracles for several centuries after the New Testament was written. I have been taught that spiritual gifts and miracles stopped when the Apostles all died. Can you give some citations for your statement?”
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We continue our look at some of many Church Fathers who testify to Christian ministry in the name of Jesus Christ, through which individuals were healed of various diseases or were released from demonic oppression, as follows.
Lactantius (died A.D. 320), “The Epitome of the Divine Institutions,” chap. 51 — “And as He Himself before His passion put to confusion demons by His word and command, so now, by the name and sign of the same passion, unclean spirits, having insinuated themselves into the bodies of men, are driven out, when racked and tormented, and confessing themselves to be demons, they yield themselves to God, who harasses them.”
Augustine, “The City of God,” Book 22, chap. 8 — “It is sometimes objected that the miracles, which Christians claim to have occurred, no longer happen. One answer might be that they are no longer needed as they once were to help an unbelieving world to believe. . . . The truth is that even today miracles are being wrought in the name of Christ . . . .
The fact that the canon of our Scriptures is definitely closed brings it about that the original miracles are everywhere repeated and are fixed in people’s memory, whereas contemporary miracles . . . seldom become known. [Augustine then cites specific examples, naming individuals involved.] . . . It is a simple fact that, that there is no lack of miracles even in our day. And the God who works the miracles we read of in the Scripture uses any means and manner He chooses. The only trouble is that these modern miracles are not so well known as the earlier ones . . . .
Two well-written, contemporary books by responsible evangelical scholars on the topic of present-day spiritual gifts and miracles are Fire in the Fireplace, by Charles E. Hummel (InterVarsity Press, 1993); and Surprised by the Power of the Spirit, by Jack Deere (Zondervan, 1993). The second contains a direct, scriptural refutation of the view that signs, miracles and gifts of the Spirit were only for the Apostles and their immediate acquaintances. I heartily recommend both books to serious inquirers.