("From Power for Witnessing," Chap. VII.)
One important office of the gifts of the Spirit is to bear Witness to the truthfulness of the word preached. Of the ministry of tile Great Teacher, Peter spoke thus on the day of Pentecost: "A man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know." Acts 2:22.
Paul writes thus of the witnessing office of the gifts of the Spirit: How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also hearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will? Heb. 2:3,4.
"And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the Word with signs following." Mark 16:20. "Long time, therefore, they (Paul and Barnabas) tarried there (at Iconium), speaking boldly in the Lord, which bare witness unto the Word of his grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands." Acts 14:3, R.V.
The disciples understood the need of these confirming cures and witnessing wonders; and we read how they prayed definitely for them, and how the Lord just as definitely gave them that which they asked. Here is the prayer:
"And now, Lord, behold their threatenings; and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy Word, by stretching forth thy hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus. And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spoke the Word of God with boldness." Acts 4:29,31.
Thus clearly do the Scriptures teach that the gifts of the Holy Ghost are given to approve, to witness to, and to confirm the preaching of the Word. The signs and wonders are not the things of greatest importance.
The all-important thing is the preaching of the Word, and the "signs and wonders,' and "divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost," follow to bear witness that the Word spoken is the Word "which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord."
The healing of the sick must, therefore, follow the preaching of the Word. "Preach the kingdom of God" and "heal the sick," is the order in which the commission is given. It is therefore evident that if the Word is not preached, God will not confirm it with signs following. For God to confirm the preaching of anything but the Word, would be for him to confirm the preaching of a lie. If there is, therefore, any failure in the preaching of the Word, there must inevitably follow a failure in the signs following.
That there is a failure in the preaching of the Word today, is plain to those who are not entirely blinded by the god of this world. Of this time wrote the Apostle Paul in his letter to Timothy, thus:
"I charge thee in the sight of God and of Christ Jesus who shall judge the quick and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the Word. . . For the time will come when they will not endure the sound doctrine; but, having itching ears, will heap to themselves teachers after their own lusts; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and turn aside unto fables." 2 Tim. 4:1-4, R.V.
Will God confirm the preaching of fables? Then this falling away from the faith to fables is reason enough why God should refuse to confirm such preaching with signs following. Back to the Word, my brother, if you are seeking the witnessing signs. Back to the Word which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, before you begin to teach the fable that witnessing signs and wonders were for the apostles only. God working with them! What a blessed association in labor! "The Lord working with them, confirming the word with signs following." What a glorious experience the early disciples must have had when the Lord worked with them confirming the Word! But why look back? He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He will work with us again, and confirm the Word again, if the church will get back to that Word; for at the time he was working with them, confirming the Word with signs following, he promised his presence to us today, when he said: "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." Matt. 28:18-20.
And for what will he be with us? To work with us, of course. And how does he work with us? It is by confirming the Word with signs following.
The absence, therefore, of the confirming signs is a sad and solemn witness to the fact that there is a failure somewhere in the preaching of the Word.
Reader, does this touch your heart? Does it make any difference to you whether the Lord works with the church and confirms the Word, or whether he does not? I confess that it concerns us deeply, and "for Zion's sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth." Isa. 62:1.
And now, dear reader, I have tried in this pamphlet to give a reason for the hope that is within me with meekness and fear. If you are able to see clearly where I have missed the narrow way in my search after truth, point it out to me, giving scripture and verse. Four years have passed since my separation from the denomination, and not a single soul in the church has come to me, Bible in hand, desiring to show me from that Word where I am wrong.
On the other hand, if you see light in anything presented here, don't reserve your words of appreciation for the obituary, but say them now. Though the man with an unpopular message must receive his encouragement from the same place he obtained his message, yet it is a part of the reward of the man in the minority, to hear the witnessing words of those who have been helped by his ministry. There will be plenty to condemn, therefore the encouraging word of the few will be the more appreciated.