While it is accepted that God does not speak through signs and visions now that the full Scriptures have come, does He still do so in areas of the world where saints are imprisoned without a Bible, or where the Bible is not available, or disallowed by the authorities?
I do not think that where the Scriptures are not available, or are banned by authorities, we can say that God will again choose signs and visions to speak to people. There is nothing in Scripture to suggest this. There are still countries today where Bibles are not freely or readily available, but God nevertheless is still at work through many who speak to others about the Saviour. They do not need confirmation of the Christian message by signs and wonders. It is by the consistent testimony of believers in such countries and by their spreading the gospel that God by His grace saves.
We might enquire WHEN and WHY did the sign gifts disappear? For the benefit of the readers of this page, we believe that they ceased when the canon or revelation of Scripture was complete. This we submit is seen in the "When that which is perfect is come" of 1 Corinthians 13.10. The discontinuation of these sign gifts is in time, for it would surely be hardly necessary for the apostle to prove that they would not be needed in heaven. Sign gifts were mainly given as a testimony to the nation of Israel (see 1Cor 1.22; 14.21), and as a confirmation of the new age of grace and the gospel (Heb 2.4). God is not now dealing with the Jew nationally. Thus, these signs served their purpose.
Equally, in light of the question we might ask WHERE do these sign gifts disappear? It would be quite wrong to put a limit on the places where signs will not be seen. Scripture gives no hint whatsoever that God today has set boundaries within which signs do not operate, but may do so elsewhere. If the sign gifts have been withdrawn, they have been withdrawn for the whole world. So the answer to the question is, "No, God does not speak today anywhere by signs and visions". It is not now characteristic of His work in this present church age.
John J Stubbs
"Had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory" (1 Cor 2.8). Does the first part suggest that all mankind are ignorant and brought to pass the Fathers will?
It is necessary to consider the context of the statement introducing the question. The apostle has clearly shown in the earlier verses of 1 Corinthians 2 that the gospel message owes nothing whatsoever to human wisdom; he now demonstrates that it embodies the wisdom of God. The message declared was Gods wisdom in contrast to the wisdom of this world and of the princes of this world that "are coming to nought" (lit.) (v.6); the policies of those referred to as "the princes of this world" are destined to become ineffective, since they can never accomplish their desired end.
The phrase "in a mystery" is linked with Gods wisdom; it was a secret of God made known only by revelation. It is spoken of as "the hidden wisdom" for it was kept secret in past ages, but it is now made known to the people of God. The fact that this mystery was predetermined before the world (ages) shows that the whole purpose of God for salvation was no afterthought.
Twice within the scope of vv. 6-8 we read of "the princes (rulers) of this world"; in v.6 "the wisdom of this world" is distinguished from the wisdom "of the princes of this world". The primary reference is to those who were in positions of responsibility at the time of Christs crucifixion, " had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory", for Peter says "I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers" (Acts 3.17) and the Lord Jesus prayed, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" (Lk 23.34). Yet Pilate, Herod and the other rulers were not recognised for any special wisdom. Thus Paul also may have been referring to the spiritual and demonic rulers of this present age (Col 2.15).
The wisdom of this world has its origin in the rulers of this age of which Satan is the prince (Jn 12.31). Admittedly such spiritual rulers would have to work in and through human rulers. They did not understand the hidden wisdom of God; they did not realise that the crucifixion of the Lord of glory would result in their ultimate overthrow.
However, it was all part of Gods plan; it was according to "the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God" that Christ should be "taken" and "crucified and slain" (Acts 2.23). So says Paul, "For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every Sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him" (Acts 13.27).
David E West