Author: Ron Graham
The Seal and Miracles
—Gifts without miraculous powers
In this lesson we look at the 9th of our 17 principles concerning the promise, oath, and seal of God. Here, as in our previous lesson, we make an important distinction.
9th principle: The seal is distinct from certain miraculous gifts.
1 Not All Who are Sealed Have Miraculous Gifts
We have already learned that every Christian is sealed by God. If gifts such as healing or speaking in tongues were the seal of God, then every Christian would have such gifts. However, of all who have become Christians, and been sealed by the Holy Spirit, only some have been given such powers.
Paul is quite clear that the gifts he mentioned were given "to one", and "to another", yet "not all" received them. (1Corinthians 12:4-11,28-31).
¶“4[Among the members of the body of Christ] there are different kinds of gifts, yet all gifts are given by one and the same Spirit. 5Members serve in different ways, yet they all serve one and the same Lord. 6They do all kinds of works, yet the same God works in all” (1Corinthians 12:4-6).
¶“7To each member, an evidence of the Spirit is given for everyone’s good. 8Truly, to one member the Spirit gives a message of wisdom. To another the Spirit gives a message of knowledge. 9To another the same Spirit gives faith. To someone else, that one Spirit gives the power to heal. 10Another receives miraculous powers, another the gift of prophecy, another the power to discern spirits. Another speaks in various languages, and still another is able to interpret languages. 11All these are the work of one and the same Spirit. He apportions these gifts to each one as he thinks best” (1Corinthians 12:7-11).
¶“12One body has many parts, and the many parts form one body. It is the same with Christ. 13For into the one Spirit, we were all baptized into the one body. This is true for Jew or Gentile, slave or free. We were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14Thus the body [of Christ] is not made up of one part but of many [each with different kinds of gifts]” (1Corinthians 12:12-14).
¶“28Indeed God has appointed in the congregation first apostles, second prophets, third teachers. Then come miracles, gifts of healing, helping, leading, and [the power to speak or interpret] various languages. 29Not all members are apostles are they? Not all are prophets, or teachers, or miracle workers, are they? 30Do all members have gifts of healing? No, and not all speak with languages or interpret them do they? 31So earnestly desire the best gifts while I show you a more excellent way [the gift of love, given to all]” (1Corinthians 12:28-31).
So we conclude that the gifts Paul mentions are not the seal of God —they are not the gift of the Spirit promised to all Christians. And why not? Because not all Christians have those powers.
I think this point is so simple that many people miss it. So let's expand on this a little, just to ensure that it is clear...
2 There is a Diversity of Gifts
Paul does say that God works his diversity of gifts "in all" and that some manifestation of the Spirit is "given to each one" (1Corinthians 12:4-7). "We have all been made to drink of one Spirit" (1Corinthians 12:12-14). This is in harmony with the promise that every repentant and baptized believer receives the gift or seal of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38-39, Ephesians 1:13-14).
¶“37Now when they heard Peter’s words, they were cut to the heart, and asked Peter and the other apostles, 'Brothers, what shall we do?' 38Peter answered them, 'Repent and be immersed every one of you. Do this in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39This promise is made to you, to your children, and to all who are far away; yes, as many as the Lord our God will call.' 40With many other words he testified, and exhorted them, to tell them, 'Save yourselves from this twisted generation!' ” (Acts 2:37-40).
¶“13You also heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. You believed in Christ. Then, in him, you were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit. 14The Spirit is the guarantee of our inheritance toward its redemption as our acquired possession. All this is to the praise of Christ’s glory” (Ephesians 1:13-14).
That is not to say, however, that every Christian is given miraculous powers like tongues, prophecy, or healing. The class of gifts we consider “miraculous” is only a small part of the variety of spiritual gifts that enable ministry.
Paul says, "Not all are apostles, are they? Not all are prophets, are they? And all are not teachers, are they? All do not work miracles, do they? All do not have gifts of healing, do they? All do not speak with tongues, do they? All do not interpret the tongues, do they?" (1Corinthians 12:29-30).
3 Paul Does Not Contradict Himself
We should note Paul’s remark that "not all" have certain gifts. We should compare it with his statement that God works his diversity of gifts "in all" or that a manifestation of the Spirit is "given to each one" (1Corinthians 12:4-11,28-30).
Paul is not contradicting himself here. He is saying that not all have special powers, yet all have the Holy Spirit working in them, and imparting various gifts to them. So that's the simple conclusion we come to...
Every one who is a Christian has the Holy Spirit as the seal of God, and this is distinct from certain special miraculous gifts which were given only to some.