The Abiding Gift of Prophecy

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Chapter 18—Evidences in the Third and Fourth Centuries

That the presence and operation of the heavenly gifts were needed to meet the mighty forces of evil that were arrayed against the cause of God after the ascension of our Lord will be readily admitted. In the first centuries of the Christian era, Jews and pagans alike were bent on the utter annihilation of the Christian church. To meet this powerful opposition successfully, the disciples required superhuman wisdom, grace, and power. That need was supplied through the spiritual gifts imparted to the messengers of the cross by their Lord who sent them forth. The mighty deeds wrought by these gifts through the apostles, and then by the godly men of the second century, as we have seen, were still continued to some extent in the third century. This is attested by modern church historians who have given the subject exhaustive investigation, and by the testimony of pious men who were eyewitnesses of what took place in those ancient times. AGP 189.1

After reviewing the evidence left on record by writers of this period, the historian Robert Miller says: AGP 189.2

“Now from all these testimonies it plainly appears that the miraculous powers bestowed on the church, and as a remainder of the apostolic spirit, did continue till toward the end of the third century, which did very much tend to overthrow the heathenish idolatry, and to promote the success of the gospel, notwithstanding all opposition.” “History of the Propagation of Christianity and the Overthrow of Paganism,” Vol. I, Cent. III, pp. 318, 319.

This testimony accords with the view of Ulhorn that “witnesses who are above suspicion leave no room for doubt that the miraculous powers of the apostolic age continued to operate at least into the third century.” AGP 189.3

No search for the presence of the gifts between the second and fourth centuries would be complete if it failed to include AGP 189.4

mention of claims to the possession of the gift of prophecy made by the Montanists. Unfortunately, the meager records available have been preserved chiefly by those opposed to the gifts. These gifts have, in turn, ever been misunderstood and maligned by the opposers of God’s gracious provision; therefore, too much reliance cannot be placed upon the testimony of its rejecters. AGP 190.1