One of the founders of the Pentecostal Movement in Britain, Donald Gee was known as the ‘Apostle of Balance’ for his biblical teaching on spiritual gifts and other supernatural phenomena. Here, writing 50 years after the Azusa Street Revival, Gee gives a typically lucid and balanced critique into the place of miracles in modern evangelism
Miracles must enter into any truly Pentecostal revival. They bsupply an essential part of its distinctive witness to the continuing place of the supernatural in the Church. We ought to see miracles in our churches. If we lack them we should be searching our hearts before God. But that does not mean that we should close our Bibles on the subject.
There has been a constant swing of the pendulum – first towards, then away from – emphasis upon miracles in the Pentecostal Movement. By its very
nature the revival is a protest against deadness in the churches. Therefore when it first broke out in power over 50 years ago, and wherever it still breaks out anew anywhere in the world, there is particular emphasis upon the miraculous.
This is as it should be, but invariably it produces extremes and extremists. They in turn provoke others to a corrective swing away from emphasis
upon miracles towards stress upon that which is orderly and conservative.
It has been interesting to watch the pendulum swing.
There is a strong central body of believers, constituting the very heart of the Pentecostal churches, who do not want extremes either way. They
are turning with rightful abhorrence from the fantastic over-emphasis upon miracles that is marking the efforts of certain evangelists at the present time.
They feel that this emphasis is not according to truth, and they recognise that it can cause grievous harm.
On the other hand, this solid body of Spirit-filled believers fear equally the intrusive corrections that may quench the Spirit and make us scarcely recognisable as ‘Pentecostal’. What we ask for is leadership based on the Word of God. We want to go forward, but we refuse to be stampeded into sham revivals. We also refuse to be herded back into a formalism from which we, as well as our fathers, joyfully escaped.
In 1 Corinthians 12:28 we read, “And God has set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles.”
God has set miracles in the Church. Just what does the word mean? The popular idea of a miracle is “a marvellous event due to some supernatural agency‚” (Oxford Dictionary).
Good enough! We can accept that definition, recognising, however, that the nature of the ‘supernatural agency’ is left an open question.
It can be good, or it can be evil.
In the Greek of the New Testament there are two words translated ‘miracle’. One is dunamis – an act of power; the other is semeion – a sign. In
evangelistic and apostolic ministry both have a place. Both words occur in connection with Philip (Acts 8:13) and Paul (Acts 19:11; Romans 15:19). Our Lord confirmed the preaching of the Word “with signs following”. God bore them witness “both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will” (Hebrews 2:4) – in this verse both words are used.