More often than not, it would seem that continuationists (those that believe the sign gifts of the Apostles endures beyond the apostolic area) would say that supernatural manifestations in an external way are a sign of Salvation/ of being Spirit filled. I thought of the danger that follows this line of thinking the other day as I was reading through Matthew 7. In verse 15-20 Jesus speaks about how you will know a tree by its fruits; He then in a wonderful way gives pitures that stick in the mind, “Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?” (v16b). Clearly from the text we are told that a genuine Christian will produce certain proofs, certain fruit should be evident.
This is where it gets interesting. In the very next passage (v21-23) Jesus gives an example of something that can certainly not be a sign of genuine faith, He says, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.” So if there is anything we can know for sure when considering the fruit from verse 15-20, it cannot be prophesies, casting out demons and many miracles.
Yet for many continuationists today miracles, casting out of demons and prophesy is the type of proof sought after to validate true Spirit-filled life. Which may shed light on some other typical continuatinist doctrines, like…
The insecurity of Salvation, generally continuationists (unless they have been exposed to reformed theology like much of the New Calvinism) hold to a position that says one can lose their Salvation, thus meaning eternal life is not really eternal. Perhaps a sufficient cause for leaning towards this teaching is that the signs they go after to see what tree a person is are really not signs at all. We should not be surprised then when people who claim to prophecy and do other ‘miracles’ turn out to deny the faith.
This is a good example of the consequence of bad exegesis, or at least not taking into account all of Scripture when coming to conclusions on particular points of doctrine. May God help us all to continually search the Scriptures and see our blind-spots as we grow into the unity of the faith