March 2 - March 8

SDA Sabbath School Lessons

#10 Sign or Power Gifts

Read for this  
week's study:
Acts 8:9-25; 13:4-12; 14:3; 19:11-20.
Memory Text: "It is my pleasure to tell you about the miraculous signs and wonders that the Most High God has performed for me. How great are his signs, how mighty his wonders! His kingdom is an eternal kingdom; his dominion endures from generation to generation" (Daniel 4:2, 3, NIV).
The Lessons:
The Discussion:
We invite youi to join the  SSNET moderated email discussion group. You are also warmly invited to join a group discussion of this lesson Sabbath morning (usually 9:30 AM) with your SSNETlocal Seventh-Day Adventist congregation.

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Sabbath -
 March 1


That was the title of the tract handed out by a person on the street corner. It claimed that the Holy Spirit was waiting to "repair" people through astounding miracles. Our first reaction to such an approach is usually one of caution. But the Bible recounts that signs and wonders are real.

We often downplay miracles, signs, and wonders because we are concerned that they will be confused with their counterfeits. But, our missionary literature is filled with stories of the miraculous. It seems we are willing to acknowledge these signs and wonders as long as they happen at a physical distance. Ask yourself whether and how you can legitimately experience these signs and wonders.

Sunday -
 March 2

SIGNS AND WONDERS (Mark 16:15-20).

In the Bible, signs and wonders fall into three categories. First, the phrase is applied repeatedly to the miracles witnessed in Egypt at the time of the Exodus. Second, personal testimonies are related by individuals who had astonishing experiences with God's power. Third, in the early church, signs and wonders provided direct testimony to unbelievers that Christianity is the true religion.

After the New Testament period, signs and wonders became less common. Ellen White tells us they will become common again during the latter rain, though not as prominent as in Christ's day. (See Selected Messages, book 2, chapter 5.)

What does Mark's version of the great commission say about signs and wonders in the experience of the disciples? Mark 16:15-20.

In the Bible, signs and wonders appear particularly at times of crisis or when they have some prophetic significance.

Historical Period Signs and Wonders
Moses and Joshua The Exodus and the conquest of Canaan
Elijah and Elisha Revival and rescue from apostasy
Jesus and the apostles Most notable period of miracles, signs, and wonders
Latter rain Revival of highly visible signs and wonders

How did Peter connect signs and wonders with the messiahship of Jesus? Acts 2:22.

Signs and wonders are evidence to unbelievers, and to doubting believers, that God is indeed working in a certain circumstance or occasion. The Lord may choose to use them at any time for that purpose.

John Calvin wrote: "Paul calls them signs, because they are not empty shows, but are appointed for the instruction of mankind; wonders, because they ought, by their novelty, to arouse men and strike them with astonishment; and mighty deeds, because they are more signal tokens of divine power than what we behold in the ordinary course of nature." - Quoted in R.V.G. Tasker, The Second Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians (Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans, 1958), p. 180.

Monday -
 March 3

THE GIFT OF PROPHECY (1 Thess. 5:19-21).

Definition: The gift of prophecy is the special ability that God gives to certain members of the body of Christ to receive and communicate an immediate message from God to His people through a divinely appointed utterance.
The gift of prophecy figures prominently in the Bible. There are two general kinds of prophecy, called "classical" and "predictive." Classical prophecy deals with the contemporary situation. The writings of Isaiah and Jeremiah are examples. These men received some messages that were primarily directed to the people of their own time, and other messages that contained predictive elements. Daniel and Revelation contain much predictive prophecy.

The gift of prophecy may function long-term or short-term. As in the case of Ellen White, a person may receive a lifelong call to prophetic ministry. On the other hand, the Holy Spirit may choose to assign the gift of prophecy temporarily, often to resolve a difficult issue that needs clear intervention by the Lord. Notice two special people at Jesus' dedication. Simeon, a priest who had long prayed to live to see the Messiah, was "moved by the Spirit" and gave a short prophecy about Jesus' life (Luke 2:25-35). Anna, a long-term prophetess, gave no prophecy of the future, but she witnessed diligently to all who would listen (Luke 2:36-38). Simeon, a short-term prophet, gave a predictive message.

How do false prophets figure into the prophetic picture? 1 John 4:1; 1 Thess. 5:19-21.

False prophets bring true prophets into disrepute. Truly spiritually gifted people often fall victim to people who invent their own so called giftedness. On the other hand, we can't be so overly cautious that we neglect the clear indications of the Bible about the validity of the gift of prophecy. (Read again 1 Thess. 5:19-21.)

"The light of prophecy still burns for the guidance of souls, saying, 'This is the way, walk ye in it.' It shines on the pathway of the just to commend, and on the way of the unjust to lead to repentance and conversion." - My Life Today, p. 42.

In a certain church, a member claimed to have prophetic visions at 5:00 a.m. every day. She spent most of her time visiting parishioners, and undoing everything the church leadership did based on her supposed gift of prophecy. How would you and your church handle a situation like this?

Tuesday -
 March 4


In terms of highly visible divine interventions, these are two of the more spectacular gifts of the Spirit. We are all familiar with the practice of these gifts in the early Christian church. We are also familiar with experiences related in missionary literature. How about ourselves, close to home? When was the last time you and your family experienced a miracle, such as a divine healing?
Definition:The gift of miracles is the special ability that God gives to certain members of the body of Christ to serve as human intermediaries through whom it pleases God to perform powerful acts that are perceived by observers to have altered the ordinary course of nature.
Miracles come in all sizes and shapes. Assuming that the miracle is not a deception, the key principle is that God is the author of all true miracles. He uses people to perform miracles according to a need He knows about, not according to our perceptions.
Definition: The gift of healing is the special ability that God gives to certain members of the body of Christ to serve as human intermediaries through whom it pleases God to cure illnesses and restore health apart from the use of natural means.
There are people with this gift who pray for the sick according to the instructions in James 5:13-20, and people are healed. Some people pray for miracles, as did Elijah, and miracles happen. Yet Elijah was a man just like us" (James 5:17, NIV). He was spiritually gifted by God to accomplish a task for the advancement of the kingdom.

How does Satan again try to counterfeit true gifts, especially during the loud cry and the latter rain? Rev. 13:13; 16:13, 14.

"Satan, surrounded by evil angels, and claiming to be God, will work miracles of all kinds to deceive, if possible, the very elect. God's people will not find their safety in working miracles, for Satan would counterfeit any miracle that might be worked. God's tried and tested people will find their power in the sign spoken of in Exodus 31:12-18. They are to take their stand on the living Word - 'It is written.' This is the only foundation upon which they can stand securely. Those who have broken their covenant with God will in that, day be without hope and without God in the world." - Selected Messages, book 2, p. 55.

Wednesday -
  March 5


Spiritual warfare is a modem phrase for an old battle. Adventists usually call it the great controversy between Christ and Satan. Often the battle lines become closely drawn, and the forces of good and evil are embroiled in tangible battle. A classic example is Elijah's experience on Mount Carmel. Other examples are Jesus' confrontation with a legion of demons (Mark 5:1-20) and Paul's confrontation with Elymas the sorcerer (Acts 13:4-12).

Definition: The gift of deliverance (or exorcism) is the special ability that God gives to certain members of the body of Christ more than to others of casting out demons and evil spirits.
This gift is alluded to, but is not directly mentioned in any list in the New Testament. (See Matt. 12:22-32; Luke 10: 17-20; Acts 8:5-8.)

How did Paul react to the declarations of a young girl in Philippi? Why did he react this way? Acts 16:16-18.

The gift of deliverance or exorcism has been abused and misused in such spectacular ways that it is often hard to tell the true from the counterfeit. But in spite of these counterfeits there are times when Christians are called upon to do open battle with the forces of evil.

Definition: The gift of intercession is the special ability that God gives to certain members of the body of Christ to pray for extended periods of time on a regular basis and see frequent answers to their prayers, to a degree much greater than that which is expected of the average Christian.
This gift is also alluded to, though not directly mentioned, in the New Testament. (See James 5:14-16; 1 Tim. 2:1, 2; Col. 4:12, 13.) Prayer for others results in answers that although not always recognizable, are nonetheless dramatic and effective.

Have you ever been involved in a situation in which these gifts were utilized? Have you ever been involved in a situation in which special things happened, but you weren't too sure about their validity? How can you be prepared to tell the true from the false if ever you should find yourself in such a situation?

Thursday -
 March 6


These three gifts are included with the power or sign gifts because they are readily apparent and highly visible. They are definite signs to non believers that a Christian presence is in their midst.

What do the following verses say about each of these gifts?

Text and Gift


1 Cor. 13:3; Acts 7:60  
Voluntary Poverty  
1 Cor. 13:3  
1 Cor. 7:7; Matt. 19:12  

Definition: The gift of martyrdom is the special ability that God gives to some members of the body of Christ to undergo suffering for the faith, even to death, while consistently displaying a joyous and victorious attitude that brings glory to God.
Definition: The gift of voluntary poverty is the special ability that God gives to some members of the body of Christ to renounce material comfort and luxury and adopt a personal lifestyle equivalent to those living at the poverty level in a given society in order to serve God more effectively.
Ellen White remarks about Nicodemus: "[Nicodemus] used his wealth in helping to sustain the church at Jerusalem and in advancing the work of the gospel.... He became poor in this world's goods; yet he faltered not in the defense of his faith." - The Acts of the Apostles, p. 105.
Definition: The gift of celibacy is the special ability that God gives to some members of the body of Christ to remain single and enjoy it; to be unmarried and not suffer undue sexual temptations.

Paul was himself an example of this gift. Being unmarried is not necessarily the same as having this gift. Those who have this gift remain single because they feel they can serve the Lord better that way.

Friday -
  March 7

For more information on devil possession and the gift of exorcism, read in context Matthew 8:32; 9:33; 15:28; 17:18; Acts 5:16. See, also, the SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 5, pp. 575-578, and The Great Controversy, chapter 31. There have been outbreaks of so-called "deliverance ministries" in the Adventist Church that have gone far beyond the bounds of biblical guidelines. For more information, you can obtain a number of documents from the General Conference Biblical Research Institute on this subject.

For further information on modern-day martyrs, see James and Marti Hefley, By Their Blood: Christian Martyrs of the 20th Century (Milford, Mich.: Mott Media, 1979).

A word of warning: The kinds of confrontation with the forces of evil experienced through signs and wonders are not for everyone. Satan is no one to fool with. Ellen White, writing to Moses Hull, an early Adventist evangelist who later became a spiritist, remarks: "You have parleyed with Satan, and reasoned with him, and tarried upon forbidden ground, and have exercised your mind in things which were too great for you, and by indulging in doubts and unbelief have attracted evil angels around you, and driven from you the pure and holy angels of God.... You went to battle with Satan and his host without an armor, and have been grievously wounded, and are insensible to your wound." - Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, pp. 428, 429.

  1. Why do you suppose we hear more about signs, wonders, and miracles in nontechnological societies?
  2. Does God intend Christians to exercise such gifts in areas where there is ready access to advanced medical knowledge?
SUMMARY:  Sign or power gifts are those that demonstrate the power of God in highly visible, often spectacular ways. The gift of prophecy is also included in this category. These gifts are still as valid as any other gift, but they are less common. The Lord usually uses them to solve extraordinary problems.

Inside Story Prayers Answered in Mongolia, Part 2

Scott Christiansen

Some bad press had hampered ADRA's work in Mongolia, and cast doubt upon the church, as well. Then some unexpected television news coverage of ADRA assisting the elderly in the retirement home helped repair the image of the church and ADRA in Mongolia.

Meanwhile, ADRA was busy working on several other projects: supplying nutrition supplement bars to children and nursing mothers, providing desperately needed supplies to a region in which the only hospital had collapsed into a pile of bricks and twisted metal, and caring for nomadic mothers who had no clinic in which to give birth. Garden projects were introduced to help poor women provide for their families; and a low-cost, highly insulated housing design was introduced to the country. Several of these projects received media attention. But the government still had doubts about ADRA.

Then ADRA was asked to help provide desperately needed laundry facilities for the country's only infant orphanage. The orphanage housed 130 infants and toddlers but had no adequate laundry facilities. Most laundry was washed by hand in tepid water, then hung over stair railings and steam radiators to dry. But the building often was so cold during Mongolia's bitter winters that the laundry never fully dried. Babies often were dressed in inadequately laundered, damp clothes.

ADRA surveyed the situation and agreed to provide an institutional-size washer, water extractor, and dryer large enough to meet the needs of the orphanage plus take in laundry from hotels that would generate income for other improvements. The facilities required a new laundry room, and ADRA added new linen to the list.

Top government officials were invited to the inauguration ceremony for the new laundry facilities, and as a sign of ADRA's acceptance in the country, they all agreed to attend. The wife of the U.S. ambassador to Mongolia, who had worked as a volunteer at the orphanage for two years, called the laundry equipment a "dream come true." And the wife of the Mongolian president accepted ADRA's donation on behalf of the people of Mongolia. At the end of her speech she said with a smile, "Oh, yes, we know ADRA, and we are happy they are here."

Scott Christiansen has been the director of ADRA/Mongolia since 1994.

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