What is the purpose of these special gifts of grace?

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God gave special gifts of grace during great periods of transition, such as the times of Moses, the prophet Elijah and the time of the Apostles. During the Old Testament times God showed, through miracles and signs, that He is the true God, that the Israelites are His chosen people, and from among them, the Messiah will be born.

2 Kings 5:15: Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel.

Jesus showed through miracles and signs, that He is God’s Son and the promised Messiah.

Joh. 10:36-38: Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God? If I do not the works of my Father, believe Me not. But if I do, though ye believe not Me, believe the works; that ye may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him.

During the Apostolic times God confirmed His Word through miracles and signs.

Mark. 16:20: And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following.

2 Cor. 12:12: Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.

Beacuse God has already confirmed His Word, we must not demand new signs in order to believe, but we are to believe and adhere to the Apostolic Word of the Bible and to the preaching of Christ crucified, based on this Word. Special signs and miracles are not the marks of a true church, but the only infallible marks of the true Church are the pure proclamation of God’sWord and the Sacraments administered according to Christ’s command.

1 Cor. 21-23: It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: but we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the greeks foolishness.

Luke 16:29-31: Abraham saith unto him: They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them. And he said: Nay, father Abraham; but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the Prophets, neither will they persuaded though one rose from the dead.

Luther: “If we were now to begin demanding such signs, it would be the same, as if we would say: I doubt whether Baptism, the Lord’s Supper and the entire teaching of the Gospel are true. For these have already long been in force, and have been powerfully confirmed, so that such signs and wonders have ceased.” (Sermon on the Mount, 8:1-13, 1535).