In volume 2 of à Brakel’s “Reasonable Service” he discusses the marks of true and false churches. The sixth mark he refutes as a mark of a false church is the continuing presence of miracles. To this à Brakel replies:
“Sixthly, miracles are proposed as one of the distinguishing marks of the church. To this we reply:
(1) Miracles do not belong to the distinguishing marks of the true church. This is nowhere to be found in the Word of God.
(2) Miracles are not intended for believers, but for unbelievers; thus the church has no need of them. If one were desirous of bringing an unbeliever into the true church, one would have to perform a wonder time and again, which, however, the proponents of this mark do not do.
(3) The performance of and boasting in miracles in the post-apostolic era, as a means of the confirmation of doctrine, is a distinguishing mark of the anti-Christian church. “Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders” (2 Thess 2:9). This certainly confirms that the performance of miracles does not belong to the distinguishing marks of the church.” (Wilhelmus à Brakel, The Christian’s Reasonable Service, vol. 2, pg. 29.)
Isn’t ironic that the continuists claim to follow Scripture, hence their practice of charismata, yet Scripture nowhere states that miracles are a distinguishing characteristic of the Church. In fact, Scripture takes it for granted that false teacher may perform “miracles.” (Deut. 13:1-5; 2 Thess. 2:9). In fact, Jesus never rebuked the Pharisees for not believing in His miracles; He rebuked their unbelief of His teaching and the Scriptures. The warning of Deut. 13:1-5 is surely behind this fact.
I once knew a missionary who claimed that miracles were, in his words, “the dinner bell to salvation.” I watched him preach and pray for those who came forward to his altar calls. I can’t recall a single miracle. No doubt there were many in his imagination, but there were certainly no verifiable miracles. I don’t buy the claims of healing from headaches or back pain.
Moreover, à Brakel’s point is dead on: where are the people performing verifiable miracles over and over to bring unbelievers into the Church. Indeed the Charismatic doctrine of faith precludes this. On the Charismatic scheme, miracles occur for those who have the faith to believe for their miracle, hence an unbeliever could never receive a miracle. If miracles are to convince unbelievers, we have a catch-22 on our hands. Those who need miracles and for whom they exist can never have one!