Matthew 4:19; 12:39; 16:4; 28; Mark 9:39; 16:14-18; John 3:30; 4:48; 7:37-39; Acts 2:22; 4:30; 15:12; 19:11; Romans 15:14-33; 1 Corinthians 14:1-2; Galatians 2:20-21 and Philippians 3:10
"Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders," Jesus told him, "you will never believe." John 4:48
Signs and wonders refers to the miracles produced by the Holy Spirit, such as through the Apostles, especially Paul, as a testimony to God's power and glory. We can see them portrayed in many places in Scripture (Ex. 7:3; Duet. 4:34; 6:22; 7:19; Isa. 8:18; Dan. 6:27; book of Acts). Also referred as powers and miracles as an instrument to point to God's confirmation as He used supernatural activities beyond our limited knowledge and comprehension to prove His point and demonstrate His Word. They were also used to show the authority of the Apostles and those sent by God such as Stephen who healed people who were sick beyond current medical knowledge. This was the authentic witness and proof of God. Signs are never pointed to themselves or the human performer; rather, they point to the Person and Work of Christ (Acts 2:4-12, 22, 43; 3:7-9, 11-12, 16; 4:30; 6:8; 14:3; 15:12; Rom. 15:19; 2 Cor. 12:4-12; Heb. 2:4; 6:1-12).
This topic has been in hot debate amongst many schools of thought between Christians for the last couple of decades. Many say they have stopped, others say there are functioning but are rare, and others go overboard to the point of manipulation and using electronic and magician tricks to seek to perform them to captivate a crowd in "Jesus name." However, the Bible gives no indication that the Signs and Wonders have stopped. They may be rare, but nonetheless they are here and working. When we do see them, we are to be discerning and seek scientific and psychological reasons before we jump to conclusions. If we do not, we get ourselves in trouble by falling prey to shysters and manipulators using cheep magician tricks to distract us away from God's truth.
Are Signs and Wonders for us Today?
Yes! It is often debated as to the normative aspect and whether or not it continues today. Some scholars propose that miracles are no longer a function of the church, and were just a part of "redemptive history." However, there is no Scriptural support for that position! Miracles may be rare, but to say they do not happen puts a limit on God's sovereignty. God has no limits; hence, why "process theology" (God is evolving, such as evolution) or "dispensationalism" (God is limited by time periods and contracts) is not rooted in Scripture, only in the minds of men.
What need to do biblically is to seek what the Scriptures have to say regarding Signs and Wonders. Remember the scope, purpose and context of the passages and the reason they are being used. When we do this, we find that the purpose of Signs and Wonders was to glorify Christ, not put on a show! When the manifestations become center stage, we miss the point of them, placing the focus on the delivery of the message, and ignoring the message!
It saddens me that so many people in this and perhaps each generation seek a sign and wonder. Nothing is wrong, per say, with signs and wonders; in fact, I have experienced and even done some mind-blowing stuff. But, I also have seen a big problem when people seek sensationalism and not Christ as Lord of their lives. I am amazed at how some Christians can view a show of faith in some deed and feel "blessed," and not show faith with their own trust and obedience in Him.
Are Signs and Wonders just a Performance?
NO! Too many people think that faith is a performance thing on a stage. Did Jesus say something against this? Yes, He did in John 4:48. We can also see in John 3:30 what is important, also in Galatians 2:20-21 and Philippians 3:10. Yet, all too often, we seek ourselves and not Him. We seek excitement and look for miracles instead of Him. This is what I have seen in my travels and experiences. I am not a Pentecostal; I believe that even though miracles are for today, in reality they are few and far between. Most claimed miracles I have seen are just temporary and cheap magician tricks used to captivate large followings; they are devoid of the real faith and substance of Christian growth. We see people on TV being healed from various unseen aliments. We do not witness the blind seeing, the lame walking, the deaf hearing, or the dead living; rather, we only see a depression ended, an alleged tumor disappear and arthritis stopped; then, in a few hours, these aliments are back. But, is there real faith? I cannot judge that, but I do not believe so, because we tend to seek a show and not Him. And yet, I have seen real miracles; in fact, I actually laid my hands on a real, sick, and paralyzed woman in India in the summer of 2003; with a prayer, and as documented by two local doctors trained in England, she became well. Oh yes, I was surprised! And, yet, I was not, because I know my Lord and He does heal and do amazing things. However, the real wonder was not the "show" that amazed many people (especially me); it was her spiritual growth, from the darkness of Hinduism that had captivated and enslaved her, to the Light of Christ that freed her.
Such a commitment meant she sacrificed her family and home and became literally "on the streets" because her community rejected her. Those who were there only to see the wonders were quickly gone, waiting for the next show, with no hope or real gospel in their lives. She was not a person seeking a show to entertain her, rather a God who could work in her. She remained strong and is doing well, I am told. The wonder is not the healing; the real wonder is taking faith, making it real, and using it to catch others. We have to ask; what are we seeking in and from faith? Is it a show or is it the impact of His real wonder-that of His Word indwelling and working in us? What about the real wonder of His transforming work that dissolves our pride, creates our character, and builds our maturity? There is the real wonder, that of being contagious to others for Christ. A show will do nothing to create real authentic faith, which is why Jesus "puts it down" in the book of John. Yes, the Apostles had amazing powers as the Spirit began His permanent work in the world; signs and wonders were a primer to the pump of faith. We can even see some signs and wonders at work today. But, even with wonders, the people who came to faith in Acts and in the streets of India today did not do so because of the wonders; rather, it was because of the work of real faith given to us by the Spirit. We are called to seek, and then respond with faith. It is not a show; it is not entertainment; it is the reality of Christ's work in us.
How are Signs and Wonders to be Seen and Used?
Seeking a show from God is like just looking at an advertisement billboard, getting excited about the product, but never using the product. Signs and Wonders in the Bible are meant to point us to where the action is, they are not the action in of themselves; Christ is.
God calls us to be earnest, that is, to be pursuing a serious, deep-rooted and determined faith. It is a call to persist in our faith and determination, regardless of obstacles-physical limitations, spiritual depression, spiritual warfare, or our circumstances. If everything came to us instantly, there would be no growth, no appreciation, no maturity, and no faith. Faith requires resistance and struggle to make it flourish and grow. God is not the One Who always holds us back; it is usually our refusal to reach out and seize the opportunity. It is we who refuse to exercise our faith and grow. It is we who speak just a simple prayer with no earnest thought behind it, with no zeal or realization of God's mercy and Grace. We get so caught up in our own struggles that we do not look past the crowd to call His Name. We do not realize that He will stop, look, and listen-just for us.
What we ask for in prayer is determined by our will and desires. When our eyes are on obstacles rather than the possibilities, on self and not on Christ, we may miss an opportunity as Christ walks on by, not responding because we do not have the faith to call out. We will miss His call, as our eyes are too preoccupied with the junk of life, the enticements of sin, the busyness of our own will, the seeking of the right opportunity, the perfect open door, or a sign. What we seek can be wrong and even be an insult to the One who created and loves us. We need to see with a vision that goes beyond our eyes, a vision of faith and determination based on His Word and precepts rather than what we desire and think we need. This will enable us to see what may be-not just what is. Be the one who looks up and sees who the Lord really is, and be willing to call His Name. Be willing to surrender all to Him as LORD!
What Does God want you to Receive from Signs and Wonders?
We are called to taste His goodness and grow in it, to let Christ impact us continually and effectually and not to let ours or others weeds of pride and pretences take up His precious room in our minds and souls.
Many people have their opinions of who Jesus is from how we leaders and pastors display Him. Is He truly your LORD, or is He a convenience or a show or a compartment of your life, or even just a puppet for us to get your way with God? Or just a tool to grow "your" church? If you really think this through, you may be surprised what you find, because how you live out your Christian life is a true reflection of who Jesus is to you. Just as how we use Him in our ministry! If we ignore His voice and shirk our responsibilities by following bad theology or making a mere show of our Lord, we forfeit so many of His True wonders and the enjoyment of life in Christ. Allow Christ to weave and thread His Life, Truth, and Way in and through you; there is no better way. So, are you serious about your faith and His Word, then display Him properly and in reverence, for He is our LORD GOD (Gal. 5; Heb. 12:25)!?
Ask yourself, what I am seeking in and from faith? Is it a show or is it the veracity of His Word, His transforming work that dissolves our pride, creates our character, and builds our maturity?
More questions to ponder:
- How is Jesus Christ displayed in your life as supremely greater than all?
- Who is Jesus to you? What have you done with this knowledge? Do you see, feel, and know His Divine Fullness?
- Do you realize that through Christ, we have everything that is important and effectual for eternity? What can you do to make this more effectual?
- What can you do to better pay close attention to the teachings of the Word and not to false trends?
- How do our apathy in Bible knowledge and foolish preoccupations cause us to drift away from the Word of God and His wondrous precepts and call?
- What can you do to make sure you do not miss the real wonders and opportunities He has for you?
- How and why is it our responsibility as leaders to learn and partake of His precepts? How can it help you to understand that God cares and empowers us?
- How will you react and respond to His Word as well as signs and wonders from now on?
- How can your reverence and gratitude for who and what Christ did help you in this quest to grow deeper in Him?
- How long can you go on in your Christian faith without learning and growing? How will you lead your life or do what is right?
To do what is right, we have to know what is right; to grow in Christ, we have to know Christ, and we know Him by knowing His Word. For us to mature in our faith formation we have to grow; and we grow by listening to the solid food God has for us in His Word. We pay attention not just to the sign but to what the sign points to. In this way, we will be trained to know how to lead godly lives and be a resource and inspiration and perhaps an instructor in the ways of the faith to others too.
Praise the LORD. Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who finds great delight in his commands. Psalm 112:1
© 2006, R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development www.churchleadership.org