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Beware of miracles, wonders and signs
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Beware of miracles, wonders and signs
By Dave Havir

The writer pastors the Church of God Big Sandy and is a regular columnist for The Journal.

BIG SANDY, Texas--Exciting things are happening in the Church of God (a spiritual organism). People are recognizing their freedom in Christ more clearly and are assuming more personal responsibility in their lives.

With that fact of life comes good news and bad news.

Here is the good news: People are looking for the power of the Holy Spirit to be displayed more directly in their lives.

Here is the bad news: People are more susceptible to the allure of wonders and signs.

Because of that danger, allow me to pass along a caution: Be careful of miracles, wonders and signs.

At this time let's acknowledge two conclusions:

o Many wonders and signs were done by the apostles (Acts 2:43; 4:16-30; 5:12; 6:8; 8:6-7; 14:3).

o There do not seem to be wonders and signs today with the same frequency or magnitude of those of the early apostles. (There is a difference between the many examples of answered prayer today and the wonders and signs in the book of Acts.)

Now let's ask the million-dollar question: Why are there fewer wonders and signs today?

Some people would answer: The predominant reason for a reduction in the wonders and signs today is a lack of faith.

They would have a point. According to Jesus (in Matthew 17:19-21), unbelief is an important factor in the lack of some wonders and signs.

However, I do not believe that unbelief is the predominant reason for a lack of wonders and signs today.

Read it yourself

Some people claim that miracles are done only where there is faith and that miracles cannot be done where there is unbelief. Is that true?

o At times Jesus did not do wonders and signs because of unbelief (Matthew 13:58; Mark 6:5-6).

o Yet at other times Jesus most certainly did wonders and signs because of unbelief. Read John 4:48. He said that the people would not believe unless they saw wonders and signs.

Isn't that interesting? Things are not always as cut and dried as they initially appear, are they?

Let's look at another example.

During a stressful time in Jesus' life, He prayed to His Father (John 12:27). God answered with a voice from heaven (verse 28). When the people heard it, they were amazed (verse 29).

Did you ever notice Christ's description in verse 30 about why God answered out loud? Jesus said: This voice did not come for Me, but for your sakes.

Did you catch that? Why did God answer out loud? That's right. Some people needed the wonders and signs to help them believe.

Someone may ask: Why is that important?

If you understand this important reason God did wonders and signs, you might understand the role of the wonders and signs during the lives of the apostles.

I believe that the predominant reason for a lack of wonders and signs today is the will of God.

You heard me right. I don't believe that God is running His church (a spiritual organism) in the same style as He ran it during the apostolic age (during the lives of the apostles).

Stressing His support

God did wonders and signs during the apostolic age (during the lives of the apostles) to show His support for some life-changing events in His plan of salvation at that time.

o God used wonders and signs to show His support of Jesus of Nazareth (Acts 2:22).

o God used wonders and signs to show His support of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Jews (Acts 2:1-4).

o God used wonders and signs to show His support of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon gentiles (Acts 10:44-48; 15:12; Romans 15:19).

With those facts in mind, let me pose three questions for you to ponder.

Fulfillment of Joel?

In Peter's sermon on the Day of Pentecost, he quoted Joel 2:28-32 in Acts 2:16-21. He used phrases like "shall prophesy," "see visions" and "dream dreams."

Peter also used the following phrases: "in the last days" and "pour out my Spirit upon all flesh."

Question No. 1: What is the timetable for Acts 2:16-21?

a. Continuous from the day of Pentecost until today.

b. Primarily preceding the return of Christ.

c. Primarily the millennium.

If that prophecy is being fulfilled continuously from the day of Pentecost, then the lack of wonders and signs is predominantly due to unbelief.

However, if that prophecy is still for the future, then the will of God (His timetable) is the predominant factor.

Jesus' words

In Mark 16:14-18, Jesus talked about believers performing wonders and signs.

Question No. 2: What is the timetable for Mark 16:14-18?

a. Continuous from the day of Pentecost until today.

b. Through the lifetime of those apostles who heard Him.

I realize that Matthew's account (Matthew 28:20) quotes Jesus discussing the making of disciples "unto the end of the world." But that does not prove that the wonders and signs were to also go to the "end of the world."

It is obvious that God supported actual eyewitnesses of Jesus (Hebrews 2:3). How did God show His support for them? He used wonders, signs and miracles (verse 4).

It is also true that some apostles, like Barnabas and Saul, came along later (Acts 9:15-17; 13:1-3).

Greater works

Paul mentioned that wonders, signs and mighty deeds were the signs of the apostles at that time (2 Corinthians 12:12).

(An interesting aside: People who claim we have had an apostle or two within the Church of God in the last 80 years would logically have to agree that the promise of wonders and signs was not continuous to our time. Why do I say that? None of those identified as end-time apostles has performed the wonders and signs that supported the early apostles.)

In John 14:12 Jesus mentioned that those disciples would do "greater works than these" because He was going to His Father.

Question No. 3: What were the greater works?

a. A prophecy referring to magazines, radio programs and television broadcasts in the 20th and 21st centuries.

b. The wonders and signs done through the lifetime of those apostles.

Do you really think that televangelism is greater than what Jesus did in His lifetime, like raising Lazarus from the dead?

Do you really think that televangelism is greater than what the early apostles did in their lifetimes?

End-time deception

How should believers react when they finally see religious leaders demonstrating wonders and signs?

Paul warned about a religious leader coming after the working of Satan (2 Thessalonians 2:9). He will display great power, signs and lying wonders.

John wrote about a religious leader doing great wonders in the sight of men (Revelation 13:13) and deceiving with miracles (verse 14).

Jesus warned about false Christs and false prophets showing great signs and wonders that will almost deceive the elect. Please be careful.

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