Ok, this may sound controversial to some, but with all my heart I write this as an admonition to those who are consumed with the pursuit of signs and wonders, the kind such as gifts of healing, tongues, miracles, words of knowledge, prophecy, etc. Although there may be many well meaning people who truly want to love the Lord and follow Him with all their hearts, I must say that there is a huge danger in chasing after such things. Now, allow me first to say a few things. I know about this stuff. I was part of it for many years when I first started walking with the Lord. I’ve not only been in many services where the focus was on the “manisfestation” of the gifts of the spirit, but I was often part of the “ministry team” who was “operating” in such gifts. So, I’m presenting this as somebody who knows all about it. I’ve been there.
Now, this is not the time or place to argue whether or not the gifts that the apostles had are still for Christians today. Although I will say that if we had the right or availability of such gifts as the apostles (healing, raising the dead, etc.) then why wouldn’t we be clearing out hospitals and cancer wards all over the country? Now, do I believe that God still heals in miraculous ways and we as Christians are free to pray and ask God (not demand or claim) for such healing? Absolutely. But, do I believe that we as Christians are to chase after these spiritual gifts so that we too can perform such signs and wonders? With all my heart, NO. Allow me to explain…
I have been studying through the Book of Acts for months now and I see so much the place of importance that the spiritual gifts, including signs and wonders, had among the apostles. They were given by God simply as a witness or a testimony to confirm their message about Christ. God even set up in His law in the Old testament the system of having two or three witnesses as a means of giving credibility to what a person was saying. Even Jesus said to the people that if they did not believe that He was the Christ, then they should at least believe in the miracles that they saw because those miracles served as a testimony or a witness that Jesus was indeed the Christ. So too with the apostles, the signs and wonders that God gave them were simply a testimony or a witness to the people that the words that they were speaking were completely true. So, understand that the gifts were never ever above the message of God’s Word. God’s Word was, is, and always will be what He uses to bring about repentance and transformation in a person’s heart, not the appearance of signs and wonders. As a matter of fact, the instances in the Scriptures where it is said that people saw the signs and wonders and then believed are those who soon after fell away and no longer followed Christ. Why? Because their focus was on the wow factor of miraculous signs and wonders yet their heart was still blind to receive the truth of God’s Word. Whereas those who remained as faithful followers were either those who simply heard the Word of God without any signs or wonders (I mean, isn’t the Word of God the greatest wonder of them all…that Christ died for our sins and rose again to give us the promise of eternal life) or those who, as a result of seeing the signs and wonders of the apostles, saw their message as one that was truly given by God and ended up believing with all their heart.
I’m reading through the Book of Matthew with Isabela every night. A few nights ago, we were in Chapter 16 where the pharisees were once again asking for a sign to prove that He was the Christ. What was the response of Jesus? One – that only a wicked and adulterous generation seeks after signs and wonders. And two – that He would in fact give a sign, the greatest sign that could ever be given, and that was the sign of Jonah. That just as Jonah was in the belly of the whale for three days, so too the Son of Man would be three days in the heart of the earth.
So, let’s follow this through for a moment as I did with my daughter. The pharisees demand a sign in order to believe that Jesus is the Christ. Jesus says that their hearts are wicked for demanding a sign in order to believe, BUT in fact Jesus does comply with their wicked demand by telling them that a sign would in fact be given, and that sign would essentially be his crucifixion…and resurrection. And what happens when Jesus is crucified and resurrected? Do the pharisees fall down and worship Him as Christ and Lord? I mean, after all, they were given the sign that they demanded, right? Shouldn’t the sign that they asked for now be reason enough to believe that Jesus truly was the Christ? But the truth is that they do not fall down and worship Him. In fact, they reject Him completely. In fact, they actually pay the Roman authorities to make up a story that the disciples came and stole His body in the middle of the night.
So, the million dollar question is…Did the sign cause the pharisees to believe? No. Should the church today be looking for and focused on signs and wonders? No. In the Book of 1st Corinthians 2:22-24, it says this: “Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom. But we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”
In my next post, I will take this further by giving examples in Scripture of those who walked a slippery slope by seeking after the gift of being able to perform signs and wonders as well as give many modern day examples of those in a signs and wonders movement who I believe also are walking in great danger. Stay tuned…