“Signs & Wonders.”
Matt S August 15th 2017 Part 6 (False teachings/heresy series)
How can signs and wonders possibly fit into this series on false teachings and heresy? What is wrong with signs and wonders? Well there is nothing wrong with signs and wonders as long as they are from God.
What I have noticed more recently (and this is not a particularly new thing for the Church), is what I might call an unhealthy obsession with “signs and wonders”. I absolutely believe that we should have signs and wonders, but they need to be in a Biblical context.
Anything that interferes with our relationship with God first and foremost, anything that displaces that relationship needs to be put firmly in its rightful place.
So what’s your problem Matt? Why does this bother you?
I am seeing, hearing and reading of so many Churches, and Christian ministries that seem to focus on “signs and wonders”, as a means of drawing people to God. Well what’s wrong with that Matt? The problem is that the focus is on the “signs and wonders” and not on the Gospel message. So what’s wrong with that, surely they will get the Gospel message if they are drawn in with a few “signs and wonders”? The question I have is, “Will they get the Gospel message?” It does not seem to be so popular these days!! There is a focus that seems to stress that we should be having signs and wonders. If I may be so bold as to say that these groups put signs and wonders up there first, as part of the ministry. It is almost a compulsion to have to have a sign or a wonder performed. It’s like there is something wrong if you don’t have some sign or wonder happen to you.
I watched recently where a man had a degenerative condition and he was prayed for by well meaning Christians for an instant healing right there and then. Some one claimed signs and wonders. Earnest prayers and invocations were made, shouting ensued and he was NOT healed instantly, or at all. So what went wrong? Well it was great that people prayed, I have no problem there. Sometimes my impression is that we think that we can order God around. I’ve been guilty of that. So do we pray for healing? Absolutely we do, but we ask God, we petition him. Sometimes the Holy Spirit will give us a nudge to pray for healing for someone, so are we listening for what God wants us to do?. Sometimes that healing takes place instantly, sometimes it happens slowly over time, or not at all. Why? Because God does things in his way. Isaiah 55:8-9 says;
8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.
9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts.
Whose will is operative here when we start demanding God do something? Why is it that we think we can be ordering God around when he can see the whole picture? We can stand there like small children demanding that our parent do something to fix the immediate need without knowing that God may have other plans and purposes. Did Jesus heal everyone in his time on earth? Find out for yourself the answer to that question if you do not know it already.
So let me ask! If you have an intimate relationship with God and nothing else, will that be sufficient? At the end of the day when all else is gone, what will be left? It will be your intimate relationship with God.
I do believe that God does work in the hearts of people in a miraculous way and does draw people unto himself with healing and miraculous events. So what comes before the sign or wonder, or what comes out of a God willed sign or wonder?
Let’s have a look at some scripture around this.
Mark 16:17-18 says;
17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; 18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
Luke 10:19-20 says;
19 Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. 20 Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.
What stands out here? Mark 16 says “these SIGNS shall FOLLOW THEM THAT BELIEVE”. Luke 10 says [paraphrased] don’t be happy that with Jesus authority, you can order a few demons around, instead be happy that your name is written in heaven (the book of life). What is it that comes first? Is it signs and wonders, or the relationship that you have with God? It is NOT the signs and wonders!! You can’t have a personal relationship with “signs and wonders”.
Now you might figure because Matt is writing the “N” word will come back in (N word) Yup “narcissism”. What does narcissism have to do signs and wonders? Let’s go back to scripture.
Matthew 16:4 says “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign”. In John4:46-50 there is a sense for me, of Jesus having some frustration that people will not believe in him unless there is a sign. In 2 Timothy 4:3 Paul says to Timothy that there will be a time when people (they) will not endure sound doctrine and will want their ears tickled and they will gather to themselves teachers, who will tell them what they want to hear.
I remember some years ago when people learned I was a Christian, they asked me if I spoke in tongues. When I said “yes”, they asked me to speak in tongues for them. I said “no”. They just wanted the novel experience of hearing me speak in tongues; they would have mocked it or disbelieved it, saying that I had just made that up. I was not willing to “throw pearls before swine” in this situation. They just wanted their ears tickled. I should have asked them to come to Church to witness this gift in the body of Christ as per 1 Corinthians 14:2.
I know that the New Testament is full of references to “signs and wonders”, particularly those that followed the ministry and work of the apostles in that time, 2 Corinthians 12:12 attests to this. We know that in the last days that God is going to pour out his spirit on all mankind and we are going to see great signs and wonders Acts 2:17-22 attests to this. The scriptures also tell us that these “signs and wonders” are God directed or “GOD’S WILL”. Acts 2:22, Acts 15:12, Acts 19:11, Romans 15:19, Hebrews 2:3-4 attest to this also.
There are two things that bother me about some of the “signs and wonders” stuff happening in Christendom. The first is the “human nature” aspect of how people react to “signs and wonders”. There are many people who will see the sign or wonder, and then be looking for the next thing. They will not attribute this to God’s power or goodness, or they will forget this very quickly. God will not be in this for them, they will be selfishly (yes the “N” word) seeking what “they” can get from any sign/wonder or “ear tickling experience”. Just think of the Israelites that grumbled against Moses, Aaron and God after they had been liberated from Egypt. They saw hugely miraculous things, but their hearts and minds were not on God, but on themselves. People forget “signs and wonders” quickly. Unless they have recognized God in them, and initiated a relationship with Him. We see these so often with the Israelites in the Old Testament, God had the Prophets warn the people over long periods of time to be obedient, and faithful to Him. Did they listen? No and they ended up in captivity in Babylon, or being overrun by an enemy. Numbers 14:11 speaks Gods mind clearly on this matter. John 12:37 records that even though people were seeing signs and wonders they still did not believe in Jesus.
The second thing that bothers me is the “false signs and wonders”. There are an increasing number of “charismatic personalities” who appear to be giving themselves undeserved titles (Prophet, Apostle). They also seem to be focusing on “signs and wonders” as opposed to a relationship with Jesus generated by the Gospel message. Because we have such a narcissistic culture in the world (and many Churches), people are happy to flock after these self appointed Prophets and Apostles for the “ear tickling” they will receive. Scripture repeatedly warns us about those false prophets and wolves in sheep’s clothing that will perform great signs and wonders. You need to ask what the source of these signs and wonders really are and I will go into this in some future articles.
In a greater sense this scripture below is a serious warning to the “signs and wonders” movement (in my opinion). Matthew 7:22-23 says;
22 Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’
Who is Jesus talking about? Jesus clearly identifies a group of people who believe that they are doing “God’s work”, but they are not!! He tells them to get away from him because he never knew them and they were also a group accused of practicing “Lawlessness”. Those are strong words. So what is the “lawless” bit about? There are a certain things the Bible defines as “Lawlessness” (see research URL). Lawlessness is defined as; without law, lawless, wicked, those that disobey the commandments, those that break civil law, transgressors, those who are unjust in their dealings and of course the “Antichrist” is referred to as the “Lawless One” in Thessalonians. John speaks even more plainly in 1 John 3:4-6, he says;
4 Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him.
To me, practicing sin is doing it in a regular, habitual and unrepentant way, in other words you make a practice of it. I am aware of folk in Christendom who have been regularly engaging in sin whilst staging large revival ministry events. Their sin came to light afterward, they were let off the hook by their overseers with a brief period of abstaining from ministry, and they were back into it. I did not see any evidence of genuine remorse or repentance from these folk. These folk are practicing signs and wonders on a regular basis. The question I have is, how many of the people that flock to these “ear tickling” preachers, actually establish a genuine intimate relationship with Jesus. I don’t know the answer to that but I would hazard a guess that there are probably not many.
The Bible has a great deal to say about “false signs and wonders” and particularly about those in the last days being used as a deception by false prophets, antichrist types and the “Antichrist”. Here is a list of some of the scriptures for you to check out; Matthew 24:24, 2 Thessalonians 2:8-12, 2 Timothy 3:1-5, Revelation 16:14, Mark 13:22, Revelation 19:20, Revelation 13:11-15, Deuteronomy 13:1-5, 1 John 4:1.
I believe we are living in the “End Times” period, and so we must therefore be watching for “false signs and wonders”. This is a hallmark of this time with the Antichrist and his minions performing, “with all power and signs and false wonders, and with every deception of wickedness”. Although this may be denied by some Church ministries, their actions show that they are putting “signs and wonders” ahead of the message of the Gospel. They sideline or minimize that relationship with Jesus that will survive all else. So please be watchful and challenge anyone (gently and in love) who might be promoting signs and wonders ahead of that precious relationship with Jesus. Please allow God to do his work through you, and perform signs and wonders through you. We are called heal the sick and cast out demons by the authority that Jesus gives us. That is God’s way, and He will do it.
Have a good week folks, be alert, and may God bless you in all that you do.
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RESEARCH. (The author of this article may not necessarily agree with all the views expressed in the research material)
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