Signs and wonders may follow believers who obey. But are they supposed to follow signs and wonders?
When believers preached God’s word, signs and wonders accompanied their preaching (Mark 16: 14-20). They did not intentionally seek signs and wonders. But as they obeyed God by preaching the Good News, signs and wonders spontaneously followed them. The purpose of these miracles was to attest to the reality and power of scripture. Signs and wonders were the by-product of their faith and obedience as they worked in partnership with God.
However, today, a different scenario exists. Big names and workers of miracles advertise their “services” and often make good money out of their ability to work miracles. Power, fame and money have become the name of the game. Naturally, crowds would follow them to get healed, be ministered to, and to learn the “art of working miracles”. Thus, miracles, power gifts, signs and wonders have become the main focus for some believers. Judging from the adulation these miracle workers receive, it seems that some have become demi-gods.
What is Jesus’ comment about the pursuit of miracles? Jesus warns: “A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah” (Matthew 16:4).
When believers earnestly seek the gifts rather than the Giver, they may open themselves up to deception by diverse spirits. Mesmerised by miracles, they may even be willing to compromise our doctrine.
When Peter healed the crippled man at the temple gate, did he preplan the act? (Acts 3:1-10). Did he tell the crowds to come and observe him as he healed that man? Were there marketing teams to publicise the event? Did he become rich and famous out of his special anointing? Were there lights, camera, special music and ambience to “prime” people to receive healing?
Today’s pursuit of signs and wonders among believers is different from seeking God, praying and allowing Him to act according to His sovereign will. If miracles are released, we praise Him and give Him the glory. If not, we respect His decision. We do not, in the flesh, try to “whip up” God’s presence—in a frenzy—like the prophets of Baal at Mount Carmel.
In our quest for signs and wonders, we need to ask ourselves:
Have we shifted our eyes away from the true finishing line—Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith (Hebrews 12:2)?
Have we neglected other more important considerations? Such as servanthood (Mark 10:45), self-denial (Luke 9:23), love (John 13:35) and knowing His will (Ephesians 5: 17)?
Are we so fixated on signs and wonders that we forget what is of greater priority? Our eternal destiny, of course, is much more important than ecstatic experiences of miraculous power—which may or may not be from God.
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Matthew 7:21-23)
Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.” And He said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:17-20)
So what is the difference between believers who are followed by signs and wonders from those who follow signs and wonders? The primary aim of the former is to seek God and not signs. For the latter, however, signs and wonders are put on a pedestal above other more important considerations.
HAVE MIRACLES CEASED?
It is beyond the scope of this post to discuss, in detail, whether miracles wrought by God have ceased today or not—or they were true only in the days of the early church.
If I may venture an opinion—if God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, and the Holy Spirit lives within believers—how could miracles ever cease today? Those who think that the age of miracles is over—miracles have vanished completely—are trying to put God in a box. Perhaps they have drawn conclusions merely based on intellectual arguments and their limited experience of the supernatural realm.
That said, the scope, magnitude, quality and impact of the miracles that accounted for the phenomenal growth of the early church—and its resilience amid persecution—will probably not be seen again today. Rather, in these end times, we have to be wary about counterfeits from the dark side: False signs and wonders and false workers of miracles.
To reiterate, miracles certainly have not ceased today though its scale probably cannot match that found in the early church. When we consider miracles today, we have to be vigilant against deception.
Cessationism and “charismania”, both of which are false, are on opposite poles of the ‘signs and wonders’ debate. One is too conservative. The other has gone off its rocker. The truth is to be found in the middle of the spectrum.
MAIN SCRIPTURE TEXT
Still later he appeared to the eleven disciples as they were eating together. He rebuked them for their stubborn unbelief because they refused to believe those who had seen him after he had been raised from the dead.
And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone. Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned. These miraculous signs will accompany those who believe: They will cast out demons in my name, and they will speak in new languages. They will be able to handle snakes with safety, and if they drink anything poisonous, it won’t hurt them. They will be able to place their hands on the sick, and they will be healed.”
When the Lord Jesus had finished talking with them, he was taken up into heaven and sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand. And the disciples went everywhere and preached, and the Lord worked through them, confirming what they said by many miraculous signs.
Unaware that there are counterfeits in the spiritual realm, some believers pursue supernatural experiences. After all, they want to feel good—and discover what it is like to be zapped by power.
Excessive preoccupation with signs and wonders has its dangers.
Some church leaders seem to support this premise: “Experientialism is the way to go; experience it and you will come to know the truth.”
For Bill Johnson and his followers, the presence of signs and wonders is more important than anything else—the more of the miraculous the better. Should believers be willing to “go off the map”—go beyond what is found in the Word—in order to embrace the realm of the miraculous?
What do you think is the true measure of a believer? Does it rest solely on how much anointing or power he or she has? Or how many spectacular feats he or she can perform?
How to distinguish between the important, non-negotiable characteristics of a disciple and the less significant traits
SOURCE OF ARTICLE: http://limpohann.blogspot.my/2016/03/followed-by-signs-or-follow-signs.html
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