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Signs and Wonders: False or Genuine? – Part 5

The presence of miracles in the early church is undeniable. Yet miracles were not the norm; they were the exception. In the entire Bible we see miracles occurring only occasionally. Over the centuries clusters of them are found and they attracted attention because they were unusual. If, for example, miracles occurred every day of the week, they would be so commonplace that no one would take much notice of them.

The sufficiency of the miracles of Jesus to convince a person that he is the Son of God, the giver of eternal life, is stated thus: “Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:30-31) So, as John states, the miracles he has recorded are sufficient to convince us that Jesus is the Christ.

The authority of the early church to spread the gospel was authenticated by miracles that accompanied the apostles and some disciples. Here are a few examples:

  • “The things that mark an apostle — signs, wonders and miracles — were done among you with great perseverance.” (2 Corinthians 12:12)
  • “God also testified to it [the message of salvation] by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.” (Hebrews 2:4)
  • “So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to do miraculous signs and wonders.” (Acts 14:3)
  • “Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.” (Mark 16:20)

Once the message was confirmed and recorded in the inspired Word of God, miracles for this purpose were unnecessary.

Should We Pray For Miracles Today?

Should we pray for miracles today? Yes. There is no biblical reason to prohibit us from doing this. However, we have no right to demand a miracle from God or to presume that he will work a miracle. Advertising ‘A Crusade of Miracles and Healings’ is presumptuous. We have no right to tell suffering people that God will work a miracle if they attend the meeting. God is not our servant who is subject to conform to such advertised programmes. And to tell sick people who are not healed that they don’t have faith is an insult. Surely their presence at the meeting is evidence of their faith.

We have seen loved ones die, marriages fail, friends lose their jobs, poor health destroy a member of the church, although we have fervently prayed for each of them. We pray in faith, believing that our God is able to work miracles, yet may see nothing of the supernatural occur in answer to our prayers. We have referred to John the Baptist and the apostle Paul in earlier articles. God did not choose to prevent John’s death at the hands of the Romans, nor did he remove Paul’s thorn in the flesh. We would certainly not accuse either of them of having insufficient faith. When God doesn’t work a miracle (or when he does), we must remember that he is a sovereign God and will act according to his will. And it is not always within the will of God to perform a miracle. (See previous article.)

We can be certain that should God in his sovereignty perform a miracle today (e.g. heal the sick, raise the dead, miraculously release one of his people from prison) there will be no doubt about it. We will say with confidence, “God is really among you.” (1 Corinthians 14:25)

A Word of Caution

A word of caution. Claims of supernatural happenings are being made today that bear no resemblance to the miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit we read about in the Bible. Today we witness counterfeit signs and wonders that are being used to authenticate all sorts of false doctrine. And people are being deceived and led astray by such falsehood. When people in the Bible were healed, it was always instantaneous. There was no need for a period of recovery because their healing was always complete. Furthermore, the ailment of the healed person was commonly known: he was blind from birth or had been a cripple for almost forty years, he had leprosy, a withered arm or had been dead for four days, etc. Even the enemies of Jesus and the apostles acknowledged these miracles. Yet so much of what we hear and see today is not the same as what we read in the Word of God.

We need to heed the words of our Lord Jesus Christ along with his apostles Paul and John:

  • “For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect — if that were possible. See, I have told you ahead of time.” (Matthew 24:24-25)
  • “The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie…” (2 Thessalonians 2:9-11)
  • “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1)