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Signs & Wonders – Part 5 (finale)

posted Apr 4, 2017, 1:16 PM by First Baptist



In this series, we’ve been considering the different views within Christianity on the subject of signs & wonders, and specifically, whether we should expect God to perform signs & wonders today (even here in Harlan).

 

I’ll be honest about my interest in this subject. First, I have a longing to see the expression of God’s power in our midst. I believe signs & wonders would be a tremendous encouragement to the church. They would also serve as a “wake-up call” to the people of this community who are indifferent to God.

 

Second, I’m concerned about the lack of evangelism taking place in Harlan. The church in Harlan seems to be shrinking, not growing. Would signs & wonders help reverse that? Does Christianity need a “re-launch” in Harlan?

 

 

4 Views

 

Just to recap, there are 4 views, or schools of thought, on this matter of signs & wonders:

 

1.      Cessationist view: Since Jesus’ ascension, the ability to perform signs & wonders was limited to the apostles.

2.      Charismatic/Pentecostal view: The ability to perform signs & wonders is an ongoing gift to the church; it’s no different from any other spiritual gift.

3.      Third Wave view: The performance of signs & wonders should normally accompany a church’s evangelistic efforts.

4.      Open but cautious view: Open to the possibility of signs & wonders today, but concerned about the abuse of the gift that seem to exist within many Charismatic/Pentecostal and Third Wave groups.

 

For example, Mike Bickle, a leading Third Wave advocate (founder of the International House of Prayer in KC), admits that 90% of the supposed manifestations of signs & wonders claimed today are not of the Holy Spirit. This leads one to ask: If not of the Holy Spirit, what is the source of these manifestations, many of which are quite bizarre?

 

 

Conclusions & Application

 

One, the Bible does not explicitly teach either the cessation or continuation of signs & wonders.

 

Two, at the same time, there is strong biblical evidence that the miraculous activity recorded in the book of Acts was intended for & limited to the formative years of the church. The activity also appears to have been limited to the apostles and a few designees. This is attested to by the writings of the post-apostolic church fathers.

 

Three, since God hasn’t explicitly said “yea” or nay” on the subject of signs & wonders, we must be open to the possibility. But, we must also heed the exhortation to “test everything” (I Thessalonians 5:21).

 

Four, there are no examples in Scripture of the Holy Spirit causing believers to behave in the bizarre, out-of-control fashion that is common is some Pentecostal & Third Wave circles. Indeed, one of the fruits of the Spirit is “self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).

 

Five, the proclamation of the Word does not require signs & wonders to be effective. The Word is powerful in & of itself (Romans 10:17). (I needed to be reminded of that!)

 

Six, the church grows when it combines faithful proclamation with extraordinary love. If the church is not growing in a particular region, it’s probably because one or the other of these (or both) is lacking.

 

Seven, throughout history, God has sometimes healed the sick in response to the prayers of His people. Thus, the church shouldn’t hesitate to pray for the sick in accordance with James 5:14-15.

 

Eight, there’s no harm in praying for signs & wonders, so long as it’s done with right motives (James 4:3).

 

Based on the above, I personally ascribe to the open but cautious view. What about you? I would love to hear your thoughts.

 

 

Pastor Dan

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