Signs and Wonders
1 Corinthians 14:1 says, "Eagerly pursue and seek to acquire love; and earnestly desire and cultivate spiritual gifts."
I firmly believe that "signs and wonders" and all the spiritual gifts of 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 are valid for today and should be "earnestly desired" for the edification of the body and the preaching of the gospel. It is perfectly clear that in New Testament, the gospel was authenticated by signs, wonders and miracles of various kinds and descriptions. . . . Was it only meant to be true of the early church? . . . The Scriptures never indicate that these things were only temporary ... never! There is no such statement anywhere.
SIGNS AND WONDERS CONFIRM THE MESSAGE
Mark 16:17 Jesus said; "And these attesting signs will accompany those who believe: In My name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new languages; they will pick up serpents; and even if they drink anything deadly , it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will get well" ... Mark 16:20, "And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord kept working with them and confirming the message by the attesting signs and miracles that closely accompanied it"!
Signs and wonders confirm the message of the gospel and are not to be sought after as a means in themselves. Romans 1:16 says, "The gospel is the power of God unto salvation."
The gospel is the power of God unto salvation, not signs and wonders. Paul says, "Jews demand signs, Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified . . . the power of God." (1 Corinthians 1:22-23). The "word of the cross is . . . the power of God." (1 Corinthians 1:18) Sign-seeking is a diversion from the power of Christ crucified. Thus Jesus himself said, "An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign." (Matthew 12:39; 16:4).
But there is a fatal flaw in bringing these texts against longing for signs and wonders. If desiring signs and wonders dilutes the power of the gospel–then the early Christians and the apostles themselves were wicked and adulterous, because they so passionately wanted signs and wonders with their preaching.
For example, the disciples prayed in Acts 4:30, "Lord, look upon their threats, and grant to Your servants power to speak Your word with all boldness, while You stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus."
Here we have godly men and women praying for signs and wonders to happen in the name of Jesus. And Luke does not portray them as a "wicked and adulterous generation" for doing so. They are exemplary. Not only that, Luke himself labors in the book of Acts to show how valuable signs and wonders are in winning people to Christ. He doesn't portray them as a threat to the gospel, but as a witness to the gospel. The reason the church prayed so passionately in Acts 4:30 for signs and wonders to happen is because God was using them to bring in the harvest.
There are at least 17 separate examples in the book of Acts where miracles lead to conversions. The clearest examples are in Acts 9:34-35 and 9:40,42. Peter heals Aeneas, "And all the residents of Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord." Peter raises Tabitha from the dead, and "It became known to all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord."
There is no doubt that God used the working of miracles–signs and wonders to help bring people to Christ. This is what the Lord wanted us to see in the book of Acts and that's why the Christians prayed for signs and wonders to happen!
Why was asking for signs and wonders in Acts 4:30 not wicked and adulterous, in view of what Jesus said in Matthew 12:39 that ... "a wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign"?
Sign seeking from God is "wicked and adulterous" when the demand for more and more evidence comes from a heart that is resistant to God and simply covers up an unwillingness to believe. But if we come to God with a heart that longs to see His glory and sinners come to Christ, then we are not wicked and adulterous but rather righteous. We are faithful workers in the harvest field and our one desire is to see people swept into the Kingdom of God by the masses. We only want to please the Father.
SPEAKING BOLDLY WITH SIGNS FOLLOWING
Acts 14:3 says that Paul and Barnabas "remained a long time in Iconium speaking BOLDLY for the Lord, who bore witness to the word of His grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands". This is utterly crucial: signs and wonders are God's witness to His word. They are not in competition with the word. They are not against the word. They are not over the word. They are divine witnesses to the value and truth and necessity and centrality of the word (see also Hebrews 2:4; Mark 16:20). Signs and wonders are not the saving word of grace; they are God's testimony to the gospel of grace. Signs and wonders do not save. They are not the power of God unto salvation. They do not transform the heart–any more than music, art or drama which accompany the gospel. What changes the heart and saves the soul is the glory of God seen through an unveiled face. 2 Corinthians 3:18 says, "And all of us, as with unveiled face, (because we) continue to behold in the Word of God as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are constantly being transfigured into His very own image in ever increasing splendor from one degree of glory to another."
Signs and wonders can shatter the shell of apathy and disinterest and they can silence the voice of cynicism. By demonstration they confirm the authenticity of the message and the messenger of the gospel and expose false prophets and religion. Like every other true witness to the word of God, signs and wonders encourage the downtrodden heart toward God and causes the individual to fix their eyes on Jesus. Therefore the early church longed for God to stretch forth his hand to heal, that signs and wonders would be done in the name of Jesus.
The fact that the early Christians prayed so earnestly for signs and wonders (Acts 4:30) is all the more striking when you realize that they, of all generations were in least need of supernatural authentication. If any generation in the history of the church knew the power of preaching and the authentication of the gospel from first-hand evidence of the resurrection, it was this one. Yet it was they who prayed passionately for God to stretch forth his hand in signs and wonders.
Nobody was more jealous for the preaching of the Word in power than Paul. But Paul concluded in Romans 15:19 that "my preaching has been accompanied with the power of signs and wonders, and all of it by the power of the Holy Spirit. The result is that starting from Jerusalem and as far round as Illyricum, I have FULLY preached the gospel in its entirety"!... Paul said I have "FULLY" preached the gospel and he did it with the demonstration and power of SIGNS and WONDERS by the Holy Spirit!
We are coming into times and seasons again where there is a fresh release and desire in the heart of Gods people to see the preaching of the gospel confirmed by demonstrations of the power of signs and wonders like Paul saw. They are just as much for us now as they were for them then. God hasn't changed His mind or protocol. Jesus is the same Yesterday, today and Forever!