Are Signs and Wonders for Today?


Date: 3/13/04

Revised: 3/8/10

Author: Bruce W. Roeser


One of the most confusing topics in the church today is the concept of miraculous signs and wonders – how the Holy Spirit is working today.


The denominational church teaches in many cases that the believer is a conduit for God’s power in some supernatural way.  The believer is often taught that God will speak to them in some way apart from the written Word of God as if we were under control of the Force like a Jedi Knight.  The trouble with this is that it is inconsistent with the scriptural view for this dispensation.


The problem is, once again, that the denominational church (and most believers today) have not taken the time to study the Word in enough depth to observe the changes taking place during the Acts period.  Once again it is a failure to “rightly-divide” the word of truth.


Just as seriously – the reason that people reach wrong conclusions when they study the Word of God is simply because they choose to “hear what they want to hear” rather than hear what is said.  Tradition, religion and denominationalism rely heavily on this to lead people into conclusions they might not reach once they examine the fact.

First Things First

In order to anchor this or any other subject of doctrine we need to establish where our final authority is. For the purpose of this (and any other study on this website) our final authority is always based on the Majority Text – also known as the Received Text  (A.K.A. the Textus Receptus).  At present there is only one English translation of this text.  This translation is known as the Authorized Version or more commonly the KJV.  This fact is not open to debate within this website (other than the lessons that particularly deal with the subject) since to do so would side-track any message being taught.

Miraculous Signs

We cannot deny that there were signs and miracles shown during the early Acts period.  We also cannot deny the fact that there were signs even among Gentiles before the close of the Acts period.


Some folks believe that all true believers possess the miraculous powers of Pentecost.  The Lord in giving his “great commission” explicitly said:


Mark 16:17-18 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.


Other folks believe that certain people are granted the power to work miracles, especially miracles of healing.  During the early Acts period, the Lord gave healing powers to specific individuals and it was obvious that they had the power of God.


Acts 3:11 And as the lame man which was healed held Peter and John, all the people ran together unto them in the porch that is called Solomon's, greatly wondering.


Acts 4:14 And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it.


As to the alleged evidence of the present-day supernatural “healers” in the present-day Church … do they really possess this power?  If so, then upon what scriptural basis do they make this claim?


Miracles and Spirituality


The usual reason given for the lack of “spiritual power”, ability to heal or display other spiritual signs and wonders is lack of spirituality or lack of faith.  Is this a credible statement?  Let’s have a look at the Corinthian Church as an answer to this idea.


The Corinthian Church – far from being perfect, could be described by a number of different characteristics.

Carnal and divided


1Cor 3:1-4 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. 2. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. 3 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? 4 For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?


Immoral


1Cor 5:1-2 It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife. 2 And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.


Dishonest and Oppressive


1Cor 6:7-8 Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?  8 Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren.

Unfaithful in giving


1Cor 9:11-14 If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things? 12 If others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ. 13 Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? 14 Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.

Selfishness and pride


1Cor 11:21-22 For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken. 22 What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not.


However – even in the midst of all these failures the Corinthian church abounded in miraculous gifts!  Is it possible, then, that Christ was driving the situation there rather than basing things on the performance of the individuals?


1Cor 1:4-8 I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; 5 That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; 6 Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: 7 So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: 8 Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.


1Cor 12:8-11 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;  9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;  10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: 11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.


Note above it says “severally as he will”.  It would appear that the distribution of spiritual gifts is not based on the merits of the individual to whom they are distributed.


1Cor 14:12 Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.


Note here that Paul makes a point of saying that, even during that time, that they should excel to the edifying of the church … not excel in healing, prophesying or impressing everyone with their signs and wonders!  Read the entire chapter of 1Cor 14 and understand the context.  It is easy to see that the gift of tongues (speaking in foreign languages) was present and visible at this period in church history – however it is clear that the purpose of speaking in tongues was to deliver information.  This bears no resemblance to the tongues movement of today.


1Cor 14:26 How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.

Significance of the Signs


The signs were given during times of great crisis in Israel’s life – E.G. Moses, Aaron & Elijah and Elisha.


It was predicted by the prophets that miracles would abound at Messiah’s coming:


Isa 35:4-6 Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you. 5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. 6 Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert.


Acts 2:22 Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:


Rom 15:8 Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers:


The signs and wonders were a sign to Israel that confirmed the promises made by the prophets.  Israel always required a sign. (And so do we in this present age it seems).


1 Cor 1:21-24  For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. 22  For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: 23  But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; 24  But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.

Miracles among the Gentiles – and the validation of Paul’s authority


Acts 10:44-47 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.  45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. 46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, 47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?


Why did even Paul perform miraculous signs and wonders?  Because even though Paul was entrusted with another commission “The Gospel of the Grace of God” he confirmed Peter’s message to the Jews that Jesus is the Christ.  God was providing Israel with confirmation that Paul, the Chief of Sinners, was specifically chosen.  Once that fact was established then Paul’s delivery of the Grace Message of the new dispensation would be ratified by God to the Jews.


2Cor 12:11-12 I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing. 12 Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.


After God performed miracles through Paul, he was then of sufficient credibility to make the following statement.  Though he was speaking directly to the Gentiles at this point, no doubt, many Gentiles “required a sign” also as the program to get to God was previously through Israel and it would make sense that Gentiles would be a sensitive to the credibility of the signs as the Jews would be.


Rom 11:13-15  For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:  14  If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them. 15  For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?


2 Pet 3:14-16  Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. 15  And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; 16  As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.


Gal 2:7-9  But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; 8  (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:) 9  And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.

Miraculous Gifts Withdrawn


1Cor 13:8-10 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.  10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.


In Paul’s early letters, it was already becoming apparent that the miracle gifts were being withdrawn.  Even in Peter’s writings it was pointed out that “signs and wonders” should not be used as the basis for doctrine but that we have a more sure word of prophesy and that it is not subject to anyone’s private opinion or interpretation.  I.E. let it say what it says.


2 Pet 1:16-20  For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17  For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. 18  And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount. 19  We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: 20  Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.


If miraculous signs of healing were still present then why does the creation “groan” while it waits for physical redemption? (Rom 8:22-23)  Why not just go out and fix everything that’s wrong?  The scriptures consistently speak to the development of the inner man, not the improvement of the outer man which is going to eventually perish.


Late in Paul’s ministry he pointed out very clearly that the gift of healing was being withdrawn.


2Cor 12:7-9 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.  8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.

 9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.


1Cor 2:3 And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.


Gal 4:13 Ye know how through infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel unto you at the first.


Phil 2:25-27 Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labour, and fellowsoldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants.  26 For he longed after you all, and was full of heaviness, because that ye had heard that he had been sick.  27 For indeed he was sick nigh unto death: but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.


2Tim 4:20 Erastus abode at Corinth: but Trophimus have I left at Miletum sick.


1Tim 5:23 Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities.


If the sign gifts such as healing were still present why didn’t Paul just heal Trophimus and Timothy by a “laying on of hands”?


If these “faith healers” that we see running around today can really heal people – then why do we still have hospitals?  Instead of making millions in promoting their “faith healing” shows they should be going to the hospitals and healing.


Once again …

1 Cor 1:21-24  For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. 22  For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: 23  But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; 24  But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.


The entire program has changed.  Signs and wonders were an instrument used to confirm things for Israel … not the Body of Christ.

Taking Pleasure in Infirmities


The gift of healing was being withdrawn as Paul wrote his early epistles.  It has been replaced with something better.


Eph 1:3-6 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:  4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:  5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.


2Cor 12:9-10 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.


Note that Paul says here that “when I am weak, then am I strong.”.  Why would he say that if he were able to heal himself physically or if such healing were available today?