Why Signs and Wonders?
THE BIG IDEA: Why does God want us to contend for signs and wonders and healings and miracles in the church? For the glory of God and the salvation of souls.
“It is perfectly clear that in New Testament times, the gospel was authenticated in this way by signs, wonders and miracles… Was it only meant to be true of the early church? … The Scriptures never anywhere say that these things were only temporary – never! There is no such statement anywhere.” (Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The Sovereign Spirit).[i]
It cannot be disputed that signs and wonders are a recurring theme in the Book of Acts:
- Acts 2:19: “I will show wonders in heaven above and signs in the earth beneath.”
- Acts 2:22: “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know.”
- Acts 2:43: “Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles.”
- Acts 4:30: “by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.”
The following Scripture is the fifth time in Acts where Luke wrote about signs and wonders:
“And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people. And they were all with one accord in Solomon’s Porch. Yet none of the rest dared join them, but the people esteemed them highly. And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, so that they brought the sick out into the streets and laid them on beds and couches, that at least the shadow of Peter passing by might fall on some of them. Also a multitude gathered from the surrounding cities toJerusalem, bringing sick people and those who were tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all healed.” (Acts 5:12-16).
Can you imagine the power and presence of God that must have been upon Peter’s life? As he walked through the streets, his shadow passing over someone would cause them to be healed or delivered. No wonder he could say, “What I have, I give to you.” He had freely received the power from Heaven, and he freely gave it to others. This is what we need to do as the church today. We need to get the power of God so we can be a blessing to people who are hurting, broken and needy.
Why does God want us to contend for signs and wonders in the church? Before we can answer that question, what does it mean to contend for signs and wonders? That word ‘contend’ means to struggle in opposition or against difficulties, to wrestle, grapple, battle or fight.[ii] In other words, signs and wonders won’t come easily, and they won’t happen by accident. We need to aggressively contend for them to be a reality in our midst today. Why? For the glory of God and the salvation of souls.
1. For the Glory of God:
Whenever you see Jesus heal someone in the Gospels, the people glorified God. This is one of the most important reasons why we want to contend for signs and wonders to be restored to the church today. Jesus is the Healer. Jesus is the Miracle Worker. It’s all about Jesus. We need to be so careful to give Him all of the glory for what He does. Look at some of these examples:
“Then great multitudes came to Him, having with them the lame, blind, mute, maimed, and many others; and they laid them down at Jesus’ feet, and He healed them. So the multitude marveled when they saw the mute speaking, the maimed made whole, the lame walking, and the blind seeing; and they glorified the God of Israel.” (Matthew 15:30-31).
What was it about Jesus that caused the crowds of people to follow Him? They knew that He could radically change their lives. Jesus gave people words of life, comfort and hope. But it wasn’t just words, it was action, too. Do you know when we’re going to see crowds of people pouring into the church? It will happen when we contend for the supernatural to be released in our midst.
We’re not content with just ‘us four and no more’. We don’t just want to have a little holy huddle on Sunday mornings. We need to get a bigger vision than that, and it’s not just for the sake of numbers. It’s because Jesus has a heart to reach the lost and broken people in our communities, and change their lives. We need to realize there are people all around us who need this Gospel, and reach out to them.
How many miracles have you seen in your life? I’ve seen blind eyes opened. I’ve seen people in wheelchairs get up and walk. Some of the most amazing miracles in the ministry of Jesus were the maimed made whole. Can you imagine seeing someone missing an arm or a leg come to Jesus, and have that missing limb grow out right in front of you – to see them made completely whole? I believe that we’re going to see that in the church again today, and God will be glorified.
Here’s another example: When Jesus raised the widow of Nain’s son from the dead: “Then fear came upon all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has risen up among us”; and, “God has visited His people.” (Luke 7:16). When God shows up and comes for a visit, miraculous things happen. Another example was when Jesus prayed for a woman who had been bound by a spirit of infirmity for 18 years. “And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.” (Luke 13:13).
Whenever someone was healed in the life of Jesus, the people gave glory to God. When notable, remarkable miracles take place, God gets the glory. God is glorified. People have this idea today that says, “I’m just suffering for Jesus, I’m so sick in my body, but I want to glorify you Jesus.” As honorable as the idea may be, that teaching doesn’t appear anywhere in the Bible. Where did the idea come from that God is glorified when we stay sick? The traditions of man. We need to be careful that we base all of our beliefs and practices on the Word of God alone, and not man-made traditions. Every time you see someone healed in the ministry of Jesus, God was glorified. This is why we want to contend for the supernatural realm of signs and wonders to be restored to the church – for the glory of God.
There was a time in the life of Jesus when He saw a man who was blind from birth. His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9:2). His disciples had assumed that the reason this man was sick was because of some sin in his life. It is wrong to think that just because someone is sick that it is a punishment for their sin. “Jesus answered, Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.” (John 9:3). God’s desire for this man was not that he would stay sick, but that the healing works of God would be manifested in his body. After this miraculous healing, this man’s life became a testimony to the power of God.
2. For the Salvation of Souls:
There’s nothing like a miracle to bring people to faith in Jesus. Whenever you see signs and wonders taking place in the Book of Acts, you see many people becoming believers.
Acts 2:2-4: “And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” On the Day of Pentecost – the supernatural birth of the church – three thousand people gave their lives to Jesus. “Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.” (Acts 2:41).
Acts 3:8-10: “So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them–walking, leaping, and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God. Then they knew that it was he who sat begging alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.” When Peter and John healed the crippled man, two thousand more people came to faith in Jesus. “However, many of those who heard the word believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand.” (Acts 4:4).
Acts 5:12-14: “And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people… And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women.” When many signs and wonders took place, many more people became Christians.
Acts 9:32-35: “Now it came to pass, as Peter went through all parts of the country, that he also came down to the saints who dwelt in Lydda. There he found a certain man named Aeneas, who had been bedridden eight years and was paralyzed. And Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus the Christ heals you. Arise and make your bed.” Then he arose immediately. So all who dwelt at Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.” This is one of the most amazing, convincing stories in the Book of Acts telling of the importance of signs and wonders in leading people to Jesus. One miracle – one paralyzed man healed – and two whole towns were saved! Wouldn’t that be something to see this taking place in our communities today? One person with an incurable disease or an addiction encounters Jesus and gets set free – what would that do to our cities and towns? Wouldn’t it be something to see a whole town come to faith in Jesus as a result of a miracle? That would be exciting to me.
Acts 9:36-42: “At Joppa there was a certain disciple named Tabitha, which is translated Dorcas. This woman was full of good works and charitable deeds which she did. But it happened in those days that she became sick and died… And since Lydda was near Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent two men to him, imploring him not to delay in coming to them. Then Peter arose and went with them. When he had come, they brought him to the upper room. And all the widows stood by him weeping, showing the tunics and garments which Dorcas had made while she was with them. But Peter put them all out, and knelt down and prayed. And turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. Then he gave her his hand and lifted her up; and when he had called the saints and widows, he presented her alive. And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed on the Lord.” Here’s another example of one miracle transforming a community. Peter raised a woman from the dead, and many people were saved.
There are at least seventeen stories in Acts where signs and wonders led to either one or many people being saved. So why are we contending for signs and wonders today? Because when miracles happen, many people will come to faith in Jesus.
It is important to note that an emphasis on signs and wonders does not take away the primary place the Word of God has in bringing people to faith in Jesus. The Apostle Paul emphasized this truth when he wrote, “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14). If it’s true, that faith comes by hearing the Word of God, some people would argue that we don’t need healings and miracles to help point people to the Lord. But God’s Word tells us otherwise. “And (the disciples of Jesus) went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen.” (Mark 16:20). Signs and wonders have a purpose – to confirm that the Gospel we preach is true.
Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones declared, “It is perfectly clear that in New Testament times, the gospel was authenticated in this way by signs, wonders and miracles… Was it only meant to be true of the early church? … The Scriptures never anywhere say that these things were only temporary – never! There is no such statement anywhere.”
[i] Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The Sovereign Spirit. (Harold Shaw Pub, 1986).
[ii] contend. Dictionary.com. Unabridged. Random House, Inc. (accessed: April 11, 2010).