A second ministry that will change the world we live in is the ministry of signs and wonders. Satan knows this, therefore he is working hard to convince us to embrace a powerless gospel and become a powerless church. “Signs and wonders are not necessary. They’re dangerous. All true signs and wonders went away with the apostles.”
The activity that brings about signs and wonders can be dangerous and harmful to the church partially because Satan attaches goofy things and harmful behavior to this realm. All the more reason we need to count this realm dear and worth protecting! Historically this realm is what God attached to the gospel and the ministers who were used of Him to overcome demons and overcome cultures of idolatry.
In The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon inquires “by what means the Christian faith obtained so remarkable a victory over the established religions of the earth,” and gives as one explanation, “the miraculous powers ascribed to the primitive Church.” He goes on to explain:
“In the first ages of Christianity…the most credulous among the Pagans were often persuaded to enter into a society which asserted an actual claim of miraculous powers. The primitive Christians perpetually trod on mystic ground, and their minds were exercised by the habits of believing the most extraordinary events….”
Signs and wonders, healings, resurrections and deliverance were all common among believers for hundreds of years. Testimony after testimony tell of the amazing deeds of early church leaders.
It seems we are at a crisis at this time in America and in culture. We are buying into the lie that we need to calm down and become more gentle and seeker sensitive. We’re told we need to call sin something else or we’ll never win people to our churches. And certainly signs and wonders are too weird for this modern day and age.
Don’t swallow the lie. It was through signs and wonders that Father won the hearts of entire nations. This was once common, and it will be common again.
There are numerous significant references to these supernatural gifts continuing in the life of the early Church in the following centuries. Bishop Clement’s Letter to the Corinthians, written by the bishop of Rome (A.D. 100), refers to the continuing supernatural work of the Holy Spirit. “An abundant outpouring also of the Holy Spirit fell upon all.”
The Shepherd of Hermas (A.D. 110) also contains a reference to speaking in tongues and prophecies. “When then the man who hath the divine Spirit cometh into an assembly of righteous men, who have faith in a divine Spirit, and intercession is made to God by the gathering of those men, then the angel of the prophetic spirit, who is attached to him, filleth the man, and the man, being filled with the Holy Spirit, speaketh to the multitude, according as the Lord willeth.”
The brilliant Christian teacher Irenaeus wrote a treatise against heresies called The Refutation and Overthrow of Knowledge Falsely So Called (A.D. 185) that recorded many manifestations of the gifts of the Holy Spirit and supernatural miracles that still continued in some churches, including accounts of people being raised from the dead: “Some drive out demons really and truly, so that often those cleansed from evil spirits believe and become members of the Church; some have foreknowledge of the future, visions, and prophetic utterances; others, by the laying-on of hands, heal the sick and restore them to health; and before now, as I said, dead men have actually been raised and have remained with us for many years. In fact, it is impossible to enumerate the gifts which throughout the world the Church has received from God and in the name of Jesus Christ crucified under Pontius Pilate, and every day puts to effectual use for the benefit of the heathen, deceiving no one and making profit out of no one.”
Tertullian was a major theologian and Christian writer ministering in Carthage. In A.D. 215 he described supernatural visions and prophetic gifts of the Holy Spirit as operating normally in the third-century Church. “And thus we who both acknowledge and reverence, even as we do the prophecies, modern visions as equally promised to us, and consider the other powers of the Holy Spirit as an agency of the Church for which also He was sent, administering all gifts in all, even as the Lord distributed to every one.”
Augustine (354-430), bishop of Hippo, was one of the greatest theologians of the early medieval Church and systematized much of the theology that governed the teaching of the Western Church for over a thousand years. Although in his early years Augustine believed that all miracles had ceased by the end of the lives of the apostles, his view was transformed by the compelling evidence of many well-attested miracles that occurred during a powerful revival that occurred throughout the churches of North Africa that were under his supervision. In the last section of his epic work The City of God, Augustine wrote about numerous miracles that he had personally witnessed and investigated, including remarkable miraculous healings involving breast cancer, paralysis, blindness, and even people who were resurrected from the dead. He wrote, “For even now miracles are wrought in the name of Christ.”
Just as these heroes and fathers of faith witnessed and took part in miracles during their day, so can we today! Let’s change the world through signs and wonders!
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