Signs and Wonders During the Church Age Pastor A. W. Weckeman – May 2015
The first mention of the word “signs” in the Bible is found in Gen.1:14, where the sun and the moon are said to “be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years…” as the sun gradually appears lower in the noon sky the days begin to shorten…a sure sign indicating the coming winter. So signs indicate, reveal, and manifest. Besides pointing to something, signs can also confirm or authenticate.
The second mention of “signs’ is found in Exodus 4:9…in the middle of a discourse between God and Moses concerning Moses’ fear of rejection by the Jews in Egypt. God then gives Moses a personal demonstration of miraculous signs to assure him that He will authenticate the fact that the LORD had sent him through signs and wonders.
So we see that the first time signs show up in the Bible in reference to people; the people are Jews.
When studying the Bible, it is of utmost importance that we apply the basic rules of “rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim.2:15). To gain a complete understanding of a passage of scripture, apply the rule of “five Ws”: Who, What, Where, When and Why.
By applying this simple method to the verses discussed in Exodus chapter four, we can conclude:
Who? Moses Aaron and the Jews.
What? Signs and wonders.
When? Just before the deliverance of the Hebrews from bondage in Egypt.
Why? Authentication; so the Hebrews would believe God.
So, as a result of applying the 5Ws to the verses in Exodus, we learn that supernatural signs and wonders accompanied the birth of the Jewish theocracy.
The LORD’S will is that His people would, by faith, take him at His word; however, Israel’s history confirms that was not the case. Instead, most Hebrew people constantly sought signs and wonders to confirm God’s workings among them; this has always been an integral part of their heritage.
The history of the Jewish people is a history of miraculous signs and wonders; these are the hallmark of the nation Israel.
A small sample of scripture to substantiate:
Exodus 4:30-31 And Aaron spake all the words which the LORD had spoken unto Moses, and did the signs in the sight of the people. And the people believed: and when they heard that the LORD had visited the children of Israel, and that he had looked upon their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshipped.
Num.14:11 And the LORD said unto Moses, How long will this people provoke me? and how long will it be ere they believe me, for all the signs which I have shewed among them?
Deut.6:22 And the LORD shewed signs and wonders, great and sore, upon Egypt, upon Pharaoh, and upon all his household, before our eyes:
Josh.4:6 That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones?
Josh. 24:16-17 And the people answered and said, God forbid that we should forsake the LORD, to serve other gods; For the LORD our God, he it is that brought us up and our fathers out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, and which did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way wherein we went, and among all the people through whom we passed:
Judges 6:16-17 And the LORD said unto him, Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man. And he said unto him, If now I have found grace in thy sight, then shew me a sign that thou talkest with me.
2 Kings 20:8-9 And Hezekiah said unto Isaiah, What shall be the sign that the LORD will heal me, and that I shall go up into the house of the LORD the third day? 9 And Isaiah said, This sign shalt thou have of the LORD, that the LORD will do the thing that he hath spoken: shall the shadow go forward ten degrees, or go back ten degrees?
Ps.74:9 “We see not OUR signs: there is no more any prophet: neither is there among us any that knoweth how long” [Emphasis added].
Ezek.4:3 “Moreover take thou unto thee an iron pan, and set it for a wall of iron between thee and the city: and set thy face against it, and it shall be besieged, and thou shalt lay siege against it. This shall be a sign to the house of Israel.”
Ezek.12:6 “In their sight shalt thou bear it upon thy shoulders, and carry it forth in the twilight: thou shalt cover thy face, that thou see not the ground: for I have set thee for a sign unto the house of Israel.
Hence the apostle Paul’s declaration in 1 Cor.1:22: “…the Jews require a sign...”
1 Cor.14:21-22 “In the law [of Moses] it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord. 22 Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe. [Emphasis added]
The simple fact is that the Jewish people REQUIRE signs and wonders to SEE and thereby BELIEVE:
John 6:30 “They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work?” Then said Jesus unto him, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.”
Jewish Signs which Accompany the Offering of the Kingdom to Israel
Many Old Testament prophecies foretell supernatural signs that will accompany the preaching of the “gospel of the Kingdom” to Israel. The signs are of two types:
First, miraculous physical healings: Isa. 35:5-6 “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.”
Second, the removal of idols and false prophets from the land along with the casting out of devils and unclean spirits:
Zech. 13:2 “And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD of hosts, that I will cut off the names of the idols out of the land, and they shall no more be remembered: and also I will cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to pass out of the land.”
This speaks to Jesus’ specific mandate to His disciples found in Matthew chapter 10:
Matt. 10:1, 5, 6, 7, 8 “And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.5 These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, GO NOT INTO THE WAY OF THE GENTILES, and into any city of the SAMARITANS ENTER YE NOT: 6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. 8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.” [Emphasis added]
This is NOT to say that the Lord never used signs and wonders in dealing with Gentiles…consider:
Rom 15:18-19 “For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me, to make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed, 19 Through mighty signs and wonders,by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.” This verse, on the surface, seems to indicate the necessity of signs and wonders regarding the Gentiles. However, the contradiction disappears when we consider the makeup of Paul’s audience in his early missionary efforts. Consider the following:
Paul’s Missionary Journeys’ Concerning the Jews & Signs
Paul’s commission was to take the gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 9:15, Rom.11:13 & 15:16, Gal.2:2 & 8) yet, in obedience to the command of Acts 3:25-26 & Romans 1:16, he always began his ministry efforts in the synagogue among the Jews (Acts 9:20, Acts 13:5, 14-16 & 46-47, Acts 14:1, Acts 17:1-2 & 10-7, Acts 18:5-6, 19:8-12, 26:20, 28:17-28. This accounts for the necessity of signs, miracles, and healing during Paul’s missionary journeys “For the Jews require a sign…” (1 Cor.1:22).
In every town and city Paul entered, he would seek out the local synagogue, where he would use the scriptures (Old Testament Messianic prophecies) to convince the Jews that Jesus was indeed the Christ. Then, when the Jews resisted the gospel and judged themselves “unworthy of everlasting life,” Paul would turn to the Gentiles (Cf. Acts 28:26-29)
“There are three turning points in the book of Acts, where the Holy Spirit turns from dealing with the Jews to dealing with the Gentiles, the first turning point in Acts 13:46 (Jews in Asia). The second turning point is in Acts 18:6 (Jews in Europe). The third turning point is Acts 28:28 (Jews in Rome, representing the rest of the world).”
During the transitional period of the book of Acts, while the gospel was still preached to the Jews first, the Gentiles enjoyed the incidental benefit of these miraculous events just as during Jesus’ ministry to the Jews in the gospels.
Whenever God used signs and wonders to deal with the Gentiles, it always concerned the Jews: Moses and the Egyptian plagues, Exodus 4; Jesus and the “woman of Canaan” Matt. 15:21-28; Peter and the household of Cornelius Acts 10:34-48. Signs and wonders This will also be the case during the coming “time of Jacob’s trouble,” the Tribulation.
However, it is essential to remember that Gentiles do NOT REQUIRE signs; we are told to walk by faith and not by sight (2 Cor.5:7). Regarding apostolic signs and wonders, “Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it.” Acts 28:28 is pivotal concerning the Jews. Also, the turning point for signs and wonders; from then on, miraculous events diminish and finally cease. *See the chronological order of Pauline Epistles (Addendum at the end of the lesson).
Signs and Wonders Regarding the Church
What part do signs and wonders play in the life of a born-again Christian? Should we, as Israel, require miraculous signs and wonders to confirm the Lord’s presence and working among us?
What saith the scriptures regarding the Body of Christ and signs and wonders?
2 Cor. 5:6-8 “Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: 7 (For we walk BY FAITH, NOT BY SIGHT:) 8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” [Emphasis added].
1 Peter 1:7-8 “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: 8 Whom having NOT SEEN, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, YET BELIEVING, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory…”
John 20:29 “Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast SEEN me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have NOT SEEN, and yet have believed.”
Heb.11:1 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things NOT SEEN.”
Faith, the catalyst of spiritual growth
Rom. 1:17 “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.”
Our walk with the Lord begins, progresses, and finishes by faith. A person seeking evidence from signs and miracles (instead of taking God at His word) will be greatly hindered in developing personal faith. Trusting God versus seeking signs and miracles is at opposite ends of the spectrum. Faith isn’t faith until it has been tried. The more signs and wonders one pursues (or expects), the less faith one needs to exercise.
1 Peter 4:12-13 “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: 13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.”
Rom.8:24-25 “For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? 25 But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.” Faith is like a muscle; to grow it must be exercised.
“whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer”
Matt.21:21-22 “Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done. 22 And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.”
The above verse seems to indicate (our prayers) regarding things such as signs, wonders, and miracles solely depend upon the strength of our faith. However, no matter how strong our faith is, the requests must align with God’s will for our lives!
James 4:3 “Ye ask, and RECEIVE NOT, because ye ASK AMISS, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” [Emphasis mine]
If we don’t receive what we pray for, that doesn’t necessarily mean we lack faith! Lack of faith is not the only reason we may not receive our requests.
Three answers to prayer: yes, no, not now
1 John 5:14-15 “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: 15 And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.”
Our requests must be in line with His will. “Nothing lies beyond the reach of prayer, except that which lies outside the will of God.”
1 John 3:22 “And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.”
Rom.8:26-27 “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”
True faith accepts that sometimes things asked for may not be God’s will for their life, including being healed. The apostle Paul, a man of great faith, asked three times to have the thorn in his flesh removed; God’s answer:
2 Cor. 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.”
In reality, a genuine faith that has been tried and proven eliminates the need for signs and wonders.
Job 13:15 “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.”
In the “Church Age,” God doesn’t usually use outward signs… Instead, he uses inward signs to convict and convince; consider Rom.8:16, Eph.3:20, etc.
Appendix: The Chronological Order of the Pauline Epistles
The first six of Paul’s epistles, referred to as the “Missionary Epistles,” were written in the time frame of the Book of Acts (which was written in AD 65, covering approximately 30 years, AD 33-63). They are as follows: 1 Thessalonians AD 54, 2 Thessalonians AD 54, 1 Corinthians AD 59, 2 Corinthians AD 60, Galatians AD 60, and Romans AD 60.
In this first group of epistles, the term “signs” is found 11 times, “wonders” 12 times, “miracles” 10 times, “healed” 7 times, and “healing” 4 times. At this point, Paul was reaching out to the “Jewish remnant” (Romans 11:5) in obedience to (Romans 1:16).
The second group of Epistles, the “Prison Epistles” written AFTER the Book of Acts, Philemon AD 64, Colossians AD 64, Ephesians AD 64, *Philippians AD 64, *1 Timothy AD 65, Titus AD 65, *2 Timothy AD 66.
In this second group, the terms: “sign,” “signs,” “wonder,” “wonders, ” miracle,” “miracles,” “heal,” “healed,” “healing,” “tongue,” “tongues” NEVER MENTIONED ONE SINGLE TIME! Exception, “tongues” (Philippians 2:11 n/a).
*Philippians 2:27, “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.” 1 Timothy 5:23, “Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities.” and 2 Timothy 4:20, “Erastus abode at Corinth: but Trophimus have I left at Miletum sick.”…Paul no longer exercising the gift of healing.
The reference source for dates is Scofield Study Bible.