Throughout the New Testament we see that first Jesus and then the disciples worked many signs of healing and other wonders as they preached the gospel and began to spread the words of the truth. Consider some of the things that Jesus did among the people. He healed the sick, fed the multitudes, cast out demons, turned water into wine, walked on water and much, much more.
Then the disciples when they began their ministry also did many similar things. They too healed many people of sicknesses and conditions that were impossible in those days for man to heal by medicines. Peter even had cloths taken from him and given to sick people and they were healed remotely.
But why were these miracles performed in those days? Was there a purpose for them beyond the actual healing or sign itself? Yes there was, and this section of Acts tells us what that purpose was all about.
Why Signs and Wonders?
The disciples had just come under threats of opposition from the leaders of the Jews and had come together to pray for strength and the boldness to carry the word to the people. At that time they said these words in Acts 4.
27 for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel,
28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.
29 And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness,
30 while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”
The purpose the disciples sought was the boldness to continue to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. They also recognised that in this work they were in partnership with God for they asked, and knew, that He would carry out the miraculous signs, wonders and healings.
The purpose of these signs and wonders was to confirm the truth of the gospel. No man was able to do the things they did. The healings that were performed were truly miraculous. And it was stated to them when they were commissioned by Jesus that He would do these works of miracles, healings and so on for the very purpose of confirming the gospel. We see in Mark 16:20,
And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs.
So the purpose of the signs and wonders was to confirm the truth of the gospel.
Now the first question we need to ask is this. Which gospel was The Lord confirming as the truth?
Ok, so maybe it’s a silly question, but when you consider all of the forms of religion and all of the sects, denominations and “flavours” of Christianity that exists today, it is a very valid and important question.
The early church began with the truth for they were all taught be Jesus. Then when the apostles went out and taught the rest of the known world, the people were being taught by eye witnesses to the truth from those who walked with Jesus.
But after those first apostles and disciples died out, the truth of the gospel was lost. Indeed it was decreed that to even have a version of the Bible that the common man could read was a crime deserving death. A classic example was William Tyndale who translated the Greek and Hebrew texts into English to produce a bible for the common man, and who was burned at the stake for doing this work. And yet Tyndale’s work became the foundation of the King James Bible and many of the other English translations that followed it.
The darkness of those times is aptly known as the dark ages for it was a darkness of knowledge of the truth. The organised Church of Rome in those days held all power and would not allow the common man to learn the truth. They introduced all kinds of false teaching, lies and false doctrine in those days, many of which carry down to this day.
But from the time of Martin Luther, who was a contemporary of Tyndale, The Lord began to unravel that power of the church and gradually introduce the truth back into the world. Each of the denominations from Martin Luther forward were given a glimpse of the truth and they built a church on the revelations that The Lord gave them.
Thus there were many gospels being preached by the many churches that were established in the centuries following the reformation days. We had the ideas of baptism in the Baptist Hurch, receiving the Holy Spirit with signs attending in Pentecostalism, a church ruled by elders in the Presbyterian church, methodical bible study in the Methodists, righteousness by faith apart from works in the Lutheran church, the idea of an equal brotherhood under the Christian Brethren and so on. There are many, many more religions and beliefs that have emerged over the years since Luther, some correct and some false.
Which brings me back to my question…which gospel? Surely they are not all correct? If they were wouldn’t there be just one church and not the splintering of the church that we see today? In truth all of these different groups have a portion of the truth, but also there is much error in their belief systems. The challenge for each person as an individual is to sift what they teach and find the fullness of the truth, which can only come through the working of the Holy Spirit in the life of the individual.
The True Gospel
When Jesus spoke of the last days, He made these comments.
11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray.
12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.
13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
Many false prophets will lead people astray in the end days before The Lord returns. The separation of the church into sects, creeds and denominations and the divisions that occur in the church are set up by those who do not follow the truth.
But we see in the above scripture in vs. 14 that Jesus said, “THIS gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed…” It is the gospel of Jesus Christ as He taught it and as taught by His earliest disciples that will be proclaimed. That is the true gospel that must be proclaimed throughout the world before His return.
Does any church have the true gospel today? To be honest, I don’t know. But it will become obvious when it does because the preaching of the true gospel will occur as it did in those early days. The Lord himself will attest to the truth of the gospel by the signs and wonders attending the preaching of the word. That is the purpose of Him doing the signs, to confirm the truth of the gospel.
So how will we find the truth today? We have all been given the words of God in the bible. We all need to study His words and be led by the Holy Spirit whose job it is to bear witness to the truth of Jesus and lead us into all the truth, as it says in John 14:26, John 15:26 and John 16:13.
Knowing this to be true I urge you to seek the fullness of the truth through prayer and study. Seek the Holy Spirit who is a free gift from god specifically to teach you the truth. Do not blindly accept what anyone teaches as there is much false teaching in the church today. And it was Satan who put it there as we are told in Revelation 12:15-16,
15 The serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, to sweep her away with a flood.
16 But the earth came to the help of the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed the river that the dragon had poured from his mouth.
The river of water from the mouth of the devil are the teachings that pollute the church in an effort to wash away the truth of the church. And the church today is awash with these false teachings. It is our challenge to sort the truth from the error and that requires dedicated study, prayer and leading from the Holy Spirit.
(Picture sourced from stock.xchng provided by malkowitch)
You might also like:
Bible Signs Of The Times
Signs Of The Close Of The Age
Trouble For The End Times Church
Wherever The Body Is There The Eagles Will Be Gathered
The Return Of The Lord
The Second Coming Of The Lord
The Lesson Of The Fig Tree
No One Knows The Day And Hour
Signs Attending The Death Of Jesus
Jews Seek A Sign
Take Heed That No One Leads You Astray
Call For Endurance
Signs Of The End
Learn The Lesson Of The Fig Tree
Watch For The Coming Of The Lord
The Great Commission
Preaching The Gospel
What The Signs Of The Times Are Telling You
The Great Invitation
The Greatest Show On Earth
Do Not Be Led Astray
Nation Will Rise Against Nation
The Time Of The Gentiles
The Heavens Will Be Shaken
Pentecost And Receiving The Holy Spirit