This blog post was basically written in one day but got pushed aside for weeks before I could tweak it some. For the brave souls willing to read this, here you go.
SIGNS AND WONDERS WITNESS TO COMING RESTORATION
In a previous post I briefly mentioned God’s covenant with creation and in a future post I hope to give a solid Biblical anchor on how God will NOT annihilate the creation He has made, but restore it. God in His full glory will again dwell with man on the earth we now live on.
Until then, I want to launch off that point into another subject that could easily be a blog series in and of itself. God’s full restoration follows the second coming of the Messiah and until then we can see glimpses and taste samples of that coming restoration through the power of the Spirit (i.e. signs and wonders). The result of His power being displayed now serves as an example or pointer to what the Kingdom will be like when the King (Jesus) brings it at His coming.
INTERJECTION: The Spirit bears witness to the physical Kingdom where God is now physically sitting on the His physical throne at the height of the heavens. I have not yet seen that physical Kingdom come to earth as it is in heaven but God has given me the gift of the Spirit which reveals the hope of it’s coming at the Day of the Lord.
In my studies, the reality of what I just said became so offensive to me. However, after much time on the subject I have concluded that only the Messiah can bring the Kingdom, which will be at His coming. Some of you might desire to check out at this point, whispering “heresy” as you exit my blog, but please give me a few more minutes before you start throwing tomatoes at the computer screen. If you want to dive even deeper on this subject, I strongly recommend a teaching video called The Gospel of the Kingdom. Click here if you would like to watch it.
Signs and wonders serve as “samples” to the Kingdom’s reality and witness to the coming restoration of all things…a signpost to the Day of the Lord where He will fulfill His covenant with creation. They are implemented by God through the Spirit in order to keep our eyes set on the prize that we might endure in our hearts unto His return (Phil. 3:12-14; 1 Cor. 9:23-27; 2 Tim. 2:5) and place our hope FULLY on the day of our bodily resurrection (1 Pet. 1:13).
POINT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT?
Without clarity on the purpose of the Holy Spirit as a Helper and Witness to Jesus and the age to come, signs and wonders become an end to themselves. I would say the main purpose of the Spirit is given is so believers can access His grace through prayer in order to keep their faces set like flint until the Day of Jesus’ appearing (Is. 50:7). And signs and wonders serve as part of the grace accessed in the Holy Spirit because they display aspects of what is coming and keep His return before our eyes (i.e. healing: no sickness in age to come; deliverance: no demons in age to come; joy/rejoicing/love: no crying/depression/loss in age to come). They serve as reminders and encouragement to how and what we should live unto. Basically, they remind us that the Day of the Lord is REALLY coming and not just a figment of our imagination, strengthening our hearts to endure in righteousness. That the judgment of God (punishment and reward) is real and also strengthening us to walk worthy of His calling/invitation to be with Him at the marriage supper following His return. I consider signs and wonders grace (governmental favor) given by the power of the Spirit unto encouragement to endure. Many are called but few choose to walk according to His Spirit so that they might be with Him when He comes (Luke 14:16-33; Matt. 22 verse 8 especially; Rom. 9:11; Heb 3; 1 Thess 2:12; Eph. 4:1; Phil 1:27; Col 1:10; 2 Thess. 1:11,12; 2:13,14; 1 Pet 5:10).
Spiritual gifts are thus ultimately meant to strengthen the Church in faithful sojourning (i.e. worship, discipleship and evangelism) until the age to come is ushered in. The goal of the Spirit’s ministry is the age to come, rather than glory, honor and riches in this age.
WHAT I USED TO THINK
However, for most of my christian life my belief system surrounding the subject of signs and wonders served to accomplish quite the opposite of what I just described.
Signs and wonders…
- were an end in and of themselves.
- caused me to primarily set my eyes on the benefits and blessings I could “cash in” and “claim” from God in the now.
- left little room for a theology of persevering and enduring through significant trials and persecution…unless it was unto getting blessed in this life.
- also, long continuing trials caused confusion in my belief system, potential offense toward God and/or brought shame, assuming failure in my faith because I didn’t “overcome” or have “breakthrough”
- anchored my hope in the “now” instead of serving as an encouragement and pointer to the Biblical hope of the resurrection and coming of the Messiah “then.”
- made way for self-exaltation in my inner man when they occurred, and major discouragement when they didn’t.
- allowed me to see myself as a “dominionizing force”; as a result, I was my own messiah at a heart level and ever so slightly replaced the true Messiah and diminished His coming (that is tough to say, but was so true)
HEART REALITY IS WHAT MATTERS
My wife recently asked me the rhetorical question, “Where should signs and wonders lead the human heart?” Simply, I think they should constantly awaken us to the hope found in the coming resurrection, Jesus’ reign on the earth and restoration of all things. Unfortunately, much of the time that is a distant or non-existent thought in the moments where God moves in the midst of His people from my personal past experience. I believe this is why revivals end in burnout and disillusionment, which is the little known dark side of revival history.
When signs and wonders connect our hearts to the hope we have as believers (overcoming death/bodily resurrection), a lot happens (1 Pet. 1:13)! Revelation in the Day of the Lord sobers the heart, awakens the fear of God, sparks a hunger for holiness, leads to a REAL belief and joy in the resurrection of the body, His return and ends with an awareness of how the implications of that impact the present. Thus, affecting how we live life and what we live it unto. Basically it should encourage us to faithfully sojourn through this dark age, witness to the coming Messianic Kingdom and endure to the end in order that we might be saved (Matt. 24:13). Having faith as an assurance of things hoped for (resurrection at Messiah’s return), the conviction of things not seen (Rom. 8:24,25; 2 Cor. 4:13,14,17,18; Heb. 11:1). Looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God (Heb. 11:10,16; Rev. 21:2,10).
I believe this was the point of signs and wonders in Biblical days…and still is today. Backing up the gospel of Jesus’ coming Messianic Kingdom. A constant reminder of the coming Day of the Messiah. As a believer, they serve as an encouragement to strengthen our faith so we faithfully sojourn, enduring in this life with a heart that pleases Him and is prepared, ready and able to enter His Kingdom when it comes (1 Pet. 1:7,9). As an unbeliever, they serve as a witness to the coming judgment and redemption in order that it might result in repentance, belief and ultimately salvation.
BROKEN ANCHOR LEAVING MY SHIP SINKING
If you haven’t already guessed it, I eventually realized that pretty much all of my belief system was disconnected from the Day of the Lord. The closest thing to it was an ethereal heavenly destiny for my soul after death, built on Platonic dualistic worldview of material/immaterial, natural/supernatural, causing it to be a fluffy eternity that held no motivational reality to live like God’s Word mattered. No wonder teenagers leave the church in droves following high school.
When I finally talked to the Lord about my theology and how I saw His mission, I realized that I didn’t REALLY believe and have faith in the coming of the Messiah and His restoration. My lips spoke one thing but my heart was plagued with unbelief. I was too caught up in this life/age to look forward and care about God’s end mission. Thus, my life echoed that reality and I lived unto my own celebrity status within ministry and leaned heavily on the things that gain approval of men.
My theology was so dependent on this age instead of the reality of the next that I became an expert and chameleon at seeking “gain” within multiple levels of life…family, friendships, ministry, etc. The Biblical example of a disciple was impossible for me to grasp based off my current theology of God being my Santa Clause, whereby I “work the system” in order to manipulate God to do what benefits my cause and agenda. Suffering became demonized in my mind instead of “sharing His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, that by any means possible I may attain the (bodily) resurrection from the dead.” (Phil. 3:10; 2 Tim. 3:12; 1 Pet. 2:21; 4:1). My theology assumed on Him that He always wanted what externally seemed best to me, as long as I stayed within certain bounds of what most church going people would respect.
Side Note: “Blessing” became a buzz word for “getting” from God what “I deserved” because Christ earned it for me by His sacrifice on the cross. Blessing wasn’t defined governmentally as “serving” or “to kneel” for the well being of the whole but “to get” money, a good parking spot or whatever was deemed worthy of my satisfaction or good in my own perspective.
God sometimes serves us by giving us good gifts and other times by shaking our empire of self. Both should serve to humble our hearts, continuing to prepare us for THE Day where our hearts are fully exposed unto eternal life or death. And both are a blessing (or service) to the believer because God has our ultimate well being in mind…to be raised unto life at His appearing. Which I don’t believe just happens because I have said a simple prayer at the age of 9, go to church every week, do a bunch of good ministry works or am one of the special “elected” ones.
There is a lot of assumed theology in what I just said, but over the weeks I hope to break down the specifics of it all and why I see it that way.
(Cont…) My western worldview had raised me up in theological laziness, causing my perspective to be the primary anchor with which I formed scriptural concepts. Versus pursuing the narrative and storyline of God throughout the Bible and forming my belief system from His perspective. I grew to resent theological study because it challenged the “sacred cows” of my Christianity with which I had staked so much reputation and security in this life. As a result, I studied just enough Bible to defend my skewed doctrine, teach passionately on a few subjects and preserve myself as a ministry leader. And if I did study in a deeper way, then it was only given to the perspectives that reinforced my already disjointed doctrine. My ears itched and I scratched (2 Tim. 4:3). I had so many unbiblical pre-conceived ideas around the basic terms of Scripture (ie. faith, hope, salvation, heaven, hell) that it would take a major shaking from the Lord to uproot my theology from the prideful state it was in.
SIGNS AND WONDERS ARE ESSENTIAL
Just to clarify and end this post on an “up” note, signs and wonders are an incredible gift from God and something I definitely lean into, pray for and believe in. As I said earlier in this post, they declare His coming and I see them as essential to every believers life so the individual doesn’t lose sight of His return but places their hope fully on it.
But the questions that were pushed to the forefront of my searching was unto what and why? And knowing my own selfish tendencies in the midst of signs and wonders, it is incredibly easy for my wicked nature to put me at the center as the messiah. Especially if I don’t fully have Him as the ONLY Messiah who can come and restore all things. It’s not my job to bring the Kingdom…it’s His! I am not the Messiah…He is. I am to be a witness (including signs and wonders) to His Day and Kingdom that many will choose to repent, believe and faithfully sojourn in their hearts until He is revealed in all His resurrected glory.
Signs and wonders are a reminder…
- …of the one Day we should be living for where our bodies are resurrected.
- …that this age of death we live in is not our home, but the next age when God fulfills His covenant with creation.
- …that I am a sojourner passing through this age of darkness, which serves as an encouragement to endure to His return with a clean heart.
- …that I am not the messiah, but He is.
- …of what the beginning was like and how it will be again at the end.
If you made it this far, CONGRATULATIONS! If you want to dive further into the subject, click here for a teaching and/or notes that dive deeper into the subject.