But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
There is no denying that when the Spirit of God came upon His people on the day of Pentecost that the power of God was displayed among them. As the gospel was preached by the twelve disciples, men from multiple regions who spoke different languages heard these Galileans speaking in their own tongue. (Ac 2:5-11) Of course, these wonders didn’t stop there because as we read on in Acts how people were healed, miraculously delivered from prison, and even raised from the dead! But none of these things were the greatest of the miracles taking place.
Today, men continue to look for these mighty, outward manifestations of the work of the Spirit, but Jesus rebuked men in His day for the such an attitude. “Then Jesus said to him, ‘Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will by no means believe.'” (Jn 4:48) He said further in Mt 16:4: “A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign…” We know people like this today. They run from place to place chasing one exciting experience after another. If they don’t find the these things at the meeting they attend, they assume the Spirit was not a part of the gathering, but such an assumption puts them in grave spiritual danger.
In 2 Th 2:3, we see that the Lord’s second coming will be preceded by a great falling away from the truth. What is it that will draw multitudes away from Christ? They will be caught up in a spirit of antichrist that “is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders…” (2 Th 2:9) Signs and wonders will be the deception that attracts these deceived souls! Jesus warns of this same deception in Mt 24:24: “For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.” Seeking signs and wonders leads us away from Christ rather than drawing us to Him.
If focusing upon those things reveals a spirit of wickedness, then why did the Lord and the apostles perform miracles? Very simply, to manifest that were who they said they were! These natural miracles revealed that the promises of God declared by the prophets were indeed coming to pass. Things happened as they did on Pentecost so that Peter could point back to the prophet Joel and say, “His prophecy is coming true!” (Ac 2:16-21) He continued in v. 22: “Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs…” Jesus’ miracles revealed that He was the Messiah of whom the prophets had foretold! Finally, if the church is to be built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ being the chief cornerstone (Eph 2:20), then we needed to understand clearly which men were apostles. When Paul was compelled by the Corinthians to give his credentials, he said, “Truly the signs of an apostle were accomplished among you with all perseverance, in signs and wonders and mighty deeds.” (2 Cor 12:12) These signs revealed him to be one of the apostles, called of God, and given the Spirit-inspired word upon which the church would be built.
As I said earlier, the greatest of miracles in the early church was not those visible healings and audible manifestations of the Spirit. The greatest of miracles was happening on a spiritual level as the souls of men were saved! Jesus said that His power in the spiritual realm was a greater display of His strength, and that the outward, visible miracles He performed were merely to reveal He could perform the greatest of all miracles–forgive men of their sins! “For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—then He said to the paralytic, “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” (Mt 9:5-6)
The greatest manifestation of the power of God displayed among men today is the saving of souls through the preaching of the gospel! “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes…” (Rom 1:16) You, church, are the true signs and wonders in this dark world! As Paul told the Corinthian church, “You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men…” (2 Cor 3:2) Don’t make the mistake of running after visible miracles as if an outward manifestation is more glorious than the inward work God does in the hearts of men. Remember, we are to walk by faith and not sight! (2 Cor 5:7) Without faith, it is impossible to please God, and faith doesn’t set its gaze on the things that are seen but focuses instead on the spiritual things which cannot be visibly seen. (Heb 11:1, 6) “…while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Cor 4:18)