READ: Song of Solomon 3, John 10, James 4
NECESSARY, NOT SUFFICIENT
Christians tend to be wooed by the power gifts. In ministry and especially frontier mission, we are tempted to put our hopes in the silver bullet of signs and wonders. We think if God will but demonstrate His power, the nations will turn in mass to Him. We tend to tire of all other methodologies as they cycle through but hold to the belief that power evangelism is the one method that will never fail. If power alone were the issue, it seems devils would have converted long ago as they do not doubt the sovereignty of God–they merely foolishly fight it. Scripture cannot be broken (John 10:35) and does not speak in vain (James 4:5) and warns that evil powers will perform spectacular signs and marvelous wonders, deceiving many in the last days. Jesus Himself refused to go down the road of miracle provider, telling hungry eyes that no sign would be given them, save the sign of the prophet Jonah–His bodily death and resurrection.
Jesus declared that no one born of women was greater than John the Baptist, and here is John’s record on signs and wonders: “John performed no sign, but all the things that John spoke about this man were true” (John 10:41). The great signs of Jesus are His incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection. The great sign of men and women is to open up their mouths and speak about what God has done in Christ. Signs and wonders follow the preaching of the Word; they are necessary but not sufficient. Andrew Walls records that the great traditional religions are not primarily converted by a revelation of God’s power. Islam, for example, is already convinced of God’s absolute dominance–God can do whatever He wants. There are examples of miracles leading Muslims to faith in Jesus, and just as many examples of miracles being accepted without any faith allegiance change. Miraculous signs and wonders are not a silver bullet in missions because the army of God is not the only army with miracles in their arsenal. But we are the only army with a God who became flesh, a God who died on the cross, and a God who rules over life and death. These are the indisputable signs we must constantly speak about. Signs and wonders arrest our attention but they cannot transform our hearts.
Only the shed blood of the incarnate Son of God has the power to change our hearts and save our souls. From Adam to John the Baptist, from John the Baptist to you and I, the representatives of God have one primary mission: We are to open our mouths and declare who God is and what He has done for humanity. On this side of the great signs of God (incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection), we have no excuse to be distracted or dependent on lesser signs. Let the lesser signs of God (healings, deliverance, miracles, etc.) be used to arrest the attention of rebellious and despondent man, that they pause long enough to listen to the gospel. These lesser signs are necessary, but they never have been, and never will be, sufficient.