“On Your Mark” – Day 144
‘Signs Following’ (Chapter 16 Verses 9-20)
The account of Matthew adds the promised presence of Jesus with his disciples, here the miraculous gifting and signs of Jesus disciples is spoken of (vv17-18). These were promised of course with their ordination (Mark 3.15; Matthew 10.1). We have already seen these signs accompanying them as they proclaimed the gospel (Luke 10.17). The book of Acts, of course, is permeated with the signs of his disciples as they evangelise in Jerusalem, Samaria and Asia Minor. These signs accompanying them were a demonstration of the power of God’s Spirit and presence amongst them, a sign, symbol of the Kingdom, the power, the rule of God breaking into hearts and lives to save. They were gospel credentials (Hebrews 2.4). We see this authenticated under Paul’s ministry in Acts, driving demons from a young girl who was bound by the forces of evil (Acts 16.16-21). The tongues were manifested with the outpouring of God’s Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2; 1Corinthians 12-14) when people heard the gospel being proclaimed to them in their own languages. There is only one recorded example of a person picking up a serpent and not being harmed, that was Paul (Acts 28.3). Of deliverance from deadly poison, there is no Scriptural testimony to. And of course of Divine healings, there can be no argument as to their taking place under the ministry of the disciples, not just the Apostles.
Now the arguments rage still today, do these signs still accompany the gospel? There are good arguments for and against. Some scholarly articles have been delivered that would cause you think it must be the last word, but it will not be, no. There are good people on both sides of the divide. Both sides can claim support, even from some of the Puritans and the Reformers. The use of Church history by both camps has served to convince some, both have produced evidence. Both would claim to have Biblical grounds for their arguments. When we claim to know everything there is to know about the Holy Spirit’s operations we are saying we have examined all of it from every angle, that we have full knowledge of him and his working. Now honestly, I do not think that is the case with any of us. That is really a rather arrogant statement if you think about it. We need to go on studying the Scriptures and from that source alone, through the help of God’s Spirit to come to a settled conviction concerning these and other matters pertaining to our faith. With a willingness to be taught by God’s word and Spirit.
Many people, especially in recent days have made claims of miracles, and I think in many instances great harm has been done to the cause of the gospel. Claims that have been ridiculous, disgraceful, even blasphemous, I leave you with the wise words of the Puritan, John Owen; “it is not unlikely but that God might on some occasions, for a longer season, put forth his power in some miraculous operations; and so yet may he do, and perhaps doth sometimes. But the superstition and folly of some ensuing ages, inventing and divulging innumerable miracles false and foolish, proved a most disadvantageous prejudice unto the gospel, and the means to open a way unto Satan to impose endless delusions upon Christians; for as true and real miracles, with becoming circumstances, were the great means that won and reconciled a regard and honour unto Christian religion in the world, so the pretence of such as either were absolutely false, or such as whose occasions, ends, matter, or manner, were unbecoming the greatness and holiness of Him who is the true author of all miraculous operations is the greatest dishonour unto religion that anyone can invent”.