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Sunday, February 5, 2017

HEBREWS 2:3-4



"After it was at the first spoken through the Lord,
it was confirmed to us by those who heard,
God also testifying with them,
both by signs and wonders and various miracles
and by gifts of the Holy Spirit
according to His own will." 

Did you have those mommy moments when you told your child something only to have them run to daddy, to grandma, to the neighbor to confirm what you said was true?"  Me neither.  It was more like, "Because I said so."  But because we were of little faith, God confirmed His word to us.

Adam Clarke says of the verse, 'Which at first, began to be spoken.'


"Though John the Baptist went before our Lord to prepare His way,
yet he could not be properly said to preach the Gospel;
and even Christ's preaching was only a beginning of the great proclamation:
it was His own Spirit in the apostles and evangelists,
the men who heard Him preach,
that opened the whole mystery of the kingdom of heaven.
And all this testimony had been so confirmed in the end of Judea
as to render it indubitable;
and consequently there was no excuse for their unbelief
and no prospect of their escape if they should to neglect it."


And of the verse, "God also bearing them witness,"

"He did not leave the confirmation of these great truths to the testimony of men;
He bore His own testimony to them by signs and wonders,
various miracles, and distributions of the Holy Ghost.
And all thse were proved to come from Himself
for no man could do those miracles at his own pleasure,
but the power to work them was given according to God's own will;
or rather, God Himself wrought them,
in order to accredit the ministry of His servants."



Signs and Wonders

There are other Scriptures with balance and warning on the subject...

Sighing deeply in His spirit,
He (Jesus) said,
"Why does this generation seek for a sign?
Truly I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation."
(Mark 8:12)


Another time Jesus said to some of the scribes and Pharisees who wanted to see a sign,
"An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign (miracle);
and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet."
(Matthew 12:38-39)



Oh my, I never, ever, ever want to cause Jesus to sigh deeply in His spirit in this kind of way because of me! I never want to be counted in the evil and adulterous generation!



  Here's another tidbit I missed before since we usually think of the Great Commission at the end of Matthew, not in Mark 16:14-18...

"Afterward He appeared to the eleven disciples themselves as they were reclining at the table;

and He reproached them (REPROACHED THEM!) for their unbelief and hardness of heart,
because they had not believed those who had seen Him after He had risen (the women).
And He said to them,
'Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.
He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved;
but he who has disbelieved (didn't He just rebuke them for this?) shall be condemned.
These signs will accompany those who have believed;
in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues
(a necessary tool to be able to preach to those in other countries); 
they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison,
it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover."




So the question is, is Jesus referring to just that first generation of disciples who did practice at least some of these things,?  It was never done for self-grandiosity: after all, they all (with possibly the exception of John) were martyred.  We do know that these gifts were also practiced by Paul, a "second-hand" disciple who was not an original follower of Christ but had the knocked-off-his-donkey talking to by Jesus. 





We do know that they were also practiced by Paul, a "second-hand" disciple who was not an original follower of Christ but had the knocked-off-his-donkey talking to by Jesus and commissioned to take the gospel to the Gentile world, even as a prisoner.  This make me think of when Paul was on his way to Rome as a prisoner, they were about to perish, but Paul told them of God's promise that they would not die.  Though the ship was wrecked, all aboard were saved, all 276 of them, by swimming or floating to the beach at Malta.  Then...


"The natives showed us extraordinary kindness; for because of the rain that had set in and because of the cold, they kindled a fire and received us all.  But when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat and fastened itself on his hand.  When the natives saw the creature hanging from his hand, they began saying to one another, 'Undoubtedly this man is a murderer, and though he has been saved from the sea, justice has not allowed him to live.'  However he shook the creature off into the fire and suffered no harm.  But they were expecting that he was about to swell up or suddenly fall down dead.  But after they had waited a long time and had seen nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and began to say that he was a god."



This is the kind of snake handling I'm talking about!  Shake it off, Paul!  The problem with some of these wonders is that people attribute it to the individual, not to God, and want to worship the messenger, not the Message.  Paul was not a god, not even a snake-bitten one.  Then he went about and did some healing and they were really impressed.  Not bad for a prisoner.

Do miracles happen today?  Absolutely!  I hope y'all have a miracle story or two.  I know we do!  Are we to accept signs and wonders today?  Proceed with caution.  There is another warning in II Thessalonians 2:9-10, "...with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and wonders, and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish..."

I don't think there was gold dust falling down from the ceiling like some signs and wonders claim today.  But God can do anything He wants, "according to His own will" (verse 4).  Nevertheless, He doesn't what our attention on anything but His Son.


"For as it was most clearly, plainly, sweetly, and eminently preached by Himself, beyond what was taught by the prophets in the Old Testament or John; yet He first preached it Himself 'in the beginning' to our apostate parents in Paradise, and He preached it in all the prophets...the great Prophet swaying all things by the word of His power." (Matthew Poole)


"For indeed Jews ask for signs...but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God."
(I Corinthians 1:22-24)

So I say, my sign is the blood-stained cross.
That's my story and I'm sticking to it.









 

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