Signs and Wonders

Jesus performed many miracles during His public ministry, and “the apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people” (Acts 5:12). The occurrence of a sign or wonder reveals supernatural presence, but that presence may not always be God. Speaking of the latter days, Jesus said, “False messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive, if possible, even the elect. So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time” (Mark 13:22-23).

Ever since the Fall, false prophets have plagued God’s chosen people and caused them to go after other gods. Moses wrote that for a prophet to be true, what he said would happen must come to pass (see Deuteronomy 18:20-22). Prophets were to be put to death if they spoke presumptuously. However, what about false prophets who performed signs and wonders and they came to pass, but their message was to follow other gods? Another test mentioned in Deuteronomy addressed this issue.

This was a test for God’s people to find out whether they loved Him with all their hearts and all their souls (see Deuteronomy 13:1-3). Such false prophets who failed these tests were to be stoned to death, and it was to the be members of their family who carried out the death sentence (see verses 5,6-10). Either the prediction was wrong, or the message was wrong, but the latter was most offensive.

False prophets could pollute an entire city. In such situations, the whole city was to be annihilated (see Deuteronomy 13:12-15). Obviously, the world has not followed this law, or huge numbers of people and people groups would have been wiped out. The Church has no mandate to stone false prophets, but these Old Testament passages reveal how serious we must take the warning that there will be false prophets who will “prove themselves” by signs and wonders.

There is no question that Satan and his demons can perform signs and wonders, and there is no question that the occult works. The real question is whether or not the supernatural acts lead people toward or away from the one true God. Quack doctors, shamans, psychics and New Age practitioners can come under the spell of evil spirits and channel information about people and events that appear to be accurate. Undiscerning people can be easily impressed by their spiritual insights and might assume they are getting good spiritual direction. When the undiscerning receive guidance through the occult, they usually don’t know they are following other gods.

The level of deception will intensify before the Lord returns. In Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians, he warns them not to allow anyone to deceive them into thinking that the day of the Lord had already arrived. The Lord won’t return until there has been a falling away from the faith and the man of lawlessness is revealed (see 2 Thessalonians 2:3). The man of lawlessness is probably the Antichrist of Revelation 13, and he will proclaim himself to be God (see 2 Thessalonians 2:4). “The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved” (2 Thessalonians 2:9-10).

Dr. Neil

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