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SIGNS AND WONDERS IN THE NEW MILLENNIUM
Goddess rituals, necromancy, visualization, hypnosis by clergy, sensual body aura, and other pagan desires are being introduced to Christian audiences.

Thomas R. Horn, Editor of Raiders News Update.

Unlike other religions, Christianity is alive and contemporary. Each generation experiences new and exciting things as the Body of Christ interacts with an eternal and living God. The gifts of the Spirit, miracles, revelations, and supernatural phenomena accompany the Christian life, and signs and wonders are historically part of the preaching of the Gospel. This qualifies the Church as a source of knowledge concerning spiritual matters.

Today, as rationalism and philosophic apologetic arguments are rejected by a society hungry for supernatural encounter, the church needs to provide people with proper scriptural balance concerning doctrine and experience. The New Testament paradigm offers a consistent pattern for signs and wonders: Supernatural manifestations follow, never lead, the pursuit and visitation of God. Additionally, it is the Almighty, not men, who confirms the word "with signs following" (Mk. 16:20).

Because signs and wonders generate excitement and motivate the church toward godly activity, Satan attempts to infect, deflect, and corrupt every such scenario, in order to frustrate the equipping of the saints. He distorts the balance between doctrine and experience by reversing the biblical pattern, encouraging human orchestration, mind manipulation, and man-made emulation of the supernatural.

THE NEED FOR BIBLICAL ADHERENCE IN THE AGE OF AQUARIUS
As we enter the 21st century, researchers claim neo-pagan and metaphysical religion is the fastest growing in America. Christian leaders recognize the current fascination with the supernatural, and offer people an experiential encounter with Jesus Christ. But the demand for supernatural manifestations during church services has caused some to unwittingly adopt a magic-show mentality, where mystic rituals buried since the demise of the Delphic Oracle blend with traditional Christian fellowship. Propositions of eastern mysticism and ancient paganism flow subtly toward the churchgoer, and elements of psychic healing, self-actualization, levitation, emotional experiences, divining, goddess rituals, necromancy, visualization, hypnosis by clergy, sensual body aura, and other pagan desires are introduced to Christian audiences.

Because the line is sometimes blurred between a true manifestation of God and human orchestration, metaphysical phenomena can be touted as the miraculous evidence of "revival." As a result, some pursue extra-biblical experiences rather than concentrating on God and His Word.

Even sermons preached by mainstream ministers can tempt Christians to seek mystical "encounters" with God, rather than instructing them to live by faith. The danger of such undisciplined sincerity is that human nature rarely limits its opportunity for experience. If the Bible has no clear guidelines of conduct and order, and the activity is promoted by church authorities as a way of experiencing God, then the person seeking the "experience" may have trouble defining what is, and what isn't acceptable, and thus go too far.

For emotional people the "experience" may be expressed by a physical reaction, while academics tend to interpret mystical experiences with God as divine revelations or imparted knowledge. If the phenomenon is extra-biblical in nature and therefore undefined by New Testament teachings, the dangerous consequences of embracing such unprecedented supernatural activity can lead to religious behavior more reminiscent of paganism, than of biblical Christianity.

CLEAR BIBLICAL GUIDANCE
What should Christians do? First, leave miracles to God. If He performs a miracle, and He often does, it is His business and our blessing. Second, memorize scriptural guidelines. If Jesus tarries, the 21st-century church will witness many signs and wonders, and those miracles belonging to the Almighty will compliment the following biblical rules:

1. They will be based on the Word. All Scripture is the inspired Word of God and is the final authority in all church activity. If a situation within the church contradicts the clear teachings of the Scripture, then the activity must be disregarded. We look to the model of the church in the Book of Acts and ask: Is this activity something we see happening in the first church? Is there a biblical precedent for it?

2. They will be decent and orderly. There's no doubt that unusual things happen when people experience the reality of God. The manifest presence of God often brings a spontaneous and emotional reaction from those who experience it. People often behave in otherwise uncharacteristic ways in the liberating presence of the Holy Spirit. But, Paul cautioned the church at Corinth not to allow their newfound liberty in Christ to become a stumbling block to the unsaved or to confuse those who were weak in the faith. He commanded, "Let all things be done decently and in order" (1 Cor. 14:40).

3. They will bring people to repentance. Repentance is central to the preaching of the gospel and is vital for the miracle of the new birth to occur. Jesus commanded that "repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem" (Luke 24:47). It is the two-fold pattern of evangelism--preaching the gospel and bringing people to repentance--that contains "the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth" (Rom. 1:16). Satan would abolish this activity, but all true manifestations of God will include opportunities for repentance.

4. They will exalt Jesus Christ. In Revelation 19:10 we read, "And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." If you want to know whether a manifestation is from God, ask a simple question: Does it seek to focus glory on Christ or someone else? It is always the function of Biblical signs and wonders to glorify Jesus.

5. They will edify the Body of Christ. Some people confuse this with "entertain" the body. While there is nothing wrong with laughing and enjoying our church services, there is a very real difference between edification and entertainment. Jesus said that a "tree is known by its fruit" (Matt. 12:33). The end result of all church activity should serve to build us up in our most holy faith and unify us in singleness of purpose and service toward God. Also, Paul taught in 1 Corinthians, chapter 13, that every manifestation of the Holy Spirit will produce love among the believers. If an activity within the church causes us to love and accept each other with a godly love, then that activity should be encouraged.

6. They will nurture evangelism. Our Lord commanded, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15). When signs and wonders within the church are breathed of God, the result is evangelism. Note how Jesus combined evangelism with supernatural manifestations: "And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover" (Mark 16:17-18)

IN CONCLUSION
Jesus said "An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign" (Matt. 12:39). He also said "These signs shall follow them that believe." Simply put, believers must not seek physical and mystical signs, even if prompted to do so at popular Christian gathering places. We are commanded to preach the Gospel, and to leave signs and wonders to the sovereignty of God. If we follow the simple biblical pattern, miracles of the Living God will be ours when necessary.

"And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen" (Mark 16:20).

Copyright 2001 Thomas Horn.  Thomas Horn is the founder and editor of Raiders News Update.