Quotes about Signs
[Divine power] is displayed not in dramatic manifestations that intrigue men but in lives of quiet confidence and steady persistence that glorify God.
My appeal is for you to rest in God’s sovereign will and to put more emphasis on developing discipline in your life, learning and practicing God’s Word, becoming holier in word and spirit, proclaiming the gospel, and “engaging in good deeds” (cf. Titus 2:14; 3:1, 8, 14), rather than being enamored with the pursuit of visible signs. Be careful about following those who can turn miracles on at 7 p.m. during a certain meeting. Pray and trust at all times, but do not become absorbed in a lust for miraculous signs like the wicked and adulterous generation Christ spoke of (Mt. 12:39). It will be an illusory journey that will often disappoint you.
Though miracles of all types did speak of Christ’s divine origin and were instrumental in authenticating His and His apostles’ message (see Jn. 3:2; 10:38; Heb. 2:1-4), Christ surprisingly did not appreciate those who sought for a sign. Herod was among them (Luke 23:8). In fact, Jesus said, “An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign” (Matt. 12:39).
Guidance of the Spirit through the mind toward a life of obedience and toward truth is propounded in Scripture as essential Christianity. Nowhere though does the Bible teach that direct guidance by means of impressions must be the experience of the believer. Those who argue that such experiences are to be regular fare for the Christian virtually always make their case on the basis of the narrative or story sections of the Bible and not on those that are didactic or teaching sections. I have not been told by God in His Word that divine visitations of unusual nature constitute authentic Christianity. I have not been commanded to have them or seek them. Interestingly enough, Christ Himself said that it is an evil and adulterous generation that seeks a sign (Matthew 12:39).
Nothing in Scripture teaches that the filling of the Spirit is accompanied by ecstatic experiences or external signs. To be sure, being filled with the Spirit does bring the believer tremendous exhilaration and joy, but the New Testament epistles reveal that being filled with the Spirit brings forth the fruit of the Spirit, not the gifts of the Spirit.
Demanding sensational proof is not evidence of faith but of doubt. To long for the visible sign, the big miracle, the dramatic proof is nothing but masked unbelief. It is the farthest thing from faith.
Any sensationalism inevitably is frustrated by the law of diminishing returns. People are never satisfied. They always want one more sign, one more miracle, one more show. To have maintained His influence over the people by the use of miracles, Jesus would have had to produce greater and greater sensations. Because the natural, carnal heart can never be satisfied, this year’s miracle would have become next year’s bore. His followers would only have been lovers of sensation, not lovers of God.
[Among the] three categories of spiritual gifts there were temporary sign gifts. These were specific enablements given to certain believers for the purpose of authenticating or confirming God’s Word when it was proclaimed in the early church before the Scriptures were written. The temporary sign gifts included prophecy (revelatory prophecy), miracles, healings, tongues, and interpretation of tongues. The sign gifts had a unique purpose: to give the apostles credentials, that is, to let the people know that these men all spoke the truth of God. Once the Word of God was inscripturated, the sign gifts were no longer needed and they ceased.
God guides, not by a visible sign, but by swaying the judgment. To wait before Him, weighing candidly in the scales every consideration for or against a proposed course, and in readiness to see which way the preponderance lies, is a frame of mind and heart in which one is fitted to be guided; and God touches the scales and makes the balance to sway as He will. But our hands must be off the scales, otherwise we need expect no interposition of His in our favor.
Impressions, hunches, intuition, signs, and new revelation become the focus of the Christian instead of moment-by-moment dependence upon Scripture. Soon, even the lines of Christian fellowship are determined by “common experiences” rather than biblical truth. It is a fine line, but what a great deception. Again, Satan is willing to give ground, to gain a greater advantage.