The Jews often sought a sign from heaven from Our Lord Jesus! The response that they got however was a Rebuke.
Jesus sighing in his spirit...why doth this generation seek after a SIGN? He went on to say that it (is) an evil and adulterous generation... that seeks after signs.
Over in mark chapter sixteen we find these words "These signs shall follow them that Believe"
The author of that Gospel Mark
Then gives a list of things to expect: Such as
~ speaking with new tongues
~ laying hands on the sick
~ The casting out of devils
~ raising the dead
~ And Immunity from deadly things (I.e serpents)
For instance The apostle Paul shook of a venomous beast and viper in Acts chapter 28:6
The barbourous people At that time upon seeing this happen to paul (thought him) to have "bad karma" and mischief had finally caught up with him. He will swell up and Die before our eyes (they thought). But after watching and observing him (to Live) and NOT die, they changed their minds instead, the man is a god! The point being Paul lived (mark chapter sixteen) and knew "serpents" and poisons in the blood cannot kill an anointed man of God! (Glory)
So freely we have recieved (brethren) and so freely we must NOW likewise give (Amen!)
But notice the TEXT says "THE SIGNS FOLLOW US"
(the signs are to follow us)
But In the P & C movement.
That is to say the pentecostals and charismatics
The opposite IS true and AT work, They follow the SIGNS. So then Are we any different to those adulterous Jews of 2000 years ago? who demanded open heavens and demanded signs from Jesus???
We are told in scripture that God confirms his word with signs and wonders. But nowhere does this imply or even remotely suggest the chasing or the running after (signs) The anointing is not a spectacle thing that one pursues and runs after!
( Hence i will not be boarding a plane to check out the happenings and goings on @ lakeland )
Because eventually you will come unstuck! And eventually you will come unglued! Further to this
If one continues on (in this vein) Eventually he is likely to encounter A false prophet, Or a false Apostle, Or a man dressed in sheep's clothing who Shows great signs and wonders. Or a simon the sorceror who has everyone convinced his power - is the great power of god! Eventually you will come face to face and run (smack-dab) into the middle of false Christs, wizards, and magicians who display the same "signs" as Moses and Aaron's did ...in pharaoh's courts!
The Jews sought a sign (And)
The Greeks pursued wisdom
But Neither got it right ...in the end!
Today we chase signs and wonders.
Today we chase the open heaven
Hence the books that detail some man's account of traveling to heaven and back or of some woman claiming she stood before the throne of God and was thus sent back to earth with a message for the church (sell like hot cakes) in our christian bookstores.
Today we cue up to listen to men who elaborate on trips to heaven and visitations from angels !!!
But the question i bring to you and the question i bring to your attention is - Are we any different to that sinful generation in Christ's time that sought after the signs?
But that said...
Nathanuel GOT an open heaven! and Stephen saw the heavens opened, and the son of man standing on the right hand of God! But the difference is neither of these men "sought" (after it) It happened at the discretion of God and by the holy spirit. (that's the difference, beloved) You can't fudge it, you can't bring it to pass, you can't produce it through "slain in the spirit" you can't by sleight of hand produce it (period). If this was so (or) possible ...then it's a "knock down" sleight of hand - bogus occurence!
But having said all that thus far...
Maybe just maybe we follow the signs....
Because Mark chapter sixteen is NOT a REALITY
In our own life! Therefore then - do we seek it
From others ... whom we esteem and think
To have it! hmmm.
And whilst mark sixteen does promise signs to them that believe (no argument from me) on that.
The last verse in Mark ..."brings it on home"
It says the Lord working (with) them.
The Lord (working) with them.
And confirming the WORD - with signs following.
Notice the words " The Lord working with them"
The point being: There can be no annointing (apart from God)!! Hence the words from Peter "ye men of Israel why look so earnestly (upon us) as though by our own POWER or HOLINESS we had made this man whole (that stands before you with perfect soundness)? Give God the praise (not man). God did the miracle and the sign was to the skeptic and unbelievers amongst them.
So what does this tell us? God confirms HIS word not for our sakes alone - but to them that are (without)
WE STAND BY faith! If the signs happens - we welcome it (of course) but we don't need it as confirmation of His Word.
Blessed are those having NOT seen, Yet Believe!
Thomas only believed in the resurrection in the end, because he saw the prints of the nailed scarred hands. But was reproved by JESUS over this selfsame issue
Thomas demanded proof and demanded Confirmation.
O THOU OF LITTLE FAITH. Jesus told them "be not faithless but believing"
We welcome all true signs and wonders (of course)
But... we don't need them as such
We stand by faith, and not by signs!
If a person already believes - then SIGNS are for them (that are without) and for their sakes.
Hence likewise tongues are NOT a sign to them that BELIEVE, but to them that believe NOT.
( 1 CORINTH 14:22 )
Paul QUOTED this in fulfilment of (Isaiah 28:11) "With men of OTHER tongues and OTHER lips will i speak to this people, and yet for all that they will (NOT) believe me". Paul here confirms the day of pentecost tongues were a sign (to the devout people present, but who were not yet believer's in "Jesus the Christ" ) boom boom! Hence in the same chapter these devout people said men and brethren - what do we do? And they repented, and believed "Jesus was the Christ"
Therefore tongues are a sign - to who?
Not to them that believe (In Christ)
But to them that believe not (In Christ)
Remembering the vast majorities of Jews present on that day of pentecost had NOT yet accepted Jesus - as the Christ. SO THE TONGUES IN THEIR LANGUAGES WERE A (SIGN) ...TO THEIR DISBELIEF!!
I said all that not in digression but to illustrate signs are primarily given to them (that are without) ... hence the signs on display at Corinth by the apostle paul (2 cor 12:12) were given to a church that was being established as new ( gentile converts to the faith) and to consolidate their new found faith!
Hence the reason for my doubts and skepticism toward Topeka and Azuza street. As we have a situation of "believers sign gifting tongues" "to believers" - who are already in Christ! Makes no sense to me! And differs from the experience found in Acts chapter two. Where we see devout Jews later repenting (for betraying the holy and just one)...saying men and brethren what do we do? Peter tells them plainly "repent" Repent of your unbelief and become converts to Christ. Which they did! So the tongues on pentecost were given to them that believed not ( that is to say that believed NOT that Jesus was indeed the Christ)!
NOW Don't get me wrong thank God for true signs and wonders when they come along in the seasons of God, but we live by faith and stand by faith. And We don't stand because of signs or in spite of them!
Sign seekers will in time be dissapointed and run into trouble. Sadly the P&C movement today has gone down this trail. Hence many now seek companionship and fellowship with reformed brethren - and amongst the reformed churches! Having just made that remark i want to also say we categorically reject the notion we are cessationists (because of this). AS SOME WRONGLY DUBB US. BECAUSE WE HAVE MOVED AWAY - WE MOVE AWAY because we sense the P&C movemnt is gullible and seeks after signs. It's VERY MUCH like a drug thing. IN Which you have to keep geting more of the same (INTOXICATING FEELING and HIGH) in order to sustain THE EXPERIENCE - OVER AND OVER... Instead of (RATHER) BEING established AND SETTLED - in him!
PAUL TOLD THE ROMANS HE AIMED TO COME THEM
BUT WAS LET HITHERTO
THAT I MIGHT HAVE SOME FRUIT AMONG YOU
If we run after personalities, big names, platform ministries...what happens?
Our eyes are upon men and upon them as vessels
And we keep running - and we keep running
And when our favourite preacher passes away
We look for another hero to replace him
And so the scenario continues, over and over.
God wants fruit and he wants us in (pauls absence) in rome - to become established and bring forth fruit. And not pursue men and there signs!
Let me further say ... God does not have to prove himself to anyone ( Go and read romans chapter one again) he has already shewed it to them!
We don't stand by signs
we stand by faith!
And when 1st Corinthian twelve gifts do manifest they manifest for a purpose and not "just" for "show". Therefore we should not tempt him in seeking signs as did the Jew and as did the pharisee, and as did the scribe.
I WANT TO CLOSE BY SAYING THIS...
The only true sign We can rely upon TO COME TO PASS is this (apart from the truly anointed men)
The sign of the son of man returning in the clouds (in the same manner) in which he was taken up from them. With power and great glory
And WITH tens of thousands of his saints. To execute judgement upon all, and to convince them of all their ungodly deeds and hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him. hmmm.