“Signs, Wonders, And Miracles.”
I COR. 12:28-31
“Signs, Wonders, And Miracles.”
I. The Works Of Miracles
II. The Gifts Of Healing
With the beginning of I Corinthians chapter 12 we have introduced to us the subject of spiritual gifts. We’ve been spending several weeks now looking in particular at what God says in these verses about the whole area of God’s grace gifts to men. The Bible teaches several basic facts about spiritual gifts. One thing the Bible teaches is that every believer has one or more spiritual gifts. Another thing the Bible teaches is that spiritual gifts are intended to be used by believers to build up the body of Christ, to edify God’s people. Spiritual gifts are not to be used for our own selfish purposes, they are not toys to play with, neither are they tanks to battle with, but they are tools to build with. All believers have one or more spiritual gifts and those gifts are to be used to build up the body of Christ. And then another thing the Bible teaches is that no believer has all of the spiritual gifts. We find this in verse 30 of this chapter and also in verse 29 because he makes it very clear that there are some gifts that were current in the New Testament day that all believers at that time did not have.
Now when you study the different lists of spiritual gifts that are given in the New Testament you will also find some fascinating things. For instance you will find that none of the lists of spiritual gifts is exhaustive. I mean by that that nowhere do you find these all listed in the same place, every one of those lists is a little bit different. But I think the most fascinating thing I have found, when I look at the different lists of spiritual gifts, is that when you put them in chronological order the number of the lists diminishes. For instance, I Corinthians was evidently written first and when you look at that chapter, First Corinthians 12, he mentions NINE of the gifts in one place and then he mentions EIGHT in the next place. The next book is the book of Romans, and when you look at the list there you will find that SEVEN spiritual gifts are mentioned. The next book is the book of Ephesians; when you look at the spiritual gifts listed there there are FOUR. And then when you come to First Peter chapter 4 you will find, rather than a listing of the spiritual gifts you will find that they are isolated into TWO PRIMARY CATEGORIES.
1 Peter 4:10-11 Now I said to you that you can take the spiritual gifts and you can classify them into three general classifications. There are the SPEAKING GIFTS: God talks about the gift of teaching and the gift of preaching and these kinds of gifts, the speaking gifts. And then, secondly, there are the SERVING GIFTS: helps, encouragement, and these kinds of gifts. But when you look at the gifts you will also find there is a category that can be described as the SIGN GIFTS. So there are speaking gifts, there are serving gifts, and then there are sign gifts, but when you come to the last mention in the New Testament of all of the spiritual gifts you will find that he mentions the speaking gifts, he mentions the serving gifts, but he does not mention the sign gifts. Now what is the meaning of this? What is the purpose of the Holy Spirit in giving us this kind of arrangement of spiritual gifts? I believe the meaning intended by that gives us an understanding of the whole area of signs and wonders and miracles. When you look at all of the spiritual gifts mentioned in the New Testament you will find that there are four of those gifts that would fall in the category of sign gifts. Here they are. Number one, WORKS OF MIRACLES, number two, GIFTS OF HEALINGS, number three, DIFFERENT KINDS OF LANGUAGES, and number four, TRANSLATION OF LANGUAGES. Now there are some things we need to understand about these sign gifts.
Number one, NOT ALL BELIEVERS HAD THE SIGN GIFTS. I Corinthians 12:29 that not all are workers of miracles. Not all believers had the gifts of healing, because in verse 30 he says, have all gifts of healing? And the answer is no. So those particular sign gifts were given in the New Testament age to a specific group of individuals and for a specific purpose. All right, I want you to keep your place here and move over to II Corinthians 12:12. He’s saying that signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds were the signs of an apostle.
Now the apostles were a particular group of men that God set aside in the New Testament church for a particular purpose. There were certain requirements necessary before you could be an apostle. For instance, in order to be an apostle you had to be an eyewitness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. We learn this from Acts 1. I Corinthians 9, Am I not an apostle? Have I not see our Lord? What he’s saying is, I was an eyewitness of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Now the apostles had a specific ministry to the body of Christ, to the church, in the New Testament times. In Ephesians chapter 2:20, the Bible, talking about the church, says, And you are built upon the foundation of the apostles and the prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone. Now what that verse means is is that the apostles had a specific foundational ministry. It was the job of the apostles to build the church upon the firm foundation of the Lord Jesus Christ. And, folks, I want to tell you what, you can try to build a church on anything else in the world but if you don’t build a church on Jesus it is destined to fall.
Now the apostles were those that were chosen by the Holy Spirit to give us the written Word of God. It was through these Spirit-anointed men, either an apostle or someone very closely related to apostle, that the Word of God was given to us in written form. So, you see, when the apostles were preaching in their day they could not refer to the written Word as I refer to it tonight. When I make a statement I must be able to build it upon what the Bible says, the written Word of God. But they didn’t have the New Testament in that day, the New Testament was being written, and so God gave to these apostles, these early believers, specific spiritual gifts that authenticated their ministry among the people and validated their message.
Hebrews 2:3. Who was that? That was the apostles. See, the Lord spoke, the apostles heard it, and then the apostles confirmed it unto the writer of the book of Hebrews, and then he says in verse 4. It says that the Holy Spirit confirmed the ministry and the message of the early apostles by means of signs, and wonders, and many miracles. Now what I want to do is I want to deal with the working of miracles and with the gifts of healing.
I Corinthians chapter 12:28-29 you will find miracles mentioned again in verse 29 (workers of miracles), you will find the working of miracles mentioned in verse 10. Three times in that chapter it talks about miracles, workers of miracles, working of miracles. Now we know that the Lord Jesus Christ did miracles when He was on this earth. In fact when Nicodemus came to the Lord Jesus Nicodemus said to the Lord Jesus, he said, Master, we know that youu are a teacher come from God, for no man can do these miracles that youu do except God be with him. Well of course Nicodemus was wrong. Jesus Christ was not a teacher come from God, He was God come to teach, but he recognized that the Lord Jesus Christ did miracles. Now what is a miracle? Well a miracle is a supernatural intervention of God into the normal course of things; it is God doing what He chooses to do with His own creation. So when Jesus came He was God in human flesh, He was the God-man, and so when Jesus came He just performed all kinds of miracles.
Sometimes Jesus performed miracles in nature: Jesus walked on the water, Jesus calmed the storm upon the sea, Jesus took the bread and the fish and He broke them with His hands and He multiplied them. Sometimes Jesus did miracles in the natural realm. By the way, it’s the same kinds of things that Adam would have been able to do if he had not fallen into sin. And by the way, it’s the same kinds of things that you and I are going to be able to do when we get our resurrection bodies. Listen, friend, you’re going to be able to walk on water when you get your resurrection body. In fact you’ll just be able to go all over this universe with the speed of thought when you get your resurrection body. So Jesus did the things that Adam could have done if he hadn’t sinned, and what you and I are going to do one of these days in our glorified resurrection body. He did miracles of nature. Jesus did physical miracles also. Jesus saw blind people and He gave them sight. Jesus saw people who could not talk and He gave them the ability to talk. Jesus saw crippled people and He made them walk. Jesus performed miracles in the realm of the physical. Jesus also performed miracles in the realm of the spiritual because, you see, Jesus could say to a man, Your sins be forgiven you, and the man’s sins were forgiven. Jesus could say to a poor woman taken in adultery, He could say to her, Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more, and miraculously her sins were forgiven and she was made white as snow in the presence of God. So Jesus performed miracles. Now in Acts 2:22, The MIRACLES OF JESUS VINDICATED HIS MINISTRY.
The MIRACLES OF JESUS ALSO DEMONSTRATED HIS DEITY. When you read the gospel of John you will discover at the conclusion of that book of John that John tells you why he wrote that book and he says, These miracles (the word is signs in the King James, these miracles) did Jesus and manifested His glory that you might believe that He is the Christ the Son of the living God. So, you see, those miracles demonstrated the deity of Jesus. Now strange as it may seem the miracles of Christ did not cause people to believe in Him. In fact Jesus said one time in John chapter 6, You believe on me, not because you see the miracles which I do but because you ate the bread and you were filled. So miracles did not bring people to Christ in an of themselves but Jesus performed miracles.
Now when Jesus performed miracles He was never sensational. In fact Jesus seemed to refuse to do anything in order to sensationalize the situation. You remember when the devil took Him to the pinnacle of the temple and said to Him, Throw yourself down, He’ll given His angels charge over thee? And do you remember what Jesus did? He refused to do it and He said to him, You shalt not tempt the Lord your God. Jesus did not do miracles in order to be spectacular. In fact sometimes He would do a miracle and He would say to people, Don’t tell people what I have done. A rather interesting thing: Jesus would tell the disciples don’t tell anybody and they’d tell everybody, He tells us to tell everybody and too few of us tell anybody. Isn’t that an amazing thing? Just the opposite of what Jesus says to do. So Jesus performed miracles.
Now when you study the ministry of the apostles you will find that they also performed miracles. You will find for instance that Simon Peter raised Dorcas from the dead, you will find that the apostle Paul raised a sleepy teenager named Eutychus, who fell out of the balcony one night while he was preaching and died. I haven’t got the power to raise the dead. So your on your own. But, you see, Paul did, he could raise the dead. But as you study the miracles in the ministry of the apostles, specifically in the book of Acts, you will find that the miracles began to diminish. When you study the whole area of miracles in the Bible you will find that the miracles normally came in clusters, they came at specific periods of history.
For instance, at the creation creation came into existence by means of a host of miracles. At the exodus, when Israel crossed through the Red Sea, there were miracles. When Jesus was born there were miracles attached. When Jesus Christ was resurrected from the dead there were miracles attached. When the early church was born there were miracles in clusters that were attached. When Jesus comes again the Bible says there are going to be signs in the sun and the moon and in the stars, miracles attached. Ladies and gentlemen, the question is, does God still do miracles today? And the answer to that question is absolutely, God still does do miracles today, God is in the miracle-working business. But now the question is, what kinds of miracles does God normally do today? And by the way, don’t anybody get the wrong idea, I don’t want you to ever get the idea I’m restricting God. Friend, God can do anything He wants to do any time He takes a notion to do it. Now you just always keep that in mind. But the question is, what kind of miracles is Jesus doing today? What are His greater miracles?
You know, Jesus said something rather fascinating in John 14:12 Now you think about Jesus’ natural miracles, His miracles in the natural realm. Those were indeed wonderful miracles but Jesus said you’re going to do greater miracles than this. We normally do not see miracles in the natural realm. I mean if there were folks today who were walking on the water I will assure you it would be on Dan Rather tomorrow night at 6:30 p.m. We’re normally not seeing those kinds of miracles but Jesus said you’re going to see some greater miracles. Friend, I’m going to tell you what the greater miracles are. You see, what you and I have as believers we have a miracle Book, the Word of God. And when we give the invitation in a little while and people come forward to receive Jesus Christ as their Savior, we’re seeing a far greater miracle than somebody walking on the water, we’re seeing a far greater miracle than calming a storm on the sea. Thank God for the miracles in the natural realm, thank God for the miracles in the physical realm, but God’s greatest miracles today are in the spiritual realm when God sets free a human soul.
And I want to tell you what, friends, there is miracle-working power in the Lord Jesus Christ to save a human soul. I think about the drug traffic. I was so interested to listen to our Drug Czar William Bennett who spoke last week out in New Orleans, and it was rather interesting. He’s a Catholic man and seems to have a deep faith in the Lord, but in his discussion of the drug problem in America he made it very clear that he believes we are involved in a spiritual warfare and that it is a spiritual problem. There is one ultimate solution to the drug problem in America and that is a personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. When a man receives Jesus Christ as his personal Savior he receives power, power to have victory over sin, power over addiction, be it drugs, be it alcohol, or whatever it be. So, you see, ladies and gentlemen, when you and I lead a soul to Jesus Christ we are indeed in the miracle-working business. It took a miracle to hang the stars in space. It took a miracle to fling the world in place. But when He saved my soul, cleansed and made me whole, it took a miracle of love and grace.
You know, I was interested to notice a statement made about John the Baptist. In John 10:41 it says John did no miracles. Now you think about that. John did no miracles, and yet the Lord Jesus said about John the Baptist, He said, Of those born of women there has not arisen a greater than John the Baptist. Now isn’t that something? Jesus said he’s the greatest man that ever lived and yet the Bible says John did no miracles. You know what John did? John just faithfully proclaimed the Word of God, John just faithfully told people what God had to say in the Word, and there old John was, doing no miracles, but standing by the banks of the river Jordan, preaching the kingdom of heaven is at hand, and people were coming and repenting of their sins and being baptized. But now I’ve got to move on, I want to talk a little bit about the GIFTS OF HEALING. Now you will notice in First Corinthians, verse 28, that he uses the plural with both words: gifts (plural) of healings (plural), and that seems to indicate to us healing on every level of the human personality. Physical healing, yes; emotional healing, because the Bible says about Jesus, He heals the broken-hearted. It’s wonderful to know that Jesus Christ can take the broken pieces of a heart and put that heart back together again. And then of course the deepest level of all, spiritual healing, healing of a sin-sick soul. Now when Jesus was here, of course, He performed healing miracles. Jesus did heal people. Sometimes Jesus healed people who had diseases, there were lepers that were healed by the Lord Jesus, blind (as I’ve mentioned) that were healed by the Lord Jesus Christ, those who had spirits of infirmity and they were healed by the Lord. Sometimes it would be a touch, just the touch of Jesus and the healing would occur. Sometimes it would just be a word, a word from Jesus and the healing would occur. In fact sometimes Jesus would not even be in close proximity and would just send the message that the person was well and the healing would occur. Wonderful indeed was the healing work of Jesus.
Now the questions comes, well what about healing? is healing in the atonement? In other words, because Jesus shed His blood on Calvary does this guarantee that any believer, any time he gets sick, can ask of God and receive healing for his physical infirmity? Well I want you to turn over to Isaiah 53:4. All right, put your finger right there and then go to the book of Matthew 8:16-17 That’s a New Testament translation of Isaiah chapter 53 and verse 4. So Isaiah 53:4 was fulfilled in the earthly ministry of Jesus. As He walked among men He fulfilled Isaiah 53:4, He was bearing men’s griefs, He was carrying their sorrows.
Now back to Isaiah 53:5. I Peter 2:24. Isaiah 53:4 was fulfilled in the incarnation of Jesus. Isaiah 53:5 was fulfilled in the crucifixion of Jesus. So, you see, in a sense you can say that healing has been provided for in the atonement, but you must always understand when you say that that the believer does not get all of the benefits of the atonement in the here and in the now. The greatest benefit of the atonement is that our sin stripes are healed, we are healed from our transgressions, we are healed from our sins, but ultimately, friends, every problem you’ve got is going to be solved by the atonement.
For instance, you’re going to get a brand new body, you can throw those glasses away, you won’t have to worry about counting calories any more. Everything is going to be solved in that atonement when Jesus shed His blood at Calvary’s cross. But you don’t get it now. See, none of you got your resurrected body now. When you got saved you didn’t get your resurrected body right now. So, you see, because of the fact that Christ in His incarnation dealt with sickness and healed sickness, and because of the fact that through the death of Jesus Christ at Calvary the sin question has been settled, that means ultimately all sickness, all disease is going to be solved and going to be removed from the earth. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have to deal with the problem of sin and sickness and sorrow in this world. So, you see, you look at the healing ministry of Jesus and you look at healing today and you see the problem of the faith healers.
You say, Preacher, what do you believe about faith healers? Do you believe in faith healers? I believe in faith healing; I’m not to hep on the faith healers. I believe God heals, I believe He’s the Great Physician. Exodus 15:26 And when you get sick the first thing you ought to do is talk to the Lord and ask God to heal you. But, you see, it’s not always God’s plan to heal. You see, to be perfectly honest with you I have problems with some of the faith healers. Sometimes those who have professed the loudest to heal the most have been rather dubious in their personal lives, and sometimes I’m a little bit dubious about the methods that are used. One noted faith healer was going around from place to place doing remarkable things, having remarkable abilities, and then they discovered that he had a little hearing aid in his ear, that his wife would interview the people who were coming to his healing services and she’d write down all the information, and then when those particular individuals came up she’d tell him in his little earphone everything that he needed to know, and they thought that it was a miracle.
Ladies and gentlemen, if you’re going to be a healer you better do it the way Jesus did it. Jesus never put up a tent and said, All of you sick folks come get well. Jesus went where the sick folks were. And, friend, if you’ve got the ability to heal then what you need to do is go over here into the hospitals of little children and little boys and girls and you ought to get on jet planes and you ought to fly to these countries of the world where masses of people are sick and masses of people are dying. Listen, friends, God heals but don’t you say it’s always God’s will for somebody to be healed. And don’t you say that when somebody doesn’t get healed it means that they don’t have enough faith in God. Don’t you be cruel to human beings like that. Don’t you put a guilt trip on people because they don’t get healed and you tell them it’s because they don’t have enough faith in God.
Ladies and gentlemen, you don’t know what God’s doing in the hearts and lives of people and there are some of God’s sweetest saints who live all of their life with physical suffering. They’ve asked God about it. You know they have. A thousand times. And yet somehow in the economy and in the plan and in the sovereignty of God God has not chosen to give them physical healing, and yet somehow in the midst of that infirmity, in the midst of that suffering God uses them in unusual ways and some of them are a lot closer to Jesus than some of us who’ve been healthy and had healthy bodies all of our lives. And, friend, I’m going to tell you what you do when you get sick. When you get sick the thing for you to do is to pray and ask for the healing of the Lord and then find you a good doctor, call that doctor and if he prescribes you some medicine you go get that prescription filled, and if there’s any sin in your life you confess it and ask God to forgive you and get all of that sin out of your life, and then commit it to the Lord. And if God wants to heal you He’ll heal you; if God doesn’t heal you then He’s got a purpose, He’s got a plan for that sickness.
Do you remember the man who was born blind who was brought to Jesus? and the disciples said to Jesus, Who did sin? this man or his parents, that he was born blind? And Jesus said, Neither one of them, but that the works of God might be manifest, that the glory of God might be revealed in him. And sometimes God just has a plan and God has a purpose. Signs, wonders, miracles: yes, our God is a wonder-working, miracle-working God but, ladies and gentlemen, our responsibility is to just be faithful to tell the good news of Jesus, we’re just the messenger boys, we just carry the message, and then God is the One who does the miracles. You know the greatest miracle that could occur in this building tonight? It’s for you to receive Jesus Christ as your Savior if you have not done so. So I’m going to invite you to do what you know in your heart you ought to do, I’m going to ask you to do what many people have already done this day, I’m going to ask you to come to receive Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior.