Signs and Wonders: Not a tutorial on parking in LA

Introduction to signs and wonders in the church

Just like the United States has a constitution that has to be interpreted and applied to specific situations by the Supreme Court, Jewish teachers interpreted and applied their Law to their modern time by doing what was called binding and loosing. They would bind the things that were prohibited and loose the things that were allowed. Jesus referred to this practice when he was talking to Peter and his other disciples about the Assembly:
“Whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.”
As usual, Jesus flips common sense on its head: the Jewish teachers applied the spiritual law to earth, but Peter’s earthly teaching applies to heaven! So Peter’s teaching is superior to the Jewish teachers' and not only that, but Jesus is hinting that his teaching will replace it. Jewish teaching is based on the Old Covenant which was replaced by the New Covenant. Similarly, the Old Jerusalem was replaced by the New Jerusalem and Israel was replaced by the Assembly as God’s chosen people. Why? Because Israel is Abraham’s natural descendants, but the Assembly is his spiritual descendants. Jerusalem was earthly, but the New Jerusalem is a Spiritual kingdom. The Old Covenant is of the Law, but the New Covenant is of the Holy Spirit. The Jewish teacher’s earthly authority is over this world, but Peter’s authority is over Heaven is spiritual.

Notice how Jesus phrases this amazing statement. He didn’t say that it “will be done” but that it “shall have been done”. So when Peter binds and looses on earth, it already has been done in heaven! It makes you wonder if Peter’s authority influences heaven, or if heaven influences Peter’s authority. I think that Jesus’ point is that this kind of spiritual authority over heaven comes only because Peter is in tune with what’s already happening in heaven. To know what’s happening in heaven, he must be spiritually minded.

But this amazing spiritual authority is not just for Peter. A couple of pages later, Jesus was talking to all of his disciples when he said the exact same thing: “Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.” In the original Greek, the “you” Jesus is talking to is in the plural form. This spiritual authority applied to all of his disciples. Jesus told these disciples to “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” So the commands of Jesus apply not just to the disciples that were with him, but to all disciples after them as well.

What commands are the new disciples to learn? The same things he commanded the original disciples to do: “He called the twelve together, and gave them power and authority over all the demons and to heal diseases. And He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to perform healing.” These disciples were in training to become just like Jesus, for he said, “A pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher.” To become like Jesus is to perform the same miracles that he did. Indeed, Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do.” Also, “And these signs will accompany those who believe: by using my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

Do you believe? Do you have the signs to prove it? If these signs and wonders don’t follow you, you must ask yourself if Jesus’ words are true. If they are not true, then you do not believe. If his words are true, then where are the signs and wonders? Certainly not in most churches today!

Miracles faded out of normalcy in mainstream churches at the same time as another interesting change was occurring. Persecution against Christians ended and the Assemblies became more organized and unified. Christianity became less of a movement and more of an institution. A hierarchy of people was established to maintain order. They had to constantly guard against heresy and false teaching, so teaching from the leaders became the the norm and words from God given to the rest of the Assembly were discouraged. As humans took control on God’s behalf, there was less room for God to work supernaturally. With miracles fading away, the leaders had to come up with theological excuses for why God doesn’t do miracles anymore. These explanations relied on taking scripture out of context, changing the meaning, thus becoming false teaching itself.

As a result, churches today discourage prophecy, but Paul said, “Desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.” Churches don't trust God to provide, but instead run extensive fundraisers for their wealthy members, yet Jesus said, “You cannot serve God and wealth.” Churches don’t heal the sick as Jesus commanded but pray for the doctors to have wisdom. That’s like when Jesus’ disciples asked him how they would feed over 5,000 people and Jesus said, “You give them something to eat!” We need to stop praying for God to do what he has already commanded us to do through our heavenly authority!

You see, what is not so well known is that miracles never actually stopped. While the supernatural was pushed out of the mainstream, it has always existed on the fringes of Christianity. But an amazing thing has started to happen in the last hundred years or so -- Pentecostal churches are growing around the world, and the charismatic movement is having a powerful impact on almost every mainstream Catholic and Christian denomination. This movement encourages spiritual gifts and supernatural authority.

Many of these charismatic churches have something in common. They welcome signs and wonders at the expense of maintaining order. They confuse emotions for true power of the Holy Spirit. There is so much disorder and disorganization, it becomes obvious why hierarchies were established to push the supernatural out.

We already talked about how important order is in the Assembly. But order and God’s Spirit are not opposed -- they are complimentary. Paul says, “For God is not a God of disorder but of peace -- as in all the congregations of the Lord's people.” If an Assembly is truly abiding in the Holy Spirit, there will be order, because submission to God’s Spirit results in order. A hierarchy of humans pushes God’s Spirit out, but godly leadership maintains order so that God’s Spirit can work. Order doesn’t mean human control, and spirituality doesn't mean chaos. Order is spiritual authority that leaders like Peter have to raise up supernatural disciples of Jesus.

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Comments

  1. Provoking observations! I like the way you have highlighted the link between the Holy Spirit and order :)

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