It was a time of multiple and mighty miracles. God was pleased to tabernacle in flesh. And Jesus Christ deigned to authenticate His deity by performing many dramatic signs and wonders. In order to validate their authority and the truth of their message, the disciples were also empowered through the Holy Spirit to perform miracles. But the disciples found themselves stymied by the request of a father to have them deliver his son from the ravages of demon possession. The Lord Jesus, of course, delivered him immediately. Then, turning to His disciples, He made a remarkable statement.
“Let these sayings sink down into your ears” (Lk. 9:44). We find around us today an entire religious industry built on the promotion and profit surrounding so-called miraculous signs and wonders. Followers of these charismatics are encouraged to seek such “gifts,” while those who fail to manifest them are relegated to an inferior class. Let it be carefully noted that the era of such gifts has long since ceased. But note that even in a time when God was pleased to gift His disciples with such ability, the Lord Himself placed the miracles in their proper context.
Having performed this miracle of deliverance that had frustrated the disciples, the Lord does not augment the drama of the occasion. Quite the opposite: He practically dismisses it. We might expect Him to remark on the miracle: “Take note of this impressive display of my power.” But no, “Let these sayings sink down into your ears.” is His immediate comment. And what are these sayings? “The Son of man shall be delivered into the hands of men.” Christ points them to His coming crucifixion. It is not the miracles that save the souls of men. And it was not for the purpose of healing the sick or even raising the dead that Christ came. He came “to give his life a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28). He came to die, “to be the propitiation for our sins” (I John 4:10).
“Rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you” (Lk. 10:20). In the next chapter of Luke, the seventy have returned from a mission on which the Lord had sent them. They come with rejoicing to the Lord, testifying that “even the devils [“demons”] are subject unto us through thy name” (v. 17). The Lord rebukes them with the words that begin this paragraph. And as in the previous exchange, He turns their attention from the miracles to what is of ultimate importance: “But rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven” (v. 20). The miracles, He reminds the disciples, are a temporary means to a permanent end. To focus on the miracles is to be happy with the smoke and to miss the value of the fire. As the smoke testifies to the existence of the fire, so the miracles testify to the reality of the Savior. But they must never become enamored with the former, for their purpose is to preach the latter. Miracles will cease, but the message of salvation will continue. Miracles will provide momentary deliverance from some temporal difficulty, but salvation will provide eternal deliverance from sin and hell.
Those who would have us focus on signs and wonders today are either sadly deceived themselves or wicked charlatans and hypocrites who profit by deceiving the gullible. The Scripture is replete with instructions and warnings on these matters, but we need only look at the perspective the Lord provided His disciples—even during a time when the Holy Spirit was enabling men to perform miracles—to see the error of the charismatic movement.
The mission of the church is to proclaim the message of salvation, not to promote the performing of miracles. In that truth, salvation by the grace of God through faith only in the finished work of Jesus Christ alone, believers have great reason to rejoice.
Previous Page | Next Page