The Point of It All
When Jesus walked the earth, He promised that after His return to the Father His followers would do greater works than He did. When He poured out His Spirit upon the disciples, they in fact began speaking in foreign tongues and prophesying and healing all kinds of ailments and casting out demons.
Many of His disciples, being filled with the Holy Spirit, were able to do signs and wonders in His name, thereby showing people the power of God and helping them receive His saving grace.
Today, there continues to be debate among Christians whether or not these signs and wonders are meant to be seen in our time. Many believe that the Holy Spirit has stopped giving miraculous gifts to the Church. Many others believe that there is no indication that He has. And there are many people considered leaders in the Church in the West who are known for their teachings on the topic and their strong disagreement with the opposing views. But this discussion seems to really miss the forest for the trees.
Ultimately, according to Jesus, the work of the Holy Spirit is to lead us to Him and the Father. Whether you consider yourself someone who doesn’t believe in modern Acts-type work of the Spirit, or you’re someone who does, we should all as God’s Good and Faithful agree that the Holy Spirit is ultimately the One who points us to Jesus and awakens us to a life in the Kingdom of God. In light of this fact, we should take a look at someone who was empowered by the Holy Spirit and whose ministry wasn’t highlighted by miraculous signs and wonders. Let us look at John the Baptist, the cousin of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Look at what Jesus has to say about him:
“Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”
Whew! What a word of praise from our Lord! No one is greater than John the Baptist?! Now, we know He’s making a larger point. But again, we can agree that part of the point is that John is great in the sight of God. This is why it’s such a big deal that He says that even the least is greater than John in the Kingdom of God.
Now, let’s look at what the people had to say about the works of the John the Baptist:
“…they said, “John did no sign, but everything that John said about this man [Jesus] was true.” And many believed in him [Jesus] there.” (Emphasis added)
I don’t know about you, but that’s a lot of praise for someone. Hopefully you see it. The praise over John’s life is that even though he wasn’t known for any signs and wonders, everything he said about Jesus was true. Whew. THAT’S praiseworthy.
You know, John too was given the Holy Spirit to fulfill his ministry. It was prophesied over him before conception.
When his father Zechariah was working in the temple, the angel Gabriel appeared to him saying,
“Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.” (Emphasis added)
In our discourse about signs and wonders, what can get lost in the fact that the point isn’t even really the works themselves. Certainly, if God so chooses to perform miracles through His people, praise be to Him. But what is the point of these miracles? The point of the miracles is the same point that John understood about his “miracle-less” ministry:
“I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” (Emphasis added)
Good and Faithful, this is our ministry too. All of us. As Holy Spirit-filled believers, this is the greatest work we can do. To reveal Jesus to the world! Whether you’re a young student in high school, a stay-at-home parent, a successful professional, whatever your day-to-day life consists of. Having the Holy Spirit is not about signs and wonders. It’s about having Jesus!
Now, the Scripture encourages us to desire the spiritual gifts. So, if you feel so led, go ahead, and ask for signs and wonders. But don’t forget the point of it all. The point of it all is Jesus! The very One those signs point to is Jesus!
Signs and wonders can lead people astray. In fact, it’s prophesied that they will. But the Holy Spirit cannot lead people astray. Just like Jesus could not lead us away from the Father, neither can the Holy Spirit lead us away from Jesus!
We want to encourage you today that with or without miracles, if you have the Holy Spirit, you have the One who is able to point you and others to Jesus. This is the greatest ministry of all! To know God, and to make Him known. This is what it means to bless the nations and advance His Kingdom. This is a work that requires the indwelling and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. We cannot do anything apart from Jesus and we cannot have Jesus if we do not have the Spirit of Christ dwelling in us!
If per chance you’re reading this and you’re not convinced that you do in fact have the Holy Spirit dwelling in you, we want to encourage you to call out to God in repentance and ask Him for His Holy Spirit. As Jesus put it:
What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
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