Give Me A Sign … or Else!


I confess to allowing myself to feel envious of other Christians when they receive obvious miracles in their lives. Don’t get me wrong; God has blessed me in uncountable ways, but many of those blessings are very subtle and easily missed. Other believers get the spectacular signs, while I just … live.

I asked God about that, and while He didn’t answer me audibly, even in a “still, small voice,” He guided me to some words that Jesus spoke to the nit-picky religious experts of His time: Then the Pharisees came out and began to dispute with Him, seeking from Him a sign from heaven, testing Him. But He sighed deeply in His spirit, and said, ‘Why does this generation seek a sign? Assuredly, I say to you, no sign shall be given to this generation.’ (Mark 8:11-12) And again: “’A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.’ And He left them and departed.” (Matthew 16:4)

 

Have you ever been to Charismatic meetings where the evangelist coaches seekers to ask God for the Baptism in the Holy Spirit? If so, you know how he tells them to babble, and believe it is the gift of tongues. Years ago I fell under that sort of evangelist’s spell and walked away convinced that I had spoken in tongues, assuring me that I had been filled with the Spirit. Shortly afterward I discovered several Bible passages in 1 Corinthians 12-14, and you know what? None of them instructed me to actively seek the gift of tongues. Between those passages and what I’ve quoted above, I walked away from tongues feeling I had been deceived. After all, “A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign.”

A number of times I’ve tried to share my testimony with skeptics. In response, they often demand proof, like miracles or other signs. How different is that from demanding a particular spiritual gift before we believe we have the gift of the Holy Spirit? Perhaps it’s just my lack of faith, but I typically just back down from such confrontations with some lame excuse like, “God doesn’t jump through hoops like a trained monkey.”

God Is Faithful, Always!

A trained monkey He isn’t, but faithful He is. Many years of fighting with God about the weak state of my faith has led me to a firm conviction; He loves me enough to withhold things I’ve wanted, that He knew would become barriers between Himself and me.

It’s sort of like Apostle Paul’s “thorn in the flesh.” While God hasn’t exactly given me an abundance of revelations, He knows that miraculous sign gifts would work against His greater purpose for me. And my demanding a sign would place me firmly in the same league as the Pharisees and lawyers of Jesus’ time.

Truthfully, He’s given me one of the greatest signs of all: I have peace with performing no miracles, speaking in no unlearned tongues, and receiving no prophetic utterances. Instead, He has given me a longing to love others as He loves me, and I think that is quite enough.

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4 thoughts on “Give Me A Sign … or Else!

  1. Could it be, that the reason Jesus gave the response that He did was because these guys (Scribes & Pharisees) were asking for additional signs because they did not believe the ones (signs) which were already performed.
    [see also Matt 12:38-39].

    Also, Jesus did not deny them a sign. He said the only sign that He’ll give to them is “the sign of the prophet Jonah.”

    Unfortunately their hearts were so hardened (even after the many miracles/signs they were privy to) that even “the sign of the prophet Jonah” still did not convince/cause them to believe.

    Signs are for both unbelievers & believers, (but especially unbelievers).
    Jesus: “Unless you see signs and wonders, you will not believe.” John 4:48

    Jesus: “If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.”

    Paul: Thus tongues are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers, while prophecy is a sign not for unbelievers but for believers. 1Cor 14:22

    Lastly, signs follows those who believe.
    “And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues;…” Mark 16

    Signs are just confirmation of the power & truth of the Word of God & those presenting His message.

    • I love your comments; very thought provoking. A fairly strong likelihood is the Jewish leadership felt they couldn’t afford to believe. Though they maintained an appearance of nose-skyward confidence, fear ruled their lives, which consisted of dancing along the barbed wire fence between complete capitulation to the Roman occupation, and faithfulness to their holy calling — for those who were priests, that is.

      That brings an interesting question to mind; were the various parties and religious occupations mentioned in the Bible members of the priesthood? There were Pharisees, Sadducees, scribes and law professors, as far as I can recall. I bow to your grasp of Bible history.

      Also, the aforementioned bigwigs simply had to maintain an illusion of authority in the midst of their impotence, to keep the unholy masses in check and the corrupted system of tithes and offerings pouring into their coffers. Somewhere in that statement there’s a strong parallel to some elements of today’s Christendom.

      I find myself in the interesting position of falling somewhere between the signs and wonders of Wesleyan-Arminian holiness, and a few of Calvinism’s “TULIP” Points. As Jesus is “the Author and Finisher of our faith,” (Hebrews 12:2) signs and wonders have no real purpose in evangelism since God’s Word was sealed up. My mind goes to 1 Corinthians 1:22-24 For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; (23) but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, (24) but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Regardless how many spectacular signs and wonders we perform, from drinking poison to handling snakes, salvation goes to those who are called.

      There is great controversy around what signs applied to the apostles and their disciples, and what signs apply to the post-apostolic period. Apostle John, a witness of all the apostolic signs and wonders, chose to boil it down to the church’s love being both the confirmation of our faith and the attraction of non-believers to the faith. And Apostle Paul made miracles trivial, compared to the love that only God’s Holy Spirit can produce in our lives. The only signs and wonders with which we need concern ourselves are those produced by God’s love living in us.

      I haven’t dealt with all of your excellent points, as, if I were to try, my reply could fill a book with stuff that already fills libraries of books. Thanks again for your thoughtful reply.

      • I love your responses; they’re respectful, unemotional (i.e. you address what I write, not what you think I’m thinking), and beyond gracious in your compliment. I sincerely appreciate that.
        Formulating a response and looking back at your title: “Give Me A sign…or Else” caused me to smile because you have indeed given me a sign.

        Jesus tells us that all people will know that we’re His disciples if we have love for each other. That’s a clear sign to me!

        I like the quote from 1 Cor 1:22-24; it shows that then, as now there are pretty much 3 types of people:
        Those who seek after light/signs (new age; mystics) – Jews
        Those who seek after knowledge (education) – Greeks
        Those who seek after glory (fame) – Romans

        Paul assures us as believers that we have no need to go after these things because all 3 are to be found in the face/person of Christ Jesus our Lord & Savior. How awesome is that!
        God gives the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 2 Cor 4:6

        So, I conclude by saying signs doesn’t have to be the miraculous as in raising the dead, casting out demons etc. Signs can be just as miraculous in the attitude of a life changed by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Love for the brother is not characterized by feeling but by our actions: patience, kindness, joy, peace, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

        It was a blessing reading your response.

        [So, while I didn’t demand a sign 🙂 you’ve clearly given one… and the reality is, thinking about it now, we’re always giving signs; they’re either saying we’re disciples of God or otherwise].
        Thanks for propelling me to think.
        God Bless you!

      • Thanks for the undeserved tribute. I choose to share the love God has given me by always trying to affirm, even in criticism. What a shame the most common example of that sort of criticism is most often found in new age-influenced businesses. Well, I guess even The Lie must contain a grain of truth to be palatable.

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