“Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” — John 7:38
These Signs Will Follow, by Randall D. Kittle

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As the end-times unfold, the Church of Jesus Christ is not going to be hiding out in some basement holding on by her fingernails. The bride of Christ will not be like some displaced refugee without a home, wearing tattered rags. Jesus paid the price for her to be clothed in purity and power. “Christ loved the church and gave His life for it. … in order to present the church to Himself in all its beauty — pure and faultless, without spot or wrinkle or any other imperfection” (Ephesians 5:25–27). The bride of Christ will be clothed in all the glory that Jesus has purchased for her. As time comes to a close, she is going to go out with a triumphant bang; an explosion of miraculous signs and wonders. In fact, at the end of the church-age, the Church will be more glorious and powerful than she was in her beginning. That is an easy statement to make, and we can all shake our heads in agreement, but do we realize what a broad and bold statement this is? When you think about the supernatural beginning of the Church, you see from a biblical perspective how strong this statement really is.

The birthing of the Church was a time filled with miracles, signs, and wonders. I would encourage you to reread the book of Acts and rejoice at what God has called His Church to be. The Church explodes on the scene with the supernatural infilling of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The heavenly sound of a mighty rushing wind, speaking in unknown tongues, altered behavior that appears like drunkenness, and a baptism of holy boldness inaugurate the dawning of the church-age. Thousands make a commitment to follow Jesus Christ on the very first day. People line the streets in hope that Peter will walk their way, for the word has spread that if his shadow falls upon you, you will be healed. Physical limitations are no obstacles for God’s newborn juggernaut. Evangelists are physically translated to their next assignment. Prison cells cannot hold back this mighty move of God. Earthquakes and angelic escorts bring to safety the messengers of God who are behind bars for the preaching of the gospel. The powerful anointing of God is so strong that even Paul’s handkerchief brings healing and deliverance from demons. There is more…much more! The Church that Jesus died to birth started with a flurry of supernatural activity that totally overwhelmed its enemies — both human and demonic.

Though brief, this is an accurate picture of the Church as it began. Still, the Church in the last days will be
more powerful, doing even greater miracles. We can be certain of this because all of the promises of Christ will be fulfilled before the end of the age. Not one of them will be left unanswered. In John 14:12, Jesus promised that believers would do greater miracles than He did. “Most assuredly, 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, because I go to My Father.” This promise is yet to come to completion, but God has been preparing us for its great and powerful fulfilment.

Over the last few decades, indeed the past few centuries, Jesus has been restoring His Church. God is involved in a great restoration project. Like a craftsman refinishing a valuable heirloom, God has patiently been stripping away layer after layer of old, dirty residue. The Lord has been removing layers of old religious tradition from the Church — lifeless veneers that have slowly built up over the years. As each old layer is removed, the beauty and character of what lies underneath begin to be seen. True church-life is going to become beautifully simple and plain: the presence of Jesus—the all-powerful God dwelling with man!

Seeking Signs
As we long for God to restore the Church to the power that she is destined to contain, many have cried out, “Lord, release your miraculous signs!” We call out to the Lord in prayer and intercession seeking to see signs and wonders. We seek for signs … well so did the Pharisees! While we want God to demonstrate His power through the Church, we must be careful that it is God we are seeking and not just His miraculous signs. In the words of Sallie Chesham, “Don’t pray for power to overcome or to do anything else! We are not to seek power, but the Empowerer. It was never known that God gave His power away. But He Himself comes into the surrendered, believing human heart, and abiding there, exerts His power in us and through us. The command is not ‘seek ye power,’ but ‘seek ye Me!’”

Many seek after signs from God not because they want His power to be demonstrated, that He would be glorified, but so that they might be blessed. After Jesus fed the 5,000, the crowd followed Him to the other side of the lake. For most of these followers it was not because the miracle convinced them Jesus was the Messiah, they merely wanted another free lunch. Jesus quickly saw through these “disciples” and rebuked them,
“I tell you the truth, you are looking for Me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill”(John 6:26). The Bible tells us that it is scoffers who seek for signs. In fact, one of the most common responses to miracles during Jesus’ earthly ministry was the request that He show them a sign.

When Jesus made a whip of cords and drove the money changers out of the Temple, pouring out their money and overturning their tables, the Jews asked Him,
“What sign do You show to us, since You do these things?”(John 2:18). They missed the whole point. The act of driving out the merchants was the sign! Who else but the Son of God would dare to drive out the merchants who had filled the house of God? Who else would be so bold as to proclaim while doing it “Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!” (John 2:16)? Those who had eyes to see, understood this to be a sign: Jesus was fulfilling what the psalmist said in Psalm 69:9, “Zeal for your House consumes Me.” The religious leaders, whose hearts had grown cold, could only sneer, “Show us a sign!” No number of signs would have pierced their hardened hearts, and Jesus refused to “perform at their request.”

In the twelfth chapter of Matthew a demon possessed man who was both blind and mute was brought to Jesus. After Jesus cast out the demon and healed him, the multitudes were amazed and wondered if Jesus might be the Messiah. The Pharisees declared that it was the power of Satan that had done this “miracle.” After answering their charge with a powerful rebuke,
“some of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying, ‘Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.’ But He answered and said to them, ‘An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah” (Matthew 12:38–39). In one fell swoop Jesus sets a man free from a demon and heals him of being both blind and mute. Instead of being strengthened in faith, the Pharisees declared this work of the devil. Once the Lord showed them they were wrong, their response was “Show us a sign.” This is like standing in front of a speed limit sign and asking what the speed limit is. Scoffers always request to see miracles, but they are never able to see them, for they do not have “eyes to see.” Notice Jesus’ declaration: it is an evil and adulterous generation who seek after a sign.

At another time Jesus held a three day long healing service in the mountains near the Sea of Galilee. He healed everyone whom they brought to Him: the lame, the blind, the mute, the crippled. Because the crowd had stayed with Him so long, Jesus had compassion toward them and miraculously fed them all (4,000 men, plus the women and children) with only seven loaves of bread and a few small fish. As Jesus entered back into the city
“the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing Him asked that He would show them a sign from heaven. … A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign” (Matthew 16:1–4). Supernatural healing … creative miracles … just what kind of sign were they looking for?! The Lord walked about in their midst turning water into wine, calming the sea by His command, walking on the water, feeding the multitudes, healing the sick, giving sight to the blind, raising the dead … and they wanted to see a sign!

The Pathway to Signs & Wonders
Signs and wonders will flourish at the end of the age, but it won’t be because we are seeking after them, it will be because it is Jesus’ desire for His Church — a promise that He will fulfill. Seeking after signs is not how we increase signs and wonders in our midst. However, the Bible does show us the pathway that leads to the release of miraculous signs.

“And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. … And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.’ … And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs” (Mark 16:15–20). We must put first things first. The pattern to produce signs and wonders is to preach His gospel, and signs and wonders will follow! If we want the supernatural to be released…we must share the gospel. Healing, deliverance from demons, speaking in tongues and more are the promised results if we will go forth sharing the good news. So often we want to put the cart before the horse. We ask the Lord for a powerful anointing to do miracles in hopes that the supernatural signs will draw a crowd and we can tell them about Jesus. But the Bible says that signs are not our introduction, they are our confirmation. “… confirming the word through accompanying signs.” What are they confirming? They should confirm the message we have been speaking — they should be shouting “Amen!”

The Purpose of the Power
God does desire to give us His powerful anointing to touch this world. But what is the first purpose for His anointing? “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; he has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:18–19). The primary reason for the anointing is to preach the good news. All the other wonderful things will also occur, but the removing of sin and the reconciling back into relationship with God must be first.

When they carried a paralyzed man to Jesus on his bed, the first thing Jesus did was forgive His sins.
“Then behold, they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, ‘Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you’” (Matthew 9:2). I doubt his friends carried him all the way there because they thought he needed his sins forgiven. But Jesus knew that removing the sin from his soul was far more important than removing the sickness from his body. Only after the man’s sins had been removed did Jesus say “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house” (Matthew 9:6). Reconciling the lost to God releases the miraculous!

The Church was birthed by a powerful anointing of the Holy Spirit. What is God’s desire for those who have become endued with power by the Holy Spirit?
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Jesus said the power of the Holy Spirit is first and foremost to help us be His witnesses! God anoints us to preach the gospel. On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit fell, and they were empowered to boldly testify about Jesus. Three thousand gave their hearts to the Lord, and then many signs and wonders were performed. “Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. … Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles” (Acts 2:41–43). God’s power flowing through us strengthens us to be His witnesses, and then miraculous signs and wonders follow confirming the message we have shared.

That is the New Testament pathway to miracles! It is a spiritual law that signs follow the sowing of the gospel, just as it is a physical law that a light casts its shadow
behind the object that is blocking the light. When you are walking toward the sun, don’t expect your shadow to go before you. All of your wishing and hoping won’t change it. If you wait to move forward until your shadow goes before you, you will be waiting a long time. It is the same with signs and wonders. God’s spiritual law is that they follow the gospel. We can sit around wishing for signs to come, and then follow them by preaching the gospel to those who gather, but scripturally that isn’t how it happens. If we want to see signs and wonders, we need to be sharing the good news.

Sharing the Gospel
This explains why so many believers are powerless. Much of the Church has become “Full Gospel” in name, but not in deed. They have sermons, worship, speaking in tongues, prophecy, words of knowledge, etc. … all they are missing is the gospel. A “gospel-less” church is not only barren, it is critically ill as well. The Church is to be both evangelical and Spirit-empowered. It is not one or the other. It is both!

One reason we have not shared the gospel as freely and openly as God desires is that we have a warped understanding of what it means to share the gospel. Somehow we have come to the conclusion that to share the good news means we must be able to clearly present the entire message of Jesus Christ, be able to apologetically answer each and every objection, and then bring every conversation to the point of making a “decision” for Jesus. While these can be good goals (they can also be legalistic, religious snares), most believers who are “doing the work of an evangelist,” and are not specifically gifted in evangelism, will probably not come up to these standards. In the Bible, the phrase “preach the gospel of the kingdom” originally meant simply “tell something good about the kingdom of God.” So, when the Bible instructs us to preach the gospel of the kingdom, it is not saying you have to have all the answers. You don’t have to have twenty-seven Bible verses memorized in a specific order before you can “share something good about the kingdom of God.” All you have to do is be able — and willing — to share
something about the kingdom of God. You can tell someone what God has been doing in your life, what He’s done for your friend, or how He has been moving in your church.

Another reason many have failed to share the good news is they have been taught that sharing the gospel means to literally “scare the hell” out of unbelievers. If they were honest, many believers regularly share the “bad news” with the lost. If you walk up to a person you have only known for a short time, and tell them “Unless you repent of your sin, you’re condemned to hell to burn for eternity,” it is not good news. How many do you think will respond, “Great, I was hoping someone would tell me that.”? I doubt they hurry home to share the “good news” with their family. It is only the Holy Spirit who convicts of sin and brings unbelievers to repentance. It is the loving kindness of God that draws the lost to repentance.
“Do you not know that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4). Sharing the good news is about telling unbelievers that God loves them and wants them to be with Him. The message is about being with God, not avoiding hell. Hell is such a terrible place not because of tormenting fire, but because it is eternal separation from God. Hell is the absence of God’s presence. In His presence is fulness of joy, love, peace … hell has none of these. The love of God stirs in us the desire to declare His great love. “Our message is that God was making all mankind His friends through Christ. God did not keep an account of their sins, and He has given us the message which tells how He makes them His friends. Here we are, then, speaking for Christ, as though God Himself were making His appeal through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf: let God change you from enemies into His friends!” (2 Corinthians 5:19–20). When we start to share what God has been doing in our lives, and how much He loves the lost, there will be results!

Guaranteed Results
Dramatically changed lives are the miraculous first-fruits of a Bible-believing Church that is sharing the gospel. There is no greater miraculous sign than a life remade by the presence of God. The world may mock tongues and reject healing, but the testimony of a changed life is a miracle that they cannot deny. When a neighbor or co-worker’s life has been totally turned around by God, it is a testimony that the unbelieving world cannot shake. They may outwardly write it off, but inside, in the depths of their hearts, they begin to question, “I wonder if God could do that for me?” This is one of the reasons Satan tries so hard to have believers stumble and backslide. The testimony of their changed lives is supernaturally powerful.

Following this first-fruit will be a second harvest; a harvest of supernatural signs and wonders. As we say yes to God’s desire to have us be sowers of His good news, we will reap a harvest of supernatural signs and wonders. He has promised that we will do greater works. There will be a release of confirming wonders of God, ushered in by an obedient Bride. We can scarcely image the magnitude of these miraculous signs as the bride begins to be adorned with the wedding gown that Jesus died to purchase her — a gown of purity and power. How powerful is the bride of Christ going to be? When we see Christ at the end of the age, we will be like Him! Let us seek to be sowers, that we might be reapers also. Let us plant the seed with joy, for the harvest is guaranteed!


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