Bible Question:

If we are not to look to miracles as a sign of God's approval, then how can you defend the notion that the Bible is the Word of God?

Bible Answer:

Today, there are individuals who claim to perform signs and wonders.  They also claim to speak for God. They point to the signs and wonders performed in the Bible by prophets and the apostles and state that is what they are doing. They claim signs and wonders are still being performed today. Therefore, the question this article addresses is, “Do signs and wonders confirm the Word of God?” The answer will have two parts. The first is When Do Signs and Wonders Confirm the Word of God? and Contending For the Faith.

Signs and wonders confirm the Word of God

Signs and Wonders Confirm the Word of God

It is not uncommon today for some individuals to claim they are speaking for God or claim to have received new revelation from God. Others claim they write inspired books or receive messages from God that are equal to the scriptures of the Bible. Some claim their new revelations and messages from God are confirmed by supernatural signs and wonders. They refer to the signs and wonders of the apostles as proof that today they are speaking for God. 2 Corinthians 12:12 is a passage in which the apostle Paul states,

The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with all perseverance, by signs and wonders and miracles. 2 Corinthians 12:12 (NASB)

That is, 2 Corinthians 12:12 says the Paul performed signs and wonders. They confirmed he was an apostle—he spoke for God. Hebrews 2:4 is another important passage.

God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will. Hebrews 2:4 (NASB)

Notice that the apostles’ messages were confirmed with signs and wonders. But now we must ask a question. If someone performs signs and wonders as Paul did in New Testament times, does that always mean the person is speaking for God? Should we should always believe such an individual? The answer in both cases is no for several reasons.

First, we must remember that 2 Thessalonians 2:8-9 prophesies that Satan will perform signs and wonders through the antichrist in the tribulation period. Obviously, Satan is the deceiver (Revelation 12:9)  and cannot be trusted. The devil is the father of lies (John 8:44). This verse gives us a biblical principle that signs and wonders are not enough to authenticate what a teacher or supposed prophet says. So, how do we decide if someone, who is performing signs and wonders, is speaking for God. The answer is found in Deuteronomy 13:1-3. It gives us a test that answers the question.

“If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the LORD your God is testing you to find out if you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” Deuteronomy 13:1-3 (NASB)

The test is, what does he say about God? Does he encourage you to go after other gods? What does he say about Jesus (1 John 4:1-3)? Signs and wonders could confirm the Word of God before the canon of scripture was closed, but only if the individual was speaking truth about God.  This principle in Deuteronomy was given at a time when God’s people did not have the written or biblical record of God’s revelation of His truth to mankind.

Contending For the Faith

A second test is what does the teacher or preacher teach? What does he say God has said? One important passage is Jude 3-4 where believers are warned to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.” Here is the passage,

Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. Jude 3-4 (NASB)

The Greek word for “contend” is epagonizomai. It has the meaning “to fight.” That is, believers are to fight for “the faith” that was once delivered. Now notice that the faith has already been given to us. Jude 17 helps us understand that “the faith” mentioned in verse 3 is the teachings of the apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ.

But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ . . . Jude 17 (NASB)

So, Jude 3-4 warns believers to fight for what the apostles taught us. Now, where can we find teachings of the apostles? We find them in the New Testament. In addition, the apostles authenticated the Old Testament as Scripture. That means the teaching of the apostles included all of the Bible.

But false teachers will depart from “the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.” 2 Peter 2:1-16 and Jude 8-13 warns us to reject false teachers. That is, believers are to reject those who fail to teach the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.” Therefore we must ask, “Does he violate any commands in Scripture? Does he encourage us to violate Scripture? Does he violate any teaching of Scripture? Does he deny any of the character of God? Does he agree with Scripture?” Therefore, if the individual does not agree with what God has already spoken in Scripture, he or she is a false teacher. Signs and wonders are not enough.

Today, signs and wonders are meaningless, because believers are “to contend for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.” “Once for all handed down” means that the truths of the faith have already been communicated in their entirety in the Word of God. This gives us a second biblical principle. If a teacher or preacher agrees with Scripture, then we do not need his  “word from the Lord.” He has nothing new to offer! If he disagrees with Scripture, then he or she is a liar and the truth is not in him or her.  What God’s people need to hear is the clear, accurate teaching of the Word of God already given.

Conclusion

Finally, it is important to understand that we are not looking for anyone else to speak for God.  The Old Testament prophesied the coming of the Messiah. So, men and women were looking forward to His arrival. The Old Testament said He was coming. When He arrived, He taught us truth (John 18:37). He trained the apostles and they were commissioned to speak for Him. So the early Christians listened to them and they, and their associates, wrote the New Testament.  So since Genesis 3:15, God told us to look to Christ and Christ told us to listen to the apostles. But the apostles did not tell us to look for someone else who will prophesy or perform signs and wonders. They told us to contend for “the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.” We are to hold to what the apostles taught. In summary, if a teacher or preacher agrees with Scripture, then we do not need his “new revelation” or his “word from the Lord.”  We need only the scriptures of the Bible. If he disagrees with Scripture, then he or she is a liar and the truth is not in him or her. He is to be rejected.

Therefore, why are signs and wonders needed today? God will not add to something that He was already declared to be complete. Why would God say to confirm anything that is contrary to what He has already written? The answer is He will not do either. The answer is that any “signs and wonders” of our times are not of God.

Suggested Links:

What books belong in the Bible? – Canon of Scripture
Can we add new books to the Bible? – Is the canon of Scripture closed?
Should the Deuterocanon be included in the Holy Bible?
What Is The Apocrypha? Should It Be In The Bible?
How is the Jewish Bible or Tanakh different from the Bible?
Does God speak only to pastors?
What is the Muratorian Fragment?
What does it mean that the Bible is inspired? – Inspiration of Scripture
How were the four gospels distributed to the early Church?