There was a popular song that encouraged the lady to ‘give me some kind of a sign that you love me’. What the artist was saying, I don’t know what is going on here and I need some kind of indication from you so I know it is real and then I can go ahead and commit to the relationship.
That is much like the church since Jesus’ time, not a lot of commitment until they see something happen.. or hear of something happening. The crowds surely pressed close when Jesus came as he had a reputation as a healer, a miracle worker of all sorts, heck, he had even raised some from the dead.
He spoke to the Jews, all the people in the attendance and even those that weren’t when he said “ye will not believe”, He was speaking of the plural “you”. In the northern states, they say ‘youse guys’ and in the southern stated, they say “y’all”. They meaning is the same, ‘all of you people’. “Then said Jesus unto him, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.”
Like the Jews in Jesus’ day, few believed until they saw. There were many that believed in Jesus as long as he was doing something for them, and that is pretty much human nature. Rare was the person that actually had total faith in Him though they had never seen any of his deeds. When Christ arose from the dead, and he was surely dead, there were reports of the sightings of Him by Mary, some of the inner circle of disciples and even from other sources, Jesus had been seen, but the reports were, as we would say today, “going viral”. Even the Romans had a version of what had happened, though they could not explain all of the events and circumstances that occurred that evening.,
Many of the disciples left in despair and went back to their former life. Many Christian today can relate to that. But that is another topic for another day. The disciples still gathered in the Upper Room and it was totally sealed. They were there in fear. Thomas, after hearing the reports from several of the disciples, in his attempt to be bold and authoritarian proclaimed “Unless I see in His hands the marks made by the nails and put my finger into the nail prints, and put my hand into His side, I will never believe [it].” He wanted to see the signs and wonders before he believed.
John 4:48 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)
Paul states it this way: Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. Hebrews 11:1-3 NIV
There is a better way! The lesson is, that Faith based on what is seen is surely suspect. Take away the ‘signs and wonders’ and does the Faith remain? Or is one’s faith transformed into what Jesus is talking about, the faith in what is not seen? Stephen went about doing many great works, ‘signs and wonders’ among the people. He was able to do that because of his total commitment to the Gospel. Stephen wasn’t basing his beliefs on the signs and wonders but his beliefs were substantiated by the Holy Ghost that filled him with God’s grace and power.
Signs and Wonders are not evil, they are not wrong, just for the truly mature Christian they are not necessary for his personal believe, but he might perform these mighty works so that others might believe. Why aren’t we all healers? Why aren’t we all people that raise people from the dead? Why aren’t we all people that can live on God’s blessings and provisions? Why aren’t we all people that make the lame walk or the blind to see? Maybe we can be and maybe we should be.
Habakkuk 2:4King James Version (KJV)
Here you see a striking contrast in the person that believes in himself verses the person that has faith in God. The first is a narcissistic individual, self centered, self absorbed and self promoting. The latter is a person that is totally submitted to God and His will for that person’s life. That total submission is the only way one can live by faith and that is how Stephen was ‘full of God’s grace and power and did many signs and wonders among the people”. It wasn’t Stephen doing the works, but God working through him to bring the children back home.
Only the righteous have a future, the self centered, self controlled life has no future. Evil will consume itself in time, and Evil is always brought to the light where everyone can see what it truly is. The Righteous have their own reward,
Proverbs 16:8 King James Version (KJV)
Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues without right.
The evil, self centered, this world focused individual will surely fail. Proverbs 16:18King James Version (KJV)
18 Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.
May we be filled with the Holy Ghost so that we are so consumed by God’s grace and power that we too might go among the people and show them signs and wonders.