Sunday, June 29, 2008

Miracles, Signs and Wonders

Prophetic scriptures, as directed to the last days and that generation, contain a variety of warnings. We were informed of what this era would look like in almost every detail imaginable. One of the most consistent and frequent warnings, in the context of "end-times" scriptures is directed towards false teachings and false prophets. Just to name a few of these warnings:

- "At that time many will turn away from the faith and betray and hate each other, and many false teachers will appear and deceive many" (Matt. 24:10-11)
- "Watch out that you are not deceived" (Luke 21:8)
- "Watch out that no one deceives you" (Matt. 24:4)
- "But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies...Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into dispute. In their greed the teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up" (2 Peter 2:1-3)
- "But these men blaspheme in matters they don't understand. They are like brute beasts, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed" (2 Peter 2:12)
- "For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error" (2 Peter 2:18)
- "I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray" (1 John 2:26)
- "Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray" (1 John 3:7)

- "The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They refused to love the truth and so be saved" (2 Thessalonians 2:9-10)

- "For a time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths" (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

Obviously, false teachings were of great concern in these prophetic writings from Jesus, and the apostles Peter, John and Paul. In fact, these particular warnings are usually included in almost any passage relating to prophecy for our age.

Recently, we have seen an array of claims made by various public figures - such as the ability to make frequent trips back and forth to heaven, visitations and personal messages from angels, "special communications" from God (only given to them) and even the ability to perform resurrections of the dead. Most of these so-called pastors spend very little time in the scriptures, but prefer to rely on their so-called "special communications" with angels and/or God Himself.

The only way to determine if someone is teaching a false message, is to know and understand the scriptures. Many of these false teachers will (occasionally) reference the bible and often make loose associations between their "teachings" and random, unrelated scriptures. In my experience, even a basic understanding of the referenced passages reveals either their lack of understanding, or perhaps an intentional misuse of scriptures. Yet thousands seem to embrace "what their itching ears want to hear" as they observe such false teachings and as they seemingly witness "counterfeit signs and wonders".

False teachings and false teachers. We have an abundance of scriptures which inform us to be aware of this prophetic scenario - a scenario which would only increase as we approach the end of the age. The clear intent of these multiple warnings, as contained in the prophetic scriptures, is to prevent us from being deceived and from being subsequently "led astray". The same scriptures tell us that even though we may see what appear to be "signs and wonders", are in fact "counterfeit" and not from God, but "in accordance with the work of satan".

We have an abundance of warnings. At the same time, there are many claims being made by individuals - claims that range from receiving personal messages from heaven - to the ability to resurrect the dead.

For me - I'll trust the scriptures.

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