Signs Follow His Word
“‘But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins’—then He said to the paralytic, ‘Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.’ And he arose and departed to his house. Now when the multitudes saw it, they marveled and glorified God, who had given such power to men” (Matthew 9:6-8).
The issue in the unseen world was the forgiveness of sins and that was larger to God than this man being able to rise up and walk. For their sakes Jesus said, “In order that you might know the power of God, let me demonstrate it for you. I’ll show you something that your physical eyes can see. Here’s something that your five senses can feel and touch and see and hear in order that you might know the infinite and manifold wisdom of God. Then you’ll know that this isn’t a joke or a game. Let it be seen on earth as it is in heaven.” And the multitudes marveled and glorified God.
“Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Go and tell John the things which you hear and see…’” (Matthew 11:4).
Often times testimonies are given to the natural man in the seen world because God has to coddle us. As immature babies we’re not able to see what He sees. We should be able to see Truth for what it is, but because we can’t, God will work through things we can physically see and hear in order to convict us of Truth.
Again, it’s not a game. Jesus taught that if someone wouldn’t believe Moses and the prophets, then even if a man were raised from the dead, it would profit them nothing (Luke 16:31). If everything is a gimmick and flesh-on-parade and something we’re pursuing externally, then there won’t be any power in it. But those things that confirm the Word of God and challenge us to grow into the image and stature of the fullness of Christ are the things God works through.
“‘But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins’—He said to the paralytic, ‘I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house’” (Mark 2:10).
“And they went out and proclaimed everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen” (Mark 16:20).
Another version says, “...confirmed the word by the signs that followed.” Yet there’s a whole world full of people out there who are following signs instead of “signs following.” You have to be aware of that. For those people, it’s not a life and a message and a proclamation. They’re just following signs. It’s not about truth that causes men to repent and drop to their knees, and being cut to the heart for having crucified the Son of God. There is a serious question about the validity of what is happening because it’s a game to them and isn’t about God. Auditoriums fill up with people who are following signs, rather than people who see signs following the proclamation of the Word of God that cuts them to the heart. It causes them to repent and to follow Jesus Christ with all their heart, soul, mind and strength. If signs happen at all, it is God’s heart that they follow or accompany the proclamation of the living and active Word that lays bear the motives and intentions of the heart.
Again, there’s a counterfeit out there that causes people to gratify their flesh. Jesus was angry at that. One minute He’s multiplying the loaves and fishes, and the next minute He’s rebuking them for following Him just for the bread. If we’re after the external rather than after the internal (with the confirmation following the internal truth), then it’s the wrong religion.
Because people are after the external, that’s why there’s so much confusion in the world today about God actually doing things. There’s the camp that says God doesn’t do anything. And there’s the camp that says God is our servant and our genie-in-a-bottle—if we do the right incantations then He’ll do something for us. It’s very self-centered. It’s wrong and sinful and it’s counterfeit. Satan hears those prayers just as much as God does.
Sometimes God might listen because of our ignorance, but by and large, it is God’s will to have things in the seen world follow Truth. It’s Truth that lays bare the intentions of the heart and causes us to come to Him on His terms. It causes us to repent and to have our life purged and cleansed by the washing of the Word. Then He accompanies that with external confirmations. “So that you will know that the Son of Man has power to change your life, I will do this external thing for you. I’ll give you a testimony that you can’t forget. I’ll do something for you to prove My faithfulness. You’ll always remember it just like the Israelites always remembered the parting of the Red Sea.” All the way through the Old Testament you see it: “Remember the Red Sea. Remember the Red Sea.” So God says also to us, “I will follow My Word. I’ll do things that will make your ears tingle if you’ll obey Me and walk with Me and turn to Me with all your heart. I’ll give you something to remember Me by so you’ll always know My faithfulness.”
When satan tries to steal your joy from you, you’ll remember that God is alive. You’ll remember the great and awesome deeds that He’s done for you, and nobody in the world or universe will be able to take that away from you. No one can steal the joy and the celebration that you have. That’s the purpose of signs that follow. It’s not about following signs, but rather the signs following. You need to keep that in mind.
“This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him” (John 2:11).
Do you see that? His glory was manifested and then His disciples believed in Him. They were already following Him at the proclaiming of His Word, and then they saw His glory manifested.
In Luke 5, Jesus was teaching to the multitudes by the lake and from the boat by the shore. He was teaching and teaching, and Peter was there hearing all this great teaching. It’s just great, it’s fantastic. Yet there was no real effect on Peter, was there? Remember how Jesus next tells Peter to push out in the boat and cast out into the deep. “Let down your nets.” And Peter says, “We’ve not caught anything all night, but at your word, we’ll do it.” Then the catch of fish nearly sinks the boat they’re in. What was Peter’s response to that? Poof! He’s cut to the heart and falls to his knees, “Depart from me. I’m a sinful man!”
You can see how the teaching of the Word of God is paramount as a foundation. It’s so important to hear the seed of the Word of God that endures forever. Nothing grows without a seed, and like with Peter, after that seed was planted, then the Glory was manifested. It was then that Peter dropped his head, fully believed, and trusted and followed Him.
So the two things have got to come together. That’s the Gospel and that’s who Jesus is, yesterday, today and forever. It is Jesus who proclaims the Word and teaches, but teaching all by itself can leave us pretty dull. Maybe we’re a little convicted, but at best we’ve only been taught. We don’t actually walk in one-tenth of what we know, do we? Do any of us need to know more? It can be good to know more, but the more we know, the lower the percentage is of what we’re actually walking in.
So Peter was soaking in the teaching of Jesus, really enjoying it all and thinking, “This is good!” Then God showed up and manifested His glory and that’s when Peter was cut to the heart. Now the teaching all of a sudden made some sense to him. The disciples had been with Him for some time, following Him and listening to His teaching. But He confirmed His Word by manifesting His glory, and His disciples believed in Him. So, the two come together.
“This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, ‘Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him’” (John 3:2).
Though he was immersed in the law, even a Pharisee could see that these things were out of the realm of what man is able to do. I’m asking you to cry out to God for something that’s out of the realm of what man is able to do. If you’re showing people the way of Truth and the Word of God, and they’re a little stubborn and reluctant, ask God to do something to confirm His Word. Ask God to wake them up. Ask Him to give you understanding or discernment about their lives that will rip them open. Ask Him for something that you couldn’t have known about that will rip open their heart and lay them bare.
Where we live we’ve prayed many times that God would bring crises and events to confirm His Word. We might ask God to cause a person to have a car wreck if that’s what it takes, but to keep their bodies and spirits safe. We ask for something to alert them to the frailty of life. We could tell them, “Life is a vapor,” but so what? They say, “Yeah, yeah, I know that.” So we ask God to make it real to them. Let it be something that would rip them open so that they say, “Hey, depart from me. I’m a sinful man.” Let God show up. Let it be an act of God where He manifests Himself by showing His Glory.
“And many of the people believed in Him, and said, ‘When the Christ comes, will He do more signs than these which this Man has done?’” (John 7:31).
For the Jews, they had an understanding of the phrase, “the Kingdom of God.” These people had an understanding of what that meant. They also understood the phrase, “the Christ of God” and “the Anointed One of God.” They knew what that meant and that He would come with action and not just with words. So they said, “Wow! Could the Christ actually do more than this man has done?”
“Now it was the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple, in Solomon’s porch. Then the Jews surrounded Him and said to Him, ‘How long do You keep us in doubt? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.’
“Jesus answered them, ‘I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me’” (John 10:22-25).
Jesus was saying, “Here’s the proof. Here’s the testimony of who I am. It is in the works that I do.” Later you see Paul speaking in 1 Corinthians 15 of the signs that accompany the work of someone of apostolic stature. He said, “This is a proof. This is a testimony that these things are true.”
In John 17, Jesus says “…as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as you have given him” (John 17:2). He is speaking of Himself to the Father. There’s an authority in the seen world that testifies to what’s happening in the unseen world. You’ve got to be crying out for that. I’m begging you to not be satisfied with anything less than the testimony in the seen world of what God is doing in the unseen world—on earth as it is in heaven.
“And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book…” (John 20:30).