At International School of the Word, one of the major theological underpinnings of our school of ministry is the belief that God has and continues to demonstrate His power through signs, wonders, and gifts given to believers. This is of utmost importance to the spreading of the Gospel as well as its authentication. When people see the supernatural occur in the name of Jesus Christ, it confirms that Jesus’ promises are true. However, another important aspect is that miracles reveal the heart of the Father (John 5:9 & 9:1-7). God’s will is not for death to reign forever in the earth, so God shows this by raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11:38-44). Through Jesus’ resurrection from the death, after which He is never to die again, God shows us a resurrection unlike Lazarus’. Lazarus eventually did die again bodily, but one day, like Jesus, all who believe in Him will rise never to lie down again. Lazarus’ resurrection was a small foretaste of God’s heart, but Jesus’ was the fullness of God’s ultimate plan for humanity (Romans 6:5).

On the other end of the spectrum is the concept of cessationism, which argues that the signs and wonders portrayed in the New Testament were for that age only. Those who believe in cessationism come from traditions that interpret a few scriptures (1 Corinthians 13:8-12, 2 Corinthians 12:12, Hebrews 1:1-2 & 2:3-4) to mean that certain “sign” gifts (such as prophecy and tongues) have ceased while the Holy spirit continues to give spiritual gifts like mercy, faith, and encouragement. From a continuationist standpoint, the fundamental problem with this interpretation is that it is based on skepticism rather than faith and trust in God. Cessationism falls more in line with the reason-focused mindset of post-Enlightenment academia, which puts more emphasis man’s ability to find truth than the Spirit’s ability to reveal it.

The central philosophy of the New Covenant, however, is faith – faith like Abraham, the patriarchs, and Jesus. The gist of Abraham’s story, along with many other stories from Adam to Malachi, is the idea that God’s people should simply believe Him, no matter how outlandish His promises seem (Hebrews 11:8-12 & Romans 4:17).

Herein lies the crux: when Jesus tells us that miracles will follow those who believe in Him, will we believe Him? Is our response to do what Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for, creating theological systems that excuse us from simply believing and obeying God (Mark 7:1,8-13)? The choice is simple. We can either rely on reason alone, or we can take the simple words of Jesus with stubborn faith. Doesn’t the latter sound much more like what God asks of us?

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