Sunday, May 2, 2021

Signs, Wonders, and Powers

"God also testified to it by signs, wonders, and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to His will" (Hebrews 2:4).

What are “signs, wonders, and various miracles”? A sign (semeion in Greek) communicates information. None of the miracles Jesus or the apostles did was for sheer effect. They were not performed simply to impress the crowd. Each miracle communicated information. Each wonderful work fit into the revelation of God’s truth. When Jesus healed people, it was a sign that the curse was being removed. When He turned water into wine, it was a sign of the blessing of His kingdom. When He walked on water, it was a sign that He had power over the elements of nature.

The word for “wonder” is teras. “Wonder” is the right translation since one of the purposes of a miracle is to attract the attention of people. In a miracle, the God who constantly runs the world does something dramatically different from the way He usually does it. This gets our attention. If miracles were commonplace, as some fringe groups in Christendom claim now, they would no longer be wonders. Consider Israel in the wilderness. They ate manna for forty years. Their shoes and clothes did not wear out. After a while it no longer seemed wonderful and miraculous. Children growing up doubtless believed these things were part of “natural law.” Only when something is exceptional do we see it as a wonder.

Third, the word translated “miracle” is dunamis, often translated “power” (hence the word dynamite). Miracles reveal the power of God over His creation. By faith we know that God in His providence constantly manages everything in creation, but we are not normally conscious of this fact. When God does something exceptional, it shows His power. It shows the kind of power that He and He alone has: the power to divide water into two walls, the power to turn water to blood or wine, the power to raise dead people back to life. The “miracles” done by quacks and pagans are tricks and involve no power.

Finally, miracles are always all three of these. It is not that some are signs and others are wonders. Every miracle is a sign, a wonder, and a power.

Do you seek the information accompanying the signs? Do you marvel at the great wonders told of in the Bible? Have you considered the unfathomable magnitude of the strength of His power? Read 2 Kings 6:15–17, praying that your eyes might be opened, and your heart moved to worship the omnipotent God.