and wonders are happening all over the world! Are
they genuine? Or could these be the signs Jesus said
would occur before His Second Coming? If these signs
and wonders are of God, who would want to be against
them? If the signs and wonders are deceptive, then
why would anyone want to be for them? Any attempt to
answer these questions will naturally invite great
The Bible states we should "mark those who
The Bible also teaches that unity within the body of
Christ is very important. But, what is the biblical
definition of unity? Can Christianity be based on
false ideas, error, deception or lying signs and
wonders? What does the Bible claim? Should the Bible
be overlooked in order to fabricate a false unity in
the name of Christ? Shouldn't Christian unity always
be based on the truth?
While those who question ecumenism are often labeled
divisive and narrow-minded, the Bible does command
that the word of God be carefully presented. While I
have often been accused of being divisive, I wonder
sometimes if I have been misunderstood.
Read Romans 16: 7 in its entire context and you will
see the whole picture. Paul wrote: "Now I urge
you brethren, keep your eye on those who cause
dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching
which you learned, and turn away from them."
According to Paul, divisiveness is caused by those
who teach "contrary" to what the Bible
Before writing this commentary I asked for God's
help. I am not looking for more controversy.
However, what do you do when you see a trend
underway the Bible warns about? Or, what do you do
when some are saying "these are the signs and
wonders that we have been anticipating that will now
prepare the way for Jesus to come?"
One of these two views must be wrong. If the signs
are from God, then warning people against them would
be blasphemous. If the signs are false, then the
consequences are very serious and many people could
be deceived if they are not warned.
Supporters of the "signs and wonders" are
convinced they are right. Who are you they say to
claim they are wrong? Or, it is unbiblical for you
to attack a well known pastor or a famous
evangelist? What about these healings and people
being raised from the dead? Didn't Jesus say we
could do what He did? Are you saying that
"signs and wonders" do not follow the
preaching of the gospel?
Or, there is another common argument. Why would
anyone be so bold to speak out against a revival?
Are you more interested in eschatology than knowing
the truth? Another one of my critics actually said,
"No wonder you suffer so much hardship and your
son was killed in an accident - you are guilty of
blaspheming the Holy Ghost."
Yes, I have heard all these questions, comments and
accusations. People write or call me every day. One
brother told me, "The whole world is coming to
Jesus whether you believe it or not. If you don't
stop what you are doing, I am predicting God will
take you out."
I take these claims seriously, of course. Who would
want to blaspheme God? Who would want to be
personally responsible for holding back a genuine
revival? This is a serious matter. If my critics are
right, I am wrong and a tool of the devil as they
say. As well, I know that hell is a real place. I
don't want to go there, nor anyone else that I know.
If you have not heard about "Nigeria's
Miracle," you will. Christians all over the
world are talking about one of the most amazing
"revivals" in history. People are
gathering in the name of Christ by the hundreds of
thousands. "Signs and wonders are following the
preaching of the simple gospel," many say.
Could this be the great revival the "New Wine
Movement" has been predicting? Or is there a
possibility the world is being prepared for a final
grand delusion mentioned in the Bible?
An article "Come and Receive Your Miracle"
from Christianity Today, February 5, 2001,
provides interesting insight into the
"revival" in Nigeria. The leading
paragraph states: "German evangelist Reinhard
Bonnke's mass healings and evangelistic crusades are
setting records, but career missionaries say the
quality of disciples, not the quantity of the crowd,
is the key to reaching Nigerians."
While it is apparent that "miracle
meetings" draw large crowds, not everyone who
believes in miracles is impressed with Reinhard
Bonnke's meetings are often attended by over
500,000. On one occasion he shouted: "Jesus is
the Savior of Nigeria. All of Nigeria is going to
While the massive crowds are a strong indication
that many are being attracted to the meetings, how
many in attendance understand the message of the
gospel? Are the masses being led to Jesus as Savior,
or are they being attracted to the miracles that are
associated with His name?
Although Bonnke may be sincere in his objective to
see all Nigerians saved, there is a possibility that
he may be deceived. He claims that when he was a
young missionary in Lesotho, South Africa, the Holy
Spirit gave him a vision. According to Bonnke, he
saw the entire African continent washed in the blood
Charisma, May 2002, also helps us to further
understand the nature of the Nigerian revival. While
it is true massive meetings are being held with
hundreds of thousands in attendance, the style of
leadership needs to be tested. According to an
article titled "Nigeria's Miracle,"
observers say that God is raising up an army to
evangelize a continent.
This idea of an army being raised up is not new. In
1948 the Latter Rain Movement founded in North
Battleford, Saskatchewan, called for an army of
empowered believers. Often called Joel's Army, a
prediction was made that the whole world would be
Christianized by these mighty self-appointed
soldiers of God. While the army went underground for
a while, it's now back in full force.
Even Charisma attempts to add a word of
warning. One statement reads: "While Nigeria's
churches are growing, many of them are preaching an
imported message that focuses on money. They
borrowed it from the United States."
A further comment confirms there is a genuine
concern: "There is no question that Nigeria has
been fertile ground for the American faith message.
Kenneth Haggin Sr.'s teachings on healing and
prosperity have enjoyed wide circulation in Nigeria
since the 1970's, partly through the influence of
Nigerian magachurch leader Benson Idahosa. Kenneth
Copeland, Jerry Savelle, John Avanzini and many
other preachers who specialize in the prosperity
message have huge followings in the African country.
While supporters of the Signs and Wonders movement
in Nigeria claim God is at work, there are others
who are suspicious of the "revival" saying
that it may be tainted with error. Many pastors,
they say, "have adopted an American model of
celebrity Christianity - which has been eagerly
embraced by a patriarchal African culture that
struggles with hero worship. People follow their
leaders rather than God."
One spokesperson has stated: "I know of
churches where they will not pray for you at the
altar unless you give money first. They teach that
you must give seed money first in order to receive
any kind of blessing."
When I read the Charisma article about the great
"Nigerian Miracle," it was about one week
after I had visited Fort Worth Texas. On the way to
my Sunday morning speaking engagement, we drove past
a massive church called The Church of John Avanzini.
Although it was a huge complex there were only a few
cars in the parking lot. When I asked how many
attended services on a Sunday morning I found out
there were only a few. "They actually meet in a
classroom and not the sanctuary," I was told.
Perhaps in the future, the "signs and
wonders" that are happening in Nigeria will be
exported back to the USA. In order for Latter Rain
prophecies to be fulfilled, this definitely would
have to happen. For now, I believe it would be
beneficial to check out current trends with the
Many are saying that a global manifestation of
"signs and wonders" will be essential for
the spreading of the gospel on a worldwide scale.
Over the past several decades, experience-based
Christians have been promoting a style of evangelism
that requires "Christian unity" as the
prerequisite. Unity in the name of Christ, they say,
produces miracles that are attributed to Christ.
This method, better known as "power
evangelism," is built upon the premise that
"signs and wonders" bring about
conversions to Christ necessary to usher in the
Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
However, a careful study of the Bible indicates that
before Jesus returns to earth there will be a time
when people should be cautious about signs and
wonders. Jesus said the signs and wonders at this
time would be of the deceptive variety.
Paul also warned about such supernatural phenomena
as part of a grand delusion that would deceive many
and prepare the way for the antichrist.
Jesus also proclaimed a warning about a faith
primarily focused on the miraculous. He said many
would be deceived and spend eternity in hell. Even
though they had experienced supernatural phenomenon
in His name, they had never understood the simple
On another occasion Jesus warned about the dangers
of seeking after signs and wonders. He said:
"Why does this generation seek for a sign?
Truly I say to you, no sign shall be given to this
Later in the same chapter Jesus made it clear to His
followers that they should understand the true
reason for following Him. He declared: "If
anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny
himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For
whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; and
whoever loses his life shall for My sake and the
gospel's sake shall save it."
It is obvious that Jesus placed a high propriety on
the importance of understanding the gospel. He did
not seem to promote the idea that people should seek
Him for signs and wonders alone. So what is more
important - to be healed, then later die and go to
hell, or to understand the gospel and live forever?
One final example from the scriptures confirms that
Jesus was not supportive of people following Him for
the sake of miracles. Although Jesus is the God of
true miracles, and it is true that signs and
miracles follow the preaching of the gospel, people
must not follow miracles for the sake of following
miracles. They must understand the gospel. If they
do not, there is great potential for deception in
Christ's name. In Luke 3: 23-25 we read: "Now
when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the
feast, many believed in His name, beholding in His
signs which He was doing. But Jesus on His part, was
not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men,
and because He did not need anyone to bear witness
concerning man for He Himself knew what was in
It would seem to me, based upon what Jesus has said
and His actions as recorded in the Bible, that signs
and wonders are secondary to the preaching of the
true gospel. Should we not pay attention to what
Jesus has said and done?
With regard to the signs and wonders that are
supposedly behind the great "Nigerian
Miracle" - how can we know for sure if these
reported miracles are genuine or counterfeit? Are
the masses being saved or could this be a preview of
a future delusion that will send many to hell?
Before making a judgment it would be important to
check out the facts. Remember, the road to hell is
wide and many are those who travel on it. While the
way to heaven is a narrow way, it is possible to
travel this road if you understand the gospel.
And finally, there is one thing we can know for
sure. The gospel is the ticket to go to heaven, not
"signs and wonders." Of course, time will
tell who is right and who is wrong. Meanwhile,
remember that the consequences of being wrong are
very serious. Eternity is a long time to spend in
hell and there are no second chances to escape.
Romans 16: 17
3. 2 Thessalonians 2
4. Corrie Cutrer and Obed Minchakpu, "Come and
Receive Your Miracle," Christianity Today,
February 5, 2001, volume 45, No. 2, page 40
7. J. Lee. Grady, Christianity Today, May 2002,
"Nigeria's Miracle," page 38
8. Ibid. p. 42
9. Ibid. p. 43
10. Ibid. p. 50
11. Ibid. p.
12. Matthew 24:24
13. 2 Thessalonians 2: 9
14: Matthew 7: 21-23
15. Mark 8:12
16. Mark 8: 24
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