Ask yourself this question, how do miracles, signs, and wonders relate to the Holy Spirit and the restoration of Israel? The answer to this question has profound implications for the Body of Christ, and for the gospel we preach.
We will demonstrate in what follows that the primary purpose of the miraculous gifts of the Spirit were received and employed as tangible evidence to Israel that the kingdom of God and the coming of the Lord would be fully received and accomplished within the lifetime of the first century generation, no later than AD70. Let’s begin.
And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned. “These signs will accompany those who have believed, in my name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues. they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed.
The word “sign” is from the Greek word “semeion”, and means “a mark, a token, that by which something is distinguished from another, a sign”. Therefore, a sign was an unusual occurrence which distinguished, marked, or signified something else. According to Mark 16, these signs distinguished and signified two things.
- The signs “marked out” those who had/would believe. The signs distinguished the gospel believers from the non-believers.
- The signs “confirmed the word”. (Technically, it was the Lord who confirmed the word by the signs). Nevertheless, it was the signs which marked out and distinguished “the word” from all other “words”.
We will focus primarily on the latter truth. To fully understand this text and its implications, we must see the connection between “the gospel” and “the word”. Notice, in verse 15 Jesus commanded his disciples to “go into all the world and preach the gospel”. Then in verse 20, we are told that they “went out and preached everywhere” and the Lord confirmed “the word” with signs. Consider how the two verses parallel….
“go into all the world and preach the gospel” (v.15)
“they preached everywhere”, and what they preached was “the word” (v.20)
Notice in particular that they preached the gospel and they preached the word. Therefore, the gospel is the word, and the word is the gospel. This is very important as we go forward. This leads us to an important question:
- What was this gospel-word? In other words, what was the message of the good news (gospel) which they preached?
Only by answering this question can we begin to understand why God chose to confirm this gospel-word with “signs”. So, let’s find the answer.
Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people.
This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.
According to these two texts, the gospel (good news), was the good news of the kingdom. And Jesus also called this gospel, the “word of the kingdom”.
Hear then the parable of the sower. “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it…”
Therefore, the gospel-word was the gospel (good news) of the kingdom. Now the question becomes, what was the message of the kingdom that made it “good news”? Let’s take a look…
Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
So, the good news (gospel) of the kingdom was that the kingdom of God was at hand, it was near. But the good news gets better. Not only was the kingdom “near”, it was to be established at the “coming” of the Lord within the lifetime of Jesus’ disciples, within their generation. This was Israel’s good news.
“For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds. “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.”
“But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is near…. “So you also, when you see these things happening, recognize that the kingdom of God is near. “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all things take place.
Centuries earlier the prophet Daniel had foretold that the Messianic kingdom would be established in the days of the “fourth beast” (the Kingdom of Rome), Daniel 2:31-44, 7:7-27, in Israel’s “last days” (Daniel 2:28, Acts 2:15-17, Hebrews 1:1-2). John, Jesus, and the disciples were simply proclaiming the fulfillment of what the Old Testament prophets had already promised.
So, please follow me on this….
The “signs” were to confirm the gospel-word of the kingdom.
But, the gospel (good news) of the kingdom was that the kingdom of God was near, and would soon be established at the coming of the Lord and the destruction of Jerusalem in AD70.
Therefore, the “signs” were given and performed to confirm the gospel (good news) that the King would soon arrive to bring desolation to Jerusalem, and to establish the kingdom of God in AD70.
In other words, Israel’s kingdom had not been postponed, and the signs which followed the preaching of the gospel-word of the kingdom were definitive proof that Israel’s kingdom was being established, and would soon be consummated at the coming of the Lord in AD70.
In order to validate what we have said above (that the “signs” confirmed the gospel-word of the soon-coming-kingdom), we should expect to see a connection between the preaching/teaching of the “word” (gospel), and the performing of “signs, wonders, and miracles” in the writings of the New Testament.
The below chart is a powerful validation of the evidence we have put forth above. (Click on the link below to see this chart in PDF)
THE GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM SIGNS FOLLOWING
|Preach the gospel…. the word
|Signs will accompany…. confirmed by signs following
|Wonders and signs through apostles
|Testimony to the resurrection
|Signs wonders great power
|The whole message of Life
|Many signs and wonders
|The word spreading
|Great wonders and signs
|Preaching the word… preaching the good news of the kingdom
|Signs and great miracles performed
|Testifying to the word of His grace
|Signs and wonders granted
|The word of the gospel
|Giving of the Spirit, signs and wonders (Acts 15:7-12)|
|Persuading about the kingdom of God (Acts 19:6-12)||Performing extraordinary miracles
|Preached the gospel of Christ
|Signs and wonders
|Preached the gospel
(2 Corinthians 11:7-12:12)
|Signs, wonders, and miracles
(2 Corinthians 11:7-12:12)
|The word of salvation
|Confirmed and testified by signs, wonders, miracles
Now, surely we must ask ourselves the question. If the kingdom had been “postponed”, why are the disciples continuing to preach the “good news of the kingdom”, and “persuade” men about the kingdom of God? A postponed kingdom would not be “good news”. In fact, it would have been the worst news that a first century Jew could have heard.
There can be no ignoring the power and implication of these parallels. The signs miracles and wonders which “followed” the preaching of the gospel-word, were the divine confirmation that Israel’s restoration was taking place, and the coming of the King in his kingdom would be fulfilled within that generation.
The fact is this, since the “signs” were a first century reality which did in fact confirm the gospel (good news) of a first century coming of the Lord in his kingdom, then we should expect to find the New Testament writers proclaiming this very thing. If we do, we will have established the doctrine of the restoration of Israel through the Holy Spirit in the first century.
Continued in Part 15