Several years ago I set out to discern the reason for we in the modern church not seeing the same signs and wonders as the early church. Jesus promised in John 14:12 that believers would do the works He did, and even greater works. Well, where are they?
Let’s recap what the early church saw in signs and wonders:
- “Many” signs and wonders are mentioned in Acts 2:43 and 5:1-11.
- Great fear (meaning awe at the obvious power of God) is mentioned in Acts 2:43, 5:1-11 and 19:17.
- All were healed and believers were recognized by other people as being able to deliver healing; the community brought their sick into the streets so that the shadow of Peter passing by might fall on them in Acts 5:15-16; people were healed by their families bringing them handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched Paul in Acts 19:12.
- Resurrection – Peter raising Tabitha in Acts 9:35; Paul raising Eutychus in Acts 20:9-12.
- The Word “grew and multiplied” in Acts 12:24; “published throughout all the region” in Acts 13:44-49; “all in Asia heard the Word” in Acts 19:10; “name of Jesus magnified” in Acts 19:17”; “mightily grew the Word of God and prevailed” in Acts 19:20.
- The church growing by leaps and bounds; tracking all the references to “added”, “multiplied”, “multiplied greatly”, “multitudes”, “great multitudes” and more, I calculate that the church grew from 120 to over 300,000 between A.D. 30-60. That’s a growth rate of 30% per year, compounded.
But I don’t see those signs and wonders today. Do people bring their sick into the streets in hopes that a Christian passing by will heal them? Are Christians swarmed by people wanting us to touch a handkerchief or apron so they can take it back to heal their sick family member? Is church membership growing at 30% per year?
The same power that accomplished these signs and wonders in the early church (the Holy Spirit) is available to us, since Hebrews 13:8 declares that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. And Jesus promised that believers would do even greater works than He did.
Well, we consider ourselves believers, so why aren’t we doing these works?
Ahhhh, there’s the first clue. We consider ourselves believers … but do we actually meet the biblical requirements for being a believer? Could it be that what Jesus called a “believer” entails more than what the modern church realizes?
It seemed obvious to me that if we have the same power available to us, and the promise of Jesus that we would do even greater works than He did, but we aren’t getting the same results the early church delivered, then … we must be doing things differently than the early church.
So I set out to compare the conduct of the modern church vs. that of the early church, to see what we could discern. Here is the result of that effort.
(first two pages of the .pdf file repeat this blog entry as introduction)