For false messiahs and false prophets will rise up and perform great signs and wonders so as to deceive, if possible, even God’s chosen ones. See, I have warned you about this ahead of time. – Matthew 24: 24-25 (NLT) So many in the church today are seeking something new. Some new level of supernatural experience. We see it all the time in ministries across this country. Fantastic testimonies of angelic visitation leaving angels feathers behind. Manifestation of gemstones and gold dust shown as proof of a divine encounter. People claiming waking visits from Jesus or God the Father; being whisked away to the throne room of heaven itself. Enough to make you go “ooh” and “ahh.” Discernment cast aside as the pursuit of “deeper” encounters replaces the desire to seek God Himself. Droning music sold as worship but designed to induce the same meditative states used in new age mysticism. It is because of a poor understanding of the spirit realm and spiritual warfare that so many are so easily deceived. The assumption is that if the experience seems spiritual that it must be the Holy Spirit. But the Bible teaches us that there are many evil spirits in this world. That our warfare is against evil spirits and rulers in heavenly realms. There are instances within the stories in the Bible that display this ongoing warfare. I have written before about the angel dispatched to answer Daniel’s prayers that was delayed for 21 days by the Prince of Persia. A battle so fierce that God had to send the Arch-Angel Michael to pick up the fight so the ministering angel could complete his task. I have met people who are burdened with visions that are clearly not from God. I have heard testimonies from people who have been duped into believing God had visited them when clearly that was not the case. How can we be so sure? How can we discern? All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work. – 2Timothy 3: 16-17 (NLT) The Bible must always be our final answer. It must always be our arbiter about what is right and what is wrong and about what is from God and what is not. Let me be clear, I do believe that this is still the age of signs and wonders. God can do anything through a properly yielded vessel. And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone. Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned. These miraculous signs will accompany those who believe: They will cast out demons in my name, and they will speak in new languages.They will be able to handle snakes with safety, and if they drink anything poisonous, it won’t hurt them. They will be able to place their hands on the sick, and they will be healed.” – Mark 16: 15-18 (NLT) Notice that this doesn’t read that the signs and wonders will accompany just the apostles preaching but everyone who believes. The Gospel message is Jesus Christ and as long as it is about Jesus Christ then signs and wonders are supposed to accompany the preaching of the Gospel! When the true Gospel is preached we should expect deliverance from demonic oppression! We should expect supernatural protection! We should expect miraculous healing! We should expect the manifestation of tongues. Quite frankly, if these things are not occurring where you are hearing the Word – it is time to evaluate what kingdom they are building. Too many churches across this country have traded in the supernatural for the carnal theories of church growth that stymie the free expression of the gifts of the Spirit. Instead of desiring to see a greater outpouring of the Spirit upon the people, leaders simply desire that more people show up each week and maybe some the supernatural may not fit well with drawing people back. To the unsaved these things are supposed to be foolishness to them! But to the saved these things are supposed to accompany the preaching of God’s Word and too many churches are catering to the goats instead of the sheep. Then what about the other types of manifestation I mentioned earlier? That is where the key verses come into play today. Signs and wonders will also accompany those that are false prophets, teaching a false gospel. In fact, the key verses say that great signs and wonders will accompany them! The Bible tells of such a man: A man named Simon had been a sorcerer there for many years, amazing the people of Samaria and claiming to be someone great. Everyone, from the least to the greatest, often spoke of him as “the Great One—the Power of God.” They listened closely to him because for a long time he had astounded them with his magic. – Acts 8: 9-11 (NLT) Simon the Sorcerer amazed the people of Samaria for many years! So great were his signs and wonders that the people called him the great one and the power of God! So it can still go today. We see entire ministries built upon the rotting foundation of false signs and wonders. Tens upon thousands of people deceived by them. Wowed by them. Constantly seeking the experience instead of God. The difference is always between what is Scriptural and what is not. Nowhere in the Bible do we see gemstones and gold dust accompany the preaching of the Gospel. I cannot recall anywhere there being angel feathers magically falling from the sky or glory clouds filtering in from ventilation systems. When I hear the fanciful testimonies of people who claim to have been in the throne room of God just hanging out with Him and laughing it up I know they have been deceived. I do not doubt their testimony of the account just the specifics that it came from God. But I am not surprised! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no wonder that his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. In the end they will get the punishment their wicked deeds deserve. – 2Corinthians 11: 14-15 (NLT) Do we get this beloved? Satan himself disguises himself as an angel of light! So do his emissaries! I know that I must cling ever tighter to the Bible when evaluating signs and wonders. I know that when the Apostle John saw the glorified Christ he fell down as if dead. When Isaiah was called he said woe is me because he was a man of unclean lips. When the vast majority of people even encountered an angel they dropped to their faces in awe. Yet we are supposed to believe that today some preacher or worship leader visited the third heavens and was chilling with God and Jesus? But you may not look directly at my face, for no one may see me and live.” The Lord continued, “Look, stand near me on this rock. As my glorious presence passes by, I will hide you in the crevice of the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and let you see me from behind. But my face will not be seen.” – Exodus 33: 20-23 (NLT) What part of “no one may see me and live” do we not understand? This is how the Bible is used to discern between the Spirit of God and the spirits of this world. God will never contradict His own Word. Nor will He add to it suddenly. I believe in signs and wonders beloved because the Bible tells me so. But the Bible also tells me to discern between what is truly from God and what leads me away from Him. I do not need to newest experience or fad because I already have Jesus living inside of me. He is already the Alpha and Omega – the beginning and the end. I believe in healing. I believe in supernatural protection. I believe in the manifestation of the gifts of the spirit and I believe in demonic deliverance being available to all believers. These things bring glory to God and honor His Word. Anything else is merely a cheap knock off. A spiritual experience devoid of the Spirit of God and not supported by the Word of God, cannot lead to Him. It simply cannot. Rev. Anthony.