True Signs and Wonders

REPOSTED FROM JUNE 2008

True signs and wonders are fruit of walking in the Spirit and doing the work of the Lord. True signs and wonders were never intended for entertainment or "an event" that one travels to see.

Mark 16:17-20 explains: “And these attesting signs will accompany those who believe: in My name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new languages; They will pick up serpents; and [even] if they drink anything deadly, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will get well. … And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord kept working with them and confirming the message by the attesting signs and miracles that closely accompanied [it].”

I will say it again: “True signs and wonders are fruit of walking in the Spirit and doing the work of the Lord.” Jesus knew that His followers would encounter many things in their individual lives and ministries that would have to be dealt with immediately. I have personally encountered a few serious demonic manifestations in others that had to be addressed immediately. I told the demon to shut up and come out! It did! (At the name of Jesus every knee must bow, Phil. 2:10.) There was no fanfare, but the person was set free.

I have prayed for many people who have been healed, and I personally have experienced healings in my own body. People have told me that I have certain spiritual giftings. I want to say, "Maybe, because I am filled with the Spirit of the Lord, but mostly, I have Jesus and the baptism of the Holy Spirit." As Christians, it should not be at all unusual to see disciples moving in true signs and wonders. And as Spirit-filled Christians, we should not be surprised when God moves through us in signs and wonders!


I think many people do not understand that when we have Jesus and are baptized in the Holy Spirit, we have all that He has given us to do the works that He did on earth, and greater! John 14:12-14 NIV: "I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it."

I have been a Christian for almost 60 years, and I have learned well 2 Corinthians 4:7 (AMP): "However, we possess this precious treasure [the divine Light of the Gospel] in [frail, human] vessels of earth, that the grandeur and exceeding greatness of the power may be shown to be from God and not from ourselves." Brothers and sisters, we all need a plaque on our walls with this verse, especially if God is using us to minister to others. There is no place for pride when moving in signs and wonders. In ourselves, we are only frail, human vessels of earth, simply earthen vessels through which God can exhibit His grandeur and the exceeding greatness of His power.

When Jesus gave His charge in Matthew 28 to "Go into all the world and make disciples in all the nations" (paraphrased), He prevented any argument by “showing them his badge,” so to speak. "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth." He is "far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named" (Eph. 1:21). Parts of the church have been pretty good about telling people they need to be saved, but for the most part, the last part of the Matthew 28 charge has been left out: "and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you."

It is no wonder that we are in the mess we are in. We get people saved so they won’t go to hell and send them out into the world like sheep among wolves before they are trained for service. It is no wonder that people so easily turn to their "natural" inclinations and glorify the flesh.

*Steve Crosby made some good points in his article, "Babies and Bathwater: Lakeland and Beyond": They [deceived and gullible Christians] don’t know the Scriptures. They have no discernment. Their senses have not been trained (through exercise) to discern both good and evil. They receive a revelation and think they are now experts. They lust for supernatural power. They are hungry for celebrity and one-upmanship. They substitute experiences with angels for the worship and presence of God." [I recommend reading the entire article at the link below.]

Why? Because, for the most part, Christians have not been taught and do not practice 2 Timothy 2:15: "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, RIGHTLY DIVIDING the word of truth" [emphasis mine]. Jesus said, “Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Mark 8:34)—not chase after signs, wonders, and angels. Nor have they been taught that “He [Jesus] must increase, but I [me] must decrease” (John 3:30).

Hebrews 5:12-14: "For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil."

New disciples, and even older ones, can be trained in all of these points above by being holy in all of their conduct (1 Peter 1:15), but it must first start in the pulpit. It has been proven that the social, seeker-friendly gospel works for growing big churches, but it does not work for maturing disciples. Let's return to the biblical pattern, and let's grow up and start making a difference in the church and the world. Jesus still wants His body to move in true signs and wonders, but we must be aligned in right relationship with Him through His Spirit and His Word rightly divided.

It's time for the Church to move on to maturity, or few of us will be ready for the days ahead.

Restore Your Church, Lord!

*
Steve Crosby

Check Your Filters Regularly

AT FIRST GLANCE, you may think this is another do-it-yourself manual—learn to change the oil filter in your car, your air conditioner filter, or the filter on your water purification system. Yes, it is good to do those things, but the filters we will examine here are much more intimate and personal and are in critical need of being checked regularly. These are filters that can be found in the souls of humanity and can control behavior and everything that is thought and felt.

When God created man on the earth, He knew His new creation would be exposed to the chaos that Lucifer and the fallen angels had brought to the earth. The mind of His new man was pure, innocent, and obedient. That purity would shield him from the ugliness and chaos he would encounter on the earth, as long as he was obedient to God.

Adam walked in innocence with God in the Garden of Eden and shared intimate fellowship with Him. Adam could see all things through the eyes of God. He bore fruit. He subdued and took dominion of his surroundings. He was happy and fulfilled. He loved the helpmeet God had given him and lived in unity and oneness with her. He remained pure, as long as he walked in obedience.

God had placed Adam in a garden, a place of order in the midst of the chaotic mess that was on the earth. It was an enclosed environment that he was to “tend and keep.” From his rib, God had given Adam a mate, and he was given the power of God to rule the earth as God’s man. The Tree of Life in the center of the garden preserve was the physical evidence of life under the rule of God’s Spirit. Its fruit was immortality, and Adam was completely free to eat of it.

“... but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Gen. 2:17). Adam was given a choice, a choice with strong consequences. Choose life, or choose death.

There came a day when Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s command and ate of the forbidden tree. Whether through the deception of the serpent or deliberate intent, by their act of disobedience they chose self-autonomy and self-rule over the promise of eternal life. The death they experienced was spiritual, moral, emotional, and, ultimately, physical. Their pure minds that had enabled them to fellowship intimately with God and to rest in His love and security became polluted and tainted through sin and their own cognitive knowledge of good and evil. They were immediately filled with shame and fear at their nakedness and vulnerability, and they set out to hide and cover themselves.

Titus 1:15 in the Amplified Bible says: “To the pure [in heart and conscience] all things are pure, but to the defiled and corrupt and unbelieving nothing is pure; their very minds and consciences are defiled and polluted.”

The minds and consciences of Adam and Eve had become defiled and polluted with the corruption of sin. They had died a spiritual death and were left to rely on their unrepentant soulish resources—their unleashed human wills, their guilt-ridden emotions, and their defiled minds that now harbored a veil, a polluted filter called “the knowledge of good and evil,” a veil that separated them from the presence and the holiness of God. The wisdom that Eve had been seeking was not godly wisdom born from dependence on God but human self-rule and the mind of reason.

When God called Adam and Eve to account for their actions in Genesis 3:11, “Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat,” the proverbial “blame game” was born. Instead of taking responsibility for their sin and falling on their faces in repentance before God, Adam blamed Eve, and Eve blamed the serpent.

Before asking them if they had eaten from the forbidden tree, God asked them a key question in the first part of Genesis 3:11, “Who told you that you were naked?” This is an important question that we often skim right over. Let’s read all of that verse again: “And He said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?’ ” These two questions are eternally linked by Almighty God Himself. Eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil birthed the voice of self-awareness. It birthed the voice that speaks in agreement with the great tempter, the deceiver and “accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night” (Rev. 12:10).

The eyes of Adam and Eve had been opened to their own nakedness and shame. Their focus was taken off of God and placed on themselves. Their minds of purity that had protected them to God now contained a veil of separation from God. That veil was a filter through which all of sinful man’s thoughts, and ultimately his words, would be processed by the knowledge of good and evil. Those thoughts, under the dominion of satan, would be turned inward, where the focus was on self instead of on God. Those filters are still influencing our lives today.

I received an e-mail recently that shows perfectly how filters work. It goes like this:

“The Dirty Wash”

A young couple moves into a new neighborhood. The next morning, while they are eating breakfast, the young woman sees the neighbor hang up the wash outside. “That laundry is not very clean,” she said, “she doesn't know how to wash correctly. Perhaps she needs another laundry soap.” The husband looked on, but remained silent. Every time her neighbor would hang out the wash, the young woman would make the same comment. About a month later, the woman was surprised to see a nice clean wash on the line and said to her husband, “Look! She has learned how to wash correctly. I wonder who taught her this.” Her husband said, “I got up early this morning and washed the windows.”

And so it is with life: What we see while watching others depends on the purity of the window through which we look.

Everyone has filters. They are the sum total of our knowledge—our knowledge of both good and evil. We process almost everything through a filter—information, thoughts, feelings, experiences, problems, etc. At birth, they are like blank computer chips ready to be programmed.

Children who are raised in a home where there is love, caring, sharing, and appropriate relationship interaction have learned, for the most part, to be pragmatic in their thinking processes. Their knowledge weighs on the side of “good.”

Conversely, children who are raised where there is abuse, dysfunction, disrespect, chaos, instability, or a lack of love and caring will usually develop negative imprints in their mental functioning and may have many filters through which they process thoughts and feelings. Their knowledge weighs on the side of “evil.” For many, even though at some point they may become born again, there is often a life-long struggle with trust.

There are many kinds of destructive filters plaguing humanity. The “seeds” are there as a result of man’s fallen state and the inheritance of the sins of the fathers. They are programmed by many means—through things that are planted in the mind in childhood, through negative and painful significant relationships, through the influence or bad experiences that come from drugs and alcohol, through habitual sin, or even through trauma. Filters are a greatly used tool of the devil to steal, kill, and destroy the purposes and the lives of people.

Many filters are all consuming. Take, for example, a person who has acquired a rejection filter. Everything he or she thinks, hears, feels, and experiences processes through their rejection filter, and it comes out looking just like rejection. Most of us have met people with a rejection filter, and no amount of reassurance will ever be enough to satisfy them.

Over time, human filters collect the debris of life, the same as any other filter. They grow stale and become covered with sticky gunk and grime. Eventually, they become clogged. The person with a rejection filter at that point sees rejection in everything. Their words constantly confess their rejection. We have all heard of people looking at the world through rose-colored glasses. Instead of being rose-colored, these filters are rejection-colored. The vision is dirty, ugly, devoid of love, painful, and destructive. Eventually, the filter starts to contaminate the person organically. The rejection is not then just an emotional response to a thought or exterior influence; it is becoming a part of their inner identity. It will eventually cause them to reject themselves and set themselves up to be rejected by others.

Hopelessness and self-hatred set in next and can sometimes end in suicide. It goes deeper into the cells of the body, and the body begins to be rejected at the cellular level. At this point, the disease and dying processes begin.

Think about what dirty oil does to a car engine. You can drain the oil and put in new, clean oil, but if you do not change the filter, the oil is blocked and destroyed as it tries to circulate through the dirty filter. This is what happens to many people, even Christians, who go from counselor to counselor or from church to church and never change. It is a hindrance to the work of the Holy Spirit in that life. They may see some short-term benefits, but eventually, the dirty filter does its work.

This continued cycle will soon wear out an engine. It starts running badly, it has no power, and it spits, sputters, and develops hesitation. Pretty soon, it is going to throw a rod; it is going to blow the engine. Compare that to a heart attack, or cancer, or any number of health maladies. It may even show up as psychosomatic illness long before the real sets in.

Many have said that the battle is in the mind. Filters in the mind prevent us from walking in the Spirit because they speak louder than the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit. We are told in the Word of God to deny self, take up our cross, and follow Jesus (Luke 9:23), but filters cause our focus to be primarily on self. Filters cause us to demand our rights that we perceive are being withheld. Filters keep us from trusting others, or God. Unless our mind is renewed, filters will cause us to focus more toward the knowledge of evil than the knowledge of good.

The only hope is God’s intervention, by His grace, to bring healing and restoration. Typically, a person is in so much pain by that time that they seek help, or they cry out to God to take away their pain.

We blame a lot of problems on demonic spirits, and rightly so. But many of God’s people are being destroyed from a soul problem. The soul is made up of the Mind, the Emotions, and the Will. A problem begins in the Mind with negative, stinking thinking that has passed through a filter. Then the Emotions get involved and pump up the volume, and the Will jumps on the bandwagon and starts to dance. The Will acts out what the person is thinking and feeling.

One of the most common filters plaguing Americans today is rejection. Other common filters are anger, unforgiveness, and rebellion. These filters many times feed off of each other.

Let me first say that occasionally feeling rejection is a normal part of life, of sharing space on the earth with others. For whatever reasons, people sometimes reject us, whether we know them or not. The problem arises in not recognizing this and then allowing oneself to become offended by what is perceived as a personal affront. This may trigger an anger filter and the thought, “Nobody is going to treat me that way!” They begin to willingly act out their responses to their negative filters in unloving, anti-social, or illegal ways.

A typical scenario is that soon the loved ones they desperately need get tired of the negative behaviors and leave. Then an abandonment filter is activated. Now they have rejection, fear of abandonment, and a great big anger problem that pushes them away from any help that is available, from the people who really care and want to help them, and from God!

So what happens? Rebellion sets in. Now they have rejection, fear of abandonment, anger, and rebellion eating away at their soul. Consciously, they blame everyone else for their problems. I believe it is because they cannot face the unconscious belief that they are defective. They are usually filled with anxiety, fear, and self-hatred. If you listen to the words spoken by people in this state of mind, you will hear them constantly putting themselves down. Self-hatred is at the root of many inflammatory diseases today. It is making their “engine” run hot.

At this point, they may act out in self-destructive ways. I believe this kind of problem is at the root of those who cut themselves, a problem we are hearing more and more about. In some cases, the destruction is aimed at hurting others. Many offenders serving prison sentences are the victims of their own contaminated filters.

Other kinds of filters

Another filter that is rampant in the Church today, especially in America, is the religious filter. The characteristics of a person with a religious filter can range from the very meek and lowly to the person who wants to control everything. They probably have an underlying insecurity or a sense of unworthiness toward having an intimate relationship with the Lord. They usually wear their emotions on their sleeve and are easily offended.

If you see these tendencies in yourself or others, there is almost always a religious filter in operation, and it almost always centers on a church doctrine or tradition. The person with the religious filter will see themselves as great defenders of the faith, willing to do battle to preserve their belief. However, they really bear no fruit as disciples of Jesus Christ. This is a telltale sign to the observant.

We stated earlier that filters are a greatly used tool of the devil to steal, kill, and destroy the purposes and the lives of people. Sometimes demonic spirits attach themselves to a person’s filters, especially when the will has opened a door through acting out in willful sin. When there are demonic spirits in control, it might be necessary to seek out a reputable person who moves in deliverance ministry. Please do your homework and check out anyone to whom you plan to submit yourself for deliverance. There are also generational curses that can be dealt with through deliverance ministry.

Is it any wonder that God issued such a stern warning to Adam and Eve about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? He told them that in the day they ate of it, they would surely die. He wasn’t telling them that He would punishment them with death, even spiritual death, but that the knowledge of good and evil would change them on the inside in a way that would lead to death. Their minds would no longer be pure; they would be tainted by evil knowledge and expectation. In God’s mercy, the Tree of Life was guarded from them, so they would not live forever in their fallen state.

Have you checked your filters lately? Have people told you that you were becoming negative, angry, hostile, or mean? Have you become a “doubting Thomas”? Is your agape slipping, or have you started sounding like a resounding gong and a clanging symbol?

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance (1 Cor. 13:4-7 NLT).

If these characteristics are not present in your love walk, you may have a filter in your mind. Verse three of that same Scripture says, “If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would be of no value whatsoever.” Filters de-value people.

Most people tend to look only at the external acts, but God looks at the heart. If there are filters operating in our minds, they affect our hearts and our love walk because we cannot see past our self-centered filter to be concerned about others. Filters are all consuming.

So how does one stop the cycle?

First, we must really see and admit to ourselves that we have a problem, a problem that is exclusively ours. Nothing can change as long as we are in denial. We must fall on our knees in godly sorrow. Notice I said “godly sorrow.” This is an act of humility before God, realizing that we are in a wretched state and cannot change it ourselves; we need the help that only our Creator can give. Realize and accept that God’s love for us is so great that He gave His only begotten Son to pay the penalty for sin on our behalf so that we could be healed and restored to relationship with Him. We are forgiven and accepted by God when we repent and give ourselves to Him.

Next, we exercise our WILL to give our life into the care of God through Jesus Christ. We humbly ask for His help.

Then we resist!! Resist, as Jesus did in the Garden of Gethsemane, to sweating drops of blood if necessary. Resist the old way of thinking. If rejection feelings come (or whatever the filter is), instead of giving in to the feelings, consciously realize that what stimulated the rejection feeling went through a dirty filter that is lying. It’s almost always not true! Speak the truth out loud to yourself. Speak in agreement with what God says.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If someone says something and you feel bad hearing it, ask in humility what he or she meant. Or tell them you heard it this way, and ask if that is what they really meant? You will find that most people have no ill intent. The enemy is that programmed filter within that is lying to you. Or it is a demon of hell that is harassing you. Speak as Jesus spoke: “Get thee behind me, Satan …” (Luke 4:8).

The armor of God shields us from the fiery darts of the devil. But we are to put on the mind of Christ to shield us from ourselves, from our sin nature, our filters, and our own carnality.

When we are born again, or born from above, our spirit is renewed, but our soul needs a lot of work. Jesus Christ is the Door that opens the Kingdom of God to us, the place where God is in charge. We have to make the decision to walk through into that Kingdom and allow God to direct our lives, to be the Lord and Master of our lives. He must increase, but I must decrease (John 3:30).

We must come to Him in humility with a broken and contrite heart. We have to daily put the old man, the old sin nature, on the cross. That is the only place it belongs. We do not have the capacity, the will power, to control it. It absolutely must be put on the cross daily. The Apostle Paul said, “I die daily.” We must deny self, take up our cross daily, and follow Christ. Then we begin to walk in the Spirit, so that we do not fulfill the lusts of the flesh, and we ask God to clean up the dirty filters.

We have heard that it will not happen overnight any more than we can become champion swimmers overnight. It is a process, and it takes practice. Our sincere commitment is immediate, but it is then lived out in a process, a process of prayer and feeding on God’s Word. If you have made a commitment, you will live it out in a process. The first thing each day, we must renew and reaffirm our commitments and ask God for His help as we surrender our “self” to Him.

There may be many failures on the journey to success and freedom. That is why it is so important to be in fellowship with the body of Christ. We need each other to keep us encouraged. We need the prayers of others. We need truth-speakers to remind us of the truth so we know it is worth our efforts.

As we fill our minds with the Word of God, and as we meditate on it day and night, we come to realize that God is doing what His Word says He will do. He is doing it as we pray. The things we pray for actually start happening inside of us. We are being changed. We are being conformed to the image of Christ.

Our filters are becoming clean. They are being restored to the purity and innocence that God intended. The minds and consciences of man became polluted and defiled when Adam and Eve chose to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Jesus Christ redeemed man from that curse on Calvary’s cross. He made possible the restoration of all things.

Through Christ, our fallen, polluted filters are restored and filled with FAITH—the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. We are free indeed! And we are free to show others the way. We are being restored to purity and innocence of mind so that we can unashamedly walk in the presence of God once again.

EPILOGUE

I have often meditated on Romans 10:17, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing BY the word of God” [emphasis added]. The tendency is to translate it: “faith comes by hearing the Word of God,” or by hearing the gospel. Knowing that the Word of God refers to jots and tittles being important, I believe the second “by” is not there by accident. Everything God says has meaning and purpose.

Psalm 119:11 says, “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” What must be hidden in the heart is the real standard for Truth and faith—the Word of God, the knowledge of God and of His Christ. This shows how critical it is that we always study and plant His Word in our hearts to counter the effects of the fall.

I believe God knew that man would be plagued with filters from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. So, for those who have ears to hear, He gave a warning to be careful of the sources to which we are listening. Faith comes by hearing, but make sure the source you are hearing is by the word of Christ and not a contaminated filter.

Oh, parents, please hear this message. Imagine the heartaches, confusion, and pain that our children might be spared if we fed them a daily diet of the Word of God, even before they are born. Imprinting those filters with truth and the love of God is the greatest gift we can give them.