Signs and Wonders Heresy

Dr. Mike Johnston

I’m convinced we’re living in the last days. One reason is the mass mudslide of “miracle revivals” being reported with unusual and often uncontrollable “manifestations of the Spirit.” These include: ecstatic gibberish, [1] divination, [2]  screeching, laughing, barking, falling, [3] flinching, flipping and flopping. [4] When challenged about the Biblical authority for this, proponents link it to a “Latter Rain” [5] they claim has anointed a new breed of apostles and prophets (aka “little gods” [6]) who are healing the sick, raising the dead, and “imparting” extra-Biblical [7] experiences the early church fathers [8] and church leaders [9] readily deemed heretical. Sadly, since so much of this has been ballyhooed as “a new move of God”, many Christians don’t dare to challenge it for fear of being branded a troublemaker or worse- a blasphemer. [10]
     
So what about it? Is this freakish phenomena a sign of an end times revival, or is it something else- perhaps even occult oriented? As Dave Hunt puts it, former Vineyard pastor John Goodwin came to Christ out of the occult and eventually realized that the Vineyard was involved in the very occult practices he had abandoned:
 
I was a Vineyard pastor, and according to John Wimber, in his words, I “could do the stuff . . .  anywhere and any time . . . ” I was tuned in . . . I was in lock-step with what John was teaching . . .  I have literally been to hundreds of Vineyard conferences . . . I’m here to [explain] that this is part of the last days heresy that’s bringing the church into the New Age and into the New World Order . . .  it’s all part of the Antichrist system of a one world church, a one world government and a one world economy. (Dave Hunt, Occult Invasion-Spiritual Deception of the Word and Church)
 
 Are sign gifts being used today? We believe they are, and this tract will help explain just what that sign is really announcing to the church.
 

The Purpose of Signs and Wonders 
     How great are his signs! and how mighty are his wonders (Dan 4:3). God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will (Heb 2:4).

 
 Confusion results from failing to distinguish between a miracle working God, and men with sign gifts performing miracles on behalf of God. Those of us who study Scripture from a dispensational [11] perspective are often charged with limiting God by putting Him in a box. Let me set the record straight: from Genesis to Revelation the Lord presents Himself as the Sovereign Omnipotent miracle worker Who can do anything, any time He chooses. That being said, when we study how and why He used signs and wonders throughout history, we can’t help but notice a vast difference between His original intention and how they’re used today. We will briefly discuss three ways God used signs. [12]
God used signs and wonders to confirm His message and His messengers
The Bible is God’s Holy and complete revelation of written Truth to man (Psalm 119; John 17:17). It is inspired from cover to cover and it alone contains all we need for doctrine and duty (2 Tim. 3:16-17). We need nothing else! And while this inspired Master piece has always existed in the Mind of God (Psalm 119:89), it has not always been available to man on paper. It had to be communicated and written over a period of some 15 centuries by 40 penmen located in various parts of the ancient world personally selected by God for this particular task. Peter wrote: Prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost (2 Peter 1:21).
            Knowing how vital an incorruptible Word is to God’s plan for His people (1 Pet. 1:23) Satan sowed tares through false prophets claiming to speak for God while leading the people away from Him (Deut. 13; 18; 2 Pet. 2:1). Therefore, in order to distinguish between the divine and the demonic message, God’s commissioning included two authenticating signs: one vocal and one visual.

Vocal proof was achieved as God’s prophets predicted long and short range prophecies that had to be fulfilled with 100% accuracy. Miss once and the deceiving prophet forfeited his life (Deut. 13; 18). Let me hasten to say that if this criteria was enforced today, all the so-called “apostles and prophets” spewing their false visions and damnable heresies (2 Pet. 2:1) on “Christian” television would disappear overnight.[13]

Visual proof came as God’s prophets performed miracles. Who can forget the Lord’s instruction to Moses- or what followed: And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt (Exodus 7:3, 5; see also Exodus 3:20; 4:9, 17, 21; etc).

Authenticated by these vocal and visual signs the OT prophets collectively gave us 39 Books containing the creation of the universe, the rise and fall of man, the Nation Israel and her 613 Laws including an elaborate sacrificial system, and some 300 predictions that were perfectly fulfilled in God’s Lamb, the Lord Jesus Christ (John 1:29). What they didn’t fully reveal was the Lamb’s Bride. That was done by the Lamb Himself in the presence of His all-Jewish entourage, where He foretold of an ekklesia (Matt. 16:18). This mystery (Eph. 5:32) would one day introduce the Jews and the world to a New Dispensation [14] we now refer to as the church age. And when it did, there were many supernatural proofs that accompanied its birth at Jerusalem.
God used signs and wonders to transition from the Old to the New Covenant
The church began in a kind of secret continuum from Joel’s prophecy of a future permanent Spirit-outpouring (Joel 2:28-32). On the day of Pentecost with tens of thousands of sign-seeking Jews (Mark 8:11; 1 Cor. 1:22) present in Jerusalem (Acts 2) the Lord Jesus sent the Holy Spirit He had promised (John 15:26), to build (Matt. 16:18), and baptize (Luke 3:16; Acts 1:5; 1 Cor. 12:13) His people with both vocal and visible signs that Joel’s prediction was being fulfilled.

Luke carefully detailed what happened: And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire (see Matt. 3:11; Acts 1:5), and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues (see Mark 16:17), as the Spirit gave them utterance (Act 2:2-4). He then tied it to Joel’s prophecy to Israel: And it shall come to pass in the last days, [15] saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy (Acts 2:17-18). [16]
            As the transition continued into the church age, signs accompanied God’s messengers the apostles who as Christ instructed, sought the Jews first (Matt. 10:5-6; Acts 2:5; 18:6; Rom. 1:16): the lame walked (Acts 3:1-8), the dead were raised (Acts 20:9-10), and every person touched by an apostle’s hands or shadow was instantly healed (Acts 5:15-16). Even those receiving Paul’s garments were delivered from demons as well as their diseases (Acts 19:11-12).

Please notice two things as you study the NT signs: First, they were always provided under apostolic authority: [17] And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles (Acts 2:43). And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people (Acts 5:12). And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul (Act 19:11). Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds (2 Cor. 12:12). God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will (Heb 2:4). Second, while false teachers likeMontanus, Charles Parham, William Branham, along with  all their heretic protégés would disagree, the Bible clearly demonstrates that God’s signs were for a season and never permanent. They were used to call attention to the authenticity of God’s messenger with God’s message and as such, required the perfect execution of both prophecies and miracles.[18] Since the Bible[19] hadn’t been canonized during the formation of the Nation of Israel or during the first century church, signs were necessary. Paul wrote that although he received the Word by revelation, today we receive it by reading (Eph. 3:3-6). Now that we have the 66 inerrant, infallible, and inspired Books, we don’t use signs, we don’t look for signs, we don’t need signs. In this dispensation we walk by faith, not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7; see Rom. 10:17). Any dependence upon signs (prophecies, words of knowledge, tongues, interpretation of tongues, etc) casts dispersion upon the Authority of God’s holy and precious Word and will lead you to the final and ultimate delusion!
God will use signs and wonders in the last days to deceive the world
The Bible tells us the last days will be filled with signs and wonders. Strangely, God doesn’t use them to draw disciples to Himself, but rather to deceive those who reject His Word and chase the miracles (Rev. 13:13-14; 16:14; 19:20). Please read every word in this end times prophecy- carefully:
 
Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth . . . (2 Thess. 2:9-12).
           
When Scripture becomes subservient to outside influences, man’s word gains inordinate authority and opens you up to an entire smorgasbord of “anything goes” deceptions. The unbiblical not only becomes believable, it becomes desirable. I saw this a while ago when a newly “anointed” [20] charismatic Canadian named Todd Bentley appeared on a stage in Florida wowing his audience by screaming, punching, and kicking those who ultimately fell on the floor around him. News of the Lakeland “revival” quickly spread as thousands of proponents desperate to justify their theology raced to embrace him even after he was unmasked as a drunken, lying fornicator who deserted his family, married his “mistress,” and opened up a web-based “ministry” where he solicits students for his signs and wonders school. The question here is obvious: How do well meaning Christian people become so deluded that a holy huckster like Bentley can actually convince them that Jesus sent him? I believe there are two reasons for this:

First, they’ve been wrongly taught end times revival, so they constantly search for them. [21] What their teachers either don’t know or willfully cover up is that falling away (Greek: apostasia2 Thess. 2:3)not revival, is what God’s Holy Word predicts for the last days. Many OT prophets predicted spiritual darkness in the end times (Isaiah, Jeremiah, etc). Paul warned that evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived (2 Tim. 3:13). Peter called them false prophets and teachers bringing damnable heresies (2 Pet. 2:1; see also 3:3); Jude labeled them ungodly fornicators and sodomites; filthy dreamers, brute beasts, murmurers, complainers, and mockers. If that’s not enough to convince you, the Lord Jesus wondered if He would find any faith whatsoever upon His return to earth (Luke 18:8). Now in all honesty, does this sound like revival?

Second, they’ve been wrongly taught that miracle workers will lead these end times revivals. Listen please. Scripture nowhere indicates either end times revivals or that miracle working Christians will be leading them. In fact, aside from the two tribulation prophets (Rev. 11:3-12) just the opposite is true: For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles . . . (Rev. 16:14). These deceivers will use signs and wonders in a well orchestrated campaign to lead the world away from God’s truth: Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils (1 Tim. 4:1) . . . so do these also resist the truth: [22] men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith . . . But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived (2 Tim. 3:8-9, 13). Do these sound like teachers you want to follow?

 My friend, I know those endorsing revivals accompanied by unusual, unprecedented, and unbiblical signs and wonders are very popular and extremely successful. But does that alone make them credible? I believe this tract has proven that while some of them are simply deluded, a frightening number of them may be purposely deceptive. So, how can you and I discern between them when Jesus and Paul both warned they would look and act like Christians yet arise to deceive from within the church (Matt. 24:4,5, 11, 24; Acts 20:28-30; Eph. 4:14; 5:6; 2 Thess. 2:3; 2 Tim. 3:13, etc )? The only foolproof way to distinguish between the real and the phony is Sola Scriptura- the Bible alone. Since the Bible is complete, miracle workers confirming it are unnecessary. In light of that, we are left to draw one final conclusion: those claiming to perform signs and wonders are wittingly or unwittingly taking an active role in the end times deception.   


[1] We have an expose tract entitled: Speaking in Tongues- The Core of Corinthian Christianity
[2] Packaged as words of knowledge, interpretation of tongues, and prophecies so called, these manifestations are actually nothing more than the pagan Canaanite witchcraft, forbidden by God (Deut. 18:10; 2 Kings 17:17; etc).
[3] They call this unbiblical nonsense being “slain in the Spirit.” Since you only fall at the feet of someone you worship- Christ, I believe this to be a coy ploy of Satan in an effort to give worship to men. 
[4] All the major “revivals” like Kansas City, Toronto, Brownsville, Lakeland and others reported this.
[5] For further discussion, please write for our booklet: The Latter Rain and the Manifest Sons of God Heresy.
[6] Write for our flyer entitled Doctrines of Devils where we expose them.
[7] Open your Bible and study for yourself. What passes itself off as a heightened spiritual experience can’t be found anywhere in Scripture.
[8] A known heretic named Montanus was employing some of these same gimmicks and was sternly rebuked and rejected.
[9] G. Campbell Morgan described the Azusa Street activities as   “the last vomit of Satan.” R.A. Torrey declared that this new Pentecostal movement was “emphatically not of God, and founded by a Sodomite.”   H. A. Ironside said in 1912 AD both the holiness and Pentecostal movements were                 “disgusting . . . delusions and insanities. Pandemonium’s where exhibitions worthy of a madhouse or a collection of howling dervishes (were causing a) heavy toll of lunacy and infidelity.” Clarence Larkin wrote:  “But the conduct of those possessed, in which they fall to the ground and writhe in contortions, causing disarrangement’s of the clothing and disgraceful scenes, is more a characteristic of demon possession, than a work of the Holy Spirit. From what has been said we see that we are living in “Perilous Times,” and that all about us are “Seducing Spirits,” and that they will become more active as the Dispensation draws to its close, and that we must exert the greatest care lest we be led astray.”  From Dr. Mike’s expose: The New Age Charismatic Seed of Corruption.
[10] When several of Benny Hinn’s false prophecies were proven to be lies, TBN founder Paul Crouch angrily charged the TV cameras with a clenched fist cursing all who dared to expose Hinn while assigning them to the fiery pits of eternal Hell.  
[11] In its simplest form, if you attended worship service the past Lord’s Day without taking a sacrificial Lamb with you, you are a dispensationalist. 
[12] We have not considered every miracle including those performed as signs by Elijah and Elisha who called Israel out of Baal worship during Ahab’s infamous reign.
[13] A full expose including names is available in Dr. Mike’s booklet: LAST DAYS False Prophets.
[14] The Old Scofield Study Bible discusses 7 separate dispensations.
[15] We believe the last days began in the time of Christ and will continue through the Millennium.
[16] If signs and wonders were valid for today, this event including fire, wind, and the ability to speak in a foreign language would be repeated every time a new soul was saved, or received “spirit baptism” wrongly so called.
[17] This is one reason the signs and wonders crowd has been so eager to re-invent apostles and prophets today. Please send for our tract: Apostles Today?
[18] There are no modern day prophets or apostles so called that possess these gifts. Most all of the “Christian” channels featuring these deceivers (all with a success rate of less than 30%) seem more devoted to unity than truth. Healing hucksters like Hagin and Roberts both died after failing to heal themselves. One can only imagine the fate awaiting Benny Hinn whose clown like capers boast of thousands of healings annually with little or no substantive proof being offered for any of them. 
[19] Now that the Word is complete, why would sign gifts be necessary? The gift of healing– not God’s ability to heal- doesn’t exist and neither do prophets who predict the future with 100% accuracy. Paul, who previously could heal, was ultimately rendered incapable of healing: himself (2 Cor. 12:8); Trophimus (1 Tim. 5:23); and Timothy (2 Tim. 4:2).  Today God’s real prophets don’t fore-tell the future. They forth-tell what Scripture predicts about the future.
[20] Bentley received his “impartation” from a well known sexual deviate and former Kansas City Prophet named Bob Jones. Both of these misfits claim to take regular excursions to heaven and share the company of a “teaching spirit” named Emma. You think demonism isn’t in the church?
[21] Anything with Jesus’ name on it today is passed off as Christian. Read Matt. 7 and 24 again!
[22] There is the spirit of truth and the spirit of error and we must be able to discern between them (1 John 4:1-6). While truth sets us free (John 8:32), rejecting it invites deception and ultimate bondage to Antichrist (2 Thess. 2:10-11).
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