Yesterday we talked about the deception in the church and how there are savage wolves destroying the flock. Paul said Acts 20:29 “I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. 30 Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. 31 So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.” Many in the church have no idea they have been deceived. They have been told they have been saved because they prayed the prayer and now attend a particular church and have accepted their distinct beliefs. This sounds like truth as Romans tells us Romans 10:9 “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” The question is what have you been saved into? We have to be careful here because Jesus tells us Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!”
This shows us there will be deception in the church and we must be aware of it. Just before this passage Jesus said Matthew 7:13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. 15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.” The question is when you declared Jesus is Lord, was this actually Jesus you were declaring or a false gospel. False teachers teach other gospels so what gospel have you actually agreed to? False gospels do not lead to eternal life.
The result of a true confession is the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit of which the church is not seeing. 1 Samuel 10:6 “The Spirit of the Lord will come powerfully upon you, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person.” The Pentecostals / charismatics were deceived into thinking this presence of the Spirit was about a language which as we see could be the case. Acts 10:45 “The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. 46 For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said, 47 “Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” They did not test the spirits and ended up with something completely different than scripture describes. It was a language that served no purpose; it was just noise. They thought they were filled but in the end they were still the same and continued to be deceived. The caption in the charismatic movement is staggering. Jesus said Matthew 24:23 “At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you ahead of time.” And yes it is possible for the elect to be deceived. 2 Peter 3:17 “Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position.” Paul tells us 2 Corinthians 11:13 “For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.” People who were seeking were deceived into believing a false messiah because what they believed in was not the true Messiah and in the end “they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning” as Peter tells us.
A false messiah that was proclaimed to them has deceived many. This deception keeps you from truly proclaiming Jesus as Lord. Peter confessed that Jesus was the Messiah and that revelation would reveal power. Matthew 16:17 “Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Jesus said power would follow this confession so that means with salvation there will also be power and not just the power to be saved. It is not one or the other. Scripture tell us that when we are filled with the Holy Spirit, power follows. The charismatics are not wrong about the signs of power following being filled with the Holy Spirit; they just didn’t test the spirits and were deceived by a false power. They settled with blah, blah, blah, instead of 1 Corinthians 12:7 “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.” As we saw with Jesus, when He preached, signs followed as it was with the disciples. Mark 16:20 “Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.”
I have heard it said, salvation is the greatest miracle but there is usually more behind this statement when said. While this is true, this statement is often used to negate the other miracles of the bible and lump them all together with salvation. They will then say we should not be seeking signs and wonders, as salvation is the wonder. Yes there are verses that say that but they must be kept in context. Matthew 16:4 “A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah. Jesus then left them and went away.” But notice in the next passage Jesus reminds the disciples of the feeding of the five and four thousand so it is important not to take a verse out of context. 1 Corinthians 1:22 “Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” So they see these verses and say you really shouldn’t be focused on the miracles. To make matters worse, they take it a step further and equate all the miracles to salvation. I heard a sermon one time where the preacher equated the healing of the blind man with spiritual blindness and negated the miracle. While this is partially true and there is spiritual blindness, we cannot discount the miracles and just call them salvation. For example Jesus healed an invalid who didn’t even know who he was. Jesus simply said pick up your mat and walk. John 5:13 “The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there. 14 Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” 15 The man went away and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had made him well.” Jesus also healed ten lepers. Luke 17:5 “One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan. 17 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”
Let’s look at what Jesus actually did. This will give us a picture of all that salvation entails. He started off preaching Mark 1:15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” Then Jesus showed us what the kingdom looks like when it comes near. Matthew 4:23 “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. 24 News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them. 25 Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him.” Then Jesus sent out His disciples to do the same. Luke 9:1 “Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, 2 and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.” We also see that salvation includes the promised power of the Holy Spirit. Peter said Acts 2:38 “Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call. 40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” When Jesus and the disciples preached about the kingdom coming near, that meant there was salvation but it also meant there were signs and wonders, healings and casting out demons.”
Jesus said John 14:6 “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” He also said John 11:25 “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” 27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” Paul said 1 Corinthians 15:1 “Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. 3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.” 2 Timothy 1:9 “He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. 11 And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher.” Jesus is the only way. Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:1 “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.” Paul said by this gospel you are saved yet so many are following others gospels to the demise. So if Jesus is the only way to eternal life, then we better make sure we are following the way as Acts 4:12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
Many in the church have separated the miraculous and salvation just as many have separated the gifts of the Spirit from love instead of seeking the power of salvation and seeking the gifts as we are told to in 1 Corinthians 1:1 “Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy.” Ephesians 1:17 “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” Paul said to the Jews Acts 28:28 “Therefore I want you to know that God’s salvation has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will listen!” 29 [After he said this, the Jews left, arguing vigorously among themselves.] 30 For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. 31 He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance!” When the kingdom came near so did the miraculous. Acts 19:11 “God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.”
Here is an example of salvation and miracles together. Mark 2:1 “A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. 2 They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. 3 Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. 4 Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. 5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 6 Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, 7 “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8 Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? 9 Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? 10 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, 11 “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 12 He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!” The church today seems to be content with the paralyzed man staying paralyzed.
Salvation includes miracles, signs and wonders, healing and casting out demons but the church has separated the wonders from salvation. Now attending church is the pinnacle of Christianity. If you are saved you attend church but where are all the wonders? Instead of the miraculous being part of our everyday, focus is solely on attending church, at least it used to be. Some of these churches led by false prophets are seeing so called wonders but they are not from God but the people don’t know enough to discern they have been deceived. This makes us ask what is this salvation that the church has adapted to. I have heard churches proclaim people were baptized and have declared their membership into churches that teach a false gospel. If false gospels are being taught and people are being deceived by these false teachers; are you really saved? It is important to ask what have I been saved into especially when the church today looks nothing like the church Jesus is the head of.
We were told that Hebrews 2:1 “We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. 2 For since the message spoken through angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, 3 how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. 4 God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.” As Jesus said to the disciples in Mark 16:15 “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.” 19 After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. 20 Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.” Notice in both these passages that salvation was accompanied by power.
Today make sure you have sought the truth of God’s word. The church as a whole needs to repent so that once again the church will look like Jesus and do as He did. Psalm 14:7 “Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion! When the Lord restores his people, let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad!” Psalm 69:13 “I pray to you, Lord, in the time of your favor; in your great love, O God, answer me with your sure salvation.”