Once upon a time, there were numerous miraculous events in the church in China. Many senior Christians initially believed in the Lord because of miracles that happened to themselves or their loved ones. However, around the turn of the century, these miracles began decreasing significantly. Alongside the spread and popularization of theological education, many Christians shifted from valuing and pursuing miracles to disregarding or even disliking them.
Having served in a city church in Northeast China for many years, Rev. Li Tao (pseudonym) believed that just as countless signs and miracles occurred in the apostolic age, today's church should also experience many signs and wonders. In his view, there are five characteristics of true signs and wonders.
Miracles were a widespread phenomenon in the apostolic age, evident throughout the book of Acts. Pastor Li said, "However, many people believe that the abundance of miracles in the early church was an exception in Christian history. Therefore, many think that miracles are outdated or have ceased." He mentioned that when someone falls ill, they believe in seeking medical help rather than praying in the church.
Miracles are evidence of God fulfilling His promises, he added. In the Old Testament, especially in the prophetic books, God foretold many things that would happen in the future, and the miracles in the apostolic age fulfilled these prophecies.
Li said that when Jesus sent out the disciples to preach, they performed many miracles. It's important to note that the Lord's promise of miracles accompanying all who believe in Him doesn't have an expiration date; it's perpetually valid.
Third, signs and wonders are a means for God to prove Himself. In the process of spreading the gospel, numerous miracles accompany it, proving that God is real and that Jesus Christ is the Messiah. This method of knowing God through miracles is simpler and more direct compared to other ways, leaving even the most rational and knowledgeable speechless.
Miracles are essential to opening the door for the gospel. Pastor Li continued, citing the example of Apostle Paul's successful missionary journeys to many places but a failed attempt in Athens. One significant reason for this failure was the lack of the Holy Spirit's intervention and the absence of accompanying miracles. Miracles have a greater impact on unbelievers than on believers, especially in difficult areas, as they can pave the way toward the gospel.
Contemporary society similarly needs miracles. Li said, "We must believe in the promise of Jesus Christ. He said that those who believe will have miracles accompanying them."
He admitted that many times people refrain from doing many things, such as laying hands in prayer, because deep down, they don't truly believe that miracles can happen. However, he encouraged having faith and doing it anyway.
Once, a woman contacted Pastor Li Tao because her daughter was participating in a gathering at Pastor Li's church. During the event, this Christian woman prayed for a sick individual by laying hands, and the person experienced genuine healing. In a conversation over the phone, she expressed a desire to leave her current church because it discouraged members from laying hands in prayer for others, a practice she believed in wholeheartedly.
Pastor Li stated that many pastors in churches don't allow believers to lay hands in prayer for others, but in his church, it's permitted. He frequently encourages members to pray for others because there are too many people and situations in need of prayer, and the pastor can't handle it all alone.
- Translated by Abigail Wu