12 Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and in wonders, and mighty deeds. 13 For what is it wherein ye were inferior to other churches, except it be that I myself was not burdensome to you? forgive me this wrong. 2 Cor. 12:12, 13
Let’s see that again.
“Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and in wonders, and mighty deeds.”
Did I read that correctly? No; this cannot be true. It cannot be possibly true what Paul is saying here. Where is the evidence of all these things that he claims he did? Where else has he talked about this? He could not have done all these things – signs, wonders, mighty deeds – and not let us know about it in the loudest terms possible. I mean, this is the news; it should be all over his epistles! No, no, no. If Paul did these things, then these accounts are what should fill his epistles.
But it is not so. Paul says nothing more about his exploits in his epistles. Paul single-handedly, so to speak, wrote more than half the entire New Testament (14 out of 27 books). Now, considering the fact that the Bible is God’s handiwork, i.e., it was God who allowed what would enter and what would not be entered into the Bible, it was God, therefore, who moved Paul to write as he wrote. No doubt Paul would have wanted to write more about his exploits; but God stayed his hand. The Bible is God’s voice, not man’s. It is God talking, telling us all about Himself. Paul’s writings therefore tell us tons about not just the character of God, but also about God’s priorities. Considering, therefore, that in his epistles Paul makes only passing mention of the mighty deeds that he accomplished in his ministry, it is clear that God is trying to tell us something here. Indeed, here, God makes it clear as day that His priority is not signs and wonders and mighty deeds. Nor is His boasting in these things. God’s priorities and boasting are elsewhere. Far, far elsewhere.
So what is all this obsession that Christians today have with signs and wonders and mighty deeds? I mean, today every two-bit preacher wants to gain recognition through the ‘mighty deeds’ they do on behalf of God. So much so that, unable to get the real thing, many have crossed over into trickery, deception and outright witchcraft, the extremes that we see today in Pentecostalism. People trying to prove how ‘powerful’ or ‘anointed’ they are. And yet we see God, who is supposedly the power behind these preachers’ farcical ‘miracles’, He Himself did not make any such claims through the Apostle Paul.
Paul himself was following in the footsteps of our Lord Jesus Christ. On countless occasions, after Jesus had done a simple miracle as healing someone, He strictly forbade them from trumpeting it abroad. One of the most interesting among these accounts is the well-known story of the blind man whom Jesus touched twice to have him healed. The man who saw men walking as trees. The account in Mark 8:26 states, after Jesus had healed the man:
“And he sent him away to his house, saying, Neither go into the town, nor tell it to any in the town.”
The Swahili version tells it even better:
“And he took him to his house, and told him, Do not enter even into the village.”
In other words, Jesus took the man right up to his house. Probably locked him in for a while. Just to make sure the man would not begin broadcasting what had happened.
I am wondering whether I would have been capable of such restraint as Jesus had. Wouldn’t it be so much more wonderful to have people knowing about and wow-ing at my accomplishments? Wouldn’t it also be a way of advertising God’s power? But this kind of approach is far removed from God’s character and will.
For this reason, therefore, every preacher who wants to be recognized for their ‘handiwork’ – miracles, signs and mighty deeds and, indeed, every other kind of recognition – is outside of God’s will. God is not happy with what these preachers are doing. They are leading God’s people away from God’s true purpose in calling them to Him, for God does not call us to come and receive miracles from Him. God calls us for a completely different purpose.
This reminds me of John the Baptizer who said of Jesus, “He must increase in importance, while I must decrease in importance” (John 3:30 God’s Word Translation).