We hear a lot of talk about signs and wonders and their importance for the church in contemporary society. People are will to go to conferences, and renewal centers to get the experience and to learn to minister in power. All of this can be good but if we move our focus from the God of power to the power of God we start to lose our way. When we concentrate on the power we begin to concentrate on what is happening and what we can experience rather than seeking the presence of our gracious God.
Other Christians will say that the time of signs and wonders has ceased and will have skeptical attitudes to anything that claims to be supernatural in origin, this attitude rules out the healing presence of God and his willingness to work in power. If we go to this extreme we end up with a very narrow form of Christianity which is either very pietistic or rationalistic. The end result of this is a Christianity which embraces only part of life rather than seeing God’s great plan to transform the whole of life.
When we look at these two extremes we may despair of ever getting a truly Biblical picture but thankfully the Bible does not leave with us out clear guidelines. When the disciples were told to stay in Jerusalem until they received power from on high, it was not a not a pietistic waiting, but rather an expectation that they would be used to extend his Kingdom. The concept of the kingdom of God is central to the teaching of the New Testament Church. Everything they did was to be for the furtherance of the gospel and the extension of the rule of God. In other words, their faith and actions were God centered.
The disciples of Jesus got taken up with the power they had received to cast out demons and Luke shows how Jesus gently corrected them, just consider these words fro the gospel of Luke,
The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”
18 He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. 20 However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
21 At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.
22 “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”
The New International Version. 2011 (Lk 10:17–22). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
Notice how Jesus corrects their emphasis from that of rejoicing in power to that of rejoicing in their salvation, what Jesus does here is to direct them to the fact that they could do nothing to earn their own salvation. Salvation was and is, the free gift of God that is what we are called to rejoice in. Jesus prayer shows his sensitivity to both the Holy spirit and to his heavenly Father. We are to rejoice in the God of our salvation and as we do god will use in the way he chooses. We are yo be open to all that God has for us, and that may well include ministering in signs and wonders. There are many who need to be delivered from demonic power today and the church needs to be equipped to minister to such people. It is in such a context that we will realize that we need to have our faith in God and not just concentrating on what he does. Our God is mighty to save, and we need to be his agents of salvation to a lost and needy world, we need to be open to the spirit of God and be filled with his power and grace. We will in all our ministry seek to glorify our God and Saviour. The God of love wants us to share his love with others, as we have his heart we will minister in power and love. We will rejoice in what he is doing and not try to concentrate on what we can do but rather what he can do.