Loosing a Sense of Awe: Acts 2:43
“Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles.” Acts‬ ‭2‬:‭43‬
This verse lines up with Acts 2:22; “Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know—”. It seems that the Holy Sprit picked up where Jesus left off. Being the third member of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit has the same power and attributes as the Father and Son.
Though no description is given in this verse of the kinds of wonders and signs that were taking place, it can be assumed that they lined up with those performed by Jesus during His public ministry. Hebrews 2:4 connects this with God giving confirmation to their preaching and teaching. Acts 5:12-16 includes healing and casting out unclean spirits.
At first glance, it appears that on the day of Pentecost the signs and wonders were restricted to the twelve Apostles. As the church grew and spread out, the book of Acts extends these manifestations to others. By the time we get to Acts 6:8, we discover that leaders like Stephen were also performing great wonders and signs among the people. Acts 8:6 describes that Philip the evangelist also performed signs. We later discover that similar signs also accompanied Paul and Barnabas on their missionary journeys.
Some question if miracles still happen today or were these unique powers and works done through the Apostles and early church leaders? It is a good question and has some biblical precedent. The signs and wonders done through Moses in Egypt were restricted to his calling and ministry. However, there were men like Elijah and Elisha who also performed extraordinary miracles though not on the level or magnitude of Moses.
But, keep in mind, Pentecost marked a new age or Epoch which Joel said would be accompanied by the Holy Spirit working through ordinary people. (See Acts 2:15-21) That’s what makes the church age unique. The Holy Spirit would indwell every believer and give them power and gifts. Pentecost marked the beginning of a new era.
It must be emphasized that the Holy Spirit was the One performing these signs and wonders through these men. In fact, in Acts 14:11-18, Paul and Barnabas went to considerable lengths to attribute signs of healing to God and not themselves. At Lystra, the sign of healing caused the people to call them gods. They started calling Barnabas Zeus and Paul Hermes. They wanted to offer scarifies to them, but the missionaries cried out that they were ordinary men. They quickly attributed the miracle to God.
In 1 Corinthians 12:4-11, Paul gives a list of spiritual gifts given within the body of Christ. He emphasized that these gifts were “manifestations of the Holy Spirit.” The list includes things like faith, healing and effecting of miracles. In fact, all of the gifts listed are extraordinary. Why is this significant? By this point in early church history, signs and wonders had spread beyond the Apostles. In keeping with biblical prophesy, the Holy Spirit was working in and through many believers.
The rhetorical questions Paul asked in Galatians 3:3-5 are even more intriguing. Look at verse 5; “So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?” What an amazing question. It appears that the Holy Spirit was working in miraculous ways among the believers scattered throughout Galatia.
So now we are faced with a modern dilemma. The bigger question might be; “If we are still in the church age and signs and wonders are manifestations of the Holy Spirit, why is nothing happening in some segments of the Christian Church today?” I maintain the problem is not with God, rather it is with us.
God has not changed! The Holy Spirit is not running low on power or burning out as we approach the end of this age. Let’s be honest, the whole notion that God no longer does miracles borders on blasphemy. It is equivalent to saying; “God is no longer Divine!” Or, “God has limited power.” Or, “God is no longer sovereign.”
But there may be another potential cause for the problem. The biblical answer is that we are most likely grieving or quenching the Holy Spirit. (See Ephesians 4:30, and 1 Thessalonians 5:19) How does that happen?
Maybe we quenching the Holy Spirit by stuffing God in the small box of naturalism and holding the Holy Spirit at arms length. Or maybe we are grieving the Holy Spirit because we are full of sin and compromise. Could it be that in keeping with Romans 1:18-32, God is standing back? Or maybe, we are preaching a message of doubt instead of faith. Or maybe we have become so affluent and self sufficient in the western church that we have become like the church of Laodicea! We no longer need God. (Revelation 3:14-22) Or maybe… it’s a combination of all of the above! There is no doubt that we have lost our sense of awe toward God.
When word from the Lord was rare and visions were infrequent in the days of Eli the priest, it pointed to a tragic spiritual problem among Gods people. (1 Samuel 3:1) It wasn’t because “God no longer worked that way!” It was because Gods people were in spiritual decline! Gods silence was sending them a strong message. What is God trying to say to the western church by His silence today?
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global