Here's Your Sign

February 15, 2020

Rather than seeking revelations, visions, dreams, experiences, signs, and wonders, Christians need only to study and obey what they already have - the Bible.

-Dustin Benge

In our consumer driven culture, we seek everything, and want it right now. This cannot be in the Church. Too many Western churches rely on "experiences" rather than the Word of God. Don't believe me? Go to any one of the popular modern Christian churches in America today, and you will find that most are conducted in the same fashion. Church opens with "high energy" worship to get the congregation moving, pumped, and in the mood. Then enters the pastor, who teaches an encouraging, motivational, self-help, self-esteem boosting message with a few scriptures thrown in (out of context) to make it seem legit, and the person then leaves church encouraged, or perhaps even "on fire"... at least until Monday morning. Come next Sunday, they are back to their old ways, and can't even recall what was taught last week. I would say these people are suffering from deprivation of "solid food" as the writer of Hebrews suggests, but in order to move on to solid food, you must start on milk (the gospel), and not even that has been preached from the pulpit. We are left with believers who think they're believers, or if there are true believers, they are stuck in indefinite spiritual infancy.

Why is this? I believe the answer is simple, they are starving for food they don't know they need. They've grown use to relying on "experiences", and believing those experiences to be God, and are using that as their fuel, rather than the Bible. Is food not fuel for our physical bodies? No experience can satisfy true hunger. I am reminded of the scene in the movie Hook, where Peter Pan and the Lost Boys sit around a huge table, and imagine a feast. They experience a grand time stuffing their face with imaginary food, filling themselves to the brim, eating to their hearts desire, only there's one problem... it wasn't real. Sure, it was fun for a moment, but when the experience is over, you are still left dissatisfied, hungry, dying. This is what is happening in the Western Church. People are seeking anything and everything but the Word of God itself to satisfy their hunger, desires, or even signs.

Young adults (and older ones) are looking for signs, seeking something, anything from God as to what to do with their life. What to do about a problem they are facing. What His will is in any given situation. They pray and pray and pray, and yet... nothing. They are waiting for a sign and an experience that may never come. (I say "may never come", as I do believe the Holy Spirit does still move on people's hearts to guide them... but of course this is always coupled with knowledge of Scripture, as one can then discern if it is the Spirit speaking or just their own feelings/desires). I fell trap to this in my early twenties. I was seeking God's will/confirmation in a certain area, and I prayed... boy did I pray! But how often was I in the Word? Honestly, not often. I then got "confirmation" to my prayers in numerous ways. I thought it was God speaking to me, when in reality it was just self-fulfilling prophecy (seeing something or finding what you are looking for because you are looking for it). How foolish I was. I sought experiences, signs, anything but the Word of God. Why wasn't I going to the Word? Well, mainly because of laziness, and I didn't want to spend the time searching the entire Bible for my answer (which can also be dangerous if you go into it looking for your answer rather than what God has to say on the subject. We then eisegete our interpretation into the text, thinking God spoke).

We must approach Scripture as God speaking to us, telling us what He wants to say, what He commands, rather than approaching it as a book of secrets that tells us everything we want to hear. We must stop seeking for signs, because God already gave and revealed to us everything He has intended for us to know. Why is it important to know Scripture? Because if you did, you would know that seeking signs outside of Scripture is actually condemned. One such example is when the Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus seeking a sign:

And the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test him they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. He answered them, 'When it is evening, you say, "It will be fair weather, for the sky is red." And in the morning, "It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening." You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. An evil and adulteress generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given except the sign of Jonah.'

-Matthew 16:1-4

The parallel that Jesus is drawing here is that these men can interpret and see signs in the weather, but they can't properly interpret their own Scriptures, something they boast of having knowledge in. Earlier in Matthew, Jesus said this same thing, but expounded on the sign of Jonah. What is the sign of Jonah? Jesus is. "For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." You see, these men were so reliant on an experience that they were blind to the fact that their own prophesied Messiah was standing right in front of them. They were waiting for an experience. For a cloud parting moment where their Messiah would return, destroy Rome and set them free... but their sign never came, and they rejected their Messiah, and ironically fulfilled their own prophesy by crucifying Him.

Some may think, "why didn't Jesus just come out and say it rather than always speaking in allegories and parables?" Well, He did! Numerous times! Jesus said "I and the Father are One", which the Pharisees replied "For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God". (John 10:30-33) Jesus also said in John 8:56, "before Abraham was, I AM." To which the Pharisees picked up stones to kill him, as they knew the meaning of the words "I AM". Those are God's words. It is who He claimed to be to Moses at the burning bush. Stating such words is stating to be God, and they didn't like it. It's also interesting to note in Luke, when Jesus went to the synagogue and pulled out the scroll of Isaiah, and read:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor,

-Luke 4:18-19

After reading this, it says He rolled up the scroll and sat down... but there is extreme significance to what He just did! Not only did He just He just proclaim to everyone there that He is their prophesied Messiah, but He proclaimed just what it was He was there to accomplish, which was to "set the captives free". From what? From sin. You see, the sign and the Messiah they were all looking for was right in front of them, but they couldn't see it. And there is one more significance in what Jesus did, and that's where He stopped reading. If you actually go to where it is in Isaiah that Jesus is reading from, and you continue reading directly where He left off, it states " proclaim the year of the Lord's favor, and the day of vengeance of our God." This was the sign they were all waiting for! They were waiting for a conquering King who will bring vengeance on their behalf, not a humble, homeless servant. They were so lost in looking for a sign, that the Jewish people to this day still do not accept Christ as their Messiah. But Jesus WILL fulfill that second half in His second coming. That wasn't His mission for His first, that's why He stopped reading where He did. Jesus' point was, if they could interpret their own Scriptures and see the signs that God already gave them within it, they would have recognized what was right in front of their face.

This is perhaps one of my longer blogs, but my takeaway is this... stop looking for signs outside of the Word of God. He has given us "everything pertaining to life and godliness" (2 Peter 1:3). If you seek signs outside of the Word of God, you will miss what is right in front of you, or may even be led down a path He never intended for you to go. We speak to God through prayer, and He speaks to us through His Word. Without Scripture, it is just a one-way relationship. How long do you think you'd last in a relationship if the other person did all the talking, and you never got a word in edgewise? God wants to speak to you! You cry "God, why won't you speak!", yet He already has. It's not complicated. Stop looking for extra-biblical signs. Read your Word, and obey what it says.


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