Summary: While the crowd was waiting for signs and wonders the nobleman believed the word.
Faith is Just Believing What God Said
It seems that down south, some recent excavations for a new highway had contributed to causing a flash flood.
Volunteers risked their lives to rescue victims stranded in the deluge. One old man was up to his knees in the fast-rising waters when a rowboat came. “Hop in, we’ll save you!”
“No thanks, the Lord will provide.”
A short while later, a motor boat was sent to save him. By this time the swirling waters were over his waist, but again he declined: “No thanks, the Lord will provide.”
Soon the water was up to his chin, so a helicopter was dispatched at the last minute. “Climb aboard, this is your last chance!”
“Thanks anyway, but I don’t need you, the Lord will provide.”
Before the helicopter returned home, the old man was mad as a hornet, banging on the Pearly Gates. He bitterly complained to St. Peter, “The last thing I remember I was in trouble, praying up a storm, so why did you let me drown?”
St. Peter looked at him, shook his head, and explained: “We sent you two boats and a helicopter. What more do you want?”
John 4:46 So Jesus came again into Cana of Galilee, where he made the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman, whose son was sick at Capernaum.
47 When he heard that Jesus was come out of Judaea into Galilee, he went unto him, and besought him that he would come down, and heal his son: for he was at the point of death.
His plea received and instant challenge. Jesus looked at the man and ignored his request, and challenged the ground of his faith. “Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.” These words were also meant for the bystanders.
The nobleman was seen by Jesus as a representative of the kind of people whose faith has to be constantly bolstered by miracles; this, in contrast with the Samaritans who believed without having their faith thus propped up.
48 Then said Jesus unto him, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.
The nobleman was obviously irritated by what seemed to him an unnecessary discussion of the niceties of faith. His boy was dying. You can almost hear the exasperation and desperation in his voice.
49 The nobleman saith unto him, Sir, come down ere my child die.
50 Jesus saith unto him, Go thy way; thy son liveth. And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way.
The Word is superior to signs!
The term the Third Wave of the Holy Spirit also called the Signs and Wonders movement was coined by C. Peter Wagner, professor of church growth at Fuller Theological Seminary School of World Mission. Third Wavers are persuaded that miracles, visions, tongues, prophecies, and healings are essential supplements to the gospel. They view Christianity without those things as impotent, adulterated by the Western, materialistic mind set. Some Third Wavers even say that unbelievers must experience the miraculous to be brought to full faith. Merely preaching the gospel message, they believe without seeing miracles, they say, and those who do will be inadequately converted and therefore stunted in their spiritual growth. Wimber believes that those who simply preach the gospel message fall short of true evangelism. He dubs their approach “programmatic evangelism.” What is needed instead, he says, is “power evangelism.”
Wimber cites Elijah’s confrontation with the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel as a classic example of a “power encounter,” where the power of God vanquishes the power of evil.
But in the end times many will be decieved by signs and wonders.
“And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men,” (Rev 13:13)
“And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live” (Rev 13:14).
Modern miracle workers have yet to call down fire from heaven, but Third Wave aficionados tell of some fantastic signs and wonders that are happening within the movement. Wimber, for example, reported and incident where a woman’s toe, which had been cut off, supposedly grew back. He described another woman in Australia whose cleft palate closed up miraculously three days after God gave him a “word of knowledge” that she would be healed.
The underlying assumption that drives the whole Third Wave movement is wrong. Miracles, signs, and wonders are impotent to produce either faith or genuine revival. Furthermore, power-encounter ministry misses the whole point of our witness. We are not commissioned to confront satanic power with miracle power. We are commissioned to confront satanic lies with divine truth.