Atheists and agnostics often make statements like, “If God would just show me he exists or speak to me in an audible voice or prove himself to me with some miracle, then I would believe in him.” At the other end of the spectrum is the person who judges their relationship with God by whether or not he has given them a sign or wonder recently. They believe something is wrong if they haven’t seen some physical manifestation of God’s supernatural power lately and some of them, wanting to impress other believers around them, will fake a sign if they have to so they can be considered “anointed.” And there are those who feel so let down when God doesn’t show up in the manner they wish, they will abandon the Christian faith because they don’t “feel” God anymore.
Atheists, agnostics, and people putting all their trust in the signs and wonders movement have more in common than they realize. When the religious leaders of his day demanded a sign from the Lord Jesus, he responded, “A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas,” Matthew 16:4. Why would he call them wicked and adulterous for wanting a sign? After all, isn’t that what was prophesied about the Messiah, that he would perform signs and wonders? Yes, the Messiah was prophesied to perform wonders, but Jesus rebuked them because their focus and faith was on their desire for God to be at their beck and call as if Jesus was supposed to be the one who asked them “How high?” whenever they said “Jump!” Their faith was in signs and not in the Lord who works signs on his own timetable according to his own pleasure.
Jesus did incredible miracles in their midst and even gave them the sign of the prophet Jonas by rising from the dead after three days in the tomb. But they chose not to believe even when Christ performed the awe-inspiring miracles that he, the Father, and the Holy Spirit all agreed he would perform. They desired a god who was created in their image to please their fleshly desires. That is why they were wicked and adulterous.
So it is with the atheists, agnostics, and the signs & wonders movement in the church. God has already done enough to prove his existence, so more often than not, the atheists’ statements that they will believe “if only God would do this or that” isn’t true. Even if God does the miraculous, it is not a guarantee that one will have a steadfast, consistent relationship with God. We see this truth played out many times throughout the Bible:
- Adam & Eve, who walked with God every day in the Garden of Eden and were taught many things by God, decided to disobey him and caused all of creation to fall with them.
- The Israelites witnessed God’s incredible plagues on their enemy Egypt and saw how he parted the Red Sea for them to escape from Pharaoh’s army, but they were full of unbelief in the wilderness and forsook him, to their own detriment.
- God appeared to Solomon twice and gave him wisdom and commanded him to be faithful to the Lord’s commands so the Lord could not only bless him but could bless his descendants to rule all of Israel, but Solomon forsook the Lord for other gods in his latter years, which led to Israel’s splitting into two kingdoms where Solomon’s descendants got the smaller kingdom.
- Jesus had a whole host of disciples who saw his miracles and were even among the 5000 miraculously fed by him near the Sea of Galilee. But the very next day after being fed, they demanded a sign from Jesus. When he told them he was the true bread from heaven that they should believe in, and that they should eat his flesh and drink his blood, “many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him,” John 6:66.
- Demas, a “fellowlaborer” with Paul, who accompanied Paul on his missionary trips and witnessed the signs and wonders that God did through Paul in the name of Jesus, forsook the ministry toward the end of Paul’s life and went back to the world [2 Timothy 4:10].
So I’ve resolved with myself that it’s not in my best interest to go running after a sign. If God wants to give me a vision or dream or some other sign, fine. But if not, I’m satisfied with knowing that God has blessed me with his word, he hears my prayers, and has given me the Holy Spirit with his gifts to teach me all things through Jesus Christ.
30 And he [the rich man in hell] said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.
31 And he [Abraham] said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead. Luke 16