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May 26, 2014

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Greg's message reminded me of reading Bede's History of the English Church and People several years ago. The point the venerable historian made was that all the signs and wonders of his chronicles were performed by the clerics and missionaries of the Roman tradition to show a superiority over the original Celtic Catholicism that was confined to the north but was influential in the south. This vindicated the waning of the Irish influence of the earlier missionaries to the Isles by a later, more centralized tradition.

This is one good example of how "signs and wonders" can be misused to advance a cause that need not be divinely wrought. Thanks for this reminder, Greg.

I wonder if the "greater works" aren't something like the widow giving her last two mites. Jesus said that she gave a greater amount than the rich because she gave of her need, and they of their abundance.

Jesus is God and he is without sin. So his works, including the creation of the universe from nothing were of his abundance.

But how much more profound are the good works of the Widow and other believers? That is, the works of God being channeled through those who were once spiritually dead, and now saved, who continually wrestle against sin in thought and deed?

So, basically, since the text seems to say something that isn't true, then it must not be saying what it seems to say. For this argument to work, we are to presume there are no false prophecies in the Bible.

In other words, Greg is proposing an argument much like the following.

1. Everything the Bible promises is true.
2. Not all believers perform greater miracles than Jesus.
3. Therefore, the Bible does not promise that all believers perform greater miracles than Jesus.

However, I would suggest a kind of Moorean shift:

4. The Bible promises that all believers perform greater miracles than Jesus.
5. Not all believers perform greater miracles than Jesus.
6. Therefore, not everything the Bible promises is true.

Ben, but #4 isn't true. It doesn't promise that believers will perform greater miracles than Jesus. It says believers will do great things.i.e. take the Gospel to other countries, translate the Scripture into other languages, etc.
However, #6 can be still be true. Not everything the Bible promises is true because not everything the Bible promises is true...yet.

Actually, no text in the NT uses the phrase "signs and wonders" to prophesy future events except as follows:

1. To prophesy what false prophets will do.

2. In the longer ending of Mark, to prophesy what believers will do.

3. To prophesy what God Himself will do directly.

The NT does record that certain signs and wonders were in fact performed by the apostles. But nowhere is that prophesied (except as already noted).

As noted John 14 does say that the followers of Christ will do greater works than Jesus did. In two Sundays, Jesus would be with these twelve people again and say that it is better to believe without seeing than to believe as result of seeing. Getting people to believe by signs and wonders is great, but it is apparently even greater to get them to believe without.

The longer ending of Mark actually just says "signs". But either way, that particular prophesy is not very probative. And that is actually the case for many of the passages I was alluding to that merely described what the apostles, in fact, did...the simply said "signs" rather than "signs and wonders" or "wonders and signs".

But the bottom-line is the same: we don't really have much basis for saying that Jesus prophesied that all Christians would perform signs and wonders.

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