“At Iconium Paul and Barnabas went as usual into the Jewish synagogue. There they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Gentiles believed. But the Jews who refused to believe stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers. So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to do miraculous signs and wonders. The people of the city were divided; some sided with the Jews, others with the apostles. There was a plot afoot among the Gentiles and Jews, together with their leaders, to mistreat them and stone them. But they found out about it and fled to the Lycaonian cities of Lystra and Derbe and to the surrounding country, where they continued to preach the good news.“ (Acts 14:1-7, NIV)
For years there’s been a running debate in the church centered on this question: How come God doesn’t do as many miracles in the church today as in days gone by?
One answer given is that God doesn’t do miracles through his church any more…that ended with the apostles. That’s a bad answer because it’s definitely not biblical and I venture to guess all of us have at one time or another been the beneficiaries of one of these miracles.
Another potential answer is that we lack faith today. There’s something to this. Today if we get sick, we pop some pills and go to the doctor. We don’t need miracles. We don’t rely on the power of God. Then, when something major comes up and we need a miracle, we’ve been so conditioned in our thinking that doubt, not faith, rises to the surface. When I travel overseas to poor countries with poor healthcare and give an altar call for healing…boy, you should see their faith!
But another answer is found in this passage in Acts 14. For whatever reason, God has chosen as his partners in ministry human vessels. In this case, it is Paul and Barnabas in Iconium. Here’s how it worked: the apostles “spoke boldly for the Lord.” Then their message was confirmed by divine miracles. Sometimes it is the other way around. God used Peter and John to heal the lame man in Jerusalem then they boldly spoke for God.
But in either case, miracles accompany bold preaching or vice versa. So, in my simple thought processes, if we want to see an increase in signs and wonders in the church, we should work to increase our faith and our boldness. And when we have something worth listening to, perhaps the Lord will confirm it with miracles. Go team!