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John 1:46-51

LAST time we studied and learnt from how the Lord’s early disciples were made. Today, we are studying and learning from one of the instruments with which disciples are made for the Lord, termed “SIGNS” From our text, we see the previous condition of Nathaniel’s heart (John 1:46), as well as the later condition (John 1:49). His heart was moved from ignorance to knowledge. It was also taken from doubt to faith, and saving faith in the Lord.

Apart from the human instrument used (Philip), it was this supernatural phenomenon, manifested by the Lord that helped to work up faith in him. This supernatural phenomenon is known as “the word of knowledge” (1 Corinthians 12:8; John 1: 42-48). This, inter-alia, is the reason for our study of the subject – SIGNS.

“Signs” in our context therefore do not mean “token” but those supernatural phenomena, granted believers. They include miracles and wonders (Exodus 4:2-4, 6-7,9; 7:8-10,19-20; 8:5-6; 14:15-16, 21-22, 26-28; 15:23-25; 17:3-6; Joshua 3:14-17; 1 Kings 13:1-3, 5-6; 17:1, 19-22; 18:36-38; 2 Kings 5:10, 14, 25-27; Matthew 8:1-3, 13; 9:6-7; 14:25; John 2:6-11; 5:5-9; 6:11-14; 11:41-44; Acts 3:6-8; 8:6-8; 9:17-18, 37-40; 13:9-11; 1 Corinthians 12:10; Galatians 3:5; healing ability (Matthew 4: 24; 8:16; Mark 16:18; Acts 5:15-16; 1 Corinthians 12:9); casting out devils (Matthew 4:24; Mark 16:17; Luke 10:17-18; Acts 3:16; 16:16-18); speaking with new tongues (Mark 16:17, Acts 2:1-4; 10:44-46; 19:6; 1 Corinthians 12 :10); taking up serpents unknowingly without being hurt (Mark 16:18; Acts 28:3-6); taking in poison (unknowingly) without being hurt (Mark 16:18); Word of wisdom (1 Corinthians 12:8a; Daniel 2:19, 36-45; 5:25-28; Matthew 22:15-22; John 8:3-9); Word of knowledge (1 Corinthians 12:8b; Luke 10:18, 22- 31; John 1:42, 47-48; 11:11); faith (extra-ordinary) (1 Corinthians 12:9a); prophecy (1 Corinthians 12:10; 14:5-6, 24-25); discerning of spirits (1 Corinthians 12:10b; Acts 16:16-18); interpretation of tongues (1 Corinthians 12:10c).

Some “signs” are as a result of faith in the Lord (Mark 16:17-18); others are gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:1, 4-10). Yet others fall into the two categories (e.g. tongues – Mark 16:17b and 1 Corinthians 12:10); healing – (Mark 16:18 and 1 Corinthians 12 :9).

God grants “signs” to confirm the truth of His Word. (Mark 16:20; John 5:36; Hebrews 2:3-4). If signs confuse, or conflicts with His Word, then He did not grant such (Isaiah 8:20). Further, signs are meant to work up conviction and faith in the heart (Exodus 4:1-5, 8-9, 30-31; 8:18-19; 1 Kings 17:23-25; 18:38-39; 2 Kings 5:14-15; Matthew 4:23-25; John 1:47-49; 2:11; 9:17; Acts 13:12; 1 Corinthians 14:24-25), and to gladden our heart and motivate glorification of God Himself (1 Kings 18:39; 2 Kings 5:15; Matthew 15:31; Mark 2:12; Acts 3:8-9; 4:21; 8:5-8).

Let us study further into the subject as we consider the following points.

THE believer should see “these signs shall follow them that believe” as a law. Law in this context means, factual statement on “what always happens in certain circumstances”. An example is one of the laws of supply and demand, stating that, “at a lower price, more of the commodity will be demanded”. This is always so.

God has commanded: “signs follow them that believe” (Mark 16:17). This will always be when the ingredients that will make it work are present. (i) They must be real believers, who are living right. In other words, their lives have changed, having met with Christ and have been with Christ (consider John 1:37-41; 6:68-69; Matthew 19:27; Acts 4:13; 2 Corinthians 5:17). (ii) They must believe that He is able and will do what He says He will do (Mark 16:17; John 14:12; Romans 4:20-21; Philippians 1:6). (iii) They must have, and give the truth of His words (Mark 16:20; John 5:36; Hebrews 2:2-3). Therefore the disciples should disseminate the gospel with signs.

The disciple however is not a “sign-seeker”, or a “follower of signs” in the manner of the Pharisees, the Sadducees and the Scribes (consider Matthew 12:38,39; 16:1-4; John 2:18; 6:30). Rather, signs follow him (Mark 16:17, 20; Hebrews 2:4). Nevertheless, he can ask for signs for confirmation (Judges 6:36-40; 2 Kings 20:8-11; Isaiah 7:10-14).

Signs are not confined to those who have the baptism with the Holy Spirit, rather they are the prerogative of all those who really believe, as already explained (Mark 16:17; John 14:12). However, signs which are exclusively gifts of the Holy Spirit are exclusive to those who have baptism with the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 1:4-10). The manifestation of such signs is at the discretion of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:4,11).

THE devils have counterfeit sign and manifest same (Exodus 7:10-12, 20-22; 8:6-7; 1 Samuel 28:6-9; Acts 16:16-17; Acts 8:9-10; 2 Thessalonians 2:9). However, there is limit to what they can do (Exodus 8:16-19; Implied Exodus 7:12). They give out or show counterfeit signs to seduce and deceive the insincere and those without love for the truth. They do it also to retain the “sign-conscious-sinner” and the “sinner-sign-giver” in their errors and sins (2 Thessalonians 2:9-10; Jeremiah 14:14; 23:26).
NB. The devils will go any length to ensure that their captives are retained for damnation forever ( implied in 2 Corinthians 11:14).


TO distinguish between signs from the Lord and those from the devils, the following questions will help: Is there evidence of regeneration, sanctification (holiness) in the lives of the minister/ministers? (compare John 8:46; 1 Thessalonians 2:10). Are the signs based on the pure Word of God/the truth of the Word, or on rituals, “holy water”, incantations, “holy candles” incense, some concoction and other occultic tools? (consider John 17:8,14; 1 Timothy 6:3-5). Is the glory of the Lord the primary objective of the minister and the people (consider John 7:18; Galatians 1:10). Is the interim and eventual salvation of the people the primary concern of the minister and the people? (consider John 17:1, 6,8, 11-12; Colossians 1:28). Is the minister serving for filthy lucre’s sake, for the belly? (consider 1 Timothy 3:8; Philippians 3:19). Are the ministers and members, sinners, having no trace of regeneration, talkless of sanctification? (consider Hebrews 12:14).

Wherever the answers to the above questions are not in the affirmative, the signs there are not of God.


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