Summary: A powerless Gospel is preached from many pulpits today. Jesus never intended that. To the contrary, the Church that He established on this earth is called to preach the Gospel and to see it confirmed with supernatural "signs following".
Mark 16:19-20, KJV So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following.
•• That is the pattern that Jesus gave to His church — that is, we preach and teach His word throughout the world, and He faithfully confirms it with supernatural signs, healings, and miracles.
•• Sad to say, many churches in our day are content with only the preaching of the word, but have no expectation of supernatural gifts of the Spirit to confirm the word preached. This type of word-only ministry would have been completely foreign to the apostle Paul, who wrote: "For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost..." (1 Thessalonians 1:5, KJV). The manifestation of Holy Spirit power is absolutely essential to effective ministry as Jesus intended it.
Hebrews 2:3-4 How shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.
•• Our job on earth is to "announce" to the world this "great salvation" that Jesus has provided for all who will receive it. God's promise is to confirm the Gospel, to "testify to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit."
John 4:48; 14:11“Unless you people see signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe” ... "Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves."
•• There is a widespread human tendency to want to see dramatic evidences of spiritual things before we believe. Jesus knew this. He desired that everyone would simply believe His words, but He understood human nature. So He did perform mighty signs and wonders and exhorted His hearers to "at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves."
John 2:11 What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.
•• When Jesus performed His first public miracle at the Cana wedding feast, the miracle inspired faith in His disciples — they "believed in him".
•• This pattern recurs throughout the four Gospels and the Book of Acts. The Gospel is preached. Healings or miracles or other supernatural signs confirm and validate the word preached. And people believe — often thousands at a time! (as at Pentecost in Acts 2:41)
Acts 3:6-10; 4:4 Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. When all the people saw him walking and praising God, they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him... [4:] But many who heard the message believed; so the number of men who believed grew to about five thousand.
•• In Acts 3, God used Peter and John to heal a man lame from birth. When the man jumped up and walked, the onlookers were amazed. This dramatic healing miracle opened the door for Peter to preach, and thousands more were saved. The pattern was the same as our quote of the apostle Paul earlier — the Gospel came not in word only, but also in power!
•• The dramatic growth of the early Church was consistently a result of the word being preached and confirmed with supernatural manifestations. Yet thousands of pastors and elders today do not follow this normative Scriptural pattern and thereby deprive their churches of the demonstrated power of God that was expected and experienced commonly at the beginnings of our Christian faith.
Acts 5:12-16 The apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade. No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by impure spirits, and all of them were healed.
•• As we continue reading in the Book of Acts, we see "many signs and wonders" done by the apostles. Widespread healings occurred, and multitudes continued to believe and be added to the Lord.
•• I once studied the first ten spiritual awakenings/revivals in the Book of Acts. I found that nine of the ten were definitively linked to a notable sign, healing, or miracle. To repeat myself, contrary to much that is practiced in churches today, after Jesus returned to heaven the church that He founded continued to preach and teach the word with visible power. Not just power in their preaching, which of course we all desire, but also power to heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out devils, and more. It was this combination of word-and-power that dramatically expanded the kingdom of God on earth in the early years of the Church.
Acts 8:5-7, 9, 13 Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there. When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said. For with shrieks, impure spirits came out of many, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed...  Now for some time a man named Simon had practiced sorcery in the city and amazed all the people of Samaria. He boasted that he was someone great....  Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw.
•• It wasn't just the apostles doing the mighty works. Here we read of Philip the Spirit-filled deacon (Acts 6:3, 5) preaching with power in Samaria. His message was Jesus Christ (vs. 8:5), who should always be the central focus of our ministry. But Philip didn't just preach. He also cast out demons and ministered healing to many, including the paralyzed and lame. The result was a great harvest of souls.
•• Word-and-power ministry can lead even the hardest cases to the Lord. We see here a sorcerer named Simon, who was locally famous for his magic arts. But when he heard Philip's message and saw the supernatural signs, he too became a believer in Jesus Christ, "being astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw."
1 Corinthians 2:4-5 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.
•• The truth stated here has motivated me strongly for over 40 years as a Spirit-filled minister of the Gospel. My fellow preachers, I implore you, do not be content with speaking "wise and persuasive words ... [of] human wisdom" from your pulpits. No! Preach God's word (2 Timothy 4:2). And expect a faithful God to faithfully confirm His word "by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit" (Hebrews 2:4).
1 Corinthians 1:7-8 Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will also keep you firm to the end...
vs. 8, KJV who shall also confirm you unto the end...
•• Unfortunately, many church leaders and contemporary theologians have fallen for the doctrinal falsehood of cessationism — the erroneous teaching that the gifts of the Holy Spirit stopped at some arbitrary time, usually somewhere towards the end of the first century A.D., or not long thereafter.
•• To the contrary, the Bible clearly declares that believers will "not lack any spiritual gift as [we] eagerly wait" for the Lord's second coming. In this time between Christ's first and second comings, He will "confirm [us] unto the end" (vs. 8, KJV).
•• Vs. 7 in the Living Bible says pointedly, "...every spiritual gift and power for doing his will are yours during this time of waiting for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ."
• The first century ... the 5th ... the 14th ... the 21st ... and all others — "during this time of waiting" for Jesus' second coming, the Holy Spirit continues to anoint the preaching and teaching of His word. And He also continues to confirm His word by supernatural signs, wonders, healings, and miracles so that, as the apostle Paul said, our "faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God's power" (1 Corinthians 2:5).
Mark 16:17-18 And these signs willaccompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.
•• Speaking in tongues, casting out demons, healing the sick. These and other supernatural manifestations are part of Christ's Great Commission, which is for "all the world" (vs. 15) throughout the Church Age.
•• Permit me one all-important closing thought — YOU can be used in the signs, wonders, and spiritual gifts that confirm the Gospel. You, not just apostles, pastors, and other ordained ministers. Jesus clearly said that supernatural signs will accompany thosewho believe. That includes you as you faithfully follow Jesus, submit to being filled with and led by the Holy Spirit, and follow His promptings to lay hands on the sick, to cast out demons in Jesus' name, to see the irresistible power of God manifested in confirmation of the Gospel of His Son, Jesus Christ.