Loving Your Neighbor: The New Signs and Wonders

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Hebrews 1:1-2
“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.”

Hebrews 2:1-4
“Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to His will.”

God’s Word, God’s message to us (Christians), the Gospel, was always authenticated by signs and wonders. The highest concentrations of miracles surrounded the moments in history when God gave special revelation, which the heavens alone could not declare. Signs and wonders accompanied Moses as he gave God’s law. Signs and wonders accompanied the prophets, especially Elijah and Elisha, in order to authenticate the revelations they shared from God. Signs and wonders accompanied Jesus’ ministry in order to authenticate who He was. Signs and wonders accompanied the apostles in order to authenticate their writings, which collectively make up the New Testament.

Today, signs and wonders still happen. There are incredible stories coming from around the world where brethren are experiencing miraculous events at crucial moments, in places like China and the Middle East. Such moments are a blessing, and are for authenticating the Gospel message and for edifying those involved. But, the most common authenticating means for the Gospel, are good works.

In a sense, doing good works or loving our neighbor is a sign and wonder. Just as a sign and wonder authenticates special revelation, being kind authenticates the evangelist and his message. Simply being kind does more than we think. There’s something transforming about it. Kindness reflects the loving character of God. It softens the heart. It readies it for response.

Proverbs 15:1
“A soft answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

How we speak to people, influences their receptiveness. Paul encourages this in his letter to the Colossians regarding those outside of the church:

Colossians 4:5-6
“Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”

Paul expressed the same concept to the Ephesians as well:

Ephesians 5:15-17
“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”

Basically, use your head. Be wise, with regards to what we say and do when out in the world, because it is all to the glory of God. What better way is there to glorify our Lord, than to proclaim who He is and what He has done, no? But, to do such with an air of ambassador like conscientiousness, is HOW it should be done.

Paul, in his second letter to the Corinthians, makes it clear that his mission is to spread the Gospel, but it must be done in a representative manner of the God he is an ambassador for:

2 Corinthians 5:11-21
“Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience. We are not commending ourselves to you again but giving you cause to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast about outward appearance and not about what is in the heart. For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, WE ARE AMBASSADORS FOR CHRIST, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

Paul’s message to the Corinthians had to have an ambassador like tone, or it would not be embraced by them. Theirs was a church wrought with chaos, improper fellowship, and an improper example to the community around them. They needed encouragement in how to conduct themselves for the sake of their edification, and the surrounding community’s evangelism. Paul taught them that how the Gospel is given is just as important as the Gospel itself, and he always encouraged such to the entire church universal as well, in all his writings.

Peter encourages the same:

1 Peter 3:15-16
“but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.”

And why would anyone ask you about the hope that is in you? Because, such a one sees that hope through your kindness. Because, such a one sees that hope in your example, in your life, and in your walk, possibly provoking their curiosity for what motivates such living.

I encourage you, my brothers and sisters, to love your neighbor by giving such signs and wonders to them, in order to authenticate the Gospel. Be salt, and light. Give the Gospel flavor, and expose its beauty!

Godspeed, to the brethren!

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