Saturday, 18 August 2018
God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will? Hebrews 2:4
These words continue the question began in verse 2. All taken together, they read –
“For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, 3 how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, 4 God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?”
The words, “God also bearing witness,” are speaking about the “salvation” in verse 2, meaning the gospel message. The author’s claim is confirmed by the words of Mark 16:20 –
“And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen.”
As can be seen both in Hebrews and in Mark, God confirmed the message of salvation found in Jesus with “signs.” A “sign” is something (usually miraculous) which is particularly given to confirm or authentic something else. As HELPS Word Studies notes, a sign “then emphasizes the end-purpose which exalts the one giving it. Accordingly, it is used dozens of times in the NT for what authenticates the Lord and His eternal purpose, especially by doing what mere man cannot replicate or take credit for.”
God is also said to have borne witness through “wonders.” A wonder is an extraordinary event with a supernatural effect being left upon any who witness it. A portent from heaven would be a wonder.
God further bore witness through “various miracles.” The word “miracle” as used here signifies power which comes through God’s ability. In using God’s ability to perform or accomplish something, the result is something that could not otherwise have been accomplished by the individual.
Along with these, God confirmed the gospel message of salvation through Christ Jesus by “gifts of the Holy Spirit.” The Greek signifies “distributions.” God distributed the effective working of the Holy Spirit according to His chosen purpose. Some spoke in tongues, some performed healings, and so on. God did this in order to confirm that Jesus, whom these individuals proclaimed, was and is the Messiah. And all of this was “according to His own will.”
The workings of God mentioned in this verse were all at His sovereign discretion. There are times when the apostles could not heal (see Philippines 2:25-30, 1 Timothy 5:23, & 2 Timothy 4:20, for example). There are times when tongues are inappropriate (see 1 Corinthians 14:27-30). The signs, wonders, miracles, and gifts of the Spirit which came to the apostles were for particular reasons, at particular times, and always to confirm God’s word concerning the saving message of Christ Jesus. This is in contrast to how the “word spoken through angels” was received and confirmed.
The lesson here is that if there was a punishment for infractions of the law, how much more can we expect that God will more severely deal with a rejection of the gospel! Trifling with the message of Jesus Christ, mishandling the word which speaks of Him, and using false signs, miracles, and demonstrations of “gifts” of the Spirit are instances deserving of the highest degree of censure from Him.
Life application: The word has been confirmed. The Bible is written, and it speaks of those things which came to pass in order to reveal the truth of Jesus. There is no longer a need for signs, miracles, wonders, and distributions of the Holy Spirit in the manner that came during the apostolic age, nor should they be expected. If someone is sick, we should pray for them, but we should never arrogantly “claim” healing. It is God who decides, according to His wisdom to hear and respond. The gifts we now possess are on a different level than during the apostolic age, and they are to be used to the glory of God. Be wise concerning false teachers, false healers, and false miracle workers. Stick to the word which reveals all we need to know to have faith in the Son.
Heavenly Father, You have confirmed Your word to the people of the world through the apostles You sent forth after Jesus’ ministry. Now, we are asked to live by faith in that same word which has been written as a testimony of His authority. Help us to not follow after false teachers who claim the miraculous. We have Your word, and it is sufficient. Thank You for the surety we possess because of it! Amen.