When he was in Jerusalem during the Passover festival, many believed in his name because they saw the signs that he was doing. (John 2:23)
The Gospel of John explains why these signs were important:
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:30-31)
We know that Jesus’ apostles did signs and wonders:
So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and proclaimed the good news everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that accompanied it. (Mark 16:16-20)
The signs and wonders of the apostles were given by God to confirm the message of the Gospel:
Therefore we must pay greater attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. For if the message declared through angels was valid, and every transgression or disobedience received a just penalty, how can we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? It was declared at first through the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard him, while God added his testimony by signs and wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit, distributed according to his will. (Hebrews 2:1-4)
The apostles were not the only ones who demonstrated signs and wonders. The power of the Holy Spirit was promised to all believers:
And these signs will accompany those who believe: by using my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover. (Mark 16:17-18)
Some have said that signs and wonders ended with the Early Church. There is no biblical evidence for that. In fact, Acts makes it very clear that the power of the Spirit that was given to believers on the day of Pentecost extends to this time:
Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.” (Acts 2:38-39)
Signs and wonders help the unbeliever. There is a downside to signs and wonders, however. They are not foolproof. They do not always guarantee belief. Many will doubt even after they have seen them. This was the experience in Paul and Barnabas in Iconium:
But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers. So they remained for a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord, who testified to the word of his grace by granting signs and wonders to be done through them. But the residents of the city were divided; some sided with the Jews, and some with the apostles. (Acts 14:2-4)
As believers we are not to get caught up in them. If we focus too much on signs and wonders we can either miss the mark or be led astray. We can seek the sign but not God. Jesus said:
A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign. And there shall ‘No’ sign be given to it; except the sign of the prophet Jonah. And He [Jesus] left them and went away. (Matthew 16:4)
The ultimate sign is the “sign of Jonah” which is the resurrection of Jesus when he came out of the grave as did Jonah out of the large fish. Other signs cannot compare to it. We did not see this event ourselves but we have the testimony of those who did. Thomas doubted at first, but when he saw the risen Lord he worshiped Him.
Jesus said to him; Thomas, because you have ‘seen’ Me [Jesus]; you have believed. Blessed are they who have ‘Not’ seen; and have ‘believed’. (John 20:29)
We are privileged to believe the testimony of the apostles. We have the biblical record of their experience with Jesus before and after His resurrection. We see dramatic changes in the lives and ministry of apostles.
All signs and wonders have their place, but not all of them are alike, Jesus cautioned us concerning signs and wonders:
“At that time, if anyone says to you, ‘Look! Here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ Don’t believe it.
For “FALSE Christ’s” and false prophets will appear and display great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. Matthew 24:23-24
The Apostle Paul warned against false ministers:
Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will renounce the faith by paying attention to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared with a hot iron. (1 Timothy 4:1-2)
There are ministers who seek personal power through signs and wonders and are will to pay the price for them:
Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. The two went down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit (for as yet the Spirit had not come upon any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus). Then Peter and John laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, saying, “Give me also this power so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain God’s gift with money! (Acts 8:14-20)
Satan can counterfeit signs and wonders. In fact, he is doing so in the Church today. This is part of his strategy. We have this warning from the Apostle Paul:
The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2 Thessalonians 2:8-12)
And again warning from Revelation:
These are demonic spirits, performing signs, who go abroad to the kings of the whole world, to assemble them for battle on the great day of God the Almighty. (Revelation 16:14)
We cannot worship signs and wonders. Some are real, but some are not of God. We must examine the sign or the wonder. Was it disruptive to the worship. Did help it bring about a healing or deliverance? Did it help lead someone into a decision for Christ? If not, it was Satan’s distraction. Discernment is required. God will give us that discernment if we worship Him with all our heart.