One of the most interesting stories of the Old Testament is found in the life of the prophet Elijah. According to James, "Elijah was a man with a nature like our..." (James 5:17) In other words, he was a mere man, subject to the same weaknesses and or infirmities as all other men. Yet God used him supernaturally in various time and situations, one being at Mount Carmel. Israel was under the corrupt leadership of King Ahab whose wife Jezebel was a promoter of worshiping false gods. A challenge is set before Ahab to settle the issue as to who was God, "Then it happened, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said to him, "Is that you, O troubler of Israel?" And Elijah answered, "I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father's house have, in that you have forsaken the commandments of the LORD and have followed the Baals. Now therefore, send and gather all Israel to me on Mount Carmel, the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal, and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel's table. So Ahab sent for all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together on Mount Carmel." (1 Kings 18:17-20)
The next statement that Elijah makes, I believe should be considered by church leaders today as a word spoken also to us, "Elijah came to all the people, and said,"How long will you falter between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him." But the people answered him not a word." (1 Kings 18:21) Question? Is God doing the same tremendous things today through the church as He did in the early church? The answer to this question is, absolutely! The fact is, God has always proved Himself through miracles, signs and wonders from the beginning of mans history through almost three hundred years after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost.
Some may say that the resurrection of Christ was a show of God's power that is enough proof as to who He is. If this is the case, then why were so many miracles performed in the early church? Some may say that when the Bible was completed (canonized) that there is no longer a need for miracles. If this is true, then Christianity is nothing more than one of the worlds religions. What separates Christianity from every other religion is not only the resurrection of the Lord, but the signs, wonders and miracles. Interestingly enough, the Lord used them to confirmed the preaching of the Word. (Mark 16:20)
As Elijah faced off with the false prophets of Baal and Asherah, God proved Himself with a mighty show of power that "when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said,"The LORD, He is God! The LORD, He is God!" (1 Kings 18:39) How many people have you seen in your life time who have rejected Christ in the past but have fallen on their faces in public crying out, "The LORD, He is God! The LORD, He is God!" Well, maybe you haven't, but I have and many others ministers that I know have seen large numbers of people do this very thing, why? Because the Lord was working with us and confirming the Word through accompanying signs, not because we are special or more valuable to Him than any other believer. It is simply because we believe that the Lord has not changed, meaning, He has not changed who He is, what He does, and what He has said. (Numbers 23:19, Psalm 89:34, Psalm 119:89, Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 13:8)
Today, we tend to limit the preaching of the gospel to sharing Christ with our words. This is certainly a good thing to do and it is also the primary function of the church. However, the apostle Paul reveals something very interesting that we have missed in many respects, "For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ has not accomplished through me, in word and deed, to make the Gentiles obedient in mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God, so that from Jerusalem and round about to Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ." (Romans 15:18-19) Paul reveals that the full gospel is not only preaching Christ in word, but that preaching Christ in mighty signs and wonders by the power of the Spirit is indeed the full gospel. Of course to believe this for today takes faith.
I always find it interesting that the Lord Himself tells us, "And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover." (Mark 16:17-18) Notice the only condition that is required to perform signs, wonders and miracles is to, "Those who believe." Also notice that it does not say or even allude to, "And these signs will follow only the apostles who believe or only those who believe during a particular dispensation of church history:" I believe that once again the Lord is calling for Elijah's as it were, to step up in faith in the face of all the Baals (the world and every other religion in the world) in the power of His might showing those who reject Him that "Jesus Christ is LORD!" This will be accomplished through the full gospel that Paul spoke of, preaching Christ in mighty signs and wonders by the power of the Spirit. This is what will cause the church to shine as it did in the past. This is what will separate the church from every other religion. This is what will reveal the real Jesus, and this is what will unite the church once again all for His glory.