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Should Christians Expect Miracles Today? Objections and Answers from the Bible, Part 1, by Wayne A. Grudem

2. Doesn’t Jesus warn us that in the end times false Christs and false prophets will work miracles, and they will be so deceptive, they will “deceive if possible even the elect”? Therefore isn’t it dangerous to follow people who work miracles today? Might we be deceived into following a false prophet?

This objection is based on Mark 13:22, which says, “False Christs and false prophets will arise and show signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect.” Some people might be concerned that false Christs will be so deceptive, they could not tell what was wrong anyway. In that case, it might be safer to stay away from any church where miracles are being done, just in case the church was deceptive and trying to lead people astray. People will reason:

False Christs work miracles. Miracles are occurring in church A. Therefore I will stay away from church A just to be safe (I really couldn’t discern the falsehood anyway).

However, we should remember the New Testament does not speak that way. Instead, Jesus gives a test for false prophets: “You will know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:16). The New Testament does not say false Christs and false prophets are so deceptive that even Christians cannot identify them. And it does not say false Christs will lead astray the elect; it just says that is the purpose they will try to accomplish. The Greek phrase is pros to apoplanan, ei dunaton, tous eklektous, (literally) “for the purpose of leading astray, if possible, the elect” (Mark 13:22. But Satan’s purpose in this will not be accomplished. Jesus promises us, “You will know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:16), and He says, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27).

Peter gives many marks of doctrinal purity and life character that distinguish false prophets from true prophets (2 Peter 2:1-22). John tells us that false prophets bring false doctrine about Jesus Christ, and their teaching is from the world, not the apostles. He then says, “By this we know the spirt of truth and the spirit of error” (1 John 4:6). This is much better counsel than giving a bare warning about miracles that will make people think they have no way of telling false Christs from the true.

False religions (e.g., Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Muslims, Buddhists) teach false doctrine. Pharisees (ancient and modern) oppose, and do not further, the work of the kingdom. False prophets bear evil fruit—”nor can a bad tree bear good fruit” (Matthew 7:18. But where Christian churches do not teach false doctrine, and further the work of the Kingdom, exalt Jesus Christ, and bear abundant good fruit in the lives of thousands of people, we should know that these qualities are not deceptive marks—they are the marks of true Christianity in the power of the Holy Spirit. They are not the marks of a false religion.

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Category: Pneuma Review, Spirit, Winter 2000

About the Author: Wayne A. Grudem is Professor of Theology and Biblical Studies at Phoenix Seminary, Phoenix, Arizona. He has authored over twenty books, including Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (1994), Politics According to the Bible: A Comprehensive Resource for Understanding Modern Political Issues in Light of Scripture (2010), The Poverty of Nations: A Sustainable Solution (2013), The Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament and Today, Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism, and "Free Grace" Theology: 5 Ways It Diminishes the Gospel (2016). He was also the General Editor for the ESV Study Bible (Evangelical Christian Publishers Association Book of the Year, 2009).

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