Signs and Wonders and the End Times

Signs and wonders, or miracles, are often accepted by professing Christians as evidence or even proof that a person, spiritual leader or teacher, or a phenomenon is from God. Sometimes even unbelievers and skeptics are persuaded through miraculous signs and wonders of the spirituality of some teacher or circumstance. But are all signs and wonders or apparent miracles necessarily from God or are they necessarily good? I don’t believe there is one true Christian who does not know that the Bible clearly teaches otherwise.

The preoccupation with miraculous phenomena has exploded since the charismatic movement began, and more particularly the Vineyard movement. Speaking in tongues is clamed as evidence of the work of the Holy Spirit, with hundreds of people babbling incoherently and claiming to be speaking “angelic languages”, or repeating one or a few commonly known Hebrew words, particularly “El Shaddai”, “Adonai” while claiming to be speaking in tongues. Many of these assert their “spiritual authority” with the argument that they “have” the Holy Spirit, and therefore the church must listen to them.

Healing ministries and meetings, and deliverance meetings are held by popular characters claiming to have special Holy Spirit power to heal diseases and drive out demons. Men and women claim to be modern-day apostles and prophets, to whom God supposedly gives frequent direct verbal revelation, and whom the rest of the church is expected to heed and obey unquestioningly on the basis of their claim of Holy Spirit authority. Many of these self-claimed apostles and prophets say they are appointed in these latter days to prepare the earth and God’s church for the return of Christ.

Christians must be very cautious when considering whether supernatural signs and apparent miracles are from God. The Bible teaches very clearly that lying spirits can work false miracles and wondrous signs to deceive humans. The apostle Paul admonished the Thessalonians to test all things, holding fast to what is good[1]. John told the church to test the spirits, whether they are from God,[2] and Jesus himself taught his disciples to beware false teachers and false prophets, warning them about false signs and wonders “to deceive the elect, if that were possible.”[3]

The New Testament abundantly warns against false teachers who will accompany their teaching with miraculous signs. The charismatic movement has predisposed many professing Christians to look for exceptional and dramatic supernatural phenomena as “evidence” of God’s presence with or approval of the people or trends they desire to follow. Moreover, signs and wonders seekers tend to believe that God can do anything, and that any supernatural event they witness must necessarily be from God. These unbiblical ideas leave them open to being deceived.

The New Testament speaks in several places about false signs and wonders, and particularly about the increase in both the interest in and incidence of false miracles in the latter days, or end times. We must look carefully at those passages to determine whether it is a sound practice to allow miraculous signs to serve as evidence of God’s power or approval in any particular situation.

In Matthew 24, the disciples ask Jesus three questions. Drawing His attention to the temple inJerusalem , they appear to want Him to be impressed with its grandeur. When Jesus tells them that not one stone will be left upon another, they ask him when will this happen, what will be the sign of His coming and the end of the world.

Jesus’ first sentence in response was, “See that no one deceives you.” Then He proceeds to tell them what to expect.

In verses 4 – 14, Jesus describes the events that will precede ‘the end’, summarized in v 14 by “… and then shall the end come.”  Verse 15 narrows the focus to Jerusalem, telling them that a terrible time will come in which those in Judea would need to escape to survive. He references a prophecy of Daniel’s regarding something referred to as the “abomination of desolation” being in the “holy place” as being in the future, and the signal that the time of trouble will have begun. Verses 21-22 refer to a time of trouble beyond anything the world has ever seen, from which they will be longing for deliverance.

Then, if anyone says, ‘Look, here is Christ’, or ‘there’, do not believe it. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets and shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch that, if possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before.”

What exactly did Christ say about the conditions of the world prior to the end? “For many shall come in My Name, saying ‘I am Christ’, and shall deceive many.” Wars, famines, pestilences, earthquakes in many places are the “beginning of sorrows”. His followers would be hated by all nations because of the name of Christ. Many will be caused to stumble; many will be betrayed and hated. ” And many false prophets shall rise and shall deceive many.”

The word “many” is repeated throughout this passage. Many false prophets, many false christs,many shall be deceived and many shall be caused to stumble. It is important to understand the significance of this passage. The lies and the liars will be coming in the name of Christ. The lies will be presented as if from God, in the name of Christ. The lies will be presented as if being the truth. The lies will be pedaled as being Christian. But they will be lies. And many will follow those lies to hell.

Then if anyone says, “Look, here is Christ”, or “There He is , do not believe it. The reason is that self-proclaimed “christs” – anointed or chosen spiritual leaders – and many false prophets will come showing “great signs and wonders” such that they could potentially fool even “the elect”. These false miracles will be the means by which the false prophets and false saviours convince the masses that they are from God. The nature and power of their signs and wonders will be such that, if it was possible for God’s elect to be fooled, they would be.

This point is important to understand: events and omens that are clearly demonic would have no power to fool the Jews, much less a Christian. In order for such a sign to potentially convince one who knows God or knows His Law, it would necessarily have to appear to reflect both the nature and power of God Himself. It would have to look like a true miracle, a work of God’s own power. As He told them earlier, false prophets would come as “wolves in sheep’s clothing”[4] – they would look like sheep. Jesus told His followers to beware these deceivers who would present themselves as Christians.

Looking further at Matthew 7:15-23, another important point is made. Jesus declared, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven … many will say to me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name cast out devils? And in your name done many wonderful works?’ and then I will profess to them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you who work iniquity.'”  These people present their wondrous works – miraculous signs that one would only expect from a Christian – as the evidence of their right to enter the kingdom of God . Jesus rejected these wonders as evidence of their faith, calling them “iniquity”. Clearly, the ability to prophesy, cast out devils, and perform “wonderful works” is not evidence of God’s power in someone’s life, not even someone who claims to know the Lord. This is crucially important; signs and wonders are not evidence of God’s power or work in anyone’s life. We cannot use “miracles” as the test point for God’s approval or presence.

The reason we cannot base our acceptance of something as from God on supernatural signs is that there are other powers capable of producing the kinds of events that will look and feel like God caused them. A different test mechanism is necessary to determine whose power worked the sign.

Nearly every New Testament writer issued warnings regarding false teachers and prophets, with several references to the severity of the situation in the last days. It is clear that false teaching will prevail towards the end of this worldly system, that true Christian faith will be rejected and that a false “christianity” will prevail before Christ returns, with many false teachers coming from within the visible church. Christians must exercise caution and spiritual discernment in judging every supernatural event, every teaching, every person who presents themselves as a messenger from God. Understanding that this deception is designed and intended to draw millions to everlasting damnation, we must be prepared to expose and refute every lie, as Paul admonished, “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God … “[5]

We have the Bible, the Holy Spirit-inspired Word of God Himself; we do not need miraculous signs from God. We require only to know Him, and to know His Word, by which He has provided everything we need for life and godliness.

New Testament Passages Warning of End-Times Apostasy, Characterized by False Signs and Wonders

Acts 20:29-30:      For I know this; that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.”

Matthew 24:4-25     “Take Heed that no one deceives you; For many shall come in my name, saying, ‘I am Christ’, and shall deceive many … then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you, and you shall be hated by all nations for my name’s sake …  and many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because of iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall grow cold … for then shall be great tribulation such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no nor ever shall be. Except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved; but for the elect?s sake those days shall be shortened. Then if anyone shall say to you, ‘Look, here is Christ’, or ‘there’, believe it not. For there shall arise false christs and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch that, if possible, they shall deceive the very elect Behold, I have told you before.”

2 Peter 2:1-3    But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who shall surreptitiously bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bough them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways, by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they, with feigned words make merchandise of you …”

2 Thessalonians 2:3-10      Let no one deceive you by any means; for that day shall not come except there com a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped, so that he as God sits in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God …  for the mystery of iniquity does already work, only he who restrains shall restrain until he is taken out of the way. And then shall that wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the breath of his mouth, and shall destroy with the rightness of his coming, even him whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in those who perish because they received not the love of the truth that they might be saved. For this reason God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie, that they all might be damned who did not believe the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

1 Tim 4:1-2      Now the Spirit speaks expressly that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their conscience seared with a hot iron …”

2 Tim 3:1-        This also know that in the last days perilous times shall come, for men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those who are good, traitors, rash, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof. From such turn away … evil men and seducers shall become worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.

But you continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing of whom you have learned them; and that from a child you have known the Holy Scriptures which are able to make you wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

2 Tim 4:2-4      “… preach the word; be instant in season, out of season. Reprove, rebuke, exhort wit hall long-suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears, and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”

Rev 13:11-15 (19-20)  And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb and he spoke as a dragon. And he exercised all the power of the first beast before him, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. And he does great wonders, so that he makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men and deceives those who dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast … and he had power to give life to the image of the beast that the image of the beast should both speak and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed …”

Revelation 16:13-14    And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet, for they are the spirits of devils working miracles, which go for unto the kings of the earth and the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.”

Further New Testament References to False Teaching

Romans 16:17 Now I beseech you brethren, mark those who cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which you have learned and avoid them.”

1 John 4:1     Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God, because many false prophets are gone out into the world.”

2 John 1:7-11  For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist … whoever transgresses and does not remain in the doctrine of Christ has not God … if there come any unto you and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, nor bid him God speed, for he who bids him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.”

2 Peter 3:3       Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts nd saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation … (in reference to Paul’s letters) which they who are unlearned and unstable twist a they do also the other scriptures, to their own destruction.”

2 Tim 6:20       Oh, Timothy, keep that which is committed to your trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings and oppositions of ‘knowledge’, falsely so called.”

Titus 3:9-11     A man that is an heretic, after the first and second admonition, reject, knowing that he is subverted and sins, being self-condemned.”

Mathew 12:39 An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign; and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.”


[1] 1 Thessalonians 5:21

[2] 1 John 4:1

[3] Matthew 24:24

[4] Matt 7:15; Acts 20:29-30

[5] 2 Corinthians 10:5