John 15:22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father as well. 24 If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin.
…Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:29-31)
Jesus provided clear evidence that he was not simply another great teacher or leader. By performing powerful miraculous works that no one else did, he proved that he was in fact the promised Messiah and Savior—the only way to the Father in heaven, the One True God who created the heavens and the earth. He performed works, especially miraculous healings even to the point of raising the dead, which are not witnessed in religions like Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism or among those who practice witchcraft or worship idols. The works proved that he had authority to forgive sin and grant eternal life. Religions cannot provide this miraculous proof.
Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!” (Mark 2:9-12)
We know therefore that Jesus Christ did not appear on earth to start still another religion or introduce another practice, but to proclaim himself as the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He was absolutely unique in the history of the world.
In Acts after his ascension to the right hand of the Father and after he sent the Holy Spirit, his disciples took the gospel to the ends of the known world at that time. The same miraculous works accompanied them as well resulting in multitudes turning to Christ. This perhaps led some early disciples to think that the Great Commission was near completion, leading to the soon Second Coming of the Christ at that time.
But after the close of Acts, Church history does not record the same frequency and magnitude of the miraculous taking place when the gospel was preached. Although there were exceptions, the miracles confirming the truth of the gospel to the lost for the most part disappeared. The unscriptural teaching of “cessationism” holds that God Himself was behind this.
Because there were no more Acts-like powerful and even spectacular miracles to confirm the absolute truth of the gospel, the Way eventually became what is known as “Christianity.” It became just another world religion. It was reduced to taking its place beside other religions like Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism. One could take one’s pick. The outward and visible evidence to the world that there is One True God who created all things and that Jesus Christ is the only way to Him had for the most part disappeared. Outwardly, Christianity was no different from the rest of the pack.
All things including religion being relative, therefore, there are no absolutes. Given man’s nature this has gradually given rise to extremes. For example, in America the Church of Satan has equal standing before the law as Christian churches. Arizona city bars Satanic Temple prayer at council meeting not because it’s an abomination, but rather because the institution does not “have a substantial connection to the Scottsdale community.” 6-6-16: Satanists in Los Angeles Will Construct a Giant Pentagram to ‘Raise Awareness’ for Satanism The world’s longest and deepest rail tunnel unveiled with a openly Satanic ceremony
Since there are no absolutes, practices like gay marriage or abortion are no longer seen as outright sins, but as “alternative” lifestyles or personal choices. Every form of non-violent pornography involving adults that depraved human beings can conjure up is legal in the West. And it is getting worse. Some women in Colorado, where marijuana has already be legalized, now want the right to go around in public with their breasts exposed. Women sue Colorado city over topless ban, calling it discriminatory. (Colorado, it might be noted, is heavily associated with the unscriptural practice popularly known as “strategic-level spiritual warfare” inasmuch as the originator of the practice had his ministry headquarters there.)
In the United Kingdom we find the “Weird world of the grown men who enjoy dressing up as DOGS in roleplay craze sweeping the nation.”
Rachel split up with Tom because she could not cope with his alter ego, Spot. ‘I didn’t understand it. I didn’t want to understand it,’ she says, although remains his friend (from dailymail.co.uk)
Because of man’s sinful nature, abominable practices accepted by the mainstream culture in the West simply as choices which every human being is entitled to make will become progressively worse. We should not be surprised if pedophilia and child pornography are someday legalized in the West. Congressional candidate says sex with teenagers could be OK Currently laws against such practices soothe our collective conscience and provide a cover-up for the darkness in our hearts along with a vestige of feeling respect for ourselves. But the hypocrisy in our culture will eventually be revealed as such practices become accepted by the mainstream culture.
This is what is happening in the “Christian” West where the gospel was planted and took root centuries ago. But with the gradual disappearance of the miraculous in the preaching of the gospel beginning 2,000 years ago, the Way over time become simply one of several different world religions—as it is today. Absolute morality becomes passé, replaced by relativism and humanism.
“Cultural Christianity” is what remains when the absolute necessity of a Savior and repentance from sin for which people are personally responsible are removed from the gospel, leaving only so-called “compassion” and tolerance for every kind of perversion that man’s heart can dig up.
Of them (i.e. the “Christian” West here) the proverbs are true: “A dog returns to its vomit,” and, “A sow that is washed returns to her wallowing in the mud.” (2 Peter 2:22)
If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. (2 Peter 2:20)
When the miraculous is completely absent in the preaching of the gospel, the authority to hold sinners accountable for their sin is curtailed. In this regard Jesus said:
“If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin” (John 15:24).
Because the Church is no longer doing the works that Jesus did, many have concluded that there is no God. Thousands of atheists rally in D.C. Time for atheists to stand up and be counted Since there is no God, there is no sin of which we are guilty and for which we must account. (Of course there will be those who will not repent—like the Pharisees in Jesus’ time—even if they do witness miraculous works from the Lord. But before God they will be guilty and will be held to account.)
Due to the lack of the miraculous which drew so many to Christ in the gospels and Acts, the Church today has turned to extreme “prosperity teaching” to draw the gullible crowds. Unbelievers with an modicum of discernment can see through this obvious marketing scheme and have all the more reason to reject Christianity. Parody on Prosperity Teaching from the Babylon Bee
But during these Last Days, the miraculous is being restored in the preaching of the gospel to those who never heard so that the Great Commission may be fulfilled before the great and dreadful day of the Lord—the Second Coming of the Messiah Jesus Christ.
Jesus’ promise in John 14:12 is now being fulfilled. “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”
Note: Yes, Satan can also perform miracles. But God can and will do greater ones, as was dramatically displayed at Mt. Carmel in the ministry of the Old Testament prophet Elijah and in Acts 8 where the disciple Philip completely outdid Simon the sorcerer.
False “signs and wonders to deceive even the elect”
Interestingly, in the culture of some Islamic countries where extreme legalism prevails we see the very opposite of what is taking place in the “liberated” West: Saudi Arabia’s “religious police” stopped schoolgirls from leaving the burning building and hindered rescue workers because the girls were not wearing correct Islamic dress.