“Jesus said go. Why don’t we go? Jesus said preach. Why aren’t we preaching? Jesus said, ‘If you go and preach, I’ll confirm the word.’ Why don’t we see God confirming his word in our day?” Williams asked the gathering at North Cleveland Church of God.
Williams gave countless examples from the New Testament of how God confirmed his Word with miracles and healings as it was preached throughout the known world.
“My prayer tonight is, ‘Lord, confirm your Word with signs following,” Williams said.
He said he was not asking for signs simply to have a spectacular display but signs as confirmation of God’s Word like those of the New Testament church.
“We ask for signs and wonders that Jesus may be glorified. We ask for signs and wonders that suffering may be abated. We ask for signs and wonders, so that the demonized might be delivered. We ask for signs and wonders so that a darkened, secularized world … may be confronted with the glorious light of the gospel of Jesus Christ,” Williams said.
Williams said the church has limited God to their terms and “does not allow him to move in our day.”
“I’m afraid that in these days, we have adopted a crossless Christ and a powerless Pentecost. We have adopted a theology that engages the mind, but does not transform the heart,” Williams said.
He said many in the church have become “unbelieving believers.”
“We believe in God, but we don’t believe God. We believe that God is, but we don’t believe necessarily that God has rewarded unto them that diligently seek him,” Williams said.
In the days after Jesus’ crucifixion, the disciples struggled with unbelief also. Williams said unbelief “will cause you to not even see Jesus, and he is right there with you.”
After they saw Jesus with their own eyes after his resurrection, their belief was restored.
In Acts 2, the disciples received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the comforter and power that Jesus had promised them. The nations that had gathered for the Jewish feast of Pentecost heard the word and the message of salvation from the disciples.
Three-thousand believed and took the message to their hometowns.
“They went forth preaching the word,” Williams said. “When they went and they preached, Jesus confirmed his word with signs following. All through their journeys we find God confirming his word.”
The New Testament church leaders were devoted to the study of Scripture, and believed it.
Williams said when government leaders of the day saw Christianity as a threat and told church leaders not to teach about Jesus anymore, they continued preaching.
“They prayed for boldness and continued teaching the word,” Williams said.
The New Testament book of Acts chronicles the journey of these early Christians as they were scattered by persecution, yet spread the news of Jesus and the way to God through his death and resurrection.
“Jesus said go, so they went. Jesus said preach, so they did,” Williams said. “Not just the disciples. Not just the ordained clergy, but every man and every woman received that commission.”
Williams said God did not stop “confirming his Word through signs and wonder.”
“He confirmed his Word in the Church of God in 1886, in the eastern hills of Tennessee and western North Carolina ... a band of people gathered together who were hungry for God to again confirm his word,” Williams said. “They were so tired of churches that had become encumbered by creeds and traditions. They loved the Protestant Reformation, when it talked about the law of faith, but they thought it didn’t go far enough because there was also the law of love. They longed to rediscover a Bible church.”
In April 1886, the Church of God formed when nine people came together. It has now grown to more than 7 million.
“They went everywhere preaching. The Lord working with them, signs followed,” Williams said.
Williams said God miraculously provided for these early preachers who went to new cities, often using strangers to donate food.
“Miracles of protection. In those days, the message of the Spirit-filled message and the charismatic experience was not really accepted at all. It was fought against. It was labeled as heresy. Some even took it upon themselves to burn their tents [Church of God meeting places] down … but they just kept preaching.”
Williams shared personal stories of miracles in his family. He said God healed his grandfather of tuberculosis; his mother was healed of a compound fracture as a Christian prayed. Williams also said he and wife Sandra Kay’s unborn child was healed by God after their doctor had said there would be a miscarriage.
A renewed belief in God and that he will still do what he did for his people in the New Testament is how the church will see the confirmation of his word through “signs and wonders,” Williams said.
The state camp meeting continues nightly at 7 through Friday at North Cleveland Church of God.