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Friday, August 21, 2009

Modern Day Christianity and the Absence of Miracles

I was recently humbled when someone wrote to me the below question and I said, "Sure! I'll get right on it!"

That was two weeks ago. I've been procrastinating...

The question was:

Why is it that in the christian church do you have such a lack of the power of the Holy Spirit?I know people hear from God and sometimes here and there people get healed but I mean, what happened to people raising the dead and wicked signs and wonders we can show off to non-believers... has the Devil been trying to snuff out that power in the church?Or do people just not want all that weird stuff happening to them? Why is there such a small amount of the Holy Spirits power in the church?And what to do about it?

So not being in any way an authority on the matter here is my attempt at an answer...

One passage of Scripture that really jumped out at me when I was thinking about this was from 2 Timothy 3:1-6:

1But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5having a form of godliness but denying its power.

I may be taking it way out of context but I believe we are in the last days (or might as well be) and we see in the majority of churches in the west a gross embracing of materialism, new age rubbish and a form of powerless godliness. Just an observation.

If you take the letters to the seven Churches in the beginning of the book of Revelation as letters to seven periods of Church History as I do, then we are moving into the Laodician Period of Apostasy where most of the "Church" says, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But they do not realize that they are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked... (Revelations 3:17)

My hunch is the problem we have in the Western Church is the same problem Jesus experienced when he went to his home town and because the people "knew" Jesus as the Carpenter's son and the son of Mary they refused to accept him for who he really was - the Son of God.

Romans 10:17 says that faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. I fear that the vast majority of Christians today do not have miracle working faith because they do not know the Word.

The Bible is like an instruction manual that tells you what you can and can't do with a product. If I had never ever used a hair dryer or even knew what one was I could be forgiven for mistaking it to be some kind of toy gun until I read the instructions to see that I am meant to plug it into the wall first. The same rule applies here - once we know what the Bible actually says about what we are capable of doing in Christ then we can move mountains; but until then we might as well be toy guns! You can not make a nuclear bomb without knowledge of Nuclear Physics; so you can not work miracles without a true knowledge of the God who is there through his Word!

So poor teaching has a lot to do with it. Imagine entire congregations out there led by pastors/priests who themselves don't believe in miracles or who teach that when the Bible talks about healing it really means "spiritual healing" and the best you can look forward to is a comfy disease free life in heaven but down here you will have Hell to pay... its disgraceful.

Its worth a mention that with regards to the miracles Jesus himself performed we have to remember that some of them were specifically designed to show the disciples and Israel that he was who he claimed to be. Some examples are when Jesus calmed the storm, the Biblically literate Disciples must have been reminded of Psalms 89:9:

"You Rule over the surging sea;
when its waves mount up,
you still them."

or how about this one from Psalm 107:28, 29

Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble,
and he brought them out of their distress.
He stilled the storm to a whisper;
the waves of the sea were hushed.

When Jesus walked on the water it must have echoed Genesis 1:2 when the Spirit of God hovered over the waters... no wonder the disciples were so ready with their worship of the Lord...

But Miracles weren't just for Jesus' day and Miracles do in fact happen today, we just seem to be blinded to them. I think my reader is right in suggesting that the Devil is trying to stamp Miracles out, but rather it is the knowledge of their happening that is being stamped at. This is still Cosmos Diabolicus - The Devil's World. His aim is to take down as many non-believers as he can when he is cast into his eternal punishment, so now he is systematically trying to keep people unaware of the many miracles that are wrought in the name of Christ around the World on what I suspect is a daily basis.

I remember it like yesterday, when as a young teenager I heard on the news a story about a boy who had been miraculously cured of the Aids Virus, "The Parents said it was a miracle". I watched in fascination as the news Reader promised to keep us up to date with this amazing story but then as the weeks went by nothing was ever mentioned about this seemingly historic event. Why? Because the parents acknowledged the miraculous and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms squashed the story before it could be perpetuated any more.

Instead the enemy will permeate the news with stories of priests accused of indiscretions with choir boys or TV evangelists wanted for fraud while the real good guys are left in the side lines with no public notice.

Off the top of my head here are some examples of miracles that I am aware of...

When I was 17 I was attending a children's camp where one of the other counsellors had hurt the ligaments in his knee. He had been complaining about it for over several days when finally after a meeting he asked me to pray for it. I placed my hand over his knee cap and prayed a simple prayer, something to the effect of "Dear Lord, please heal this knee in Jesus' name, Amen" - and I kid you not, I felt a popping sensation under the palm of my hand as something happened... I don't know what exactly but his knee was healed after that night.

I listen to a southern style preacher called Andrew Wommack who tells the story of when his youngest son died of a drug over dose and six hours later, after a lot of prayer and thanksgiving on Andrew's part, his son sat up in the morgue completely recovered, and alive! I forget the exact source but here is a link to his audio teaching if you want to check it out... http://www.awmi.net/extra/audio

The late Roger Price of the Chichester Christian fellowship tells the story of when he was at University and was speaking in tongues in his dorm room during a private time of prayer and devotion to God. Later he went to do his washing in the communal laundry where he was cornered by a neighboring student who demanded to know where the Sudanese man who had been in Roger's room was. Of course, there had been no Sudanese man in Roger's room, it had just been him speaking in tongues and this other student had miraculously heard the story of Jesus Christ's death and resurrection in his own language - a language Roger had never learnt.

I read an outstanding book called the Divinity Code recently where Ian Wishart provides documented evidence of people who were miraculously healed from impossibly incurable diseases like advanced leukemia and even cerebral palsy. I highly recommend it if you're after a good read...

So I guess my challenge to anyone who has complained about the lack of the miraculous is this - start taking the promises found in God's Word seriously! Take Mark 16:15-18 for example:

He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. 16Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well."

I guess the challenge is really for me as well... don't let your experience of Christianity be a matter of singing in a pew or intellectually cutting and pasting Bible Verses together in your brain. Don't let your relationship with Christ come down to whether or not you got your five minute devotional in this morning or whether you got the latest Christian hit single. Rather get out there and lay your hands on someone and tell this mountain to move from here to there and IT WILL BE DONE...


P.S. It occurs to me that I didn't address the issue of the Holy Spirit in this response but given the Holy Spirit dwells inside us (1 Corinthians 6:19) then let that knowledge alone be enough to propel you into knowing that miracles can be wrought through you because God himself lives inside you, this should be elementary but for some reason we're just not getting it...

2 comments:

  1. Well - first time I have read your blog, bro - and I am MIGHTELY IMPRESSED!!! and more than a bit envious. ;) All I can say is a Mighty AMEN... It has confirmed a decision I made yesterday before reading this, so you will be getting an email from me in the next few days. Should be no surprise... :) Blessings! Chris Wyman

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    1. Hi Chris, 3 years later and I have to ask, how are you going with this? Did you ever email me in the end? My apologies if I never replied! But a big, although very late, thankyou for your comment! Was very encouraging!

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