There are those out there that think miracles are a thing of the past. They think the supernatural things of the New Testament simply don’t happen today.
What about healing?
“That was done away with the last Apostle.”
Gifts of the Spirit?
“Nope, not since we’ve got the Bible; we don’t need the gifts anymore.”
What about all those things Jesus commanded us to do? You know, the great commission?
“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover” (Mark 16:15-18 (NKJV)).
Some argue, “Brother Tim, Jesus wasn’t talking to us. He was speaking to His disciples. That was their commission.”
Some say, “Those scriptures were not in the original text.”
But what if Jesus was speaking to us? What if He did mean for us to do those things?
“Well, Brother Tim, I don’t see any of these things happening. Why should I believe that the great commission still applies?”
I find it interesting that some folks believe certain principles and doctrines still apply, yet some ceased to exist at some indeterminate point in the past.
Why do some believe that miracles and healing are no more, but they have no trouble believing that faith and grace are still relevant for today’s Christian?
“Well, Brother Tim, the Apostle Paul told us, ‘For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast’” (Ephesians 2:8-9 (NKJV)).
I will agree, you are correct. However, this same Apostle Paul instructed, “… forbid not to speak with tongues” (1 Corinthians 14:39b).
Why do people embrace faith and grace, but shun spiritual gifts and especially speaking in tongues?
I’ll give you my opinion (after all, this is my column). Faith and grace are nice, comfortable doctrines that, when used for the express purpose of acquiring one’s eternal salvation, rarely create a disturbance in a polite Sunday morning church service.
When the gifts of the spirit are manifest, carnally-minded humans cannot understand what’s taking place in the spirit realm and it can make them wildly uncomfortable.
I’ve been in those services. I’ve seen normally calm, sedate folks begin to dance seemingly uncontrollably. Well, calling it dancing maybe too generous; it’s more like shaking or twitching. Either way, their behavior is outside the realm of their normal conduct. However, if you talk with them afterwards, it is evident they had an encounter with the Spirit of the Lord, and their bizarre behavior was their reaction to it.
I get it, it can be hard for those attending a dignified church to allow themselves to be “moved” by the spirit. Our traditions run deep.
But even if you don’t believe that the gifts of the spirit or speaking in tongues are for today, what about faith and grace? Surely, those are for today. Otherwise, how would we ever have access to God? Do you still believe in faith? Do you still believe in grace?
I encourage you to take the words of Jesus to heart: “Have faith in God. For verily I say unto you, For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says” (Mark 11:22b-24 (NKJV)).
Ask of those who would teach you “miracles, gifts, and healings are not for today” if faith is for today?
And if they answer in the affirmative, that faith is for today, then ask them about the instructions James gave us, “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven” (James 5:14-15 (NKJV)).
Why, you may wonder, do I focus so on miracles, signs, and wonders? Because people need hope. Well, maybe you don’t, Dear Reader, but I sure do. With all the bad news and evil reports to which we are constantly exposed, I need to believe there is hope. Hope for the future, hope for my children, and hope for my grandchildren.
The grace and mercies of God compel me to believe in this hope and, by extension, the God of all hope; that He is still a miracle working, faith driven, loving heavenly Father, willing that none should perish, but that everyone come to a knowledge of Him. And if that means our services get a little out of hand or less dignified, so be it.
Tim Hughes is a lay minister and elder at Ascension Life Church in Athens. He can be reached at email@example.com