First of all, my back STILL hurts. I know many of you have been anxiously awaiting word on my physical condition. I don’t know what I did, but it’s definitely different than anything I’ve done before. I’m getting to be an expert. Here’s a checklist: pinched nerve, pulled muscle, slipped vertebrae, herniated disc. Any yes: I did take the needle once. I’m such a mess.
I’m inconvenienced but mostly functional, despite my charismatic aquaintance’s best effort to invoke the power of Jesus’ name. I’m starting to think that she should have invoked Jesus’ name to tell me to go see a chiropractor or a doctor, or take a muscle relaxer or something. She would have been met with the same result. Trust me.
All this talk about my near-miss unsolicited attempt at faith-healing has had me thinking about the nature of miracles, such as healing. I’m not going to lay out an argument for cessation (the belief that the miraculous gifts such as healing, tongues, and prophecy have stopped), but I do want to point out a few things from Scripture to help you out:
1.) Miracles in the Bible were always thorough, complete, and unmistakable. This was so much so that the Jesus’ political enemies only disputed the SOURCE of His power (Saying He was in league with Satan) , not the fact of His miracles (Matt 12:24). Blind men saw, the lame walked, demons were cast out, and so on. None of this business about back pain or neck aches. None of this business about seeing someone “out there” and then claiming responsibility for someone’s claim of being healed.
2.) Miracles drew attention to crucial points in God’s developing plan for humanity. Moses in the desert, Elijah, and Christ all worked at key times for the unveiling of God’s plan on the earth. A study of the distribution of miracles in the Bible reveals that those miracles came in intense and sporadic bursts, being a call to attention for God’s elect.
3.) The effectiveness of miraculous gifts do not rest upon the faith of the person who is to be healed. Faith healers will claim that failure to heal is the fault of the sick. When Jesus healed ten lepers (Luke 17), only one of the lepers demonstrated faith. In the book of Hebrews, the writer addresses many in chapter 6 who have fully experience the miraculous works of the apostolic age and yet are ready to fall away.
4.) Miracles are first and foremost done to glorify God and teach us about Him. Our benefit from miracles is secondary at best. Look at Matthew’s outlay of miracles in the first several chapters. Jesus shows his power over sickness, blindness, nature, and even demons. the message is the Jesus is Lord over all. Every miracle, like his manna0from-heaven discourse from John 6, is an object lesson about HIM.
There could be a lot more said about the nature of Biblical miracles. These are thought I have reflected on since my encounter last week. In timely fashion, I also listened to a message by John MacArthur about the ministry of the Holy Spirit. He essentially says that while the charismatic movement claims to exalt the Holy Spirit, it actually quenches the Spirit. By placing emphasis on the outward power of the spirit, it neglects the inward ministry of the spirit in illuminating the Scriptures for believers (1 Cor 2:12-13), transforming us into the likeness of Christ (Rom 8), and interceding for us (Rom8:26).
What is especially ironic to me is the way that charismatics de-value the Scriptures, which the Holy Spirit illuminates for us, by denying the sufficiency of Scripture with their continuing prophecies. The Scriptures claim to be enough for believers to live on (2 Tim. 3:15-16) and yet charismatics seek more. The de-emphasis on Scripture results in chaotic church life, looking more like a roller coaster than a freight train.
That said, I will glorify God by struggling to rely on His Spirit for my sanctification, acknowledging my weakness and depending on Him. The ministry of His Spirit in me is obvious because of the work of sanctification He has done in me.
And my back STILL hurts!
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