Thursday, July 12, 2012

Believing in Miracles: Part III; Why Miracles?

I am fairly addicted to and should have had this up sooner, but you know where I live and can come and check back every so often....

It's amazing to listen to Tozar, Wurmbrand, Wilkerson, Ravenhill, and many other Powerhouses for God. The site includes a discussion forum, and while I don't visit often, it's such a comfort to know that there are so many dedicated Christians in cyberland. Sometimes one can feel like Elijah (I Kings 19), sitting in a chair, feeling like a failure (forgetting great victories), saying, "God, no one cares that I'm here, I don't fit in anywhere, and there are no churches preaching Biblical Truths. I've given you my life and yet I feel hopeless." God told him that 7,000 godly people were scattered around, Elijah just hadn't met them. Disclaimer: Some contributors love their doctrine, and some are long-winded, but it's heartening to read about their passion for God.

Speaking about Elijah, who was foremost a prophet, we also know he performed amazing miracles prior to his time of depression and exhaustion mentioned above. Why does God allow miracles, first through the prophets, then through Christ and the apostles, and, finally, the body of Christ? Psalm 77:14 states that it is to display God's power among the people, and Psalm 106:7 equates them with God's kindness to His people. Jesus taught that miracles asked for in His name would be granted "so that the Son may bring glory to the Father" (John 14:13). Further, God authorized Christ to do miracles, wonders, and signs to prove Jesus, His Son, was accredited by God (Acts 2:22).

Hebrews 2:4 tells us that God uses miracles as a testament to His Salvation through Christ - according to His Will. Apparently, all sources of miracles begin with the Will of God. This can be confusing for Fellow Folders. Should I pray for Aunt Marge's healing, what if it's not God's will, even though He forgives all our sins and heals all our diseases" (Psalm 103:3)? I like the way S.D. Gordon views this conundrum, "Prayer surely does influence God. It does not influence His purpose. It does influence His action." I agree, and I think to help understand this we should turn to 2 Kings 20.

King Hezekiah was very ill, and the prophet, Isaiah, confirmed his death was imminent. Leaving the castle, God instructs Isaiah to turn back and heal Hezekiah. God had heard the King's cries, and decided to use Isaiah to heal him, adding another 15 years to a life that had been dedicated to restoring proper worship of the Lord throughout Judah. Was that God's will, or purpose? Yes, just unfolding differently. It was His will, and he used Hezekiah's developing pride and arrogance as a last straw that brought down judgment on his kingdom.  The miracle created a small butterfly effect for their world, but did not change God's long-term plans for Israel and the preparation of His Son's appearance. His extended life revealed pride and arrogance in Hezekiah's previously righteous heart. If Hezekiah had said, "Not my will but Thine but be done," and had died, I wonder what would have been different? II Chronicles 32:26 said he eventually did repent, which postponed the Babylonian invasion during Hezekiah's lifetime, and God's Will was still accomplished. Kind of heavy thinking for my soft gray matter.

Miracles are glorious and they are intended to increase our faith in God and Christ, not to dazzle us with the supernatural.  Jesus admonishes the people, "Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves" (John 14:11). The implication here is that God uses miracles for those weaker in faith, to testify on behalf of Christ and confirm His authority. Miracles are used to encourage new believers. In I Corinthians 12, Paul says spiritual gifts are used to contrast the mute pagan idols, that didn't do or say anything for their followers in response to their "worship." Remember the lather that Ahab and Jezebel's "priests" worked themselves into trying to incite the idol Baal to send down fire (I Kings 18)? Elijah taunted them, "Maybe he's out of town or taken a Tylenol PM - shout a little louder!"

Having mentioned the "will" conflict before,  I usually pray before I pray, because I only want God's best, the best for others, and don't want to interfere with God's Will. I have to be honest, I don't always "sense" God's will, so I will pray to the request but, in addition, that God's Will be done. Or, if I discern something about that particular person, I pray what I discern rather than the actual request. During the great tribulation, those gifted (the spirit of the Two Witnesses) will be doing miracles that we can't imagine! Revelations 11 speaks of them, but their end will be gruesome. Those miracles will be for the saints who are hanging on to their faith by a thread, perhaps hungry, sick, or persecuted. Hopefully, they will cause many to believe and turn to the Lord.

This is a rough sketch, but I'll summarize the "why" of miracles: They are to bring glory to the Father; God uses selected saints, filled with the Holy Spirit, in the name of Jesus, to perform miracles for the common good of believers (I Corinthians 12:7,11); to implement His Will (Hebrews 2:4); and as evidence so that all might believe. The bottom line is that if we are living in God's Will, living a repentant life (lest we, too, be deceived, Matthew 24:24), are gifted with miracles, we are to to represent Jesus here on earth by performing the same miracles, and in the future, greater miracles - remembering and trusting that God's plans and purpose will never change.

It's astounding how writers, Apologists, preachers, and teachers can complicate this topic. Working two jobs, and being a layman, I'm trying to keep it succinct, but in doing so, I know I'm missing examples. Please forgive me. Further, I have been perusing writing websites, and apologize for past, present, and future grammatical errors :).

Please pray and ask God to show you your gift(s). As the times continue to darken, we Fellow Folders need to be operating in the gifts - for each other and for the lost and dying world. There are pitfalls, but I will address them in the next installment.

Interesting sidebar: I sprained my wrist, pulled a ligament, and broke the surrounding blood vessels at work, so I had to leave and see a workman's comp doctor. My elbow hurts so bad that I wake up at night from the pain (that was an on-going work related injury that I had not reported for fear of losing my job). Interestingly, I've prayed for the elbow before and it never healed. I've been thinking about the many ways God's Will or purpose could play out by not healing the elbow immediately:
1. I go to work, with restrictions, while everything heals over time, irritating my coworkers because I can't lift.
2. They assign me to another task, realize that I have half a brain, and transfer me over to a better, more interesting job requiring less physical work.
3.  I am punished for reducing their annual bonuses and made to door greet eight hours a day (they receive substantial bonuses and injury $ is deducted from that pool). The managers have been a little cold the last few days. Hopefully, it's just a misperception. But, there are ways to drive an employee to quit.
4. The doctor says I can't lift for an extended period of time and I go on disability.
5. Another job opens up that doesn't cause permanent damage to my elbow or wrist. 
I trust God, He may have something planned that I haven't even thought of - let's see what happens!

PS: Still waiting to hear from that 11 year old's family.........

1 comment:

  1. I think your "rough sketch" paragraph is terrific. Certainly makes things a lot more clear, for me anyway.

    Bummer about your continuing job problems. I'll pray for your elbow.

    Thanks for taking the time to write this. Good stuff, as per usual.