First, let me say that I believe in the power of God and believe that God hears and answers prayer. I believe in the providence of God in blessing us with health as well as other blessings of life. I do not deny God's power to work miracles. The Bible is full of them from the beginning to the end. I believe God still has the power to work miracles. I do not deny that. Our study is not a question of God's power, rather it is a question of God's purpose for miracles in the early church and whether or not they accomplished the purpose God intended. When we have the answer to these two questions, we will understand why I do not believe in such things as divine healers of today, or those who claim any other miraculous gifts which existed in the early church, while the Word of God was being written and compiled by the direction of the Holy Spirit.
THE PURPOSE OF MIRACLES IN ALL DISPENSATIONS WAS TO CONFIRM THE WORD OF GOD. THE FOLLOWING PROVES AND ILLUSTRATES THIS FACT.
I. Miracles proved God's message to be divine in the Old Testament dispensation.
Exodus 4:8; here we find God speaking to Moses preparing him to go into Egypt to deliver the Israelites out of bondage. The first verse of this chapter states, "And Moses said, but behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The Lord hath not appeared unto thee." The next few verses shows how God was going to prove to the children of Israel that Moses was His messenger. Then, in verse eight God says, "And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe thee, neither hearken to the voice of the first sign, that they shall believe the voice of the latter sign." It is abundantly clear that God used miracles here to confirm the Words of Moses to the children of Israel to show them that he was sent of God to lead them out of bondage.
II. Exodus 14:31 shows that the miracles accomplished their purpose. It reads, "And Israel saw that great work (the miracles) which the Lord did upon the Egyptians: and the people feared the Lord, and believed the Lord, and his servant Moses." So in this instance we can see the purpose of the miracles and also see that they accomplished their purpose. Namely to confirm God's Word.
III. Christ declared that miracles were for this purpose.
Mark 2:10-11. In these verses Jesus says, "But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of palsy,) I say unto thee, arise, take up thy bed, and go thy way into thy house." Now why did Jesus perform this miracle? To prove to the people that He was the Son of God. He said He was and He confirmed it with miracles. When He first said to the man, "Son thy sins be forgiven thee," verse five, they began to reason that He was a blasphemer, and rightly so because who can forgive sins, but God only? So Jesus proved His divinity by working a miracle and proving Himself, or confirming Himself to be the Son of God. John 4:48, also tells the reason for these miracles. It reads, `Then said Jesus unto him, except ye see signs and wonders ye will not believe." Now why did Jesus say that? Simply because He knew that merely saying He was the Son of God would not prove to the people that He was. Anybody could claim that. But Jesus was not just anybody, hence He confirmed His words, by working a miracle. He healed the man's son and the miracle accomplished its purpose, verse 53.
John also stated this fact. In John 20:30-31, he states, , `And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book: but these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His name." Now John, why did you write these things into the Bible? So that we might believe Jesus to be the Son of God you say? But if Jesus was going to continue these miracles throughout the Gospel dispensation so that all men of all times could see them and believe on Him, why did you have to record them for us to read that we might believe in Him? It seems rather foolish of you to say that you wrote these things down for us to read so that we might believe, if we can still see the same things happening today and believe. Truly, it would have been foolish for John to say, "These are (written), recorded to establish faith, if indeed we can still SEE these signs today." So in this case also we can see the purpose of the miracles. It was to confirm unto us that Jesus was the Son of God, and thus establish our faith in Him. It has accomplished its purpose.
IV. Apostolic practice also bears this out.
Acts 3:43 states, "And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the Apostles." Jesus had beforetime told His Apostles that the things that at this very time was taking place among them, would take place. In Mark l6:15-20, Jesus said that signs shall follow them that believe; and verse 20 says, "they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and CONFIRMING THE WORD WITH SIGNS following." What was the purpose of the signs? To confirm the words of the Apostles. The miracles showed the people that the message these men were preaching was from God, that they were truly His messengers. Just as God worked with Moses in confirming His Word by miracles and delivering them from bondage, the Lord worked with the Apostles confirming their words by miracles, and thus delivering people from the bondage of sin. Miracles confirmed Moses' words, they confirmed Jesus' words, and they confirmed the Apostle's words. This takes in the whole scope of the Bible, friends.
After the Bible was written and confirmed, there was just nothing else left to confirm. God's word says that we believe through the Word, Rom. 10:17. So then "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Paul said that this word is confirmed. Hebrews 2:1-4; "Therefore, we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation: which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard Him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts according to his own will."
Paul said that we should give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard. Notice, he didn't say things which we have seen, or things which we might see. Paul knew the proper place and proper purpose of miracles. He applies their use in those very verses as that which was used to confirm the word of God. So we can see a two-fold purpose of miracles. First, they established belief in the hearers of the spoken word in those who spoke. Secondly, the miracles proved that the word spoken was of God.
Let me illustrate this with Bible facts. Moses said that the children of Israel would not believe him, when he said to them that he was sent of God. What did God do? He sent miracles to accompany Moses' message. Why? To cause the people to believe and to confirm the words spoken by Moses. Secondly, when God sent Jesus into the world, His only Son, miracles accompanied the Lord's words. Why? To establish faith in the people that He surely was the Son of God, and that His message was from heaven, hence confirmed. Thirdly, when Christ commissioned His Apostles to, "Go into all the world and preach the Gospel", the Lord worked with them confirming the word with signs. Mark 16:15-16. Why? To establish faith in the people that these men were sent of God, and that their message was God-given. Confirmed, if you please.
Now I want to ask a question here. Is the Bible confirmed? Hebrews 2:1-4. Is it forever established? Can a man take his Bible and read it and have faith established in his heart? Does the Bible give us all things that pertain unto life and godliness? Peter 1:3. Does not faith come by HEARING THE WORD OF GOD? Romans 10:17. If the answer to these questions is yes, and it is, then I don't have to see a miracle today, such as healings, tongue speakers, etc. to establish my faith in Jesus Christ. Healings are not the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God is, Eph. 6:17. Paul said, "If we, or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you than that which or have delivered, let him be accursed." Gal. 1:6-9. John said, "Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God, II John 9. He also said, "If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine receive him not into your house, neither bid him Godspeed; for he that biddeth him Godspeed is a partaker of his evil deeds." II John 10-11. Now with these facts in mind, let's put these so-called divine healers of today to a test and see if they are preaching the doctrine of Christ, or the doctrine of the Devil. If they are preaching a different message than that which the Lord and His Apostles taught, then certainly it isn't God who is working with them. God will not confirm a doctrine that contradicts the one he has already confirmed, namely the Gospel.
Do these healers preach the Bible plan of salvation? Do they preach a person must hear the word of God, believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, confess Him before men, and be baptized for the remission of their sins? Any honest and unprejudiced person will admit that they have never heard a single one of these healers tell people to do these things in order to be saved. They may ask them to do part of the things mentioned, but never all of them. They are not declaring the whole counsel of God as did the Apostle Paul, Acts 20:27. I've heard them and read their doctrines. I know what they teach. I know whereof I speak. You nor anybody else have ever heard them tell people to do all these things in order to be saved. So they fail test No 1.
Do these men and women teach that there is one church, or do they say, "attend the church of your choice?" The Bible says there is one body, the Church. Col. 1:18. The Bible says we are all to speak the same things and be united in the one faith, I Cor. 1:10. These men encourage denominationalism which consists of some three hundred bodies, all teaching different doctrines and not speaking the same things so they obviously fail miserably on this test also. Don't try and tell me they don't, I know what they teach.
Will these healers admit that the Bible gives us all things that pertain to life and Godliness, and that ALL TRUTH has been revealed unto us through the Apostles? No, many of them claim they are divinely inspired in their preaching and receive new revelations from the Holy Spirit. They deny the all-sufficiency of the holy Scriptures, thus making a lie out of many Bible passages such as II Tim. 3:16-17, I Cor. 4:6, II Pet. 1:3 and others. So they fail again in this test. You just can't teach something different from God's word and win.
No sect, or denomination claims greater or more miracles than the "Christian Scientists" and yet no devout, believing person would admit they get their power from God, for they deny the divinity of both Christ and the Holy Spirit as well as the personality of God. More than likely some of the healers think the Scientists are "fakers", but people who live in glass houses should never throw stones. Let me ask you, what's the difference in denying the divinity of Jesus, or the personality of God, and denying the Bible plan of salvation, or the One Church, or the all-sufficiency of the Bible? Don't both contradict God's holy word? When someone tells me of miracles, I am made to ask, "So what?" Does the fact of claimed miracles change what the Bible says? Then why let people "sweep us off our feet" with them? God will not work through anyone who teaches a doctrine different from the one he has revealed. I conclude, therefore, that these modern day healers are not God's teachers, but Satan's teachers.
Four Bible references reveal the practice of Satan's deceiving people with "lying wonders .
1. Satan makes his ministers appear as preachers of righteousness, and sends false apostles (II Cor. 11:13-15; Rev, 2:2).
2. Satan deceives people with "all power and signs and lying wonders" so that they lose their true love for the truth and believe "strong delusions" thus to be "damned" (II Thess. 2:9-12).
3. Satan is said to deceive people by the miracles he has power to perform, which are performed by Satan empowered servants (Rev. 13:13-14; Matt. 7:22-23; Matt. 24:24).
4. The Spirits of Satan, which are demons, actually perform miracles (Rev. 16:14). So I'm not surprised to see people being deceived by these so called divine healers. I'm sorry, but not surprised.
It's not that I deny the power of God, or that I don't have enough faith in Him. It's just that I realize the power of Satan and I refuse to be deceived by his lying wonders and ministers (healers). I have God's Word confirmed to me.
By Bill Wardlow
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