Miracles

October 23, 2013 (David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143, fbns@wayoflife.org)

One Year Discipleship Course
The following is excerpted from the ONE YEAR DISCIPLESHIP COURSE. This powerful new course features 52 lessons in Christian living. It can be broken up into sections and used as a new converts course, an advanced discipleship course, a Sunday School series, a Home Schooling or Bible Institute course, or preaching outlines. The lessons are thorough, meaty, and very practical. There is an extensive memory verse program built into the course, and each lesson features carefully designed review questions. Following are the lesson titles (some subjects feature multiple lessons): Repentance, Faith (for salvation), The Gospel, Baptism, Eternal Security, Position and Practice, The Law and the New Testament Christian, Christian Growth and Victory, Prayer, Faith (in Christian living), The Armor of God, The Church, The Bible, The Bible’s Proof, Daily Bible Study, Key Principles of Bible Interpretation, Foundational Bible Words, Knowing God's Will, Making Wise Decisions, Christ’s Great Commission, Suffering in the Christian Life, The Judgment Seat of Christ, Separation - Moral, Tests of Entertainment, Separation - Doctrinal, Fasting, Miracles, A Testing Mindset, Tongues Speaking, The Rapture, How to Be Wise with Your Money, The Believer and Drinking, Abortion, Evolution, Dressing for the Lord. 8.5X11, coated cover, spiral-bound The One Year Discipleship Course is also available as an e-book download from our online bookstore at www.wayoflife.org
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There is a lot of confusion today about the place of miracles in the Christian life and ministry. Is divine healing for today? Are there apostles and prophets today? We have dealt with these and many other issues extensively in the book The Pentecostal-Charismatic Movements, available from Way of Life Literature. We advise each student to read this book carefully.

In this present lesson we will consider some of the foundational teachings of Scripture that can help us understand these issues.

1. The miracles of Christ and the miracles of the apostles had a special, temporary purpose and are not models for the entire church age.

a. The miracles of Jesus were signs to prove that He was the Messiah (John 5:26; 10:25, 37-38; 14:11; 15:24; 20:30-31). These Scriptures leave no doubt as to the purpose of Christ’s miracles. Even the apostles could not do all of the amazing things that Jesus did (i.e., quieting storms and feeding the multitudes); and had they done so, the sign nature of Christ’s miracles would have been rendered ineffective.

What about John 14:12? This cannot mean that believers through the centuries would be able to do greater sign miracles than Jesus. That would be impossible. What could be greater than feeding multitudes, walking on the water, and raising the dead? Jesus did not say that the disciples would do greater miracles; He said they would do greater works. Though the word “works” is sometimes used to describe Jesus’ miracles, it is not limited to that. Whereas Jesus ministered only in Palestine and saw relatively few souls saved under His direct ministry, His disciples have ministered throughout the world and have seen multitudes of souls saved. Whereas Jesus wrote no books, the apostles completed the canon of Scripture. God’s people have enjoyed the power to live holy lives in the face of a godless generation, to withstand the most searing persecution, and to preach the gospel to the ends of the earth. God’s people have continued to experience miracles and have done great works, but they have not done the Messianic sign miracles.

b. The apostles did miracles to prove that they were apostles (Mark 3:14-15; 2 Corinthians 12:12). If we examine the book of Acts carefully, we will see that the miracles were done by the apostles. Examples can be found in Acts 2:43; 4:33; 5:12. The only exceptions were a few men closely associated with the apostles and upon whom the apostles had laid hands. The vast majority of believers in the early churches could not do the sign miracles. When Tabitha was sick, the believers at Joppa could not heal her, and when she died, they could not raise her from the dead. They had to call Peter, the apostle (Acts 9:36-41). If such miracles could be done indiscriminately by Christians in general, the sign of the apostle would be rendered ineffective. If I tell a stranger that is meeting me at the airport that I will be wearing a red hat when I come off of the plane, the red hat is the sign of recognition; but if other people on my flight disembark wearing red hats the sign is destroyed. There was no general miracle-working experience among the first churches. They were special signs for a special time.

2. God does not always heal, but He often does heal in answer to prayer.

a. The New Testament gives the following three examples that conclusively prove that God does not always heal the believer’s sicknesses.

(1) The case of Timothy (1 Timothy 5:23). Timothy was sick frequently, and the apostle Paul instructed him to use a little wine for his stomach’s sake and his “often infirmities.” God did not heal Timothy supernaturally from his sickness nor did he instruct Timothy to curse his illnesses or to exercise “the word of faith” over them.

(2) The case of Trophimus (2 Timothy 4:20). Paul had to leave Trophimus behind in Miletum sick. He was not supernaturally healed.

(3)
The case of Paul (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). Three times Paul asked God to take away this problem, but the Bible says God refused to do so. Paul was told that this infirmity was something God wanted him to bear for his spiritual well being. Upon learning this, Paul bowed to God’s will and wisely said: “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Cor. 12:10). This is a perfect example for Christians today. We should pray for healing and release from trials and difficulties, but when God does not heal, we must bow to His will and accept that sickness or trial as something from the divine hand. This is not lack of faith; it is submission to the sovereignty of Almighty God. Some Pentecostals have argued that Paul’s infirmity was not a sickness, but the Greek word translated “infirmity” in 2 Corinthians 12:9 (astheneia) is elsewhere translated “sickness” (Mat. 8:17; Jn. 11:4) and “disease” (Acts 28:9).

b. God heals today after the pattern of James 5:13-15. This passage describes a private healing situation rather than a public healing meeting, and it says nothing about someone who has “the gift of healing.” It refers simply to the elders of the church who anoint the sick person and pray over him.

c. Romans 8:22-25 reminds us that we will not receive our glorified state until Christ returns. Until then, we are subject to the trouble, suffering, and death of this sin-cursed world, and that includes sickness.

3. Jesus warned against seeking miracles (Matthew 12:38-39). This passage is a loud rebuke of the modern Pentecostal-Charismatic movements.

4. The Bible warns about false signs and wonders at the end of the church age (Matthew 24:24). Jesus warned that one of the characteristics of the end of the age would be “great signs and wonders” performed by false prophets. Therefore, it is obvious that just because someone is doing miracles does not mean that they are of God. They might be of the devil! The only way that we can tell the difference is by testing the teaching by the Bible. We must “prove all things” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). We must be like the Bereans who “searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11). Only in this way can we protect ourselves from the wiles of the devil.
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David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143, fbns@wayoflife.org

Distributed by Way of Life Literature Inc.’s Fundamental Baptist Information Service, an e-mail listing for Fundamental Baptists and other fundamentalist, Bible-believing Christians. Established in 1974, Way of Life Literature is a fundamental Baptist preaching and publishing ministry based in Bethel Baptist Church, London, Ontario, of which Wilbert Unger is the founding Pastor. Brother Cloud lives in South Asia where he has been a church planting missionary since 1979. OUR GOAL IN THIS PARTICULAR ASPECT OF OUR MINISTRY IS NOT DEVOTIONAL BUT IS TO PROVIDE INFORMATION TO ASSIST PREACHERS IN THE PROTECTION OF THE CHURCHES IN THIS APOSTATE HOUR.

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copyright 2013 - Way of Life Literature

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