Wednesday, May 18, 2011

All That They Need Is A Miracle

I am a big time believer in God glorifying himself through powerful miracles, signs and wonders. I believe it is meant as much for today as it was during the time of Acts. I take Jesus at his word when he said we would do greater things than he did and I am not about to excuse the lack of miracles by claiming they were given for a specific time. The lack of miracles is due to my lack of faith, but I am changing that. Some of you know that I am pushing my spirit, mind and body to live within the zone of  "Jesus said it. I believe it. I live it." Either we accept all of Jesus' teachings or we accept none of them. It is not a supermarket where we get to pick and choose.

There is a reason Jesus left so the Father could send the Holy Spirit. Why do we think we are possessed by the Holy Spirit? When Jesus came to us he set aside his divinity and operated by the Holy Spirit, not because he had to but to set an example for us. He was the prototype. What he did was done through the Holy Spirit and then he sent us the Holy Spirit so we could so the same things and more. Some people don't want to accept this. Perhaps it's because they are afraid that it will show that their faith isn't real. Some use the excuse that it requires faith and miracles rob people of faith. Let's be clear on this, even if people see the miracle, even if it happens to them, it does not mean they will believe. Listen to Jesus:

If I had not done among them what no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen these miracles, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’" (John 15:24-25)

Miracles mean nothing to a heart that is hardened, but it is God giving them an opportunity to believe. Look at all the things that Jesus did, that were spread far and wide. He had huge crowds following him. As soon as he healed the first person that person began to spread the news and Jesus was pursued by thousands of people wanting a miracle and wanting to see a miracle. Yet, they still crucified him. However, there were those who saw and put their faith in him and its for these people that these miracles are important.

Every opportunity you have to pray with someone is an opportunity for God to reveal himself. Don't be afraid of the big ones. Don't be afraid of praying for healing from deadly diseases. God promised healing, Jesus demonstrated that healing, and then he told us to do the same thing. Sight for the blind, restoration for the lame, diseases and demons put to flight, all so God can be glorified. These things are not happening today, and it's because we don't believe, we have been robbed of our faith. For too long the Church has been divided on this issue and it is like we are afraid to disprove God's existence. It is like we treat our faith in God and his promises like a china bowl, fragile and breakable if we do not handle it carefully. I look at Jesus' life and I do not see a man who handled faith like a china bowl. It was a relationship and a tool, something he used with great strength, like a hammer. I don't think we handle a hammer as if it is fragile.

To see miracles flowing from the Church again we need some changes in our understanding and attitude. We must believe:

     1. Jesus said it so it must be.
     2. He did what he did by the Holy Spirit.
     3. He sent the Holy Spirit so we would do the same powerful things.
     4. He said we would do greater things than he did.
     5. That God's purpose for this is to reveal his glory, that those who choose to believe will be saved.
     6. That we are possessed by the Holy Spirit, who is filling us with the resurrection power and giving us access to the divine nature.
     7. It is God's will for Jesus to be revealed through his character in us and by his power through us.

The fact that there are not more miracles is not God's fault but ours. The fact that there are more atheists than before is not God's fault but ours. The fact that the Church has become an academic institution instead of a power house of God's glory is not God's fault but ours. Jesus pondered if he would find faith on this earth on his return and now we can understand why. Just as we trust Jesus for our salvation we need to trust him when he said that the Father will give us whatever we ask. Start asking for those miracles, and believe. To God be the glory.

11 comments:

rafdevis said...

Hi Pastor Paul,
I wanted to get back to you on the previous blogpost where we discussed but I see you‘re attacking the same subject here again.
You remember the ‘wager‘ we had about you praying for my mom‘s thyroid being healed? Nothing has happened so far, she‘s still not well. I‘m what you‘d call an ‘atheist‘ but I was actually hoping for what you promised to be true. You said she‘d be healed instantly?
What would your explanation be for this not happening?
All the best,

Pastor Paul said...

Thank you for staying in touch. It is true that I asked for instant healing. Obviously that is not happening. So All I can do is ask you to be a bit patient. The healing is being worked out. Many prayers have been answered in the past two weeks, I am certain this one has been as well.

rafdevis said...

Ok, will do. Must be said, I'm amazed by your faith although I'm not sure if it's something to admire.

What will you do if nothing happens, if my mom doesn't get well? Will it shake your faith? Just a little?

I'm sure that if something did happen, you'd see it as proof of God's existence. Will you believe the opposite if nothing happens?

Pastor Paul said...

My friend, this is for your benefit not mine and I am not here to defend Jesus. I am simply acting on his promises. I have seen more than a lifetime's worth of "proof" of God's existence. I am feeling really bad though that your experience has been limited to the point of unbelief. I am feeling bad for the suffering your family has faced. I am longing for this for all of you, that it would be a source of strengthening of your faith. As for me, I have faced many things that only increased by belief and faith. I will always remain with Jesus.

rafdevis said...

So then what DID we learn from this experiment? Nothing at all?

I don't understand. You preach miracles and say they will certainly happen, but when they don‘t then that‘s just it?

This is, weird enough, what happens time and time again. You can preach about miracles to convince atheists but when we answer this call we‘re not allowed to prove a point?

I understand as a pastor you mean well but isn‘t it rather dishonest you try to convince nonbelievers (I think my proposal was fair?) but aren‘t willing to face outcomes which disprove your point?

It‘s a dangerous thing, making claims about supernatural things. These people found out the hard way recently: http://m.npr.org/story/136560695?url=/2011/05/23/136560695/doomsday-believers-cope-with-an-intact-world

I understand you have good intentions. But wanting the best for people does not equal speaking the truth?

Pastor Paul said...

I haven't given up. I stand by God's promises. I asked for instant healing but that doesn't mean your mother is not being healed even as we type. Jesus used all kinds of different methods to heal. I wish I was closer to pray with her in person.

You can't seriously expect me to abandon my faith which has been proven worth more than gold. Maybe this healing has been delayed but I have scores of others that I have been involved in and have witnessed. There have been so many things that have happened to strengthen my faith I could write a few books. But my faith is not my concern here. My desire is for God to respond in such a way that you know he is real and then you are left with a choice.

Even with a miracle it will still come down your faith, whether you can submit yourself to Jesus.

As for the happenings of this past weekend, that pastor was mistaken to go against the Word of God. We are told clearly that there will be no warning, that the day and time remain hidden from us and we will only know when it actually happens. What I have proposed to you is directly from the Word and I stand by it. Your mother will be healed.

If he does it today or a month from now, will that affect the fact that God did it?

rafdevis said...

I'm definitely not saying you should abandon your faith. But I do wonder why it doesn't make you reconsider certain aspects of your belief which don't seem to add up.

If it actually did happen (the healing) it would no longer be a matter of faith. It would be confrontation with a reality which would force me to reconsider my beliefs, or lack thereof. Just like denying gravity will lead to gravity making itself known to me when my head hits the floor. As soon as there is proof, faith becomes obsolete because you finally have good reason to say things are a certain way. The beauty of truth is that it reveals itself without leaving us much choice. Faith then becomes either a lazy attitude or ignorance.

If the healing does happen in a month or a year, that would be troublesome. We tried to set the boundaries of the experiment in a way as to not being able to explain it away. Not respecting these boundaries opens it up to many an explanation. Who says it aren't my muslim neighbours whoms prayers have been effective (no worries, they're not involved here) or, as I said, some very natural cause of healing which happens once every while?

rafdevis said...

I'm definitely not saying you should abandon your faith. But I do wonder why it doesn't make you reconsider certain aspects of your belief which don't seem to add up.

If it actually did happen (the healing) it would no longer be a matter of faith. It would be confrontation with a reality which would force me to reconsider my beliefs, or lack thereof. Just like denying gravity will lead to gravity making itself known to me when my head hits the floor. As soon as there is proof, faith becomes obsolete because you finally have good reason to say things are a certain way. The beauty of truth is that it reveals itself without leaving us much choice. Faith then becomes either a lazy attitude or ignorance.

If the healing does happen in a month or a year, that would be troublesome. We tried to set the boundaries of the experiment in a way as to not being able to explain it away. Not respecting these boundaries opens it up to many an explanation. Who says it aren't my muslim neighbours whoms prayers have been effective (no worries, they're not involved here) or, as I said, some very natural cause of healing which happens once every while?

Pastor Paul said...

But you are using faith in the wrong context. There is a difference between belief and faith. You could believe in God, in his existence, without having faith in his character and his promises. Faith is along the lines of trust; "God said it so I believe it" is a powerful faith, placing expectation on God to keep his Word.

Jesus said that when we ask, with no doubt in our heart (so no distrust) that what we ask for will be given to us. However, he did not say when and in what form. I have asked for instant healing because when Jesus healed it happened immediately. That is my expectation. However, I have seen healing happen right in front of me, I have seen healing take 24 hours, I have seen healing take a few months and I have seen healing happen after several years. I cannot explain God's timing and neither is he a performing monkey. Sometimes there are things going on that we are not aware of that delays the healing for a time. I am not making excuses because God does not need me to defend him, I am only sharing my experience.

rafdevis said...

Ok then. Seems like giving proof to atheists is going be a hard thing to do then. So what about your previous post ‘What to do about atheists ...‘ ? Do you agree that was rather a cocky thing to say?

There is absolutely no way to give proof for your God. The same arguments (‘but I‘ve seen stuff happen‘) might be enough for someone who really wants to believe it‘s true. But the social sciences have shown time and time again how easily those people fol themselves. Core to every religion and superstition.

And don‘t say I don‘t want to believe because anyone who is presented with evidence which leaves no doubt about God‘s existence will believe, or rather ‘know‘.

Your religion is ok with a God who does thins which could have a thousand other explanations.

Question: do you encourage your congregation to actively search for other answers or explanations? Do you teach them to not believe everything your religion has been teaching for centuries at first sight? Do you tell them disyrust first instincts so as not to fool themselves? What actions do you take to make sure they‘re nost following sheep but also stubborn and critical donkeys?

Pastor Paul said...

I do not believe I was cocky at all but instead trying to encourage followers of Jesus to get back to the practical practice of our faith. I have not given up on this and nor will I because I believe God loves you enough to make himself known to you.

I am not trying to give you proof of God's existence but instead I am doing what the earlier Christians did and am asking Jesus to glorify himself through this. Once he has the burden of to accept him or reject him is up to you.

I would never say you don't want to believe. Why would I say such a thing. You have shown only the opposite, that you would like to believe but you feel circumstances in your life have proven more the non-existence than the existence of God. I also believe God desires to make himself known to you.

If you read many of my blogs you will know that I challenge all believers to have a real testimony of their own, not to live off of someone else's experience or faith, including their parents. It is not worth anything unless a person has an authentic relationship with Jesus Christ.

I thank you for your advice but I am afraid that you have a misguided notion of the Body of Christ and leadership within her. The people of which I give guidance are not dedicated to my leadership but to Jesus Christ. I am not the head but only one of the servants. I teach, I guide, I council, I help organize things but people are responsible for their own decision making and for discovering the truth through their own studies and prayer. Pastors and elders are not the head of the Church, Jesus is.

I continue to pray for your mother's healing and for your salvation but I am not responsible for either; Jesus is.