Should we routinely be performing miracles today like Jesus did? Some “word of faith” (WOF) preachers claim that we should. Do they have a Scriptural basis for this? They cite:
· “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever [of you Apostles?] believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12; ESV)
Well, why aren’t we performing “greater works” today? The WOF preachers claim that we just don’t believe the promises of Jesus – a serious indictment.
However, there are many reasons to conclude that Jesus’ promise was only extended to His Apostles. Elsewhere, He promised that it was only the Apostles, those who had been with Him from the beginning, who would be supernaturally equipped by the Spirit to carry forth His Word:
· But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. (John 14:26)
“Bring all things to your remembrance” could only refer to those who had been with Him. Likewise, “teach you all things!” If this promise only has an application to the Apostles, Perhaps also John 14:12?
Paul too had been designated as an Apostle. How could the Church know this? Only through “signs and wonders”:
· For I was not at all inferior to these super-apostles, even though I am nothing. The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with utmost patience, with signs and wonders and mighty works. (2 Corinthians 12:11-12)
If all Christians were expected to produce signs and wonders, he would have had no way to prove to the Church that He had been called to be an Apostle. Instead, Paul had taught that not everyone was given a supernatural gift.
It was the Apostles alone who would perform “signs and wonders”:
· And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. (Acts 2:43; 4:33)
In this way, God had established the fact that the Apostles were His ordained ones to spread His teachings. Consequently, after the Apostles had heard that the Samaritans had come to faith, they sent Peter and John to lay hands for them to receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:14-15).
For the early church, there was no guess-work regarding who bore the Gospel of Jesus. Had all believers been performing miracles, there would have been lots of confusion:
· And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them. (Acts 19:11-12)
· So they remained for a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord, who bore witness to the word of his grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their [Barnabas and Paul] hands. (Acts 14:3)
· And when Peter saw it he addressed the people: “Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk? (Acts 3:12)
God sent miracles to prove that it was the Apostles who had been commissioned to carry His Word:
· Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. (1 Corinthians 2:12-13)
· For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will. (Hebrews 2:2-4)
· So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us [Apostles], either by our spoken word or by our letter. (2 Thessalonians 2:15)
· When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. (Ephesians 3:4-5; 2:19-20))
· And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers. (1 Thessalonians 2:13)
· For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience—by word and deed, by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God—so that from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum I have fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ; (Romans 15:18-19)
Against this WOF idea that we should all be performing miracles if we believe Jesus, it seems that instead, our Lord has purposed for us a miracle-lean diet. This leanness compels us to walk by faith instead of a constant flow of miracles:
· For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. (Romans 8:24-25)
· For we walk by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7)
Instead of relying upon a miracles-rich diet, our Lord wants us to live by faith, the unseen, and to even persevere in suffering:
· Always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. (2 Corinthians 4:10-11)
To walk in perpetual miraculous healings is not to “Always carry in the body the death of Jesus.” Perpetual miracles would make us spiritually lazy. We would not learn patience, faith, or how to meditate on the Word day and night.
I have attended numerous WOF churches without seeing the lame walk, the blind see, or the dead raised. Perhaps these are intended only as a rarity among us today.
I too do not want to miss anything my Savior might have for me. I also admit that I do not know what to pray for. However, He assures me that, even if I don’t, His Holy Spirit does, and He is intervening for us (Romans 8:26).