Monday, October 16, 2023

Expecting Miracles (John 10)

“The works I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me” (John 10:25).

One of the most influential movements that has become deeply entrenched in evangelical churches is the charismatic movement. Many in this movement lay claim to miracles as if they were Gospel promises—if you have enough faith, God has promised that He will heal you of whatever disease or disability you have. Such an unbiblical doctrine is based on an erroneous understanding of miracles and their role in redemptive history.

Jesus healed people to reveal his power and authority as the Messiah. His miracles affirmed His message of redemption. Jesus gave this power to His disciples because they would teach others even as He had taught them. The authority they had to cast out demons and heal the lame and sick was given directly to them by Christ Himself.

When John was in Herod’s prison, he sent a message to Jesus asking Him whether or not He was the Messiah. Jesus told John’s messengers that the blind have received sight, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor (John 7:21–23). In a round about way, Jesus was saying, “Yes, I am the Messiah because I have the power to perform miracles and proclaim the Gospel, just as the prophets said I would.” The miracles of the New Testament served as signs and seals of the Gospel promise. Nowhere does God promise that those who have enough faith will be healed of all their diseases in this life. To believe such a thing is to twist Scripture. Miracles played a particular role in the historical unfolding of redemption. We no longer need a miraculous affirmation of Christ’s power and the truth of the Gospel message because we have the Holy Spirit who is the seal of the promise.

Is it, then, pointless to ask God to perform a miracle? Certainly not! God tells us in James to pray for the sick, to anoint their heads with oil. God heals people every day. But many sincere Christians remain sick and disabled because that is God’s will for their life. To say they remain sick because they have no faith is to put them in spiritual bondage. We can pray and hope for God’s healing mercies, but He has not promised to heal us in this life. Only in the life to come will we be truly free from all the infirmities of the flesh.

Read Acts 8:1–25. What was Philip’s goal in this passage, miracles or proclaiming the Gospel? What was Simon most interested in? What is the emphasis of Paul’s ministry, proclaiming the Gospel or performing miracles? How is Paul’s thorn in the flesh a proof that people of faith are not always healed? (2 Cor. 12:1–10).