Where Do We Get Our Miracles From?

Wazza said:

Can God raise people from dead and perform other miracle today? Yes, I believe so. Why do so many of these miracles happen in remote parts of third-world countries? Is it because of the faith or need of the people, or is it because many claims are un-verifiable in these areas and stories spread among small groups – Chinese whispers?

On this blog in a different context a Pastor once admitted that he had stretched the truth a little, but said he was only doing it to encourage other Pastors in the difficult work of evangelising. In the Chinese environment where there is a lot of zeal but also a lot of persecution could it be that these stories arise more often? Isnt it likely that “heroes of the faith” type stories would occur? In a close house-church environment could it also be that the stories get repeated so much that even the subject of them begins to believe them?

Then there is the interaction with Churches in the West. Why do we love these stories of persecution and miracles so much? Are we outsourcing both the miracles and the persecution we expect should come with faith – to the believers in China in the same way we outsource manufacturing and IT work?

– From this recent thread

I think there are many worthwhile questions in there to discuss. Plus: Do we believe in miracles today? Do we need miracles for our faith to survive? Can we tell where they are from, or if they are real?

********************
RavingPente


61 thoughts on “Where Do We Get Our Miracles From?

  1. BTW – personally, I do believe in miracles today. Since I believe in the God of the Bible, who is unchanging and eternal, I see no reason not to. On the other hand, I have no need to see those miracles myself, in order to have faith.

    Even those who saw Jesus perform miracles did not always choose to believe and follow Him.

    The issue of which miracles are real, and where they are from, is one that I do think faces us, particularly when at times ‘miracles’ are presented as a show.

    God’s miracles in Brother Yun’s case in China were miracles of provision, rather than show. While none of us were there to verify anything, the context was one of need, and the Bible has promised that God will provide for our needs – and particularly if there is a certain plan that needs to unfold in our lives which has been frustrated by opposition. He is controversial, but is accepted by many due to his character evidenced by what people know of his life and the nature of his gospel preaching.

    We all know of other preachers who promise miracles to their audience, frequently in response to the audience giving money, and who live luxurious lifestyles in direct contrast to those they say they serve – funded by the donations from their shows. People though are drawn to these shows, desperate sometimes for their own personal miracle, and very vulnerable as a result.

    In the third world, there will be even greater amounts of desperation for potential exploitation. On the other hand, there may be greater faith if their lives are less complicated by Western attitudes to the physical and spiritual world.

    My own feeling is that we saw miracles in the Bible to testify that Jesus is the Son of God, and frequently to illustrate the teaching he was giving. There will be times when He is preached that miracles will accompany this, probably particularly in unreached peoples. There will also be at times miracles of God’s love or mercy that we may see in our own lives or the lives of people we know.

    I think at times we long to see miracles because we want tangible proof of our faith, and in a way its a substitute for the kinds of discipline that build our faith which take some effort on our part – such as spending time studying the Word, or praying.

    Stories from the third world can be a kind of outsourcing of this, as wazza suggests. Outsourcing things means that someone else provides the opportunity and effort; we just pay for and consume the result. However, there will be no fruit in our lives from third hand miracles.

    It is possible that when we do spend more time building our relationship with God, we will become more aware of the daily miracles (not always as spectacular) that He brings about around us. And we may well find that we have the faith for a miracle of provision when circumstances require. Or the faith to walk with Him when we have to go through something painful rather than receive a miracle.

  2. interesting topic btw. I have witnessed things that can’t be explained, big and little, and although Ive never seen someone brought back from the dead I believe God does work in mysterious ways and I always pray for people who are sick, even though they don’t pull through, Im not taking any chances

  3. The problem with miracles is that when they happen, they appear so normally that their is nothing really sensational about them.

    The special effects come later from the excitement from word of mouth.

  4. THe simple answer tot he question is yes.

    However, my faith in the all sufficiency of the Father’s plan, the redeeming power of Jesus, and the ongoing work and witness of the Holy Spirit is not dependent on them.

  5. “Miracles are by definition anything that occurs that seems to defy the natural order of things – that defy principles of nature.”

    If someone you didn’t know came up to you and prophesied or gave a word of knowledge to you, would you say that would be a miracle Greg?

  6. Also. In examining the miracles from Lakeland and the weird manifestations and other odd paraphernalia, the miraculous can come from other sources too.

    Some miracles, signs and wonders are the power from Satan too. Miracles that are linked to soul power, I have found, are often associated with magic’s and the demonic.

    So I would say we get ‘miracles’ from three sources:

    God – genuine miracles that glorify Jesus.
    Satan – counterfeit miracles that blaspheme God.
    Man* – soul power, miracles that glorify man.

  7. It’s good to define what we mean, otherwise we use the same terms but may not even realise where we agree or disagree.

    I enjoyed and had a laugh at Greg’s list of what he does not consider a miracle. I think its a fair list, especially for the purpose of this conversation. I’m happy to put some things into the basket titled ‘God’s provision’ and sometimes coincidence – jobs, car spaces, food on the table, money in the mail etc, though its true that sometimes people call these things miracles. Sometimes the provision may seem more ‘miraculous’ than at other times. Many times, these things seem to be answers to prayer; other times they are providence and we haven’t even known to pray about them. They are definitely things to be thankful for on a daily basis. (I had ‘miracle’ car spot just the other day, when I really needed one – I was indeed praying and was very grateful. I think we’ve all done that!)

    It raises another issue, maybe for another thread – as Christians, do we believe in co-incidence. There could be a wide range of views on that one.

    So narrowing the discussion to where the apparently impossible occurs – then the question again – do we believe in miracles?

    Greg’s answer is honest and considered:

    I do not believe that miracles occur today. That is not to say that I don;t believe they could…just that they don’t.

    – Greg

    Do you have a theological basis Greg for believing that miracles of the impossible variety don’t happen today, or is it based on your experience?

    My own view, is that we do have miracles occuring sometimes today, but likely not nearly as many as are claimed, especially if we take stories of God’s provision or possible co-incidences out of the category. I see nothing in the Bible to negate miracles occuring today, and more that suggests we should sometimes expect to see God’s supernatural work amongst us – I believe in an unchanging God, who did miracles back then, and is the same now.

    However, I can’t think of any verifiable miracles that I’ve seen with my own eyes of this nature. There have been lots of answered prayer and people working through impossible looking cirumstances, but no-one risen from the dead, re-growing limbs or multiplying loaves of bread etc.

    I have heard the occasional story of miraculous healings, where I have known family members first hand. These are rare; didn’t take place in a church context, and I can’t post up any proof! Suffice to say that sometimes you accept the miracle when you know the person it relates to first hand. Particularly when you know that an entire family gave their lives to Christ as a result!

    When we do hear of an otherwise impossible miracle, you really do need to know the people involved – if its third hand, it becomes impossible to verify. Plus there have been so many claimed miracles with all these show ministries, and none seem to be proven, though plenty seem to be false if people go back in a few months time – its no wonder people are instantly dismissive much of the time.

    BTW – I am excluding words of knowledge or prophecy from my own ‘miracle’ definition – instances of discernment or hearing the Holy Spirit are not quite the same thing, to my mind. Though I have an interesting (to me) personal example of that from quite early in my time in the Pentecostal church, I don’t think of these things as miracles. I’m still interested in hearing Greg’s answer to S&P’s question there.

  8. Re ‘soul power’ – I may think differently about this from you, S&P, but when you say this, I think of all the manifestations in meetings that can be a result of suggestion. Suggestion can be very powerful, and some people are very skilled in the techniques. I think that some people probably carry out those techniques without realising it; a master however probably consciously knows what he is doing. I think some of the techniques used for meetings are really enhancing the suggestibility of the crowd, and these techniques are taught to people, but not under that name. I think I’ve responded to suggestion sometimes myself. Anyway, this is what I think of when you mention ‘soul-power’, because these are techniques relating to manipulating people’s minds and emotions to achieve a desired result. Seminars that are not Christian also use these techniques, deliberately. NLP events, events to help people achieve all kinds of break throughs, and so forth.

  9. Your idea RP of soulpower, I would place that under pop-psychology. Soulpower could be classed assuch, but

    I mean the more blatant use of soulpower that borders on miraculous power of the soul moving in forbidden magic arts. Certain martial arts seemed to master the arts of soulpower quite profoundly. I’ve heard quite a few people accuse Chris Pringle of moving in such power. Benny Hinn would be one who supposedly does so.

    The difference is soulpower is human power – therefore miraculous in what it can actually accomplish and easily mimic the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit. My only way of discerning when someone operates under it is how they present themselves or content. If they speak more on themselves rather than the gospel, or if I feel the person’s presence to be more dominant or sense a great insecurity in their ministering, I would say that they are more relying on their soulpower to deliver the ‘miraculous’ then on God’s Holy Spirit.

    Maybe their should be another thread on this rather then de-rail Greg’s. However, I still see this linked.

  10. I do believe in the miraculous. And as much as I throw the word ‘coincidence’ around, I always associate that to God’s Spirit and divine hand on situations.

    Prov 16:33 Man may throw the dice, but the Lord determines how they fall.

  11. That’s interesting, S&P. So we are talking about two different things. However, I’d say that the use of some NLP techniques, suggestion and mentalism is something that is quite effective in some crowds, so its not so much ‘pop-psychology’ as a bunch of proven, demonstrable techniques. Sales people get taught some of this stuff. I think some churches make free use of the same at times. In any case, its not miraculous, but it affects how people experience things.

  12. I think in Pentecostalism, in advertising a movement or mere excitement for one’s love for their movement or church, miracles are made up or exaggerated.

    When I’ve seen the miraculous, I too have found myself in my excitement, go overboard in my exaggeration. This is a fault I’ve been working on. I am now quick to make a joke about the exaggerations I just made.

    In the realm of adverting, I think this has been a key problem in escalating the claims of ‘miracles’. When we see funky halo’s, or golden powers shooting out of Harry Potter’s wand to reveal a glory of some sort, this imagery is something that we are desiring as a Christian movement.

    I’ve studied advertising and the powers it plays on human sub-conscious. This continual display of visible glories in cinema, I believe, has pumped into our Christian mindsets that if any Christian ministry has these visible glories in their ministries, they are being completely relevant.

    Lakeland was a classic example of this. God was so moving ‘now’ that all these amazing physical manifestations were happening. Experiences were supposedly occurring, because people wanted them too.
    Thus portals, angels, angel feathers, fires, orbs, gold dusts, gemstones were occurring.

    If this is what people want, God will hand them over to those things that are not him.

    Advertising/Cinema… People’s desires… God’s hand in allowing delusions to happen because people don’t want him…

  13. Greg said:
    “As far as I’m concerned words of prophecy and knowledge are not miracles…they do not defy the laws of nature”

    Agreed … these do not defy the laws of Physics. Walking on water does.

    I know a chap who went to a conference … and saw with his own eyes someone’s tumor shrink (it was on her neck!) while they were praying for her (a friend) in a small circle. (people were encouraged to pray for one another) She’s been in remission ever since … more than ten years. On top of that, he is in the medical profession himself!

    It was at a Vineyard conference … oh how the mighty are fallen!

    Shalom

  14. S&P do you have biblical references to soul power? In the absence of biblical references is there another compelling reason to suggest there is such a thing?

    It is simpler and in my opinion more accurate to attribute miracles performed by people to the enemy, especially if they glorify man. Occam’s razor (that the simplest of the possibilities is the correct one) would point in this direction.

  15. Bull, that’s a good example of where you know the witness first hand, so you can yourself be comfortable with the account of the miracle, particularly knowing the witness’s profession. Whereas someone else hearing it from you might not be as convinced, unless they were given before and after x-rays or something.

    It’s also a good example of miracles that happen when ordinary believers are praying for one another, rather than a big stage show.

    It’s interesting you mention Vineyard on this thread. Wimber felt that evangelism was ineffective without signs and wonders. I read his book, ‘Power Evangelism’ when I was younger. He and others who share his view would say that miracles are what we should expect when preaching the gospel, particularly in places where the gospel hasn’t really penetrated yet. So many people used to go in teams to less developed nations to preach, and would come back with stories of various types of miracle. But here in Australia, we didn’t see the same thing. People always used to theorise about why that was. Often the conclusion was that these people had more faith than we do, because miracles require faith, and our faith has been dulled by our exposure to scientific method.

    As a physicist, your views on this are interesting, Bull. I’ve know a couple of other physicists who have been Christian, one of whom was Pente. Don’t know where he is now.

    YUK! A Christmas beetle just flew into my top!!!

  16. I’m being attacked by bugs! I’m not wearing a white top next to a bright computer screen in a dim room at this time of year again!!!

  17. Why do we love these stories of persecution and miracles so much? Are we outsourcing both the miracles and the persecution we expect should come with faith – to the believers in China in the same way we outsource manufacturing and IT work?

    – Wazza

    A really good perspective Wazza. Are we outsourcing our faith. I feel strongly that we often are. But I don’t think our reaction to Brother Yuen is an outsourcing reaction. I think it is the fascination of looking at something that is real.

    We know we have it easy. We are divided by sects and have a suspicion that we are not winning in the west because the church is a minority. As Greg points out we don’t see much in the way of miracles that might prove to others that we are right after all and Father is on our side.

    But there are other Christians in the world who are living the new testament growth and the persecution that accompanied it then. I for one am appalled at the prospect of the same kind of persecution happening to me and mine and hope that if it does I will not give up my faith to save my life and I certainly don’t want to have to make that decision about others.

    I suggest the church in China is persecuted because it is too big to be ignored – it has an effect that must be resisted by the authorities. The persecution is a sign of success. A bit like the Ephesian church being persecuted when sales of idols went bad.

    It fascinates because of this success and because we lack this kind of success here. I think we have other kinds of success here.

    As RP said the miracles are Father meeting the needs of his people. How do you meet when you cannot communicate with other believers?

    As the book indicates you do as the spirit urges and see what happens. In the book they meet like this. People do as led and they end up meeting in groups sometimes. Not a miracle by Greg’s definition but one by mine.

    The provision comes when we rely on Father to provide it. RP and I have found this over and over. Our friends have told us such things are coincidences and not Father’s provision. Are they coincidences or miracles? As Brother Yuen says it does not matter. What matters is that Father provides when we rely on him in whatever way he wants. Fine by me 🙂

  18. “S&P do you have biblical references to soul power?”

    I’ve seen it and heard of victim’s testimonies who were under it. When I led someone to the Lord last year, they were freed from it’s curse.

    It’s very much the ‘flesh’. The power of the dead man, or what I would call the ‘strong man’. It can be habitual or a true form of ritual. It is the fallen man’s power that tries to make man a god without God.

    I’ve never really examined it extensively in light of scripture, but that is what comes to mind.

  19. My wife suffered a bad back and neck for years getting to the point where it was becoming increasingly incapacitating. Had elders pray for her etc.

    Finally asked a friend to pray for her who seemed to have that gift of prayer. He felt as independently as though he it was right to pray for her by the Spirit and so agreed.

    He laid hands on her and asked a few questions about some specific pains she was having and together realised that some pains were as a result of a curse placed on her at at specific time. Our friend asked the Spirit to release my wife from this pain, which He did – my wife got her first decent nights sleep for years.

    My wife had some other pain to which our friends response was: this is from natural wear and tear – old age – I cant do anything about that.

    While I agree we need to be careful about what we classify as a miracle, we don’t need someone else’s validation or OK to know what was from God.

    As for: “As far as I’m concerned words of prophecy and knowledge are not miracles…they do not defy the laws of nature”

    What an unmitigated cop-out.

    Getting a message from some via radio doesn’t break the law of physics – getting a word from a spiritual being outside the realm of the material universe does.

    Who do you think you are kidding here?

    These are spiritual manifestations of something we can’t see, touch, smell, taste or feel and yet we put our lives on the line if we believe them and go with them.

    Hair splitting.

  20. MN, agree with you too.

    😉

    Prophecy/Words of Knowledge don’t defy the Laws of Physics. AT least I don’t think so.

    Man hasn’t defined the ultimate universal law yet.

    However, they are signs of God at work through his children.

    Shalom

  21. Great to hear about that prayer for your wife, MN. No, of course you don’t need validation when you are actually there and you’ve known the person’s situation for years. I’m just talking about when you hear a miracle third hand – its harder not to introduce doubt in that situation. But I think that even if someone were to produce X-rays, many people would doubt if they hadn’t also known the people involved first hand.

    I guess I don’t think of prophecy and words of knowledge in the same category as physical miracles. But I’m not trying to say they aren’t miracles – just that they are in a different realm where physical matter isn’t altered.

    My experience I referred to earlier was one where I knew something from the Spirit that I couldn’t possibly have known otherwise in advance. I might have shared it here before. I was collecting something for my uni work from a room that I’d never visited before. A perfectly ordinary day and place. I stood outside the door, and felt _something_ just come and whack me in the stomach, like a basketball. The only way to describe this is to say that when it hit me, the Spirit in me _knew_ its nature. It was demonic; it went straight through or past me. It was a ball of absolute filth. The impact was close to physical. I took a few moments to recover. I felt perfectly safe though, not frightened, because the Holy Spirit was clearly with me. I wondered what was in the room to cause it – knew it was something related to the demonic. Knocked on the door – had to get what I came for. Someone inside opened it; the room inside was dark, there was a row of candles in little glass containers on a desk inside; they were conducting some kind of dark spiritual activity. I asked for and collected my item, ignoring what they were doing, and left. Some weeks or months later, I found out that at least one of those people practiced wicka. I guess she stuck in my memory and the pieces made sense when I found that out.

    Anyway, no one was with me. This was a purely personal experience. It was supernatural, but can’t be verified, and no physical laws were broken. It was purely a type of unprompted recognition or discernment, prior to physically seeing a situation. People who don’t know me might well think I imagined it. But for me, this was very real.

  22. “It is not a miracle when a drug addict finds Jesus and turns their life around;”

    I would say if that the Holy Spirit re-birthed this man and he found that in his new nature, he didn’t like taking drugs anymore, that is truly miraculous. Those kind of radical transformations usually convict people that there is a God.

    I’m curious to know Greg again further what a miracle is in your own definition. You said prophesy wasn’t, but having MN having an invisible curse being broken would be a miracle? The fact that RavingPente was protected and assured rather then left for cat food by a demon, I would say would be miraculous intervention.

    I suppose my encounter with the demonic or taking God’s advice at odd times, has let me see Him as Salvation and Wisdom accomplishing amazing things.

    I think it’s worth saying again.

    “The problem with miracles is that when they happen, they appear so normally that their is nothing really sensational about them.”

    Last year I was constantly in an environment with others where the miraculous were so common and not covered with special effects that we would not batter an eyelid. Missionaries were the same. No hype or exaggeration.

    I think miracles are given to those who are desperate seeking for God to intervene. And those miracles are seen in the eye of the beholder. At all cost they must be tested. 🙂

  23. “As far as I’m concerned words of prophecy and knowledge are not miracles…they do not defy the laws of nature.”

    Hmm… Interesting.
    Often I’ve found that obeying such words of knowledge have prevented myself and others harm, unnecessary pain and burden.

    I remember a prophecy being spoken over me 2002. I’m still seeing it unfold before my eyes and it is beautifully unsettling. So to are my family who were there and also got prophesied over back then.

  24. I would probably disagree with you Greg with what I quoted you on. It is indeed divine intervention, so on that we might err.

  25. Are we arbitrarily trying to cut bits out of and truncate the spectrum?

    If so I think that will break down at some point.

    I think that is what’s happening here.

    To an extent miracles are both relevant and irrelevant.

    For those on the receiving end – the healings etc – they are very valid.

    For Judas it wasn’t enough.

    If I get time after work I’ll talk abut Thomas later – Thomas gets an undeservedly bad wrap these days.

    Tongues, prophesies, words of knowledge etc – all the same spectrum – and all need to be tested.

    Two things:

    there are those who say God can’t and doesn’t if he ever did; and

    there are those who say God does these things all the time – outside of His normal providence.

    I was brought up in the former and it sucks, and many of you came out of the latter and that sucks.

    Neither offers a true and fair picture of the life that is ours through Jesus Christ our Lord

  26. I would have thought words of knowledge, prophecy, discernment of spirits etc are also violations of the laws of physics. They involve a non-physical entity (God) affecting the physical universe (our brains).

    Any intervention by God would violate the laws of physics because if it could be explained by the laws of physics it would not be an intervention by God. And if we have a non-interventionist God, then I dont think it is the God of the Bible.

  27. “there are those who say God can’t and doesn’t if he ever did; and

    there are those who say God does these things all the time – outside of His normal providence.” – mn

    I was initially brought up the former. However it didn’t make sense to me, basically because of what wazza said next:

    “And if we have a non-interventionist God, then I dont think it is the God of the Bible.”

    Hence my change to a Pente church. Now of course, I don’t believe everything I see or hear at a Pente church is from God either – but God is still God, and I still believe in Him and His intervention.

    What would be the point of praying for eachother and for our own needs, including those that seem impossible, if we do not believe that He hears us and that He does at times provide, even when circumstances look impossible? We are told to pray, for all these things. Including when someone is ill, for healing.

  28. Yes, in a sense – I think it fits in with what you were quoting before, Greg.

    So for instance I lost my job and in the same week a considerable amount of money that I was owed for over a year was sent to me. In my view it was God’s provision, but in another view it might be just coincidence.

    But if I see the hand of God in it, it is a miracle because for God to have arranged that he must have prompted some people to make decisions to send me the money. Or he caused what would normally be chance events to fall in my favour. So that would be no less miraculous than causing someone to walk on water – it would still be a violation of the laws of physics, just that it would not be as detectable.

  29. “Providence, in many ways, is a greater miracle than a miracle. It would be easier to do something supernatural than it is to orchestrate all of the infinite contingencies of life and make them work His purpose, but He does it every moment of every day.” John Macarthur.

  30. I think it’s simply not possible to ‘prove’ that a miracle has happened. To the believer in miracles, varying degrees of evidence – witnesses, medical reports etc, will often be enough to accept that God has done something miraculous. To the dedicated sceptic, believer or not, no amount of evidence will suffice. If there’s any way to see the miracle as a natural occurrence albeit unusual then it will be explained away in those terms. If it’s impossible to explain in any natural way it will simply be denied that it ever happened in the way described.

    For instance some Christians have described Jesus walking on water as Jesus walking on a sand bank that made him appear to be walking on water. Simply because there is a possible natural explanation doesn’t mean no miracle has taken place and likewise the lack of natural explanations does not validate a miracle.

    If miraculously healed of cancer, the sceptic will argue that anomalous remissions are not unheard of in the literature. Sometimes people just go into remission. Answered prayer becomes coincidence, extraordinary events become exaggerations, lies or simply as yet unexplained natural phenomena.

    I believe that miraculous events do happen today but I also believe ( like you all do) that we need to be fairly sceptical considering the amount of hocus-pocus, hypnotism, mesmerism outright fraud and other deceptive practices. I think for the believer in miracles the proofs are on a different scale to the dedicated sceptic, Christian or not. For the believer things like the character of the witness; his honesty, history etc, rate highly as well as other factors and generally will be enough to accept whereas I don’t think any amount of evidence will convince the sceptic. In the end it is a matter once again of faith and pre-existing beliefs concerning the miraculous.

    It’s probably important to determine whether a miracle took place before deciding what God may be saying to us through said miracle. So I think the question is still valid but I like the point about miracles being signs.

    BTW, I hope this doesn’t sound like I doubt the sincerity or Christian faith of people like Greg (hi Greg) who believe they don’t (could but don’t) happen today. It’s just a different way of thinking about things that in my opinion is both beneficial in some ways and very problematic in others.

  31. Greg,

    I am interested to find out if miracles in the Bible are what they claim to be or merely fables that tell a story.

    What do you say Greg?

  32. Greg: “MN you say that where I write that wore of prophecy and knowledge are not miracles that what I have written is an

    unmitigated cop-out.

    but you fail to present any evidence that they are miracles – show me how they go against the laws of nature? just because we don’t understand how it happens doesn’t mean it’s a miracle.”

    I think others have dealt with that for me.

    Either there is a causal explanation that has it roots in the physical universe live in (whether we understand it or not).

    Or God has nudged, organised, provided, manipulated, massively intruded from His spiritual realm into our physical realm.

    I don’t have any evidence and I don’t buy into that question. That you even ask that question I find interesting.

    To try and distinguish between words of knowledge, tongues, prophesies, healings, providence and other assorted phenomena (miracles et al) is meaningless and arbitrary.

    From I Cor 12

    There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.

    Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.”

    Interesting the mix here.

    Which ones are you going tell me know no longer have currency?

    Where are you arbitrarily going to nip and tuck, or segregate and separate these manifestations of the Spirit?

    Seems to be an inevitably small and potentially fatal corner to paint oneself into.

    I for one don’t wish to inhabit such a corner.

    My view of God is too small to start with.

  33. “What would be the point of praying for eachother and for our own needs, including those that seem impossible, if we do not believe that He hears us and that He does at times provide, even when circumstances look impossible?” – RP

    Awwe! There’s a miracle right there. It’s a miracle that we are able to communicate in the physical to the unphysical realm to a God, where by His choice, he listens to us and responds according to our needs.

    “I think we need to be asking what would God be saying to us through them if they were to occur or when they do occur?” – GTE

    If it’s a miracle, it would be a sign or wonder – events that would point to our Creator God.

    “Providence, in many ways, is a greater miracle than a miracle. It would be easier to do something supernatural than it is to orchestrate all of the infinite contingencies of life and make them work His purpose, but He does it every moment of every day.” John Macarthur.

    So true!

    Rom 1:18-23 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.

    For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.

    Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.”

    I’m starting to see that optimist’s have it right. Every day is a miracle, for they see life for all it’s worth with it’s miraculous life-giving qualities. Optimists add to the beauty and miraculous world in which we live.

    From the Apostle Paul’s perspective, the fact that God came to earth as a man; died, rose and ascended to the heavens and has birthed us as new people of His glorious kingdom through His Spirit, is truly miraculous!

    Maybe in seeing through the eyes of Hope, we see that life is a miracle in itself. For if God reveals Himself through His creation (in big, small or subtle ways), that is something to embrace in this world, no matter what hardship we go through. I was intrigued to discover how much God actually owns his creation and reveal his glory through it. His works are miraculous and marvelous! Maybe miracles are to help broaden our perspective on God, His community and His creation. This is what true revivals seemed to do and this was the point of Sabbath and Lord’s Supper to an extent too.

    Ex 19:5 Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine…

    Numbers 14:20-21 And the Lord said, I have pardoned according to your word. But truly as I live and as all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord…

    1 Chronicles 29:11 Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and the earth is Yours; Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and Yours it is to be exalted as Head over all.

    Isaiah 6:3 And one cried to another and said, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!

    Ezekiel 43:2 And behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the east and His voice was like the sound of many waters, and the earth shone with His glory.

    Habakkuk 3:3 God [approaching from Sinai] came from Teman [which represents Edom] and the Holy One from Mount Paran [in the Sinai region]. Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]! His glory covered the heavens and the earth was full of His praise.

    1 Corinthians 15:40 There are heavenly bodies (sun, moon, and stars) and there are earthly bodies (men, animals, and plants), but the beauty and glory of the heavenly bodies is of one kind, while the beauty and glory of earthly bodies is a different kind.

    Revelation 5:13 And I heard every created thing in heaven and on earth and under the earth [in Hades, the place of departed spirits] and on the sea and all that is in it, crying out together, To Him Who is seated on the throne and to the Lamb be ascribed the blessing and the honor and the majesty (glory, splendor) and the power (might and dominion) forever and ever (through the eternities of the eternities)!

  34. I think of God as my Heavenly Father and I pray often for provisions, protection, healing and I feel better when I do pray and then I just try and do my best. I don’t think anyone knows exactly how it all works. One of my children loves watching the movie Bruce Almighty as they are often searching for God’s nature.

    Recently they prayed for something (prayed with me, which doesn’t often happen) and did get their wish. Was it prayer, was it just an outcome that was forthcoming anyway. They prayed for an apartment for us and we did get it at a remarkable price (even the real estate said that). Was it just a good time to buy? I don’t know exactly but people say to us how “lucky” we were or whatever

  35. Thats great Greg. I have had the similiar experiences. My mother and I were dreaming alot about my father and having sort of visions about him.(he has been dead for 25 years) We told my brother who said we were a bunch of loonies, or words to that effect. That night or the next he had a vivid dream about our deceased father that really spoke to him. He had never dreamed or had visions before. This is absolutely true and i suppose alot of skeptics would say its the subconscious etc.

  36. I think miracles are also about being in the right “spirit” and heart too. I truly believe God answers prayers to anyone with a contrite heart, Or to show you something….

  37. “…young RP…” – I’m 3 years younger than you, Greg. Almost middle aged 😦 Depending upon how you define ‘middle-aged’. It can be easily redefined to suit our stance on the issue… kind of like the definitions of ‘miracle’.

  38. Just reading through this thread and responding to things as I get to them… what a great conversation this is, by the way.

    “The fact that RavingPente was protected and assured rather then left for cat food by a demon, I would say would be miraculous intervention.”

    – Like the way you put that, S&P. 🙂 Hadn’t thought of it like that before.

    At the time I thought maybe one purpose in that chance encounter was that God was showing me that these things are real, in a very personal way. (In a way, a bit like Greg praying for his wife above.) Plus showing me how spiritual discernment sometimes works – I don’t just dismiss related reactions in meetings for example, when I sense similarly that something is wrong, though not usually in the dramatic way that one occurred. For me, my reaction in a Rodney Howard Browne meeting was another example, unfortunately.

    Re what a miracle is: I haven’t thought of all these things as miracles, although I guess if we limit our understanding of life to the physical realm they are. When you include a present spiritual realm in your daily understanding (the heavens being around and over us, not apart from us somewhere distant), then no ‘laws’ are broken when you receive insight or knowledge of different kinds; its rather a manifestation of that realm that we normally can’t see or touch (as MN has stated). Over time, this seems more normal. So that’s why I can relate to Greg splitting things up in this way. Hope that makes sense. Its a matter of which perspective you take. In 1 Cor 12, ‘miraculous powers’ was a different gift from the others, though they were all manifestations of the same Spirit.

    “Awwe! There’s a miracle right there. It’s a miracle that we are able to communicate in the physical to the unphysical realm to a God, where by His choice, he listens to us and responds according to our needs.” S&P

    Yes, indeed a miracle if we view the two realms as set apart; but if our understanding was limited or not correct, then no longer a miracle, rather what we expect to find once our understanding is corrected to a more scriptural view. Which view did Jesus have? When Jesus taught, He expected that we would come to share His view of an ever-present Father who hears us, loves us and knows us more intimately than we do ourselves. Read Matthew 6. This is truly wonderful if we can grasp it.

    ******
    Great quote from John MacArthur on providence!

    Also, S&P – liked your musings on God in creation and how miracles may fit.

    ******

    MJ – congrats on your apartment purchase. God works for good in all things! It does sound like a good example of providence. We are told to pray, and you did. Again – why would Jesus have told us to do something if there was never to be an effect? Maybe God doesn’t always answer as we want, but He loves us, and often will answer us – do we receive if we don’t ask? Sometimes! Because He loves us and is merciful. But Jesus told us to pray. Heretic and I have sometimes realised when we hit an obstacle that won’t seem to resolve, that we haven’t prayed about it. Then we do pray, and usually the matter resolves. It’s happened a lot. Some would call all these events coincidence. However, I believe these things are a part of our ongoing real relationship with Father. 🙂

    Greg – that’s a very interesting situation, praying for your wife in that particular circumstance. Congratulations on the pregnancy! I look forward to hearing more of your thoughts on this subject. You know what I believe – that God is here, with us, now – He hears; He responds – in a variety of ways including physical intervention at times. I think scripture shows us this. When Jesus spoke about praying, He taught that it was normal for God to hear us and respond. As I’ve been learning about this more this year, God has been demonstrating his immediacy to me this year in some interesting ways as well.

  39. Its also good to remember that miracles or spiritual gifts don’t glorify the receiver. And blessed is he who has not seen and has yet believed.

  40. My interlinear renders the key bit you are talking about as ‘but, on the other hand, and, also, now’ being a conjunctive particle, marking the superaddtion of a clause, whether in opposition or in continuation to what has preceded etc.

    What different kinds that you seem be trying to distinguish between are a follows:

    knowledge, wisdom – manifestations of one kind

    faith, healing – manifestations of another kind

    miracles. prophesy – gifts of another kind

    tongues and interpretation – etc

    I think the distinction is in the type of manifestation and not the person receiving – could be wrong – otherwise to me it makes no sense.

    So to the extent that you say:

    “is it not just the same to say that there are different kinds of gifts – different kinds of miracles – it’s not hair splitting it is in the text my friend”

    I agree with the first part, but not the second part.

    The issue with me is not that there are different type spiritual manifestations, but that every last one of them comes from the same source which is in, but also totally beyond our temporal physical world, for which there never can be any natural or physical explanation – ever – and unless you have a bloody good reason there is no basis to arbitrarily include one but exclude the other on the basis that one is more subjectively and personally acceptable than the other.

    Which is precisely the rubbish that some reformed people try and pass off saying spiritual gifts are done with because the ‘perfect has come’ (1 Cor 13) – meaning the bible or complete canon and revelation of God to us – to try and justify why they can’t quite believe it anyway.

  41. Fair enough.

    If you want to differentiate the different manifestations because they’re all ‘in’ – fine.

    One person’s miracle is another persons eveyday – I would agree that many of us bandy that word about with unfortunately more than a little exaggeration and hyperbole. I’ve seen stuff for which is a ‘miracle’ to me, but I’ve not seen a leg replaced or anything.

    The problem comes when people want to ‘cut and paste’ which just simply not a sustainable position.

    Look, I wonder where this whole argument leaves us from a ‘faith’ point of view – and I mean in a general sense – not the spiritual manifestation sense?

  42. i agree, we all have our gifts. I have one child (male) who would rather study the Bible and the other (female) who believes in the supernatural, ghosts et al, angels.

    As long as we don’t sound like we’re not “real”. I know our apartment was a good deal and it was a smooth transaction but partly God I believe, partly wisdom.

  43. Isn’t Proverbs all about combining God and wisdom, MJ? Can’t have real wisdom without knowing God, and when you know God, you still have a choice about exercising wisdom or not. It’s good when you have both. 🙂

  44. Yes, I think being a Christian “gave” me wisdom, I was so naive and ignorant, and I was Catholic. Well that explains alot i guess….

  45. We may have different views on what we classify as a miracle, but I’m still interested to understand Greg’s view of why he does not believe God does miracles today even though God could if He wanted to (as in signs and wonders other than words of knowledge, discernment etc).

    BTW – I really have to regard those who say Jesus rising from the dead was not a miracle but an expression of the nature of God, as playing with definitions in order to suit their view of the world. Yes of course it was an expression of the nature of God; it was also a miraculous sign and has been considered as such for the last 2000 years by most ordinary people, due to its physically impossible nature.

  46. In asking Greg to explain his view, I also want to acknowledge that his views may be in flux on this, after praying for his wife, which could be part of God speaking with him on the matter over time. Or not. 🙂

  47. If one is saved, isn’t that because the Gateway has been opened through the work of Christ’s Spirit to birth us through His Spirit? If the death and resurrection of Christ’s Spirit are linked to our conversions does that make conversions NOT a miracle?

    To the disciples before Paul, they only saw Christ’s death, resurrection and ascension as PROOF he was Messiah. Disciples would only see that as a sign.

    Only Paul fully realised the power of Christ’s work from Calvary to his ascension. I think Paul would dispute you Greg that His resurrection was the greatest miracle of all.

    If you can find any person after Paul, that did not see the resurrection as miraculous, I… Will do something…

  48. I think it is probably very rare that miracles happen today, in the sense of something obviously breaking the laws of physics.

    God can achieve His purposes through orchestrating things in the world, and in my experience this is His usual mode of operation. So if someone is in prison, usually He will send someone else to achieve his work – rather than miraculously allowing the person to escape.

    It was different in Jesus and Paul’s time. Even then, Jesus usually asked people not to talk about the miracles.

    The problem is even if they do occur they depend on faith. People who do not have faith will find some explanation for why they did not happen as specified. For the faithful they did occur, but there is always the temptation to focus on the miracle itself, rather than the one who caused it to occur – and His purposes. So they are of no use to the non-Christian, and a possible stumbling-block to the Christian.

    For this reason, I believe they are extremely rare occurances.

  49. I can think of tons of incidences that were “lucky” so its a very subjective subject 🙂 ie: my brother nearly lost half his finger as a child and per chance a surgeon (who happened to learn about micro-surgery) was able to re attach it with no problems and hardly any scar. Could this be coincidence, my pushy parents, or ?????????????

  50. yes, but it was before micro-surgery was common, it was in the mid 60s. I don’t think his finger was healed so to speak but he was very lucky, apparently

  51. Anyway, I get your point. I understand there is a rational reason for alot of things but sometimes there just isn’t. I could name a few more eery type of coincidences but I won’t as there are a few.

  52. “I think it is probably very rare that miracles happen today, in the sense of something obviously breaking the laws of physics.”

    miracles from whom?

    I do not think that miracles that have their source in God break any of the laws he has made. I rather think because of his deeper understanding of the true nature of all things his miracles seem to us like breaking the laws of physics or other laws, for we lack that understanding.
    It´s like the lighting of the first electric bulbs seemed like a miracle to those uninitiated to the secrets of electricity. The difference, of course, is that we are in our earthly nature unable to grasp a full understanding of the divine secrets, while the secrets of electricity are now commonly known among men.
    In contrast I think the “miracles” worked through uncleam spirits are really manipulating, breaking or enslaving the true nature of beings, especially men.

    In these terms, much of what we have today as technology, is far nearer to (devilish) magic, both in purpose (to accelerate the fulfillment of what we desire to achieve) and in its apparent disrespect to the true nature of the object to which we apply it, than many think.

  53. Well, whether they happen or not, I still pray. Im praying for someone who is sick (a baby) and pray for that soul to be safe, strong, in good hands and, well, just pray :o)

  54. Interesting comment, Gandalf.

    You said:

    I do not think that miracles that have their source in God break any of the laws he has made. I rather think because of his deeper understanding of the true nature of all things his miracles seem to us like breaking the laws of physics or other laws, for we lack that understanding.

    That’s how I see words of knowledge etc, and God working in circumstance. Perhaps physical miracles will seem that way one day, when all things are revealed.

    I agree with wazza, that these miracles happen, but they are rare. Also, wazza made an interesting point that Jesus sometimes asked people not to talk about his miracles – I think He was wanting to avoid the reactions that would end up being obstructive to his ministry, yet He had mercy on people who asked Him.

    I still believe that these kinds of physical miracles can happen today. Sometimes, God may have His reasons. When Philip was transported, that was a matter of God working his plan for Phillip’s ministry, presumably, and was not necessarily a sign to anyone. The Brother Yun miracle could have fallen into that kind of category.

    We aren’t to only base our faith on miracles though. If we did, we could end up believing in anything and anyone. For example, as Gandalf said, unclean spirits. Jesus did say men would do miracles in His name, but He will tell them He never knew them. He also said,

    11Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. 12I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.

    Surely this did not exclude miracles today, though it may include other ‘non-miraculous’ things. So we can expect to still see miracles. Knowing their source is another matter.

    When Jesus healed the paralysed man, He asked the crowd which was harder, to forgive sin, or to have the man walk. The miracle then was a sign of His authorty to forgive sins. So perhaps we have the wrong perspective on the miraculous at times. What He really wants is change in our hearts. Physical miracles may still occur though, but maybe they are rare because of that issue of where we end up focussing.

  55. Very well put RP re the paralysed man. That is such a profound lesson and scripture. Healing of hurts is so important and not always easy. You really do notice someone is in Christ when their heart changes, so true

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