Life is But a Weaving

– Corrie Ten Boom

My life is but a weaving
Between my God and me.
I cannot choose the colors
He weaveth steadily.

Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow;
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I the underside.

Not ’til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas
And reveal the reason why.

The dark threads are as needful
In the weaver’s skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned

He knows, He loves, He cares;
Nothing this truth can dim.
He gives the very best to those
Who leave the choice to Him.

Timely Thoughts?

A few days ago there was a Facebook post by a man I know that said, in part:

“When hate filled violence of ANY sort is considered justified, we are in serious trouble. When public leaders at any level don’t condemn ALL violence, the trouble is even worse. It’s called ‘inviting’ anarchy to rule the nation. Folk’s, it’s happening.”

One commenter posted this:

“Sad, but very true. Do you see hope or despair on the horizon?”

This was the reply to that comment:

“I see both in the pages of scripture. Lawlessness will wax worse and worse, but Christ will continue to save his people from their sins of that they can be lights in ever increasing darkness.”

What are your thoughts?

Was James White ‘Unequally Yoked’ in Memphis?

Some say yes, some say no, some say maybe. This post is for informational purposes. Your opinion is your own. If you MUST have my opinion, I am in the ‘maybe’ camp. The term ‘interfaith’ is briefly discussed because someone recently told me that EVERYTHING interfaith is ‘unequally yoked’. I think that’s silly.

“Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?” 2 Cor 6:14

unequally yoked together G2086  (KJV + Strongs)

G2086   (Strong)

ἑτεροζυγέω

heterozugeō

het-er-od-zoog-eh’-o

From a compound of G2087 and G2218; to yokeup differently, that is, (figuratively) to associate discordantly: – unequally yoke together with.

Total KJV occurrences: 1

 

Albert Barnes

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers – This is closely connected in sense with the previous verse. The apostle is there stating the nature of the remuneration or recompence which he asks for all the love which he had shown to them. He here says, that one mode of remuneration would be to yield obedience to his commands, and to separate themselves from all improper alliance with unbelievers. “Make me this return for my love. Love me as a proof of your affection, be not improperly united with unbelievers. Listen to me as a father addressing his children, and secure your own happiness and piety by not being unequally yoked with those who are not Christians.” The word which is used here (ἑτεροζυγέω heterozugeō) means properly, to bear a different yoke, to be yoked heterogeneously – Robinson (Lexicon). It is applied to the custom of yoking animals of different kinds together (Passow); and as used here means not to mingle together, or be united with unbelievers.

 

It is implied in the use of the word that there is a dissimilarity between believers and unbelievers so great that it is as improper for them to mingle together as it is to yoke animals of different kinds and species. The ground of the injunction is, that there is a difference between Christians and those who are not, so great as to render such unions improper and injurious. The direction here refers doubtless to all kinds of improper connections with those who were unbelievers. It has been usually supposed by commentators to refer particularly to marriage. But there is no reason for confining it to marriage. It doubtless includes that, but it may as well refer to any other intimate connection, or to intimate friendships, or to participation in their amusements and employments, as to marriage. The radical idea is, that they were to abstain from all connections with unbelievers – with infidels, and pagans, and those who were not Christians, which would identify them with them; or they were to have no connection with them in anything as unbelievers, pagans, or infidels; they were to partake with them in nothing that was special to them as such.

 

They were to have no part with them in their paganism unbelief, and idolatry, and infidelity; they were not to be united with them in any way or sense where it would necessarily be understood that they were partakers with them in those things. This is evidently the principle here laid down, and this principle is as applicable now as it was then.

 

Jamiesson-Fausset-Brown

Be notGreek,Become not.”

unequally yoked — “yoked with one alien in spirit.” The image is from the symbolical precept of the law (Lev 19:19), “Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind”; or the precept (Deu 22:10), “Thou shalt not plough with an ox and an ass together.” Compare Deu 7:3, forbidding marriages with the heathen; also 1Co 7:39. The believer and unbeliever are utterly heterogeneous.Too close intercourse with unbelievers in other relations also is included (2Co 6:16; 1Co 8:10; 1Co 10:14).

fellowship — literally, “share,” or “participation.”

righteousness — the state of the believer, justified by faith.

unrighteousness — rather, as always translated elsewhere, “iniquity”; the state of the unbeliever, the fruit of unbelief.

light — of which believers are the children (1Th 5:5).

 

Adam Clarke

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers – This is a military term: keep in your own ranks; do not leave the Christian community to join in that of the heathens. The verb ἑτεροζυγειν signifies to leave one’s own rank, place, or order, and go into another; and here it must signify not only that they should not associate with the Gentiles in their idolatrous feasts, but that they should not apostatize from Christianity; and the questions which follow show that there was a sort of fellowship that some of the Christians had formed with the heathens which was both wicked and absurd, and if not speedily checked would infallibly lead to final apostasy.

Some apply this exhortation to pious persons marrying with those who are not decidedly religious, and converted to God. That the exhortation may be thus applied I grant; but it is certainly not the meaning of the apostle in this place. Nevertheless, common sense and true piety show the absurdity of two such persons pretending to walk together in a way in which they are not agreed. A very wise and very holy man has given his judgment on this point: “A man who is truly pious, marrying with an unconverted woman, will either draw back to perdition, or have a cross during life.” The same may be said of a pious woman marrying an unconverted man. Such persons cannot say this petition of the Lord’s prayer, Lead us not into temptation. They plunge into it of their own accord.

 

John Gill

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers,…. This seems to be an allusion to the law in Deu 22:10 and to be a mystical explanation of it; and is to be understood not as forbidding civil society and converse with unbelievers; for this is impracticable, then must believers needs go out of the world; this the many natural and civil relations subsisting among men make absolutely necessary; and in many cases is both lawful and laudable, especially when there is any opportunity or likelihood of doing them any service in a spiritual way: not is it to be understood as dehorting from entering into marriage contracts with such persons; for such marriages the apostle, in his former epistle, had allowed to be lawful, and what ought to be abode by; though believers would do well carefully to avoid such an unequal yoke, since oftentimes they are hereby exposed to many snares, temptations, distresses, and sorrows, which generally more or less follow hereon: but there is nothing in the text or context that lead to such an interpretation; rather, if any particular thing is referred to, it is to joining with unbelievers in acts of idolatry; since one of the apostle’s arguments to dissuade from being unequally yoked with unbelievers is, “what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?” and from the foregoing epistle it looks as if some in this church had joined with them in such practices; see 1Co 10:14. But I rather think that these words are a dissuasive in general, from having any fellowship with unbelievers in anything sinful and criminal, whether in worship or in conversation:

 

“Interfaith”

adjective: of, operating, or occurring between persons belonging to different religions

This could mean a wide variety of things from having an actual worship ‘service’, picketing an abortion clinic together, having a conversation, eating a meal, UFC, playing chess, name an activity. If you are going to tell me that James White was ‘unequally yoked’, you had better tell me exactly WHY you make the conclusion. 

James White had a discussion about religion with a Muslim in which each man presented various tenets of their respective faiths. Whether he was unequally ‘yoked’ is a matter of speculation and individual opinion.

You can come to a hard and fast conclusion, or, you could choose wisdom and say you ‘think’ He might have been ‘unequally yoked’. 

 

Christian Hospitality Toward False Teachers

“If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting.“ – 2 John 1:10 (ESV)

The above passage has been used to assert that Christian apologist James White violated scripture by taking part in a dialog in Memphis with Yasir Qadhi, a Muslim, that was intended to demonstrate similarities and differences between Islam and Christianity, and in fact did so admirably. Here are four respected commentaries concerning that passage, followed by a few observations from yours truly.

Commentaries

John Gill

If there come any unto you,…. Under the character of a preacher;

and bring not this doctrine; or does not preach the doctrine of Christ, as before explained, but despises it, and preaches a contrary one:

receive him not into your house; neither into the house of God, suffer him not to preach there; nor into your own house, give him no entertainment there: false teachers always tried to creep into houses, where they served their own turn every way, both by feeding their bellies, and spreading their pernicious doctrines; and therefore such should: be avoided, both publicly and privately; their ministry should not be attended on in the church, or house of God; and they should not be entertained in private houses, and much less caressed:

neither bid him God speed; or give him the usual civil form of salutation, as a good day to you, all hail, all health and prosperity attend you, the Lord be with you, and the like. The word used by the Jews was אישר, which signifies “happiness”; so it is said (i), what do they salute with? אישר, “God speed”; which was forbidden to say to one that was ploughing in the seventh year. The meaning is, that with such no familiar conversation should be had, lest any encouragement should be given them; or it should induce a suspicion in the minds of other saints, that they are in the same sentiments; or it should tend to make others think favourably of them, and be a snare and a stumblingblock to weak Christians.

(i) T. Hieros. Sheviith, fol. 35. 2. Vid. Taanith. fol. 64. 2.

Albert Barnes

If there come any unto you – Any professed teacher of religion. There can be no doubt that she to whom this Epistle was written was accustomed to entertain such teachers.

And bring not this doctrine – This doctrine which Christ taught, or the true doctrine respecting him and his religion.

Receive him not into your house – This cannot mean that no acts of kindness, in any circumstances, were to be shown to such persons; but that there was to be nothing done which could be fairly construed as encouraging or countenancing them as “religious teachers.” The true rule would seem to be, in regard to such persons, that, so far as we have contact with them as neighbors, or strangers, we are to be honest, true, kind, and just, but we are to do nothing that will countenance them as religious teachers, We are not to aid their instruction, Pro_19:27; we are not to receive them into our houses, or to entertain them as religious teachers; we are not to commend them to others, or to give them any reason to use our names or influence in propagating error. It would not be difficult to practice this rule, and yet to show to others all the kindness, and all the attention in circumstances of need, which religion demands. A person who is truly consistent is never suspected of countenancing error, even when he is distinguished for liberality, and is ready, like the good Samaritan, to pour in oil and wine in the wounds of any waylaid traveler. The command not to “receive such an one into the house,” in such circumstances as those referred to by John, would be probably understood literally, as he doubtless designed that it should be. To do that, to meet such persons with a friendly greeting, would be construed as countenancing their doctrine, and as commending them to others; and hence it was forbidden that they should be entertained as such. This treatment would not be demanded where no such interpretation could be put on receiving a friend or relative who held different and even erroneous views, or in showing kindness to a stranger who differed from us, but it would apply to the receiving and entertaining “a professed teacher of religion, as such;” and the rule is as applicable now as it was then.

Neither bid him God speed – Καὶ χαίρειν αὐτῷ μὴ λέγετε Kai chairein autō mē legete – “and do not say to him, hail, or joy.” Do not wish him joy; do not hail, or salute him. The word used expresses the common form of salutation, as when we wish one health, success, prosperity, Mat_26:49; Act_15:23; Act_23:26; Jas_1:1. It would be understood as expressing a wish for success in the enterprise in which they were embarked; and, though we should love all people, and desire their welfare, and sincerely seek their happiness, yet we can properly wish no one success in career of sin and error.

Jamiessn- Fausset- Brown

If there come any— as a teacher or brother. The Greek is indicative, not subjunctive; implying that such persons do actually come, and are sure to come; when any comes, as there will. True love is combined with hearty renunciation and separation from all that is false, whether persons or doctrines.

receive him not … neither bid him God speed— This is not said of those who were always aliens from the Church, but of those who wish to be esteemed brethren, and subvert the true doctrine [Grotius]. The greeting salutation forbidden in the case of such a one is that usual among Christian brethren in those days, not a mere formality, but a token of Christian brotherhood.

Adam Clarke

If there come any unto you – Under the character of an apostle or evangelist, to preach in your house; and bring not this doctrine, that Jesus is come in the flesh, and has died for the redemption of the world.

Receive him not unto your house – Give him no entertainment as an evangelical teacher. Let him not preach under your roof.

Neither bid him God speed – Και χαιρειν αυτῳ μη λεγερε· And do not say, Health to him – do not salute him with Peace be to thee! The usual salutation among friends and those of the same religion in the east is, Salam aleekum, “Peace be to you;” which those of the same religion will use among themselves, but never to strangers, except in very rare cases. This is the case to the present day; and, from what John says here, it was a very ancient custom. We have often seen that peace among the Hebrews comprehended every spiritual and temporal blessing. The words mean, according to the eastern use of them, “Have no religious connection with him, nor act towards him so as to induce others to believe you acknowledge him as a brother.

Observations

1.  The letter is addressed to an ‘Elect Lady’, which we are told could be a specific person, or a local church that met in a home. We don’t know for sure which of those John meant.  One part of the Memphis dialogues took place in a church building on a Tuesday evening, was not a church ‘service’. Using the church building was convenient for matters of logistics and cost.

2. While ‘anyone’ in the passage might refer to anyone at all, there is a direct connection to the ones ‘who went out from us because they were not of us’ mentioned in 1 John 2:19. The ones who ‘went out’ had professed to be believers. Yasir Qadhi has never, nor will he ever (short of divine intervention – not an impossibility).

3. While these false teachers were not to be received or hospitably entertained, nothing is said of confronting them directly as to their errors concerning Christ. In addition to not receiving them they were not to be sent away with God’s blessings.

Dan’s ‘opinion’ concerning using 2 John 1:10 as the undeniable absolute ‘proof’ that James White, by talking about religion with Yasir Qadi, was in serious violation of scripture? 

Exegetically, you can’t make the case.

And again,in case you are new to all this about Memphis, I am NOT defending James White,nor am I condemning him. 

“Dream Destinies”

We can hear a lot of teaching these days from a lot of churches about the dream destiny God has for each of us. It’s a popular topic these days. What about it? Does God have a ‘Dream Destiny’ for you?

Christ Roseborough give us his opinion based on the account of Moses found in the book of Exodus. You can listen here, or at:

http://www.piratechristian.com/fightingforthefaith/2016/12/god-does-not-have-a-dream-destiny-to-reveal-to-you

Code Orange Revival ‘Expectations’

Chris Rosebrough over at Fighting for the Faith calls the annual Code Orange Revival at Steven (COR) Furtick’s Elevation Church the “Heresy Olympics”. Not only does he review ‘sermons’ delivered at the auspicious event, he provides audio clips of advertisements and ‘man on the street’ interviews concerning the assumed expectations of the event promoters at Elevation Church and some of the attendees.

  • During the ‘pre-game’ show for night one, ‘Code Orange’ was defined as an eruption similar to volcanic activity – an ‘eruption’ of faith – 10 days and nights of celebrating and believing God for ‘breakthroughs’ for Elevation Church and for individuals.
  • In a short interview with someone who had travelled from London, when asked what she was expecting God to do in her life, a lady said she expected to get a new passion to go into her patients’ lives (she is a paramedic in London), so God could shine through her in her work as a paramedic.
  • Holly Furtick said she was looking forward to God speaking to her personally and she loved to watch God speaking personally to those around her. She also loved hearing stories from those who travelled to attend COR. She again emphasized ‘breakthroughs’.
  • The last point shared by Chris Rosebrough from the ‘pre-game’ show (2 minutes before ‘show’ time) again reinforced the ‘breakthrough’ theme, coming into God’s presence, and God doing something specific in every life. The announcer said “we’re going to have a lot of fun; we’re going to have a lot of guests here”.

Chris Rosebrough described the above ‘breakthrough’ rhetoric as the theology of’ triumphalism’, or ‘self glory’, and I for one agree with him.

Also part of the ‘pre-game festivities’ attendees/listeners are informed of all the ways they can participate with their giving, since it is important that we trust God in all areas of our lives, including our finances. Giving is ‘worship’ and folks can give online, on an App, and via texting, all of which will result in God’s blessings for the one giving.

Following the account of the ‘pregame’ festivities, there was a recap of Steven Furtick’s (contestant #1 in the 2016 Heresy Olympics) sermon, allegedly received by direct revelation from the Holy Spirit. Needless to say, during the sermon, Mr. Furtick correctly described Code Orange as ‘our’ revival, since it certainly isn’t God’s.

You can find Chris Rosebrough’s comments and critique of the Code Orange Revival here. You can find an interesting ‘Code Orange Bible Challenge’ here, as well as a recap of COR night one in the ‘Rhythm of Heresy’ podcast here. Stay tuned to Fighting for the Faith for other COR recaps and commentary.

Responding to Miracle Claims

by Eric Davis at The Cripplegate

clip_image002“But I’m telling you, I saw it! I was there and it really happened.”

Often miracle claims are brought before us. Fairly regularly, I hear of things like local, impromptu, evangelistic, healing events during which individuals were approached at random, prayed over, and healed of some various physical ailment. The claim might be followed by an individual testifying sincerely that it happened or a video documenting the healing miracle as undeniable proof that the pain departed, the crutches dropped, or the oppression lifted. Excitement erupts. God is at work. The Spirit is moving. It’s a God thing. How could it not be?

But is it? How should we respond to these things? After all, well-meaning and sincere professing Christians saw it and documented it, so how could it be denied? Why wouldn’t the Holy Spirit want to do that? And doesn’t that mean that the Spirit wants to use us in such ways?

It’s astonishing how flippantly we Christians sometimes claim miracles. Scripture beckons us to exercise great caution here. In this order, here is how I would generally respond to a friend’s miracle claim:

1. It’s probably best to avoid denying the individual’s experience.

Usually, it’s more profitable to avoid playing the “that-didn’t-happen” card. Granted, it may not have. But this can quickly deteriorate into a, “No it didn’t!” “Yes it did!” ping-pong match. And, something very well may have happened (see #7, 8, and 9 below).

Instead of bringing our negation to bear on their experience, we owe it to the individual to bring the word of God to bear. That way, the authority of inerrant Scripture, rather than our “Nuh-uhh,” becomes the issue.

Further, it’s helpful to ask, “What do you mean by a miracle?” Child-birth, for example, though remarkable, is not a miracle. A miracle is when God works contrary to his established laws of creation (e.g. raising the dead).

2. God can do miracles and it’s ok to pray for them.

clip_image004And praise him that he has, can, and does. Our God sits in the heavens and does whatever he pleases. It has pleased him to divide seas and rivers, rewind days, and cease storms. And though nature miracles have been, for the most part, limited to a few small clusters of history (Moses and Joshua, Elijah and Elisha, and Christ and the apostles), spiritual miracles have not been. The greatest miracle is turning depraved spiritual corpses into regenerate children of God.

And it’s ok to pray for miracles. Whether it be a debilitating disease, traumatic accident, or salvation, it’s loving to pray for miracles in these kinds of situations.

But the argument typically goes beyond this: “So you’re saying that God can’t/won’t do miracles?!” The case seems closed because we never want to say that God cannot do something. But the discussion is broader than that. The existence of Scripture as God’s authoritative word has massive implications on proper understanding of life’s experiences, especially the miraculous. Speaking of which…

3. When it comes to miracles, or any experience, our experiences and perceptions must not be our interpretive authority.

Our interpretive authority is that criteria by which we interpret experiences and perceptions so as to make absolute conclusions about them. Generally, there exist two interpretive authorities; God’s word and everything else (e.g. human reasoning, a textbook, famous philosophers, majority opinion, false religion). For example, if I interpret every bad dream I have as Satan attacking me because a friend told me it was so, my interpretive authority is that friend, not Scripture.

In each stream of life, we exercise some interpretive authority. When it comes to experiencing and perceiving miracles, Scripture is to be our interpretive authority. Why? Because of what Scripture is; God-breathed revelation (2 Tim. 3:16-17, 2 Pet. 1:20-21). The repercussions of what Scripture is are major. Since it is God-breathed, it is inerrant, authoritative, and sufficient as our interpretive authority (Ps. 12:6, 119:89; Prov. 30:5; John 17:17; Titus 1:2; 2 Pet. 1:3).

Much of this boils down to, “How do we know what we know?” It’s a question of knowledge and authority. And I wish that more of my miracle-claiming friends would dwell longer on this matter because this is the heart of the issue. Far more than being about, “I saw it!” or, “Come on, don’t you believe God can do miracles?!”, this is about how we know what we know.

Since Scripture is the word of God, it is authoritative in determining what we know. It overrides everything as our interpretive authority. Which is to say, God’s interpretation overrides man’s interpretation, no matter how intense the experience was. So, before confidently attributing a miracle to a thing that God seems to be doing, we need be prepared to submit to Scripture.

clip_image006Consider an example. Imagine that you unexpectedly lose your job and are short $1500 for a month’s budget. So, you and three friends fast for one day. At the end of the day, you pray together for an hour on top of a local mountain. The next day, an anonymous check shows up for $1500. If we used experience as our interpretive authority, we would conclude that fasting with three friends for a day and praying for an hour on a mountain is the means to get big prayers answered. If we used Scripture as our interpretive authority, we would find no such formula. We would find that God is good, sovereign over all things, and does as he pleases. Also, we would find individuals sometimes failing to receive what they ask for in prayer (e.g. 2 Cor. 12:8-9). Would this mean that we cease fasting and praying? No, because Scripture contains commands for both. More generally, our correlations must go no further than what Scripture permits.

Even the miracle-working apostle Peter took this route. In 2 Peter 1:16-21, he recalls the incredible experience of Christ’s transfiguration. But he concludes that Scripture is the “more sure” authority and source of knowledge (2 Pet. 1:19). In effect, Peter is saying, “Look, the Bible, rightly understood, is to be my absolute guide in determining what I should conclude about my experiences.” By application, then, Peter would say to us, “You and others seem to have experienced some healings? Ok, I have some miracle experience. But, before you celebrate, ‘These are real miracles! And the Spirit is working through us!’ go to the thing that can tell you exactly how to understand your experience; the Bible. Because there is more going on here than you might think.” And Peter might say, “Are you more interested in submitting to everything that the Bible has to say about miracles or being able to believe and tell others that a miracle happened?”

Scripture is to form my conclusions more than my opinions, desires, and even experiences. And if not, then, whether intentionally or not, I am saying, “Well, God, yes, you have spoken about this issue by your Spirit. But, I do not want to take into consideration everything you’ve said. So, I am going to hold to my biased, poorly informed view on this matter and call it a ‘God thing’ anyways.”

But this will not do. We are prohibited from interpreting miracles in a way contrary to Scripture.

And if it is determined that a miracle did occur, praise God! Give him glory. And stay focused on what Scripture commands, which does not include the chasing of, or fixation upon, miracles.

4. No one has the spiritual gift of miracles and healing as defined in Scripture.

clip_image008This not to say that miracles never happen through people (see #’s 7, 8, and 9 below). But it is to say that no one possesses the gift of miracles and healing as it is described in the NT. It’s at this point that many of my charismatic friends walk away from the conversation. But I would urge them to honestly study the issue from Scripture.

When the first century closed, the spiritual concrete had been poured for the footers and foundation of the church (Eph. 2:20). All that Jesus did through the apostles was poured into the forms upon which our church rests today. The apostolic gifts, the miracles, the ecclesiological pioneering, the inspiration of the canon—it all rests in the foundation giving the stability of the church for some twenty centuries so far.

And on a lesser note, if individuals did possess the NT gift of healing and miracles, then they should be flown every day to a different ICU around the world.

5. Miracle claims should be verified.

If actual physiological miracle-healings are occurring, then let’s get medical professionals involved. Let’s have them pull up the records, confirm the previous ailment, and verify physiologically that the healing occurred. Go get the X-Ray, MRI, CT, or exam from your regular GP. Have them compare your last physical and verify that the “miracle” was indeed so; that it is not regressing or a temporary pain relief that is coming back or some placebo effect. That way, they can see it for themselves, and, more importantly, here about the Jesus who propitiated the wrath of God due their sin in order to give them the miracle of the new birth. But of course, if they will not believe the more-sure Scriptures, then neither will a miracle convince them (cf. Luke 16:31).

Claims of miracles ought to be verified so that glory can be given to God.

6. Biblical miracles had distinct characteristics.

Healing miracles in Scripture were profound displays of God’s power. We could define a biblical healing as God’s power demonstrated through a human mediator with the result that a specific physiological ailment was instantaneously, completely, and undeniably healed. They were not gradual. No follow-up healing appointments were required. And they typically involved a major display of power. Quadriplegics walked. The blind saw. The dead were raised

When Peter did miracles (Acts 3:8, 9:40), he was not shooing away aches, adding an inch to a leg, or lifting emotional clouds. Nor did he have to repeat incantations in the name of Jesus with increasing force and volume to warm up the Holy Spirit. With a word, God repaired spinal cords, neurons, atrophied limbs, and death. Thus, we should compare our miracle claims to those of Scripture.

7. Miracles can be performed by those who worship false gods.

The presence of legitimate miracles is no sign that it is a God thing. In fact, it could be a Satan thing.

clip_image009For example, prior to Israel’s exodus, the pagan Egyptian magicians were able to perform three of the miracles. They turned their staffs into snakes (Exod. 7:11-12), changed the Nile into blood (Exod. 7:22), and made frogs come up on the land (Exod. 8:7). And, during the Tribulation, Satan and his associates will perform various signs and wonders (cf. Rev. 13:3, 13).

I’ve heard miracle claims from both sides of redemption. For every one miraculous thing that someone’s uncle’s cousin’s co-worker’s son’s friend’s missionary friend whose name he can’t remember saw in an unverifiable African village in the name of God, there are three miraculous things that a close friend experienced in a verifiable pagan festival in our town in the name of Gaia. I’ve heard of many miracles from professing believers. And I’ve heard many from professing unbelievers.

I don’t know if these claims are authentic. But I do know this: Satan is an angel of light. He’s capable of doing powerful things through pagans. Unbelievers are, whether knowingly or not, servants of Satan. A miracle is not an automatic sign that God’s favor is among us.

8. God has used miracles to test individuals.

At times in history, God has permitted miracles, not to bless, but test. Israel was warned accordingly:

“If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him. But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has taught rebellion against the Lord your God…” (Deut. 13:1-5).

In 1 Kings 22, God permitted a “deceiving spirit” to enter some 400 prophets to give false counsel.

And Micaiah said, “Therefore hear the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing beside him on his right hand and on his left; and the Lord said, ‘Who will entice Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?’ And one said one thing, and another said another. Then a spirit came forward and stood before the Lord, saying, ‘I will entice him.’ And the Lord said to him, ‘By what means?’ And he said, ‘I will go out, and will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ And he said, ‘You are to entice him, and you shall succeed; go out and do so.’ Now therefore behold, the Lord has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these your prophets; the Lord has declared disaster for you” (1 Kings 22:19-23).

Though not a miracle per se, the incident demonstrates that God has permitted teachers who profess faith in him to be led astray by satanic influence for retributive reasons. In this case, 400 supposed teachers of God’s word were caused to falsely prophesy. All of this suggests that we should exercise restraint with miracle (and prophecy) claims.

9. Miracles in the name of Christ by professing Christians are no sign of the presence of salvation or true Christian worship.

One of the most sobering passages in Scripture comes from Matthew 7.

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness’” (Matt. 7:21-23).

According to Jesus, not few, but many people assume that they are going to heaven, but will be turned away in the judgment. These will be individuals who professed Christ as Lord and performed “many miracles” in his name. They assumed that they believed in Jesus. They approached people, commanded healings in the name of Jesus, and experienced apparent miracles. Those were the things they often looked to and counted on as God’s blessing and the presence of the Spirit. However, Jesus says there will be a large number of such individuals who are sent to hell.

10. True signs of the Holy Spirit have nothing to do with miraculous healings.

Much of this issue centers on widespread, erroneous pneumatology in our day. Evangelicalism has capriciously assigned works to the Holy Spirit which God does not. Thus, it behooves us to carefully study who the Spirit is and what he does.

Miracles can be performed by devout pagans and Satan. Many individuals performing miracles in the name of Jesus will be turned away by Christ in the judgment. Therefore, the presence of miracles is no evidence that the Holy Spirit is at work.

11. Miracles were not part of Christ’s commanded mission, nor considered evangelism.

Often healing-evangelism is excitedly recounted as, “We were able to encourage many people with God’s healing love!” along with a report of the various healings. But more importantly, did those with departed back pain hear that God is willing to divert their due, eternal pain if they mourn their sin and surrender in faith to the Lord Jesus Christ? In other words, did evangelism occur? Which is to say, did we really love them?

clip_image011In the NT, the concept and doing of evangelism always has to do with preaching the content of Christ crucified in the place of sinful man that he might repent and be reconciled to God under the lordship of Christ. If our evangelism merely consists of telling people that God wants to heal and bless them, then we have fallen short of evangelism.

Proper understanding of miracle claims requires God’s word as our interpretive authority. A brief consideration of Scripture’s teaching on miracles demands we exercise caution with respect to their claims. We must interpret miracles in light of the many things which Scripture has to say about the matter. The miracle that we can say is the work of God with absolute certainty is salvation. Other than that, there are a variety of possibilities which must be carefully considered before we cry, “Miracle!”