Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Signs and Wonders

I recently saw a video where  a man , who was a former Muslim claimed to have been both saved and healed of his deafness while at a revival meeting of some kind in  north Africa. I obviously  don't know this  gentleman in the video, and all I have to go by is his own testimony, which I accept at face value since I have no  occasion to think him a liar. I have no reason to doubt that he  used to be deaf, and now can hear. I have no reason to  doubt that the man  genuinely came to  a saving faith in Jesus. Youtube is full of videos like this, and out of all the ones I've seen, this probably was the best one as far as a testimony of salvation is concerned.  So he is not only  saved from the wrath of God to come, but he can also hear, and I am very happy for him. In the video he says he has plans to  become a pastor, start a church and preach out in the streets about what Jesus did for him. I'm in favor of all that.
  But here's what's  troubling.  If this really is of God, then why doesn't it happen for everyone?  Christianity is full of the blind, and the crippled, the  deaf and the dumb. And if it doesn't happen for everyone, what does that mean?
  The Bible is clear on this; we are one in Christ. Romans 12:5 says "So we, being many, are one body in Christ and every one members one of another." Ephesians 1:10 says "That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:" Philipians 1:27  beseeches us to
"stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;" Colosssians 2:10 tells us "And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:" Galatians 3:28  declares  "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus." 
 There is not, scripturally, degrees of  salvation or degrees of being 'in Christ'. No one that is in Christ is any more in Christ than anyone else, and nobody in Christ is in Christ any less than anyone else.  You're either in or your out. You're either saved or you're lost. You have either "passed from death unto life" or you are still "dead in trespasses in sins". And being in Christ, you are complete, and have already been given "all spiritual blessings", according to Ephesians 1:3.  The inheritance you have in Christ, which is called 'incorruptible and undefiled', is according to Acts 26:18, received "among them" that   are already saved. Nobody gets anything  when they get saved that nobody else hasn't already gotten. In true biblical Christianity, there are no  high saints and  low saints, and nobody receives a benefit or blessing that was somehow unavailable  to some other saint.  All the blessings, all the victories necessary to live for Jesus have been  bought, paid for and made available by the high priest of our profession, Jesus Christ, and are freely available, without cost or reservation to anyone who is sanctified by faith in him.
  If that's true, and it is, and  physical healing is part and parcel of this inheritance, as some have claimed, then why doesn't everybody get it?  The pat answer is that the  man who continues on deaf or blind or halt doesn't have enough faith. Somehow, according to this theory, a man can have enough faith to have all his sins  washed away and cast into the depths of the sea. He can have enough faith to believe that he  is joint heirs with Jesus and has a home reserved for him in a land where there are no sorrow, nor tears, nor pain, nor death.  He can have enough faith to endure the persecution and afflictions of living for Jesus, but somehow, can't get rid of his arthritis or his back pains.  That's an interesting theory, isn't it?
  Now we could delve into the particulars of the healing ministries of Jesus and explain the significance of it.  We could cover the Acts of the Apostles and put those events in their proper Biblical scope, but I want to submit to you that there is another  player on the stage of this  drama, and this player specializes in  counterfeits.  Those that promote  healing ministries also , whether they intend to or not, downplay the Bible, and having been robbed of the only offensive weapon in the  armor of God ( Ephesians 6) they are unprepared for the attack when it comes since they have forfeited the "light" necessary to see this intruder.
 According to scripture, powers opposed to God are able to counterfeit the miracles of God, and will do so to put the emphasis on themselves and away from the word of God. The Bible says in Matthew 24:24 that we are to expect "false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders;" According to both Matthew and Mark, the purpose of these signs and wonders are to "seduce" and to "deceive".   This capacity,  seen in Exodus when "Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses" seems to be limited only to the creation of life from nothing. Healing is even  possible using Satanic power according to Rev 13:12   They might even do so in Jesus' name, because after all, "For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached , or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received , or another gospel, which ye have not accepted , ye might well bear with him. "( 2 Cor 11:4).  All of this  deception is simply laying the groundwork for "him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders," 
  Do I think it's possible that this man in Africa was saved?  Absolutely.  Do I think it's possible that his spiritual growth was derailed by a 'miracle'. Absolutely.  In fact, where I the devil, that is exactly the tactic I  would  use. I would  immediately shift the focus from written scripture to experiences. I would run to and fro throughout the earth ( Job 1)  seeking whom I may devour (1 Peter). I would gobble up baby Christians all day long by distracting them with the visible, and taking their focus off of the invisible.  I would distract the  church and before long, the gospel would be preached, but it would be a gospel of miracles, not a gospel of the grace of God towards sinners. That isn't a huge shift, but it's a vital one, and one you will not see unless properly equipped with  the scriptures.. After all, the very first thing the Bible tells you about Satan is that he is subtle (Gen 3).  If this African man does not get grounded in the Bible, for the rest of his life, the proof of his ministry will not be what God said, but rather what he himself experienced.  He will also be used as a proof for other people's ministries and  he will be cited as evidence that God is doing this or that God is doing that. He will  lead people astray with the absolute best of intentions, evaluating the scriptures in light of  his own experiences.. That is an extraordinarily dangerous spot to be in.

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