(You can listen as you read using the Spotify link above, pausing to click other links. Also, watch the video at the end of this page)
I believe in miracles.
Several years ago (2012), I spent three and a half days in a hospital intensive care unit after suffering two strokes. When I was admitted to the hospital, I was losing my ability to see and talk. I could barely walk. I was rushed into the ER, and as I was lying on a gurney, I heard the neurologist tell my wife, “We are losing him”. I was dying. The attending ER nurse whispered to me and asked “are you a praying man”. I nodded affirmative. She said “you should start praying right now!”
I laid in an intensive care unit room for three and a half days. Then, miraculously, I regained my vision and speech. Two neurologists and a doctor visited me at my bedside, musing over the fact that I, not only had not died, but that I appeared to be recovering. I was moved to a room in the general population of the hospital.
On the fourth day I got out of bed and walked, slowly, down the hospital corridor and back to bed. I told my wife, we were going home. She doubted me. When the nurse came in, I announced that I wanted my clothes because I was going home. The nurse said no and called the attending physician. He, also, said “No, you cannot go home yet”.
I packed my bag, paid my bill and prepared to leave. I refused the “mandatory wheelchair ride to the exit” and, I walked, although very slowly, to our car, and we went home.
Incidentally, I had been scheduled to preach a Wednesday evening service at our church. My pastor called to say that he would cover the Wednesday evening service. I pleaded with him to let me keep that date, and, with my pastor’s blessing, I preached that Wednesday night, just two weeks after my stroke, and God blessed.
One last note of interest, was that I had scarring in one eye from a blood clot due to the stroke. My ophthalmologist said the scar was permanent, but, that I would get used to it.
About a year later, a lady at our church prayed for my eyes and soon afterwards, the scar faded away. During my next ophthalmologic appointment, I asked my doctor about the scarring in my eye, and he remarked, “What scarring. There is no scarring.”
I reminded him about the scar, so, he checked my records and said, “Well, how about that! The scar is gone! That never happens.” I told him that God had healed me, and he replied, “That’s nice”, with a wry smile.
So, I ask: “Do signs, works and mighty wonders still occur?”
Here are the two extreme positions within the church, on that question.
THE ONE EXTREME
I was invited to “fill the pulpit” of a friend’s church for a few weeks. During that time I was repeatedly challenged by a deacon in the church, whom I believe was sorely disappointed that I had been called instead of him.
One particular Sunday, before I preached, I attended this man’s Sunday school class. During his lesson, he emphatically stated that “miracles had ceased” because Jesus only used them to draw a crowd, and since the time that the Church was established, miracles were no longer needed and had ceased.
My wife poke me in the ribs and whispered, “Say something!” I remained silent.
I taught on this matter, from the Bible, during my sermon.
Later, this deacon confronted and castigated me for preaching, as he put it, “heresy, lies and falsehoods”. I offered to have an open discussion the coming Wednesday night, after my teaching time. He eagerly accepted.
Most of the church membership stayed for the discussion after my Wednesday evening teaching. It was a good-sized crowd.
This deacon was emphatic: miracles had ceased, and I had taught lies from the pulpit. I smiled and said, “Show me. Show me, in the Bible, where it says what you claim.”
This deacon, stammered and blurted, “Well, it is implied.”
I repeated, “Show me, please. Show all of us.”
He became angry, shouted some disparaging remarks and stormed out of the fellowship hall.
THE OTHER EXTREME
I had become a member of an Assemblies of God church. The teachings and ministry, for the first several years, although more expressive than I was accustomed, were not unlike what I had studied, believed and practiced during my time as a Christian and a minister.
But that all began to change as the church grew. First, began the practice of speaking and praying in tongues in public. Then other ‘manifestations’ began to take place. When I questioned their Biblical legitimacy, I was ‘put in my place’.
Then, during church services, very loud and chaotic interruptions of a man screaming or shouting an unintelligible utterance followed by an interpretation. It seemed always to be the same two guys, ‘tag-teaming’ these outbursts. The ‘interpretations’ were always the same or very near the same.
Then, the matter of miraculous healing took ‘front stage’ at this church, accompanied by proclamations of prophecies, predictions and the ‘claiming promises of abundance’.
The problem was that people began to go to the altar for “prayer needs” (for what they could get from God) instead of sorrow for sin and repentance. No one had a healing at the point of prayer. Most folks, either recovered over time, stayed ill or died. The prophecies NEVER came to pass and the only ‘abundance’ I witnessed was the accumulating church debt, the repeated handouts by a sister church to help pay our bills and the staff’s salaries.
NOTE: Signs, Works and Mighty Wonders are not of ourselves and are not for ourselves. It is God, it is Jesus, doing His Works through us. Read:
Acts 2:2 “Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know
Mark 16:20 “And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed.”
John 5:19 “Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.”
John 5:30 “I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”
THE BIBLE PROVIDES THE BALANCE
I am providing the sermon excerpt (with permission) by Pastor Trent Casto, senior pastor or Covenant Church, Naples, which addresses this matter from the Scriptures.
(The entire service can be seen on this link: “Appreciating Least Those Who Serve Us Most“)
We are at a critical time in world history. The world is turning to the Godless evils of Socialism, Marxism and Communism for relief and the promise of a better life.
All forms of Marxism are lies from Satan, and, history has shown they are murderous lies. Hundreds of millions have been slaughtered by these regimes, and, we have forgotten. And, millions of these souls have been lost to the fires of hell for eternity.
And, now, we are being sold false consumer-gospels, social-gospels, false prosperity-gospels and religious humanism by the majority of our churches. We have forgotten the true message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and can longer discern the counterfeit from the True Gospel.
We must turn back to God, the Bible and The Gospel of Jesus. Time is short.
Your Brother and Friend,