Advertisements

Tag Archives: Miracles

Jesus The Healer (Mark 1)

“And immediately after they came out of the synagogue, they came into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was lying sick with a fever; and immediately they spoke to Jesus about her. And He came to her and raised her up, taking her by the hand, and the fever left her, and she waited on them.” (Mark 1:29-31)

The first chapter of the Gospel of Mark concludes with a series of miracles performed by Jesus. After leaving the synagogue in Capernaum, the Lord Jesus and His disciples enter into the house of Simon Peter whose mother-in-law is sick with a fever. Notice what the disciples do: they speak to Jesus about her. This should be a natural course of action for every believer concerning sickness; we ought to speak to Jesus about those in our own lives afflicted with sickness and disease. Let us go to the Great Physician in prayer, lifting up those who are sick to Him, asking for His healing touch.

Consider also what Peter’s mother-in-law does after the Lord heals her. She “waits on” Him and the other guests in the household. The term used here literally means to serve or to minister to. How remarkable! She did not expend her restored health on leisure and idleness, but she set about to serve the One Who had healed her. So often we pray for God’s healing in our own lives, but to what end? Do we wish to be healed so that we might serve the Lord in strength and vigor, or are we praying for God to heal us so that we can pursue our own interests without being in pain?

“When evening came, after the sun had set, they began bringing to Him all who were ill and those who were demon-possessed. And the whole city had gathered at the door.” (Mark 1:32-33)

Some Bible scholars have pointed out that Mark often employed hyperbole as a literary device. He would use expressions like “the whole city” to mean a great multitude of people and not, literally, the whole city. Be that as it may, we can be certain that, wherever Jesus went, large crowds followed. Multitudes. Throngs.

Sometimes we get the idea that the Gospel writers recorded all or at least most of the miracles and healings that Jesus performed. But it seems that the intention of all four of the Gospel writers was to record a sampling of the miracles that Jesus worked and not to suggest that their writings included every miracle of the Lord. John, in his Gospel, tells us:

Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book;  but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:30-31)

and again,

“And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they *were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself *would not contain the books that *would be written.” (John 21:25)

The Gospels contain just a few examples of the healings and miracles of Jesus. It is most likely that the Lord Jesus literally healed thousands of people during His earthly ministry.

 And a leper came to Jesus, beseeching Him and falling on his knees before Him, and saying, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.” Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.” (Mark 1:40-41)

The leper mentioned here recognized that it was not the ability of Jesus to heal that was in question, it was merely His willingness to heal that mattered. Jesus was often moved by the faith of those who had no doubt that He was able to heal. The Centurion who asked only that the Lord say the word for his servant to be healed was commended for having a rare and pure faith that Jesus had not seen amongst the Hebrews (Matthew 8:5-13). He, like the leper mentioned in this passage of Mark, never called into question the Lord’s ability to heal. Interestingly, Matthew wrote of the Centurion immediately after he wrote of this leper. Both of these men trusted that the Lord Jesus had the power to help them. And, as they both saw, the Lord was willing also.

To God goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

[This post was originally published Jan. 30, 2015]

**Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible  (NASB) © The Lockman Foundation and are used by permission.

[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?”]

Advertisements

At The Synagogue In Capernaum (Mark 1)

“They *went into Capernaum; and immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and began to teach.” (Mark 1:21)

Jesus was born in Bethlehem and raised in Nazareth, but it seems that He chose Capernaum as His home during His ministry (cf. Mark 2:1, Matthew 4:13). The Lord’s teachings were summarily rejected in His own hometown of Nazareth (Luke 4:16-31) thus sending Him elsewhere to establish His base of operations, as it were. Capernaum was a much more prominent city within the region, serving as a commercial center for the Galilean fishing industry and billeting a Roman garrison. Jesus’ words and actions within the synagogue here elicited a very different response from that in Nazareth. For in this city the people were amazed, not enraged, by His preaching.

Matthew, Mark, and Luke all reference Capernaum as the location where Christ’s ministry really began; particularly His miracles. And Mark and Luke both focus on the Lord’s activities within the city’s synagogue as its point of origin. The Gospel of Mark paints the portrait of Jesus Christ the Servant of God, but the writer is also dutiful to establish His authority over all matters, physical and spiritual. The Servant, Jesus Christ, is also the Creator and, as such, retains all power and authority over His own creation.

Within the very first chapter of Mark, we see Christ’s authority over sickness (vv. 31 and 34), disease (vv. 41-42), the demonic (v. 25), and even Satan himself (v. 13). Jesus teaches with authority, Mark records, expositing authoritatively His own Word and Scriptures. Verse 22 highlights the fact that the Jewish religious scholars of the day taught by the authority of those who preceded them, quoting and referencing the masters of Judaic theology who had lived in times past, never daring to presume the weight of their own rhetoric with their listeners. Yet the Lord Jesus Christ was the very Author of the Words on which He commented! He alone retained the prerogative of resting on His own authority when teaching on their meaning.

Mark will reveal throughout his Gospel that the authority of Jesus Christ is complete and total over all His creation. He commands the winds and the seas and they obey Him (Mark 4:41). He is Lord of the Sabbath (Mark 2:28). Even death itself must yield to the authority of the Lord Jesus (Mark 5:41-42). By the time the reader gets to the Resurrection of Jesus, there should remain no doubt in their mind that the One Whose authority was pervasive over all other aspects of His own creation could just as easily conquer the grave.

 “And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God.” (Mark 1:23-24 KJV)

First, let us consider where the man possessed by the unclean spirit was. Was he imbibing strong drink with the drunkards at a tavern? Was he visiting with a harlot at a house of prostitution? Or perhaps conspiring with thieves and murderers in the dens where such men hide? No. He was in the synagogue! Let us never suppose that Satan and his minions lurk only in the shadows and frequent the places where evil is openly practiced. Their work of deception is carried out within the places of worship; it is the houses of God where the forces of Hell battle for control of the hearts of people. Of all places on earth, where was the devil on the eve of Christ’s crucifixion? He was not in Herod’s palace or Pilate’s judgment hall. Nor was he in the meeting place with the Sanhedrin as they conspired to arrest the Lord. Neither was he in the prison cell with Barabbas or the two thieves whose destinies would intersect with the Lord’s. No, he was in the upper room with Jesus and His disciples as they celebrated the Passover and partook of the Last Supper (John 13:27).

The demon then challenges Jesus with the words, “What have we to do with Thee?” This expression can be found in the Old Testament as a call for justification on the part of an aggressor by the one who is being threatened. Jephthah’s envoy asks a similar question of the Ammonites in Judges 11:12. David used the phrase to Abishai to stay his hand when he sought to vindicate the king’s honor when Shimei cursed him (2 Samuel 16:10). And the widow spoke like words to Elijah, fearing that he had been sent by God to torment her by convicting her of sin through the death of her son (1 Kings 17:18).

Even so, we also sense within the demon’s query a sort of recognition of the vast chasm which exists between the Kingdom of Light and that of darkness. The Apostle Paul, speaking of marriage between believers and non-believers, would reflect this sentiment in his axiom, “What fellowship has light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14). There exists such a huge expanse between the Lord Jesus Christ and this simple foot soldier in the army of Hell that the demon himself must have been astonished to suddenly be thrust into the presence of God Almighty. The unclean spirit seemed to be aware of his own fate, and that of his fellow fallen angels, by asking if this was the time set aside for his destruction at the hands of the Lord.

Finally, we have what might be the most potentially confusing aspect of this entire encounter (along with subsequent encounters between Jesus and the demonic, such as those mentioned in verse 34). Why would Jesus silence the demons who recognized Him and declared Who He was? Wouldn’t He welcome their testimony verifying His identity? I believe there are two reasons why He disallowed their “witness.”

First, Jesus would fulfill His purposes according to the will of the Father and based on His own timing and methods. Jesus did nothing haphazardly and without purpose and specific motive. He could have just as easily arrived on the scene, shouting from the rooftops, “I am the Messiah, the Holy One of God!” But Jesus’ purpose in casting out the demon was to reveal His authority, not His divinity. He sought to verify His teachings through His miracles so that people would first believe what He said and would trust Him based on that. Later would come the Holy Spirit’s authentication within the heart of Who Jesus really was (cf. Matthew 16:17). Jesus came, not as the conquering King, but as the suffering Servant and He would draw people to Himself through His words and His work of Salvation. Jesus did not come to force people into submission through the declaration of His power as God. We looked at the Lord Jesus’ exercise of authority over many things, but never do we see Him exercising His authority over the hearts and will of men.

Secondly, Jesus neither wanted nor needed the testimony of Hell. James reminds us that the demons know and acknowledge Who Jesus is and they tremble because of it (James 2:19). But their concession is made, not in faith, but merely as the recognition of that which is true. They are not trusting on Christ nor believing Him for Salvation, they simply are making a mental assent to the fact of Jesus’ divinity. Make no mistake, when a demon cries out in recognition of Jesus’ identity, it is for his own evil purposes. He is not paying homage to Christ as Lord, but is seeking to frustrate the purposes of God.

But the Pharisees were saying, “He casts out the demons by the ruler of the demons.”” (Matthew 9:34)

“The Jews answered and said to Him, “Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?” ” (John 8:48)

Jesus would have enough accusations brought against Him that He was in league with Satan. He did not need demons going about “witnessing” for Him. The Apostle Paul had a similar motivation when he cast out the demon from the slave-girl possessed by a spirit of divination (Acts 16:16-18). The demon was accurately testifying that Paul and his companions had come to preach the Way of Salvation. But Paul cast out the demon, silencing its testimony because he did not want or need the help of Satan and his minions as he sought to make converts in a land which had not yet heard the Gospel.

To God goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

[This post was originally published Jan. 8, 2015]

**Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible  (NASB) © The Lockman Foundation and are used by permission.

[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?”]

The Manna Ceased (Joshua 5:12)

“The manna ceased on the day after they had eaten some of the produce of the land, so that the sons of Israel no longer had manna, but they ate some of the yield of the land of Canaan during that year.” (Joshua 5:12)

The daily appearance of the Manna in the Wilderness was nothing short of miraculous. The Manna itself is a reminder that, regardless of whither our Lord shall lead us, He will provide for all our needs when we faithfully walk in His will. Even if He must employ inexplicable and miraculous means, God will never leave us without. The Lord is our Shepherd, we shall know no want.

Even so, this passage in the Book of Joshua reveals that God, though capable of operating in His Universe without any limitations on behalf of those who are His own, seems to prefer the ordinary, the mundane, and the visible over the extraordinary and sublime. Within the pages of Scripture we find no instances of a miracle of God performed without distinct purpose and seldom is a miracle implemented when other, more conventional methods are readily available. Our Lord is a wonder-working God possessing unfathomable supernatural abilities, yet He does not frivolously execute miracles for the entertainment and amusement of His creation. Neither will God endlessly bolster a superficial and tenuous faith with a ceaseless cavalcade of astonishing acts of Divine power. Our faith is to rest on the Person of Christ and what He has done for our Salvation, not upon His ability to impress us with His wonders.

God poured out the Manna from Heaven because no other sufficient source of food was available in the barren Wilderness through which the Children of Israel passed into Canaan. If grain had been plenteous in that land, we may be certain that God would have directed His people to partake of it. But it was not. Thus the Manna began to appear daily in the camp and continued to do so as long as it was necessary. The time came, however, when the Hebrews entered into the Land of Promise and ate of the yield of Canaan.

In our own walk with the Lord, our flesh continues to crave the sensational, the spectacular; our fascination with the strange and wonderful seeks to be gratified. But it is not the miraculous and supernatural which needs to be emphasized in the Body of Christ today, it is the preaching and study of His Word. Many believers are contented to keep their eyes fixed on the sky, waiting for the Manna to fall in their midst when all the while the Lord is wanting them to eat the “natural food” to which they already have access. God cares too much for our spiritual growth to forever spoon-feed us that which satiates our curiosity yet leaves our souls growling with hunger.

To eat the yield of the land, that is, to come before the Lord in an attitude of prayerful expectation as we open our Bibles even as He opens the eyes of our understanding requires effort and work on our part. But that is the way that God intends for it to be. Remember, the generation that first partook of the Manna was that same generation which perished in the Wilderness. Apparently the supernatural provision of daily food was not enough to subdue hearts bent on rebellion.

Finally, let us consider that the cessation of the Manna in no way meant that God was no longer working tirelessly on behalf of the Hebrews. For in the very next verse of Joshua we have the revelation of the pre-incarnate Lord Jesus as the Captain of the Hosts of the Lord. Neither was the end of Manna the end of God’s miraculous intervention for the Israelites because the conquest of Jericho is related in the following chapter. God’s powerful, wonder-working hand is always laboring for the welfare, safety, and provision of His people, either visibly or invisibly. We do not see the Captain of the Hosts of the Lord marching with the Hebrews around Jericho, but surely He was there among them. It was He Who would cause the walls of the city to collapse.

When the Holy Spirit speaks through His Word to a heart desperately seeking answers and to know Him better, is this any less of a “miracle” than a physical sickness being healed? When the Word of God brings light to a heart plagued by darkness, is this less of a work of the Lord than speaking in an unknown tongue? And when the Lord Jesus Christ turns on the light of understanding in a person who has rejected Him time and time again, the Gospel penetrating a lost soul through the preaching of Scripture and bringing the life of Salvation where before only death reigned, is this less significant than even an actual bodily resurrection would be?

To God goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

**Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible  (NASB) © The Lockman Foundation and are used by permission.

[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?”]

The Parting Of The Red Sea — Exodus 14

The Egyptians Have A Change Of Heart

But the Egyptians pursued after them, all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, and his horsemen, and his army, and overtook them encamping by the sea, beside Pihahiroth, before Baalzephon.” (Exodus 14:9)

As the Hebrews begin their Exodus out of Egypt, we see that it was with great reluctance that Pharaoh acquiesced to their departure. Even the Egyptian people themselves, who had been so eager back in Exodus 12:33 to be rid of their Jewish servants, whose God was the undeniable source of their torment, were now having second thoughts (Exodus 14:5). “Why have we done this?”, they ask, “that we have let Israel go from serving us?

And so it is for the hard of heart, even after enduring such utter and complete judgment at the hand of God, that they should so quickly forget the great and terrible consequence of their rebellion and defiance of the Living God. “Why have we done this?”, what a ridiculous question to ask in light of all that has transpired! One had only to look about at the fields, now barren and brown, the life-sustaining crops depleted and destroyed; or to consider the myriad of newly dead, the firstborn sons of Egypt, taken in the strength of their youth. Would the overworked morticians of the land, still laboring frantically to embalm and preserve the endless flow of fresh corpses before they began to rot away, have asked such a completely foolish question? “Why have we let Israel go?”, indeed.

Nevertheless, this is prideful man’s reaction when the sting of judgment and the heat of God’s wrath begins to cool the slightest bit. Even after such unimaginable devastation, Pharaoh and his people again shake their fists in the face of God, supposing now that the plagues that had laid waste to their nation were no more than a fluke, an unrepeatable anomaly, and that the God Who sent these plagues was scarcely able to cause them any further harm.

The God Of Both Egypt And The Wilderness

And they said unto Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt? (Exodus 14:11)

The error that both the Egyptians and the Hebrews made was that they limited the sovereignty of God. Both had witnessed the mighty power of God’s hand as He poured out judgment after judgment back in Egypt, yet now, in the remote wilderness, they all supposed that the extent of the Lord’s influence would not reach so far. Pharaoh somehow believed that the same God Who could breach the armed guards and locked gates of his palace would be powerless to oppose him in the open desert.

And what of the Israelites? Did they not also suppose that the God Who had intervened so miraculously on their behalf back in the land of their bondage was now unable to deliver them from this current predicament? Yet before we are too quick to shake our own heads at the faithlessness of these people of God, we do well to consider that  the same can be said, to one extent or another, of all people of God. Are we not all guilty from time to time of forgetting that the same God Who delivered us at first is also able to keep delivering us? Do we not all lose the confidence on occasion that He Who has begun a good work in us will perform it until the Day of Jesus Christ (Phil. 1:6)?

The Children of Israel did “cry out unto the Lord” (v. 10), but it is what they said to Moses that betrayed the true thoughts of their hearts. This “cry” unto the Lord was not a heartfelt prayer of faith, but a panic-stricken cry of desperation, an emotional outburst born of fear. Even the godless atheist may cry out in times of anguish and terror, “Oh my God!”, yet the words are hollow and meaningless. We must never mistake the form and appearance of “prayer” for an actual, effectual petition made to the Lord in faith: whether it comes from our own mouth or the mouths of others.

And they said unto Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt?” (Exodus 14:11)

It is somewhat ironic that the Hebrews would comment on the abundance of “graves in Egypt”, for it is the “graves” of Egypt that serve even to this day as the lasting legacy of a now defunct empire. What could be known of that ancient kingdom at all were it not for what filled the towering pyramids strewn throughout the land, those imposing edifices that serve as perpetual monuments to the brevity of life and man’s desperate hope for immortality? There are graves enough in Egypt still, for whatever other wonders the Egyptians may have constructed, it is the “graves” that survive.

Backed Against The Sea

And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever.” (Exodus 14:13)

And so it was there, caught between the mighty armies of Pharaoh and the Red Sea, that the Children of Israel were in the exact spot where God wanted them. It was here in the earliest days of the journey toward the Land of Promise that the Hebrews would learn that their deliverance was not contingent on their own ability to outrun, overpower, or resist the enemy, no, it would come from the power of God alone. “Fear not, STAND STILL, and see the salvation of the Lord…” When fear grips our hearts and we set about, running here and there, busying ourselves in order to attempt to fight the battle, the Lord reminds us that it is He Who fights for us, we are simply to “hold our peace” (v. 14).

And the LORD said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward:” (Exodus 14:15)

How is it that God can say at once both “stand still” and “go forward?” How can Christ tell us simultaneously to “rest in Him”, yet “go ye into all the world?” It is because we rest upon the Rock of our Salvation that we are able to proceed, to go forward, not with the anxiety and aimlessness of self-purpose, seeking to secure the Salvation and deliverance of God through our own efforts, but under orders of the One Who commands us, marching forward under His banner, knowing that it is our Lord Who fights for us. Just as God directed the Hebrews to go forward toward the Sea, our commission is to go about the business of our own calling, to continue moving forward toward the goal that He has set before us. No matter what enemy pursues, our battles are not won by turning away from our destination and backtracking toward the adversary. “Go forward”, we are told, keep heading in the direction God is sending us. The Lord will stand between us and the pursuing enemy (v. 20).

The Red Sea Is Parted

But the children of Israel walked upon dry land in the midst of the sea; and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.” (Exodus 14:29)

When all hope seemed lost, the Lord did something that nobody, Egyptian or Hebrew, expected: He caused the waters entrapping the Israelites to part, leaving a path of dry land for them to walk across. When only a miracle could save the Children of Israel, God sent a miracle.

Like the Egyptians and the Hebrews that night, we underestimate the power of God when we begin to limit what He is able to do. When we stand in a place where there appears no way out, when we become “entangled in the land” (v. 3), we must remember that God can deliver us out of every danger, whether we can see how it may be done or not. God is a miracle-working God and He is able to save us through means that we can scarcely imagine.

It is baffling to consider that, even after all of the wonders God had worked back in the land of Egypt, perhaps nobody present by the shores of the Red Sea, except Moses himself, expected Him to act on behalf of Israel. How is it that man can be so numb to the love of God that we doubt Him even when He has shown Himself to be faithful time and time again? How can our hearts be so stubborn that we have trouble believing that God is all-powerful even when He has repeatedly proven His omnipotence?

When commenting on the details of this account from Exodus 14, even many modern Bible scholars are hard pressed to accept the miraculous and would rather consign the parting of the Red Sea to some natural, otherwise explicable phenomenon. It seems that admitting that God holds the ultimate power over the lives of men and the laws of Nature is as difficult for many today as it was for those living in ancient Egypt. Nevertheless, God did move in a miraculous way to save His people from the hand of their enemies. He still does today.

To God goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

The Magicians Of Egypt

"Then Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers: now the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments." (Exodus 7:11)

The Ten Plagues which came upon Egypt have often been divided into three triplet sets with each triplet being related. The Tenth plague, the death of the firstborn, is such an overwhelming judgment and so dissimilar from the others that it is usually classified by itself. The other nine, however, are each set apart in groups of three. The first three plagues have been labeled loathsome plagues and are primarily emotionally disturbing in their nature rather than directly afflicting the people. The River Nile becoming blood, frogs infesting the land, and lice covering the people and animals were certainly disgusting (to say the least), but these plagues did not really afflict the Egyptians as severely as the later plagues.

Next came the painful plagues, or the physical plagues. The stinging insects, the murrain upon the livestock, and the boils upon the people were physical ailments that caused pain and suffering. Finally we have the appalling plagues, or psychological plagues. The hail, the locusts, and the blotting out of the Sun seemed to indicate that Nature itself had turned against the people of Egypt and their Pharaoh. If even the wind, weather, and sky were behaving so erratically, in what could the people find safety and sanctuary from the wrath of the Living God? Each triplet of plagues struck a little closer to the heart of the people, each new set of three affected them a little more intimately. Before each new triplet was carried out, a warning was given (Ex. 7:17, 8:20-21, 9:13-14). The final plague of each set came without any warning. Something else very interesting happens at the conclusion of the first triplet:
“Then the magicians said unto Pharaoh, This is the finger of God: and Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said.” (Exodus 8:19)
Up to this point, the magicians had been replicating the miraculous signs that God was working in their midst. Yet the third plague (and every subsequent plague) they were unable to duplicate. Beginning with the changing of Aaron’s staff into a serpent, the priests of Egypt were able to imitate the miracles being worked. The changing of their own staffs into serpents, the changing of water into blood, the summoning of frogs. It is left to us to wonder whether or not the actions of the Egyptian magicians were supernatural, authentic sorceries or clever sleight-of-hand tricks. Whichever they were, they were convincing. The plague of lice marked the limit of what these men were able to counterfeit. They attempted to duplicate the lice (v. 18), but were unable (which leads me to believe that there was likely a Satanic supernatural force at work here that they themselves did not fully comprehend). They freely admitted their inability to Pharaoh at this point and recognized that this was the work of God.
“For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” (Matthew 24:24)
The actions of the Egyptian magicians is a reminder to us that signs of supernatural power, even seemingly authentic ones, are not necessarily the credentials indicating that God is involved. Demonic forces do possess a certain amount of ability to manifest signs of power, even the ability to work “miracles” and “wonders” at times. False prophets, false teachers, and bogus “Christian” ministries rely on deception in order to convince the unsuspecting. We are never told in the Bible to look at the power and abilities of individuals to determine if they are from God or not. Though they use persuasive speech, though they seem to work mighty healings and miracles, these are not the measuring sticks of their genuineness. In fact, we are warned that many will come as did these Egyptian priests, with great shows of seemingly supernatural abilities. So how is it possible to know whether or not these “wonder workers” are of God or not? Is it possible to know?
“Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed:” (2 John 1:9-10)
The doctrine that a person is preaching is the indicator of whether or not they are from God. The Message is what is most important, not the presentation. Is what they are preaching in line with the Word of God? Is their teaching sound and Biblical? Or are they using signs and wonders to distract from the message they are advancing? Many heretical teachers and founders of the cults have historically relied on the supernatural to authenticate their claims. Their reasoning was that there was no possible way that they could do the “wonderful” works they were doing if God was not with them. But the Bible does not suggest in any way that these are proofs that He is involved.
“Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:22-23)
The Lord Jesus does not dispute that the people He is referring to did not do the “wonderful works” they are citing. He does not even argue that they did these works in His name. But He does clearly state that He “never knew them.” These are unrepentant sinners, not saved children of God who are using His name and His authority to spread their own message. This is why the Message, the doctrine, is so important in verifying the claims of anyone preaching in the name of God. Even the Apostle Paul, in a passage where he is referring to false teachers and comparing them with the Egyptian magicians (Jannes and Jambres), does not appeal to his own miracle-working to authenticate his credentials (though he certainly worked many signs and wonders himself!). He writes to Timothy:
“But thou hast fully known my DOCTRINE, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience,” (2 Timothy 3:10, emphasis added)
His appeal is to the doctrine that he has preached as verified by the Holy Scriptures (as he goes on to explain in Verses 15 and 16). The Word of God is the standard to which all teachers and preachers must be held: does their teaching line up with it, or are they spreading something else? Are they preaching sound doctrine, or are they twisting the straightforward meaning of the Bible in order to support their own false agendas? There have always been false teachers “working wonders” and persuading many to follow after them. The forces of darkness are able to imitate, to a certain extent, the works of God. They are often able to present a convincing parody of what a servant of God looks like (or at least what people might believe the servant of God should look like), they can touch on some of the outward appearances of what might be mistaken as the hand of God at work. But, just as the magicians of Egypt could only go so far with their own enchantments, the time comes when they can do no more.

The Finger of God at work is not so much displayed in the flashy miracles and showy demonstrations of power as it is in the power of the blood of Jesus Christ to change lives. This is something that the demonic forces of the enemy are not able to replicate. God’s greatest miracles are not the changing of rivers into blood, or the infestation of frogs, or the turning of rods into serpents. It is the miracle of bringing life into a heart that was dead in sin. It is the re-birth of the vilest sinner into a new person, a person who has never existed before. It is the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to save sinners from the judgment that we all deserve; being pardoned of our sins that we might live forevermore in the presence of our Lord and God. Such miracles as these can never be imitated.

%d bloggers like this: