It should not be necessary to prove that the power of God is for today; that should be a given. Unfortunately, millions of Christians in the Western world hold to a doctrine that denies that healings and miracles should be expected today. They say that was just for the generation of the apostles. Here are my top five reasons why that is an unbiblical doctrine, and why we should expect to see the power of God with our own eyes and in our own bodies today.
Reason #5 – A house divided against itself cannot stand. Satan sends sickness. God sends healing. Jesus proved that if Satan were the source of his healing ministry, then Satan would be divided against himself whenever He healed (see Mat 12:24-28). Ironically, many Cessationists argue (out of their Calvinist system of theology) that all things are the will of God. If someone is sick, it is attributable to the mysterious will of the Creator, who does all things according to His will and works all things for the common good. But if this is true, then not only does it make God the author of sickness, but it also makes the kingdom of God fall, because the one who willed the sickness is then healing the same sickness through the ministry of Jesus.
To charge that sickness comes from God, for all intents and purposes, the same as charging that healing comes from Beelzebub. In fact, both are equally ridiculous to the ears of any sensible Christian. Satan sends sickness, not God. God heals sickness, not Satan. That is simple, isn’t it? Isn’t it funny how theologians get these simple truths mixed up? Actually, it is not funny.
Reason #4 – Cessationism is a doctrine based on experience, not Scripture. I know that any Cessationist reading this will likely become angry at this statement, not least because this is precisely the charge they make against Pentecostals concerning the doctrine of speaking in tongues. But it is not only those experiencing miracles who are open to the charge that their doctrine of miracles is based on their experience of miracles. Those whose experience is 100% devoid of miracles can just as easily form a doctrine that eliminates the potential for miracles, on that basis.
It is understandable how any faithful follower of God who walks in faith but does not experience miracles can conclude that miracles are not for today. But that is still an invalid conclusion. There could be other reasons why such people are not experiencing miracles and healing. In fact, being taught cessationist doctrine alone is enough to eliminate the miraculous from one’s life, while every other area of the same person’s life may be filled with faith and the presence of God. It is not just faith in general, but specifically, faith for healing that brings healing. When Jesus rebuked his disciples for not having faith to exorcise a demon (Mat 17:14-22), He was not questioning their salvation; he was denying that they had particular faith to deliver the demon-possessed boy. That is why some of the most faith-filled men and women of God in history have lacked miracles in their ministry. It also explains why some who had miracles in their ministry were not the most Christ-like people on the planet. Faith for miracles is not equivalent to faith in Jesus or obedience to Jesus. One may be strong in one area and weak in the other.
What we believe about healing should come directly from the Scriptures, and then we interpret our lives from it. There is abundant testimony in Scripture attesting to the miracle-working power of God, but there is not a single verse in the Bible that teaches that healing and miracles are only temporary phenomena, or that they died out with the apostles. If we are not experiencing this power in our own lives, then we should not reinterpret the Bible to match our experience. Rather, we should ask God to manifest his power so that we can witness His healing today.
Reason #3 – God is already working miracles greater than healing today. Since there is a debate ongoing between Cessationists and Pentecostals, it would be good to establish a point of agreement. I think most people on both sides of this issue would agree that for God to deliver sinners from bondage and save their souls is the greatest miracle we can behold. This is also the most important thing we can experience and it should be the most prevalent request we make of God in our prayers. The salvation of a soul is more important than the healing of a body.
If this is true, then two conclusions issue from it. First is that God really does work miracles today. As long as souls are being saved, miracles are occurring in our midst. Second is that if God will work the greatest miracle today, how much more will he work the lesser miracle of physical healing? It cannot be because miracles are not for today, for clearly they are. The miracle of salvation confirms this. It is not because God does not want us healthy because he does. It is Satan who wants us sick. So there is no reason why God would refuse to do a lesser miracle of healing when he is daily performing greater miracles of salvation and deliverance.
Reason #2 – God promises to answer our prayers. The Scriptures promising answers to our prayers are boundless. This is another point of agreement between Cessationists and Pentecostals. Of course, the prayer must be according to God’s will for Him to answer. So again the question reduces to whether it is God’s will to heal. Cessationists are forced to say it is not, except in rare cases. But the Bible clearly teaches that it is God’s will to heal (e.g., Mat 8:1-3). The most that can be argued from Scripture is that there are exceptions, meaning there may be instances where it is not God’s will to heal. But even if that can be asserted, they are exceptions to the rule. To pick out a few instances in Scripture where people were not healed does not prove it is not God’s will to heal. It proves that it is, because the exception proves the rule.
What should Christians believe? Should we believe that God does not want us well, but prefers to receive glory from our sickness than from our healing? Or should we believe that God wants to be glorified in His miraculous healing of our bodies? I prefer the latter, and Scripture abundantly testifies to this.
Reason #1 – It is happening all over the world today. we do not base our doctrines on experience, but on Scripture. But we do require that the true teachings of scripture be represented in our experience. If the Bible teaches things that are not in our experience, then we are either misinterpreting the Bible or we are not living right. We believe in salvation and people all over the world are being saved. We believe Jesus is alive and He is in personal relationship with believers all over the world. If the Bible really teaches that healing and miracles are for today, then the proof of the pudding is in the eating; there should be healing and miracles all over the world.
In fact, healings and miracles are happening all over the world today. One of the most highly acclaimed books of the last year is titled, Miracles, by Craig Keener, who is a professor at Asbury Theological Seminary. In this book Keener documents the many miracles that are happening in all parts of the world in accordance with what was taught and experienced in the New Testament. This book is must reading for anyone interested in the subject, especially for those who question whether miracles are for today. If you cannot access the book, then read his interview in Christianity Today, titled, “It’s Okay to Expect a Miracle.” Another documented example of modern day miracles comes from a recent on line article in Christianity Today. The blurb under the title of this article says: “There are credible reports that Heidi Baker heals the deaf and raises the dead.” The article goes on to provide testimonies of miracles and evidence of their credibility from a scientific study performed by a professor from Indiana University. The noteworthy thing about this article is that is comes not from a Pentecostal or Charismatic source, but from an evangelical one that happens to be one of the most popular news sources in the cessationist community. It is no longer rational for people to deny that miracles are happening today. We still hear that claim occasionally from people whose myopic view of the world is restricted to the United States and other Western nations. But most of the miracles are occurring in third world countries, where belief in the supernatural is mainstream. In the Western world, where the scientific method precludes any belief in the supernatural, believing in miracles is not politically correct, and scholars pushing that theme will not be considered credible in the scholarly community. Interestingly, the Indiana study on the miracles in Heidi Baker’s ministry noted that while miracles could be verified in Africa and South America, the only place she ministered where miracles could not be verified was North America.
If the miraculous is happening, it can hardly be attributed to Satan (or Beelzebub). That was already tried, and it did not work for the Pharisees. The only thing left is to admit that healing and miracles really are for today and to ask God to manifest them in your life.
Tim Stafford, “It’s Okay to Expect a Miracle” interview with Craig Keener on his book, Miracles. http://www.ctlibrary.com/ct/2011/december/okay-to-expect-miracle.html, last accessed June 12, 2012.
Tim Stafford, “Miracles in Mozambique: How Mama Heidi Reaches the Abandoned” in CTLibrary.com. http://www.ctlibrary.com/ct/2012/may/miracles-in-mozambique.html?utm_source=ctlibrary-html&utm_medium=Newsletter&utm_term=8957354&utm_content=126578533&utm_campaign=2012, last accessed, June 12, 2012.