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Miracles and the Power of God Are For Today

Creativity.

Preachers explain away miracles and the power of God by creatively and inconsistently interpreting the Bible in a way that supports their pre-conceived biases.

Recently, I heard a disappointing sermon. It was time for the preacher to expound on Mark 16. The preacher’s ministry is not overtly branded as denominational.

However, I found a single line on its website that it is affiliated with a large body of churches whose members are known for their rejection of supernatural ministry in the church today.

Its more vocal and strident members have also been known to ridicule and reject as simpletons anyone who believes in the baptism of the Holy Spirit as a second work of grace subsequent to salvation.[1]

And…

Oh, goodness, let’s not even mention casting out demons and healing the sick.

Its members have often represented those who practice gifts of the Holy Spirit as ignorant of the Scriptures, predisposed toward emotionalism, victims of deception, and worse, pawns of Satan.

How Would This Preacher Deal with Scriptures that Explicitly Empower the Church for Supernatural Ministry?

So I was quite interested in how the preacher would explain away Mark 16:15-18, where it is recorded that Jesus explicitly gave the church the responsibility and authority to work miracles in His name. Casting out demons and healing the sick being two of those miracles:

And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.

And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.

Then the last two of the rejected verses, 19 and 20, tell how those who believed went out and preached, and Jesus backed up their words with supernatural signs.

How would the preacher get these words out of the Bible? Especially when ancient church history and modern church experience prove that Jesus does work supernaturally with those who believe and act upon these words.

Turns out it’s not that hard after all.

One Method Pastors Use to Cast Doubt On the Parts of the Bible They Don’t Believe

All you have to do is to look the church assembly in the eyes and say without stuttering that Mark 16:9-20 is not legitimately part of the Bible. That is, it was added by a monk to some copied manuscripts a few hundred years after the original manuscripts had been written.

My heart sank. I looked around at the few hundred people in the church audience, knowing the effect of such words. It’s bad enough that skeptics, cynics, fools, philosophers, and atheists attack the Bible’s trustworthiness.

But you can’t throw a live grenade of unbelief in a room full of people and not expect faith casualties.

Copyright 2014 (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Teddy Wade) Creative Commons

But to hear from a seminarian trained, Christian pastor, that the Bible is untrustworthy is devastating—at least to those weak in the faith.

The pastor in question is a good man who loves the Bible. He would never deliberately undermine it. But you can’t throw a live grenade of unbelief in a room full of people and not expect faith casualties.

How do you tell someone with a straight face to believe and obey the Bible as the unique, inerrant word of God in one breath, and in the next tell him there are parts of it that were added by men and not expect to negatively affect faith?

Really? Which parts were added? Just the part you told me about this week? Or are there more added parts? And if there are parts added by men, it isn’t unreasonable to assume some parts were deleted by men. Again, which parts?

I need to add that although I will talk about ancient biblical manuscripts, that is not what this article is all about.

I use the manuscript issue below simply because this is the platform the preacher used to invalidate a part of the Bible that explicitly institutes timeless supernatural ministry in the church.

I also use it to look at the larger issue of how and why preachers create doctrines that prevent the flow of God’s power in the church.

The Lame and Inconsistent “Oldest Manuscript” Argument Against Mark 16:9-20

Now to be fair, the preacher didn’t just say without trying to offer justification that Mark 16:9-20 is not inspired of God and should not be in the Bible. No, he used the “oldest manuscript” argument.

This is the argument that the oldest Bible manuscripts are more reliable than the newer manuscripts. The rationale is that the closer you get to the original writing, the closer you get to a manuscript that is free of errors made by copyists (i.e., the types of copyist errors that are commonly found in most, if not all, ancient documents).

Without going into great detail about the two manuscripts the preacher used to explain away Mark 16:9-20, it is necessary to offer clarifying and rebutting facts.

The two manuscripts are the Sinaiticus and Vati­can­us. These two fourth- century manuscripts are revered as the most reliable by many people based primarily upon their age.

Critical Observation About Relying on Manuscript Dates to Determine Which Parts of the Bible are Legitimate

By Unknown author – Codex Vaticanus, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=595883

Yet, here is where we need to make a critical observation. It is that no matter how close you get to the original manuscripts, which may or may not be destroyed, you are still roughly 300 years after the original book of Mark.

Obviously, we are reading copies of copies of copies. A lot of hands were involved in getting us the revered Sinaiticus and Vaticanus copies. What copies of copies did they use to get us their copies? No one knows.

Was Mark 16:9-20 in the copies they used? No one knows.

So what huge assumptions did the preacher make in placing supreme confidence in these two manuscripts versus the 99 percent of Greek manuscripts that do include the passage?[2]

One multi-leveled assumption is that the men who excluded Mark 16:9-20 from the Sinaiticus and Vaticanus copied these manuscripts accurately from earlier copies that justifiably excluded the passage.

The other alternative assumption is that those who included this passage in the other disputed and later copies (non-Sinaiticus and non-Vaticanus) did so inaccurately, or did so accurately using bad copies that included Mark 16:9-20.

“Teacher, I Have A Couple of Questions”

Question One

Why not go the other way?

Why not assume the copyists of the Sinaiticus and Vaticanus copied inaccurately? Or copied accurately, but with bad copies? Could that be the reason these two manuscripts don’t have Mark 16:9-20?

After all, if a host of other copyists could include a passage inaccurately with their manuscripts, and perhaps deliberately, why not assume that the copyists of the Sinaiticus and Vaticanus could have done the same, but in the reverse?

Question Two

How and why would 2nd century writers quote or refer to Mark 16:9-20 as Scripture if it did not exist prior to Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, and if it were not accepted as Scripture?

The failure of anti-miracles critics to ask and honestly answer these questions reveal fundamental problems with how they process information when it conflicts with their beliefs.

I am aware that Christian leaders of the first, second, and third centuries used and quoted non-biblical texts in their teachings and written defenses of the gospel. But no one’s arguing about whether the first- or second-century document, The First Epistle of Clement, is to be included in the Bible.

We are talking about Mark 16:9-20. We’re talking about excluding a part of the Bible from the Bible!

How could these teachers quote or refer to a biblical passage that didn’t exist until a copyist added it sometime after the creation of Sinaiticus and Vaticanus in the 4th century?

We’re speaking of Irenaeus (died A.D. 202), Tertullian (died around A.D. 220), Cyprian (died A.D. 278), and others.[3] These church leaders quoted the disputed passage as Scripture–before Vaticanus was written!

For instance, Dave Miller, Ph.D, in his outstanding article, Is Mark 16:9-20 Inspired? notes the following:

Irenaeus, who died c. A.D. 202, alludes to the verses in both Greek and Latin. His precise words in his Against Heresies were: “Also, towards the conclusion of his Gospel, Mark says: ‘So then, after the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God.”

The failure of anti-miracles critics to ask and honestly answer these questions reveal fundamental problems with how they process information when it conflicts with their beliefs.

Weaknesses of the Vaticanus and Sinaiticus Manuscripts, and the Power of God

Beautiful car, but it’s missing something.
Photo: Facebook post of Memphis Firefighters Association Local 1784

Are these two wonderful manuscripts missing something?

When I first heard a preacher refer to these manuscripts as reasons to reject Mark 16:9-20 from the Bible, I thought necessarily that there was some compelling reason(s) to do.

Were these two manuscripts so superior in quality and content that we could now forget about the other 99% of Greek New Testament manuscripts that include Mark 16:9-20?

I knew that part of the process to produce our New Testament was to compare all the tens of thousands of manuscripts and come up with a whole. Concerning the Vaticanus and Sinaiticus, my question was, Are these two manuscripts independently whole? Do they not need help from the other younger copies?

What I found left me wondering how any preacher can in good conscience use these two manuscripts alone to de-legitimize any part of the Bible.

Missing Pieces from Vaticanus, and the Power of God

Surprisingly, these Vaticanus and Sinaiticus cannot stand alone. They are missing not only words and phrases and verses. One is missing whole books!

For instance, Vaticanus omits not only Mark 16:9-20. It also omits the entire books of 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, several chapters of Hebrews, and Revelation.

Interestingly, several chapters in Hebrews (9:14b – 13:25) and all of the book of Revelation was added to Vaticanus from other manuscripts in the 15th century.

But guess what? The anti-miracles crowd don’t believe those portions of the Bible should be omitted.

Similarly, Codex Vaticanus omits the first forty-six chapters of Genesis. Forty-six!

No creation story. No Adam and Eve. No flood. No tower of Babel. No Abraham. No Sarah. No Ismael. No Lot. No Melchizedek. No destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. No Isaac and Rebekah.

No Jacob and Rachel and Laban and Esau. No Jacob wrestling with the angel. No dreams of Joseph and him being sold as a slave. No dreams of Pharaoh and Joseph interpreting them and being promoted.

But who among those who reject Mark 16:9-20 due to its omission in Codex Vaticanus reject Genesis 1-46 because it also is omitted from this manuscript?

Seeing this glaring inconsistency, how do we justify throwing out Mark 16:9-20 because it is not in Vaticanus, and justify keeping chapters and books in the Bible that are similarly not in Vaticanus?

Missing Pieces from Sinaiticus, and the Power of God

Sinaiticus, on the other hand, omits many phrases that the anti-miracles crowd is content to keep in the Bible. Let’s look at just a few of the more well-known phrases:

  • “Bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you” (Matthew 5:44).
  • “…The Son of God” (Mark 1:1).
  • “…And He said, ‘You do not know what manner of spirit you are of; for the Son of man came not to destroy men’s lives, but to save them” (Luke 9:55-56).

Here are some other omitted verses in Sinaiticus that anti-miracles people are content to keep in the Bible:

  • “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away” (Matthew 24:35).
  • “But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses” (Mark 11:26).
  • “And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen” (John 21:25).

There are many, many other examples of omissions in the Sinaiticus that the anti-miracles crowd are content to keep. It’s just something about Mark 16:9-20 that rubs them the wrong way!

Questionable Inclusions in Vaticanus and Sinaiticus

Vaticanus includes 1 Esdras 1:55-2:5.
By Unknown author. Public Domain. https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=36996

Additionally, both manuscripts include as God-inspired text, books that are rejected by the Protestant church as uninspired of God. I am speaking of writings such as the books of 1 Esdras, Wisdom, Judith, Epistle of Barnabas, I and IV Maccabees, and others.

But how can this be? These are the “best” and “most reliable” manuscripts, are they not?

Since Vaticanus is more reliable than 99% of biblical manuscripts, shouldn’t we change the content of those 99% to match Vaticanus? I mean, we don’t want to appear to be making up the rules as we go along. Right?

I do not mention this to cast doubt on Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, or the Bible. All can stand the test of honest scrutiny. What I doubt are those who dubiously present Vaticanus and Sinaiticus as “the” standard by which we judge and dismiss the 99 percent of Greek manuscripts that contain Mark 16:9-20.

A standard that even Vaticanus and Sinaiticus cannot pass!

Something’s fishy going on here.

Vaticanus and Sinaiticus Have Similar Weaknesses of the Younger Manuscripts

Vaticanus and Sinaiticus have the same weaknesses as our youngest documents. That is, none of them can stand on their own.

In fact, each of the two contain words, phrases, chapters, or books that the other doesn’t have, but are present in the majority of other manuscripts.

So what are we to do with the one when the other is different?

Vaticanus and Sinaiticus have the same weaknesses as our youngest documents. That is, none of them can stand
on their own.

If they are both the standard to use (based solely on their age) to judge all other ancient Greek Testament manuscripts, what do we use when Vaticanus and Sinaiticus differ? They can’t both be “the most reliable” manuscript.

And what do we do when there’s a host of other New Testament books and fragments that are a hundred or two hundred years older than Vaticanus and Sinaiticus and they differ from one or both of them?

The chart below comes from the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts (csntm.org). Besides those below, they reference six other 2nd or 3rd century manuscripts older than Vaticanus and Sinaiticus.

So, should we be consistent and say Vaticanus and Sinaiticus are not the “best” and “most reliable” manuscripts because there are older manuscripts available?

If your goal is intellectual honesty, the answer is yes.

If your goal is to defend a bias at all cost, the answer is no.

The truth is that neither Vaticanus nor Sinaiticus are kings of the hill. Neither can stand on its own. They need the collective body of extant manuscripts to offset their own weaknesses.

Could this be why the Holy Spirit inspired the writing of so many copies?

Vaticanus and Sinaiticus Need the Other Manuscripts

When you have 5,748 (and counting!) ancient Greek New Testament manuscripts and nearly 20,000 other ancient copies written in other languages, a missing word, phrase, or book in one or a few is not a problem. You simply compare all of them and reconstruct a better copy.

Or if some errant copyist or flat out deceiver adds something to a manuscript, you compare it to the mass of others and make a notation (as official correctors did) or you throw it out.

This is the method we used to establish the completeness of our Bible. But we depart from this method when it comes to Mark 16:9-20. Why?

The answer to this question is not unique to the topic of criticism of biblical manuscripts. The answer actually is representative of what drives a preacher to creatively disregard portions of the Bible he or she doesn’t want to be true.

Some People Don’t Want to Believe in Modern Supernatural Ministry in the Church

Photo of man by Chris Blonk on Unsplash

I do not assert that every legitimate scholar of biblical textual criticism rejects Mark 16:9-20 because they don’t want reason to believe in miracles in the modern church. Although some are no doubt in this category.

Nor do I assert that every person who believes the Holy Spirit no longer works miracles through, or on behalf of, the church are conscious enemies of the gospel. Although some are in this category.

However, in a sense, some could genuinely be like Saul of Tarsus before his conversion. They could believe that marginalizing and even persecuting Christians who believe in and practice supernatural ministry is a noble calling.

Nonetheless, I do assert there are multitudes of preachers who have a vested interest in preaching a do-nothing Christ and pastoring a do-nothing church, at least in the context of supernatural ministry.

(For the record: the church whose pastor’s sermon inspired me to write this article is exemplary in many other ways. Continue to bless them, Lord!)

For various reasons, which will be exposed in full on Judgment Day, many preachers crave a miracles-free, healings-free, demons-free church environment.

This is why they bend over backwards to irrationally defend their embrace of doctrines that produce spiritual weakness.

Such an environment is perfect for ministers who trust in their flesh.

Education.

Bible study.

Teaching.

Preaching.

Counseling.

Charisma.

Oratory.

Leadership.

Fund raising.

These are the things they trust in. Why? Because to a large degree, these are the things they can control.

This was the environment preferred by the enemies of Christ when He burst onto the scene and rocked their religious boat.

How and Why Did the Enemies of Jesus Reject the Power of God in His Miracle Ministry?

Jesus was rejected in the same way and for the same reasons preachers reject the Holy Spirit’s present-day miracle ministry. But I’m getting way ahead of myself. Get back on track, Eric!

Have you ever wondered how it was that Jesus was rejected by His own people? It’s actually no mystery at all.

The masses rejected Jesus because the religious leaders rejected Jesus. This is always how it works. Someone with a strong personality, and who purports to know more than everyone else on a subject, takes a strong stand for or against a thing, and the easily persuaded masses follow the lead.

“Duh, he’s been to Bible school. He must know what he’s talking about. I’ll just check my brain at the door and let him do my thinking for me.”

A Mouth and Heart at War with One Another

These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they do worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.

Matthew 15:8-9

Surprisingly, the religious leaders violently opposed the Lord’s ministry, even though they claimed to be eagerly anticipating His arrival. So why reject what you claim to desire?

After all, they were Bible experts, and God was backing up the words of Jesus by a constant flow of undeniable miracles. All evidence pointed to Him as the Messiah. It doesn’t make sense.

Unlike today, these rascals didn’t try to undermine the Lord’s ministry by erasing Scriptures from the Bible like some do with Mark 16. They couldn’t try that without being labeled false prophets and getting a brick to the head. Instead, they used two other modern tactics of those who are against supernatural ministry.

First, they tried to prove by the Scriptures that Jesus was in violation of the Scriptures.

And, second, they tried to discredit His miracle ministry through false accusations.

The Word of God Used Against Jesus to Discredit His Words

Sounds silly, right? Using the Bible against the One who gave them the Bible. But this is exactly what His enemies did. Here’s one of many examples:

Now when He had departed from there, He went into their synagogue. And behold, there was a man who had a withered hand. And they asked Him, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath [in violation of the Scriptures]?”—that they might accuse Him.

Matthew 12:9-10

Spoiler alert: Jesus won this argument.

Two things to take note of. One, the Pharisees, those who claimed to be champions and defenders of the Scriptures, used them to discredit the Lord. Two, they were more interested in entrapping Jesus than seeing the man with the withered hand healed.

These two traits are characteristic of those who today despise the supernatural ministry of the Holy Spirit through the church. It is a timeless opposition of the flesh against the Spirit.

False Accusations Used Against Jesus to Discredit His Works

Accusations are a favorite tool used by the enemies of the Lord to shut down the work of the Holy Spirit. Let’s look at one such confrontation between Jesus and the seminarians and Bible scholars of His day—those pesky Pharisees again:

Then one was brought to Him who had a demon, blind and mute; and He healed him, so that the blind and mute man both spoke and saw. And all the multitudes were amazed and said, “Could this be the Son of David?

Now when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.

Matthew 12:22-24

Spoiler alert: Jesus won this argument, too.

Here we go again. Jesus healed a blind mute by casting a demon out of him. Did the religious leaders celebrate? Not at all. Instead, they used the occasion as an opportunity to discredit Jesus by accusing Him of working with Satan!

Amazing, in a bad way. Let’s tie it all together with today’s preachers who do exactly the same thing.

Modern Opposition of Preachers to the Power of God and the Holy Spirit’s Ministry in the Church

Not on my watch! I’ve worked too hard for my good reputation.

There is absolutely no difference in first century and twenty-first century opposition to the work of the Holy Spirit. The faces are different, but it’s the same spirit using the same tools inspired by the same motivation.

When the apostle Peter rebuked Jesus for saying He was going to give His life as a ransom, Jesus did not hesitate to say, “Get behind me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men” (Matthew 16:23).

Was that harsh? Absolutely, it was harsh. Don’t try to clean it up. This is how Jesus thinks about people who actively work against His plan, especially religious leaders, which Peter certainly was.

Scribes, Pharisees, Doctors of the Law…and Cessationists: Preachers Against the Power of God

Today’s scribes, Pharisees, and so-called doctors of the law call themselves cessationists. Their definition of this word is someone who believes the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit ceased when the last apostle died.

A more accurate definition is it’s a person who is willfully ignorant of the power of God, and one who relies on creative interpretation of the Scriptures to embrace a desired worldview of a church designed to function without supernatural power.

Or…

For short, you can call them Christian unbelievers. Not trying to be mean. This is simply an accurate functional description of Christians who do not believe. Christian unbelievers.

A thick book could be written about the indefensible and often ridiculous theological positions of these unbelievers. But that is for another day.

For now, we’ll close out this section by referencing their use of illogic and inconsistencies to win arguments, and by providing a small sampling of some of their more glaring theological weaknesses and accusation hypocrisies.

Use of Illogic and Inconsistencies to Win Arguments Against Miracle Ministry and the Power of God

I used a lot of space to examine how preachers summarily reject Mark 16:9-20. For the sake of brevity, let’s simply use that example to discuss the model of using illogic and inconsistency to refute the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit among believing Christians.

We saw that those who use the Sinaiticus and Vaticanus manuscripts to throw out Mark 16:9-20 behave as though the ages of the manuscripts are reason enough to overlook their inherent weaknesses. (We won’t rehash what I’ve already written above.)

Here’s what I want you to see: I believe some scholars don’t see or can’t see their illogic and inconsistency in this debate of Mark 16:9-20 because they don’t want to believe it’s part of the Bible.

For if it’s part of the Bible, they then must explain why they persecute those who obey that part of the Bible, and why they aren’t obeying it themselves.

This is called confirmation bias.

Confirmation Bias Against the Power of God

Confirmation bias occurs when a person strongly holds a belief, often for a self-serving reason, and sees new knowledge not as an opportunity to re-examine their belief, but as an opportunity to prove it correct.

Subsequently, the person sees and processes pertinent information through the lens and filter of what he already believes. New information that clearly supports his belief is celebrated. New information that may or may not support it is interpreted to support it.

And new information that undermines his belief is summarily denounced, rationalized away, or conveniently ignored.

Preachers and so-called scholars who fight against the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit in the church are victims of confirmation bias. They are committed to their non-supernatural methods of doing church. So only information that validates what they are already doing is accepted.

The Holy Spirit is seen by fleshly preachers as a direct threat to their control of the church. Why? Because the Holy Spirit believes He’s in charge of the church.

They feel if they give up control of the church to the Holy Spirit, all kinds of spooky, weird stuff could start happening. Stuff like prophecies and healings and demons coming out of people—right there in the church!

How could these preachers keep their good names (and salaries) if it got out that their sermons were being interrupted by demons coming out of people with loud screams.

“No! No! No! No! No! We’ve got to stick with tried and true brain power. We don’t need the Holy Spirit. All we need is the written word of God and a preacher to preach it,” they say.

A Last look at Confirmation Bias

Let’s close this section with a passage of Scripture that shows confirmation bias in action:

Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, “Many good works [miracles] I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?”

The Jews answered Him, saying, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God.”

John 10:31-33

Clear as can be.

Jews: We know you’ve worked miracles that only God can do, but we don’t want to believe You are God. So we’re about to bust that head.

Jesus further pressed them in the next few verses to look at the evidence for His divinity. His rationale was that there was enough objective supernatural evidence to prove He was who He said He was.

What was the Jews’ response? “Therefore they sought again to seize Him, but He escaped out of their hand” (John 10:39).

You see? It was never about evidence. It was about their determination not to believe Him irrespective of the evidence.

Use of Weak Theology and Unfair Accusations to Discredit Modern Miraculous Ministries and the Power of God

If Christian unbelievers had to wear their theology and accusations against the present miraculous ministries of the Holy Spirit as clothes, they’d be butt naked. There’s simply not enough substance to cover them.

As I said, this article could easily become a thick book. Actually, there are many thick books that comprehensively destroy the theology and accusations of Christian unbelievers as it pertains to supernatural ministry. My purpose here is to just give you a quick look at some of their absurdities.

A Sample of Weak Theology Against Supernatural Ministry

1. The Miraculous Gifts of the Spirit Were Only for the Apostles. If this is true, we should only see apostles being used miraculously. We don’t. We see many non-apostles being used this way.

The Seventy

Seventy non-apostle preachers in Luke 10:1, 17 who did everything the apostles did.

The Unknown Disciple

An unnamed disciple who cast out demons in Mark 9:38-40.

The 120 Disciples

About one hundred and twenty (minus eleven apostles) who experienced supernatural phenomenon of a rushing mighty wind, heavenly fire engulfing them, and speaking in tongues in Acts 2:1-4.

The Food Distributor, Stephen

Stephen, a guy who supervised the distribution of food, had an extremely powerful ministry of “great wonders and signs” in Acts 6:1-8.

The Other Food Distributor, Philip

Philip, another guy who supervised the distribution of food, had an extremely powerful evangelistic ministry filled with outstanding miracles of casting out demons and healing the sick in Acts 8:5-8.

The Ordinary Disciple, Ananias

Ananias, a non-apostle disciple, saw a vision of the risen Lord and had a conversation with Him. He was given supernatural knowledge about Saul of Tarsus, and was used by God to heal his physical blindness by laying his hands on him in Acts 9:10-18.

The Roman Officer

A Roman officer was visited by an angel and given supernatural knowledge about Peter. Peter went to the man’s home and preached. The man and many others in the home were baptized in the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues in Acts 10.

The Church Prophets

In Acts 11:27-29, we are told there were legitimate prophets in the church.

The Other Church Prophets

In Acts 13:1, we are again told there were prophets in the church.

The Prophesying Non-Prophets

We are told that later in Paul’s ministry, ordinary people in the church who were used in the gift of prophecy prophesied to him and about him. He didn’t accept how these Christians told him to respond to these prophecies. But he did accept the prophecies as coming from the Holy Spirit (Acts 20:22-24; 21:1-4, 10-14).

The Four Daughters

Remember the food distributor with the miracle ministry in “e” above? He had four daughters who prophesied (Acts 21:8-9).

The Corinthian Church

The church at Corinth was filled with the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 1:4-7; 12-14).

The Galatian Churches

The churches of Galatia had a flow of miracles from the Holy Spirit in Paul’s absence (Galatians 3:1-5).

The Thessalonian Churches

The church in Thessalonica was encouraged in Paul’s absence to “not despise prophecies” (1 Thessalonians 5:20). Obviously, someone was prophesying besides an apostle.

2. Jesus Worked Miracles and Healed People Only to Prove He Was the Son of God. If this is true, we should see Jesus using His miracles to get publicity. This is not what we see.

Instead, we see Jesus taking deliberate steps to hide His miracles. We also see Him healing people because He loved them.

Jesus Healed A Leper Because of Love

Jesus healed a leper and told him “See that you tell no one; but go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them” (Matthew 8:4).

If it had not been for the command of the law for lepers to be declared clean by the priests, this miracle of healing would have been a complete secret—by the direction of Jesus!

Jesus Fed a Multitude Because of Love

Jesus miraculously multiplied sevens loaves of bread and a few little fishes into thousands of fishes and loaves of bread.

According to Him, He did it because of the following:

I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and nothing to eat. And I do not want to send them away hungry, or they will faint on the way.

Matthew 15:29-37

That’s not the action of a publicity hound. It’s the action of a God who cares about people. Has He stopped caring?

I could list many other examples of Jesus working miracles and healing the sick solely because He has compassion on His creation.

And we could go on and on and on if we were to fully examine and debunk the pseudo-theology of those who use the Bible to shut down the work of the Holy Spirit. But we’re not going to do that.

Instead, use the above as an example to check behind Christian unbelievers. For this is their common template: It’s to authoritatively present as Bible doctrine that which the Bible thoroughly refutes.

If you check behind them, you’ll see the weakness of their position.

A Sample of Thoughtless and Unfair Accusations Against Supernatural Ministry

If you can really heal the sick, why don’t you empty the hospitals?

The faulty premise of this is that the gifts of the Spirit are in the total control of the person to be used as he or she sees fit.

However, the Bible refers to the gifts of the Spirit as a “manifestation of the Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:7) given “as He wills” (1 Corinthians 12:11). Who can “make” the Spirit manifest? You can’t make God do anything.

Does it make sense for a critic to demand of a believer something the Bible says is impossible? Furthermore, Jesus Himself said of His earthly ministry of miracles, “The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do” (John 5:19).

If the eternal Son of God, operating on our behalf with self-imposed limitations of dependence on the Holy Spirit, couldn’t satisfy this demand of modern Christian unbelievers, is it fair to require this of His followers?

Did Jesus Heal Everyone at the Pool of Bethesda?

There was a multitude of desperately ill people gathered at the Pool of Bethesda in John 5. Why did Jesus heal only one person? According to Him, it was because He didn’t see His Father healing everyone at the pool.

Question for you critics.

If you can really save the lost, why don’t you empty the crack houses and the whore houses? This is probably where you answer, “Only God can save the lost. We preach and leave the results to Him.”

Ohhh, I…see…

You see yourself as a worker together with God. You preach. He saves or doesn’t save. Although you know it is God’s will to save all, you haven’t figured out a way to get everyone saved, now have you?

Interesting.

That’s also how it works in healing and casting out demons. We pray or command; God heals or doesn’t heal. Although I know it is God’s will to heal all, I haven’t figured out a way to get everyone healed.

When you figure out how to get everyone saved, please share the secret. Perhaps we can build upon your one hundred percent success and use it for one hundred percent effectiveness in healings and miracles.

This hypocrisy of challenging us to go out and indiscriminately heal the world as though it is in our power to do so with or without God’s approval and direction is ridiculous.

No Old Testament prophet did such a thing. No New Testament apostle did such a thing. Even Jesus didn’t do such a thing. And, yet, you demand this of us.

This is blatant hypocrisy.

If you can really heal the sick and cast out demons, why don’t you do it as easily and effectively as Jesus did it?

Hey, this hammock healing ministry is easier than I thought it would be.
Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

Seriously?

First of all, operating as a man, how do you overlook the ministry difficulties this Man, Jesus, had?

Why did He have to minister twice to a blind man to get him healed (Mark 8:22-26). Why did demons not shut up when He told them to shut up (Mark 1:23-26)?

Why did demons not always come out immediately when He told them to come out (Mark 5:1-15)? Why did some of His healings happen over time rather than immediately (Luke 17:11-18)?

Why was Jesus “unable” to do any mighty works in His own hometown? Why was He limited to only healing a few sick folks (Mark 6:1-6)? You know–the type of healings you despise. Colds and headaches and backaches.

So, according to you, we should only do that which we can do as well as Jesus. Okay, so here’s what I now must give up. For I certainly am not on the level of Jesus in these activities:

  • Pastoring
  • Teaching
  • Church Planting
  • Giving
  • Soulwinning
  • Loving
  • Forgiving
  • Praying
  • Sacrificing

If I left out anything, it’s not on purpose. Oh, yeah, here’s a few: healing the sick, casting out demons, and prophesying. Now what about you, critic? Which things on the list must you stop doing?

Conclusion

The war between the flesh and Spirit is as old as the history of fallen humanity. Human pride and arrogance have always been an enemy of God. Nonetheless, the Lord has chosen to destroy this pride and arrogance not through wisdom and power that overwhelm the senses.

Rather, He has “chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty” (1 Corinthians 1:27).

Don’t be intimidated or deceived by those who seek to shut down the miraculous ministries of the Holy Spirit.

Don’t assume that because a person has a Bible degree that he knows what he’s talking about, or that his motive is pure. Those who clamored for the death of Jesus were seminarians, writers, scholars, and holders of “doctorates,” (i.e., doctors of the law).

God has by design hidden the ministries of supernatural power from this self-adulating group because of their pride.

When the seventy disciples returned from their successful mission of preaching and teaching with miraculous signs following, specifically casting out demons, Jesus said the following:

I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight.

Luke 10:21

Notes

If you’d like to read more about the debate of whether Mark 6:9-20 should or should not be in the Bible, here’s a link to a wonderful article, written by an honest scholar.

[1] To be fair, the association itself has no official position on the gifts of the Holy Spirit, either for or against them. Each of its tens of thousands of member churches are autonomous.

Therefore, the rejection of supernatural gifts in the church, and the animus of one of its churches or thousands of its churches toward those who practice them, is not necessarily a representation of all its members.

This does not, however, negate the fact that the “typical” association church, Bible college, and seminary teach against the gifts of the Holy Spirit as a legitimate practice of the modern church.

[2] Surprisingly, this figure is taken from an opponent of Mark 16:9-20’s inclusion in the Bible, esteemed Greek scholar and Bible translator, Dr. Aland, of the United Bible Societies (UBS). Well, at least he’s honest about the evidence for its inclusion!

[3] See Is Mark 16:9-20 Inspired? by ApologeticsPress.org.

Eric M Hill

Eric M Hill is an author, blogger, YouTuber, and Bible teacher. He has written sixteen books. He is a member of the Authors Guild and Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA).

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