WHY I BELIEVE IN MIRACLES TODAY.
by Henley W Webb, ca. 1955?
On the subject of miracles I speak as one having authority, and many will be astonished at my doctrine.
There is an old saying that "Nothing is true, 'till it happens to you." Therefore, because something wonderful happened to me, I have known since I was fourteen years of age that miracles are possible today. For twenty-five years after that event when I was fourteen, not one time do I recall ever hearing a Baptist preacher or Sunday School teacher make any kind of a statement for or against the working of miracles today. I often wondered why this was true, but thought that, because of skepticism or a lack of understanding of miracles, this subject was avoided intentionally.
Then one Sunday ten years ago in a men's Bible class I heard a substitute teacher make this statement: "The age of miracles passed with the Apostles." I knew this was not true and wanted to jump up and challenge the speaker, but realizing that he might ask me for some scriptural reason for my belief, I found it advisable to keep silent and find out what the Bible has to say about the working of miracles. I went home that day determined to search the scriptures for every word that would support what I knew already to be true, and now, having studied the Bible as I never had studied it before, I am amazed at the multitude of passages in both the Old and New Testaments that prove beyond any shadow of doubt in my mind that God can work miracles today, exactly as He worked them during the days of Elisha, of Jesus on earth, and of the Apostles.
In the first place, I found that the working of miracles did not originate with the advent of Jesus into the world. The Old Testament tells of dozens of miracles performed by Moses, Elijah, Elisha, and others of God's servants. Therefore, since the Bible says "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever," if miracles were worked hundreds of years before He came into the world, if they were worked while He was in the world, and by His servants who were called Apostles, why should not His servants today also work miracles? This and many other questions compelled me to study more diligently to find out what the Bible says. How did the Apostles receive power to perform miracles? Did all of the Apostles have this power, or only a few of them? Did the Apostles always have this power, and did they always succeed when they attempted to perform miracles? And how do men today receive this power, and why do we not see more miracles performed today? These questions all are answered or illustrated in the Bible. Therefore, with the Bible as my authority, and since "it happened to me," my belief in miracles today is steadfast and sure, and no modern-day skeptic or anyone else can convince me that I am wrong.
How did the Apostles receive power to perform miracles? Read Matthew 10:1: "And when He had called unto Him His twelve disciples, He gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease." Nowhere does the Bible say that this power ever was revoked. I believe all of the twelve had this power, not only Peter, James, and John, those most often mentioned as working miracles, and that they possessed such power until the day they died. What about the other nine disciples? Read about them in the 17th chapter of Matthew and the 9th chapter of Mark, while Jesus and the three of the "inner circle" were on the Mount of Transfiguration. Look at one of the greatest side shows recorded in the Bible. Nine men who had power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, could not cast a dumb spirit out of the son of a praying father. "Master, why could we not cast him out?" "Because of your unbelief; for verily I say unto you, if ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place, and it shall remove; and NOTHING shall be impossible to you."
How do men today receive power? "Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy (Spirit) is come upon you." Acts 1:8. Do we not assume that men who are filled with Godís Spirit have power of some of kind? Can we not as well assume that men who do not have any kind of power do not have Godís Spirit within them? If men today have power to perform miracles, why then do they not perform them? For exactly the same reason the nine disciples could not perform the miracle of casting out the dumb spirit: because of unbelief. I believe many men today have the power to perform miracles who do not know they have such power, or who do not believe in God enough to use their power.
Letís look at some of the other scripture passages which support my belief in miracles today. Read James 5:13-18. "And the prayer of faith shall save the sick." (5:15). What is the prayer of faith? Can you, can I, pray the prayer of faith? Jesus said, "Have faith in God. For verily I say unto you, that whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and SHALL NOT DOUBT IN HIS HEART, but shall BELIEVE that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have WHATSOEVER he saith. Therefore I say unto you, WHAT THINGS SOEVER ye desire, when ye pray, BELIEVE THAT YE RECEIVE THEM, and ye shall have them." (Mark 11:22-24). (I never have heard a sermon preached from this text.) Do we not say within ourselves when we pray, "Maybe God will hear me and answer my prayer."? Jesus makes it plain that if we ask in His name, our prayers will be answered. "Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full." John 15:24. "If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask WHAT YE WILL, and it shall be done unto you." John 14:7. "Verily, verily, I say unto you, HE THAT BELIEVETH ON ME, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. And WHATSOEVER ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask ANY THING in my name, I will do it." John 14:12-14. (Here Jesus is speaking, not to the man who gives lip service to Him, but to the man who has a deep, abiding faith and belief in Him, and who seeks to glorify the Father through Him.) Look up the meaning of the word WHATSOEVER and you will find that it does not leave out healing the sick, opening the eyes of the blind, making the deaf to hear, or anything else we might want to pray for.
Thinking back over my own experience, in view of what the Bible says, I believe there must be a meeting of faith with faith when a miracle of healing is performed through a servant of the Lord. Again reading the story in the 9th chapter of Mark, in the 23rd verse: "Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth." Notice that here a third person, the father, is praying for his son, the sick one, and Jesus is saying that it is the father doing the praying who must believe. Compare this with Acts 14:9, the account of the healing of a cripple by the Apostle Paul, "The same heard Paul speak: who steadfastly beholding him and PERCEIVING THAT HE HAD FAITH TO BE HEALED, said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet. And he leaped and walked." Therefore, it would seem that the miracle worker must BELIEVE IN GOD, and in the case of healing, the one to be healed, or someone interceding for him, must have faith.
I believe this also explains why more miracles are not performed today. I have seen so-called Faith Healers or Divine Healers before large audiences claim the power to heal, yet not one person out of the large audiences was healed. Why? Was it because the healer did not have the power to heal? Perhaps he did have such power. I prefer to believe that those in the audiences were curious and unbelieving, doubting within themselves that they would be healed, seeking a sign from heaven, like the Jews in Jesusí day. I believe some of these Divine Healers have the power they claim to have, because as a boy fourteen years of age, I went down the aisle and asked one to pray for me, and his prayer and my prayer were answered. Looking back, I recall that I believed what had been told to me, and did not once doubt that I should be healed. Therefore, because the man of God had faith and power, and because I had a firm faith in that power, I was healed.
I was born cross-eyed, and those who are cross-eyed know the jibes and cutting remarks from childhood playmates, the many embarrassing moments I suffered. One night I went to church with my family, knowing only that there was to be a preaching service. Only after entering the building with a boyhood friend, who himself suffered from extremely weak eyes, did I learn the nature of the service that night. This friend, in very convincing words, told me the preacher could straighten my eyes, and asked me to sit with him in the section of the building reserved for those who "wanted to be prayed for." I asked this boy several questions, and his answers convinced me that I should do as he asked. When my turn came, the preacher asked me what part of my body I wanted healed. When I told him my eyes, he placed his fingers over my eyes and prayed a short, fervent prayer, then asked me to pray also. When I left the building that night, I walked home alone, not knowing whether my eyes were straightened, and praying as I had never prayed before. I entered my room and stood before the window talking to God until late into the night. Then, before going to bed I looked into a mirror for the first time and saw that my eyes were straight. This experience has kept me close to the Lord through the years, and has taught me many truths that I do not hear taught in our churches today. How real God is, how surely He keeps His promises to those who BELIEVE in Him. How great is the value of prayer, the privilege of prayer, the knowledge He will hear and answer prayer. Away with the modern idea that God will answer some prayers with "yes," some with "no," some with "maybe, later on." God will answer any prayer from the heart of one who believes in Him and believes what he promised, if the prayer is in accordance with Godís will. (I John 5:14).
I have saved until last the greatest passage in the Bible in support of the working of miracles today. This is found in the twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth chapters of 1 Corinthians. These three chapters should be read as one, because they all deal with one subject, Spiritual matters. Think of all the beautiful sermons that have been preached from the thirteenth chapter, yet no man can understand what Paul is speaking about unless he first understands the twelfth chapter. Many interpretations have been given for the twelfth chapter, concerning what Paul meant when he referred to the various members of the human body. This chapter often puzzled me, until I resolved to read it enough to find the true meaning. After applying a technique which I find always works, I read this chapter at least fifteen times, prayerfully and with an open mind. I found that Paul is explaining how the Holy Spirit works in the Church, the Body of Christ. Paul enumerates several Spiritual manifestations found in the Church, and just as every member of our body does our bidding, even so the Holy Spirit directs the gifts given to all members of the Church, and works all the works of God in all members of the Church.
In verse 12:1, Paul says: "Now concerning Spiritual (things), brethren, I would not have you ignorant." Let us remember this verse as we read each succeeding verse through the three chapters, because every word in the three chapters is about Spiritual things. "Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed; and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy (Spirit). Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all." (v. 3-6). The Holy Spirit must touch the heart before any man can acknowledge Jesus as his personal Saviour, and regardless of what talents or gifts we have, the right use of those gifts is directed by the Holy Spirit. "But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal." v. 7. Do we recognize God when we meet Him face to face in the person of His Holy Spirit? Do we allow Him to touch the gift God has given us, and enabled us to multiply that gift a hundred-fold, or do we hide our gift in the napkin of a worldly life and expect God to be pleased with what we have done when He asks for an accounting of our stewardship?
For to one is given by the Spirit, (1) the word of wisdom; (2) to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; (3) to another faith by the same Spirit; (4) to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; (5) to another the working of miracles; (6) to another prophecy; (7) to another discerning of spirits; (8) to another divers kinds of tongues; (9) to another the interpretation of tongues; But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body." Here are nine spiritual manifestations which Paul says are given to the Church by the Holy Spirit. One member of the Church receives one manifestation, another member a different manifestation, another member two manifestations, or five, all manifestations being divided among the members severally as the Spirit worketh all in all, that is, all of these manifestations are used by the Spirit throughout the membership of the Church.
Now, beginning with the fifteenth verse, too many teachers and preachers forget that this chapter is speaking of Spiritual Manifestations. Many beautifully expressed interpretations are given, but these interpretations are meaningless, in spite of the flowery language so often used. "If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?" Why should Paul change the subject from Spiritual Manifestations to hands and feet? "And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?" What is the connection between the eye and the ear and Spiritual Manifestations? I believe the real meaning of this passage is this: If (1) the word of wisdom shall say, because I am not (3) faith, I am not of the body. Is it therefore not of the body? If (6) prophecy shall say, because I am not (2) the word of knowledge, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were (1) wisdom, where were (9) the interpretation of tongues? We may substitute any of the Spiritual Manifestations for any part of the body mentioned by Paul, and his meaning will be revealed to us.
"But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased Him. And if they were all one member, where were the body?" IF GOD SET ALL THESE MEMBERS IN THE CHURCH, WHO TOOK SOME OF THEM OUT OF THE CHURCH? WHO DISMEMBERED THE BODY OF CHRIST? The Bible does not answer this question, therefore, it must be true that men who were not inspired of God are guilty of taking about half of the gifts mentioned by Paul out of the Church. Small wonder that the Church struggles along like a man with one leg and one arm missing. Let us put all our gifts to work and watch the Church go forward.
How important is each of these Spiritual Manifestations to the Body of Christ? "And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee; nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary." In other words, (3) Faith cannot say unto (2) the word of knowledge, I have no need of you; nor again (1) the word of wisdom to (4) the manifestation of healing, I have no need of you. Paul says that some members seem to be more feeble, but we go further than Paul and say that at least half of the members or manifestations are altogether dead. Why cannot we be like Paul and say: "And those members of the body, which we think to be less honorable, upon these we bestow more abundant honor." Instead we mock those who claim to have the manifestation of healing and laugh to scorn those who claim to speak in unknown tongues. A few years ago a Baptist preacher in the city of Houston was acclaimed in the newspapers for stating that a man who claimed to have the gift of healing should be run out of town. Was that an act of Christian love? Would that preacher cut off a member of his own physical body because it was not as useful or attractive to him as other parts of his body? What right have we to reject the fruits of some other member of the Body of Christ to whom God has entrusted gifts different from our own? "That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another."
Why can we not see the weaknesses of the Church today? Can a man whose feet and legs are amputated above the knees accomplish as much as a man who is whole? "And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it." V.26. We claim to have a New Testament Church. But my Bible tells me that the Church of the New Testament found all of these gifts at work among its membership, and no member was found in disrepute because of the nature of the gift he possessed. All worked together in harmony and peaceful accord, because each allowed the Holy Spirit to direct his work. Do we really have such a Church today? The answer is obvious, since we do not even recognize some of the gifts mentioned by Paul as being in existence today. We say, "They died with the Apostles." Let us bring back to life all of the gifts found in the early church, and we will see again how marvelous can be the work of the Holy Spirit.
"And God hath set some in the Church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues." IF GOD SET THESE IN THE CHURCH, WHY DO WE NOT FIND THEM ALL IN THE CHURCH TODAY? "Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Have all the gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?" Of course, the answer to all of these questions is No. I do not believe any one man possesses all of these gifts, but I do most firmly believe that all of them can be found in the Church today. They may be dormant, those who possess some of them may not even be aware that they have such gifts, because of a lack of faith and true belief in Christ, and because their heartís doors are not opened to the Holy Spirit, forbidding Him to work in their lives. Let us "stir up the gift that is within us," let us recognize the need of members other than prophets and teachers, and watch the Church go forward with all members working together as God intended.
"But covet earnestly the best gifts; and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way." Here Paul launches into a great exposition on Love, which he says must supplement the work of each of the other gifts mentioned. Love is the great harmonizer of the members of the Body of Christ. Without Love, we are but nothing if we preach, or teach, or prophesy, or heal, or move mountains, or feed the poor, or perish at the stake. Each and every one of us must have Love along with whatever other gift we possess. Without Love we cannot approach the unsaved, we cannot win the lost, for Love is the most magnetic of all the gifts. Love draws us to those we would win or influence. If our method of working is without Love our words have a hollow sound, like sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.
There are those who quote Chapter 13, verse 13, when they seek to prove that all of the gifts mentioned by Paul were given to the Apostles alone. "And NOW abideth faith, hope, Love, these three; but the greatest of these is Love." The use of the present NOW is said to prove that all other gifts were in the past and are no longer a part of Godís program. Is all wisdom gone, has all knowledge passed away, has all prophecy failed? Not yet, although they will pass away when Jesus comes again, for there will no longer be need for them. The same writer who says NOW in this verse also said: "NOW are they many members, yet but one body." Furthermore, in the fourteenth chapter Paul continues as if all the gifts mentioned were still in the Church, saying, "Follow after Love, and desire spiritual gifts." He carefully explains that one who speaks in tongues may well speak to God, but in speaking to men "except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken?, for ye shall speak into the air." And again, "in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue."
So let us desire Spiritual Gifts, but covet earnestly the best gifts. Above all, let us teach ALL of the Bible, and let us not qualify the promises of Jesus, because he is all powerful. The promises spoken by Jesus were meant for us today, just as they were meant for those who actually heard His words as they were spoken.
There are many other passages of Scripture which support my belief in miracles today, just as emphatically as the passages I have mentioned. In fact, every time I read a few chapters from my Bible, I find something new that confirms the belief I have. I believe anyone who will read the Bible with an open mind, putting aside all skepticism and prejudice and biased opinions, will agree with what I have written.
What MIRACLES have you read about
without knowing their significance?