Does God Still Empower Men to Perform Miracles Today?
by Steven Chan
1. Our Creator God is very powerful and with Him all things are possible:-
Matt 19:26: “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” So, there is no question that God has the power to perform miracles at any time.
However, the question is not whether God has the Power to perform miracles but the question is what “His Will” is as regards empowering individuals today with the power to perform miracles. “His Will” is what has been disclosed to us by Jesus through His apostles and confirmed by the Holy Spirit (via the miraculous signs), as recorded in the inspired New Testament Scriptures:
a. Please note that God’s channel of speaking to man has changed: During Old Testament days, God spoke to the fathers through the prophets but that channel of communication changed with the coming of Jesus Christ – for God now speaks through His Son:
Heb 1:1-2: “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son,”
Matt 17:5: “While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!”
b. God’s Word concerning His Will as regards our salvation was declared by Jesus and confirmed by the apostles who heard Him and were eye-witnesses of His resurrection, as well as by God through the miraculous signs:
Heb 2:3-4: “how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, 4 God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?”
According to Matt 18:16 ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established (i.e. confirmed).’ Thus, as applied to the teaching of Jesus Christ concerning God’s Will for our salvation, the teaching of Jesus was confirmed by both the apostles and God Himself (via the signs & miracles).
c. Thus, the apostles were empowered by the Holy Spirit as the chosen eye-witnesses of Jesus Christ: Acts 1:8: “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” [Note: not anyone can be an apostle: Following the death of Judas Iscariot, the remaining apostles chose another disciple to take his office/place and only those who had the required qualification may be chosen to replace Judas as an apostle: Acts 1:21-26]
d. So, as the apostles preached the Word of God, the Lord was working with them and confirming the Word by the accompanying signs that were performed by the apostles: Mark 16:20: “And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs.”
e. So, because of the testimonies of the apostles as eye-witnesses of glory of the Lord, we now have the Will/Word of God confirmed:
2 Peter 1:16-21:”For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. 17 For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” 18 And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. 19 And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; 20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”
f. Today, we must listen to the written Word of God, the God-Inspired Holy Scriptures:
2 Tim 3:14-17: “But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
John 20:30-31: “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”
Eph 3:3-5: “how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, 4 by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), 5 which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets:”
1 Cor 14:37: “If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord.”
2. Besides coming into this world to offer Himself as a sacrifice so that we can be set free from sin, Jesus also came to give us God’s Will as regards the salvation of man, described as the New Covenant mediated through Jesus Christ:-
a. Heb 8:6: “But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.”
b. Heb 10:9-10: “then He said, “Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God.” He takes away the first that He may establish the second. 10 By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”
c. John 7:16-17: “Jesus answered them and said, “My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me. 17 If anyone wants to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority.”
3. Jesus Gave the Father’s Words to the Apostles:-
a. John 17:8: “For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me.”
i. Note that Jesus made a distinction between the apostles who were the immediate subject of His prayer to the Father (as regards His committing of the Words to them – i.e. the apostles) and those who would later believe through their preaching – thereby making clear that Jesus entrusted God’s Words to the apostles who would thereafter preach that Word to others so that they too may believe:
John 17:20-21: “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You;”
b. Jesus informed the apostles that the Holy Spirit would guide them into all truth (the truth being God’s Word: John 17:17: “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.”):-
John 16:12-14: “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. 14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.”
c. Jesus ensured that the apostles would remember all that He had taught them – nothing would be forgotten or omitted by the apostles – that’s the role of the Holy Spirit::
John 14:25-26: “These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.”
4. The Word of God has been delivered through Jesus & the apostles and has been written down for us all.
Following the completion of the work of the apostles (declaring the Word of God as revealed to them by Jesus and by the Holy Spirit) we now have the “once for all delivered faith” (Jude 3) and we are not to add to, nor subtract from, God’s Word (Rev 22:18,19), nor to deviate from the teachings of the apostles (Gal 1:6,9):-
a. Jude 3: “Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.” (i.e. no new deliverance/revelation of the truth).
b. Rev 22:18-19: “For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”
c. Gal 1:6-9: “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, 7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.”
5. Jesus Christ taught the importance of doing the Will of God as opposed to merely the ability to perform signs/wonders/miracles):-
a. Matt 7:21-27: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ 24 “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. 26 Now everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: 27 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”
According to our Lord, on the Day of Judgement, there will be MANY who will say to Him that they “prophesied in His name, cast out demons in His Name, and done many wonders in His name” and yet, Jesus will declare that He never knew them – depart from Me – why? Because they practice lawlessness – God’s Word is His law – so when one does not do God’s Word/Will then one is practising lawlessness – and that was clearly explained by Jesus in the subsequent verses 24-27 when He illustrated the consequences of those who failed to do His sayings/teachings/words.
1 John 3:4: “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.”(KJV) 1 John 3:4: “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.”(NKJV)
So, the above scriptures warned us against being deceived by mere ability to perform signs and wonders.
b. The test of authentic teachers of God’s Word is not the ability to perform miracles/signs/wonders, it is whether they teach according to God’s Word as revealed through the apostles:-
1 John 4:1, 6: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. … 6 We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.”
c. For example, Jesus teaches in Mark 16:15-16: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.”
But today, there are many who teach that one need not be baptized in order to be saved! The apostle Peter taught in Acts 2:38: “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit…” and according to Acts 2:41: “Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.”
Yet, today many who profess to have the power to heal or to perform miracles do not teach the same as the apostles. Contrary to the apostolic teachings, they declare that one is saved when one believes – without the need for baptism – when the Bible expressly declares that baptism is for the purpose of forgiveness of sins – so how can one be saved when one’s sins have yet to be forgiven? Even the apostle Paul was told by Ananias in Acts 22:16: “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.”
In Acts 8:26-40, the angel of the Lord led the evangelist Philip to the road to Gaza where he met the Ethiopian eunuch and taught him Jesus. In Acts 8:37, the eunuch answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” Did Philip then immediately pronounce him to have done the will of God so as to be saved (a child of God) and he left the eunuch?
No, Acts 8:38-39 records what Philip did: “So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. 39 Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing.”
Noticed that the Spirit did not take away Philip UNTIL after the eunuch had gone down into the water and had been baptized, THEN the Spirit caught Philip away, so the eunuch went on his way rejoicing! – Evidently because he has been saved as his sins had been washed away when he had been baptized.
The action of the Spirit implies that the work of obeying the gospel was not completed until after Philip believed and was baptized in accordance with the teaching of Jesus Christ in Mark 16:16 as was also exemplified in Acts 2:38-41. In every account of conversions in the book of Acts, each one was baptized immediately – demonstrating its importance and urgency. Unfortunately, many of those who claim to have the power to heal/perform miracles do not teach the same requirements as the apostles. Salvation is of utmost importance and so, it behooves all to teach accurately on this matter.
One of the tests to be applied to those who claim to have the power to perform miracles/healings today is whether they teach the same requirements for salvation as stipulated by Jesus Christ in Mark 16:16 and followed faithfully by the apostles?
6. God warned against merely following teachers who demonstrate that they have powers to perform signs and wonders:-
a. Even though a sign or wonder happens, that’s no assurance that the prophet is from God or is teaching the truth (the test has always been: is he teaching according to what God has revealed? – I John 4:1,6)
Deut 13:1-4: “If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, 2 and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods’–which you have not known–‘and let us serve them,’ 3 “you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the LORD your God is testing you to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. 4 You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice, and you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him.”
i. Not only God’s prophets have the power to perform signs and wonders:-
Pharaoh’s magicians could also make their rods become serpents just like Aaron’s: Ex 7:10-12: “And Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh and before his servants, and it became a serpent. 11 But Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers; so the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments. 12 For every man threw down his rod, and they became serpents.” In fact, Pharaoh’s magicians could perform some other signs that were performed by Aaron (such as: Ex 8:7: ‘And the magicians did so with their enchantments, and brought up frogs on the land of Egypt.’)
B. The New Testament warns us about the power of Satan:-
i. Jesus warned in Matt 24:24: “For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.”
ii. 2 Thess 2:9-12: “The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, 10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, 12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”
The emphasis is to believe the truth as revealed by Jesus and His apostles – and not just believe any believer who professes to be able to perform miracles. We are to test the spirit and compare what they teach with what the Bible teaches (I John 4:1,6)
iii. 2 Cor 11:13-15: “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.”
iv. 1 Tim 4:1-3: “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, 3 forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods…”
7. While acknowledging that the Bible teaches that Satan has the power to perform lying wonders, please note that it is not implied here that all so-called “faith healings” today are necessarily “of the devil”.
a. There are those who are healed of their physical illnesses which are caused by stress (also known as psychosomatic cases). We also read of people who claim to be healed by “faith-healers” who are not necessarily believers in Christ.
b. There are also accounts of people who have been “healed” because of prayers offered up on their behalf – such are not classified as “powers to perform miracles” as their recoveries are not usually instantaneous or immediate in nature whereas one who has the power to perform miracles would be able to provide instant recovery such as the apostle Paul bringing Eutychus back to life after he had fallen from the third story in Acts 20:9-12.
In Acts 28:3, “a viper came out because of the heat, and fastened on his hand” (i.e. the hand of Paul) but it did not harm him but there have been those in the present generation who claimed to have power from God to “take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them” (Mark 16:18) but have died while attempting to do so.
We should exercise caution and seek to understand the truth as revealed in the Bible with regards these matters.
8. On the Day of Judgement, we will be judged not by whether we have performed signs/wonders/miracles but whether we have actually done the Will of God.
John 12:48-50: “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him–the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day. 49 For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. 50 And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak.”
Matt 7:21-23: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
2 John 9: “Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son.”
The teaching of the Bible concerning the purpose of God empowering men to perform signs and miracles is very clear. The apostles were empowered (Acts 1:8) when the Spirit came upon them, so that they could be His eye-witnesses throughout the then known world with regards the resurrection of Jesus Christ. As they preached the truth as revealed to them by the Holy Spirit, God worked with them to confirm the Word that is taught by them (as in fact the truth from God) (Heb 2:3-4). Once the Word has been confirmed, there’s no further need for it to be confirmed again and again. So, when the chosen apostles completed their work of conveying/ preaching/declaring the truth revealed to them by the Holy Spirit, God having confirmed the Word as true with the signs, wonders and miracles performed by empowered men, then the need for miraculous healings ceased.
The Bible warned that those who are not servants of God also have the ability to perform signs and wonders. The Pharaoh’s magicians could perform many similar signs that Aaron performed but they could not duplicate all the signs performed by Aaron. Unlike the modern day miracle-workers, there is no doubt that God was with the apostles because they demonstrated the full range of God’s power including the power to raise the dead – which no one else could do – how many dead have been raised today by those who claim to have the power from God? The Bible teaches that one should not believe every spirit but to test the spirit because many false prophets have gone out into the world (I John 4:1,6): Do they teach the same teachings as the apostles? If not, as stated in Deut 13:1-4, we should not follow them.
From the examination of Bible passages as discussed above, it is evident that it is not God’s Will to empower men to perform miracles today (unlike the need for such in the first century).
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