Publication:Pastoral Letter,September 2017
Dear Friend in Christ:
I was in California a few weeks ago and my friend Cynthia Krueger gave me a book entitled Miracles by Eric Metaxas. Cynthia is married to Erik Krueger and she had been my administrator in years past. I was interested in the book for several reasons: she had enjoyed it; I have read other books by Metaxas and enjoyed them; but most of all, I believe that the Lord spoke to me last year that we would see more miracles.
This view is different from “Naturalism”, which is a philosophy that excludes the idea of transcendent, divine, and spiritual intervention into the natural realm. Naturalism presents the idea that everything has or will have a logical explanation. It regards so-called miracles as superstition or ignorance.
Naturalism and secularism are very closely related and have had a profound effect upon Western culture. It has robbed many people of faith and even robbed many Christians of seeing God move. The results are incalculably negative, especially upon the rising generations.
Books like the one I mentioned by Metaxas offer another view. Metaxas approaches the subject of miracles from both a scientific and spiritual point of view and documents how many noted scientists have come to believe in God and the supranatural, the transcendent. They have made the dramatic change due to the discovery of the consistent design of nature that requires a Designer. They came to believe in the creative power of God.
During my teen and rebellious years, I was a rather wild driver and enjoyed drag racing and car racing—any activity that would increase adrenaline. One night, I was racing a friend on a road with which I was unfamiliar. I was going as fast as that car would go downhill when my lights finally picked up the almost right-angled curve ahead. It looked hopeless but I had to try to make the curve. I will never forget the thought, “I could reach down and touch the road.”
The friend behind me said, “I could see the whole underside of your car!” I miraculously made the curve but we were both so scared that we had to pull over and stop. Was that an intervention? Did God reach down and save my life because He had a purpose for me? I believe that with all my heart. Do I remain grateful and give Him glory? Absolutely! It changed my life and I was introduced to that other world.
THE PURPOSE FOR MIRACLES
I cannot explain miracles. I believe that God rules in the affairs of men (see Daniel 4:17).
When He intervenes, it is for several reasons: One, to fulfill His overriding purpose; then, to make Himself known; third, to receive the honor and glory for His acts among mankind; and, finally, to produce a change.
I do not believe that I can create a miracle. A miracle happens by God’s choice when, for whom, and wherever it suits His purpose. Miracles are acts of God. I can and should pray, have faith, and believe in Him, but I do not manipulate God; I trust Him. Miracles are not for my glory, but His; they are truly gift (see 1 Corinthians 12:10).
THE HOLY BIBLE
The proper title for the Bible is The Holy Bible. Why Holy? There are several definitions for the word, “Holy”, but the one I choose here is, “other than.” Holy means exceptional. It is outside everything else. The God we worship dwells outside His creation, above it, transcendent. His Word comes from Him into our world and because it comes from Him, it is holy. His Word is “other than” all other words.
The Bible itself is a miracle given to numerous people in different places at different times yet consistent and inspired by the same Holy Spirit. It has survived every opposition and endured to affect the world through many generations. It is a miracle of God’s intervention and records miracles that occurred over 6,000 years. It is the standard by which all else is to be judged and will be judged. And, it gives us the record of many miracles that served His purpose, revealed Himself, brought glory to Him, and brought about profound change. The Bible is Holy!
There is no way to list all biblical miracles here, but there are outstanding examples from Adam to Revelation. Noah comes to mind; he was warned of the coming flood and built a 450 foot-long ship. Prophecy itself is a miracle, a gift (see 1 Corinthians 12:10). Noah and his family survived the flood, being forewarned and prepared.
Gideon defeated Midian, which had a vastly superior army, with only 300 men, so that God would be glorified in the way it happened (see Judges Chapters 6-8). Elijah called down fire from heaven (see 1 Kings 18:38). The many prophesies in the Old Covenant concerning Jesus are miracles (see Isaiah 9:6-8; Isaiah 53).
Luke chapter one gives us the miraculous birth of John the Baptist and the virgin birth of Jesus. The Gospels tell us that Jesus performed many miracles, even more than were recorded (see John 21:25) Of course the world–changing event of His Resurrection stands above all else. So powerful was this event that those who witnessed it were willing to give their lives to declare it.
MIRACLES FOR TODAY?
Some deny that miracles ever happened but cannot deny the changes that occurred because of them. Others, including some Christians, believe that they happened but do not happen since Biblical times. The latter view implies that God has changed, and since we have the Bible, miracles are unnecessary. Of course that is a false view, and it calls into question that miracles ever happened (see Hebrews 13:8). To receive Jesus today is to receive the same miracle-working Jesus Who is recorded in the Gospels.
When Peter preached his Pentecost message, he said, “For the promise is unto you, for your children, those who are far off as many as the Lord our God calls to Himself” (Acts 2:39). The same spirit that empowered Jesus, that raised Him from the dead, will dwell in us if we receive Jesus as our Lord (see Romans 8:11).
The Apostle Paul gave us the letter to the Romans and he knew miracles. He had been a persecutor of Christians and consented to the death of Stephen (see Acts 6 and 7). But on his way to Damascus to further wreak havoc on the Church, he was struck down by a light brighter than the noonday sun (see Acts 9) He was blinded, knocked down, and led into Damascus where he was healed and filled with the Holy Spirit. Thereafter, he gave his life to proclaim Jesus (see I Corinthians 2:2).
One cannot list all of the miracles that have occurred since the days of the apostles but I enjoyed the Eric Metaxas book as he mentioned numerous miracles that have happened to people that he knows. My friend Don Basham used to say, “Everybody wants to see a miracle but no one wants to be in a place where they need one.” Our nation needs one, and so do many of us.
TWO WORLDS TOGETHER
God created both the natural world and the spiritual world. God is not divided and neither should we be. We can live in both, not one or the other. To ignore natural laws such as gravity or sowing and reaping will have deadly consequence. To ignore spiritual law will have the same. The consistency of math, physics, and chemistry tell us that there is a Designer who also created consistent spiritual principles that, if observed will prosper us. The world gets exciting when those two worlds intersect!
How can we bring these two worlds together in our lives and enjoy God in both realms? Allow me to offer some suggestions:
- Keep your sense of awe of both worlds.
- Keep searching beyond the obvious; there is always more.
- Trust the Lord and be alert to do what He tells us in the Bible and by the Holy Spirit.
- Be faithful to do what He has already given you to do. Remember, most miracles happen when we do not expect them.
- When you believe that God made something happen for your benefit, take note, pause and praise Him. Share the experience; others need to hear it.
- Never try to explain away the unusual whether in your life or someone else’s. That will only do damage to yourself and others.
- And remember, it is for His glory, not ours.
A man was desperate to find a parking place because he was late for a vital appointment. The lot was full. He cried out, “Lord, I need a parking place!” Suddenly a car pulled out right in front of him, so he said, “That’s okay, Lord. I found one.” He missed a miracle; don’t miss yours!
DEMONSTRATING GOD’S POWER
One of our callings is to demonstrate the power of God. Our faith is not merely academic, to only believe that Jesus did miracles, but to show the power of God. The disciples were sent out to reveal the power of God as He worked with them (see Matthew 10:1-8; Luke 10:1-9; I Corinthians 4:20). Our message must be accompanied with power if it is to have an impact upon our secular culture. It is at the intersection of the spiritual and the natural worlds where attention is drawn to God. That is where those blinded by unbelief receive their sight.
I could only wish that I had learned that in college or seminary. Mostly what I heard were questions, history, psychology and philosophy. It was only when I was touched by the power of God that I was awakened to my mission.
As our culture becomes increasingly skeptical and human-centered, it will require a demonstration, and that will happen as both wickedness and righteousness increase toward the harvest. Don’t settle for words only but seek the Lord and His Kingdom. The Kingdom is at hand when God demonstrates His power. Join me to pray for a revelation of His power—not for our sake, but for His Name’s sake! Let God be glorified!
Through the years at CSM, we have experienced God’s miraculous power and provision. It’s been a tremendous honor to minister personally worldwide and to see our publications and website reach into many places where we cannot go. The testimonies we receive of transformed lives encourage us and inspire us to continue on in the mission to which God has called us. When you stand with us in your giving and your prayer, you are part of this ongoing miracle. Thanks so much for your faithfulness.
Please continue to remember us this month. If you have any prayer needs you would like to share with us, please include them on the enclosed card. We are deeply grateful to co-labor with you in the cause of Christ!
Scripture Reference: Luke 1, Daniel 4:17; 1 Corinthians 12:10; Isaiah 9:6-8; Isaiah 53; Judges Chapters 6-8; 1 Kings 18:38; John 21:25; Hebrews 13:8; Romans 8:11; Acts 9; Acts Chapters 6-7; 1 Corinthians 2:2; Acts 2:39; Luke 10:1-9; Matthew 10:1-8; 1 Corinthians 4:20