Saturday, November 24, 2012

Miracles in the Early Church

I’ve heard the verse on Romans 10 used a few times to explain that Protestant ministers are sent by God to preach the Gospel, verse 14 says: “how shall they hear without a preacher?” showing the need for preachers.  But the question remains of who can be a preacher because it also says in the next verse:How shall they preach unless they be sent?


My question to those preaching is, ‘who sent you?’  Who does the sending of those called to preach the Good News?  Is it the ministers?  If so, which Protestant ministers can send?  Lutherans, Calvinist, Amish, Anglicans, Methodist, Church of God, Church of Christ, Quakers, Episcopalian, Salvation Army, Adventis, Presbytarian, Shakers, Wesleyan, Brethren, Church of Nazarene, or one of hundreds of splinter denominations from these?  The splintering of so many different denominations believing differently on issues involving our salvation is an important factor in showing the most obvious problems of finding the one who is truly speaking God’s Word (Issues like “what kind of faith saves? Is baptism necessary? Needed? Is baptism for infants? Must baptism be by immersion only? Can one lose salvation? How? Can it be gotten back? How? Is the Real Presence true? Are spiritual gifts like tongues and healing for today? For everyone? What about predestination? What about free will?). 


One possible solution to this dilemma entails the individual to be sent by God personally and directly.  Seeing as there is a definite possibility that many will mistakenly believe they were sent by God and thereby quite possibly teach falsehoods, there must be a way to verify their ‘pedigree’.    Since we know that Jesus is the ‘way, the TRUTH, and the life’ then finding the preacher truly preaching the truth is rather important because to listen and accept the truth is to listen and accept Jesus Himself. 


How are you to decide who is preaching the True Gospel Message?  Scripture tells us that those preaching God’s Word performed miracles as proof of the veracity of their message.  Indeed, the one sent was often asked by his listeners to prove that he has indeed been sent by God by giving ‘signs’, ie miracles.  (Exo 8:16-19; 13:7-16; 1 King 18:36-39; 2 Kings 4:15-17; Acts 13:6-11; Acts 3:5…).  Most notably in John (3:2; 9:16; 11:47; 12:37), even Jesus admittedDo not believe me, then, if I am not doing the things my Father wants me to do.  But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, you should at least believe my deeds, in order that you may know once and for all that the Father is in me and that I am in the Father." (John 10:37-38)


All through His Passion and up to His Ascension, Jesus seems to be acutely concerned of the future of His fragile little flock. On the night of His betrayal we find Jesus “deeply troubled”, He lifted His eyes to heaven and called out a great high-priestly prayer for this ragged band of working men: “While I was with them, I kept them in thy name…But now I am coming to thee…Sanctify them in the truth.” (John 17:13a, 17)


Sanctify them in the truth.  Jesus has come to give humanity the words of truth given to Him by His Father.  But now that the Son is going back to the Father, how will the world know that He was ever here?  And that He really was sent by God?  How will His work be preserved and continued?  What happens to the flock once the shepherd returns to the Father? “I did come from the Father, and I came into the world; and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father" (John 16:28).  As we wondered before, how will Christ’s work be continued?  If God’s sheep starved for truth at the hands of false religious teachers under the Old Covenant, will not His New Testament flock again be defenseless after the Shepherd ascends back “to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God” (John 20:17)


One possible answer is to follow those who performed miracles to prove that they were truly sent by God.  The Apostles themselves were sent by God directly since Jesus and the Father are one (John 10:30).  And a few years down the road, when there were wolves in sheep’s clothing preaching a different Gospel in Jesus’ name, all we need to do to know who speaking the truth is by verifying that one’s message is indeed from God, that is to find those who performed miracles in His Name, which would be the Apostles.  And we find them because of the authentication of their message through their miracles (Luke 9:1-6).


But what about false teachers?  They too will perform miracles.  There’s the problem, how can we discriminate between a true prophet and a false one?  And why no miracles through their successors, the bishops of the kind we saw performed by the Apostles?  Tune in next week for the answer.





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