MemberMarch 2, 2021 at 1:54 am
We are now in a position to examine the last step of our “pattern”.
So far we have considered the first three steps of our investigation sequence.
In the first step we saw that the miracles performed by God in the course of about 4,000 years of human history have been relatively few and many of them have been concentrated in two specific periods of history.
In the second step we saw that, although God worked many miracles especially in favour of a single ethnic group, that is, in favour of the Jews, this does not mean that God wanted to favour only one people because “God does not show favouritism” and therefore in doing many miracles in favour of the Jewish people it is evident that God had a different goal.
In the third step we understood from the scriptures what could be the purpose that God wants to achieve by performing Miracles like those he did in the time of Moses and Jesus.
God explained to Abraham that through his offspring he would bring a blessing to people all over the world and this blessing for people of all the earth would be brought through the establishment of a kingdom of priests, a commission that God had initially offered to the people of Israel. Sad to say, the people of Israel as a whole failed to take this opportunity because they failed to recognize the person sent by God to organize this kingdom of priests, Jesus Christ. Jesus spoke abundantly of this kingdom and said that it would be entrusted to a people who would produce its fruits.
Now we have the last question: Can we know if God’s goal has been achieved ?
The answer to this last question is very important because it could help us understand if God intends to perform Miracles in our day or not. I am not saying that God is unable to work miracles today. He is the almighty and can do anything he desires. What I am wondering is if it is part of his purpose to perform miracles in our day.
To understand the answer to our last question through the scriptures, we must first understand better the nature of the commission that God has intended for some people and that is to be a “Kingdom of priests”.
Jesus had tried extensively to explain this subject to his disciples but it seems that for some time they did not have clear what he meant.
Even after his resurrection they still manifested their thinking that was not yet in line with what Jesus had tried to explain.
Luke 24:21 (NIV) “but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place”
Acts 1:6 (NIV) “Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel ?
After the descent of the holy spirit at Pentecost they understood better the role they should have played in God’s purpose and it is clear to us today too that when Jesus spoke of the “kingdom” he was certainly not referring to the kingdom of Israel. History tells us that Jerusalem and the kingdom of Israel were completely destroyed in AD 70.
Let us now also try to understand better what this “kingdom of priests” consists of.
Luke 22:29 (NIV) “And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me.”
John 18:36 (NIV) “Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”
2 Timothy 2:12 (NIV) “If we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us”
Hebrews 4:14 (NIV) “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.”
Revelation 17:14 (NIV) “They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers”
Revelation 5:9-10 (NIV) “ And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.”
All these scriptures put together make us understand several things. First of all we understand that the main king and high priest of this kingdom of priests is Jesus himself. This kingdom of priests is based in heaven and will be made up of faithful people who will come from every tribe, language, people and nation. These people will go to heaven to carry out an important assignment, that of reigning or ruling over the earth which, apparently, will also be inhabited in the future.
This is why God gave Jesus and his disciples the power to perform many miracles. It had to be clear to everyone that, once the messiah arrived, that is the one who would be king of kings and high priest, he would open the way for the formation of a kingdom of priests which would be the key instrument to bring blessings to people of all the inhabited earth.
Even people totally foreign to the people of Israel, such as an Ethiopian eunuch or the centurion Cornelius, had the opportunity to join that kingdom of priests, recognizing that the true God was acting in favour of the early Christians.
But now the important question arises: Once the Christian congregation was firmly established, would it have been necessary, from God’s viewpoint, to continue working miracles?
Let the scriptures give us the answer to this question.
As is well known, God gave the early Christians many so-called “gifts of the spirit” and among these were gifts of healing, gifts of prophecy or the gift of speaking different tongues.
1 Corinthians 12:28-31 (NIV) “And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues ? Do all interpret? Now eagerly desire the greater gifts. And yet I will show you the most excellent way.
Surely the early Christians greatly appreciated this help that came from God. The apostle Paul, however, helped them to have a balanced and realistic view of these gifts and his subsequent words are very significant for us today as well.
1 Corinthians 13:1-10 (NIV) “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.”
The apostle Paul made it very clear that those miraculous gifts would be temporary. Once Christianity was firmly established, those miraculous gifts would cease.
What would continue forever among true Christians is something different from what many might expect. Yet, considering the violent and corrupt society that existed then, it would have been another kind of miracle: Love never fails.
Jesus too had given clear indications regarding this.
John 13:34-35 (NIV) “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Interestingly, Jesus did not say that his disciples would be recognized by the gifts of healing or the gifts of tongues or some other miraculous gift. He said they would be recognized by the love they would have for one another.
Such miraculous gifts would therefore pass away with the passing away of the apostles and of those who had received these gifts through the apostles, and thus we read that these powers were “missing in the 2nd-century church, the writers of those days speaking of them as a thing in the past—in the apostolic age, in fact.”—The Illustrated Bible Dictionary, edited by J. D. Douglas, 1980, Vol. 1, p. 79.
Of course, all humans have the capacity to love, and others besides Christians engaged in acts of humanitarian kindness. But people in the Roman world recognized that the love shown by Christians was different. Tertullian, who had been a jurist in Rome, quoted the remarks of people of the Roman world regarding Christians, saying: “‘Look,’ they say, ‘how they love one another . . . and how they are ready to die for each other.’” (Apology, XXXIX, 7) John Hurst, in his History of the Christian Church (Volume I, page 146), relates that people in ancient Carthage and Alexandria, during periods of pestilence, drove away from their presence those who were afflicted and stripped from the bodies of the dying anything that might be of value. In contrast, he reports, Christians in these places shared their possessions, nursed the sick, and buried the dead.
After all these steps of the pattern, you should now be able to understand the meaning of my first sentence: In my humble view, miracles still happen today, but often not in the way we expect them to.
I know this may be disappointing for some but, isn’t it better to trust biblical truths than to risk being disappointed because we have false expectations ?
I can imagine that what I have written in this post may raise many other questions that perhaps do not fit into the subject of this discussion. If you want to ask me other questions you can find something helpful in my Bio.