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Is Jesus Performing Healings

And Miracles For Believers

In Our Time?

By Jan Lilleby

 

 ​​​​ Unfortunately it is pure disaster to have to listen to and observe many types of evangelists and preachers today, whether from their pulpits or as we observe them on the internet such as with YouTube media.

I am thinking mostly of that which concerns healings and wonders promised the audiences​​ ‘If you only believe’.

In my article​​ found​​ here in my website on​​ ‘The Great Commission’,​​ I am giving an expository scrutiny of Mat. 28 and the command from Jesus to ‘Go out into all the world’ and so forth, and Mark 16 with its ‘Laying on of hands and casting out demons’​​ and so on and so forth – and the Biblical stern​​ fact​​ that we can by no means use any parts of the four gospels as if they are faith-doctrine to the Church​​ in our time, the ‘One New Man’​​ which Paul called the Body of Christ.

The four gospels were written​​ only as historical​​ documents on the life and ministry of Jesus Christ and His twelve apostles. As soon as one steps out of that​​ specific​​ Bible truth, using these gospels as faith-doctrine to the Church, you will be victim of a hailstorm of errors and misunderstandings what concerns to speak the truth from the pulpit. We shall have a brief look on this below, some selected few examples of rather​​ weird and quirky​​ ways of putting forth lies about miracles and healings.

Shortly before I wrote this article I happened to come over a video clip (a Norwegian evangelist abroad on a crusade-podium)​​ in a fired-up-speech to a multitude of people on a green field – it was found on this evangelists own website, using it to gain more followers and supporters for his campaigns abroad (Asia) – and he came up​​ with​​ (shouting over the P.A. system) several Bible passages taken out of context.

One of those was the known words of Jesus spoken to His disciples​​ “Where two or more of you are gathered in My name, there I shall be in the midst among you”.​​ (quoted​​ from the mentioned video clip.)

Thus suggesting that Jesus was there, among the people present, to perform miracles and healings. He used this in a typical manner which we often see with these Pentecostal evangelists, trying​​ to‘Fire up’ an expectation that the Lord will do miracles in the meetings.​​ If you only believe!

The audience filmed responded with loud shouts of praise and hallelujahs and clapping of hands etc.

But – is this a true and sound way to understand the Bible in our time?

The quote by this evangelist on Jesus in their midst…to start performing healing-miracles in that meeting…was very much taken out of the true​​ context.

Ampl. Bible, Mat. 18:19, 20 says:

“Again I tell you, if two of you on earth (in the land) agree about whatever they may ask, it will come to pass and be done for them by My Father in Heaven. - -

For wherever two or three are gathered​​ in My name, there I AM in the midst of them.”

These words,​​ was​​ actually a promise given His disciples, and was never promised the Church dispensation at all. It is for certain that this was things Jesus told His followers – the Messianic Jews – and thus it was in the context of those believers as entirely​​ segregated​​ according to the Law of Moses. All other people were​​ shut out​​ of this. The world was not ‘God’s people’ on earth, but ONLY Israel was. That is why Jesus said to the heathen woman in Mat. 15:24:

“…I was​​ sent only​​ to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

Consequently, ALL OTHER PEOPLE were not included in Jesus’ promises to His disciples. Jews only! This is a Biblical fact you can take to the bank.

Israel, since the days at Sinai they were God’s property and His own people, set aside from the nations so they could become a holy priesthood for God.

Jesus practiced the​​ very same segregation​​ which first came to expression by Moses and Aaron at Sinai, Ex. 19:5, 6 quote from Ampl. Bible:

“Now, therefore if you will obey My voice in truth and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own peculiar​​ possession and treasure​​ from among and above all peoples; for all the earth is Mine. ​​ - ​​ - ​​ And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests, a holy nation, set apart to the worship of God. These are the words you shall​​ speak to the Israelites.”

Thereby I have proven for certain that the​​ 

promise of Jesus to be among them when they

are gathered, was not for others than the Jewish

Messianic believers as we observe them

in the gospels and in Acts.

 

It were those that Jesus clearly said He was sent to, people of the house of Israel!

It is not complicated.

These believers were on the inside of that ‘Wall of Partition’​​ which Paul, thirty years later, wrote in Eph. 2:14, 15 were​​ torn down at Israel’s falling away from God. The​​ segregation of Israel​​ as a chosen people for God, ceased in 62-63 A.D.​​ - when Paul wrote the epistle to the Ephesians from his​​ jail cell at Rome.​​ 

But that​​ wall between the Jews and the Gentile-world​​ was still up, during Jesus’ earthly ministry in Israel as well as the following ministry of His apostles described in Acts.

When pastors and preachers cannot (or will not?) understand such a simple and straight forward Bible truth – Jesus’ own words on His segregated ministry​​ to Jews only –​​ that is pretty unique. Do they reject such Bible truth just so that they can keep on with their lies and false gospel-preaching from their podiums, and nobody stopping them?

Notice also, that Jesus never promised that He should be present in huge multitudes, He explicitly said​​ ‘for wherever two or three are gathered…’​​ – while in the images in the video I mentioned, you can see at least ten thousand people gathered on that plain, if not more. Thus we have at least​​ two barriers​​ stopping those who think this is for​​ the​​ entire​​ world to grab. ​​ One,​​ you will have to be a Jewish Messianic believer in the capacity of being one of the Lord’s disciples. And therefore one of those​​ segregated Jews​​ at that time. ​​ Two, Jesus never promised it to multitudes like we find in many crusades held by evangelists abroad,​​ or domestic. He said​​ ‘two or three’​​ people, and that’s it.

Sorry to say, but many unlearned Christians are using the Bible as if it is a Super-Market from which shelfs they pick with them everything they want to bring along. They own no understanding or concepts of God having a system for​​ what He is doing and saying. Paul taught that God is a​​ God of order​​ and thus also of strict principles!

Jesus’ promises to His disciples were​​ never transferred to the dispensation of the Church, the Body of Christ.​​ In our time the Jews/Israel are no longer sat above any nations, but they are just one​​ among​​ the nations.

In this particular case, in which I don’t mention that evangelist’s name, I can inform you that I have had a substantial dialogue with him some time back via emails. I also sent him some articles on these issues to try to have him realize he had gotten things quite askew regarding healings, miracles and all those things. But in spite of this he just continues to ignore my polite warnings of errors, and he is thus guilty of doing doctrinal error willfully. He can no more say that he ‘acted in good faith’.

However, I am not saying that he speaks lies on Jesus as Savior and the core of the Grace Gospel, which is salvation by faith alone. He have got those things right.

But he keeps on attaching false promises to the preaching of the Gospel, promising that if they only have faith then they will be healed miraculously. And the entire Pentecostal-Charismatic fractions of Christianity​​ are dominated by this very same​​ doctrinal errors and misunderstanding​​ of what exactly belongs to the Gospel preaching.

You don’t need a PhD education​​ in Bible logics​​ to be able to understand​​ something​​ 

so simple as what I​​ explained above.

 

That God and Christ​​ can​​ work miracles is beyond any doubt, right?

But this is not the same as if God should have promised that to us, the Body of Christ, the Church which Paul named ‘One New Man’, and to whom there were not any kind of segregation. The ‘Wall of Partition’ was as I mentioned, torn down as Paul emerged with the new free Grace Gospel which is a unique​​ international Gospel​​ to all peoples. In contrast, we know that while Jesus was ministering,​​ -​​ and as Peter and the eleven went out preaching from​​ the​​ day of Pentecost in Acts 2 (and later on also Paul ministered to Israel during Acts period)​​ – there was​​ strict segregation for the believers, Jews and their Greek proselytes.

Only Paul brought that Grace Gospel we have in our time, and it was revealed 30 some years right after the closing of Acts in 62-63 A.D. as he wrote the Ephesians and Colossians, presenting this new free Grace Gospel revelation.

Folks, we have to​​ remain loyal to Paul’s Gospel​​ as it is explained in the two epistles.

This Gospel​​ have no miracle-promises, no laying on of hands, no tongues or interpretation of tongues,​​ no exorcism of demons,​​ no prophetic speech, no Holy Communion, no ceremonies for Holidays,​​ or confession of sins.​​ And, of course: There is no​​ Mat. 28 or Mark 16​​ in this new Gospel revelation of Paul, not the least whiff of it!​​ All the ministry/gifts described in 1 Cor. 12-14 are gone, totally suspended by Israel’s falling away from God in Acts 28:25-28, and Paul was the one​​ who bade Israel farewell on​​ behalf of God – Israel and God have been entirely apart since then, and in 70 A.D. the Lord had the Romans burn and tear down the temple stone by stone, and thousands of war prisoners sent to Alexandria by ships to be sold as slaves (Deut. 28:68).​​ The whole nation of Israel was​​ annulled completely. Mat. 22:7 – Jesus’ prophetic parable of the ‘Kings Servants’ and the revenge of their deaths by burning the murderers (Pharisees) city – which was Jerusalem!

Still, let us take a look at Mark 16 where we find Jesus promising miracles and signs, Mark 16:17, 18:

And these attesting signs will accompany those who believe: in My name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new languages (tongues); - - They will pick up serpents; and (even) if they drink anything deadly, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will get well (my comment: Here it should have said​​ ‘get instantly well’​​ – because that is what we see in Acts!).”

To drive out demons.

 

 ​​​​ We find in Acts that the apostles plus the thirteenth apostle Paul, performed such powerful works. Acts 5:15, 16 says:

“…they (the people) kept carrying out the sick into the streets and placing them on couches and sleeping pads. (in the hope) that as Peter passed by, at least his shadow might fall on some of them. - - And the people gathered also from the towns and hamlets around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and​​ those troubled with foul spirits, AND THEY WERE ALL CURED.”

This was about 18-20 months after Pentecost in Acts 2 – in the year 30 A.D.

These signs and miracles – driving out demons and healing lots of sick people, not only were according to Mark 16 and the Great Commission: Peter’s powerful ministry even surpassed it: He did not at this instance lay hands on the sick or the demon possessed, he wasn’t even there to heal or set free anyone at all. He was walking from one place in Jerusalem to another place…and God so happened to arrange this scenario that He just let Peter’s shadow fall on the sick ones and demon possessed along the streets – and​​ voila!! – they were cured. Oh, excuse me: I missed out on one word, THEY WERE​​ ALL​​ CURED!

Paul also drove out evil spirits in his early ministry, when he preached to Jews and Greek proselytes in Acts period, a few years before he had the revelation of the new free Grace Gospel. Acts 16:16,-18 say:

“As we were on our way to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who was possessed by a spirit of divination, and she brought her owners much gain (monetary) by her fortunetelling. - - She kept following Paul and the rest of us, shouting loudly, These men are the servants of the Most High God! They announce to you the way of salvation! - - And she did this for many days. Then Paul, being sorely annoyed and worn out, turned and said to the spirit within her, I charge you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her! And it came out that very moment.

As Paul later arrived at Ephesus, he performed multiple great miracles and wonders, such as had not been seen in that place before. Acts​​ 19: 11, 12 say:

And God did unusual and extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul. - - So that handkerchiefs or towels or aprons which had touched his skin were carried away and put upon the sick, and their diseases left them​​ and the evil spirits came out of them.”

In the same chapter we are also reading of the well-known incident of the seven sons of Sceva the priest, who tried to drive out demons of a man, but on their own and therefore not under the authority of Christ. It went all wrong: The possessed man jumped at them and beat them up and really messed​​ with them so much​​ that they fled the house naked and bloody! (Acts 19:13-21). This incident made the people there​​ come under great awe and fear of God, so much as to take their forbidden books of sorcery and burnt them. Paul was armed and authorized by God, and what a difference that made!

We cannot find one single inspired servant of God on earth today. All the special gifts were suspended when Israel fell from God. Paul and John were the last two apostles of Christ, and no one like them has​​ ever showed up…​​ almost 2000 years have passed.

In our modern times there have been and still is, false ‘apostles’ and ‘prophets’ who claims to have super-natural power from God to heal and to perform​​ miracles. They have for decades flooded the religious market by their TV-channels and other media, serving lies and fraud trying to pull a lot of money out of the gullible Christian audiences. But,-​​ without any miracles happening. Heaven is totally mute.

No such operation belongs to this Church dispensation. It was only in the 30 years of Acts that such ministries existed as they offered to Israel to receive Jesus and have the millennial Kingdom established at His Second Advent. But Israel ultimately refused to believe as a nation, and fell away from God.

Even in the apostolic times there were restrictions on the miracle gifts. They could by no means just go about at their own private will and perform healings ​​ etc. No, Paul he taught restrictions in ​​ 1 Cor. 12:29, 30:

“Are all apostles? ​​ Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all have​​ the power of performing miracles?​​ - - Do all possess extraordinary powers of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?”

Driving out demons from possessed people is described as a gift to work powerful works/miracles. It is a very special gift (v. 10).

 

At Israel’s fall (Acts 28:25-28) all

the miracle gifts and signs and wonders

ceased​​ the very same day.​​ 

Heaven went mute.

 

 ​​​​ The idea of evangelists entering foreign lands, for example India, Pakistan, Africa and other places, gathering multitudes on large green fields or arenas to try to show forth ‘signs, miracles and wonders’ to the Gentile multitudes, cannot be found in the Bible at all. It glitters by its total absence!

The idea is false, for such signs were given the apostles to perform before Israel/Jews and the proselytes, to have them believe on Christ. It had restrictions with it, just as there were restrictions as to who could do what in regard to these powerful spiritual gifts.

To drink something poisonous

 

 ​​​​ Those who insist​​ that miracles also goes for us today, in​​ the​​ Church dispensation,​​ are not entirely honest in what they teach. They constantly omit​​ drinking poison and grabbing dangerous snakes​​ with their hands. They also omit Jesus’ commandment to sell all their belongings (that which was not needed to make a living). They have carefully (and doubtfully) sifted out such extreme signs and ordinances. They only hold to speaking in tongues, laying hands on the sick in prayer (without any results), prophesy, water baptism and baptism with the Holy Spirit.

In USA and possibly also other places, there are​​ sects​​ actually bringing snakes to their meetings to try to convince audiences that they are not hurt by getting bitten. Many of these fanatics have died and many are often sick by the poisoning…and in no way can they prove that they are immune to dangerous snakes. Fake miracles and a false doctrine hand in hand.​​ I have yet to see that anyone drink poison to try to prove they are immune. Maybe someone has tried, but I have never seen any rapport of such activities.

It is obvious that​​ Jesus never meant​​ that any of His believers should willfully take up deadly snakes or drink any poison. They were protected by God if they by chance happened to get bitten or taking poison thinking it was just orange juice! Most Bible readers do understand this. This is not rocket-science.

In N.T. scriptures we can find only one incident where a snake bit someone: Paul was bitten at Malta as he gathered dry branches to fire up a bon-fire after their shipwrecking, Acts 28:3. Paul did not try to lift it by his hands, but the snake bit his finger, and Paul shook it off into the fire.

Regarding drinking poison there are no report in N.T. at all. Why,​​ I don’t know. It may have happened, but we do not have a word of God for that.

It happens all the time here on earth – somewhere,​​ somehow – there seem to be​​ ignorant and illiterate people​​ fuzzing on with the Bible as if it was a toy to play with.​​ They cook up the most​​ unbelievable crap​​ of doctrines and speculations.

Don’t listen to such false teachings which

adds something to the Gospel that are

not there. Such as promises of

signs, wonders and miracles.

 

No such super-natural miracles exist today in the Church dispensation of the free international Grace Gospel of Paul.

Don’t ever believe or listen to so-called ‘reports’ from crusading evangelists saying miracles and healings happened in their​​ crusades. It is total hoax all of it, I can assure you! It has got more to do with money-collection than it has to do with Gospel preaching.

No, we will rather listen to and take heed of what Paul taught us in Ephesians and Colossians, the letters describing our Gospel. We get learned and get real knowledge of Christ by studying his letters, and we are not told to chase for miracles.​​ But wisdom and understanding. Col. 1:9 is clear:

“We have not ceased to pray and make

request for you, that you may be filled

with the full knowledge of His will in

all spiritual wisdom and in understanding

and discernment of spiritual things”

 

 

 

 

​​ 

 

 

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The Things That Are Made

 

By Louis Warren Salvesen

(1921 – 2018)

He lived in Mt. Vernon, Washington, USA

 

The writer taught the Bible in a series of articles

He called “Fullness Bible Study”. He was definitely one who held

The ‘Acts-28 Belief” like myself. ​​ Jan Lilleby. ​​​​ 

 

 

A​​ common accusation against the Bible is that it dooms the billions who have never heard of it. How​​ can one, they ask, be required to have faith in something he has never heard of? The answer usually​​ given to this argument is felt to be less than adequate, and certainly an answer should be given because​​ the true God is just, and unfair to no one.

 

It is the contention here, that God has revealed Himself to every​​ one of the billions who have lived on​​ this earth and they have had the ability to act positively or negatively to this revelation. This message​​ has been so simple that no formal education or high "I.Q." has been needed. In various parts of the​​ Bible there are statements made, which clearly indicates that every human being, no matter where or​​ when he was born, has opportunity for justification in God's eyes by reacting to the things around him​​ in such a manner as to fulfill God's requirement for salvation.

 

The statement in​​ Acts​​ 4:12 that, "there is none other name....whereby we must be saved", may lead​​ Bible students to think that one must have heard "the gospel" to achieve salvation. However this​​ statement is really saying that Jesus​​ of Nazareth is the only Savior there is, whether or not one has​​ heard of Him. Nothing more is said or implied here.

 

In the first and second chapter of Romans Paul is reviewing the situation of man's relation to God. He​​ starts in 1:18, to speak of man from his very beginnings and goes on until in 2:16 the end of man's​​ reign upon this earth occurs in "the day when God shall judge the secrets of men...", which is the​​ second coming of Christ.

 

According to this story the first men knew God, but their descendants turned away and began to​​ worship images. God did not stop them by force, but allowed them to go their own way, and they sank​​ to a very low state. There was no excuse for this because the evidence of God's existence was and is​​ always there. This is stated in Rom. 1 :19,20: "For what can be known about God is plain to them,​​ because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world His invisible nature, namely,​​ His eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in "the things that are made". (R.S.V.). And​​ what are the things that are made? They are the things of nature: the sky above, the earth with its trees,​​ mountains, animals; the sun, snow and rain. By these things is the Creator revealed. The person can​​ understand this by his power of reason which all possess. As said before, one needs no formal​​ education, in fact the native of the jungle may be more responsible to God than the city person who​​ sees little of nature.

 

The fact that those who have never formally heard the Word are capable of responding positively to​​ God is stated in Rom. 2:14-15, "When Gentiles (nations) who have not the Law (the Word) do by​​ nature what the Law requires....they show that what the Law requires is written on their hearts while

their conscience also bears "witness....". In other words they have the evidence and have their own​​ natural capability of responding positively.

 

When Christ was on earth He gave a message that was so simple, there was no way that even the least​​ educated could misunderstand. He taught a simple message of love toward fellow man. Loving one's​​ neighbor, He taught, was really the secret to entrance into the Kingdom which the Jews were then​​ waiting for. This is told in the story of the Good Samaritan. In Luke 10: 25-37, we see a certain teacher​​ of the Law of Moses asking Christ,​​ "Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?"​​ The answer was a​​ combination of Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18 which says,​​ "You should love the Lord your God​​ with all your being. and your neighbor as yourself".

 

To the question, "Who is my neighbor?" the answer was the story of the Good Samaritan, who fulfilled​​ the righteousness of the Law, though he did not fulfill​​ the formality of the Law. This means he was​​ satisfying God by faith; it could not be done by works. Then notice that this man not only I helped a​​ fellow human being, but one he had been taught by society to despise, for the Jews and the Samaritans​​ hated one another. In helping the Jew, the Samaritan ignored the teachings of society around him,​​ following instead, the dictates of natural conscience which lead to love and mercy, things pleasing to​​ God.

 

The Samaritan pleased God, not because of any technical knowledge of written manuscripts, though the​​ Samaritans did possess and claimed to be living by the Law of Moses. But Jews had passed up their​​ own countryman before the Samaritan helped him, thus ignoring the Scripture, so it was not a case of​​ lack of knowledge but refusal of ordinary kindness on the part of one, and its acceptance on the part of​​ the other, which is the point. It is vital to note that this story has to do with​​ inheriting eternal life​​ since​​ this was the original question.

 

Here we have the very essence of the Word of God, spoken by the Son Himself in relation to inheriting​​ eternal life. The passage above is from Luke 10, and in Mark 12:28-34 the same idea is stated on​​ another occasion when Christ was asked, "Which is the foremost commandment of all?" His answer​​ was in two parts. The first part was, "God is one, and you should love Him with all your being." The​​ second part which He said was "like the first" was, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself". These​​ two parts are essentially the same in that the only way a human has of showing he loves God is by​​ loving his neighbor. We cannot shower presents upon God. The Gentiles were trying to do this for their​​ various "gods". They would try to show their utmost devotion by giving their gods their most cherished​​ possession, their children. This was the degrading practice of human sacrifice. But the Bible teaches​​ that the only way one can indicate devotion to the true God is by loving one's fellow man.

 

The "sacrifice" which the Jews brought to the temple under the Law of Moses was not a case of giving​​ presents to God but was actually a penalty for breaking the Law. The "sacrifice" was a donation to the​​ upkeep of the temple. It was used by the priests as part of their subsistence. It bore no relationship at all​​ to the "sacrifices" of the heathen to their "gods".

 

We now have several points to indicate that God reveals Himself to everyone everywhere. First the​​ statement that God is "clearly perceived in the things that are made", second, "the nations having not​​ the Law (Word)" are capable of fulfilling "by nature" that which the Law requires, and last the​​ statement of Christ in regard to eternal salvation, that the foremost of all the commandments is "love​​ your neighbor". The third point really encompasses the second. If one truly loves his neighbor he​​ fulfills the requirements or "righteousness" of the Law....by faith.

 

Of course this is not saying a person can be justified by works. The idea of loving one's neighbor is an​​ ideal we should strive for. In reality one finds as the apostle Paul did in Romans 7:21-25 that we cannot​​ fulfill our ideals because we are imperfect and that is why a penalty needs to be paid which we cannot​​ pay but was paid at the crucifixion. The lesson of the story of the Good Samaritan needs to be​​ understood as one of intention not perfection. The truly devoted one is he who admits his own inability​​ to attain perfection and therefore knows he must depend on God for salvation since he cannot attain it​​ by his own works.

 

The Law of Moses with all its ceremonies never was intended to give the person salvation by the doing​​ of those ceremonies. It was intended to be a "schoolmaster" (Galatians 3:24), to show symbolically, by​​ the nature of its ceremonies, that man is imperfect, that he cannot please God, that he owes God​​ something and cannot pay, but that God knows this and will make the payment Himself. The​​ ceremonies, together with the writings, tell of the Anointed One who was to come and bring blessing to​​ Israel and the nations, to destroy the enemies and rescue the believers from destruction.

 

Simple reason would say that if the Bible claims to be the book for all people, then the basic teaching​​ of it must be extremely simple, and it is. If the greatest commandment of God is "love your neighbor",​​ then anyone can understand. If loving your neighbor is the requisite for eternal life; if the evidence of​​ God is in nature, and what is required on our part is being honest, and humble, and admitting our own​​ helplessness in the face of eternity, then any human being with the ability to reason, regardless of how​​ "primitive" his tribe may be, has the ability to fulfill the requirements of the God of the Bible. No​​ human at all is left out. All are born equal in this respect, and the basic teaching of the Bible is justified.

 

The written Word is an added treasure of priceless value. Many say that God sees to it that this Word is​​ sent in one way or another to those Who fulfill the basic requirements, and this may possibly be so.​​ Certainly any who do not have this Word would be greatly lacking in potential knowledge and the​​ feeling of security that goes with it. In Romans 3:1-2 when only the Jew had the written Word, it says,​​ "Then what is the advantage of the Jew?...much in every way. To begin with, the Jews are entrusted​​ with the oracles (words) of God". In the previous verses (17-29) Paul has been saying that the Gentiles​​ could fulfill the righteousness of... the Law, but many Jews were not fulfilling it and would be lost.

 

The basic message of the Bible is sometimes distorted by the way it is presented by religious leaders.​​ They stress the things which man has made and subtly​​ present themselves as channels leading to God.​​ Years ago a leading "evangelist" was heard to say, "If you wish to be saved place your hand on the​​ radio as a point of contact and repeat after me, etc". This is not appealing to reason at all. This preacher​​ was using a material object and himself instead of reason as the channel to God. Not only that, but he​​ was using a stock phraseology for the person to repeat. This preacher condemned formal religion for its​​ ceremonies, yet he was doing the same thing. It is very common for those preaching the Bible, to​​ present themselves and certain physical objects or ceremonies as essential or very important in pleasing​​ God, but the Bible teaches otherwise.

 

In Matt. 13:58 there is the statement that at a certain place Christ, "did not many mighty works​​ (miracles) there, because of their unbelief". The explanation is that the miracles were for added​​ knowledge to those who already had the basic faith acquired from "the things that are made".

 

The basic call of the Bible is so simple that Christ could say in Matthew 18:3, "Except you be​​ converted and become as little children, you shall not enter the Kingdom of Heaven". The whole idea is​​ that children have not yet become perverted by society. They are still able to reason in an unprejudiced​​ manner, This takes us back to the story of the Good Samaritan who of his own free will rejected the​​ conditioning effect of the environment of society around him, taking his cue from "the things that are​​ made".

 

When asked for the "most important commandment" Christ gave an answer so incredibly simple that​​ any human anywhere can understand and live up to it, regardless of what he "never heard of", Thus the​​ Bible is vindicated of any charge of prejudice or being "hard to understand".

 

Prayer

 

Some time ago the editor was at the home of friends and listened to a talk given by members of a​​ certain sect who, although they said at the beginning they believed in the inspiration of the Bible, after​​ some discussion and pointed questioning, finally said, "The Bible we have now cannot really be trusted​​ because it has too many copyist's errors in it. But we do not need the Bible today because we now have​​ the inspired word of the "prophet" (their prophet) to teach us the truth". Their teaching contradicted​​ what the editor believes about the Bible, the most important being their teaching of justification by​​ faith plus works.

 

One thing interesting was their insistence upon prayer. A point which they stressed several times was to​​ "pray about this and ask God to tell you whether we are right". Now, this talk they gave was obviously​​ rehearsed and the things​​ they stressed were obviously things which they had found by long experience​​ to be the best points to stress in order to influence prospective converts. They had found, no doubt, that​​ getting people to pray about their teaching had been an influence in their favor.

 

Assuming these people to be wrong in their teaching, one might ask just what it is about prayer that​​ seems to lead people their way. Even if one assumed them to be correct, it is seen that rival sects also​​ call for prayer in the same way; obviously they too find this leads converts their way. One constantly​​ sees and hears on TV and radio, appeals for money with the call to "pray about this" and these people​​ also, must have found this helpful to them.

 

Does prayer today, lead a sincere seeker into truth? If one is in any doubt about something, can one​​ pray and be assured that an answer will be forthcoming which can be depended upon? If the group​​ described above has found that people are lead by prayer to become their converts, does that prove God​​ favors their group and that they are correct? But we see that rival groups also call for prayer; they must​​ find that it helps them too. This is certainly a problem and not the only one connected with prayer.

 

Years ago at a prominent Baptist church, the minister remarked about a letter he received from a​​ woman. She said the minister said that if one sincerely prays, the prayer will be heard and answered.​​ She prayed for the safety of her son in the Korean war, but he was killed. So the minister gave a​​ discourse on "unanswered prayer" a discourse which is given often by ministers in fundamental​​ churches.

 

This discourse is always the same. Either the person praying is "out of the will of God", or God has​​ decided to answer the prayer in a "different way" which will be more beneficial in the long run. Usually​​ the latter reason is given, and the person is assured that the prayer was heard and will definitely be​​ answered "in God's own way and time".

 

But there are difficulties to this reasoning, in that one cannot really​​ prove in the first place, whether a​​ person is out of God's will at a given time, and second, if a person chooses to believe God is answering​​ the prayer in His own way, then how does one know it is answered at all? One may say that the next​​ fortunate thing that comes along is that answer, but how can one prove this? Should we go on​​ guesswork? Of course not. We need to be able to prove the things said about the Bible, or we mishandle​​ it.

 

Also the problem of unanswered prayer among Christians is increased by the claim of answered prayer​​ among those the Christians call "heathen". One can​​ find innumerable testimonies among these​​ "heathen" to their prayers being answered, which is not supposed to happen.

 

It is the contention of this writer that the answer to all these problems is a dispensational one. If one​​ discerns what in the Bible is meant to apply to us today, in what is called the "Church Age", as​​ distinguished from what is purely historical and meant for our edification as history, and one​​ understands just when this "Church Age" began, and what is the true nature of this present age, then​​ one will understand what prayer is supposed to be and do, and the problem will be eliminated.

 

It is very important first of all to understand that Biblical miracles are not occurring today. For instance​​ Peter healed a man who was born with a useless foot. No modern "healer" would even attempt that.​​ Christ healed. a man with a "withered hand: (undoubtedly severe arthritis), and the hand was normal​​ immediately. Fevers left immediately. The totally blind saw immediately. No such things are occurring​​ today. Recovering from illness is not a Biblical miracle. The stage performance of the "healer" of today​​ with hypnosis and shock therapy is not a Biblical miracle. One must apply reason to what one sees or​​ one may be tricked. Paying very strict attention to what the Word says will keep one from going astray.

 

Throughout the Bible, up to and including the period covered by the book of Acts there were​​ miraculous happenings. God was then making Himself physically apparent to man. This is not​​ happening today!! And our concept of prayer must be tied in with this. In past ages God physically​​ communicated with man. He is not doing so today, so prayer takes on a different nature. It is because

people associate the nature of prayer in past dispensations with this present one, that these problems​​ arise, such as having to explain why prayers are not answered, and that explanation is nothing but​​ speculation with no evidence.

 

In past ages when believers prayed, things happened and there was no question about it, for the​​ evidence was visible to all. Earthquakes occurred; prison doors opened of themselves; the dead were​​ raised. In Mark 9:14-29 there is recorded the only case where the disciples could not effect a cure, and​​ they were told by Christ in v.29 that "prayer and fasting" were necessary because this miracle was very​​ difficult. Notice that fasting is associated with prayer and is considered important. Here is something​​ never mentioned by those today who claim prayer "changes things". It is evidence that these people are​​ not studying the subject of prayer well, before they offer opinions on it. ("fasting" not in some MM but

in Syriac)

 

Answered prayer is associated with the miraculous manifestations seen in other ages. In those times it​​ was proper to ask God for physical needs and those needs were miraculously filled, and the evidence​​ was visible to all, and became a visible proof of God's existence and power. In Israel's case these were​​ for "signs and wonders" designed to show the nation that they should listen to that speaker because he​​ was divinely inspired of God. Answered prayer was part and parcel of the miraculous abilities of the​​ apostles.

 

Answered prayer in the Bible was a direct interference by God with the natural course of things, and to​​ repeat, it was part and parcel of the miraculous of the Bible. To repeat, those miracles are not occurring​​ today.

 

The nature of this present era (dispensation) which began formally at the destruction of the temple in​​ 70 A.D. when Israel's religion was cut off and which had already been announced by the apostle Paul in​​ the epistles of Ephesians and Colossians is characterized by a lack of miraculous manifestations on the​​ part of God. Today we understand about God by what is called circumstantial evidence, which is​​ perfectly good evidence, accepted in any court of law, We are not "eye witnesses". We have the "things​​ that are made" and we also have the Word, and this Word, contrary to some, has definitely been carried​​ down to us in a satisfactory manner. All the Biblical critics are agreed that what "errors" there might be,​​ do not appreciably affect the story as a whole. Although no translation is inspired or perfect, we have​​ the means by certain reference books to refer to the ancient languages and bypass any mistranslation.​​ Any Bible student can do this. No special training is needed.

 

Our attitude toward prayer today should be in keeping with the nature of this present dispensation. This​​ is the era of reasoning as opposed to seeing. Our attitude toward prayer should reflect this. We should​​ not be expecting God to do things out of harmony with the nature of His present administration. This is​​ not a lack on God's part or any injustice to the one who prays, the one who prays should pray in​​ understanding. If one is lacking in understanding, that is not God’s fault. The Word is there to be studied​​ and there the knowledge may be gained.

 

If one prays lacking this understanding, one is apt to be frustrated and disappointed. It is a simple fact​​ that many prayers are not answered and people rationalize and call something an answer which is not​​ what was prayed for, and as was said before, there is nothing but their word that the prayer was​​ answered. This is not the way it was in other dispensations when answers were obvious.

 

The reason people can be drawn into wrong ideas by prayer is that for one thing, they have not studied​​ the Word enough to know what is for today and what is​​ not. They think they can get knowledge in a​​ supernatural way, But this is divine inspiration and not for today. In praying, what happens is that the​​ person opens his mind in what is actually self-hypnosis and becomes receptive to any idea which​​ strongly asserts itself. The idea which is going to be most prominent is what that certain sect was just​​ saying to him. Without Biblical knowledge to guide him, his mind accepts that prominent idea and he​​ thinks it was God who said it, when actually he has fallen victim to the common Law of Suggestion.

 

If we fall back on rationalization and simple insistence without any real evidence, then we do​​ something very wrong in relation to the Bible. We make it look bad. Those who do not believe it, know​​ there is no evidence to what the believer is saying, and they attribute this lack of evidence to the Bible​​ itself and say the Bible has no value. This on the part of the believer constitutes mishandling the Word.​​ The believer today has no evidence of what he says except common reasoning and that is what he must​​ go on. If one will adhere to the correct dispensational divisions of the Bible, one will be much better​​ able to defend the reputation of the Word.

 

In this Church Age when our understanding and faith in God is on an abstract or reasoning level in​​ contrast to the visible and emotional level of past ages, the word "prayer" takes on its most deep and​​ spiritual meaning. The words of Christ in John 20:29, "Blessed are they that have not seen, yet have​​ believed", have their greatest and most full meaning. Today prayer can be called what it has always​​ been meant to be when viewed in its greatest depth and fullness, and that is,​​ "an attitude of mind".

 

Here we have a constant communication like an electrical current, with God always seeing and caring​​ and the believer always feeling this surge :.!" energy. The believer, when maintaining a​​ spiritual​​ attitude, is​​ automatically communicating with God,​​ who knows all thoughts. Though today we do not​​ receive gifts miraculously, we still are blessed in such a way that we can truly say that God's Grace is​​ more than sufficient.

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