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Martyred for the Gospel

Martyred for the Gospel
The burning of Tharchbishop of Cant. D. Tho. Cranmer in the town dich at Oxford, with his hand first thrust into the fyre, wherwith he subscribed before. [Click on the picture to see Cranmer's last words.]

Collect of the Day

The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany.
The Collect.

O LORD, we beseech thee to keep thy Church and household continually in thy true religion; that they who do lean only upon the hope of thy heavenly grace may evermore be defended by thy mighty power; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Daily Bible Verse

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

What About Miracles Today?

WHAT ABOUT MIRACLES TODAY?

There are many men and women who claim to be working miracles today. These so-called miracle workers may be well known and be seen on TV, while others are less well-known and may be seen in many small towns and cities. Are these people really working miracles? Is what they are doing divine healing? My answer to these questions is simply, "NO!"

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Before I state what I think is being done, let me give a comparison of modern day healings(?) and the miracles of Jesus. There are at least thirteen differences.

1. Jesus did not heal for money: most today do their thing for money.

2. Jesus did not heal for notoriety. He often said: "tell no man." So-called miracle workers today spend much in advertizing and use "horn tooters."

3. Jesus healed every kind of known affliction: no case was too hard. Modern divine(?) healers form healing lines and will never attempt to heal those physical ailments that are obvious.

4. Jesus never indicated that healing was to be universal. Only four times were large groups healed while one time Jesus healed ten lepers. All the rest were individuals or two at a time.

5. Jesus did not discourage the use of physicians or medical remedies.

6. There were never any questions about his healings. Even His enemies admitted that He was healing people. There are many questions about so-called divine healing today.

7. Jesus performed no partial healing with the healed one to be well on down the road. Faith healers today claim this often.

8. Jesus did not make faith a uniform condition of healing. Only one time: Matt 9:28, did Jesus ask about faith. In 3 cases he commended faith, but in 15 cases faith is not required, and in 4 cases faith was impossible. Modern faith(?) healers require faith, and if they fail in their healing attempt, the reason given for their failure is the faith of the person seeking healing.

9. There were no failures in the miracles of the Lord: none! There are many today.

10. There were never any relapses when Jesus healed: today there are many.

11. Jesus was never guilty of fraud or trickery.

12. Jesus never failed to heal all in a group when he proposed to do so. And

13. Jesus did not use hypnotic influences or auto-suggestionism.

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In 1973 William E. Nolan, M. D. began a study of miracle workers, and entitled a book "In Search of A Miracle." Dr. Nolan concentrated his efforts on a nationally known faith healer known as Kathryn Kuhlman. She was an ordained minister who had been "healing" about 30 years at that time, and claimed to have treated app. one and one half million patients. Dr. Nolan interviewed Miss Kuhlman, and secured permission to follow up on the people who attended her services at Minneapolis in June 1973. He used two legal secretaries to secure names, addresses, phone numbers and diagnosis of everyone who was willing to cooperate. In July of 1973 letters were sent by Dr. Nolan requesting those who claimed a "cure" to come to Minneapolis. Twenty three responded. In every case examined by Dr. Nolan there was not found one case of a miraculous cure. Note this quote: "Kathryn Kuhlman's lack of medical sophistication is a critical point. I don't believe she is a liar or a charlatan or that she is, consciously, dishonest. I think that she believes the Holy Spirit works through her to perform miraculous cures. I think that she sincerely believes that the thousands of sick people who come to her services and claim cures are, through her ministrations being cured of organic diseases. I also think--and my investigation confirms this--that she is wrong." (Quotes and facts are from an article in McCall's 9/74). I also have another article from McCall's, dated February 1957. In this article entitled "The Truth About Faith Healers" John Kobler has some interesting things to say. His work concerned such faith healers at A. A. Allen, Oral Roberts, Jack Coe and other lesser known lights. Mr. Kobler also followed up on several cases of "healing". He too found no evidence of real organic healing. Note this quote: "One of the most searching studies of American faith healers has been undertaken by Reverend Carroll Stengall, Jr., pastor of the Pryor Street Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, Georgia. For six years Reverend Stegall has attended healing campaigns and interviewed scores of invalids before and after they were admitted to the healing line. ‘All healers,' he says, ‘use a certain psychological phenomenon called the "ready-made frame of desire." A great desire tends to produce results--in facsimile if not in reality. The more intense, the more easily one accepts a substitute satisfaction.' The testimonials of healings which Stegall examined fall, he feels, into four categories: genuine relief from psychological disturbances through suggestion, momentary fancied relief which the sufferer in his rapture endorses but later repudiates, staged fakes, and stories invented by editors for magazine publication." From that same article this quote: "The Miami Council of Churches denounced Coe as a religious quack. Three ministers of the Churches of Christ, a Protestant sect which maintains a standing offer of $1,000 to Oral Roberts for proof of a single cure acceptable to a committee of three doctors, issued the same challenge to Coe, raising the purse to $2,500. Like Roberts, he ignored it." Then this quote from the 1957 article: "In the town of Evansville, Indiana, some relatives of Mrs. Mary Vonderscher, age forty-three, who had moved to Burbank, California, were watching her give testimony on one of Oral Roberts' televised programs. She had, she stated, been cured of cancer of the spine, though doctors considered her condition hopeless. Three days later Mrs. Vonderscher's Hoosier relatives were en route to her funeral."

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I know personally of a young man in high school when I was who developed cancer at an early age. For some time he testified that Miss Kuhlman had cured him of cancer, but he died of that disease. He thought he had been healed, but he had not. I also personally know William Bryson, a gospel preacher, who was born with only one arm. He attended many "healing services", including Kathryn Kuhlman's in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. He has been threatened with jail and with ejection from the meeting by force. He was rejected on the charge that "you do not have faith" as well as being "a trouble maker." It was evident from his condition that no one could heal him, so he was rejected as an infidel or a trouble maker. In fact, one becomes a trouble maker when he challenges the claims of these religious frauds. And in my judgment, that is what they are.

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Several years ago I read of a man who walked with crutches, and was caught in an open field with a wild boar. When the boar charged the man he threw down his crutches, ran to the fence and jumped over. In another case a man who was confined to a wheel chair is known to have walked out of a burning house, saving himself and some children. These two examples help explain what so many see as a miracle. Many illnesses or diseases are the product of the human mind. Symptoms, real or imagined, are found without any known cause, but through the process of "auto-suggestionism" they are healed. The truth of the matter is, there never was any real organic illness: it was psychosomatic. That big word is defined by Webster: "a physical disorder of the body originating in or aggravated by the psychic or emotional processes of the individual." So-called faith healers do not heal by the Holy Spirit today. They only seem to cure when in reality there was no real physical problem: it was psychosomatic, and the "cure" was due to auto-suggestionism.


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Pat Gibbons -- August 1996

6 comments:

Bruce said...

As a psychologist for 25 years (and in the mental health field since 1976), I have seen the power of the “placebo effect”, many psychosomatic illnesses (and their ‘cures’). I know the power of suggestion.

I also have seen God work miracles. I am not talking about people doing miracles—- only God does miracles.

My father is only one of many examples that I personally know about, some of which I have witnessed. He was a surgeon who had prayed that God bless his hands and wisdom whenever he did surgery, and he made sure his family went to church, but was a nominal Christian who never talked about God or spent much time in the Word. Then out of nowhere he was diagnosed with prostate cancer and it was found metastasized into the bones; it was everywhere. This was in the 1980s before current treatments were available. He went to the best oncologists in the country. They gave him no more than two years to live. Facing death, he turned to God in a big way during those two years. One day, very uncharacteristic of him, he stood up during announcements in church (it was an Episcopal church which did not have healing services) and announced his own healing. Most church members thought he had lost his mind and were sad. But when he went to the big cancer hospital in Dallas a few months later for his checkup, they could find no cancer. He had many more good years after that. You want to tell me that God does not work miracles today?

I suppose that much of what we are talking about here depends on one’s definition of “miracle.” No matter how ‘healed’ a person is, he or she is still going to die, sometimes sooner sometimes later. Jesus healed many, but they still died. Lazarus was raised from the dead by Jesus Christ, but even he had to die again. Because no physical (or psychological) healings are permanent (until the Resurrection of believers), that does not mean that healings (and other miracles) do not occur.

Of course there are charlatans out there; Satan wants us to disbelieve in the power of God and he so promotes these liars so that the rest of us diminish our faith. Today many churches disbelieve in miracles and the power of God. St. Paul reminds us that this disbelieving falls in a category of evils that you really don’t want to be a part of…..

2 Timothy 3
"But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—HAVING A FORM OF GODLINESS BUT DENYING ITS POWER. Have nothing to do with them."

- Bruce Atkinson Ph.D.

Charlie J. Ray said...

First of all, Bruce, no one I know of denies that "GOD" can and does sometimes do miracles. The real issue is with the false prophets who "claim" they have the power to do miracles just as the apostles of the first century did. This is an extravagant claim and does not line up with Scripture as the 13 points above outline.

Secondly, in Scripture miracles always point to Jesus and to His message. Therefore, even if there are miracles, the bottom line is the message--not the miracles. The devil and false prophets performed miracles even in Jesus' day so following miracles is no evidence of a true Christian any more than performing miracles is a sign that the person performing the miracle is a true minister of the Gospel. (See Exodus 4:21; Matthew 24:24; Mark 13:22; Acts 8:13-24; Acts 19:11-17; Hebrews 2:1-4)

Often the crowds followed Jesus for the wrong reason (Matthew 11:20-22; John 6:22-37). The point of signs, wonders, and miracles is not the sign, wonder or miracle in and of itself. Miracles are always meant to point to the Gospel message and to Christ. Those who refuse to believe the Scriptures will not believe even if someone rises from the dead! (Luke 16:29-31).

The Gospel is about eternity, not about the here and now. Where will people spend eternity is the real issue. That's the message of the Bible, not health, wealth and prosperity. Job learned that lesson the hard way. (See Job 38).

The Bible isn't about self esteem, having a happy marriage, or how to have friends and influence people. It is not a book of good advice or self help. The Bible is a book about the rebellion of mankind against God and how God sent His Son to reconcile His Father with some of the rebels to whom He chooses to give mercy and faith. The rest He turns over to act in accordance with their own wicked nature (Romans 1:28).

Working miracles can even be proof of apostasy (Matthew 7:21-23). And what I do I will continue to do, in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do. 13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds. (2 Corinthians 11:12-15 ESV)

The focus of the Bible is Jesus, not miracles. Those who focus on miracles miss the whole point. They follow Jesus for the benefits of miracles rather than following Him because He is in fact the Bread of Life (John 6:26ff).

And finally, I should point out that anecdotal stories like the one you mentioned with your father are not "inspired" by God. The miracles described in Scripture are part of the inerrant and infallible record. We are obligated to accept God's Word as the very oracles and words of God. However, modern day miracle stories may or may not be accurate. We only have your word for it.

Furthermore, simply because one person is healed of an organic illness does not mean that all are healed that way. Jesus never failed to heal nor did He place conditions on healing. He just did the miracle. But in the case of modern healers the results are spotty at best and most of their claims for a miraculous healing turn out to be wrong. Statistically, the larger the crowd the larger the chances that there will be one or two "miracles." The rest turn out not to be healed at all. So this is in essence not "miracles" but simply statistical odds.

I prefer to say that God answers prayers according to His will. It is not a sin to question false prophets and false teachers as you imply. That's setting yourself up to be deceived.

Sincerely in Christ,


Charlie

Charlie J. Ray said...

In demanding miracles of us, they act dishonestly. For we are not forging some new gospel, but are retaining that very gospel whose truth all the miracles that Jesus Christ and his disciples ever wrought serve to confirm. But, compared with us, they have a strange power: even to this day they can confirm their faith by continual miracles!

. . . . . . . . . .

Perhaps this false hue could have been more dazzling if Scripture had not warned us concerning the legitimate purpose and use of miracles. For Mark teaches that those signs which attended the apostles’ preaching were set forth to confirm it [Mark 16:20 [Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)] ]. In like manner, Luke relates that our ‘Lord . . . bore witness to the word of his grace,’ when these signs and wonders were done by the apostles’ hands [Acts 14:3 p [Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)] .]. Very much like this is that word of the apostle: that the salvation proclaimed by the gospel has been confirmed in the fact that ‘the Lord has attested it by signs and wonders and various mighty works [Heb. 2:4 p [Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)] .; cf. Rom 15:18-19 [Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)] ]

John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion

Charlie J. Ray said...

Nevertheless, they cease not to assail our doctrine, and to accuse and defame it in what terms they may, in order to render it either hated or suspected. They call it new, and of recent birth; they carp at it as doubtful and uncertain; they bid us tell by what miracles it has been confirmed; they ask if it be fair to receive it against the consent of so many holy Fathers and the most ancient custom; they urge us to confess either that it is schismatical in giving battle to the Church, or that the Church must have been without life during the many centuries in which nothing of the kind was heard. Lastly, they say there is little need of argument, for its quality may be known by its fruits, namely, the large number of sects, the many seditious disturbances, and the great licentiousness which it has produced. No doubt, it is a very easy matter for them, in presence of an ignorant and credulous multitude, to insult over an undefended cause; but were an opportunity of mutual discussion afforded, that acrimony which they now pour out upon us in frothy torrents, with as much license as impunity,12 would assuredly boil dry.
1. First, in calling it new, they are exceedingly injurious to God, whose sacred word deserved not to be charged with novelty. To them, indeed, I very little doubt it is new, as Christ is new, and the Gospel new; but those who are acquainted with the old saying of Paul, that Christ Jesus “died for our sins, and rose again for our justification” (Rom. 4:25), will not detect any novelty in us. That it long lay buried and unknown is the guilty consequence of man’s impiety; but now when, by the kindness of God, it is restored to us, it ought to resume its antiquity just as the returning citizen resumes his rights.
2. It is owing to the same ignorance that they hold it to be doubtful and uncertain; for this is the very thing of which the Lord complains by his prophet, “The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib; but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider” (Isaiah 1:3). But however they may sport with its uncertainty, had they to seal their own doctrine with their blood, and at the expense of life, it would be seen what value they put upon it. Very different is our confidence—a confidence which is not appalled by the terrors of death, and therefore not even by the judgment—seat of God.
Calvin, J. (1997). Institutes of the Christian religion. Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

Prefatory Address to the King of France

Charlie J. Ray said...

13. How clearly and transparently does this appear in his miracles? I admit that similar and equal miracles were performed by the prophets and apostles; but there is this very essential difference, that they dispensed the gifts of God as his ministers, whereas he exerted his own inherent might. Sometimes, indeed, he used prayer, that he might ascribe glory to the Father, but we see that for the most part his own proper power is displayed. And how should not he be the true author of miracles, who, of his own authority, commissions others to perform them? For the Evangelist relates that he gave power to the apostles to cast out devils, cure the lepers, raise the dead, &c. And they, by the mode in which they performed this ministry, showed plainly that their whole power was derived from Christ. “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth,” says Peter (Acts 3:6), “rise up and walk.” It is not surprising, then, that Christ appealed to his miracles in order to subdue the unbelief of the Jews, inasmuch as these were performed by his own energy, and therefore bore the most ample testimony to his divinity.
Calvin, J. (1997). Institutes of the Christian religion. Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

Book I.XIII.13

Bruce said...

Amen to: "the bottom line is the message--not the miracles." I wholeheartedly agree that miracles in themselves should not the focus of attention but Jesus Christ, the Word, and the power of God.

I also agree that "miracle workers" are to be distrusted, unless of course they are taking no credit and giving it all to the Lord. Even then, who knows whether it is a 'miracle' or something much less.

My only argument is with those who do not believe that God does miracles today. He does.

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