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 Second Sunday in Lent.

The Collect

ALMIGHTY God, who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves; Keep us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls; that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Collect from the First Day of Lent is to be read every day in Lent after the Collect appointed for the Day.

Daily Bible Verse

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Glory of God's Sustaining Grace When Our Prayers Aren't Answered

The theology of non-cessationism often has to explain why their hypothetical--that God can and does answer their prayers supernaturally on the spot--and God almost never does so. In fact in the case of a physical disability like blindness, deafness, crippling diseases, autism, etc., the prayers usually are never answered. There are no documented miracles where physical disabilities are instantly healed. The gentleman in this story who prayed for the blind and autistic boy had obviously been deceived by one of the charlatans who promised that God does this sort of thing all the time. Trouble is the "testimonies" of the non-cessationist are never verifiable or falsifiable and there is no real way to confirm their anecdotal evidence. This is where Scripture, which infallibly and inerrantly records miracles, and modern testimonies get blurred together. The Scriptures are God's inspired words and every miracle in Scripture actually happened. Modern testimonies, on the other hand, may or may not be true. Con artists always insist that they get results from their prayers. Usually the motive is, "We have the supernatural power of God like the apostles in the Bible and those 'other churches' are traditionalists who don't get results because of their lack of faith.'" Or just maybe the non-cessationists are gullible and have been duped like the people in the story of the emperor's new clothes? No one has the courage to admit that they are not getting the promised results when they ask God for extraordinary, super-impossible miracles.

The peer pressure to go along with the masquerade in these non-cessationist churches is overwhelming. Even when the results are negative for these kinds of prayer they will still obstinately insist that God does this all the time. I wish I could tell you that I witnessed these kinds of miracles all the time when I was in the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement. I did see lots of showmanship but not one verifiable, bona fide supernatural healing of a physical disability. Most miracles are "perceived" healings of invisible medical problems that cannot be seen or verified by the audience. And cancer? Often when healing is claimed the cancer comes back from remission and the supernaturalists have to cover the lack of results by blaming the person with the cancer. Obviously the sick person lost their healing through doubt, unbelief, etc. This is a sign of Christian Science and other mind cults, not the supernatural power of God in the Scriptures.

The miracles of Jesus and the apostles in Scripture point to the uniqueness of Jesus as the Son of God, who is both God and man in one person. (Matthew 16:3; 24:24; Mark 16:20; Acts 2:22, 43). He was supernaturally conceived by the Holy Spirit in the virgin Mary's womb. He knew things supernaturally that no other man since has known. (John 1:48). He and His Father are one. (John 10:30). No one else on earth can make those kinds of claims. For that reason it is unnecessary for any further signs, wonders, or miracles today--although God can do them. Even the verse about all things are possible with God is in reference to the salvation of covetous rich men, not supernatural miracles. (Matthew 19:27; Mark 10:27; Luke 18:27). However, it was not possible for Jesus to remain dead in the grave because God is omnipotent and because it was planned by God's predestination and foreknowledge. (Acts 2:22, 23, 24). The bottom line is that all we know about Jesus is recorded in Scripture. If they will not hear Moses and the prophets or Jesus Christ, who will they hear? (John 12:47, 48; Luke 16:29, 30, 31).

To read the story from a follower of John Piper's Desiring God ministry, click here: The Glory of God's Sustaining Grace When Our Prayers Aren't Answered

Addendum: Yes, John Piper is a non-cessationist. Although he pretends to oppose prosperity preaching, one of the selling points of his church is that he does not "put God in a box" and try to tame Him. God can do what He jolly well wants, right? If God wants to do a miracle, then, "Go ahead, God! You have my permission!" As if God needs our permission to do anything? This is really just a clever reversal of the situation on the part of the false teachers. God can do whatever He wants. It is the non-cessationist who is putting God in a box and claiming that God won't do x or y unless we pray or ask or give Him permission. The purpose of faith is not to let God out of a hypothetical Arminian box! No! God is sovereign and does whatever He has determined to do from before the creation of the world. Nothing happens without God's set plan and foreknowledge. (Acts 2:22-24; Ephesians 1:4-11).  Basically, prayer is for "our" benefit and makes us more conscious of God's purposes in our lives.  When God does what we ask, it builds our confidence in God's grace towards us.  When God tests our faith our confidence is shaken temporarily but after the trial is over we can see that God was there all along.  Either way, our part is to believe God's promises!  (2 Corinthians 1:20).  Ultimately, those promises are for salvation, not having all our worldly needs met when we want them met. 

This is just another example of a triumphalistic theology of glory, not a theology of the cross.

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