Archive for October, 2012

Spiritual sensitivity. God at work. Supernatural occurrences. Ethereal experiences. How do we define miracles. Many of us in the United States sweep the miraculous under the carpet telling ourselves that science has proven that the universe is sustained by a set of laws by which it cannot deviate. What “surprises” occurs are the result of laws which have not been developed and once our knowledge about this vast expanse of space evolves, we too, will have the necessary understanding of being able to predict those things as well just like solar eclipses and meteor showers.

But, is that line of reasoning true? Is God still involved in performing miracles today in the 21st century? As we read Scripture we see that the Lord during His earthly ministry did in fact perform miracles. And, we hear of accounts today in America and abroad of countless miraculous healings which take place. What are we to make of all of these stories? Tim Stafford presents an honest look from a journalist’s perspective in a broad attempt to present the data in such a way as to not sway his readership in either direction so that they may make their own decision based upon his unbiased presentation of the information.

One of the ways in which Stafford attempts to do this is by comparing and contrasting what a miracle is and what are some of the many ways in which God acts in natural ways.I love the way Stafford contrasts the miraculous and the natural. How he describes how we are awestruck by Jesus’ turning the loaves and fishes to a bouteous meal for 5000, yet we take for granted the incredible yearly harvest of wheat. The wheat harvest occurs every year in thousands of various locations. Small seeds “naturally” turn into shoots that will eventually feed billions of people. This occurs year in and year out without much fanfare or even much thoughtful consideration by us. What is the difference Stafford asks? The multiplication and distribution of the loaves and fishes didn’t occur every day. The wheat harvest was a regular observed occurrence. Yet, both are extraordinary on closer investigation. It was a miracle not because it was any more incredible. It was a miracle due the fact that it was unusual and unexpected. It was also a miracle because Jesus used it as a vehicle in which to teach a deeper message. Or, even look at some of the ways in which the body heals. We see a similar wound or disease in two different people. One person survives the injury while the other individual does not. There are seemingly endless contributors which feed into why a person would survive such a traumatic injury. We could strike it up to good genes or an outstanding immune system. Or, we could attribute it to the prayers of the saints who stood vigil over a 24-hour period of time as the patient was hanging in the balance between life and death. Either way, God is at work. God is sovereign. God always intervenes. He is not the God of the deists who believe that once God has created His universe that He now takes a hand’s off approach as life just sort of swirls out of control.

We in our finititude cannot understand all of the ways of a sovereign, holy, just, merciful, gracious God. Yet, we would do a major disservice to Him if we kept Him out of the picture of how He deals with His creation. So, how do we answer the questions? God just miraculously healed me from my overwhelming migraine headaches. Praise God! That is a testimony of His divine grace and power. I have asked God in prayer to deliver me from this infection and nothing seems to happen. Praise God! That too, is evidence of His divine grace and power. How can that be? Both situations are lucid displays of His interaction and involvement. Remember Paul’s thorn in the flesh (2 Cor. 12:7f)? Paul prayed to God three times that He would intervene and remove his thorn, but to no avail. There may be reasons hidden from our eyes as to the why God orchestrates and allows seemingly painful things in our lives. We know not why, but we are foolish to brazenly question His goodness. There may be something that we need to learn that will only be accomplished by going through a particular hardship. That is why I believe that expecting God to act miraculously in our favor is totally against what Scripture teaches us. We, in our limited faculty, believe that all bad things should be avoided at all costs. Scripture never teaches that. Rather, when we encounter hardship, if God decides in His sovereignty to not remove it, we should embrace it and draw all of the marrow out of it we can in order to learn and grow more dependent upon the Lord that we can as we go through it stronger disciples.

No matter where your convictions lie, you have to appreciate the approach Stafford takes in his quest for answers. He is burdened with seeking the honest facts in an unbiased way with a clean slate and little presuppositions.

There are times where Stafford seems to swing back and forth regarding his inner convictions as to whether or not God supernaturally intervenes in His creation to perform some out of the ordinary feat to the awe of His audience. It is curious to me as well that given the experiences that he shares regarding some of the miracle-on-the-spot “healers” that he would even recommend others to visit a “Benny Hinn-type” service, yet to utilize caution. My strong concern in such matters would be not to recommend anyone to such a service. Why? It certainly wouldn’t be due to my conviction that God does not perform miracles today. It would rather be due to the fact that individuals of this stripe do not have the inner drive, motivation, nor the integrity of engaging in true, Gospel ministry. True, authentic Gospel ministry is centered on proclaiming the life-transforming message that Christ died to save sinners. It should never be distracted by other agendas and hype. Even if all of the miracles that were recorded could be legitimately authenticated by these ministries, it should never take priority over the primacy of the Gospel message.

So, what are we to make of miracles? What does Stafford conclude? As an excellent journalist, his modus operandi is merely to present the facts and give his audience the opportunity to make their own unbiased conclusions.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Bethany House Publishers who allowed me to peruse this book at no cost to me to examine and compose an unbiased review of this work.