Prior to His ascension, Jesus commissioned His followers to a dynamic and powerful mission of preaching the gospel accompanied by the same kind of signs (and even greater) than those that accompanied His own ministry.
Yet, today, arguments against Jesus’ own words are more likely to be seen than arguments for. And as for any evidence that Jesus was telling the truth, it seems like the majority would rather not think about it. Otherwise they might have to consider what they themselves aren’t doing, and why such things are absent from their own lives.
Instead, among those who do step out to address the issue, the most dominant voices seem to be the ones speaking platitudes and making excuses about why things are so different now, or why Jesus’ words no longer apply to our time – none of which stands up to the teaching of scripture.
But how can we expect that kind of ministry – preaching a gospel to the unsaved, confirmed by accompanying signs – if members of the chruch can’t even believe and receive what God has promised to the body of Christ?
Look at the many promises given regarding prayer?
If you believe you WILL receive WHATEVER you ask for in prayer. (Matt 21:22) NIV
I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. (Mark 11:24)NIV
If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. (John 15:7)NIV
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him. (1 John 5: 14-15)NIV
Do you believe those promises?
Do you believe them WITHOUT making excuses for them not working in your own life – such as “well, sometimes God answers no…“? (I suggest the link be followed to see what scripture says about that).
Of course, there are biblical reasons that God wouldn’t answer prayer. James shows us two of them.
…when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. (James 1: 6-7)NIV
But how dare anyone accuse “me” of not having faith? Surely it must be God sovereignly denying my request…
Swallow your pride and consider that your faith may not yet be as perfect as you think.
When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. (James 4: 3) NIV
Maybe with this quote in mind it might be worth revisiting two of the promises above that spell out conditions: “If you remain in me…” and “ask anything according to my will…”. Both of these would ensure right motives.
As for the other promises, they are all conditional upon faith/believing. But how does one believe without doubting that they will receive something from God if they aren’t totally convinced that HE is able and willing to give it?
Faith, the ability to believe with no doubt, is dependant on knowing God’s will.
And (another promise with a condition of faith) –
…without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Hebrews 112:6) NIV
So let us stop the faithless excuses and platitudinal clichés, and start seeking God through His word, by His Spirit – to discover the truth. If we are willing to do that, then maybe we’ll stop being the insipid, downtrodden, illness-ridden, and faithless people that the world has seen for far too long. And, surely, we’ll start to demonstrate more of that dynamic gospel ministry delegated to the church by Jesus Himself.
* A common platitude goes something like this: “We’ll all experience the ultimate healing in heaven”.
That clearly misses the point. God’s provision of healing won’t be needed after we’re dead, because we’ll be getting a completely new, glorified body anyway.
Healing and health for believers is needed here and now, so we are fit for the job Jesus commissioned His church to do.
If all we are doing is looking to the benefits of the “afterlife” we’re believing a false gospel. The gospel is about the here and now, preparing us and others for entry into God’s coming new creation. (More about that to come…)