Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Signs, Wonders, Healings, and Driving Out Demons

Some churches are big on what they call signs and wonders. They teach that if you have enough faith, you will be healed of your diseases, and will be able to even drive out demons. I believe they are wrong on this.

I certainly do believe that miracles occur. I believe they occur more frequently than we realize, and many of them either go unnoticed or are attributed to “luck.” One of the more recent miracles occurred on 9/11/2001. When you consider that 40,000 – 50,000 people occupied the World Trade Center complex on any weekday, it is a miracle that less than 10% of that number perished. Of course that is no consolation to those who had loved ones, friends, or coworkers killed or injured ( lost several co-workers), but the fact remains that the casualties were much smaller than one would have expected.

In speaking to survivors, you hear story after story of how someone was running late, someone missed the bus and arrived to work later than usual, someone had to stop and pick up dry cleaning, someone went to vote first, or someone went to an appointment somewhere else that morning. To me, each one of those was a miracle.

Is it that those people who survived 9/11 had more faith than those who didn’t? Of course not. Yet those who preach about signs and wonders tend to base it all on your faith rather than the power of God. It is the power of God that is in operation, of course, but they teach that your faith essentially drives God to make the signs and wonders happen. I don’t believe that is how it works (although there are many who would disagree with me on this).

The problem with such beliefs is that it can put people on a tremendous guilt trip. “If only I had more faith, my wife wouldn’t have died.” “If only I had more faith, I would be healed of this cancer.” You can have tremendous faith, but eventually you are going to die. I don’t believe that the power of your faith heals you, although you certainly should pray to God for healing. Often healing takes the form of acceptance. God in his sovereignty will heal whom he will heal, and won’t heal those whom he won’t heal.

Believing your faith can produce signs and wonders is similar to those who put an emphasis on speaking in tongues (Glossolalia). The belief there is that you haven’t been baptized in the Holy Spirit (and thereby truly saved) unless you can show the outward manifestation of that baptism by speaking in tongues. Again, that puts people on a guilt trip because the faith of those who haven’t been given the gift of tongues isn’t strong enough. It’s unfortunate that Christians are put into this kind of bondage.

We have to remember that God is sovereign, God is merciful, and God’s blessings and salvation can’t be earned. Faith is extremely important, because we are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8; Romans 3), but we can’t control or manipulate God by our faith. God works in and through us when we place our faith and trust in Jesus.

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