If Only I Saw, Then I Would Believe

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

“The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe” (John 20:25 KJV).

“Doubting Thomas” not only describes a confused apostle of Israel, but also much of the world’s population. Bible skeptics whine, “When you show me some proof that God exists, then I will trust Him!”

From its earliest days, the nation Israel was accustomed to seeing and hearing God perform miraculous works (the LORD sent Moses to Israel with the power to handle snakes and heal; Exodus 4:1-9). “The Jews require a sign” (1 Corinthians 1:22). Christ even said to Israel, “Unless ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe” (John 4:48).

For three years, the Lord Jesus performed an inestimable number of miracles. He walked on water, raised the dead, cast out devils, healed the sick, and yet most of those Jewish witnesses never trusted in Christ. Christ said, “some of you believe not” (John 6:64). Some Jews refused to believe, even after they saw His miracles!

Some Jews were so fascinated with Christ’s miracles that they totally missed the reason why He performed those miracles—to teach them that He was their Messiah-King. John 2:23-25 says: “Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.” Jesus knew these people just wanted to be awed, not saved.

“For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). Seeing the Lord Jesus Christ through the eyes of faith, not the physical eyes, is enough “proof” for me.  Hebrews 11:1: Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

10,000 Words of Gibberish

Saturday, July 23, 2011

“I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all: yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue” (1 Corinthians 14:18,19 KJV).

Religion tells of being “filled with the Holy Ghost with the initial evidence of speaking in tongues.” Tongue talking is certainly Biblical, for the Bible says that certain Christians had the spiritual gift of tongues (1 Corinthians 12:10,28,30). But, is speaking in tongues something we Christians should practice today?

Today church members claim to speak in allegedly “angelic language,” some special prayer language that only God understands. Upon listening to these people “pray in the Spirit,” we conclude it is nothing intelligent: “Hastala shandala hobbla gobbla.” Others repeat, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.” This behavior is related to the Oriental religions’ “breath prayers” and uttering the Roman Catholic repetitious rosary. Vain worthless religious nonsense!

Corinth was the most spiritually immature Christian assembly Paul knew. These believers loved feel-good worship services, emotional highs, and being the center of attention (1 Corinthians 14:4,5ff.). Sound familiar? That is much of “the Church” today! Corinth abused spiritual gifts, so Paul devoted three chapters (1 Corinthians 12, 13, and 14) to address these problems. Chapter 14 deals entirely with tongue talking.

In today’s Scripture, and verses 2, 4, 13, 14, 19, and 27, Paul mentioned speaking in “unknown tongues.” That word “unknown”—absent from modern Bibles—indicates this was not God’s gift of tongues. This was some ecstatic, nonsensical utterance based on emotions: some believers in Corinth just loved to draw attention to themselves by abusing tongues (speaking in gibberish). God’s gift of tongues was always intelligent human languages, dialects (Acts 2:6-11).

Paul stated: “I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.” Talking 10,000 words in gibberish will profit nothing! Speak with intelligence, not some “angelic tongue.”

By the way, the gift of tongues ceased when God’s Word was completed (1 Corinthians 13:8-13).

Binding the Strong Man

Saturday, July 16, 2011

“Or else how can one enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house” (Matthew 12:29 KJV).

Do you ever wonder why the Lord Jesus Christ cast out devils during His earthly ministry? Why did Christ give His apostles the power to cast out evil spirits (Matthew 10:8; Mark 16:17)? From Genesis to Malachi, the Bible is almost silent about evil spirits. When we come to the Four Gospels, there is a tremendous rise in devil possession. Why?

The context of today’s Scripture is Christ has just healed a devil-possessed man, who was also blind and dumb (mute) (verses 22-30). Immediately, the Pharisees blurt: “This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils” (verse 24). The Pharisees wrongly accuse Christ of using Satan’s power to cast out Satan’s evil spirits.

Today’s Scripture is part of Jesus’ response: “I am binding the strong man.” Devil-possessed Jews is Satan’s method of hindering Christ from establishing His kingdom in the earth! In Matthew 12:28, Christ explains why He cast out devils: “But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.”

Israel’s kingdom is near, so Satan has polluted Israel with his evil spirits. By casting out devils, Christ is cleansing Israel of her satanic possession and preparing her for her kingdom to be established. The devils indwelling the Gadarene man “besought [Jesus] much that he would not send them away out of the country” (Mark 5:10). The “country” here is Israel.

The prophet predicted what the LORD would do one day: “I will cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to pass out of the land” (Zechariah 13:2). Whenever Christ sets up His earthly kingdom at His Second Coming, He will bind Satan in the bottomless pit for 1000 years (Revelation 20:1-3).

Today, in the Dispensation of Grace, God is not trying to reclaim the earth. Consequently, devil exorcism is unnecessary today.

The Signs of an Apostle

Friday, July 8, 2011

“Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds” (2 Corinthians 12:12 KJV).

The Apostle Paul’s ministry was separate and distinct from the ministry of Israel’s twelve apostles. After all, Peter and the eleven preached the “the gospel of the circumcision” whereas Paul preached “the gospel of the uncircumcision” (Galatians 2:7). In spite of that, we find Paul performing miracles in the same manner Peter and the eleven did. Why is Paul performing miracles?

According to 1 Corinthians 1:22, “the Jews require a sign” (cf. John 4:48). To validate Paul’s ministry for the Jews’ sake, God temporarily granted Paul the gift of miracle working. To wit, by God transferring Israel’s miracles to Paul’s ministry, He demonstrated to Israel that their program was falling away. Paul’s ministry was coming to forefront and evangelizing Gentiles. Undoubtedly, this “provoked the Jews to jealousy” (Romans 11:11).

In Acts 13, we see Paul’s first miracle, when he places a temporary physical blindness on a Jewish sorcerer, Elymas (representing Israel’s temporary spiritual blindness, which will be removed when the Dispensation of Grace expires; Romans 11:25-29).

The Apostle Paul’s miracles demonstrated that, as the Apostle Peter and the eleven’s ministry began to disintegrate, God was replacing Israel’s program with a new dispensation. Notice, in the latter extent of Paul’s ministry especially, the healing miracles ceased (the transitional period of Acts had ended).

  • Acts 14:8-11 — Paul healed crippled man in Lystra
  • Acts 19:11-12 — Paul’s healing handkerchiefs
  • Acts 16:16-18 — Paul heals devil-possessed damsel
  • Acts 20:9-12 — Paul raises Eutychus from the dead
  • Acts 28:1-10 — Paul survives snakebite, heals Publius’ father and the sick people of the island
  • Galatians 4:13-14 — Paul sick with infirmity, unable to heal himself
  • Philippians 2:26-27 — Paul cannot heal Epaphroditus
  • 1 Timothy 5:23 — Paul unable to heal Timothy
  • 2 Timothy 4:20 — Paul cannot heal Trophimus

Truly, Paul had the signs of an apostle, confirming his doctrine with the miracles! God’s salvation had indeed gone to the Gentiles through Paul.