The working of miracles and healings are closely related, yet distinct. Healings may be gradual and in hidden areas of the body. Miracles are normally visible and frequently they are instantaneous. Listen as Derek explains about the working of miracles from Scripture and his own experience.
It’s good to be with you again today, sharing with you about the precious and wonderful gifts of the Holy Spirit.
In my last two talks, I’ve been dealing with the gifts of power. The two gifts of power that I’ve dealt with so far are the gift of faith and the gifts of healings. Today, I’m going to speak about the third gift of power, the effecting, or working, of miracles.
Healings and miracles are closely related; nevertheless, they are distinct. Perhaps it will be good just to begin by pointing out some differences between healings and miracles. Healings may be gradual. For instance, you may be healed of a disease like emphysema; it may take maybe hours or days or weeks. Often, too, healings are invisible. They take place in areas of the body which cannot be seen by the eye. On the other hand, miracles are normally visible. The result that they produce can normally be seen in some way. And frequently—they are not necessarily—they’re instantaneous. So let’s just make those two points. Healings may be gradual and are often invisible. Miracles are normally visible and frequently instantaneous.
However, the gifts of the Spirit are like the colors of the rainbow. They are distinct colors and yet they shade off, one into the other. And so, healings shades off into miracles, miracles shades off into healings and both of them, in turn, are in some way related to faith.
Let me give you examples of physical conditions that would require a miracle. For instance, if a person has had a middle ear removed by surgery. There’s no way to heal a middle ear that isn’t there. But I remember years back, in my ministry praying for a man—all he said to me was, “It’s my ear.” So, I prayed. Later I met him. I said, “How’s your ear?” He said, “It’s fine.” I said, “Tell me, what was wrong with it?” He said, “I’d had the middle ear removed by surgery.” He said, “I went back to the doctor to be checked up, who didn’t know my problem and he told me I had a perfectly normal and healthy ear.” Looking back, I was rather glad that I didn’t know what I was praying for when I prayed because I think I didn’t just question what God would do, I just released the power of God.
Again, a person may have a short leg or a short arm—say maybe even a couple of inches shorter than the other. Well, there’s no way to heal a short leg or a short arm. It isn’t a sickness. And yet, I can testify to the glory of God, I’ve seen hundreds of people whose legs and arms have been visibly and physically lengthened through the working of miracles.
Or, another example: A person may have a broken bone that was set crooked and is permanently crooked. You can’t heal a broken bone but a miracle can straighten that broken bone. And, again, I’ve seen that happen on a number of occasions.
One of the interesting things about the working of miracles is that it often takes a specific, inspired act to release God’s miracle-working power. There’s a principle here that faith, without works, is dead. Faith must be expressed by some appropriate and corresponding act to be released. I’ll give you an example from the ministry of Jesus. In John 9:1–3 & 6–7, it says:
“...as He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?’ Jesus answered, ‘It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was in order that the works of God might be displayed in him.’ When He had said this, He spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and applied the clay to the man’s eyes. And said to him, ‘Go and wash in the pool of Siloam.’ (which is translated, Sent). And so he went away and washed, and came back seeing.”
Now, that was a miracle. Not just a healing. The man had never been able to see. His disease—his eyes were not diseased—they probably weren’t totally there. They may have been just empty sockets. And Jesus performed a very unusual action. He sat on the ground, made clay, and smeared the clay on the place where the man’s eyes should have been and told him to go and wash in a certain pool. In faith and obedience the man washed, and as a result of that act of obedience, the miracle-working power of God was released through the clay on his eyes and his eyesight came to him.
You might ask yourself, “Well, why did Jesus do something so unusual.” I cannot seek to explain everything, but what impresses me about that is that clay is the original material of creation. When God made man’s body in the first place, He formed it out of clay. And then the Spirit of life from God breathed into that clay and made it a living person. And I think when Jesus performed that miracle, he was serving notice on the people of His day, the creator is still with you. He took the original material of creation, put it on the man’s eyes, and when the man, by his act of faith and obedience, released the power of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit made out of that clay two perfect eyes.
Let’s look at another example in Luke 17 of how a miracle can be released by a very simple act of faith. It says about Jesus:
“...He entered a certain village and there met Him ten leprous men, who stood at a distance; And they raised their voices, saying, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!’ And when He saw them, He said to them, ‘Go and show yourselves to the priests,’ And it came about as they were going, they were cleansed.”
You see, the act of going, in obedience to the commandment of Jesus, released the supernatural power of God—the miracle-working power—that disposed of all trace of leprosy in their bodies. But not merely were they healed, but their flesh was actually restored; which is, as I say, more than a healing, it’s a miracle. But the significant thing is that Jesus, inspired by the Holy Spirit, gave them a certain act to perform and when, in faith and obedience to Him, who was God’s representative to them, they performed that act of obedience, then the miracle-working power of God was released in their bodies.
Now I’m going to speak about a miracle in the early ministry of the apostles. In Acts 3:1–8, it says:
“Peter and John were going up to the temple at the ninth hour, the hour of prayer. And a certain man who had been lame from his mother’s womb was being carried along, whom they used to set down every day at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, in order to beg alms of those who were entering the temple. And when he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he began asking to receive alms. And Peter, along with John, fixed his gaze upon him and said, ‘Look at us!’ And he began to give them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, ‘I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene—walk!’ And seizing him by the right hand, he raised him up; and immediately his feet and his ankles were strengthened. And with a leap, he stood upright and began to walk; and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.”
Well, there was a miracle, not just a healing. Obviously the man’s bones had never been well. It was not a case of disease. Probably, he’d been born with his ankle bones crooked and probably he sat there with his legs kind of curled up under him as we sometimes see beggars do still today.
Peter and John walked up to him and they were prompted by the Holy Spirit. It’s so important in this ministry that we learn to respond to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. The man reached out to them and looked up to them expecting to receive money. Peter said, “I have no money to give you but what I do have, I give you.”
I’m so glad that as Christians and servants of Jesus, we are expected to have something. We’re not expected to pass human need and simply shake our heads and say, “It’s too bad but I’m afraid there’s nothing I can do about it.” In faith, Peter said, “I’ve got something.” And then he did something which was very decisive. He reached out his hand, caught the hand of the man which was stretched out to receive money; lifted him up; and that act of lifting him up released the miracle-working power of God into the man’s feet and legs; and he leapt up, stood upright and then began to walk and leap.
We notice two elements in that miracle: First of all, there was the command of faith. I’ve said already that often it’s the gift of faith that releases the other two gifts. It’s a kind of catalyst that can bring forth either the gift of healing or gift of the working of miracles. In this case, Peter’s command of faith was followed by an action, and the action released the miracle-working power of God. That man could have sat there forever, but if nothing had ever been done in faith, there would have been no miracle.
Now, I would like to say that this is something that I’ve learned in personal experience. Many, many times I’ve learned that it takes a specific act to release God’s miracle power.
I think of a lady I prayed for once in South Florida, who had arthritis. She had been bed-ridden for five months. She was brought to the church in a wheelchair and brought up to the front and sat there. At the end of my message, I began to minister to the sick. I was asked by the people who had brought her, to pray for this lady and I kneeled down in front of her, took hold of her feet, and had the faith that I’d released God’s miracle-working power through my hands into her body, but she still sat there. I believed she was healed but she was completely passive. Then I did something that took a little nerve. I said, “Get up and start to walk!” I gave her my hand and pulled her out of the chair and I wondered, really, what was going to happen next. She looked at me incredulously for a moment, then, very hesitantly, she began to take a step; found she could do it; took the next; began to walk and, within 30 seconds, she was running right around the church building. But I realized, looking back, if I’d never given her that prompting, if I’d never made her do something, the miracle-working power of God would never have been released into that woman. So remember, it takes an act, many times, to release the miracle-working power of God.
All right, our time is up for today. But I’ll be back with you again tomorrow at this time. Tomorrow, I’ll be speaking about the first of the vocal gifts: “The Gift of Prophecy.”