This teaching includes a free sermon outline to download for personal use, message preparation or Bible study discussion.
In these studies we are going through systematically the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit. We have divided them, for sake of convenience and ease of study, into three groups, each containing three gifts. The distinguishing feature of each group is the gifts of revelation, the gifts of power and the vocal gifts. It is my intention in this study to deal with the two remaining gifts of power as I have defined them. That is, the gifts of healings and the workings of miracles.
Before we go into a detailed study of either it is important to make certain basic distinctions. What is the difference between healing and a miracle? I’ve suggested in your outline at the top of that sheet essentially a healing relieves the body of disease. It is often imperceptible to the senses and it may also be gradual. It does not necessarily happen instantaneously or even in a very short period of time.
On the other hand, a miracle produces a change that goes beyond healing. I’ve given two examples there. For instance, the lengthening of a leg. You cannot heal a leg that is shorter than the other leg, but God can lengthen it. In recent months, we have seen thousands of cases of legs grow out immediately, instantaneously and visibly. Or, and this is another case that I actually witnessed, a man was prayed for for the healing of his ear and the man who prayed didn’t know what was wrong with his ear. But, after prayer the man who was prayed for said that he’d had his inner ear removed by surgery. He went back to a doctor, had his ear examined and the doctor said he had a normal ear. So, that was not just a healing, because you cannot heal something that isn’t there, that was a creative or restorative miracle.
Miracles are very often—I think we could say—usually perceptible to the senses and almost instantaneous. Of course, they can border on each other. That is to say, an instantaneous healing that’s visible could be described as a miracle. I have witnessed quite a number of these recently. I prayed for a girl who had acne sometime back in Birmingham, Alabama. Really, I didn’t expect much. I got a lot more than I expected because in the next ten minutes her face changed to a kind of supernatural glowing pink. It was absolutely supernatural. Every spot disappeared. All that was left was a faint shadow where the spots had been. That was a healing, but it was so perceptible and so instantaneous that you could call it a miracle.
Let’s look at these a little bit in detail. Gifts of healings, both parts are plural. This we’ve seen was true with discernings of spirits and we’ll find it’s true with workings of miracles and with kinds of tongues. So there are quite a number of these gifts which, in the original (though it’s not always brought out in the King James translation), both parts are plural. Gifts of healings.
My interpretation of this is that each healing is a gift. Each time the healing comes that is a gift given through the person through whom the gift is manifested.
This also is operated only under God’s control. I do not believe that there is anybody who can go around with the gift of healing, healing anybody at will—anywhere, anytime. Some foolish person will say to you if you have the gift of healing, “Walk into the hospital and heal everybody.” That is really absurd; it’s unspiritual. Even Jesus did not heal everybody. Let’s look at this example in John 5:2 and following. This is an incident at the pool of Bethesda.
“There is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk...“
They were waiting for the moving of the water in the pool.
“A certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?”
A strange question to ask a man who’d been there for 38 years seeking healing. But, you see, the exercise of the will is sometimes an important factor.
“The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me. Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk. And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked...”
And then we read a little further in verse 13:
“He that was healed wist not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in that place.”
There was a great multitude of sick people. Jesus went in, healed one man, and walked out again. It is not scriptural to say that if you have this gift you can heal everybody at any time.
And when Jesus was questioned about this, notice what He said in the 19th verse of the same chapter.
“Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he [the Father] doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.”
Jesus disclaimed the ability to do anything independently of the Father. In another place He said, “The works that I do, it is the Father that dwelleth in me that doeth the work.” In other words, He could not go out and do anything in His own will or by His own decision if it was not by revelation of the Father’s will.
This my wife and I have seen also in this matter of healing that when fifty people come forward for healing it is usually very unsatisfactory to line them up, give them a number and start at number one. Because, number one may be one of those persons who just has no faith. You pray for number one and nothing happens. Number two has no faith either. By that time nobody has any faith. We have learned by experience to let the Lord select the one to begin with. When I pray for people to have their legs lengthened I say, “One thing I require: that nobody steps to that chair without my permission.” I want to control who gets in that chair. If I can start with the right people then it will go. But if you start with a wrong one and nothing happens, then you’re fighting unbelief in everybody. We can only do these things insofar as God leads us and operates through us. This was true of Jesus and it is certainly true of the disciples. As I understand, the healing power, it is the power of the Holy Spirit made available to the body of the believer. Let’s look at two Scriptures. First of all, Romans 8:11:
“But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken [give life to] your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.”
So, the Spirit of God that raised Jesus out of the tomb, if it dwells in your body, is able to impart to your body the same life that it imparted to the dead body of Jesus. This is the thought. You have available within you, through the Holy Spirit, the very same power that raised the dead body of Jesus out of the tomb.
And 2 Corinthians 4:10–12, we have again the same thought brought out by the apostle Paul. This is the testimony of Paul:
“Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. So then death worketh in us, but life in you.”
Notice, we have death in the natural that in its place we may have a supernatural life made available to our mortal bodies by the Holy Spirit. This is the resurrection life of Jesus Christ made available to the body of the believer by the Holy Spirit through faith. Notice in verse 11 Paul says “this life is to be made manifest in our mortal flesh.” It’s not just to be there but its presence is to be made manifest. This is what I call “divine healing” and “divine health.” It’s the presence of the Spirit of God that raised the dead body of Jesus out of the tomb made manifest, operating so that you can see it’s there and see what it’s doing.
Actually, I do believe that this goes beyond healing to health. The will of God for the believer in Christ is not to keep getting healed. The will of God for the believer in Christ is stated in 3 John 2:
Beloved, I wish above all things thou mayest prosper and be in health, ...
Not keep getting healed. I’ve learned by experience that once you make up your mind, it’s much easier to be in health than it is to keep getting healed. It’s good to be healed but it’s much better to be healthy.
I have also learned that it’s much easier to have faith not to get sick than it is when you’ve got sick to have faith to get healed. These are all basic Bible principles.
But beyond being in health there’s a further benefit which is also very useful particularly for some of us which is stated in Psalm 103:5:
“... so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”
I believe that this also is the portion of the believer who is indwelled by the Holy Spirit. We do not have a resurrection body. If you ever meet a believer who claims to have his resurrection body, just test him by sticking a pin in him. Then you’ll know. But, what we do have and what we are entitled to claim is resurrection life in a mortal body. That is more than equal to the ravages of sickness and disease and even, in a certain measure, to counterbalance the working of old age. After all, Moses was 120 years old, his eye was not dim nor his natural force abated. He spent so much time in the presence of God that he really was living in a different kind of atmosphere from so many other people. The atmosphere that we live in makes a lot of difference.
I was talking to a sister in the Lord who was visiting us this morning. She said that she and her husband went home for the holidays and had a reunion with the other members of the family who were not Spirit-baptized believers. They all arrived healthy and started talking about their sicknesses. After about three days of talking about their sicknesses, most of them were sick. She and her husband said, “We were just glad to get out of that atmosphere.”
The atmosphere you live in has a lot to do with what you experience. The Spirit-filled believer should create an atmosphere around him of positive faith and confidence and praise. I firmly believe this. You see, that’s why we anoint the sick with oil. “If there’s any sick among you,” James said, “let him call for the elders of the church, let them anoint him with oil.” What does the oil typify? The Holy Spirit available to give resurrection life to the body of the believer.
I firmly believe that we’re now entering into a phase where the body of Jesus Christ, the church, is going to be made amazingly well and healthy beyond what most of us can envisage at this time. At this time last year right at the beginning of the year I remember saying and predicting that there would be a time of healing. Looking back over these 12 months, I can say that prediction has in a large measure been fulfilled. In the last 12 months I have seen far more people healed than in the previous ten years. That’s only a foretaste of what’s coming.
In fact, I have come to the place—let me put it this way—I used to believe that when I felt in any way weak or discouraged or open to sickness I would begin to thank Jesus, “Thank You, Lord Jesus, You took my infirmities, You bore my sicknesses, with Your stripes I’m healed.” It’s wonderful how it works. But God has enlarged my faith now. Now I can do it for the whole body of Christ. I say, “Thank You, Lord, You took all our sicknesses, You bore all our infirmities, and with Your stripes we are all healed.” I expect to see it. I don’t believe the Lord Jesus is coming for a sick bride. I believe He’s coming for one that’s been renewed spiritually, mentally and physically by this supernatural resurrection power that is available through the Holy Spirit.
This power indwelled Jesus in His earthly ministry from the time of His baptism in the river Jordan. From time to time this power flowed through Him in a way you could almost call tangible. Let’s look in Mark 5:30 and a few related passages for a moment. It’s about the woman with the issue of blood who came up behind Him in the press and touched the border of His garment. It says in verse 29:
“Straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague. And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes?”
Notice “virtue had gone out of him.” The word virtue is the Greek word dunamis, which is more normally translated “power.” He felt power leave Him. As a matter of fact, you’ll find that some persons who are used in this way themselves become physically weak when they’re drained of this supernatural power.
And then in Luke 6:19 we have another statement about this power.
“And the whole multitude sought to touch him: for there went virtue out of him, and healed them all.”
There went power out of him and healed them all.
And then in Luke 5 we find a further extension of this. Luke 5:17:
“And it came to pass on a certain day, as he was teaching, that there were Pharisees and doctors of the law sitting by, which were come out of every town of Galilee, and Judea, and Jerusalem: and the power of the Lord was present to heal them.”
The whole atmosphere apparently was permeated with this healing power. Again, I believe very shortly we shall have experiences like that in our own lives and ministry when the spirit of healing will move into a meeting or the spirit of miracles. And, almost everybody will be supernaturally touched by God. I have begun to see this on a small scale and I expect to see it increase.
Then we see in Acts 5:15 the same supernatural healing power that’s associated with the shadow of Peter. At a certain time in Jerusalem it says:
“They brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them. There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one.”
Even the shadow of Peter brought healing. I know a brother in the Lord with whom I was friendly at one time, I haven’t seen him for a number of years, who was used in this way in Argentina. At the height of the meetings there, he said he could just cast his shadow over the people and deliberately walked so that his shadow fell on the sick and they were healed. These things are not out of date. Those particular meetings in Argentina actually shook the whole of that Catholic country from end to end in a way that all previous missionary efforts had absolutely been unable to achieve. This happened in the space of a few brief weeks. When God’s power is liberated, we cannot measure what the results will be.
Let’s look at some examples of individual healings rather than the healing that just went out as a power. Luke 4:40:
“Now when the sun was setting, all they that had any sick with divers diseases brought them unto him; and he laid his hands on every one of them, and healed them.”
Here we see that Jesus ministered to each one individually. He laid His hands on each one and each one that He laid his hands on was healed. We notice the variety of the Holy Spirit. God does not always work the same way. Some places they could just touch him, other places He had to lay His hands individually on each one.
Then in Matthew 8:1–3 we read about the healing of the leper.
“When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him. And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.”
That was really, you could say, a miracle. A visible healing of leprosy. Jesus touched him. Of course, one reason why Jesus touched him, I’m sure, was because nobody normally touched the lepers. He was untouchable. Jesus went out of His way to touch him. He could have healed him some other way but He showed him that He was willing to touch him.
In Mark 7:32–35 we have another example of healing. And, sometimes the methods of Jesus were distinctly unconventional.
“And they bring unto him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech; and they beseech him to put his hand upon him. And he took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers into his ears [that I’ve seen happen many times], and [then] he spit, and touched his tongue [apparently with his spittle]; and looking up to heaven, he sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened. And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain.”
He was healed of deafness and had an impediment in his speech. Then in Mark 8:22 we have a rather remarkable example of the healing of a blind man.
“He cometh to Bethsaida; and they bring a blind man unto him, and besought him to touch him. And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town...”
Why did He do that? My personal thought is there was such an atmosphere of unbelief in that town that that man could never have got through to healing there.
“... and when he had spit on his eyes, and put his hands upon him, he asked if he saw aught. And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking.”
He could see, but not clearly. Some people say all the healings of Jesus were instantaneously complete. That isn’t correct. See, even Jesus depended, in a measure, on the response of faith of the person that He was dealing with.
“After that he put his hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored, and saw every man clearly. And he sent him away to his house, saying, Neither go into the town, nor tell it to any in the town.”
Apparently He just couldn’t stand the atmosphere of that town. There was such an atmosphere of unbelief and maybe it was all his relatives. How many of you know that relatives are the hardest people to have faith in front of? If your relatives are all unbelievers, sometimes you just have to have faith somewhere else. This man could not be healed in that particular town. And even when he was healed he couldn’t keep his healing if he went back there. Of course, we’ve seen many things that are somewhat similar perhaps today.
Then let’s look at Acts 28:8 for an example from the book of Acts of an individual healing. This is the climax of the shipwreck on the island of Malta. Paul and his party had come ashore and the islanders had received them and opened up their homes to them. There was one strategic healing that God used to bring the whole island to their feet. It says:
“It came to pass, that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and of a bloody flux [Publius, it says, was one of the chief men of the island]: to whom Paul entered in, and prayed, and laid his hands on him, and healed him.”
And you’ll notice there it says “Paul healed him.” Some people are always so modest, they say, “I can’t heal anybody.” Of course, we can’t heal anybody apart from Jesus, but there are times when we can be so identified with Jesus that we can heal them. Jesus healed people and He said, “The works that I do, he that believeth on me shall do also.” Sometimes there’s a lot of false modesty amongst Christians. Of course, there’s a lot of persecution that goes with being dubbed a “healer” and we know that there’s a type of healing which is wrong and wrongly used. It always has impressed me that Paul healed this man. He didn’t say, “Lord, You heal him.” He healed him. And Jesus said, when He sent the first disciples out, “In whatsoever town or city ye enter, heal the sick that are therein.” You do it. The Bible puts a lot more responsibility on us believers than most of us are willing to recognize.
Of course, Paul could not have done it if it hadn’t been by the power of the Holy Spirit. I think sometimes we operate best when we’re not even conscious that we’re doing a thing. In fact, we realize we’ve done it after we’ve done it. That’s when God can really get us moving.
Now let’s turn to the other remaining gift amongst these three that I’ve called the gifts of power, that one is the workings of miracles. Again, both parts are plural. Workings of miracles. I understand the meaning is the same—that each miracle is a working, a specific, definite manifestation of the gift. Again, this is operated only under God’s control. No one can go work a miracle simply by an exercise of his own will. Actually, we shall see in due course that all these six gifts: the three gifts of revelation and the three gifts of power, God retains control over them. But the three vocal gifts which we’ll be studying in due course, God has given us a measure of control. This is what sets them apart in a different category than the others.
The word miracles is not very clear in English. Unfortunately, the King James Version is distinctly misleading because it translates the same word in Greek by various different words in English and mixes them up. It translates word A by word B in English one time and then word B by word A in English at another time. I’ve taken a little trouble to go behind the King James Version and get just a glimpse of the basic Greek.
The word that is translated “miracles” when Paul speaks about the workings of miracles—which he does in 1 Corinthians 12:10, 28 and in Galatians 3:5, he uses this phrase three times—the word that is translated “miracles” is the same Greek word dunamis that we looked at just now but it’s the plural form. So, if you could translate it literally it would be “powers,” “workings of powers.” I have suggested in your outline that this means “acts demonstrating the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit.” So, this is the God-given ability to do things that manifestly demonstrate the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit at work. Workings of powers. The power, of course, being the power of God.
If you want to check in the King James Version, this word dunamis is translated “miracles” 9 times. But 13 times it is translated either “mighty works” or “wonderful works” or “mighty deeds.” In some of those places another word is translated “miracles.” So, we have to really take a little time and exert a little patience to get behind it if we want to see.
I believe there’s a consistent thread that runs through wherever this word is used in the plural. It links it up with other places. Let’s look, first of all, at some of the places in the New Testament where it’s used in a general way without any particular act being specified. For instance, in Matthew 13:54 we find the comment of the people of Nazareth about Jesus when He first appeared in His ministry.
“And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works?”
The word dunamis is there translated “mighty works.” They were amazed at His wisdom and they were amazed at His miracles. “Where did they come from?” they said. “We know Him; He’s just a carpenter’s son. How is it that He’s able to do these things?”
And then in Acts 2:22 Peter refers to Jesus with these words:
“Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know...”
God Almighty bore supernatural testimony to the life and ministry of Jesus by three things: miracles [the Greek word dunamis, powers], wonders [it’s an almost stronger word. If you’re familiar with the word portent, it means “something of absolutely tremendous significance”] and signs, which is just about the best translation you can have of the Greek words. So, we have there miracles, wonders and signs. The word that we’re concerned with is the one translated “miracles,” the first of the three.
Notice: by these miracles, wonders and signs Jesus was attested. One thing we must bear in mind with the Jewish people—and it has never changed—Paul said in 1 Corinthians the Jews require a sign. They do. They will never acknowledge a prophet that does not have a supernatural sign. And they’re absolutely right. It’s bred into them. Their whole racial background is a background of men who came with a message from God and could prove it. We really will never reach the Jewish people as we should until we have supernatural evidence that what we’re telling them is attested by God. As a matter of fact, really, you’ll never reach anybody as you should.
For my part, having been a missionary in two countries, I wouldn’t step outside my own country to preach the gospel if I wasn’t convinced that God would bear supernatural testimony to the message that He gives me. I think, myself, you’d do better to stay at home and send literature. It will do the job much better unless you’ve got something more than just words to offer people.
Second Corinthians 12:12, we have this word again. Paul is here speaking about his own apostleship and he says:
“Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.”
The word that we’re concerned with is the one translated “mighty deeds” at the end. Again, Paul makes it clear that an apostle has got to do something to demonstrate his apostleship. He’s got to have supernatural attestation. It says these “signs of an apostle.” The first one, you’ll notice, is character: patience, endurance, the ability to hold out and not to give up, not to get discouraged. But beyond that are signs—that’s the same word that we had with Jesus—wonders—actually, the same three words are used there as are used in Acts 2:22 of Jesus though they’re used in the opposite order.
Then in Galatians 3:5 there’s a very interesting verse which I think people have not given sufficient attention to. The problem that Paul was dealing with specifically when he wrote the letter to the Galatians was that these people, having known salvation by the grace and power of God and having experienced the baptism in the Holy Spirit, having seen the miraculous now through the influence of Judaizing teachers, were busy going back under the law of Moses and observing all sorts of legal requirements. Actually, it’s very interesting. Paul was much more upset with Galatians than he was with the Corinthians. The Corinthians had adultery and all sorts of carnal sins, and he took time at the beginning of his letter to thank God for the grace of God revealed to the Corinthians. But if you read the opening verses of Galatians he didn’t have any time to thank God for the Galatians. He said, “I marvel that you are so soon removed from the gospel of the grace of God.” He was much more upset by legalism than he was by immorality. Of course, it’s a much greater danger to most Christians.
So, he’s rebuking these people and part of his rebuke is contained here in Galatians 3:2 and following.
“This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?”
Did you get the Holy Spirit as a result of being circumcised and keeping the Law of Moses? No. You got the Holy Spirit when you believed the preaching of the gospel, somebody prayed for you, laid hands on you and you began to speak with tongues.
Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?
Are you going back to fleshly ordinances and rules after you’ve known what it is to taste the power and liberty of the Holy Spirit?
“Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain. He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?”
Notice that “ministering the Spirit” is bringing people obviously into the baptism in the Holy Spirit. How do you do that? Not by getting them circumcised or getting them under the Law of Moses but by getting them to listen with faith to the preaching of the gospel.
I must say this in my own experience: Years back it was a kind of miracle to me if one person received the baptism. My idea was that if there were some people that wanted to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit, you’d call them all to the front of the church and get them all praying loud and long and if everybody prayed loud enough and long enough, sooner or later someone would end up speaking in tongues. But, really, I’ve discovered that isn’t the way it’s done. It comes by the hearing of faith. If I have 50 people that desire to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit and I’m given 30 minutes, I’ll be happy to take 25 minutes instructing and 5 minutes is ample for all of them to receive the baptism because it comes by the hearing of faith.
I remember I was in a Baptist church in England about four years ago and I’d forgotten how punctilious the British were about time. At 9:25 the verger, or whoever it is that shuts the door and turns the key, came to this group that I was instructing and said, “You’ve got to be out in 5 minutes.” I was instructing them about the baptism in the Holy Spirit. I said, “Praise the Lord, that’s wonderful! If you’re ready, you’ll get it. If you’re not, come back when you are.” Within the next 5 minutes at least 50 percent of the people—and they were all Baptists—received the baptism. Really, the best thing that could happen was to have a time limit set, because they knew they’d either got to get it or go home without it.
What I want to point out to you here is that Paul puts the working of miracles in the same category with receiving the Holy Spirit. How does it come? By the hearing of faith. You listen to somebody expound the Word of God and then, by a simple act, you turn your faith loose and it happens. It doesn’t require a lot of agonizing. It doesn’t require a lot of shouting. It isn’t emotionalism. It’s just hearing with faith the Word of God. The words that Paul uses here, “worketh miracles,” are exactly the same as he uses in 1 Corinthians 12. Here is an example of this gift at work in the churches of Galatia.
Going on, Hebrews 2:4, just one more general example. We have to read verse 3 to get the context.
“How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation...”
And as far as I’m concerned, it’s clear that these people knew salvation. They were not being introduced to it, they were in it. Their danger was neglecting what they were in.
“How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy [Spirit]...”
Notice, there are four things there: signs, wonders (those are the same two words used in Acts 2:22), various miracles (the word we’re dealing with here), and gifts (but a better translation is distributions of the Holy Spirit). So, the testimony of God to the gospel message was supernatural through and through. It was with signs, wonders, miracles, and distributions of the Holy Spirit. It should be just the same today, there’s no reason why it should change.
Now, the next thing that I want to point out in this connection is that there seems to be a specific relationship between this gift of miracles and the casting out of evil spirits. In almost every place where this word is actually used there’s a reference to casting out evil spirits. Mark 9:38–39:
“John answered him [that’s Jesus], saying, Master, we saw one casting out [demons] in thy name, and he followeth not us [he’s not in our group]: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us [because he’s not in our group]. Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me.”
Notice, Jesus refers to the casting out of evil spirits in His name as doing a miracle. The word is this Greek word that we are dealing with.
Then in Acts 8 we have a rather similar situation and the same word is used again. Acts 8:7, this describes the ministry of Philip in Samaria. And in verse 6 it says:
“The people [of Samaria] with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.”
That is not the word that we’re looking for at the moment, it’s one of the other words. This is a little amusing. Verse 7:
“For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies [paralyzed], and that were lame, were healed.”
That’s Acts 8:7. Now, in verse 13 it says that Simon was tremendously impressed by what he saw and these are the words that are used.
“Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.”
The correct translation there is “beholding the signs and great miracles.” I don’t know why the King James Version there just dropped out the word great but it’s there. All the modern versions have it. So that what Simon saw was signs and great miracles. That’s the word dunamis.
What did he see? We’re told that in verse 7:
“Unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many [that were paralyzed], and that were lame, were healed.”
Those are the miracles that he saw. The evil spirits going out in a manifest way, crying as we’ve seen happen hundreds of times, and the paralyzed and the lame being visibly healed. You see, paralysis and lameness are two things, if they’re healed, it’s visible. If a man has a kidney weakness, he might be healed and you couldn’t see it. But if a man is lame or paralyzed, healing takes place, it’s miraculous, it’s visible and it’s usually, more or less, instantaneous.
The Lord showed me about four years ago that if we would stick with it and go on casting out evil spirits the rest would follow. The paralyzed and the lame would be healed. And last year, praise the Lord, we got into the lame and also several cases of people who were paralyzed. So, it’s remarkable how accurate the Scripture is. This, I believe, is the ministry of the working of miracles.
Then there’s one other example which is specified in Acts and that’s the 19th chapter. Let me say as we’re going on, that I do believe the time is coming for the healing of God’s people’s eyes. I’m sure that will still leave eye doctors with enough business, but I believe it’s coming. I know somehow, I just don’t press the right button when I pray for people’s eyes. I’ve never prayed for anybody’s legs to be lengthened and not seen them being lengthened. I cannot remember any case. I have no doubt in my mind, it’s closed. But with eyes, it’s different.
I was in a meeting a little while back in Birmingham, the same place, but a different church. A young man sitting on the platform with me said, “Brother Prince, I wish you’d pray for my eyes after the meeting.” I said, “I have to tell you, frankly, I’m not quite sure that I know how to pray for eyes.” This is what the Lord did. A woman came forward who knew nothing of what we’d been saying. Her legs were unequal, I prayed for them. The short leg grew out. Then, she had some other sickness which God healed and I was looking at her glasses. And you know what she did? She whipped her glasses off, put her hands on her own eyes and prayed and they were healed. So, the Lord knew I didn’t know what to do so He got her to do it for herself. But I know this is coming. We’re going up the scale. If we press on, there’s more ahead. The best is yet to be.
Anyhow, let’s look in Acts 19:11 for a moment.
“God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul...”
Do you like that word “special”? Do you ever consider what’s implied by it? Miracles were normal in the early church but here was something out of the normal.
God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: so that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them. The word there is correctly miracles. Notice, diseases went out and evil spirits went out. That, in those places where the actual thing that happened is specified, there’s always a reference to evil spirits going out. This is one of the manifest demonstrations of the power of God. But, of course, it’s not confined to that.
Now let’s look at some other general examples of miracles rather quickly. In fact, I think, though I’ll give you the references, we don’t need to turn to them. John 2:6–11, Jesus turned the water into wine. You remember, He was at the feast and the wine ran out. If He’d been some kind of a Fundamentalist He’d have said, “Serves them right!” But, He wasn’t. What I’m so happy about is, praise the Lord, He produced the best wine. Not just wine, but the best. How anybody could say that in no circumstances can it be the will of God for a Christian to drink wine, I cannot understand. But, I mean, if people don’t want to do it, that’s fine by me.
Anyhow, all they had was six pots of water. Six pots. So He said, “Fill the pots with water.” Fill them; that’s faith. Because, if you’re going to get wine you might as well get them full. Then He said, “Draw out and bear to the governor of the feast.” Somewhere between the time when they poured it out and the time when it got to the governor, it had changed into wine. That was a miracle. You might call it a sign or you might call it a wonder but anyhow, it’s in that category somewhere.
Then in John 6:8–14 Jesus multiplies the loaves and fishes. He had 5,000 men, regardless of women and children, 5 loaves and 2 fishes. What did He do? One very simple thing. Do you know what that was? He just thanked the Lord and then He started to give out and it fed 5,000 men besides women and children. At the end, do you know how much he gathered up? Twelve—it says “baskets” in the King James but it’s something like a garbage can.
Later on He fed 4,000 people with 7 loaves and a few fishes. There were fewer people and more to feed them with. The King James says He gathered up 7 baskets. But the word is like a picnic basket or a hamper, it’s smaller. So, the really exciting thing is the more the people and the fewer the food the more there was left over. In other words, the harder the job the more the Lord enjoys doing it, if we can put it that way. When He had 5,000 men to feed and only 5 loaves and 2 fishes he got 12 garbage cans left over of fragments. When He had 4,000 with 7 loaves and several fishes they only had 7 picnic baskets left over. I mean, that was enough anyhow. But, you understand, the harder it is, in a certain sense, the more you get the Lord working for you. The whole thing was set in motion by one simple act. He simply gave thanks and started to dish it out.
It’s also interesting to notice that He did it in a very orderly and systematic way. He commanded them to sit down on the grass by fifties. My son-in-law said the other day, “That teaches me that the people that don’t want discipline have got to starve.” It’s people who said, “I won’t sit down where I’m told.” Or, “I won’t get in my group of fifty”—they just didn’t get fed.
There’s a lot of truth in that spiritually in the church today. Some people are so free they don’t want to be joined to anybody or disciplined by anybody or take their place in anything. Do you know what happens to them? They just don’t get fed. Jesus required discipline and order and submission to His authority before He would feed those people. It’s still the same.
John 9, we have the remarkable case of Jesus anointing the eyes of the blind man with clay, telling him to go wash in the pool at Siloam. He went, washed and came seeing. The clay didn’t heal him, but when he obeyed, the Holy Spirit responded to his obedience and did what no human being could do. It says he was born blind, he never had seen.
Personally, I do believe that Jesus put the clay on just to advertise that He was the creator and that any time, in the will of God, He could make clay into flesh. See, that’s what man is made of, according to Genesis 2:7. The Lord God formed man of the clay of the ground, breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, the divine Spirit of God. Man became a living being: spirit, soul and body. Jesus put that clay on the eyes of that man born blind, it was just clay. But when the man obeyed the word of Jesus by an act of faith and washed in the pool, that act of faith liberated the power of the Holy Spirit and it turned the clay into eyes. That’s the way I believe it. That’s why I believe this was such an outstanding miracle. It was a vindication of the fact that He was the eternal Creator who’d come amongst man. Then in Acts 3:2–8 we have the miracle of the man who was born lame and never had walked. He was sitting at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, saw Peter and John coming, stretched out his hand expecting to receive an alms. Peter said, “Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have give I unto thee.” Of course, we have to recognize one thing. You can’t give it if you don’t have it. The trouble with so many of us today is we don’t have much to give. But Peter said, “I don’t have silver and I don’t have gold but what I do have I will give you. In the name of Jesus, rise up and walk.” The man was still sitting there and Peter stretched out his hand and lifted him up. When the man began to rise up, he was healed. It’s most important to see that people very rarely receive anything by just sitting passive. To sit still is to die. You’ve go to do something to exercise your faith. Faith without works, without corresponding acts, is dead.
I have learned again and again that crucial point in a miracle is getting the person to do the little act that starts their faith moving. It may be something simple, it may be something ridiculous. It doesn’t much matter what it is in many cases but the moment they begin to act, things begin to happen. Peter did not allow the man just to sit there and say, “You’re healed.” But he started to lift him up, and as the man responded, in that moment of acting, the supernatural power of God straightened out those ankles and legs.
Praise God, I want to testify that we’ve seen many legs straightened lately. People with bow legs, their legs visibly came together. A friend of mine, Chuck ?Motley?, that was with us in meetings in the Washington, D.C., just recently he was asked to go pray for a high school teacher who was crippled with arthritis and club feet. He prayed for him, commanded him to rise up and walk, and he did so. The next day instead of appearing in a wheelchair he walked into the class. As Chuck said, that convinced those students more than a hundred sermons that God was alive.
We really have an obligation to our age to demonstrate to them that God is alive. I’ve seen people who’ve got stickers on their bumpers saying, “My God is not dead.” That’s all right, but let’s see a demonstration. That’s what the world is looking for. When they see it, it’s amazing who will respond. The hardest hearted, the most cynical become the most enthusiastic.
Let’s look also at Acts 20 for a moment. We might read that. I think this is rather appropriate. This is where Paul preached so long that Eutychus fell asleep. What I say about that is if you’re such a longwinded preacher as that, then you must have the power to raise the dead. Otherwise, stop sooner! I mean, I’m saying that to myself. Don’t misunderstand me. Verse 7:
“... he continued his speech until midnight. And there were many lights in the upper chamber, where they were gathered together. And there sat in a window a certain young man named Eutychus [which means in Greek ‘lucky’—and he certainly was lucky], being fallen into a deep sleep: and as Paul was long preaching, he sunk down with sleep, and fell down from the third loft [the third story], and was taken up dead.”
Some people would have been thrown off balance when that happened in the middle of the sermon, but Paul took it in his stride. Do you see that?
“Paul went down, and fell on him, and embracing him said, Trouble not yourselves; for his life is in him. [verse 12:] They brought the young man alive, and were not a little comforted.”
In closing, let us just sum up a few thoughts that result from what we have been studying.
I put there in your outline: a miracle is often triggered by a simple act of faith. I think I’ve already dwelt on this. You study almost every miracle recorded in Scripture, you’ll find that there was an act of faith that triggered that miracle. Sometimes it was a very simple thing. When Moses and the Israelites came to the waters of Merah, the waters were bitter, they couldn’t drink. Moses cried unto the Lord, the Lord showed him a tree, he threw the tree into the water, and the waters were made sweet. The tree didn’t sweeten the water, the power of God sweetened the water, but Moses had to thrown the tree in.
I always have emphasized the fact that Moses didn’t slip the tree in quietly, he threw it in with a splash. In other words, he made a commitment.
Faith is not an experiment, faith is a commitment. You’ve got to do something. You’ve got to make an act of some kind. Jesus Himself did some ridiculous things. We’ve looked at some. He spat in people’s tongues, He put clay in people’s eyes, He told them to do things that were, in the natural, absurd but that simple silly act liberated the healing power of God.
Let’s just line up together these three gifts of power that we’ve spoken about briefly: Miracles, healings, faith. I think you could say that on one side the gift of miracles merges into healing. An instantaneous, visible healing is a miracle. On the other side, it merges into faith. As I said before, and will say again, this is like the colors of the rainbow. They’re distinguishable, but there’s no point where you can cut one off and say that ends and the other begins. Violet, indigo, blue. You can see the three different colors, but there’s no absolute hard-and-fast dividing line.
And, I believe it’s so with these. Or, take blue, green and yellow which are the ones I’ve written down there. You recognize blue, you recognize green, you recognize yellow. But there’s a place where they merge into one another. And so it is with the gifts of the Spirit.
Finally, let’s notice one point in the relationship between healings and miracles which I haven’t brought out. First Corinthians 12:28:
“God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings...”
It seems that the first five things are put in order. Apostles, prophets, teachers, miracles, healings. Notice, as I pointed out the other day, the ministry of the Word has the preeminence. The ministries that relate to the Word are preeminent. After that the others. But it would seem that of the dramatic ministries the ministry of miracles is put first before the ministry of healings.
Compare with that the statement in Mark 6:5, which will be the last Scripture we look at in this study. Just notice for a moment there. Verse 4, Jesus had come to His own country of Nazareth and He said to them when they wouldn’t receive Him:
“A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house. And he could there do no mighty work, ...”
The Greek word there is dunamis, miracle. He could not do any miracle there.
“... save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them.”
He couldn’t do a miracle, but He could do a little healing. So, it would seem that a miracle is on a slightly higher level than a healing. This is just an impression that I’ve formed and I would say that, of the various things that are obviously lacking in the church today, there isn’t any more obvious need than this need for miracles because this is what the world today needs to see. I believe we should be praying that God will fully restore this gift to His people.