The Hopelessness of “Contending For Miracles”
Often times we find ourselves in a dire situation that we can’t manage on our own. It may be a frantic financial situation. It may be a devastating blow to our health. It could be any number of things, but time and again we seek a divine intervention into whatever circumstances we face–a quick fix. A miracle.
A popular worship song by Chris Tomlin summarizes the miracle seeker’s sentiments thus:
Water You turned into wine
Opened the eyes of the blind
There’s no one like you
None like you
. . . .
Our God is greater, our God is stronger
God You are higher than any other
Our God is Healer, awesome in power
Our God, Our God
These lyrics, while true, actually embellish the work of the Holy Spirit by distorting the purpose of miracles. There is a serious error penetrating the walls of Christ’s church that is leading people away from the true gospel into a false gospel of hopelessness. There are preachers and teachers who suggest that divine miracles are the primary purpose of the Christian faith and that contending for them should be our mission. This view is prevalent in the Word of Faith (WoF) and Prosperity Gospel camps. The carrot of hope in temporal miracles sells–it sells books, music, and speaking engagements. Notable proponents of this theology include Steven Furtick, Joyce Meyer, T.D. Jakes, Joel Osteen, and many others. Biblical passages that are descriptive of a historical event are regularly twisted into a prescription for all people who will “activate” their faith in some way. Miracles, as opposed to Christ, then become the quintessential element of faith.
The purpose of God’s miracles was not for man’s benefit. As Leonard Bacon puts it in his commentary on Luke, “If the one object of Christ’s miracles was directly to reduce the sum of human misery, then they were a failure; for their result was inappreciably small and insignificant.” While it is true that God can, has, and does perform miracles, the primary purpose of miracles has been lost in today’s religious systems. The primary reason for miracles in the Bible is to glorify God and to bear witness to Himself (John 5:36). We see this throughout the Old and New Testaments–through the working of the Ten Plagues in Egypt by Moses to the Apostles of the New Testament who healed the sick and raised the dead. Jesus Himself said that the miracles he performed were for the purpose of establishing Himself as the promised Messiah. Each time miracles were performed, it was for the purpose of establishing the authority of God as Lord and Jesus as Messiah.
But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me. –John 5:36
Yet many see faith merely as a means to receive a miracle…or a blessing, neglecting the hope that is found in saving gospel of Jesus Christ. God may heal your illness if it pleases Him. God may bless you financially if it pleases Him. God may also allow affliction to happen upon you if it pleases Him to do so. But you can rest assured that if he does so, it is for His glory alone. We were created to glorify God (Revelation 4:11) and it is through our suffering that God’s grace is made perfect (2 Corinthians 2:9).
Understand that God’s grace is the greatest miracle anyone could ever hope for. Though we may suffer affliction and calamity, God’s grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9). If you are a Christian, you should be content with your life–for your life is a service to God. Do all that you do to the glory of Him who saved you (1 Corinthians 10:31). It is the miracle of God’s grace that you have been raised from spiritual death into everlasting life. You no longer need to build up earthly treasures, for it is heavenly treasures that we seek:
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. –Matthew 6:19-21
It is the miracle of Jesus–who is fully man and fully God, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, who was born of a virgin, who lived a sinless life yet was crucified and died in our place, was buried in a tomb and rose on the third day and ascended into Heaven and now sits at the right hand of God the Father, and who shall return again to judge the living and the dead–that gives us the hope of eternal life. This is the greatest miracle and this brings the greatest Glory to God and if this is the desire of your heart, He will grant this to you.
Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. – Psalm 37:4
[Contributed by Jeff Maples]