Tag Archives: miracles

The Continuing Ministry of Jesus

I have long been convinced that the Church, as the Body of Christ, is meant to be continuing the ministry of Christ through the person and work of the Holy Spirit.

Something to notice is the way in which Jesus shared his ministry with his disciples:

“When Jesus called the twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick…so they set out and went from village to village, preaching the gospel and healing people everywhere” Luke 9:1-6

And also 72 others:

“After this the Lord appointed 72 others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go…When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you.  Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come upon you’.  Later the 72 returned with joy and said  “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” Luke 10:1,8-9,17.

During the high priestly prayer, Jesus said to his Father: ‘Just as you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world’. (John 17:18).  Then, in one of his resurrection appearances he said to his disciples: ‘Just as the Father has sent me, I am sending you’. (John 20:21).

Jesus was sending them out to continue his ministry but they were not to do so in their own strength.  They were to wait until they had received the power of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 1:4-5,8).  Then they would realize that Jesus was back with them in a new way. (John 14:15-21,23)

This became their experience.  Mark concludes his gospel like this: ‘After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it’.

Paul testifies:

“I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done by the power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Spirit.  So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ” Romans 15:18-19.

I believe that this is how it is meant to be today.

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Healed by the Word of God

“He sent forth his word and healed them”. Psalm 107:19

One day, driving past a hospital, I recognized a familiar symptom.  Discomfort in my left tonsil told me that I was about to have another dose of tonsillitis. Infections had tended to go straight for my tonsils ever since I had had acute tonsillitis when I was a boy.

This time, almost simultaneously, another message dropped into mind: ‘By his wounds you have been healed’. It was unbidden and unexpected.  My unthinking response was ‘Thank you, Lord’.  The symptom faded.  I did not get tonsillitis.  This happened about forty years ago and I have not had it since, though from time to time the symptom has tried to return.  When this has happened, in order to stay healed, I have found it necessary to stand on the truth of the word of God rather than accept what the symptom was trying to tell me.

The words that dropped into mind that day were a quotation from the first letter of Peter chapter 2 verse 24: ‘He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.’

Peter, the apostle, is saying that when Jesus died on the Cross he made provision both for the forgiveness of our sins and the healing of our sicknesses.  In claiming this he was echoing what the prophet Isaiah said: ‘Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.  But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.  We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.’

Isaiah 53:4-6.

Something to notice is that whereas Isaiah said ‘By his wounds we are healed’ Peter, looking back to the Cross, says ‘By his wounds you have been healed’.

In 1980 I was diagnosed with a skin cancer (malignant melanoma) when a mole on my face started to grow.  It was removed by surgery but returned a year later.  It was removed by surgery again. Then a black spot appeared on my leg.  By then I had met a lovely Christian woman who had a strong conviction about the Lord’s willingness to heal so I asked her to pray for me.  I did not have any faith of my own, but I did have faith in her faith.  The spot was removed by surgery and declared to be benign.

Someone who played a significant role in my healing was John Wimber, an American who made a significant impact on sections of the Church in the 1980s and 90s.  During his last visit to this country he led a conference at the Free Trade Hall in Manchester.  By then he was seriously ill with cancer himself and confined to a wheelchair, but was still ministering powerfully.  As the Holy Spirit came upon him, he rattled off at high speed a list of things the Lord was doing including ‘Someone with a cancer on the left cheek has been healed’. This is where my cancer had started and my response was to throw my hands in the air exclaiming  ‘Thank you, Lord’.

The practice of the Christian ministry of healing arises from a biblical world-view, the conviction that the bible tells it like it is and that it is the Word of God, authoritative for faith and practice.  However this is not to make a god of the bible and we need to be aware of the warning of Jesus:

‘You diligently study the scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life, yet you refuse to come to me to have life’ (John 5:39-40).

The Forgotten Factor

holy-spiritI recall how surprised I was at theological college when we were told that the emphasis of the preaching of the early church was on the resurrection of Jesus, as shown conclusively by C.H. Dodd in his book ‘The Apostolic Preaching And Its Development’. As a result of my conversion I was deeply convinced that God loved me and that Jesus had died to make me right with him.  I was therefore expecting the emphasis to be on the Cross, that ‘Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures’  (I Corinthians 15:3).  It included that, but it was not the emphasis.  Beginning with Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost, the emphasis was on the resurrection (Acts 2:32-36). It was not until I was in my first appointment as a Methodist minister that I began to understand why this was so.

One day the local newspaper carried a headline: ‘Miracle Man comes to town’.  The story concerned the forthcoming visit of a Pentecostal evangelist called Fred Ball. Having a free evening and being curious I went along to see what it was about.  He began  by sharing that when a young man he had been told that he had an incurable liver condition and had been given a life expectancy of about six months.  He told us how he went home and prayed: ‘Lord, if you heal me the rest of my life is yours.’  ‘The Lord healed me’, he said, ‘And here I am’.  Another surprise.  I was even more surprised when, at the end of the meeting, he invited those who were in need of healing to come forward to be prayed with.  This was 1965 and I had no awareness that Jesus is alive in the person of the Holy Spirit to do today what he did in his physical lifetime.

It was like seeing colour television for the first time after black and white.  Here was another dimension to ministry about which I knew nothing.  I asked him what was his secret.  What did he have that I didn’t?  He pointed me to the promise concerning a spiritual baptism, or immersion, in the Holy Spirit, a promise that is found in each of the gospels, indicating its importance.  (Matthew 3:11, Mark 1:7, Luke 3:16, John 1:32-34).

I came to see that John the Baptist was contrasting what he was doing, baptising people with water, with what Jesus would do, baptise people with the Holy Spirit and that the Holy Spirit is a gift he wants to give us (Luke 11:9-13).

Most of the teaching of Jesus concerning the person and work of the Holy Spirit was given during the Last Supper and is found in John’s gospel chapters 14-16.

This was his last opportunity to share with his disciples before his crucifixion.  He tells them that he is not going to leave them to manage as best they can.  He promises to return to them in a spiritual form: ‘Now I am living with you, then I will be living in you.  I will not leave you as orphans: I will come to you.’  (John 14:17-18).  He goes on: ‘On that day you will realize that I am in the Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.’ (v.20)

The Holy Spirit is the Paraclete meaning ‘One called alongside’.  He is the teacher who will remind them all that Jesus has said to them (John 14:26). He is the Spirit of truth who will guide them into all truth (John 16:13)

In one of his resurrection appearances shortly before his ascension, Jesus said to his disciples:  “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you heard me speak about.  For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit….you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1: 4-5,8). The promise of the Spirit was fulfilled during the Jewish festival of Pentecost as recorded in Acts 2   “Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.” (Mark 16:20).             The Holy Spirit, the Lord (2 Corinthians 3:18), was now living in them as Jesus had promised.

It was this awareness of the Lord being with them and in them that gave the early Church its zest and impetus.

Jesus has not changed.  As the writer to the Hebrews puts it: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever”

Hebrews 13:8