Old habits die hard. During a recent trip through the state of Texas we turned our car radio dial to KSKY, 660 AM, in Dallas; a station we had listened to many years ago while living in the Lone Star State. This was quite an experience. We were subjected to what can best be described as "gourmet, garbage-can religion." By that we mean it was the lowest order of trash they could throw out over the air waves.
It seemed at the time that the radio should be turned off, but it was hard to believe what was being barked out, so we listened a short while.
What sounded like a female preacher was winding up her pitch for prayer cloths, conviction pads, "Holy Ghost saturated napkins," and a large assortment of other items necessary to her clientele, when she busted loose with this proposition. "If there is anyone out there in radio land that needs an emergency miracle, call our hot-line." (The number was given.)
We have described all this, not to deride the simple-minded Jezebel, but rather to comment on the Bible description of miracles. It was very apparent the woman preacher was totally ignorant of such, and if the Lord wills, may we be spared such abject benightedness.
First to come to mind is the wondrous account of the Lord feeding the multitude with a few fishes and several loaves. "When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread that these may eat? And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do." (John 6.5,6) Clearly this was no emergency to the Lord. And indeed there is no such thing with Him. As all things are naked and open before Him, each circumstance comes to pass in the same order as they were perceived by Him. Nothing hastened; nothing tardy. The hungry souls, numbering five thousand, may have thought somewhat about their being hungry, and having no food, but the scriptures say nothing concerning it. In the Lord's good order they were fed, and anything that may have been even remotely regarded as an emergency was soon dispelled. It is a truth learned by all the saints, that the temporal affairs of our lives will be as surely cared for as was the needs of this multitude. Should a religious barker suggest to us the idea of an emergency miracle in similar trials, the account of the fishes and loaves will calm us as surely as the Lord is on His throne.
A miracle that may more nearly fall into the emergency category is as follows: "But as they sailed he fell asleep: and there came down a storm of wind on the lake; and they were filled with water, and were in jeopardy." (Luke 8.23) This now is an ordeal suited to make a poor sinner seek help. However, in this dangerous dilemma there were no present "hot-lines" available to which the little band of disciples might resort. (Nor is there ever, if the truth was known.) To be in jeopardy seems to strongly imply that they felt in their minds a high state of alarm. This same ordeal, as recorded in Mark 4.38, casts further light on the disciple's frame of mind in the storm. "And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?" Surely if our great God had purposed to use the instrumentality of men to make accessible "hot-lines" for emergency miracles, this would have been the place for one. But no! "And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm." (Verse 39) Having no where else to turn, the terrified band implored their Lord, and with the word of His power, He stayed the storm, and stilled the raging waves. Little doubt this was as near an emergency as they could withstand, and all that was between them and certain drowning was the Son of Man, and glory to His name, they were delivered.
Someone may suggest that we have different circumstances in this day; that the Lord is not with us in His person. We strongly disagree. His promise to the sheep was "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee." Or, as His parting words so vividly exclaim; "and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen." (Matt. 28.20) To put the matter somewhat into perspective, ask yourself which option would, in the long run, most benefit the child of God; the first being a trial of similar magnitude and a "hot-line" telephone number available so you could call Sister Jezebel for an emergency miracle; or, to be as the disciples, cast abroad on the sea of conflict, with nowhere to turn but to the Lord for deliverance. An honest analysis of the matter would at once tell us that having the Lord at our side in trying conflicts is infinitely better than access to all the religious hucksters (and their emergency "hot-lines") that ever offered to do the Lord's work. To our mind, there can be no exception to this preference.
We would look finally at the first recorded miracle enacted by the Apostles after the Lord's ascension. "And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple; Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms. And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us. And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something from them. Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God." (Acts 2.2-8) It is contended by the so-called faith healers that this text gives them the authority to perform miracles as this one by Peter and John. "These were the acts of men (now women too) just like we are," they exclaim. We would respond; "Not so fast, please." There is at least three strong reasons to refute their claims. The first is, the two that performed the miracle in Acts 2 were properly baptized and sent forth to serve in the Lord's name. No Arminian, free-willer has such blessed credentials. Second, the miracle of healing was so fully manifested as authentic it could not be denied. "But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, Saying, What shall we do to these men? for that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it." (Acts4.15,16) The workmongers of to day's religion have never yet produced a single miracle that none could deny. Until they can they just as well cancel their phone number, and cease promoting "hot- line" emergency miracles. And third, the Apostle Peter, while gazing on the cripple identified his authorization to perform miracles with a "but such as I have give I thee." You see, Peter had something to give him; a talent directly from the Lord. No "hot-line" sales pitch; just "such as I have, give I thee."
Every miracle we know of in the Bible so clearly sets forth the Glory of God that we scarcely can see how any would want to sully them with a pretence of creature effort. Poor vain mortals, however, must grope in continual darkness unless and until the Lord is pleased to open their eyes to see His Sovereign authority and power.
We conclude with the earnest desire that all the household of faith bless the Name of the Lord, as He may enable them, for the truth of miracles as performed by the will of God, not man.
Volume 5, No.4
July - August, 1991