One Sunday during what was my last year as a full-time staff member at a Baptist church, a missionary from southern China was invited to be our guest speaker. She was soft-spoken and didn’t seem all that comfortable being the primary speaker.
I approached her several minutes before the service to walk her through the order for the morning, and asked if there was anything she needed. She implied that she wasn’t totally sure what God wanted her to say. I simply encouraged her to say whatever the Holy Spirit told her to say, and to speak as if she was speaking the very words of God.
During her message, she told a story of a time when she and her missionary partners decided to give a spaghetti dinner for about 20 of the local people. They prepared enough food for 20, but over 50 townspeople showed up expecting to fill themselves full of delicious spaghetti.
What should the missionaries do? There was no time to go to the market. So they got together, prayed, asked God to provide and began serving plates of spaghetti to the people. Sure enough, just like Jesus did in John 6, God multiplied the food so that everyone had more than enough to eat!
Have you become convinced that the only miracle God still performs is the miracle of life (childbirth)? That’s not the testimony of the early Church.
This is He who, being from everlasting, is today called the Son; through whom the Church is enriched, and grace, widely spread, increases in the saints, furnishing understanding, revealing mysteries, announcing times, rejoicing over the faithful, giving to those that seek, by whom the limits of faith are not broken through, nor the boundaries set by the fathers passed over. – Letter to Diognetus 125-200CE, Volume 1, p. 53 [CD-ROM]
The early Christians adhered to the belief that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and for the rest of time. If He healed, cast out demons, prophesied and performed miracles during His earthly ministry, He was gracing them to do the same through the Holy Spirit. And, they believed He will continue to give the same ministry gifts of grace to the Church until He returns.
Many Christians believe that the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit have ceased for today, but did you know that Martin Luther wrote about demons being cast out and people being raised from the dead? John Wesley describes many exorcisms and a wide variety of healings taking place in his ministry (including advanced breast cancer being miraculously cured and even his horse being healed several times). Charles Spurgeon wrote that he was frequently given words of knowledge about those attending his church, specific sins about strangers he called out from the pulpit.
One year at that same Baptist church I was working at, we decided to have a foot-washing service that coincided with a Good Friday service. A young lady on crutches was there (a solid member of our fellowship) who had recently severely sprained her ankle. She participated in the foot-washing, letting her other foot be washed and cleansing the feet of another woman.
After the service when everyone had left, a group of about 5 of us (including the young woman) were standing outside talking about how well things went. Suddenly we all got the impression that we should ask God to heal the young woman’s foot. So we did.
About a minute or two later she took the wrap and dressing off of her ankle and began to jump up and praise God! It was amazing testimony of the power of Good Friday. By His wounds we are healed!
Maybe this aspect of grace scares you. I understand. Experiencing a worldview shift is scary. But let me ask you a question:
If there was something you could do that would cause Jesus your Savior to be filled with so much joy that He couldn’t contain Himself, would you do it?
In Luke 10, Jesus called 70 disciples to take nothing with them and go in pairs into various cities. They were commissioned to proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God and heal the sick. Basically, He called them to walk as He walked.
When they got back from their mission trips, they excitedly reported that they were also able to cast out demons in Jesus’ name; they experienced more grace from God as they humbly obeyed the Lord’s directions. Think about how many people's lives got turned right-side up through the power of God! Darkness wasn't used to drive out the darkness in the villages; the disciples overcame evil with good!
How did Jesus respond? At that very time He rejoiced greatly in the Holy Spirit, and said, “I praise You, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight (Luke 10:21).
The words translated ‘rejoiced greatly’ are actually one word in the original language: agalliao. Agalliao means that someone becomes so overjoyed that he or she literally leaps in celebration.
So, did you get that? What made Jesus literally jump in the air like Michael Jordan hitting a game-winning shot over Craig Ehlo? Jesus jumped in celebration when He saw God’s true children doing what He did by grace through faith.