HOW TO APPROACH SUPERNATURAL MIRACLES
SIGNS AND WONDERS - HOW TO DISCERN WHETHER MIRACLES TODAY ARE FROM GOD
God is still in the business of doing miracles today; Satan, too, is also active in counterfeits as a master of deception. The starting point for Christian discernment must therefore be the many warnings in Scripture that miracles will also take place through the outworking of evil powers in our world. As Jesus warns in the passage from Mark above, these miracles have one purpose only - to deceive.
Paul warns the Thessalonians:"The Wicked One will come with the power of Satan and perform all kinds of false miracles and wonders, and use every kind of wicked deceit on those who will perish. They will perish because they did not welcome and love the truth so as to be saved." (2 Thessalonians Chapter 2 verses 9 and 10) We must therefore make sure we "welcome and love the truth" otherwise we too may perish. Are you a "lover of the truth"? In Biblical terms the opposite of truth is error. Paul makes clear that "the result is that all who have not believed the truth, but have taken pleasure in sin, will be condemned" (2 Thessalonians Chapter 2 and verse 12).
Satan's miracles certainly can look like the real thing. The magicians at Pharaoh's court (Exodus Chapter 7 verses 11 and 22 and Chapter 8 verse 7) were able to copy the first three miracles done by God through Moses; note though, that Aaron's staff swallowed up their staffs (verse 12). Pharaoh's magician's finally concede defeat (verse 19)saying: "this is the finger of God" when they are unable to replicate God creative powers when he makes gnats from the dust of the earth. This suggests that creation of life is the sole prerogative of God.
HOW SHOULD WE APPROACH THE EVALUATION OF MODERN DAY MIRACLES?
Christians need to be fully conversant with the whole Bible and study it regularly, with an open and obedient heart. The only anchor of truth the Christian has in his armoury is the Word of God, the "Sword of the Spirit". When Jesus was in the wilderness being tempted for 40 days the only effective weapon he had to resist Satan was the Word of God. Without detailed knowledge of God's nature and his ways as revealed in the Bible, the Christian is liable to be open to deception at every turn. We need to make regular, prayerful reading of the Bible and obedience to God's commands the highest priorities in our lives.
Christians in times past made much of purity of purpose and holiness of life. Hebrews 12 verse 14 warns us that "without holiness no-one will seee the Lord". How much more will Christians in the 21st Century need such purity of walk with Jesus if they are to stay the course and avoid deception by the enemy. Are you familiar with the voice of Jesus in your life today? When he speaks to you do you obey without question? Both "The Word" and "the walk" are necessary for the discernment we need to know whether we are seeing the Holy Spirit or the enemy at work.
ASK YOURSELF QUESTIONS SUCH AS "WHAT IS THE APPEAL OF THIS MIRACLE"?"
A valuable start point in your evaluation of any apparent "miracle, sign or wonder" should be this: does it appeal in any way to man's corrupt nature? For example, consider a situation where "gold dust", "gemstones" or perhaps "angel's feathers" are manifested at a gathering. Is there a biblical precedent for this type of miracle? Does this "wonder" accord with what the Bible reveals about God's priorities and his purpose in doing miracles? Does it give glory to God amongst the people? Is the name of Jesus lifted up by such a manifestation? Does it lead people to repentance and salvation? Is God permitting a deception to occur in order to "test his people"? Is the appearance of gold dust, gemstones or angel's feathers something that would tend to excite and captivate "the old nature" in us? Does the miracle excite us and do little else?
LESSONS FROM THE BIBLE
Test what you see against the Bible. For example, is there any mention of gold dust or gold powder in the Bible? The single mention, in Exodus Chapter 32 verse 20 is, however, not a miracle. It is in fact a judgment on the people for their evil in making a calf of gold to worship: "And he(Moses)took the calf they had made and burned it in the fire; then he ground it into powder, scattered it on the water and made the Israelites drink it."
The lure of gold also led to judgment on Gideon and his family. After Gideon defeated the Midianites (Judges Chapter 8) he gathered together the gold earrings they had collected. Verse 27 of Chapter 8 tells us:"Gideon made an idol from the gold and put it in his home town Ophrah. All the Israelites abandoned God and went there to worship the idol. It was a trap for Gideon and his family."
Do angels' feathers rate a mention in the Bible? Not at all. Given that angels have been appearing to, and ministering to, God's people over a period of thousands of years without feathers being mentioned in the Bible surely gives the Christian cause to reflect. An angel, who is spirit, is not of the same substance as a feather, which is a physical object and outside the spiritual realm. Granted, the Bible tells us that some have met angels and been unaware of the fact. Had feathers been present, that might have changed their perception.
Even some of God's great men of the past have been easily deceived, for example Joshua. Why was Joshua deceived? The Gibeonites deceived Joshua and the Israelites because "they did not consult the Lord about it" (Joshua Chapter 9 verse 14).
TEST THE SPIRITS!
Where miracles happen in a gathering of people, unexpected by you, you may have not prepared yourself in advance for such a happening. Nevertheless, pray for spiritual discernment in that situation.
Even "in the natural" there are several indicators to look out for. Do the leaders of the gathering accept these manifestations uncritically or do they warn those present to exercise caution and biblical judgment as a safeguard? Is there a point in the meeting where the Bible is faithfully preached? Is holiness, righteousness or repentance mentioned in any way that leads people to the foot of the cross for salvation, the greatest miracle of all? Do you have a feeling that the meeting is "hyped" and that it is more of an "entertainment" than a godly pursuit?
I finish this section with a quote from Derek Prince. "The greatest single danger in this end time is not sickness, nor poverty, nor persecution. It is deception. If anybody says, "It could never happen to me," it has already happened to that person, because that person is saying something could never happen that Jesus said would happen. That is a sufficient indication that such a person is deceived."
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