First, I have to give Johnny props for letting us know about his upcoming debate. So, if you are curious, Johnny will be debating Armando DeLoa this week. You can read more about Mr. DeLoa by going here or here. He looks like he’s pretty tough with the martial arts, and so maybe that means Johnny will go easy on him! 😉
Speaking of going easy, Johnny was really calm tonight! It was interesting to see this side of him, as he’s been so confrontational recently. Maybe he took a few days off for some R&R. Whatever he did, he should do more often!
So, my thoughts on the program:Perhaps in preparation for debating a Pentecostal preacher, Johnny was discussing the subject of miracles. He opened with one of the patented hidden camera videos of his being “strong-armed” out of a church that apparently teaches about miracles, because he was questioning the validity of their claims. And then he asked the following questions, which pretty much summed up the point of his broadcast tonight:
How are we (those who are hearing all the Holiness) supposed to know who is really telling the truth? And, do you who believe in miracles, believe that all who claim to be able to do them (through God) can really do them?
Now, I was raised in a Presbyterian church, and most folks didn’t believe miracles still happened today. If they were cornered, they’d say that God could perform miracles today, but he doesn’t. However, I am an unusual Presbyterian in that I believe that God can and does perform miracles today. To answer Johnny’s questions, however, I want to go to reference an article I thought spoke rationally and intelligently on the subject. J. Rodman Williams, in Christianity Today wrote:
1. The miracle glorifies God. Miracles always declare that God is active in our world and that he can disrupt the activities of nature to reveal his character and purposes. The principal test of any miracle—then, now, or in the future—is this:Who receives the glory? This can be a very subtle matter, for self-glorification is not always obvious. We should be on guard against anyone, however extraordinary his deeds, who glorifies himself (like Simon the magician who, in Acts 8:9, “boasted that he was someone great”).
2. It stems from a righteous source. Jesus declared that in the last days false prophets will come to “perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect—if that were possible” (Matt. 24:24, NIV). Much earlier, in his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus had said, “By their fruit you will recognize them” (Matt. 7:15-16). Their words may sound true and their actions may appear impressive, but it may all be counterfeit if their lives show no good fruits.
3. It rings true to the Holy Spirit. According to Paul, one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is the “discerning of spirits” (1 Cor. 12:10, KJV), an ability granted through God’s power that enables one to distinguish between true and false spirits. Paul demonstrated this discernment when he was confronted by a “Jewish sorcerer and false prophet” named Elymas who tried to block someone from hearing the gospel. “Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight at Elymas and said, ‘You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right!'” (Acts 13:6-10, niv). Paul did not say this as the result of some previous knowledge about Elymas, but through the Holy Spirit, he perceived the utter baseness that was in the man.
Not every believer will have this specific gift of spiritual discernment. But the Holy Spirit—the Giver of the gift—dwells within all believers, and it is only through his eyes that the rightness or wrongness of a miracle, sign, or wonder can be gauged.
4. It stands the test of external verification. On one occasion Jesus healed ten lepers and said to them, “Go, show yourselves to the priests” (Luke 17:14). This customary procedure was for the purpose of ceremonial cleansing and also for inspection and verification of results of a given healing (Lev. 14).
Let’s change the scene somewhat: it can be valuable, for example, to have a miracle of physical healing checked out by a competent medical authority. Say there is a claimed miracle of healing for deafness; this could be followed up by a doctor’s examination. Many persons hesitate to do this lest they might, as is sometimes said, “lose their miracle.” However, that line of reasoning characterizes God as some cruel prankster; he does not give his children stones in place of bread. If a healing appears to have occurred—not a counterfeit but a real one—a person should welcome impartial verification.
5. It builds up the church. Paul writes that “In the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles” (1 Cor. 12:28). Just as surely as apostles, prophets, and teachers are God-given appointments for the functioning of the church, so are workers of miracles. Both teaching and miracles, word and deed, occurring in unity are vital activities in the overall upbuilding and outreach of the church.
Consider the example of the evangelist Philip: “When the crowds heard Philip and saw the miraculous signs that he did, they paid close attention to what he said” (Acts 8:6). So it remains today: our Spirit-led words and deeds (miraculous and otherwise) can work in beautiful harmony for the proclamation of the gospel.”
More to come…