The Miraculous Christian Life

This week I have been drawn to the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit. One of the passages I came across in my Bible reading was the story in Acts 20 of Paul raising Eutychus from the dead. This is the somewhat comical pericope where Paul is speaking until midnight and Eutychus falls alseep listening to him. He was seated on a third story window and tumbled out backwards to his death. Luke specifically writes that he was “taken up dead.” Paul goes down, cradles Eutychus in his arms, and assures the others that “his life is still in him.”

This miracle was not wrought by Paul. He has no inner ability to miraculously resurrect another human from death. Instead, God uses an extended and boring speech by Paul as an opportunity to display His awesome power. What a powerful and capable God we serve! Whatever He wishes to do, He is able to do.

If we fast forward to today, we do still hear tales of miracles happening. In third world countries I catch reports of miraculous happenings pouring in regularly. In America, the number seems to be staggeringly less. We only hear about them from Pentecostals and they are largely disregarded by the majority of other Christian groups.

My goal here is not to criticize “intellectual” Christians or to criticize the more “experiential” Christians. However, I would like to say, that I think we should see more miracles in the churches of Southern California. I do not think we should get together just to perform miracles, but I do think we should pray for and expect them. Miracles were a part of the Christian life in the Bible. Jesus would go and heal large groups of sick people (see Mark 6:53-56). He was out and about healing regularly. In Acts, it is the same way. Miracles are part of the Christian culture.

Now, I understand that miracles do not create faith (Luke 16:30-31). I also know that we cannot “make miracles happen”. But we are children of the God who can! And miracles do serve an important role. In Matthew 9:6 Jesus explains that He is healing so that they will know He has the authority to forgive sins. We need miracles so that Jesus’ authority to forgive sins will be displayed!

In my view, it is a “you do not have because you do not ask” scenario. I am reminded constantly of how I do not ask God for things. I wonder why my church isn’t growing, why I can’t find a job, why my family members aren’t saved, etc. It’s good that I think about those things, but I typically never ask God to do anything about it! Now, I am wondering why we don’t see many miracles in our churches today. Well, I guess I’ll start asking…

May our capable God reveal to you His supernatural power so that all people will know He has the authority to forgive sins!

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Seeing the Big Picture

“Origen’s overriding concern was to allow the whole Bible to speak for itself, whatever a single text may seem to say, for when the Bible speaks it speaks for God who inspired it.” -Bruce Shelley, Church History in Plain Language

Origen (185-254) was a great teacher in the early years of the church. The quote about him above from Bruce Shelley contains a great principle about Bible reading and study. Too many times we get caught up in petty disagreements about passages because we do not treat individual texts with the framework of the whole Bible in mind.

I pray that we would all not be hasty in our interpretation of difficult passages. Let us read and read and read! Think of passages in terms of what God is teaching us through the whole revelation of the Bible. This will help bring many odd texts into clearer focus.

May the Holy Spirit grant you understanding, wisdom, and growth as you study the word of God!

God’s Aboveness and Closeness

This week I have been caught up with the transcendence of God. This was inspired in large part by my daily Bible readings taking me through the account of the building of Solomon’s Temple in 2 Chronicles. One verse struck me the most: “But will God indeed dwell with man on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you, how much less this house that I have built!” (2 Chronicles 6:18). I love the juxtaposition that this verse creates. Solomon creates a Temple for the Lord but then wonders out loud if God can actually dwell in it. He recognizes that he has created this house for God, but in all reality the God that he created it for cannot be contained in it.

The incredible thing to me is that God does indeed dwell with man on the earth! Even though He is so great that He is greater than the heavens, He does make His dwelling place among people. He did it in the Tabernacle while Israel was in the wilderness, then He inhabited this Temple built by Solomon, and now He dwells in the midst of the Church. Only a God as transcendent as ours could make Himself immanent and personal. He walked among the people of Israel (Lev. 26:12), He walked among people as Jesus Christ (John 1:14), and now the Church is the Temple of the Living God (2 Cor. 6:16).

Then, where this really hits home, is that this same God that Solomon writes of, regards me individually. I am known by Him intimately, personally, and relationally. This is the truth that I cannot hope to every truly comprehend. The one, true, powerful, mighty, glorious, and gracious God of the universe knows and loves Dustin Smetona. May that truth never lose its power!

I pray that you would know God’s greatness, how high above you He is. I also pray that you would know His nearness and His great compassion that He pours out on sinners like us! Blessings to you in Christ Jesus!