By Grant B. Caldwell
With the coming of the “Pentecostal age” in today’s society, there has been an influx in the number of people claiming to do the miraculous. Of course, with this increase, there has also been an increase in the number of people who fail to do miracles. This is simple to explain in light of the fact that 1 Cor. 13 teaches beyond any doubt that miracles simply are not worked today. One looks at the pages of the word of God and he sees miracles like:
a. The creation
b. The flood
c. The Hebrew children in the fiery furnace
d. The healing of Naaman the leper
e. The deaf and dumb both heard and spake
f. Sight restored to the blind
g. Dismemberments healed
h. The permanently lame walked
i. The dead were raised
j. Etc., etc., etc., etc.
Modern miracle workers simply cannot perform such feats. Their failings are in every area, except, possibly, in such cases where the malady is psychosomatic. In these cases, the people are cured of their problem solely because of their confidence in the one telling them that they are cured. Now we ask the question:
“Why can they not work miracles like the apostles worked and why do they fail so often?” They claim they can work such miracles, but fail with every attempt.
“Not Enough Faith”
They have a standard little adage they throw in whenever they fail, however, that is supposed to get the “heat” off of them. They say in reference to the one being healed, “He just did not have enough faith.” Notice: “He” did not have enough faith. What they mean by that is that the one being healed did not have enough confidence to think that they could be healed for some reason or another. What about little children that are too young to have faith in anyone or anything? What about the desperately ill who do not even know what is going on around them?
In the New Testament, there was only one case of failure in the performance of a miracle by a duly authorized miracle worker. There were cases where people failed who were not authorized (we believe that is why modern miracle workers fail), but only one instance of failure by a person authorized by the Lord to work miracles. That case is found in Matthew 17:14-21.
A man came to Jesus and said his lunatic son was vexed and had what we would probably call seizures of some sort or another. Christ admitted that it was demon possession that was at the root of the problem. The man said that he had taken the boy to the disciples and they could not cast out the demon. Jesus rebuked the devil and he departed from the boy. Now, here is a case of failure by those authorized to work miracles (Matt. 10:1). Whose fault is it? Certainly, we cannot blame the boy. How could he “have faith” at all? We cannot, either, blame the father for surely he thought they could do the job. What about the apostles? Well, they thought that they could do it and apparently were surprised when they could not. Who was to blame?
The apostles wanted an answer to that question and asked Jesus, “Why could not we cast him out?” Jesus replied by saying, “Because of your unbelief.” Whose unbelief? “Your unbelief!” Not the father, not the boy, not the nation, but the disciples. They failed and they were to blame.
But now we ask, “Why?” Did they not believe that they could do that miracle? Evidently, they had worked great number of miracles and had great success. In fact, this is one of the things specifically mentioned — the first thing mentioned — by Christ in Matt. 10:1. They believed they could work this miracle and went to do it. What was the matter with their faith?
Christ said, “For verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you” (verse 20). A grain of mustard seed is terribly small. Don’t you think they had that much confidence that they could do it? I do! Then why could they not do it? Because confidence in their ability to do it was not the point under consideration.
Faith from the Word
I want to suggest a passage, now, that maybe you will think is completely unrelated. In Romans 10:17, Paul said, “So then faith cometh of hearing and hearing by the word of God.” Faith comes by hearing God’s word, not simply by having confidence that we can do a thing. To illustrate: Christ was a great miracle worker (John 3:2). In John 2, Christ turned water into wine for the wedding feast He was attending. But, in Matt. 4:4, He refused to turn stones into bread. Why would he perform the former and refuse the later labeling it as a temptation from the devil? There was, in essence, no difference in the miracles, per se. Why did he make a difference?
He said, “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of god.” Listen to that. The difference is in the mouth of God. Christ could not turn the stones into bread because he was not told to do that by the mouth of God. He turned the water into wine because it was what God wanted him to do. Christ could do what he did only when he heard it from the Father (John 5:19).
Must Have Authority
Now again, Romans 10:17 says, “Faith cometh of hearing and hearing by the word of God.” The ability to do anything before God comes from His willingness to allow it done. What, then, was the problem with their faith in Mtt. 17? I suggest that they simply did not know what the word of God was with regard to the matter under consideration. Christ said faith as a grain of mustard seed would remove mountains. That is, just a word from God is all it would take to remove a mountain. Not confidence in one’s ability (natural or transposed) to perform such a feat; but, authorization from God to do it – just a word, just a small word from God is all it would take, But nothing less than that would do.
He said in verse 21, “Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.” That is what was wrong with their faith. They simply did not know enough about the mind of God and how he cast out this kind of demon. The problem with their faith was in their understanding of the mind (or word) of God. And I suggest that is the problem in failures today. It is not in the confidence one has in Christ, the “faith healer,” or himself. It is the lack of authorization for the deed performed – a lack of understanding as to what the word of God teaches.
Thus, the problem is with the “healer” not with the one being healed. They cannot do it because they have no authorization from the word of God to do it. We ask that men get back to the New Testament. Become concerned with its teaching and not with the continuous display of the supernatural. Faith comes by hearing the word of God, and “We walk by faith and not by sight” (Rom. 10:17; 2 Cor. 5:7).
Truth Magazine XXI: 48, pp. 763-764
December 8, 1977