By Frank Jamerson
During the first century, the apostles and others were given miraculous powers. They could heal the sick, raise the dead, strike men blind, drink deadly poison, take up serpents, etc. Do men today have these powers? No, they simply try to mimic some of the signs that the apostles did. The contrast between apostolic powers and the pretended powers of men today are clear.
1. The apostles were given the commission to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mk. 16:15,16). They went forth and taught the gospel, including these terms of pardon, and “confirmed the word through the accompanying signs” (Mk. 16:20). Faith healers today teach that men are saved by faith without baptism. Is God confirming their doctrine? If so, he is contradicting what he confirmed through the apostles!
Paul taught that two things were essential to be “of Christ”: (1) Christ crucified and (2) baptism in his name (1 Cor. 1:10-13). A person could as reasonably argue that men were Christians before Christ died (as the Mormons do, Alma 46:15) as they could that men are Christians before they are baptized into Christ. I have never met a “faith healer” who believed what Christ or Paul taught about what we must do to be saved.
2. Faith was not always required on the part of the one upon whom a miracle was performed. The man who had been sick for thirty-eight years was healed by Jesus before he knew who Jesus was (Jn. 5:5-15). The blind man that Jesus healed did not know who Jesus was until after he was healed (Jn. 9:35-38). Elymas, the sorcerer, was struck blind for a season by Paul. He certainly did not have to believe that Paul could do this before it became a fact! (Acts 13:8-12) Dorcas was raised from the dead by Peter (Acts 9:36-41). Eutychus was raised by the apostle Paul (Acts 20:9-12). How much faith did these dead people have? Faith healers today cannot do anything unless the person seeking the “miracle” believes in them. They are operating on the principle of the power of suggestion, not the power of God. If a person’s sickness is imagined, they can help him, but the person must “believe” before he can be helped by them.
3. A man may have faith and not be healed. Faith healers often say that a person could have been healed if he “really had the faith.” What does this say for the apostle Paul? He prayed three times that the “thorn in the flesh” be removed, and God did not do it (2 Cor. 12:7-9). Did he have enough faith? Do people today have more faith than Paul had? No, miraculous healing was not necessarily connected with a person’s faith. “If you have enough faith, you can be healed” is not true, and never has been!
4. When Jesus and the apostles performed miracles, even their enemies had to admit that a miracle had been performed (see Matt. 12:13,14; Acts 4:16; 16:18,19). Those who were healed immediately received their sight, or health and there was no question about the miracle. Faith healers today emphasize faith and gradual improvement while they receive contributions from people who believe that they have some miraculous power.
The contrast between faith healers today and miraculous healing in the first century is too sharp to be missed by those who will look honestly at the evidence. Men today do not have power to strike opposers blind, to raise the dead, to restore sight to the blind, heal an ear that has been cut off or make the lame walk. The miraculous age ended when the “perfect law of liberty” was revealed and confirmed (1 Cor. 13:8-10; Jas. 1:25). The miracles written are sufficient to produce faith in Christ to the saving of the soul (Jn. 20:30,31). There is no new Savior, nor new revelation; therefore, the miracles that confirmed Christ and his message are not needed today.
Guardian of Truth XXXVI: 5, p. 136
March 5, 1992