John Piper – Why we don’t experience the miracles the apostles were capable of

John Piper (theologian)

John Piper (theologian) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From Desiring God via the Christian Post

Why don’t we experience the miracles that the apostles were capable of?

Well, some people do.

The assumption is, „Why don’t we see it”—I guess—”regularly, as often as we’d like, or as often as they did?” And that’s true, I think. I think that’s true globally.

But the reason I say, „Boy, I don’t want to go there right away,” is that I would guess that, around the world, in God’s total working—especially in cutting-edge mission settings—more amazing, supernatural things are happening than we realize. That’s my first qualification.

I think the more biblical-theological answer is that, when Jesus Christ came into the world, he was the Son of God and he was able to do things that were supposed to distinctively point to his deity.

So there was an amazing power in Jesus, who never failed. He spoke and it happened. He didn’t fumble around with long prayers. He just said, „Get up,” and they got up. Nobody ever refused to get up when he said, „Get up.” When he spoke to the dead, „Rise,” they rose.

So Jesus was unique. And then around him was a cluster of apostles and the 70, and then a few more. And this intense breaking-in of the kingdom and showing itself with these stunning, infallible miracles was shared by these men. But they didn’t have it, I don’t think, in quite the same way he did.

And then, as you move out from there, I think it lessens. And I don’t think we should be faulted entirely for this. Like, since we don’t see people healed when they walk through our shadow on the street, we should feel like failures. Or like, if I really had faith, people could touch my handkerchief or walk through my shadow and they would be healed.

I don’t think we should feel like failures, because I don’t think that God has ordained that the same intensity and clustering of power for supernatural intervention was intended to be normative for the whole church.

It can break out anytime he pleases, in order to demonstrate his power (and so revival has often brought that kind of demonstration). But I think that already in the New Testament we see evidences that, on the periphery it’s beginning to be less.

Paul says, „Take a little wine for your stomach, Timothy, because you’ve got this stomach problem,” instead of, „Bang! I’ve got enough faith, I’m healing Timothy!” Why?

And Paul himself suffered many kinds of things that weren’t miraculously healed. When he was lacerated on his back or stoned, they didn’t get over him and just pray and—bang!—all the scars and infection went away. He dealt with the same things we did.

So my answer is that miracles are happening today around the world, in some measure. They can happen more when God is pleased to pour out his Spirit. And the reason it’s not as normative now as it was in the apostles is because he meant to signify that this point in history, this incarnation, this authoritative band of apostles was unique.

By John Piper. ©2012 Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org

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2 comentarii (+add yours?)

  1. ChrisPrunean
    iun. 04, 2012 @ 20:14:08

    This is a very interesting topic. Many of us have not seen a creative miracle (the theological term) like the ones described in the early church. I’m referring to a supernatural healing like the instantaneous healing of paralysis, blindness or severe illness. However they do occur like Piper says. Many of us have heard testimony and I tend to believe these stories.

    Now, this is a personal view… We have to ask ourselves what the role of supernatural miracles is in the life of a mature church with born-again believers. Would such an event increase our saving faith in God? In other words would this miracle make us believe more in the existence of God? I’m talking about true believers. The answer is probably… no. But it would be a joyous occasion to give praise and glory to God.

    On the other hand… I believe these miracles DO occur but not in our comfortable designer churches. These miracles occur in the missionary field where they play a crucial role in backing up the preaching of the Gospel… just like in the early church. To facilitate the onset of faith and conversion of sinners. That’s the „cutting edge” that Piper is talking about. But we have to sacrifice EVERYTHING to go to the „edge” to experience the work of the Holy Spirit in this way.

    • rodi
      iun. 04, 2012 @ 22:22:35

      Chris,
      you make a valid point, miracles will not necessarily increase faith. Jesus healed 10 lepers and only one came back to thank Him. The other 9 wanted nothing to do with Him. And, many in the crowd that yelled for Barabbas to be freed instead of Jesus, must have witnessed or heard about the miracles Jesus performed, yet, they wanted Jesus crucified.

      However, Jesus did tell us that if we had the faith of a mustard seed we could move mountains(Matthew 17:20). In reading biographies and missionary journals in the last few centuries, you can see miracles of all kinds taking place in different countries. The difference between then and now, is that in the past, Godly people served God obediently and God performed miracles in their ministries, not because they always sought them, but because their faith kept them going and serving in impossible conditions many times. I also have first hand knowledge of some miracles, including in our family, where personal and family prayer was answered by God without medical intervention for very serious illnesses.

      When Jesus said that „we” would do greater works, many believe He was referring to the Holy Spirit conviction that would follow our evangelistic efforts, since no one ever did greater works than Jesus in the history of Christianity (like walking on water, raising so many from the dead, making blind eyes see). The sending of the Holy Spirit would be the empowering that would lead the church into the biggest harvest since the work of the Holy Spirit has greater dimensions once Jesus ascended to the Father.

      But I like how John Piper ended this: They (miracles) can happen more when God is pleased to pour out his Spirit.

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