Sunday, October 6, 2013

Looking for Answers

"And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, 'Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.'  Therefore, when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem, to the apostles and elders, about this question."  Acts 15: 1-2

No small dissension and dispute.  Is that the polite way of saying a riot was breaking out among the people?  Oh, how I hate controversy.  I have a friend who told me recently that she feels she has the gift of arguing.  I'm not exactly certain where that gift is listed as one of the benefits of the Holy Spirit, but while she stands with fists clenched for fight, I'm fearfully running in flight....unless...I feel the Lord prompting me to take a stand.

In the past I've found that I'm more inclined to involve myself in a controversial discussion if another's honour is at stake.  When accusations are being made based on ignorance of full disclosure, I maybe can't add specifics because of confidentiality, but I can stand in a place of defense or agreement, showing support.

Another area that calls me to raise my voice is when I know God's Word speaks on the issue at hand.  Truth revealing truth.  Not my words, but His.

Recently I've been searching Scripture concerning two thoughts that have confronted me after reading a blog post.  Although I didn't take issue with what was written, others have had "no small dissension and dispute" over them.  So, today I throw caution to the wind and ask you, my reader, to share your thoughts.  I have one stipulation: whatever you share in response must include Scripture.  What I'm really looking for is what God says, not personal opinion.

OK, so here goes...

The first involves healing.  I 100% believe that God, who is the same yesterday, today and forever, is still doing miracles of healing.  Sometimes He uses Doctor's and medicine to bring about restoration, while other times, in response to prayer and the powerful work of His Spirit, the Lord chooses to heal in a momentary graced gift without explanation.  Here's where the discussion has arisen.  In the example I am thinking about right now, a wife commanded life back into her husband:  "In the Name of Jesus Christ I command you to live".  The use of the word "command" has raised eyebrows and cautioned hearts.  Was she commanding God to act, or in a desperate moment as she stood watching the one she loved slipping away, was she commanding her husband to breathe in Jesus Name?  Is there a difference?  Was a line crossed?  Her husband did begin breathing again.

In Acts 3:6 we find Peter's encounter with the lame man.  This is his response: "Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk."  Peter took him by the hand and immediately the man's feet and ankle bones received strength.

Paul in Acts 16:18, annoyed by a girl possessed with a spirit, turned and said, "'I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.' And he came out that very hour."

I see both past and modern day disciple believing and living John 14:12, "Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in Me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father."  Do we believe the Lord for His "greater things"?  How easily we sing chorus's that say, "Do it Lord, Do it, that Your glory may be seen". Are those lyrics commanding God?  Just asking.

The second question finds me wondering whether we, through God's power and the Holy Spirit, can rebuke Satan.  I know we are told we can "resist Satan" and he will flee (James 4:7), but can we rebuke Satan?  Rebuke is defined as reprimand, scold, express disapproval of, strongly warn.

I think of Matthew 17:18-21, "Jesus rebuked the demon and it came out of the boy, and he was healed at that moment.  Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, 'Why couldn't we drive it out?'  He replied, 'Because you have so little faith.  Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there', and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.'"  Jesus does not say that they cannot rebuke the demon, but that their faith is too small.  He goes on to encourage them that they can command even a mountain to move and that nothing is impossible for those who have faith.  Does that mean it will always happen?  No.  But it is possible if it is His will.

My mind goes to a similar passage in Mark 9 where Jesus rebukes an unclean spirit in a young boy and then responds to his disciples by saying: "This kind can only come out by prayer".  (Some manuscripts "prayer and fasting".)  He does not tell His disciples they can't do it, but adds an explanation.

I've had one person say to me in response to these questions that I need to understand that there are things that only God can do, suggesting examples of turning water into wine and walking on water.  My answer to that would be what about Peter?  Was he not empowered to walk on water?  On our own we can do nothing, but anything is possible with God if it can be used for our good and His glory. I do understand that there are things that only God can do, but through His Son and the power of His Spirit, He can do them through us if we are abiding in Him and available. It is still God doing only what He can do, yet it is so incredibly amazing that He would chose to work through His weak, willing servants.

If we are truly Christ's disciples in this generation then His Word is spoken to us as well.  I also want to clarify that both these suggested 'commanding' and 'rebuking' were spoken in the Name of Jesus and human recognition wasn't given or praised.  The family themselves haven't been remembered or you would all know them and people would be flocking to their home for healing.  No, God was magnified and worshiped and others came to know the Lord through the demonstration of His power.

For me it's the conclusion of the story that needs the most attention, not the wording that has caused discussion.  "I thank the Lord that He saved his life....Glory be to God!"  Declaration is given that only God intervened and spared a life and it was all for His glory.  Personal credit was not received.

I don't profess to be a great theologian, and I long to remain humbly teachable.  If you have further insights into God's Word in these areas I'd love to hear from you.

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Tami and Bobby Sisemore Family said...

Thank you for sharing this!!! I do no t have insight further but I needed to hear and be reminded of these things you shared!! I am very much in a place with my youngest son of having to have that mustard seed faith that God is in control and knows what He is doing!

Tamara Henion said...

I have some insight on miracles of the apostles in Acts; If you look at the miracles in Acts, you'll find 3 things common: 1. As a gate to heal those who needed healing, the apostles intentionally went into the places where there were groups of unbelievers, and 2. Those healed were unbelievers not Christians. At each healing, the unbeliever was healed and believed. With the miracle performed, authority of the healer in Christ established he was authentic, powerful and trustworthy, and 3. Then they preached Christ and conversions followed, including the one whom was healed. You can go through each miracle and see these steps in order, even the ones here that you noted. First the go to where there are groups of unbelievers, then heal, then the one healed believes, then they preach, then others are converted.