The way some theologians downgrade miraculous proofs gives the impression that unless everyone is persuaded by them, their probative power is negligible, as if God’s intention were brute coercion! But coercion is contrary to God’s character and His purpose to bring willing believers to full maturity of sonship. Miraculous demonstration, strong as it is, does not override determined resistance to the truth, nor could such bulldozing fulfill God’s intention to honor human trust, which must be amenable to taking risks into the future (blindfolded for a season, granted, but not “blind” in principle) on the grounds of a strong presumption raised by a mounting record of past fulfillments, i.e., by the testimonies preserved in the covenantal documents known as biblical Scripture, and not on the “grounds” of irresistible suasion (whether conceived as logical, moral, psychological, or even “spiritual”). Therefore, although miracles are not irresistible proof–a good thing, since false and deceptive miracles do exist!–and despite the fact that they are not even sufficient proof, considered on their own merits, yet they are absolutely necessary proof when understood as corroborating the identity of a God Who claims the power of a Creator almighty and the intention of a Savior benign. Against this backdrop and foil, false miracles can be more easily and accurately discerned. They are often trivial, magical, occult tricks. They are demonic child’s play, with no redeeming value, some even achieved by the dark power of Faustian contracts with vicious spirits. Beware, all who dare walk this dread path! [2/04/98]
The vast cloud of witnesses to Jesus’ teaching, to his miraculous powers, and to his Resurrection from a horrible death of public execution on a cross, has forever altered the baseline of empirical expectation concerning what is possible in ‘the natural order’. For this testimonial evidence is inductive near the highest level of human corroboration. Jesus’ super-exceptional career could not be denied, even by his fiercest foes. At most it could only be radically reinterpreted (as, e.g., sorcery). Wherever God pours out His own Wholesome Wind of refreshment to renew and revive the earth, Satan manages to follow up with a diabolical twister to ravage, revile, and reverse progress. This is so predictable that Jesus’ apostles virtually all warned their readers and future generations to steel themselves for the backlash. However, this warning has been so generally disregarded that many believers themselves have been transmuted into mere pawns and parrots of the Serpent to slander veritable works of God’s own Spirit rather than build them up by gentle correction, pastoral advice, and selective endorsement that could thereby fan the new flame into a steady blaze of white light. The names of Charles Chauncey, James Monroe Buckley, Benjamin B. Warfield, John MacArthur, and Hank Hanegraaff may be sadly remembered as grievously counter-revivalistic, incorrigibly undiscerning, and even adversarially co-opted figures of modern Christian history. [2/16/98]
It seems to have escaped most commentators on the Kingdom of God (from the one side) and most writers on the subject of so-called supernaturalism (from the other side) that a categorical substitution has transpired within popular and scholarly thought alike, whereby “the Kingdom of God” has been largely replaced by “the supernatural” when the discourse concerns miracles, healing, prophecy, etc. But these verbal “isotopes” do not have identical properties semantically, and the substitution has proved corrosive to the Biblical teaching about God’s Kingdom. The “atomic” structure of apostolic teaching has, as it were, undergone a reverse transmutation from gold to lead! In the New Testament, The Kingdom of God is always associated with and accompanied by extraordinary power for creational restoration and rescue. When this power is alienated from its true and authentic associations in Scripture, it becomes a vagrant, a maverick, a wildcard. “Proofs” for and against its properties and existence (past or present) become strained and strange, all but estranging it from its real identity, function, and meaning. For to equate the Kingdom of God only with the “supernatural” is to exclude God’s reign over “nature.” But to affirm only its relation to “the natural” order of the universe (as many Christians do) is to alienate “supernature” from its proper Owner, alas!
This categorical confusion, misappropriation, and misallocation plays into the hands of God’s detractors, and we are well advised to beware its entrapment. Scripture never distinguishes a “natural realm” from a “supernatural realm.” All of God’s activities in creation and salvation (these two are distinguished, but clearly not as “realms”!), properly understood, are orderly and in accord with His character. Moreover, both creation (which, ironically, is usually thought of as His “ordinary” work, a reflex of the prevalence of naturalistic dogma) and salvation (which is generally deemed “extraordinary,” although it encompasses a diversity of operations, some clearly recreative in a way that can only evoke amazement, awe, and astonishment, such as miracles of instantaneous or very rapid healing; while other operations entail control over familiar created phenomena such as volcanoes, earthquakes, storms, rains, tornadoes, winds, waves, pestilence, etc., yet in such timely salvific ways that the unbeliever nervously wishes to write off the conjunctions as pointless “coincidences”) are phases or facets of God’s universal reign and should equally call forth praise, thanksgiving, worship, and celebration, as indeed a host of amenable Psalms supply!
Nonbelievers are biased toward isolating under the label “natural” whatever they presumptuously regard as under “human” (read: “their own”) control and predictive power. And because they refuse to subordinate themselves to God on His terms, they have no orderly comprehension of His (actually even somewhat predictable) control over all other phenomena as well. In short “they know not God.” Thus even their knowledge of “nature” (as they like to say) is partial and systematically flawed by their blindness to unsettling data and their own perversity of disposition against Deity. [2/23/98]
Jesus surrendered not only his earthly existence to his Father when he sacrificed himself in death, but also his very words. The only record we have about his writing anything is in the critically contested account of the woman caught in adultery at the beginning of John 8…and there he wrote in the sand! That we have any recorded words of Jesus at all we owe to the power of the Resurrection and the promised Spirit of Pentecost. For all of Jesus’ words would have fallen to the ground and perished if he had not been raised back up by God. There likely would have been zero “sayings of Jesus” ever recorded and taught beyond his first hearers if he had not actually been the bona fide Messiah and Son of God he admitted to being. For his declarations about “morality” or “ethics” were verified by his Resurrection no less than were his prophetic predictions about his own public torture, execution, Resurrection, and enthronement. It is a single neat and indivisible package. It is inconceivable that his learners would have bothered to preserve a word from his lips, in view of his transcendent claims about himself, for without a reversal of his unjust sentence of death, he would have been, all the more, a colossal embarrassment and a ridiculed byword, even his numerous miracles notwithstanding. He wagered his all at one toss…and won the universe! [2/26/98]