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Is It God’s Exclusive Ability?
The dictionary definition of a miracle is: “1. An event that seems impossible to explain by natural laws and so is regarded as supernatural in origin or as an act of God.” (Webster’s II, New Riverside University Dictionary, copyright 1984, ISBN 0-395-33957-X).
I find it highly interesting that in their definition the editors of the dictionary made a distinction between “…supernatural in origin or as an act of God.” They did not, as is the case with nearly everyone today, lump the two together (supernatural in origin and an act of God) by assuming that if it is a miracle God did it!
The distinction is vitally important because millions of professed believers are continuing to stumble over it! They justify their stance on the miraculous as being valid because miracles have to be of God. But as I hope to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, the Scriptures show that Satan is also a worker of miracles and not just God alone.
A few days ago I answered an email from a dear lady who had questions about a certain woman in the past (Catherine Booth) who claimed that she experienced a miraculous call to preach. Her minister husband William, founder of the Salvation Army, suddenly fell ill and she took over his ministry. And later, when some questioned the validity of a woman preaching, she is said to have replied:
“I felt the Holy Spirit...all the way down to my hands and feet. It seemed as if a voice said, "If you will go and testify, you know I will bless you as well as those who hear you."
Note that she rationalized her actions based upon what she perceived to be a miraculous filling of the Holy Spirit and a voice speaking to her. Then when her “preaching” apparently bore fruit because people made professions of faith, she was ipso facto called of God to the ministry. But wait a minute! Is it likely that God would call a woman to preach and bless her ministry with true converts when His Word clearly prohibits it?
“Let a woman learn in quietness, in entire submissiveness. 12 I allow no woman to teach or to have authority over men; she is to remain in quietness and keep silence [in religious assemblies]. 13 For Adam was first formed, then Eve; 14 And it was not Adam who was deceived, but [the] woman who was deceived and deluded and fell into transgression” 1 Tim.2:11-14 (Amplified Bible).
In this passage of Scripture that is so often ignored today, the Apostle Paul sets forth New Testament doctrine on the subject as he was authorized to do by the risen Lord Himself. He makes a clear and unambiguous ruling and then explains the reason for it: Eve succumbed to Satan’s deception—not Adam. And God Himself said Adam was to “rule over her” by assuming spiritual leadership:
“To the woman He said, I will greatly multiply your grief and your suffering in pregnancy and the pangs of childbearing; with spasms of distress you will bring forth children. Yet your desire and craving will be for your husband, and he will rule over you” Genesis 3:16 (Amplified Bible).
All other objections such as Phillip’s daughters being “prophetesses” (Acts 21:9), Aquila and his wife Priscilla taking Apollos aside to teach him (Acts 18:26), and “women praying and prophesying (1 Cor.11:5), etc., do not negate the admonition against women preaching to or teaching men when the church is assembled for worship.
But the point I am trying to make goes far beyond the subject of women preachers. God’s children desperately need to understand that His Word is the definitive standard for all matters of faith and practice. And even if “an angel from heaven” should suddenly appear before us and make a proclamation contrary to the Scriptures, we are supposed to have enough sense to reject it! Why? Because the Bible is now complete and the miracles sent from God during the time of Christ and His Apostles to authenticate the New Testament message have ceased:
“I am surprised and astonished that you are so quickly turning renegade and deserting Him Who invited and called you by the grace (unmerited favor) of Christ (the Messiah) [and that you are transferring your allegiance] to a different [even an opposition] gospel. 7 Not that there is [or could be] any other [genuine Gospel], but there are [obviously] some who are troubling and disturbing and bewildering you [ with a different kind of teaching which they offer as a gospel] and want to pervert and distort the Gospel of Christ (the Messiah) [into something which it absolutely is not]. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to and different from that which we preached to you, let him be accursed (anathema, devoted to destruction, doomed to eternal punishment)! 9 As we said before, so I now say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel different from or contrary to that which you received [from us], let him be accursed (anathema, devoted to destruction, doomed to eternal punishment)!” Galatians 1:6-9 (Amplified Bible, emphasis mine).
Note that Paul says “an angel from heaven.” Somewhere along the line people have gotten it into their heads that Satan is confined to hell, or some location on or near the earth. But even though he is the “prince of the power of the air” (Eph.2:2)—apparently using the Earth’s atmosphere as his sphere of activity—this does not mean his access to heaven has been cut off! Some try to claim otherwise, citing Rev.12:6-8 as being the text that proves Satan and his demons have been cast out:
“And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days. 7 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, 8 And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. 9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him” (KJV)
But verse six provides the context necessary to disprove that erroneous assumption. The “woman” (Israel as clearly defined by verses 1-5 as giving birth to Jesus Christ—the One Who will rule with a “rod of iron,” during His Millennial Reign, Psalm 2:9)—will hide from the antichrist during the Tribulation Period (1260 days, or 3 ½ years, using the lunar 360 day prophetic year). And only after that time will there be war in heaven and the devil and his demonic angels cast unto the earth. My friends, as strange as it may seem, at this present hour they still have access to the throne of God! In Job 1:6 and 2:1 we find that Satan clearly had access and took full advantage of it. He is said to be the “accuser of the brethren” and does so day and night. (Rev.12:10). And only after he is cast out will those accusations be in the past tense and the “short time” of the following verses applicable:
“Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time. 13 And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child” Rev.12:12-13 (KJV).
Plus, the fact that after he is cast out there will be but a short time left does not match up with two thousand years of Church history. So from this it appears fairly certain that the devil and his demons are still able to appear before the throne of God and thus can be “angels from heaven.” Also it begs the question as to why the Apostle Paul would use that particular phrase if such were not possible. Would one of God’s angels preach “another gospel?” Of course not! But the devil continues to do so as he (or she) preaches from pulpits around world:
“For such men are false apostles [spurious, counterfeits], deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles (special messengers) of Christ (the Messiah). 14 And it is no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light; 15 So it is not surprising if his servants also masquerade as ministers of righteousness. [But] their end will correspond with their deeds” 2 Cor.11:13-15 (Amplified Bible, emphasis mine).
What conclusions should we reach from this? I don’t know about you, but to me it means Satan is actively counterfeiting some of the miraculous “sign gifts” today—such as “direct revelations from God, speaking in tongues, along with claims of bodily healing and raising the dead” (I have actually received emails from Charismatics in Africa making such claims). Those miraculous abilities were originally given by the Holy Spirit to some (not all) in the early Church to confirm the Gospel message and at least one gift (tongues) was for the specific purpose of showing Israel that God’s judgment was at hand.
“How shall we escape [appropriate retribution] if we neglect and refuse to pay attention to such a great salvation [as is now offered to us, letting it drift past us forever]? For it was declared at first by the Lord [Himself], and it was confirmed to us and proved to be real and genuine by those who personally heard [Him speak]. 4 [Besides this evidence] it was also established and plainly endorsed by God, Who showed [past tense] His approval of it by signs and wonders and various miraculous manifestations of [His] power and by imparting the gifts of the Holy Spirit [to the believers] according to His own will” Hebrews 2:2-4 (Amplified Bible, emphasis and [insert] mine).
So it should be clear that once the New Testament was in its
completed form, there was no further need for demonstrations of the miraculous,
because they had already validated the authenticity of the message. Plus the
relatively short duration of the
gift of tongues had served its purpose by warning Israel of God’s impending
judgment. There is no mention of speaking in tongues after the last reference
found in 1 Corinthians (14:39). Paul wrote at least 12 Epistles and he never
mentioned tongues again. Neither did Peter, James, John, or Jude. If it was
something of great spiritual importance for all believers, why would these men
not mention it? Then after the destruction of the
“Since we consider and look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are visible are temporal (brief and fleeting), but the things that are invisible are deathless and everlasting” 2 Cor.4:18 (Amplified Bible, emphasis mine).
“Now faith is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses]” Heb.11:1 (Amplified Bible).
While it is true that some things happen today which we cannot explain—such as people “miraculously” surviving fatal illnesses or emerging from situations that seemingly should have killed them—few, if any, occur before groups of unbelievers in such a way as to instill saving faith in them. But demonstrations of the supernatural in the New Testament usually took place publicly and often resulted in belief by some of those who saw them. And since the Scriptures tell us that we are to walk by faith and not by sight, can we not see that if God continued to work such miracles, our sinful flesh would have a definite tendency to reverse that order?
Earlier I made the statement that Satan is capable of working any miracle God will allow and there is more than enough evidence in the Word of God to warrant that assertion. (In a previous article, “Signs and Lying Wonders,” at www.cuttingedge.org/articles/p220.html , I also had some things to say on the subject). Consider the following examples of Satan’s abilities in that area:
“For false Christs and false prophets will arise, and they will show great signs and wonders so as to deceive and lead astray, if possible, even the elect (God’s chosen ones)” Matt.24:24 (Amplified Bible).
The words “it were” in the King James Version of Matthew 24:24—as in “if it were possible”—are in italics to denote they are not in the original Greek and were supplied by the translators. That insertion was most unfortunate because it has led many to conclude God’s elect cannot be deceived. But if that is truly the case, then why all the admonitions in the New Testament (Lk.21:8; 1 Cor.6:9, 15:33; Gal.6:7, etc.) warning believers against being deceived if it is not possible? Please be aware that deception is an ugly fact of life for God’s people and if at that time in the future some of His elect fail to “put on the whole armor of God” (Eph.6:10-18), they will certainly open themselves up for demonic deception!
“And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: 9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders” 2 Thess.2:9 (KJV, emphasis mine).
The “lying wonders” (Gk. terasin pseudous), or “in wonders of a lie” (Word Pictures In The New Testament), emphasize the monumental lie of this man’s claim of being “the Christ”—not the “wonders” themselves. This is clear when the “wonders” are considered in proper context with the “all power and signs.” However, we must understand that the “all” (Gk.pas) has two possible meanings: (1) all without exception or (2) all without distinction. So “all power” in this case cannot possibly refer to the infinite power (all without exception) that God Himself wields. It refers to an “all without distinction”—i.e., “all types, all sorts, or all kinds” of power that God allows Satan to exercise.
“Then I saw another beast rising up out of the land [itself]; he had two horns like a lamb, and he spoke (roared) like a dragon. 12 He exerts all the power and right of control of the former beast in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell upon it to exalt and deify the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed, and to worship him. 13 He performs great signs (startling miracles), even making fire fall from the sky to the earth in men’s sight. 14 And because of the signs (miracles) which he is allowed to perform in the presence of the [first] beast, he deceives those who inhabit the earth, commanding them to erect a statue (an image) in the likeness of the beast who was wounded by the [small] sword and still lived. 15 And he is permitted [also] to impart the breath of life into the beast’s image, so that the statue of the beast could actually talk and cause to be put to death those who would not bow down and worship the image of the beast” Rev.13:11-15 (Amplified Bible, emphasis mine).
Therefore, simple logic leads us to conclude that since the devil has demonstrated miracle working power in the past and is going to do so again in the future—he is most certainly capable of it now! And I believe that is precisely the reason God ceased working miracles of the type intended to impress men and authenticate the Gospel message after the canon of Scripture was completed. We are exhorted to “…prove, (test) the spirits…” (1 John 1:4, Amplified Bible) to keep from being led astray by false doctrine, but to the best of my knowledge there is no such test for miracles. So why do you suppose God did not give us one? I am convinced it is because we are supposed to understand there is no need for it! The ministry of miracles during the time of the early Church achieved its purpose and ended. Therefore, if God’s people witness or experience something spectacularly miraculous, we must not be deceived into thinking He did it!
The reason this is so important should be obvious. We humans tend to be awed by anything that seems to defy the laws of the natural world and/or our sense of reason. That is why “magicians” continue to stay in business. Even though we know their tricks are sleight of hand and/or illusions, we still cannot help but be impressed by them. And when unexplainable things occur which appear to be of supernatural origin, such as falling into trances, receiving messages from angels though visions or hearing voices, etc., let’s face it—most people are going to view them as miracles! BUT, by what criteria must they be attributed to God?
The time is coming when all men on earth are going to witness mind-blowing demonstrations of the miraculous. And, as we cited in the passages of Scripture above, the Word of God clearly teaches they will be key elements of a plan of deception. But how are God’s people supposed to know the difference? How can a believer possibly differentiate between miracles of that type done by God and those done by Satan? It should be fairly obvious that the only way is to recognize that God is no longer doing them!
My friends, it is a tragic mistake to overlook the incredible power wielded by our adversary the devil as he walks about seeking whom he may devour! (1 Pet.5:8).
If you have been born again and received Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, but have been very lukewarm in your spiritual walk with Him, you need to immediately ask Him for forgiveness and for renewal. He will instantly forgive you, and fill your heart with the joy of the Holy Spirit. Then, you need to begin a daily walk of prayer and personal Bible Study.
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