TITLE: Enter the supernatural 7/16/14
By Richard McCaw
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Enter the Supernatural
If a doctor tells your loved one who has been through radiation for liver cancer, “I’m sorry, we’ve done our best!” your heart sinks as you hear the verdict. If you never prayed much before, perhaps you will now pray for God to manifest the supernatural.
Have you ever been a church where people ‘get in the spirit,’ create a scene, jump up and down with hands flailing above their heads, people shouting ‘unintelligible syllables,’ running around, or falling on the ground? If you have, then you’ll understand the conflict that exists over supernatural manifestations.
The body of Christ has faced serious conflict since the times of the apostles. In the Corinthian church where the apostle Paul had ministered people were abusing the gift of speaking in tongues.1 Others had misunderstood them, while others hearing of the abuse had completely dismissed them. As a teenager and young believer I was always curious to find out the truth if God still worked supernaturally as in apostolic days. Soon a series of events brought me head on with the controversy.
At a Thursday night church Bible study, from a back bench the voice of an elderly brother made everyone turn around.
“Could I say something, please?” A good-looking brother, He stood erect with pepper-grain hair was almost white hair and completely black moustache.
A few dozen brethren sat scattered on the long brown wooden benches with open Bibles on their laps. The leading elder sat below the platform and pulpit, while other elders sat along the side walls at the front looking like judges. An elder reluctantly signaled for him to proceed.
“You know, brethren,” he began, “while worshiping the Lord one day at home I found myself speaking in tongues. It was so real, so amazing! Besides, I was not making up the words!”
Like the crack of a bullet, a subtle rebuke shot back from one of the elders, “My dear brother, we all know that tongues have ceased long ago. The purpose of tongues in those days was to preach the good news of salvation!”
Another elder added: “We do not need tongues today! That which is perfect has come! We have the Bible, the perfect revelation of God’s Word. 1 Corinthians 13: verse 8 clearly says: ‘Whether there be tongues, they shall cease’...”
During those days, Back to the Bible Broadcast had been ministering a daily radio program in Jamaica. Theodore H. Epp, a graduate of Southwestern Theological Seminary Ft. Worth, Texas, the broadcast’s founding director in his book “The Use and Abuse of Tongues” reacted to the tongues phenomenon in a number of statements thus: “We believe that the New Testament indicates it was the purpose of God to suspend the use of the miraculous gifts!” and “If God indicates that some gifts were temporary, we have no right to close our minds to that evidence!” and with respect to the miraculous, “God has not seen fit to endow believers with these miracle gifts to any appreciable degree since that time (i.e. the apostolic Era).”
Perhaps, Mr.Epp forgot the apostle Peter’s strong statement on the day of Pentecost with regard to the outpouring of the Spirit. Peter prefaced his preaching with the opening words, “IN THE LAST DAYS.” After speaking in tongues along with one hundred and twenty other disciples, Peter proceeded to list other miraculous events that would characterize the last days. Any suggestion therefore that miracles would be only for apostolic days must be mere assumption, prejudice or tradition. Perhaps, an honest believer may respond thus: “We have no right to close our minds to miraculous gifts, especially since our Master told His disciples, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father!” And obviously, that still includes the miracle of tongues.
I clearly remember one Sunday night in the midst of the preaching, a woman walked up before the podium and began gesticulating and supposedly speaking in ‘tongues.’ Two elders calmly approached her and escorted her outside. To them she was demon possessed! Since then I have seen people influenced by an ‘evil spirit’ give forth a so-called ‘tongue’. I once heard a teenager muttering “Santa Maria! Santa Maria” in a home group meeting, who later wrote a confession that he had been making up the tongue.
Despite the fact of imitations of the real experience, and even demonic activity, one must consider that every shadow leads to a solid somewhere else. Honest seekers must keep searching until they find the truth. Scripture also warns us, “Forbid not to speak in tongues!”? Arguments about tongues ceasing and no need for tongues in these days were standard reasoning in those days, and still are in many places, where most, if not all, of the gifts of the Spirit are discounted.
Some have used the apostle Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 13 on ‘the supremacy of love’ to suggest that the church today has no need of the gifts of the Spirit. While the most important manifestation of God in humanity is not supernatural demonstrations like tongues, healings, miracles, or any of the more ostentatious gifts, but brotherly love and caring for a hurting world, we are obligated to put the whole counsel of scripture in its proper perspective. If we really believe that the gifts of the Spirit ceased to operate in the church when the apostles died, then we must consider that the same passage declares that ‘knowledge shall vanish away!’
Like stubborn lawyers, those arguments about tongues debating against each other in the back of my mind refused to go away. In the light of scripture they never impressed me, but seemed like flimsy, dry leaves ready to be blown away by the wind of the Spirit and the solid revelation of the Word of God.
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