Believers in God usually believe in miracles, and many have experienced miraculous conversions. When the early disciples were persecuted by the Jewish authorities, they uttered a prayer that shook their building: "Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus." Acts. 4:29,30.
The four Gospels relate many miracles performed by Jesus on the sick. We now give study to three such healings. The first was that of a man who had been impotent for 38 years. "When Jesus saw Him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, 'Do you want to be made well?' The sick man answered Him, 'Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up.' Jesus said to him, 'Rise, take up your bed and walk.' And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked." John 5:6-9.
A second miracle was performed on the paralytic who was let down into Jesus' presence through a roof. And He said to him, "Son, your sins are forgiven you . . . arise, take up your bed and go your way to your house." Mark 2:1-11.
A third case is that of a woman who had a flow of blood for twelve years. "When she heard about Jesus, she came behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment; for she said, 'If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well.' Immediately the fountain of her blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of the affliction. And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that power had gone out of Him, turned around in the crowd and said, ‘‘Who touched My clothes?' But His disciples said to Him, 'You see the multitude thronging You, and You say, 'Who touched Me?' And He looked around to see her who had done these things. But the women, fearing and trembling, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth. And He said to her, 'Daughter, your faith has made you well, Go in peace, and be healed of your affliction.'" Mark 5:25-34.
1) I believe you select these three miracles to show the power of faith. What difference is there among the three?
Answer: The first man did not know Jesus at first, but knew Him only after he was healed. Then how could he have faith? It could have come only from the effect of Jesus’ earnest, persuasive voice and compassionate gaze, causing him to be instantly inspired with faith---convinced that this was no common person, but had power to heal him. He who had spoken the worlds into existence in the beginning (Ps. 33:9), had power to bestow strength at this moment, and the cripple of 38 years rose to his feet, took up his bed and walked.
2) The second cripple, and those who carried him, all had faith enough to break open a roof to reach Jesus, and were finally rewarded.
Answer: Yes. The Bible says, "When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, 'Son, your sins are forgiven you.'" The paralytic and the men who carried him all had faith in Christ. They did not wait for the crowd to disperse, but broke open the roof to let him down; so Jesus rewarded their faith by instantly healing the man. We may say that here the man's faith made up 50% of the miracle, while Jesus furnished the other 50%, resulting in another wonder of a paralytic carrying the bed that had supported him.
3) The faith that Jesus inspired in the first paralytic responded to the faith that Jesus had in healing him, am I right?
Answer: That is well said. Jesus had power, and also had faith. But man must respond in faith; this is indispensable. All three persons had faith, but only the third one was commended by Jesus, who made no mention of His own power, but only said, "Your faith has saved you." Such words of commendation were spoken by Christ ten times in three different Gospels:
Two instances cited above are identical, to show that the Holy Spirit, who inspired men to write the record, regarded faith as of great importance, just like Jesus. We may now evaluate the three miracles in this way: The first cripple had but 1% faith; Jesus supplied 99% of power. The second cripple had 50% faith, and Jesus bestowed 50% of power. The third example had 100% faith, and was rewarded with 100% power. Though Jesus did not speak up until His garment was touched, yet as the Son of God He knew of the woman before she touched Him. He acted in a dramatic manner to emphasize the miraculous power of faith, hoping that we all can reach out our hands of faith to receive power to overcome sin, so that our spiritual maladies may be healed.
4) I think that Jesus said, "Your faith has healed you," not to belittle the power of God, but to encourage us to exercise faith.
Answer: Yes. The truth Jesus stresses is that without Him, sinners cannot be saved, but if you don’t believe Him, you cannot be saved. It’s like a man after a shipwreck, foundering at sea. A helicopter comes to his rescue and lets down a life line. He must take hold of that rope. It is his only hope. If he does not take hold of the rope, that helicopter will fail to save him. Likewise, if we don’t reach out our hand of faith and take hold of Jesus, the blood He shed on the cross will be shed in vain.
The rocket that sends a satellite into space has much power, but that power will not be released until someone pushes a button on the control panel. Likewise, when we don’t exercise faith, the power of God cannot be realized by us. Matt 13:58 says, "He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief."
5) You said that we all have spiritual maladies, and need the power of God to heal us; now show us how to claim His power.
Answer: People often quote Rom 7:24 and say, "O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? They stop there in despondency, and have no faith to say, "I thank God---through Jesus Christ our Lord!" Note here that it is through Jesus Christ that we are delivered from this body of death. This is faith that gives us victory over the power of sin as well as its guilt. Many Christians are deceived by the lie that they cannot overcome. Because they have been mentally conditioned to accept failure, they fail to overcome. It is like a coach who tells the athletes he is training that they have no hope of succeeding. He says to them, "There are lots of athletes better than you. No matter how hard you try, I fear it will be impossible for you to get even a bronze medal. What’s the use? You might as well stay home and take it easy." Who would want to train under such a coach?
The words of the apostle Paul are on target: "Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things, Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. . . I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified." 1 Cor 9:24-27.
6) Don’t these words of Paul contradict his teaching on faith? Since I believe Jesus has saved me, why must I "discipline my body and bring it into subjection?"
Answer: There is no contradiction here. It is because Paul has faith in the power of Christ to conquer every human weakness that he makes the determination to do so. Jesus often used things of nature to teach spiritual truths. We too may use the things of nature to teach faith. A farmer casts precious grain into the ground because he has faith that under the influence of the sunshine, rain and dew, they will grow and yield a harvest. Seed-sowing is an act of faith. He knows that it is not a difficult task, yet it must be done. If he fails to sow, all the forces that God has put in nature will do the farmer no good. So you see, agriculture is a good example of cooperation between God and man. 1 Cor 3:6 says, "I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase."
7) Can you cite an example of a modern Christian, showing how one can overcome temptation by exercising faith?
Answer: Very well. Once a married young lady came to talk with her pastor about what to do with her family, which was in danger of breaking up. There was no hope. What should she do? After praying with her, the pastor counseled her to learn from Job; no matter what happens, always trust in God, give thanks and praise Him for His goodness. Then the pastor gave her a passage from Mount of Blessings, p. 71, as the best counsel for her. It read,
"The Father’s presence encircled Christ, and nothing befell Him but that which infinite love permitted for the blessing of the world. Here was His source of comfort, and it is for us. He who is imbued with the Spirit of Christ abides in Christ. The blow that is aimed at Him falls upon the Savior, who surrounds him with His presence. Whatever comes to him comes from Christ. He has no need to resist evil, for Christ is his defense. Nothing can touch him except by our Lord’s permission, and "all things" that are permitted "work together for good to them that love God." Rom 8:28.
After reading these words, the young lady prayed God to help her practice this teaching in her life. The next three months were, in her own words, literally "hell." Her husband seemed to be devil-possessed as he mistreated her in every conceivable way, but she kept praying for strength to endure the trial. She no longer retaliated as before, but bore all his insults and beatings patiently, and learned to say with Job, "Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?" "Blessed be the name of the Lord." Job 2:10; 1:21. Her husband was eventually won by her patience and kindness, and saw his own ugliness. He was moved to repent, because he was attracted by his wife, who had changed into a true Christian saint, revealing the beauty of Jesus.
Not long after husband and wife were happily reconciled, her second child of 11 months suddenly died of poisoning because of having eaten the pills of its grandmother. A new trial fell on this young mother like a bolt out of the blue. Again the teaching of Jesus was her mainstay. Many people came to comfort her, but she thanked them and said, "Christ has taught me that in all the trials of life we are ever to give thanks, as in 1 Thess 5:18, "In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."
One day the parents of the husband of the young lady came to visit, and said to her, "We have been observing you for the last year, and note that you are no longer the daughter-in-law we used to know. You have changed. And we want what you have. We used to Seventh-day Adventists, but quit going to church after we were married, so our son was not brought up in the church, now we want to be baptized again and have the experience that you have had in Christ Jesus." The young lady was overjoyed to think how the Lord has led her through thick and thin. She says, "Now I know that when Jesus returns, I shall have my baby back, and what’s more, the Lord has given me my husband and his parents to enter the kingdom together. All such blessings are beyond my wildest expectations."
8) Modern Christians as well as ancient patriarchs, all are privileged to demonstrate by faith the power of God in our lives.
Answer: Yes. Remember the words of Christ: "All things are possible to him who believes." Mark 9:23. Conversely, "All things are impossible to him who believes not." People often argue that Jesus was born of a virgin, was specially holy and could not sin. So we cannot overcome as he overcame. Christ replies, "All things are possible to him who believes." Watch the example of those who were not born of a virgin---Enoch and Elijah---men of like passions as we. They walked with God, did not taste of death, but were taken straight to heaven. Rev. 14:4,5 says, when Christ returns, there will be 144,0000 overcomers ready to meet him. "These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. . . And in their mouth was found no guile, for they are without fault before the throne of
God." Pray God to help us to be men and women of faith, to whom all things are possible, to be ready for translation like Enoch.