WHAT ABOUT MIRACLES?
"No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main." So said the poet John Donne. I'm sure you sense the meaning of that statement. Perhaps you are a parent. When the evening sounds hush, and you sit by the bedside of your sleeping child, you know that you cannot live just for yourself. You know you are not an island. You know your life is closely connected with the lives of others. So you determine to guide your child the best you know how. You determine to help him find truth and meaning in life.
Perhaps you do not have children yet. But you have a special friend, a companion. You, too, know that your life is not entirely your own. It affects someone else's life, and someone else's life deeply affects yours.
Possibly you are a student in school. You're spending hour after hour searching for answers. You're asking thousands of questions and finding answers to some of those questions. But you're also finding that some answers don't agree with each other. Yet you've determined that somehow you will find the right answers to life's most important questions. You have to, because these answers will not only affect your life; they will also affect the lives of others. You cannot be an island.
Whoever you are, you know there is nothing so important as knowing what is truth. Your knowledge and practice of truth will mold your life and help to mold the lives of others. One lie--one big lie- -can so change the course and outlook of your life that eventually your integrity and happiness will be destroyed. To some extent you will also tear down the lives of others. That's why learning how you can find out what is truth is so vitally important for you. That's why this lesson will reveal what God says about miracles.
"What lies after death?", is one of the most important questions you will ever have to face. The answer you discover will help to direct your life. Setting your goals will be easier. Your relationships with the people you care about will be profoundly influenced. Death is cold and when a loved one slips quietly away from life, we want to know if possibly we will ever meet again. We desperately want to know what lies beyond death. . .where is our loved one? Or is there nothing beyond?
Where do you turn for the answers? Millions have turned to sances. They have tried to see their departed loved ones again, even just for a moment. Many have been comforted by what appeared to be that loved one. But have they been deceived? Can we safely turn to psychic phenomena to contact the spirit world? Can we trust our eyes and ears to verify truth? Are psychic phenomena some great and subtle deception? Can miracles be brought about by a power other than God?
Jesus was the greatest miracle-worker this world has ever seen. He healed the sick. He gave sight to the blind. He even raised the dead. Jesus could do all this because he was one with God. He said, "Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake." (John 14:11)
Today many miracle-workers perform wonders in the name of Christ. Is Christ then connected with them? He described many of these miracle-workers this way: "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?" (Matthew 7:22) Could a preacher have better credentials than the miracles of predicting the future, and healing the sick, and even casting out devils? Is any proof of a connection with God clearer than this?
Jesus made the startling statement that miracles are not a sure indication of a connection with God. He said, "And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." (Matthew 7:23) But how could this be? How could these people do such great work without God's blessing? The prophet John, describing what God had shown him for the last days, gives us the answer. He said, "They are the spirits of devils, working miracles." (Revelation 16:14)
So we learn that other powers on earth can perform miracles, or they can at least make us believe that miracles have been performed. Why not? These devils are the fallen angels. They've been exploring the art of deception for thousands of years. They are masters at deceit. The apostle Paul said that, "Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light." (2 Corinthians 11:14)
Satan and his evil angels can disguise themselves as agents of good. They can even work through religious persons who do not wholly give themselves to Christ. In fact, toward the end of our world, these demon-controlled religious persons shall grow in number and in their ability to perform miracles. Jesus himself described the condition. He said, "For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect." (Matthew 24:24) Think of it! Signs, wonders, miracles, so spectacular that they will almost deceive God's own people!
In these days of earth's history, we can't fully rely on our senses. Seeing is not believing! Miracles are not a proof of truth! If you base your faith on miracles, what will you do when Satan's greatest miracle will take place? The last book of the Bible tells us that "he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, and deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do." (Revelation 13:13,14)
Fire from heaven! Satan has the power to create strange appearances even in the sky. The Bible calls these "lying wonders." Possibly flying saucers or UFOs are just a beginning of what he has planned. What if the great and final deception is an impersonation of Christ's second coming? Satan has no reservations in his rebellion against God. His hatred for God's people knows no limits, no bounds. The last book of the Bible warns us, "The devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time." (Revelation 12:12) Common sense tells us, then, that the devil will use every means he can to deceive and destroy people.
Now, let us go back to what we talked about earlier--the question of what lies after death. Satan knows that the loss of a loved one is our most painful experience. For six thousand years he has been preparing and perfecting a deception to make use of that experience in order to lead us from God.
He began his plan in the Garden of Eden when he told Eve, "Ye shall not surely die." A statement in direct contradiction to God's that if they disobeyed, death would be the result. In fact, Satan took another step toward the great deception. He said that by listening to him and eating of the forbidden fruit, men and women would become "as gods." They would have a spark of divinity within them.
The idea of an indestructible, undying soul originated with Satan in the Garden of Eden. The next step that the Devil developed is simple: If the dead are not really dead, then maybe we can talk to them. This belief is the whole foundation of spiritism, of seances, and attempted communication with the dead.
In learning the truth about the state of the dead and whether we can communicate with them or not, we must go to the word of God. Only in the Bible can we learn the truth about this matter. We cannot learn it in psychic phenomena, for Satan and his devils could be behind the miracles. The Bible says, "So why are you trying to find out the future by consulting witches and mediums? Don't listen to their whisperings and mutterings. Can the living find out the future from the dead? Why not ask your God?" (Isaiah 8:19, Living Bible) So, we ask our God, and He tells us that when a person dies, "his breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish." (Psalm 146:4) The Creator knows what happens at death. He tells us that at death we no longer think.
But if the dead cannot think, then who. . .or what is it. . .that appears at sances? The answer can be jolting to those who have been at a sance and talked to an appearance that looked like a loved one. But nevertheless the truth must be known. According to the Word of God these spirits or appearances, which claim to be dear ones taken away by death, are not what they claim to be. Theyare not our departed loved ones. They are not the spirits of dead people. The Bible tells us exactly what they are - - impersonators. "For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles." (Revelation 16:14) But why do they do this, when it brings comfort to so many? Because they seek to make us believe in a continuing life in the spirit world. When we believe this, then our faith in Jesus Christ and our sense of need of him will lessen. After all, if we go into a spirit world immediately after death, what need is there for a Savior? What need is there for a resurrection from the dead? None at all. For one of the basic teachings of spiritism is that both the good and the wicked go there.
But Jesus Christ is our only hope for everlasting life. The Bible says, "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout. . .and the dead in Christ shall rise first." (1 Thessalonians 4:16) Friend, our only hope is in the living and soon-coming Christ. Our only safeguard against the last day deceptions of Satan is in following Christ and knowing his Word. In times like these we can't trust our eyes and ears. We must continually go to God's Word. We must continually apply the sure test of truth--"To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." (Isaiah 8:20)
The last days will be fearful if we come to them having followed an error, relying on miracles and false preachers to indicate what we should believe. All the time we could have been learning God's truth in his Word! Doubly fearful will be finding that we have influenced others--likely those closest to us--to walk in the way of error.
Friend, go to the source of truth, the Word of life. You will never regret doing so. Terrible is the fate of those who neglect God's Word. . .or ignore it. The Bible says that they will be "tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness." (Ephesians 4:14) Those who base their belief on miracles--whether sances or miracles of healing or others--will run from one new thing to another. They will ooohhh and aaahhh at each miracle that surpasses previous ones. But their minds will become like putty in the hands of false prophets and false messiahs.
You as a sincere, truth seeking Christian have only one safeguard against deception. Be firmly established in the Word of God and its teachings. Such a firm foundation of truth cannot come all in one day, but it will come through a daily love for truth and a regular study of your Bible. It will come through knowing your Lord, Jesus Christ, better and better every day. As you depend on his power in your life, you can be sure he will lead you into all truth. For he said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life."
With the Psalmist David, you will be able to say, "Thy word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against thee." (Psalm 119:11) There you may have the sure test for truth--God's Word. Use it, friend. It will keep you from deceptions. It will help you live a life of joy and truth. It will help you be a better parent, husband or wife, student or teacher, companion and friend to others. It will lead you to eternal life.
O brother, be faithful! soon Jesus will come,
For whom we have waited so long;
O, soon we shall enter our glorious home,
And join in the conqueror's song.
O brother, be faithful! for why should we prove
Unfaithful to Him who hath shown
Such deep, such unbounded and infinite love--
Who died to redeem us His own.
-Uriah Smith, 1853-