This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series: Do miracles happen today? (Chester)
A third section of Tim Chester’s Do Miracles Happen Today? that I would like to consider is the part of chapter 4 where he outlines the circumstances in which miracles are more likely to happen today.
1. On the frontline of mission. John Stott writes: ‘Especially on the frontiers of mission, where a power-encounter may be needed to demonstrate the lordship of Christ, miracles have been and are being reported.’
As Chester says: ‘There are a number of things that make people more inclined to pay attention to the Christian message: the lives of Christians (Titus 2 v 9-10); our response to persecution (1 Peter 2 v 11-12); the community life of the church (John 13 v 35; 1 Peter 3 v 8-15); the worship of the gathered congregation (1 Corinthians 14 v 23-25). But these things are largely absent where a church has not yet been formed. In such contexts, it may be that miracles are more common.’
2. Where the Bible is absent. In Bible times miracles pointed forward to, and attested to, the truth of the Scriptures. But where there is no Bible in a local language, it is possible that miracles have a greater role to play.
3. When the occult is strong. In Western society, materialism is the great satanic lie to be overcome, and it is to be overcome principally by generous doses of Truth. But where people are involved in demonic activities, we can expect a different kind of confrontation – one in which people are miraculously released from Satan’s grip. But even then the word of the gospel has a vital part to play (see Acts 19:11-20).
4. When believers are immature. Just as a parent will intervene for a small child in ways that wouldn’t be appropriate for grown-up offspring, so it is reasonable to suppose that God may give special, miraculous help to an infant in the faith. Thus he keeps a young Christian from spiritual danger, while looking for that person to grow and mature in the faith, and learn to trust him even in adversity.
But, in all of this, we must not forget the sheer compassion of Christ. We read of an occasion when Jesus avoids crowds, and therefore the opportunity to heal people. A man comes to him and says, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” The man did not doubt Jesus’ ability, but rather his willingness. Jesus wished to focus on preaching, and not on performing miracles. Nevertheless, ‘moved with pity,’ he stretched out his hand and healed the man. (Mk 1:38-41).