WHEN DOES MIRACLE HAPPEN?
(From a sermon of Bro. Julius Adewumi, Night Vigil, 4/5/96)
I will share this question from a christian brother who has read some of my literatures on the internet, and the answer I gave. I will use this as the basis for my exhortation today and also for a prayer request for the body of Christ. The letter goes as follows:
Dear Bro Julius,
Have been reading some of your pages on the WWW and wish to ask you some questions regarding faith. As a Spirit-filled Pentecostal who has been in fellowship in the same group for 19 years, I have an urge to see some results of my faith, and so have been searching for groups/individuals on the internet who can testify of results to their faith that I can learn from them.
Was recently introduced to the books about Smith Wigglesworth and
wish to become involved with the Lord in an active ministry like this man was - where He is glorified because He is able to perform through belief in the lives of people with needs both saved and unsaved.
In our assembly there are about 1600 or so saints who meet over 3 halls. We are "full gospel" and have been going here in Australia for around 35 years or so. In the last few months we have had 3 tragedys in our midst, with a father of 5 being electrocuted, another woman in her mid forties dying in her sleep (no apparent illness), and just 9 days ago a young lad of 15 killed when the car his sister was driving hit a tree.
This young man was from the closest family I have ever known, baptised, filled with the Holy Spirit, loving the Lord, real good value folk.
Some of us determined that this was not the will of God (going on the pattern in Scripture whereby every young person that Jesus or the apostles prayed for was raised up) and that this was an opportunity for the Lord to manifest His goodness and glory should the boy be raised up. I asked the Lord for a gift of faith so that I could go and pray for him that his spirit might be returned to him and the family be restored and I believed the Lord had given me this as I had a strong burning inside me for days till the opportunity presented itself, which was last friday the day scheduled for his funeral.
I went to the private 'viewing' and while alone in the room with him prayed for him and commanded he wake in Jesus name etc - but
unfortunately nothing happened. I understand that I take full blame for the failure of the prayer. If the prayer works then the Lord gets the glory, but if the prayer fails then I alone wear the shame. That I can cope with, as there will hopefully be something I can learn to do better next time (such as Cains sacrafice was rejected, but The Lord offered opportunity to him to get it right another time) for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.
My questions are; How does one know when one gets a gift of faith?
Did I blow it, or was the burning desire to pray over him just some emotional thing? How can I exercise the kind of faith that I read about in the Scriptures, and that used to happen in our group?
Any suggestions or recommendations gratefully received.
When the brother mentioned tragedies, the world has been like that recently. The end of the world is near. Both economic crisis and those evil things are earmarked for the world. From the brother's words, I gathered that he was saying things were not like that before: they had testimonies of faith and miracles before. So they are "full gospel".
When I receive a letter like this asking a question which I myself could have asked the Lord sometime, I always refer it to the Lord. Every theologian would have had opportunity to wrestle with such question until some of them concluded and said "the days of miracles are gone". Maybe those theologians have never seen one miracle in their congregation. After they are confronted with unstoppable tragedies like that, they would say "I told you the days of miracles are past". That's where they deduce their conclusion from. I have seen miracles! This brother testified that miracles have happened before in their midst. The question came during the time when I also have prayers which have not yet been answered, therefore, I look to the Lord and say, "Now Lord, you answer this guy. What do I tell him?" I started typing my reply on the computer and the Lord gave me these two points which I made in my response:
I'm glad that you ask these questions. We all question the Lord each time we pray for a thing and it does not happen.
We then have to refer back to the answer the Lord gave to the apostles concerning the same. "Why couldn't we cast the devil out?" That was the question the apostles asked.
Remember the apostles had been sent out to heal the sick and to cast out devils. They had done it before. But they came to this one when the Lord Jesus was not with them and the devil refused to leave. They were dumbfounded! Maybe they were even struggling among themselves who should be in-charge. Afterwards they asked Christ, "why couldn't we cast him out?"
But Jesus answered and said, "because of your unbelief.... However, this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting." (Mat.17:20-21).
God gives special gifts for miraculous performance to reveal that it is indeed the Lord's will for man to be well and to live.
It's not a matter of "is it the Lord's will or not the Lord's will?" He gave those special gifts to reveal his will.
But because mankind is far from the ideal state (the stature of Christ) God has to bypass the norm to give special gifts to some, from whom he demands that they fast "long fasts" to contain the power. The special gifts are to be used to demonstrate his will.
Secondly, there is what is called "times of refreshing" when God also condescending, comes down to pour out much anointing upon the church, during which miracles and prayers are easily received without much effort from the believers. (Acts 3:19). Outside of that refreshing time, the anointing is scarce or withdrawn, therefore, believers had tougher time to get things done. It becomes then that the highly placed spiritually among us, who have acquired some level of anointing from the Lord, will get things done by their prayers more than the rest of the crowd, in performing miracles or wonders.
In summary, the Lord's will is in his word. But since we are
dealing with rebel -satanic spirits, when we pray against some evils, we must realize that there is a wrestling match going on against us.
We must strive to put on the whole armor of God (Ephe.6:11-15).
We must attempt the long fasts seeking from the Lord the power that will place us above the adversary. You are not alone in the struggle, and God desires that the saints aspire to attain to that fulness of the stature of Christ. He is ready to help us, but He will not spoon-feed us.
You may notice that when we are freshly born-again, we almost get everything we ask in prayer often times. But after a while, the prayers seems to take longer times before it is answered. It is not just because we become "stale". It is like a new-born babe need not do much before food is served, and diaper is changed, and carried by the parent all the time. However that pampering will not be for ever!
After a while, the Lord stops pampering us. We are to understand our right and get it from the adversary who usurped it from mankind.
To get it we must be ready to fight for it, with the Lord on our side.
He said "resist the devil, and he shall flee from thee." Sometimes we must resist stedfastly in the faith. Atimes it's like a tug of war.
But we must remind the devil that our Lord Jesus Christ has already gotten the victory. That weakens the adversary.
May the Lord reveal more into your heart.
I want to use this reply to give an exhortation here. In Isaiah chapter 6:8 we read the testimony of prophet Isaiah. He saw the Lord on the throne, after which he said "woe is me for I am a man of unclean lips and dwell in the midst of men of unclean lips, for my eyes have seen the Lord of glory". He said an angel touched his mouth with a coal of fire and told him his sins are purged. Then in verse eight he heard the Lord said "Whom shall I said, and who will go for us? then said I, here am I, send me."
God brought Isaiah to that place, cleanse him up and still said "whom shall I send?" God is looking for people to send. Like the answer I gave above, times of refreshing is one thing, but God sometimes call some people aside to give them gifts for his own purpose. He calls them aside and compel them to fast long fasts. They also are examples that perhaps if we do the same thing we probably will get similar power from the Lord. Even those who do not want to come willingly to his service, if he has chosen them for the work, he compels them to fast. It's for God's own purpose to demonstrate his power. What is the demonstration for? To prove to mankind that God wills for us to live! God wills for us to be healthy and to be well. All God is looking for then is "whom will I send?" Individual has to now say "I want you to send me Lord!" But you have to remember, He is looking for people he can pull aside, purge, compel them to fast in order for them to contain the power. You may say it is to simply believe what he said. Yes, but there is a lot of force against us that wants us to doubt what he said. They come against our mind and affect us through what we see and hear. Fasting is therefore a tool to help our body to be purged and to suppress those forces.
Let's look at some examples of miracles and really differentiate the acts. When God performs miracles, I want to point out that some of the miracles are done by God himself without the faith of the minister involved at all. It will be God himself initiating the miracle. He basically needs a person to "bring him there", so to speak. He could have gone there himself and cause the miracle to happen, but sometimes God needs somebody to use. Like Isaiah said "here am I, send me." God could have thundered from heaven by himself to speak to the hebrews. But he needs a man to go and to talk with the voice of men, or to lay hands with the hand of men. I will list three examples of miracles which happened in my ministry while preaching about in Nigeria, and I will try to differentiate between them. The first One: God initiated it, and did the miracle himself. He simply led me to bring him there. The Second: I was invited by men to come help them and I simply took authority upon the situation as a servant of the Almighty God. The Third One: I was involved in the situation and had to wrestle with the enemy for long before the victory was won.
It was either 1978 or '79, I was coming from Ibadan to my workplace in Lanlate one Sunday morning about 8 or 9.00 am. I had visited and fellowshipped with the Ibadan brethren on Saturday night, slept over and rose up early to go back to my station. I want to point to this testimony to show that this miracle was not the faith of the minister, neither that the minister had the power to do such miracle. It's simply that God wanted to do something and saw one of his servants passing by whom he could use. There was a village on the road where I had preached before. I had been there only once. There were not many people in the village on my previous visit. As I was about to reach the junction to the village, the Lord told me to branch off the road to the village to preach. it was not customary for me to preach whenever I was returning on a Sunday morning. I was driving my mini-truck. I told the Lord that I have already preached in that village before. The Lord said "go there again!' So I branched into the village. Most of such villagers would have gone to a church in the big city at that time on Sunday morning, was my thought. However when I arrived and started preaching with the speaker/microphone, I was surprised to see a lot of people came out of their houses and gathered around me to hear the gospel. I preached and began to pray for them. There was one woman in their midst who had fresh sores of "leprosy" all over her lips, eyelids, fingers, toes. She was restless as she stood there while I preached. I began praying for everybody for salvation and for healing. I came to the woman and as I touched her forehead, the Holy Ghost spoke in tongues through my mouth and the devil troubling her jumped off from her and I felt it. I prayed for her and moved on. She was healed totally. I went past the village a week later and saw the woman. All the fresh sores were dried up and healed. Now this is a case in which I said it was not my faith at all. God wanted to deliver this woman, and he led me to the village. That was a miracle which I classify as God-instigated. I cannot claim any credit for that. The Holy Ghost spoke and rebuked the devil for the woman through my lips. I cannot claim any credit for it. I believe it was for the woman's sake that I was led to that village. Miracles like that happens but it was just God doing his work.
"O, that men will praise the Lord for his goodness and for his wonderful works to the children of men". (Psa. 107:15 ).
What I'm pointing out here is that the above miracle was God-initiated -- being led of the Spirit.
The second testimony is a little bit different. I'm differentiating between "God does something", and "we believers try to do something". When we see a situation, and we try to arrest it, praying "O God, let this thing not happen", it will be like a tug-of-war against us in such cases. If we are personally involved in the situation, we most likely will hang in there and wrestle with the situation till we have the victory. In such cases, our faith is involved. That is where our faith comes in: How long can we hold on to the fence? Whereas, if we are passing by and the Spirit of the Lord instructs us to turn aside to a place an intervene in a situation, it is the Lord himself who wants to perform an action. It is God that actually does that, and so it occurs always instantly.
I went to a village in 1979 or '78 to preach one evening. As I was preaching Jesus and his power to save, to heal and to deliver, a crowd gathered. While talking to the crowd, one man tapped me on the shoulder and invited me to "please come and help us after you are done preaching." I said okay. At the end of the preaching, while I was still answering someone's question, the man called me up and said "please hurry!" So I followed the man to a house where he took me to a room. Now this case is what we will call "authority of the believer in Christ." I came into the town, the people had problem in trying to cure a man. They saw a preacher came to town who was boasting about Jesus can heal and deliver, they had some faith in what the preacher was saying, so they said to themselves "let's call this man to help us." Inside the room, a man was layed down on a mat with one of his thighs swollen, almost twice as large as the other thigh. As I began to pray for the man that the swollen thigh should subside, a voice came to me from the opposite room where some folks were gathered. It was a female voice, and she opposed the prayer I just prayed by saying "No,that thigh has got to be cut!" I heard the voice in the spirit, just as clear as if it was audible to everyone. I repeated my prayer and decree that "I AM SAYING, IN THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, THIS THIGH MUST SUBSIDE AND BE HEALED!" Physically now, a woman from the opposite room jump out and yelled "AMEN!" The Lord must have smitten her in the spirit for resisting my authority. So I left the house. The man was healed and delivered. I believe the woman was behind the evil which was happening to the man, as I was shown in a vision later. This is a little different from the first testimony. It is called authority of the believer to arrest devils in the spirit world. Let's call this "soul-level" intervention. God might have led me to that village, but it was indirect leading since the men called me to come and help them. If they had not called, I would have preached and gone out of the village not aware of a sick man in a room. The faith of those men helped their friend. I was speaking to the mountain and some satanic spirits were replying that it won't be so, and I insisted that "I am a son of God, it must be as I said". That was the summary of the drama on that day. That was based upon our stand on the word of God : if you shall say unto this mountain, be thou removed , and shall not doubt, but shall believe that you have received what you say, ye shall have whatsoever thou saith.
The third example of miracle, is when we are personally involved, like when we are praying for ourselves or for our family members, or for someone close to us. That demands our own faith, because we are wrestling with the devil. If the devil does not give up, we need help from the Lord. In this testimony, I visited a christian family in their house. The son of this family, who was then about 2 year-old, was sick. (The boy is by now grown up and gone to college). The father told me they were just coming from the doctor's office when I arrived. I was entertained with food on the dinner table, while the father was carrying the child in his arms. While I was eating, the brother called on me "Bro Julius come quick!" He was arresting the child's mouth who was convulsing, about to give up the ghost. We held the boy, praying, rebuking the devil. Myself, the father and the mother of the child were the only adults in the house. We were praying and speaking in tongues, while the father held the boy's mouth. This was in the city of Abeokuta., Ogun State Nigeria. We held on, just praying over the boy. It looked like he was going to give up but we hung in there calling upon the Lord. It might have seemed to last for about 10 minutes or so, In this case, I was involved in the situation. I was right there when it happened; it seemed like a tug of war. In such case, your faith has to work. I could remember saying "O Lord!" I cried up "J e s u s !" That was a tug of war between saints and the devil. It now depends upon "will you give up easily?" In this testimony, while we were praying, the mother of the child, the lady of the house, was also there praying along. But after we prayed for a while and the child has not recovered yet, the woman started crying. Now that was "giving up!" She bursted into tears and we had to say "Sister, stop it!" i.e Don't give up yet. When I looked up and cried "J-EEE-S-UU-S!", I felt the hand of the Lord upon my shoulder, and the child recovered. (Till I left that house, I noticed that child could not take his eyes off me. He must have seen something in the spirit which we did not see.) Now that is the type of faith we are commanded to have in the bible. The faith that knocks and keep on knocking. When it is like a tug of war, it is ourselves against the enemy.
The first case, the leprous woman could have been praying and crying to God, and God wanted to deliver her, but God needed one of his servants to go down there to bring God there. God saw there is a pastor passing by, and the Lord commanded him to branch there. It was God's doing. The other example, I used the authority of the believer, while in the third example, it was the saints against the devil: this kind requires the faith of the saints at work. This is the reason why we need to build up our faith so that we can last longer than the adversary. It's like in a boxing ring: The champion is knocked down and the count is began. 1,2,3,4 ---, the boxer rises up and keep on fighting. If he finally wins, he has lasted longer than the opponent. That is what we need. We should not give up easily in any situation. The exhortation the Lord gave that we should knock and keep knocking is required when we are in such situation. Those situations where the devil has come against the household of faith usually demands that we hold on tough against the enemy in our prayers and intercessions. When we are ministering to the world, God will often show his instant power to dumbfound the world, so that sinners may come to the fold where there is peace. However, in the flock, the believers are to be trained and equiped with faith and knowledge necessary to subdue the earth, which will often be challenged and tested when the enemy found avenues to attack..
It is easier for a minister on the pulpit to simply pray for folks on a prayer-line, no matter what their diseases are, than if the minister himself is emotionally involved in the affliction. All the minister had to do is lay hands and pray and let the Spirit decide who gets the miracle instantly or later. It's easy for anyone to do that. But it's a different story if he is emotionally involved. When you see evangelists in crusades inviting the sick to line up and be prayed for, it is easy on the minister. It doesn't demand much from his faith. It now depends on whether the patient believes, or whether God will do it. But if the minister himself has the problem or one of his family members, his faith has to hang in tough to get the victory because, then, the enemy has come against the flock.
The three miracles I have highlighted point to the fact that we (as ministers) can either be working "in the Spirit", "in the soulish realm" or "in the body". When emotionally involved in the case we are in the body. We are restrained by all the feelings in the body. The soulish realm is a little bit higher when we take the word of God and use it to arrest the situation. But, to be totally in the spirit, the Lord moves and leads the man of God to do exploits.
Overall, God is looking for whom he will send out to deliver his power and his grace to the inhabitants of the world. Like Isaiah said, "Here am I, send me." God is looking for people to send. When we are build up in faith and power we will be able to help our people, and to help the body of Christ. We must be ready to make the sacrifice: because there is a sacrifice involved when we say "here am I, send me." One sacrifice is the hint given by Christ: "this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting." You must be ready to go through such sacrifice in order for him to put the power in you, to contain the power. The Lord Jesus gave us the example, because he did not need to fast 40 days to get power. But he said "For their sakes I sanctified myself, that they also may be sanctified through the truth." (Jn.17: 19 )
I pray that we believers everywhere will give ourselves to the Lord to be committed and to sanctify ourselves so that the Lord can endue us with the power we need to do exploits in his name, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Gospel Distribution Ministry, USA