CAN GOD REALLY do ANYTHING?
BY: JAN A. ANTONSSON
MARCH 20, 2011
“Then he touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith be it done to you.” (Mt. 9:29)
For those of us continually panting after God, eager to see Him work as He did in the early church, this is a MOST troubling verse. Why? The charismatic super star teachers like Hagan and Copeland told us that if we didn’t get a healing, or whatever else it was we were praying for, it was because WE didn’t have enough faith. One of our friends in Thousand Oaks was a big Copeland follower, long after the rest of us had moved on. Once, after he had given me the “spiel” about what we have to do to get a miracle, I asked him why he didn’t get the things he was praying for. He shrugged his shoulders and replied sadly, “I guess I don’t have enough faith.” That made me even sadder than he was, because let’s get real here. If ANYTHING God wants to do depends upon me or my faith, the project is doomed before it ever gets off the launching pad. With the best of intentions, gusto and zeal, I don’t have what it takes. Paul said that faith is NOT of our own doing, “it is the GIFT of God, lest any man should boast.” (Eph. 2:8)
Then why did Jesus say, “According to your faith be it done to you”? Consider this: when God gives us the faith to believe for something it becomes our faith. If I give you a gift, it’s yours to do with as you please. You didn’t make it or buy yourself, but now that I’ve given it to you, it’s yours. Likewise, God gives us sufficient faith to believe whatever He has in mind for us to do or be. His faith is a free gift that we didn’t earn or create. With it, Jesus’ words spring to life! “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and never doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ it will be done.” (Matt. 21:21) The difficulties began when many of us took the bit in our teeth and ran with it, without a mandate from the Lord. What we wanted to do was heal and deliver people in dire straits, but our noble intentions were not underwritten by God and so, mostly, we crashed and burned. Some even pulled away from God because He didn’t do what they thought He had promised. This is where the Holy Spirit shines. It is HIS job first of all, to reveal Christ to us and in us, and secondly, to lead us into all truth (I John 2:27).
When I was revisiting the subject of divine miracles, I came across this verse which is key to understanding God’s sovereignty in all things. Paul wrote, “NOT that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our competence is from GOD, who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not in a written code but in the Spirit; for the written code kills, but the Spirit gives life.” (II Cor. 3:5-6) That’s a very explicit statement regarding WHO authorizes and empowers us.
As He was comforting the Disciples about His imminent departure, Jesus told them, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” (John 16:13-15) That is the Holy Spirit’s mission statement. Three different men have written us recently to say they are having trouble understanding what the Bible means, trying to discern truth from orthodox doctrine. That’s no surprise. With over 30,000 denominations out there, each proclaiming themselves the source of Bible truth, how can anyone figure it out?
We weren’t meant to figure it out with our minds. Yes, the promise is that we will have the mind of Christ, but the only way that functions in us is by the Spirit. I love the Bible, have been reading it ever since I learned to read, but until Christ Baptized me in the Spirit, I was struggling over every situation, every doctrinal mandate, and not “feeling the love,” as the popular expression goes.
I used to think that if people who didn’t know the Holy Spirit would witness a miracle, then they would believe in His work in their lives. Though I pursued healing as a witness to someone who didn’t believe, God never honored that wish. He never allowed me to confirm the word to anyone by producing a miracle. My first husband, bless him, was a “fox hole” Christian. He would read his Bible and pray when he was in trouble, but otherwise, he looked at the manifestations of the Spirit’s presence which I held dear as suspicious if not downright sinful. I was convinced that if he could see God in action himself, he would believe, but that never happened, at least while we were together.
The problem is not that God doesn’t care if people believe, but that I was trying to accomplish it on my own steam. If I could have pulled it off, who would get the glory? This matter of getting glory was an unconscious, but serious flaw in my psyche. Maybe it still is, though I know God is perfectly capable of dealing with my flaws. I also know that He alone gets the glory because He alone bears the responsibility for every person’s salvation. He knows what it will take for “every knee to bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (See Isa. 45:23, Rom. 14:11). Paul’s affirmation includes everyone, everywhere: “that at the name of Jesus EVERY knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth and EVERY tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil. 2:10-11)
The knees and tongues Paul speaks of here are in heaven, on earth, and UNDER the earth. What would be under the earth? Possibly Sheol, the place of the dead, or a modern day cemetery. Death is not the end of the story! Notice also, that God alone will get the glory for this miraculous outcome. Not the missionaries like Paul who traveled thousands of miles taking the gospel through the Roman Empire, not the pastors, preachers and priests who have worked tirelessly down through the ages to spread the Good News, and not you and I who do our little bit to advance the cause. Only GOD gets the glory!
My beautiful sister Marilyn is facing a difficult surgery to repair the damage done by a previous knee replacement surgery which failed. She will have a long and painful recovery unless God steps in. I’ve been groaning in my spirit to the Lord about this since the pain in her knee began to increase. Lenny laid hands on her and prayed for her. We both want God to heal her knee without surgery. We believe He “who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist” (Rom. 4:17) can do it. “The LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear.” (Isa. 59:1) This has been my constant prayer/groaning since we learned she would have to have additional surgery. Will God honor our desires? Is it God’s will or ours? We’ll know Monday, the 21st, when the surgery is scheduled.
Matthew relates a stirring account of two blind men who had heard of the miracles Jesus was performing in the area. “And as Jesus passed on from there, two blind men followed him, crying aloud, “Have mercy on us, Son of David.” When he entered the house, the blind men came to him; and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to him, “Yes, Lord.” Then he touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith be it done to you.” And their eyes were opened. And Jesus sternly charged them, “See that no one knows it.” But they went away and spread his fame through all that district.” (Matt. 9:27-31). When Jesus asked them if they believed He could do this miracle, God had already given them the faith to believe, because it was His will for them to be healed. All we can do in the situation we find ourselves in with my sister is to say, “Father, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” We believe you can do anything, Lord; help our unbelief. Amen.