Prophecies, Visions, Angels, and Miracles
An introduction to a discussion of the Supernatural in the Church
by Terry L. Craig
copyright © 2008 & 2012
When we are confronted with a claim of supernatural manifestations as "proof" that a message is from the Lord, should we ask questions? Yes.
Does it show a lack of faith to try to determine whether or not the message is from God? I don't believe God is ever angered by a sincere desire for truth. But many Christians might be surprised at what it is that we should be questioning and how we should go about it.
Everyone should stop at times to consider what they (as individuals, and as groups) find important, what they are doing, and why they're doing it. Each of us needs to ask ourselves what drives our decision-making, what motivates us, and who is in charge.
Most Christians have had at least one experience that they would describe both as supernatural and from God.
More than ever, I believe the Lord wants to bring clarity to people about dreams, visions, "words from the Lord," angels, and other supernatural phenomenon. As in every age of human history, people today will travel from near and far to hear a message that is delivered with supernatural signs. In some cases, just the claim of a supernatural source (such as an angelic visitation or a vision) is enough to convince people that the person with the claim is a messenger sent by God. Given the voracious hunger for supernatural experiences in the world at large and even among many in the Church, it would be WISE for Christians to gird themselves with the Lord's means of discernment.
Here is a general overview of opinions regarding the supernatural:
Some Christians believe that anything supernatural -- be it a manifestation of tongues, a prophecy, an angel sighting, or anything else that's outside physical parameters -- is satanic. How those who claim to believe in the Almighty God came to the conclusion that He does nothing while Satan does whatever he wants unhindered . . . well, this line of thinking is a mystery to me.
Other Christians claim nothing whatsoever that is supernatural happens in this age, that all phenomena have natural, explainable answers even if we can't find those answers right now. Come to think of it, this is almost an agreement with atheism!
But most Christians, regardless of denominational affiliation (or pastoral permission), have had at least one experience they would describe both as supernatural and from God. Some may have had a dream about the future or a solution to a problem. Others may have visions about a ministry or course of action. Some have felt their hearts burn within them as they read a particular passage of Scripture and known the Lord was speaking to them in the midst of their circumstance, giving them comfort or guidance. I've known several people who were actually healed by the Lord when they were near death (and I mean "get up and walk" or "the inoperable tumor is gone" kind of healed, not healed through medicine or man's wisdom).
Even if one wants to ignore some of the unexplainable things happening in the world today, there are scriptural accounts of miracles, signs and wonders, and angelic visitations in the past. There are also accounts in the Bible of satanic/demonic activity. People tend to either deny or wrongly glorify these manifestations, but the Bible says they happened in the past and that they would continue to happen.
How does one judge and sort all this out?
Today, many missionaries, evangelists, and pastors believe they are "called" or "led" by the Lord to do what they do. Isn't that, in and of itself, at least somewhat supernatural? I remember my Grandma Ruby (an evangelist to the bone) telling me about a vision of Heaven that opened her heart to the Lord and caused her to seek Him as the author and redeemer of her life. While she rejected the notion of the gifts of the Spirit being in operation in modern times, she fully believed the Lord gave her the vision she saw of Heaven. Was she accepting one "supernatural" thing and rejecting another simply because she'd experienced one and not the other? Should "experience" be the deciding factor in determining whether something is true or from God?
How does one judge and sort all this out? What place should a vision, a message from an angel, or a "word of the Lord" from someone claiming to be a modern-day prophet have in our day-to-day walk and in our plans for the future? Does the Lord still impart spiritual gifts and speak to people? Do miracles still happen? Those are good questions. Let's ponder them together.
This has been the introduction to a series of articles on Claims of Prophecies, Dreams, Visions, and Angelic Visitation. The statements given here (and the series that follows) are not intended to be the "last word" on the subject, but they ARE intended to provoke some genuine thought, prayer, and conversation in people on all sides of the issue of the supernatural in this day and age.
copyright ©2008 & 2012 Terry L. Craig
There are ten articles in this series on The Supernatural in the Church:
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