Does the Holy Spirit Work Miraculously Today?

Here’s a refreshing way to answer that question:

I don’t know.

I have my suspicions, and my suspicions are that He does … just as He did. I don’t believe – as I have already posted several times – that there is a time, date, or event prophesied or spoken of as having passed in scripture which indicates that the work of the Holy Spirit among people is over, or that it has been limited only to the written word.

I also do not believe that scripture makes a distinction between what we would call miraculous gifts and less-than-miraculous gifts. Both kinds, to our reckoning, disappear when “that which is perfect is come”: knowledge as well as prophecies and tongues (1 Corinthians 13).

Plus, while some may perceive anything unusual or anything accomplished through the Spirit as miraculous, others like me will more narrowly define miraculous as “visible, audible, tangible manifestations of supernatural power” (per my previous post Does the Holy Spirit Only Work Miraculously? ).

So if you disagree with my perception of those items, you are not likely to agree with my suspicions about the Spirit’s work today.

Confession: I have never witnessed anything that I would describe as a miracle. Ever.

But as Jay Guin observed in a recent post on this subject, “… absence of proof isn’t proof of absence.” (I’ve never seen anyone who collects kewpie dolls, but that doesn’t prove that none of them exists.)

I’ve had unusual experiences, and I can’t explain them, and I have benefited from them – and have seen others benefit from them. I know Whom I feel compelled to credit them to. But I have no proof.

And that’s fine.

As always, what I believe is rooted in scripture:

I will remember the deeds of the LORD;
yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
I will consider all your works
and meditate on all your mighty deeds.
Your ways, God, are holy.
What god is as great as our God?
You are the God who performs miracles;
you display your power among the peoples. ~ Psalm 77:11-14

This psalmist was apparently Asaph, and he remembered “miracles of long ago.”

He was a musician; a contemporary of David, and very few miraculous events were recorded in that era. A sound in the tops of poplar trees cued David to victory over the Philistines (2 Samuel 5). Uzzah was struck dead for touching the ark of the covenant (2 Samuel 6). That’s about it.

Yet Asaph still praised the Lord as “the God who performs (present tense) miracles.”

Do we seem to be living in a similar era when the tap of miracles-poured-out has run dry? Are we in a drought of divine intervention?

I think that it’s worth noting that there were spans of biblical history – usually about four hundred years at a time – when God did not speak to His people – likely because they had not been speaking to Him. Then He would show His providence and glory in memorable ways. Like deliverance from Egypt by Moses. Or deliverance from sin by Jesus.

It isn’t like He owes us any more miracles.

But it also isn’t like God doesn’t love us enough to confirm His word or manifest His compassion through miracles today.

I hope to share some further thoughts on this as I have opportunity to organize them, but for right now I just want to share this one:

Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”  Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” ~ John 20:24-29

You may have heard a sermon that took the notion that Jesus was scolding Thomas for doubting what the other apostles told him they had seen and heard. Maybe you heard it developed to the point that people who have not seen yet have believed are somehow more blessed than actual witnesses.

Let me propose an equal possibility, because the text doesn’t say either of those things.

Thomas was blessed to see, hear and touch the evidence of Jesus’ resurrection in His very own body. Maybe Jesus was trying to impress on Thomas how very blessed he was to have been a witness, and what a responsibility that was to bless others with his testimony. Maybe Jesus said those words to Thomas how important it was to be more persuasive than his fellow apostles had been with him.

You see, I’m afraid the two other teachings can be knotted up in an arrogance that teaches the Spirit as active only in the written word today, and that those of us who believe without confirmation beyond reading or hearing it are somehow better, more righteous, more blessed than those who see and hear and touch.

Really?

Don’t you think there will be millions of us come-latelies in heaven who would queue up for eternity between velvet-chained stanchions just to have the opportunity Thomas had?

I’d be one of them.

We are not more blessed – or less blessed – than those who saw Jesus, witnessed the miracles He did or that the apostles did or that others did by virtue of the living Holy Spirit’s gifts within them. All who believe and obey are blessed with resurrection and eternity with God.

Let me just ask this … and understand that I am shamefacedly asking myself this question, too:

Do we bless others by vigorously persuading them about the gospel of Jesus Christ; by witnessing what we have seen, heard and touched … lives irrevocably changed by the power of His grace; souls with the deposit of the Holy Spirit marking and sealing their resurrection to come? Do we remember and proclaim the miracles of the past and still praise the Lord as “the God who does miracles”?

If we don’t, then why should we expect to witness the glory Thomas witnessed?

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17 thoughts on “Does the Holy Spirit Work Miraculously Today?

  1. Jhn 14:12 ¶ Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater [works] than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.
    Jhn 14:13 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
    Jhn 14:14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do [it].

    Jhn 15:16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and [that] your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.

    Jhn 15:7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
    Jhn 16:23 And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give [it] you.
    Jhn 16:24 Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.

    Keith, I hope you never have to explain your belief (that Jesus was speaking to all Christians when he said these things) to a child or grandchild of yours (as I have), after they have just lost their first child.
    I hope you never have to hear the words “Grandpa, you know I believe in Jesus, and I prayed hard in his name, what happened, why did he not save my child”? My granddaughter don’t attend church anymore, because she thinks Jesus lied to her, do you see why I fight this ludicrous idea that the holy ghost indwells all Christians. That Jesus was talking to anyone except the apostles before him.
    Believe you me I have asked in Jesus’ name that her faith be returned, it hasn’t yet. as you said I haven’t seen anything I would call a miracle yet either, but I am waiting. People don’t realize the damage they do to others when they teach these false doctrines to those who are easily convinced. We need to stop teaching things we cannot prove, either by God’s word, or eyewitness testimony.

    • I have no easy, brave, crystalline answer to what you have experienced, brother. When my dad died suddenly while my mom was out to get milk he wanted to soothe what he thought was indigestion. On returning home to find hime lifeless, she called EMTs, who came quickly and resuscitated him. But it was too late; brain cells had gone too long without oxygen. While he lingered in a coma for weeks – a couple of weeks even after life support was removed – my whole family prayed with every ounce of faith in us that God would restore Dad to us whole and sound. It did not happen that way. He developed pneumonia and slipped away from us. He was 63 years old.

      Still, I can’t see what Jesus said to His closest friends as a guarantee, or even a principle that was only for them. He would pray in a garden a few hours later, and we all know what God’s answer was. Each of the eleven, according to tradition and history, would suffer martyrdom in His name.

      I’m pecking this out on my phone before the memorial service of a brother in Christ from Ghana who passed away Dec. 29. He was 35, married, the father of three great little boys. I’ll play a music and picture video made by a widow’s friend to honor him. Family members have flown in to be present. We’ll meet them, weep with them, pray with and for them.

      Then I’ll go home, thankful to God for every moment He has given me on this earth with wonderful friends and family.

      And I will still believe that Jesus meant everything He said.

      • Keith,

        If your Dad was a faithful Christian. Who show love for the God’s word and belive and live what is written according to the 1st. steps of the Gospel. God knows our day to depart from this world ” This world is not our Home” We are distracted by things that are not priorities in this life but God wants our attention to his will. Jesus said in John 11:25 “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. Every Christian should take the example of Paul 2 Cor. 12:9 ” And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” always God is in control and everythig has a porpuse. We don’t know was that ” Thorn” but was something that make sick paul and I was not meant to him to be untouchable for a disease.

  2. “And I will still believe that Jesus meant everything He said.”

    Keith I too believe Jesus meant every word he said, and I believe he remained faithful, to those whom he said it. Jesus did not lie, Jesus was not wrong in what he said, so that leaves me with only one conclusion, Brother Brenton is wrong/mistaken in what he believes. (that all Christians were being addressed by Jesus)

  3. Keith, for the life of me, I don’t see how anyone can place so much trust, and faith in this.
    Act 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

    And so little in this.
    Jhn 14:14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do [it].

    • Laymond, if I were to believe Jesus spoke only to the eleven in John 14-17, I would have to believe that “I go to prepare a place for you,” “Greater love has no man than this,” “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit,” and “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, a Father, just as you are in me and I am in you” — all of those are meant only for their ears and the benefit of those who would hear them directly.

      I can’t believe in a world that dis-Spirited and bleak. If hope was real then, it is real now. If faith was real then, it is real now. If His love was real then, it is real now. And if His promises were real then, they are just as real now.

      • Keith, why do you believe Jesus thought it necessary to say, “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message,”
        Just who is “them” and “their” if not the apostles? are you saying you believe in Jesus in any other way than through the written message of the apostles. aren’t you one of “those who will believe in me through their message,”
        I am.

      • Laymond, John also writes: “This is the confidence a we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us – whatever we ask – we know a that we have what we asked of him.” 1 John 5:14-15, my emphasis.

        God isn’t going to grant a request made in prayer against His will; that wouldn’t make sense. All the more reason to ask for His Spirit so that we may understand His will more fully.

        Jesus said His prayer was not for them (the eleven) alone; He said nothing about the whole discourse (John 14-17) being for them alone. If He did, then John betrayed a confidence in writing it down.

        If He didn’t, then why did He want John to record it and inspire him to do so through His Spirit?

        So we could read it snd say, “Wow, He sure loved and gifted those guys. Wish some of that power was available to us, but I guess the love doesn’t go that far”?

  4. I have personally witnessed the power of the Holy Spirit(God), along with the person I was with. It is the most awesome experience that I have ever had in my entire life. I was left encouraged and in awe for two days afterwards, then I had so many more questions. Churches of Christ that I had attended over my lifetime, had never prepared me for this. This experience and others sent me on a quest of studying, regarding the Spirit. I believe that our God is powerful. With God, all things are possible! Have faith…believe with all your heart….trust in Him regarding all things….pray often….be a willing servant and humble yourself before him….listen…..and then the Spirit can begin to move in your life.

    • Tobbie, if I were to have that experience, I would not hide it under a bushel, I would share it with others so they might believe. why not let others share in your awesome experience? tell us what happened.

  5. I think one could make a very good argument that the greatest miracle that ever could be witnessed as a testimony of the power of God is his people. Changed lives, extreme love, overflowing graciousness towards one another and others are the signs of God’s power in and on us.

    In missions, there’s a lot of talk about “power encounters” — that a people group being initially exposed to Christ must encounter the power of God through the miraculous. And I believe this happens often. But I also believe that once lives in that community have been given to Christ, THAT will be the encounter the non-Christians need. To see that a guy in the next village over — who used to be a drunk, always beating his wife — has experienced a tremendous change in his life IS a miracle. and it is the kind of encounter seekers need in their lives.

    But all of that said, I’ve also witnessed miracles other than lives changed by the Holy Spirit.

      • laymond, i’ve witnessed several events i would call miraculous, ranging from an exorcism (we don’t know what else to call it) of a demon or evil spirit… to the rain stopping suddenly when a group prayed for such… to feathers falling from the sky during a time of worship and song.

        and to be honest, all of those things don’t necessarily fit “my theology.” but i experienced them and can’t argue that they didn’t occur. the only argument i could make against them would be that they were the work of the devil, and not of God. but i don’t believe that.

  6. Exd 3:6 Moreover he said, I [am] the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.
    Exd 33:18 And he said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory.
    Exd 33:20 And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.
    Exd 33:21 And the LORD said, Behold, [there is] a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock:
    Exd 33:22 And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by:
    Exd 33:23 And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen.
    Exd 34:35 And the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face shone: and Moses put the vail upon his face again, until he went in to speak with him.

    It seems Moses’ face glowed just being in the presents of God, and now some say God lives within the body of man, with out any physical sign, I guess some think God has changed.

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