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Greatest Miracles -2 pages

The Greatest Miracles

August 1998 Ministry Brief - by Charles W. (Chuck) Areson Having just finished ten days of ministry with a group of over 60 young people, ages 12 to 18, in southern Lithuania and having seen the Lord work there, I have begun to ponder about a question. That question is "What exactly are the greatest miracles God has ever worked in or for any individual?" I have been around the Charismatic movement since the early 1970's, and I have seen many things. Some have been genuine works of the Spirit of God, some have been the imagination of man, and some have been the moving of "another spirit". But let me digress for a moment. It was around the early 1970's that a deacon at our local Baptist church where we were attending invited me and my wife to attend a fellowship dinner of a group called "Full Gospel Businessmen's Fellowship International". This group was meeting in a local motel, and my wife and I would be his guests for the dinner and fellowship that followed. Having made it a practice never to turn down a free meal, and being somewhat curious, I agreed to go. When we arrived I noticed something different about this group of Christians. Almost all of them seemed to be happy and friendly. Men who were total strangers would come up to me, look me in the eye with a big smile, and while hugging my neck they would say, "Love you Brother, glad to have you with us tonight." Then they would introduce themselves. Now at that time I was not used to such greetings, especially from total strangers. But the odd thing was that I could sense within myself that they really meant what they said. Well, as Kenneth Hagin says, "If you play around on a slippery creek bank long enough, sooner or later you'll fall in." And I did. I had my own family business and my wife and I were youth leaders at the local Baptist Church. I drove the church bus and my wife, Sandy, was a 2nd grade Sunday School teacher. We were active in many of the church activities and this new group of Charismatic Christians from all denominations along with Catholic and Orthodox Christians was something new. What they had was real, and I was interested. We began inviting many of our friends and neighbors, young and old alike, to attend meetings with us. Finally the group of Charismatics in the Baptist Church were "invited", against the recommendation of the District Superintendent, to "leave" the church. We decided that it would be better to leave than to stay where we were not wanted by a few because we knew that our staying would just cause further problems. Over the next years we have witnessed the growth of the Charismatic movement worldwide. We have been in many meetings where the power of God moved and people were healed and delivered, and many lives were totally and permanently transformed. We have sat in what were called "Miracle Services" and seen the power of God move in ways that I had trouble believing. Upon further study, I have found many to be true works of God. Some, it seemed, were just human emotional reactions to what people were seeing and experiencing. Others, sadly to say, were manifestations of "another spirit" not of God. This type of manifestation fortunately has been extremely rare. But they do happen, and sadly to say, most times are not recognized for what they really are by most of the people around. There are many genuine miracles and works of God which still happen today, just as they did in the days of Jesus and the Disciples. It's these "works of God" that I want to look at for a moment. Jesus first recorded miracle was the turning the water into wine as recorded in John 2:1-11. In the King James Version, verse 11, it states, "This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him." Later he fed the 5,000 men (plus women and children) and the 3,000. These miracles meet an immediate need that could be met in no other way, but the next day the people were hungry again. Jesus healed many, all who came to him asking, and delivered many from demonic oppression and possession. Yet disease was not wiped out, and all sooner or later died, for one reason or another. So these miracles, although important and needed to meet immediate needs, still were just "temporary" in nature. These miracles still happen today. God still heals and delivers. God still provides and protects through supernatural means when necessary. But no mater how great a miracle of provision or protection I may have today, I still will have needs and dangers to face tomorrow and after. God's provision and protection can be life-long, that is sure, but there still is an end, that is at our death. No matter how great His provision has been here on this earth, I cannot take the "things" He provided with me when I die. And no matter how well God heals and may give Divine health, sooner or later the body dies. That's just the way it is. No matter how well God protects and delivers us from the powers of Satan, sooner or later we die. Now for the believing Christian, death is victory and not defeat, but it still is physical death. If the Lord's return is not soon, all of us alive today will face it. So let's look at the "other miracles" of Christ. There are two that I want to focus on specifically. The first is the "miracle of Salvation" or "the new birth" where in the moment that one truly "believes" on the Lord Jesus Christ, he is transformed from "death unto life" and from the "Kingdom of Darkness" into the "Kingdom of Light". Now there is tremendous disagreement among some Christian groups as to exactly what it means to "believe" and when this "transformation" actually occurs. I will not try to

Greatest Miracles -2 pages

address that subject here, only stating that it DOES happen. This is where believers become "newborn babies, desiring the sincere milk of the Word." 1 Peter 2:2. As Christians, we are not supposed to stay "spiritual babies" all our lives, although many do. Many churches are filled with "baby Christians" who never hunger and thirst after all of God's Word. They never strive to demonstrate the love of God to the brethren or to the lost around them. They never desire to walk a holy, separated life unto God. They just say, "Feed me!" and "Clean me up. I'm dirty and wet!" Many of these "babies" today run around looking for signs, wonders, and miracles. Others just state "There's nothing to those "miracles" or they would be happening in our group or to me!" I believe the Lord is very unhappy with those of us who are like either of these. GOD IS A GOD OF MIRACLES! He has always been and He always will be. But I believe the first of the really "great miracles" is the "Miracle of Salvation." Without it we are lost and on our way to Hell. No matter how "good we live" or how many "religious things" we do, we are lost without that lifechanging miracle. The greatest miracle for a "born again" Christian who is truly saved is the miracle of the continuous infilling of the Holy Sprit (see Ephesians 5:17-21). When the Spirit comes into each of us according to John 15:26, he "bears witness" or "testifies" to us of Jesus. "But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me". When we are truly "filled" with His presence by the Spirit our lives will be continuously be transformed. We will first of all be filled with His love. We will have a hunger for His Word and for intimate time together with Him. We will desire to praise and worship Him in spirit and in truth. We will develop a hatred for sin, especially in OUR OWN LIVES. Our focus will not be to look for sin in other people, but to examine our own lives to see if there is anything there that is offensive to our beloved Jesus. We will develop a true love and compassion for other Christians, especially for those who are struggling with problems or sin in their own lives. We will weep and pray, interceding for our brethren. We will do whatever we can to help our brethren that are truly in need, knowing that all we are and all we have truly belongs to the Lord. Our love for the brethren will be in deed and in truth, not just in words. We will also be open to God to move within us as He wills to put within us a true love and compassion for the lost, loving the sinners for whom Christ died, but hating the sin that is destroying their lives and the lives of those around them. This love

will cause our lives to be transformed more and more into the image of Christ Jesus, where He can move and speak through us by the Spirit. This is an ongoing and life-long transformation which will never be fully completed this side of Glory, but it is one that each of us should strive to have in our lives. It will not make us "perfect" in the eyes of the world, many Christians will not even accept it, but it is what each of us truly needs. This "infilling" is not about "tongues" or about "signs and wonders" or "gifts and manifestations", although all of these may accompany the experience. It is about a continuous transformation in our lives, one that never ends as long as we permit it to go on. But the choice is up to us. This is a miracle that is freely available to every one who truly desires it, and is willing to "pay the price" necessary to allow it to happen. It involves truly "becoming His disciple." In three separate passages, Jesus talks of this: Matthew 16:24, Mark 8:34, and Luke 9:23. They all refer to "denying himself" and "taking up his cross". All those to whom Jesus spoke knew that the only persons "carrying a cross" were going out to die. If we are to become Jesus disciple, we must choose daily to "die to self" and to set aside personal goals and ambitions and seek only the will of the Father for our lives, and to follow His leading as He leads by the Sprit. SALVATION IS THE GREATEST MIRACLE OF GOD POSSIBLE IN THE LIFE OF EVERY PERSON! IT IS THE MIRACLE THAT CAN LAST, NOT ONLY FOR THIS LIFETIME, BUT ALSO FOR ETERNITY. THE CONTINUOUS INFILLING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IS THE GREATEST MIRACLE POSSIBLE IN THE LIFE OF A CHRISTIAN. IT IS THE MIRACLE THAT TRANSFORMES EACH OF US DAY BY DAY INTO THE IMAGE OF JESUS. Allow God to work this miracle in your life beginning today. He will take your life, a bit as a time as you yield it to Him, and He will do in your life the lifelong miracle of conforming you into His image. It's up to you. Do YOU TRULY desire GOD'S GREATEST MIRACLES? A bond-servant of the Lord Jesus Christ Charles W. (Chuck) Areson

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