July 03, 2008

5 Burning Questions on Miracles Every once in awhile, I’m going to attempt to tackle a tough topic and provide Biblically-based answers to “Five Burning Questions” on that issue. Keep in mind that even though I will do my best to use the whole canon of Scripture, these answers still reflect my interpretation, and to a lesser degree, my opinion. So, let’s talk about miracles. Are Miracles for Today? Miracles are found throughout the Bible, often as signs of God’s favor and deliverance. The vast majority of miracles occur in the events related to Israel’s deliverance from the Egyptians, their survival in the desert, and their entrance into the Promise Land. Once they get into the Promise Land, miracles greatly diminish. They make a brief but dramatic reappearance in the ministries of Elijah and Elisha, but after that, miracles are few and far between. Until Jesus shows up. From turning water into wine to opening deaf ears and blind eyes, raising the dead, making the lame walk, multiplying loaves and fish, walking on water, and casting out demons, Jesus’ ministry is laced with the miraculous. The disciples continue this trend with more of the same (healing the cripple), but also some “new” miracles: miraculous teleportation, speaking in languages they had never learned, and opening prison cells. There is no indication that miracles were only for an age. Some make a case from Paul’s words about the imperfect passing when the perfect arrives to say that since the written Word of God is here, miracles are unnecessary. The problem is that the “Word” in Paul’s day was the Old Testament, which had already come, and was largely memorized by almost every good Jewish boy. Furthermore, it’s unlikely that Paul was referencing the New Testament, 2/3rds of which he wrote. Imagine referring to his writings as the...
The Arrogance of Pluralism Whenever the subject of Christianity comes up, at some point, some angry bloke will eventually say, "Man, Christians are so arrogant. I mean, how can you believe that there is only one way to God or heaven? How can you be so sure that you guys are right? That is so arrogant and judgmental." The Christian, ruffled by the sudden demise of his popularity, bites his tongue and goes home discouraged. Left to his own thoughts, he ponders some potential contradictions: Didn't Jesus say "Judge not lest you be judged"? Aren't Christians supposed to be loving and humble? Maybe I don't have any right to say that Jesus is the ONLY way. For anyone who has ever wrestled with such thoughts or suffered through such accusations, here are two simple things to consider: No Major Religion in the World Would Claim that All Religions Are Equally Valid Growing up in a Malaysia, I was surrounded by friends who believed differently than I did. My classmates were Hindus, Buddhists, and Muslims-- and a handful of Christians. In my younger years, there were precious few conversations that remotely resembled a discourse in comparative religions. But when friends had to miss a party to burn incense at an ancestor's grave, or skip food because it was Ramadan, or come to school with white, ashy powder on their foreheads, we all understood. We had different beliefs. Moreover, these beliefs were deeply held, and a significant part of our heritage. As I got older, I found the courage to occasionally try to witness to a cab driver. I remember one occasion when a Buddhist man argued that his religion was far older than mine and therefore more superior. These conversations were friendly-- for the most part-- and all ended the same way: each leaving the...

Glenn Packiam

Lead Pastor, new life DOWNTOWN, New Life Church, Colorado Springs, CO. Author and songwriter.

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