Why the miracles in Acts are not seen in the Church today

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Cessationists of course have various ready-made answers to this question. However, to non-cessationist believers, especially those of the charismatic persuasion, it is an unsettling and even embarrassing mystery often to be swept under the rug. But if we take a close look at the context in which the miraculous healings took place in Acts, we can understand why.

Acts is the record of how the early disciples took the gospel to the ends of the known world after they were baptized in the Holy Spirit.

Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

They were to be witnesses of Jesus Christ all the way to the ends of the earth—especially to regions far beyond Israel where the gentile idol-worshipers had never heard of Jesus Christ. The miracles done by the disciples were the evidence to the gentiles that Jesus Christ was the Messiah—Lord and only Savior.

John 14:11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. 12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.

Therefore the miracles performed by the disciples in Acts primarily through the use of the Lord’s supernatural power and authority were specifically meant to provide indisputable evidence to the lost that Jesus was the only way to the One True God—our Father in heaven. Their context was in fact evangelism.

The miraculous healings which we would like to see in our churches today, however, take place in a very different context. When it comes to ministering healing today, it is overwhelmingly for the benefit of saved believers in our congregations. The context therefore is not evangelistic.

But what about the gift of healing (1 Corinthians 12:7-10) which is for the common good of the body of Christ? The gift of healing however is relatively rare since according to Paul in 1 Corinthians 14:12, not all have this gift. By contrast, supernatural power and authority were given to every disciple who was sent out to proclaim the kingdom of God (Luke 9:1-2; 10:1 & 9).

There remains the teaching on healing for sick believers in James 5. There in verse 15 James teaches that “the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up.” However, this is rarely if ever fulfilled in the powerful way the sick were healed in Acts. Part of the reason for this is a misunderstanding of what James meant when he instructed elders to “pray over” (and not “pray for”) the sick. For understanding of “praying over” sick believers, please visit:

Ministry to Sick Believers in the Context of the Body of Christ according to James 5

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When “praying over” is properly understood and applied, we can in fact see sick believers miraculously healed. However, it will likely not approach the scale of what we read in Acts. It is a matter of God’s priority. Which might have higher priority in God’s sight: healing a sick believer who will still continue to believe for eternal life whether or not he or she is healed; or healing an unbeliever who will likely not believe in Jesus for eternal life unless he experiences a profound miracle in Jesus’ name?

 

 

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John 14:12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have …