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The Bible’s Undertaker: Cessationism in Contrast to a Living, Miraculous Christianity

Jesus ministry is exemplified by healing and deliverance.

Nevertheless, healing, deliverance and other miraculous manifestations were the norm in biblical days. In the Old Testament, prophets and other leaders experienced angelic visitations, parted seas, healed the sick, raised the dead and cast out demons with their musical instruments. In the New Testament it is not a chosen few gifted with the miraculous; God opens wide the playing field. Jesus and the apostles preached, healed and cast out demons. The “seventy” of Luke 10 operate in the miraculous realm as well. In Mark 16, supernatural signs and wonders are promised to all who believe the Gospel. In the Bible, miracles are not the exception, but the norm.

Furthermore, miracles and healings have not ceased after the apostolic age, but have continued through the entire church age. To be sure, large portions of the church lost the original vision, but various individuals and groups are found at any period of history healing the sick, casting out demons, prophesying and working miracles. Since the Pentecostal revival of the early twentieth century, such phenomena have become widespread. In fact, the second largest assembly of Christians in the world (after the Roman Catholics) is people who believe in the baptism in the Holy Spirit with signs following.

The ministry of the apostle Paul is characterized by healings and miracles. His dramatic conversation to Christ in Acts 9:1-18 commences his miracle ministry and the restoration of sight is his first personal miracle. Additionally, Luke records several events in Acts of healings and exorcisms. A list of the recorded miracles of the apostle Paul from the New Testament includes,

Paul’s first missionary journey:

  1. Acts 13:6-11 Paul strikes Bar-Jesus (Elymas) the sorcerer blind on Cyprus for trying to turn the proconsul Sergius Paulus from the faith.
  2. Acts 14:3 Paul enabled to do miraculous signs and wonders at Iconium.
  3. Acts 14:8-10 Paul heals a man lame since birth in Lystra.
  4. Acts 14:19-20 Paul survives being stoned in Lystra.

Paul’s second missionary journey:

  1. Acts 16:16-18 Paul heals a demon-possessed girl in Philippi after she follows him and interferes with his preaching.
  2. 1 Thess. 1:4-5 Paul performs miracles during his stay in Thessalonica.

Paul’s third missionary journey:

  1. Acts 19:11-12 Miraculous healing of those who touch Paul’s garments and handkerchiefs during his eighteen months in Ephesus.
  2. Acts 20:9-11 Paul brings Eutychus back to life after he falls from a second story window during a late night meeting of the church in Troas.

Paul’s journey to Rome:

  1. Acts 28:3-6 Paul survives snakebite on the island of Malta.
  2. Acts 28:7-8 Paul heals the father of Publius on Malta.
  3. Acts 28:9 Paul heals the sick on Malta.

Thus, throughout his labors he retains the miraculous ministry that Jesus initiated in his time on earth. Paul is not a cessationist or one who denies the supernatural ability of God. Graham Twelftree says of the apostle in Paul and the Miraculous, “the historical Paul is to be understood not only in terms of his theological enterprise, but also through taking into account his life and work, which includes his understanding and experience of the miraculous and the place of miracle working in his mission.”[27] In addition, in 1 Corinthians he encourages the gifts of miracles, healing, tongues and discerning of spirits (1 Cor. 12) and writes in his second letter “I persevered in demonstrating among you the marks of a true apostle, including signs, wonders and miracles” (2 Cor. 12:12).[28] Hence, Paul certainly supports the miraculous in the life of a believer.

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Category: Spirit, Summer 2015

About the Author: Cletus L. Hull, III, M.Div. (Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry), D.Min. (Fuller Theological Seminary), Ph.D. (Regent University), has served as a pastor with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for 32 years and psychiatric chaplain for 30 years. He teaches courses in New Testament at Biblical Life Institute in Freeport, Pennsylvania. He has researched the growing Disciples of Christ churches in Puerto Rico and has an interest in the significance of the Stone-Campbell churches in American Christianity. His article, "My Church is a Mental Hospital" appeared in the Summer 2015 issue of Healing Line. He is the author of The Wisdom of the Cross and the Power of the Spirit in the Corinthian Church: Grounding Pneumatic Experiences and Renewal Studies in the Cross of Christ (Pickwick, 2018). Twitter: @cletus_hull, Facebook, www.CletusHull.com

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