Are we also a generation like the one Jesus encountered while ministering here on earth? In Matthew 11:16-17, the Master Storyteller paints one of the most interesting pictures to me, of children sitting in the market place, calling to their playmates:
“We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
We sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.”
This generation sought every reason to disparage the signs of the coming Messiah. They were comfortable in their current paradigm. There was no space for a huge change as would be implied by the evidence of Jesus’ ministry.
Throughout Jesus’ ministry He was confronted by those who chose not to believe Him or in Him, but rather criticize what He was doing. They needed to find a different explanation for the miracles He performed, for the lives He changed. And what was easier and more controversial than blaming His power on the work of the devil?
Today there are still many people who chase after miracles, as if that would bring them faith. But I do not believe that miracles can create or sustain faith. A miracle may spark in a searching heart, the reality of a living God, but true faith is only sustained by a relationship with the Faith-giver.
I have witnessed the craze of “miracle rushes” (like “gold rushes”), but the outcome was usually sensation and controversy – often with the character of the miracle working preacher exposed as bearing fruit contrary to the gospel. And even in this, Jesus gives us a tool to discern when His Spirit, or the enemy, is at work – “Yet, wisdom is justified by her deeds.” (verse 19). A tree can be evaluated by the fruit that it bears – and so each ministry stands or falls by the fruit of its minister/s, no matter how many or spectacular the miracles/”miracles”.
Where does faith come from then? Can we work up faith within ourselves like they proclaim in many movies: “if you only believe”…?
Faith originates with God. He gives everyone a measure of faith.
So why do some people not believe the gospel message? It comes back to God’s original design – that He gave man a free will, an ability to choose for himself. Some choose to use their faith for the purpose it was given – to believe in God. Some choose to deny this gift of faith and reject God, or use their faith to believe in something contrary to God (it is obvious, for example, that due to lack of evidence, evolution is a faith based competitor to Christianity).
It boils down to the choice we make.
By the grace of God, I chose to believe the gospel message of salvation through the completed work of Jesus on the cross. I choose to believe in the Bible as the infallible Word of God. And in my walk with God, there were times when I was confronted with arguments against this choice, and I had to examine my faith, and the reasons for it. And still, every time, I choose to believe in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
God is faithful in every way. And when you choose to enter into a relationship with Him, He confirms your faith and allows it to grow as you come to know more and more of His awesome person.
Yes, He performs miracles! Yes, the way He shows His living involvement in our daily lives is an amazing encouragement that helps our faith to grow.
Let us seek His miracle-performing power for the reason of His glory, not as a crutch for our faith.
by Lise Oosthuizen