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Previously published at Jesus Army.
Elijah Stephens is a former Vineyard pastor and spiritual coach belonging to Bethel Church in Redding, California. Since 2015, he has been working on a documentary about medically verified miracles. Micael Grenholm asked him a few questions.
WHAT is a medically verified miracle?
That is a good question. When it comes to miracles, we are talking about when God enters the world and does something. What makes something a miracle is God’s activity.
This is why you can’t study miracles scientifically, but what you can do is to find cases where people have prayed and there’s “before and after” medical evidence. For example, a person has a tumor, one day there is prayer, the next day the tumor disappears.
What you want to do is to corroborate miracles with medical evidence. So that’s what we’re attempting to do with the movie; finding cases where miracles have been corroborated by medical evidence. (more…)
Recently on a Jesus Army conference, I shared the brief testimony of a new friend of mine who was recently saved and healed from what seemed to be demonic suppression. ∞
When I and Sarah were evangelising in the Swedish town of Åsele over a month ago, my team leader was Steffen Holm from Denmark. A radical evangelist, he is involved with The Last Reformation and has prayed for thousands of people on the streets. As we were evangelising he often shared his own testimony of how he was 100 % handicapped and bound to a wheelchair, but God healed him. He even had proof constantly with him in form of a parking certificate for handicapped people. I asked him to share his testimony to my camera, which he kindly did:
We who are a part of the MennoNerd vlog have been talking about welcoming children into the Kingdom recently, and that reminded me of a clip from Iris Global where Heidi Baker interviews some of the children at Village of Joy in Pemba. It turns out that these kids have prayed for lame and blind people who have been healed. A pretty good Sunday school, in my holy opinion.
Watch the whole Iris Global clip here:
There’s a theological problem known as the hiddenness of God which is sometimes used by atheists as an argument for God’s existence. If there is a God and He cares for human salvation, why isn’t He making His existence more obvious? Why isn’t He putting a neon cross in the sky or stamp every cell with “Made by God” in Hebrew letters? Why is He so silent and invisible if He exists?
Apologists generally offer two responses to this. First, God’s existence is already obvious as it is, the arguments from natural theology are good and atheism is really a position held by a minority on a global scale. Second, we cannot be sure that more people would actually be saved if God’s existence was even more obvious, knowing that He exists isn’t the same thing as building a relationship with Him.
I think those responses are good but would also want to offer a third response – a charismatic one. In the video above you can see how a deafmute boy in Zambia starts to hear and speak. On this page you will find resources on medically verified healings. There you go, evidence for God’s existence.
The atheist may respond that these events have natural explanations that we just don’t know yet. But that’s probably what s/he would say about the neon cross and the “Made by God”-stamps as well. And so there’s no way those kind of atheists will accept the existence of God. But if they’re open-minded, they’ll realise that He isn’t far away from any of us, and He can do convincing miracles in all of our lives.
Since I first presented my formulation of the miraculous a argument for God’s existence I’ve made a slight adjustment. The content is the same but I’ve added an extra premise (2), and because of that an extra conclusion (4), to clarify why the argument is valid even if it isn’t God himself that’s responsible for a certain miracle. This is how I nowadays formulate the argument:
- If miracles occur, a supernatural reality exists
- If a supernatural reality exists, God exists
- Miracles occur
- Therefore, a supernatural reality exists
- Therefore, God exists
As this is a deductive argument, the conclusions (4 and 5) are necessarily true if it can be shown that the premises (1-3) are true. So let me briefly defend each one of them.
1. If miracles occur, a supernatural reality exists
This premise is fairly non-controversial as long as one gets the definition of “miracle” straight. The definition I have suggested is a supernatural act impacting nature as demanded by human beings. However, if one uses a definition that doesn’t mention the supernatural cause, for example an event requested by humans which is scientifically and naturally inexplicable, then one needs to defend the first premise by showing why it is more plausible than not that such events have a supernatural cause rather than an unknown natural cause. If the supernatural cause is integrated into the definition of miracles on the other hand, such a defence belong to premise 3.
Pastor and apologist Elijah Stephens is working on a documentary about medically verified healings as I have covered previously on this blog, and he was recently interviewed at the Uncommon Legacy podcast (which seems to be a very good podcast!). I highly recommend the episode, Stephens humbly shares his own doubts and struggles as well as making the case for a courageous faith combined with intellectual honesty that I highly resonate with.
While not spoiling the medically verified healings that the film will cover, Stephens shared a testimony of what I call a combo miracle – a healing combined with prophecy. You’ll find that at 15:30 into the podcast. A secretary at his church had severe breathing problems and needed to go home from work because of it. She was a cessationist herself and very skeptical to miracles, but still Stephens was allowed to pray for her for two or three minutes. During the prayer, he briefly spoke out that the Lord would send His angels to touch her.
The next week, she entered the church staff meeting in tears. She said that when she was alone in her house, she woke up in the middle of the night and a light was shining into her chest. She saw a man standing over her bed and another man in front of her, and she was obviously frightened. She heard them talking, one of them said ”Get her up” They grabbed her, took her to the bathroom and as she turned on the light they disappeared. Shocked, she then discovered that she had been completely healed. (more…)
Every weekend I evangelize on the streets together with the Pancake Church, and last week’s Holy Saturday was no exception. I started to speak with two guys about Jesus, and one of them said that he really liked Jesus. He thought that Jesus was a good moral teacher and said: “I believe that when it says that he healed blind people and lepers and stuff, he didn’t actually physically heal them, but he was kind to them and taught that they should be accepted into society.”
“That’s a very tragic and pessimistic view!” I said. “Wouldn’t it be better if He actually physically healed them? As the Son of God He’s surely able to do it, right? Miracles exist, medically verified healings happen all around the world even today. Surely that’s good news, isn’t it?” He was actually a bit speechless when I said this.
There has been a tendency among several Western preachers to de-emphasize miracles, Heaven and evangelism in order to “focus” on peace and justice. They may say things like “Jesus greatest miracle wasn’t to heal the leper but to touch the leper” or “God doesn’t just want to give you eternal life in Heaven but a descent life on earth.” (more…)
Earlier this year my friend Faith Totushek explained on Pentecostals & Charismatics for Peace & Justice why she is a Holy Spirit Activist – or as I like to call it, a charismactivist:
“From beginning to end, we see an amazing God who longs for the world and the people he created to flourish and find life. And time and time again, this God seeks to partner with us as his agents. And he empowers this people with his presence through the Holy Spirit giving gifts, insight, truth, endurance—whatever is needed to accomplish the purposes displayed in the Bible.”
In other words, God doesn’t leave us alone with the big task of loving people and promote life and happiness. He partners with us by bestowing His Spirit upon us. Peter writes: “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” (1 Peter 4:10). Serving people is one of the main purposes of God’s gifts of grace, or charismata as they are known in Greek.
One of many Biblical examples of this can be found in the last chapter of the book of Acts. Paul is a prisoner of the Roman empire and his guards are taking him to Rome so that he can speak to the emperor. Their ship is wrecked on an island, probably Malta, and God miraculously saves Paul’s life after he is bitten by a poisonous snake. Not only that, God miraculously gives other people life as well through the hands of Paul: (more…)
As the Holy Spirit filled and renewed a small Baptist church in Bugbrooke, central England, during the mid-1970’s, many miracles occurred. When I visited the Jesus Army last year, Huw Lewis told me and my friends Hillevi and Emil about some healings that he saw, including a man whose sight was restored when he was baptized. He also shared his reaction to seeing a demon being cast out the first time and how the whole church was stunned by the presence of the Lord:
This footage is from my upcoming documentary Everything in Common. It was originally planned to be released last year, but I’ve been busy with book writing and finishing my studies. Now I have time to finish the documentary though, the first live screening will be here in Sweden on a conference that I’m co-organizing on Christian community life in April. I hope to to be able to publish it on YouTube shortly afterwards, there are some music licensing stuff that I need to deal with.
The documentary is about the community of goods that is being practiced at the Jesus Army: how it works, how it impacts people’s lives and what other churches can learn from it. Here’s an epic teaser trailer for the film:
The Jesus Fellowship Church, a.k.a. Jesus Army, was born out of a mighty work of the Holy Spirit through a small Baptist chapel in Bugbrooke, central England, during the late 60’s and early 70’s. The Holy Spirit loves to do miracles, and so the book Fire in Our Hearts by Simon Cooper and Mike Farrant that describes the history of the Jesus Fellowship records multiple miracles.
During a charismatic meeting on a Saturday evening in the chapel, one boy suddenly took his glasses off and exclaimed that he could see perfectly all of a sudden. A lady was healed of a deformed hand and a man’s gums were healed. A man called Mick had been mainlining a lot and had several ulcerations and scars all across his arms. When he emerged from the water during his baptism, all the marks were gone!
A woman called Carol once stood up at a meeting and declared prophetically “Mim is going to get baptised in the Spirit – tonight!” She was referring to her friend and the very same evening Mim was indeed spiritually baptised and started to speak in tongues. Carol’s dormitory was invaded by beetles, so she said “I rebuke you beetles in the name of Jesus!” – and they vanished. (more…)
Charismactivist apostle of love Heidi Baker recently visited Sid Roth’s show It’s Supernatural, where she shared testimonies about what God has done in her life and among the poor of Mozambique. The following testimony just gripped my heart, it can be heard from 11:30 onwards in the video:
Every Monday, in Mozambique, I visit my village. It’s just my local village, I like to keep it real – we have 3500 children in our school from there so I like to see their families. And I just sit and hold he poor, spending time loving them…
And on my way back from visiting a mama named Tina, I saw this little, old woman. And she was really poor, you know, her clothes were shredded, and a strange thing was that she was sitting in the sun. And I thought: “Why is this woman sitting in the sun in Mozambique?” It’s hot! At least she should be in the shade.
And I said “What’s your name?” in our local dialect. And she answered me back and said: “I have no name.” And I was undone by that. I thought, how can anyone on earth not be given a name? (more…)
I’ve been enjoying Samaa Habib’s autobiographical book Face to Face with Jesus as I did research for my upcoming book Charismactivism last month. Samaa is from a Muslim country that used to be ruled by Soviet and that has experienced some horrible civil wars, and she opened her heart to the Gospel as a Christian ministry showed the Jesus film to the war torn public. She was amazed and told her father: ”He cannot be just a prophet, he must be more than that! He is alive. Mohammad’s skeleton is still buried in Mecca. Jesus is my super hero!” Her father didn’t agree of course, but tolerated the young girl’s enthusiasm.
She eventually went to a church service and gave her life completely to the Lord together with two of her sisters. Now, her father was enraged. After she had confessed that she will not live without Jesus, he abused and tortured her, strangling her until she fainted. She later escaped her family’s house through a window and fled to the church.
As time went by, more people in Samaa’s family were saved. Her mother was healed from a heart problem and encountered Jesus in a dream. This made the father tolerate Christianity a bit more, even if he still was in severe disagreement.
One day as Samaa was worshipping in church, a bomb exploded right next to her and she died instantly. She saw Heaven and Jesus, and He said that she could either be with Him or return to earth to lead more people to Him. She chose the latter, and woke up blind and deformed as she was taken to hospital. Her brain was visible and her appearance was a mess. (more…)
Elijah Stephens who is in charge of the upcoming documentary on medically verified healings has written a blog post on Think Theology where he debunks some common myths about miracles, like that people don’t see many miracles today, that educated people don’t believe in miracles and that skeptics won’t change their mind when they are presented with miracle evidence. It’s a very good read, and it reminded me of something that I’ve been pondering for some time: why do so many people in the minority world believe that miracles don’t happen?
I’ve been there, I grew up as a non-Christian and didn’t believe in miracles. Historical miracles like in the Bible were fairy tales to me, and if somebody said that a person had been miraculously healed I would have mocked them and argued that there is a “natural” explanation. I was fascinated by ghosts though, and mediums… the logic wasn’t strong with this one.
Now, I realize that to say “science has disproven the existence of miracles” doesn’t make any sense. There are thousands of medically verified healings, such as the ones documented by World Christian Doctors Network and Craig Keener’s excellent work Miracles. These events, which take place after prayer, are scientifically inexplicable.