God answers prayer
Surely one of the evidences of truth in the message and experience in living the Christian faith is to see God answer prayer in miraculous ways. By way of definition of a miracle I would say something that occurred that did not have a natural or human explanation; so I am ruling out events such as someone recovering from illness by surgery or medical treatment or where a person received funds to accomplish a project.
A reading of the gospels and Book of Acts cannot fail to show that Jesus and his disciples witnessed a wide variety of events that could only be described by witnesses as miraculous. The events ranged from physical healing, to casting out evil spirits, to raising of the dead and calming storms. The message repeated frequently in John's gospel is that believers in Jesus Christ will see fruit in their lives and that fruit is clearly inferred as the same type of fruit as Jesus himself produced including miraculous events in the lives of people.
John 15:16 Darby translation
16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and have set you that ye should go and [that] ye should bear fruit, and [that] your fruit should abide, that whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name he may give you.
The intent is that a believer in Jesus should bear fruit, the fruit should remain and that the fruit will come in response to the prayer or request to God for that thing. A tree grows fruit not because it tries to do so or because it needs to prove its worth but because that is its very nature. It produces fruit because it is a fruit tree. A Christian produces miracles because the spirit of Christ who raises the dead is within them. Their life displays on the outside what is inside of them. It displays that the heavenly nature within has power over the worldly nature in which they live.
The purpose of miracles is not to benefit ourselves or win approval but to redeem people to God because it demonstrates that there is power and truth in the name of Jesus. The Pharisees struggled with the miracles of Jesus because they frequently occurred on the sabbath but Jesus said that fulfilling the Law by loving God and our neighbour as ourseleves is greater than keeping the letter but not the spirit of the Law.
In Luke 4 Jesus was disappointed that his disciples had lacked faith to reach the other side of the lake in a storm even though Jesus had suggested that they go there, with the implication that they would reach their destination without tragedy. The disciples asked Jesus to save them (prayer) and Jesus calmed the storm (miracle/answered prayer). However, the disciples had demonstrated a lack of faith. Their faithlessness had not prevented them from prayer, nor had it prevented their prayer being answered. But it lacked faith. The problem with a lack of faith is that it leads to a lifestyle of passivity, a lack of action. We are called to be witnesses to Jesus. A faithful witness cannot remain silent when called upon to give an account of what they have seen and heard.
Faith and Deeds
James 2 NIV
14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.
Faith and Belief
It is worth pointing out that faith and belief are not equivalent even though in the New Testament the same Greek word - pistis - is used - to believe πιστεύω pisteúō. Hebrews 11:1 says,
"Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen."
This would be the most concise biblical definition of "faith." But what else does the Bible say about faith? Hebrews 11:6 says,
"And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him."
Faith is an active trust in God, a belief in what He says is true that results in action. Belief and faith
What then is belief without faith?
Belief is faith without actions that demonstrate that belief. As we saw in James 2: 19 demons believe in Jesus but their actions are evil and unclean and contrary to the spirit of God; as Jesus said, they reveal that their father is the devil.
22 Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist — denying the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.
The recent attacks on people inside a church in France show that the perpetrators are motivated by demonic power, antichrist, because Islam denies the Sonship of Jesus.
1 John 3 NIV
8 The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. 9 No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. 10 This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.
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