So miracles still happen?
1 At Iconium Paul and Barnabas went as usual into the Jewish synagogue. There they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Greeks believed. 2 But the Jews who refused to believe stirred up the other Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers. 3 So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to perform signs and wonders.
4 The people of the city were divided; some sided with the Jews, others with the apostles. 5 There was a plot afoot among both Gentiles and Jews, together with their leaders, to mistreat them and stone them. 6 But they found out about it and fled to the Lycaonian cities of Lystra and Derbe and to the surrounding country, 7 where they continued to preach the gospel.
refused to believe stirred up the other Gentiles and poisoned their minds
1. Unbelief is contagious.
contagious – spread from one person to another by direct or indirect contact
What’s the opposite? Leave. You don’t have to listen to negativity.
8 In Lystra there sat a man who was lame. He had been that way from birth and had never walked. 9 He listened to Paul as he was speaking. Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed 10 and called out, “Stand up on your feet!” At that, the man jumped up and began to walk.
He had been lame from birth but had faith.
Wouldn’t he be least likely to have faith?
2. Most miracles are contingent on faith.
Example: When a house is “contingent”, the sale will not happen until the other house is sold, freeing up the money for the new house.
Would he not have been healed without it?
Jesus did not do many miracles in his home town because of their lack of faith.
One time, the disciples could not cast out a demon in a boy.
22 “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”
23 “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”
24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
Do we actually want to see miracles happen?
Example: Hard to break up with a bad boyfriend for fear of never getting another one. Better the devil you know.
The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.
Miracles threaten the status quo.
Application: No life boat.
14 Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. 15 When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. 16 Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man—and told about the pigs as well.
17 Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.
“There comes a moment when people who have been dabbling in religion (‘man’s search for God’!) suddenly draw back. Supposing we really found Him? We never meant it to come to that! Worse still, supposing He had found us?”
― C.S. Lewis, Miracles
3. Faith comes to those who use it.
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1
Maybe those who look for miracles actually attract them.
“An ‘impersonal God’-well and good. A subjective God of beauty, truth and goodness, inside our own heads-better still. A formless life-force surging through us, a vast power which we can tap-best of all. But God himself, alive, pulling at the other end of the cord, perhaps approaching at an infinite speed, the hunter, King, husband-that is quite another matter.”
― C.S. Lewis, Miracles
The people who saw the healing tried to offer sacrifices to Paul and Barnabas in the name of their pagan God.
14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting: 15 “Friends, why are you doing this? We too are only human, like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heavens and the earth and the sea and everything in them.
4. Response to the miraculous reveals the heart.
The people responded with misdirected worship.
Paul responded by giving glory straight to God and took none for himself.
Remember what Herod did when he was praised for his speech?
The Jewish church of the day killed Jesus. (the Great Miracle)
19 Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. 20 But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe.
21 They preached the gospel in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, 22 strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said.
Expect suffering. We suffered! Follow our example!
5. Adversity tests and increases faith.
The devil is raising up a generation of ‘super-babies’. Extreme softies incapable of enduring suffering who become offended at even the slightest hiccup.
This is culture of widespread sensitivity and fear as the norm, dubbed as social responsibility.
Is this how the Bible tells Christians to view life?
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Closer: What is the Ultimate Miracle? Jesus Christ, born a man, killed, risen.
The difference in seeing him or not comes down to belief.