An examination of the gifts of faith, healing, miracles, and discernment. All of these gifts are inextricably linked to the freedom of God to act according to His will. The purpose of these and all gifts is to point to Jesus Christ.
9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.
A brush of idealism paints the first century church as a nostalgic example of community and perfection. Nothing could be farther from the truth. In this sermon series, Pastor Mark Driscoll teaches on Paul’s First Letter to the Church in Corinth. The Apostle wrote to the Corinthians to untangle the many moral and theological knots they’d created, providing some of the richest theological sections of the New Testament. If you have any questions following this podcast, email firstname.lastname@example.org. To subscribe to this and other Mars Hill podcasts, go to marshillchurch.org, and here’s Pastor Mark with 1 Corinthians: Christians Gone Wild.
As we get into it, let me do a little bit of summation work from last week. We’ll spend seven weeks looking at the spiritual gifts. Last week, we kicked it off and what I told you was this – that when it comes to looking at this issue of spiritual gifts or supernatural endowments that the Holy Spirit gives you to do ministry, the most important thing is to start with Jesus and in starting with Jesus what I told you and want to reiterate for you is that it is all about Jesus and if at any point we pursue ministry or spiritual giftedness or service apart from Jesus, we end up getting in all kinds of trouble. And so the story is this that Jesus is God. That Jesus made us and made the earth and he gave us the earth to enjoy as a gift, to build culture, to steward creation, to serve one another and to live a life of total ministry that would include our families and our job and our play and all of that to be done to God’s glory and our joy. Now what we did as rebels is we sinned against Jesus and we did what he told us not to do and that sin separated us from Jesus and one another, the resulting being that Jesus had compassion on us and knew that we would never be able to overcome this problem of sin and death and so Jesus, our eternal God, entered into human history and he lived on the earth as a human being. And throughout the course of his life, he was empowered by God the Holy Spirit and he did ministry. He taught. He did miracles. He healed people. He encouraged. He served. He organized and administrated. Jesus did all kinds of ministry and then Jesus went to the cross and there, he substituted himself and died for our sin and he did that because he loves us and in so doing, he paid the penalty for sin, which is death. That’s why we love Jesus so much because he has done so much for us.
Three days after he died, however, Jesus rose from death – the greatest miracle in all of human history. The reason being that death only holds us because of sin and because Jesus wasn’t a sinner, death could not hold him. Death had no claim to him. So Jesus rose from death and he went around verifying his resurrection to various groups of people and then he told his followers, you will continue my ministry. You’ll do ministry, too, when the Holy Spirit comes. So wait for the Holy Spirit. And so just as Jesus was filled and empowered and enabled by the Holy Spirit to do ministry, then we, too, were given this wonderful ability to, as Christians, saved by God the Holy Spirit, sealed by God the Holy Spirit, filled by God the Holy Spirit, empowered and indwelt and gifted by God the Holy Spirit to do ministry like Jesus. So now, some of you can teach and some of you can lead and some of you can organize and some of you can encourage – and we’re studying all of these various gifts – or ways in which – the Holy Spirit would empower and enable us to do the ministry of Jesus and we’re continuing on with the ministry of Jesus. That’s all that it means to be a Christian is following in the example of Jesus, being filled by the same spirit. Being participants on the same mission of loving and serving people and using whatever abilities you have for the building up of your church and the benefitting of your city. That’s what it’s all about.
And so as we have been looking at it, we have also seen, then, that all of us are in full-time ministry, whether we’re paid or not, right? A pastor friend of mine says, “I get paid to do ministry and my people are good for nothing.” What he means by that is that some of you don’t get paid to do ministry, you just live a life that serves Jesus. So if you’re a good mom, that’s part of your ministry, is taking care of your kids. If you’re a guy who swings a hammer, swinging a hammer is part of your ministry, being a good employee is part of your ministry. That, that we’re all in full-time vocational ministry and whatever we’re doing, that’s just another means by which we have an opportunity to do it under the Lord – to do it for the benefit of others. To do it in such a way that Jesus is honored and people are served. That being said, as we get into these gifts today, you’re going to see the gifts of faith and healing and miracles and discernment. These are more extraordinary, more supernaturally oriented gifts – and let me, simply by way of introduction, say to you that we reject two extreme positions on these kinds of extraordinary gifts – and one says that God can’t do these things anymore, right? Some say, God doesn’t heal anymore, he used to do that. God doesn’t do miracles anymore, he used to do that.
And we say, no, God is the same yesterday, today and forever and that God can and still does do healings and miracles and extraordinary supernatural things. We reject the position that says God can’t do something because one of the cool parts of being God is you get to do what you want. That’s just by definition. Sort of, what it means to be God. Being God means you do what you want. That’s what the psalmist says. Our Lord sits in heaven and does whatever pleases him. All right, God does whatever he wants. So to say, “God can’t do that.” Well, yeah he can. He can heal somebody. He could do a miracle. He can do whatever he wants.
The other extreme position doesn’t say that God can’t do something but it says that he must do something. God must heal you. No, he doesn’t have to heal you. God must do a miracle. No, he doesn’t have to do a miracle. Again, he’s free to do or not do as he determines. That’s part of what it means to be the sovereign. You get to do what you wanna do. You get to do what is best and God has that right. And so as we get into it today, we reject these positions of God can’t do something or God has to do something. We say that God is free and God can do whatever God wants to do. That’s one of the cool parts of being God.
So that being said, I’ll read you the section in 1 Corinthians 12. We’ll look at Verses 1 through 10 and some of this we covered last week and then I’ll highlight the sections we’re gonna deal with today and that’ll be the topic of our discussion together. Chapter 12, Verse 1. “Now about spiritual gifts, brothers,” 1 Corinthians says, “I do not want you to be ignorant.” We talked about how there’s a lot of misuse of gifts, misunderstanding of gifts, ignorance regarding gifts. Paul is hoping to clear that up. “You know that when you were pagans,” non-Christians, “somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols.” All right, you worshiped false gods, like sex and money and power and fame and IQ and those aren’t real gods. They don’t love you. They don’t help you. They don’t save you. They don’t communicate with you. Those are false gods. “Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, ‘Jesus be cursed,’ and no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit. So he begins by saying that to be a Christian means, by definition, that you have the Holy Spirit. That he has come to dwell in you. That he has given you a heart of love for Jesus. A mind of knowledge of Jesus and a will of obedience to Jesus and that the mark of a Christian who has the Holy Spirit is that they love Jesus, okay?
Some of you may have asked yourself, “I don’t know if I have the Holy Spirit. How do I know?” Well, do you love Jesus? Is he your God? Is he your Lord? Do you value, love and follow him? If so, you have the Holy Spirit. Some churches will say you don’t have the Holy Spirit unless you evidence it with certain gifts or abilities. Bible says no. It’s about Jesus and you know you have the Holy Spirit if you love Jesus. And so that is the evidence of having the Holy Spirit is the love for Jesus.
He goes on then, to talk about the Trinity as the giver of the gifts – the Trinitarian character of God, beginning in Verse 4. “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit.” That’s the Holy Spirit. “There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord.” That’s the Lord Jesus. “There are different kinds of working, but the same God,” that’s God the father, “who works all of them in all men.” So he says that God the father, God the Son and God the spirit determine which gifts are given to you and me who are Christian. “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” So we looked at how the purpose of spiritual gifts is to do ministry to help other people so that the church may be built up, 1 Corinthians 14 tells us, so that we may be a more healthy, functional church that looks and acts and sounds more and more like Jesus. He goes on to say, “To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom,” last week you may recall we looked at the message of wisdom. “to another the message of knowledge,” we looked at knowledge last week, “by means of the same Spirit,” Verse 9, “to another faith,” this week, we will look at that gift of faith. “by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing,” so we’ll look at healing this week. That’ll be our second examination. “by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers,” so we’ll look at miracles, thirdly, tonight. “to another prophecy,” and we’re gonna punt on that for a few weeks, okay? Because in 1 Corinthians 14, he goes into a very lengthy treatise on prophecy and there is so much misunderstanding around prophecy that we’re gonna take a lotta time, slow down, look at it, because guys who say they’re prophets usually aren’t and people who say they have prophecies often don’t and how do we understand all of that. So we’ll look at that in a few weeks, please come back. Additionally, he goes on to say, “to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits,” or I’ll call it the gift of discernment, as some of your translations, perhaps, do.” So four things we’re gonna look at. We’re gonna look at faith. Then we’re gonna look, secondarily at healing, then at miracles, then at discernment – four different gifts, okay?
The first one is faith. Here is my working definition of the gift, and as I read this, I want you to think, “Do I have this gift? Has God given me this ability? Is this something that is part of my ministry, if I am a Christian?” The gift of faith is the ability to envision what needs to be done and to trust God to accomplish it, even though it seems impossible to most people, okay? Some people look at something and say, “That’ll never happen. That’s impossible.” People with the gift of faith, they’re like, “Oh, God could do that, totally.” The – people with the gift of faith continually have the theme from Rocky rattling around in their head, right? “It can happen! We can do anything. God is big. God is in charge. Go, God! Yay, God!” These are the cheerleaders for Jesus. These people trust. They have faith. They believe and they have hope. These are people who have hope, man. When it looks bad, it doesn’t matter. God could still show up. These people live with hope. How many of you love these people? How many of you find them a wee bit annoying, right? It depends on how they use their gift.
Here’s their general makeup. Those with the gift of faith trust God in difficult, even impossible situations when others are ready to give up. “That’s it; I’m giving up on this marriage.” “No wait! God could still do something.” “My kid’ll never love Jesus. They’ve walked away forever.” “Oh, come on. Hang in there. It’s the second quarter. The game’s not over. Trust the Lord. We still got some time on the clock. Let’s wait and see what God does.” These people are often visionaries who dream big, pray big and attempt big things for Jesus.” Right, they believe that the sky is the limit, that the impossible is possible. That if God is in the equation, nothing – nothing – is too big, too hard, to beyond the power of God. These people tend to be optimistic, hopeful, persevering, change-oriented and future-focused. There is more to do. There are more people to love. There are more lives to be changed. There is more ground to be taken for the Kingdom. There are more ministries to be started. There are more churches to be planted. There are more people to pray for. They’re all about change and the future and they tend have a holy discontent saying, “You know what, God’s done good. God could do more. God wants to do more. Let’s keep going.”
Additionally, these people, if they don’t meet someone with the gift of administration, they are a wreck, right? Because they got big plans and really no plans at all, right? I mean, these people are like, “Let’s feed everybody, go!” You’re like, “Well, we need a plan.” “Oh, come on, don’t you trust the Lord?” “We do.” “Where’s that dude with the gift of administration? We gotta get him over here and he’s gonna help get a plan. We need somebody with Excel, right, to help straighten this out.” And so this is where the gifts work together. The gift of faith is great, particularly if it’s with the gift of leadership, but you better have somebody with the gift of administration. How many of you are married to this person? They are the gift of faith and you are the gift of administration, right – or as we call it in my house, the gas and the brake. These people tend to be very convincing about the truth of Scripture because they themselves are so convinced of the truth and the power of God and his word. These people believe the Bible and their faith is in the character of God and in the promises of God’s word and these people are convinced that the Bible is true, it’s real, it’s trustworthy, it’s God’s word and if he says he loves you, he loves you. If he says you’re forgiven, you’re forgiven.
Some of you are chuckling, you’re going, “That’s me.” Welcome to Mars Hill. Right now the cool thing about people with faith is you people who have this gift, you are hugely encouraging to people who are struggling, who are doubting, who are wavering in their faith, right? You are the people who, when everything goes bad, they call you because they are losing faith and they need to borrow yours, right? You’re like the battery that jump starts everybody else, right? Everybody else’s spiritual battery’s getting low and boom! You just can restart people because you have faith. You trust. And it’s not blind, naïve optimism, it’s, “I know the character of God. I know the word of God. I’ve seen God show up. I’ve seen God do the unexpected. I’ve seen God come through. I know we’re down by 74 points and there’s 3 seconds on the clock. But the Holy Ghost is here. It could happen!” You know? It’s that kind of just enthusiastic belief that leads to hope that gets people to dream, that gets people to move, that gets people to act because things could be different, because God is on his throne.
How about in the life of Jesus? We tie this all to Jesus because every gift is supposed to do the ministry of Jesus, so we look to Jesus and say, “Well how did he do this?” Jesus’ whole life, in one sense, could be summarized as faith. Right, he just trusted. Romans says that anything that does not proceed from faith is sin. So one of the definitions of sin is you don’t trust God. You don’t believe in his word. You don’t believe in his character. And Jesus never sinned. So that would mean that everything Jesus did proceeded from faith. He trusted God, the Father’s character and God the Father’s words in the Old Testament and he absolutely, continually, lived in obedience, not doubting – continued to trust – even when times are hard. You think about it. I mean, one of the greatest acts of faith that I think of in the ministry of the Lord Jesus – as he was being murdered, put to death, crucified – remember what he said? “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” What is that? That’s an act of faith. As his body went into the grave, Jesus was dead but he died trusting, knowing that he would be raised from death. I mean that is unbelievable faith. To trust your whole life, as Jesus did, in the promises and the character of God and to give yourself to God at the moment of your death trusting for your own resurrection when to that point, no one had ever been resurrected. And Jesus knew that God the Father and God the Spirit would snatch him out of the grave and that he would be vindicated and resurrected.
And Jesus says crazy things. Like he looks at his disciples, right, and says, “Go make disciples of all the nations of the earth.” See, we read that and we say, “Well, yeah, sure.” No. These are 12 dudes. One’s got a reversible jersey, is on the other team, so there’s actually 11, right? And he looks at these 11 dudes and says, “Go tell the world – all the nations of the earth – let ‘em know about me.” You say, “How’s that gonna – no roads, no airplanes, no Internet, no cell phone. How are we gonna go tell everybody?” And you know what, today, billions of people, across the whole globe, know about, love, worship Jesus. He trusted that the knowledge of his person and work needed to get out and that it would. He just trusted that it would. That God the Father and God the Spirit would ensure that this indeed occurred. How about in the Bible? Other people in the Bible and I want you to take the notes and if you have this gift, I want you to get your Bible out when you get home and start studying people with your gift and say, “Hm. How did they cultivate, nurture, grow in their gift, use their gift?” You know, “How did they serve other people? What can I learn from their life?” Here’s some examples. Paul says in Acts 27, right? And Paul’s always getting beat up, thrown in prison, kicked around – I mean the guy is just always taking a beating – and he says in the 27th Chapter of Acts, as he’s ready to be arrested, thrown in jail, you know, maybe killed, he says this, “I have faith in God.” I have faith in God. He just trusts that he’s in God’s plan. He’s in God’s will and God’s gonna figure it out, one way or another.
Stephen, we’re told in Acts Chapter 6, Verse 5 – the early church deacon, it says that he was a man “full of faith,” and he was a man full of faith. Do you remember what was going on with Stephen? They were murdering him. How? Throwing rocks at him. I mean, they call it stoning, right? So, everybody picks up rocks and they’re all throwing them at Stephen and he is bleeding, he is hurting, he is dying. How many of you at that point would preach the Gospel, hoping that your enemies would meet Jesus and see you in Heaven? Ha ha, right? One of you. And you’re lying, right? Now, if it were me, I have a pretty good – you know, I have a pretty good right arm. Half the rocks would return to their sender. That – I would go down like a relief pitcher, coming in from right field. It’d be like, “Here’s your rock and here’s your rock.” I mean I would take somebody with me. That’s what I’m saying. And here’s what Stephen does – a man full of faith – he tells ‘em, “Don’t you know Jesus? Jesus is God. He lived without sin. He was promised in the Old Testament. He died on a cross. He rose three days later.” You know, he starts preaching to ‘em about Jesus. He was a man full of faith. He didn’t care if he was dying; he knew he was going to Heaven. No need to stress and he wanted them to know about Jesus, too, and meet him in Heaven. That’s faith!
And who was there? A young man named Saul who was overseeing the murder of Stephen. A few chapters later, he becomes a Christian. He changes his name to Paul, you may have heard of him, and I believe one of the reasons that he was compelled toward Christianity was because of the witness and the prayers of, of this great church deacon, Stephen, who had faith in Jesus, who preached the love of Jesus and prayed for his enemies. Paul had to be definitely affected by that. A man with so much faith. A man with so much faith. Also, too, Jesus’ mother, Mary, was a woman of faith, right? I mean her whole life is a life of faith. Right, how many of you ladies, after seeing this series of miracles. First, she’s a virgin. Miracle, right? First miracle, she’s a virgin. Second miracle – that was funny – second miracle, God comes to her through an angel and says, what? “You’re gonna get pregnant but you’re still gonna be a virgin and you’re gonna give birth to a boy and he’ll be God.”
And what does she say? “Okay.” And then she sings a song. Right? How many teenage girls, that’s how they’d respond? Right? Angel shows up, “You’re gonna have a baby. Don’t worry; you’ll still be a virgin.” You’re like, “What am I gonna tell my mom?” I mean, you know, there’s all these kinda issues. “I got a fiancé.” “Oh, he’ll be cool. We’ll send an angel to him, too.” “Okay, good. I’ll sing a song, now.” I mean, this is faith. She trusts that she’s gonna get pregnant as a virgin and give birth to God and as a teenage girl, feed God, raise God and her husband’ll be okay with that and her mom and dad’ll be okay with that. I mean, this is a woman of great faith, though she’s a teenage girl.
And for those of you have the gift of faith, probably the best chapter of the Bible for you to really drill down on is Hebrews, Chapter 11. It’s the whole chapter of faith on all of these people in the Bible who had tremendous gift of faith. They trusted God and they trusted his word and they trusted his character. Do you have this gift? Here are some questions. Do you view obstacles as opportunities to trust God for the impossible? Somebody says, “That’s impossible,” you’re like; “Cool, then we’re doing it.” Right? When somebody says, “That’ll never work,” you know, “That person’ll never become a Christian.” “Aw, come on! You never know. I seen people worse than them get saved. I saw you get saved. You know? It could happen.” “Ah, my marriage is falling apart.” “Lemme tell ya a story. I know ten marriages that are worse than yours and God did amazing things. Don’t give up hope. Hang in there. Pray. Wait on the Lord. You never know. You never know.”
Do you find yourself frequently boasting about the power of God and what you’ve seen him do? When God shows up and cool things happen, do you see people that don’t have a lot of faith and tell them, “You’ll never guess what,” this happened and this happened and this happened and God showed up in this person’s life and knew somebody who was going through what you were going through and I believe that God wants to do that with you, too.
Thirdly, do you get motivated by new ministries? Some of these people are sort of prone to get bored quick. All right, “Oh new church? Cool. New ministry? Cool. New people? New ideas? New concepts? New vision? Yes! It can happen. I wanna be on the ground floor. I’m gonna take the risk for God. I wanna see it get done.” Do you find yourself feeling opposed to anyone who expresses that something cannot be done or accomplished? This is me. People are goin,’ like, “That can’t happen.” “Cool, we’re doing it twice, then, just to prove you wrong. That’s what we’re gonna do.” Right? I mean, people, “You can’t start a church.” Sure you can. Right? “You can’t have a bunch of young people,” “Sure you can!” “You can’t get young men to go to church.” “Sure you can. Yell at ‘em! They’ll come.” You know, “Anything could happen. Anything could happen.” And are you that kinda person, when somebody says, “God can’t do that,” you say, “No, I don’t wanna hear that. Now, now God may not do that, but don’t say he can’t. You freak me out. Don’t like those words, like can’t and won’t.” Right? Those four-letter words. We don’t use those. We’re Christians. We use like, “Yes Lord Jesus, get ‘er done.” Right? That’s what we say! We believe it could happen. I made that up.
Number five – do you find other Christians coming to you when they face a seemingly overwhelming trial or task? Right, when people are like, “I got cancer.” “Oh my gosh, my kid walked away from the Lord.” “I lost my job.” “I’m having a hard time. They come to you – because they want you to have faith and if you have faith that God can and God will show up. That God does love them and that things aren’t over, then they start to have hope and faith too and they borrow yours for a while. They borrow your faith.
And then lastly, do you have an effective prayer ministry? Do you have an effective prayer ministry with many wonderful answers to prayers that were impossible from the human point of view? If you have the gift of faith, you like to pray and you may even keep a journal or a running mental note of – oop! Check, answered. Check, answered. Check, answered – and you love to pray and you love to see God answer prayers and you believe that God answers prayers and you know that your prayer ministry is effective ‘cause you see God show up. Not that you’re the boss telling him what to do, but you’re humbly asking and he’s a gracious father who likes to take care of his kids.
Okay, second one, gift of healing. Here we go. Here we go. You’re all thinking, “Oh, that guy in a white suit’s got that gift.” No. That’s not necessarily the evidence of the gift is a white suit and a jet. The definition of the gift of healing is the ability to call on God to heal the sick through supernatural means for the purpose of revealing God. So that means that you pray for somebody and God heals them. You don’t heal them, right, but God heals them and you are the person who gets the blessing of interceding and prayer for them and it’s interesting because people do believe in healing and even Time Magazine did a feature cover article on healing a few years ago. Said, “Science finds God,” because all these doctors are saying, “We don’t know. People are getting healed. Prayer seems to do something. We can’t understand or explain it and we do believe in healing.” And sometimes, doctors don’t know what to do with it, so they make up words like, “spontaneous remission.” Which means, “I don’t know. He’s all better. I don’t know, you know? They’re fine. Co-pay’s gone but praise God.” You know, I mean, it – that, that God heals people. Okay?
Now, again, the problem with this gift is it has either been misused or it has been claimed by people who don’t have it, right? There are people who say they have this gift and they prey on the weak and the elderly and those who are hurting and dying and suffering. Some of the worst examples are on television. I mean, a few years ago, there was an expose of a TV preacher who said he had the gift of healing and he told all these people, “I can heal you if I pray for you and all you need to do is send me a check and a letter, explaining what you want me to pray for. I’ll cash the check. I’ll pray for you. God’ll heal you. I promise. Send your money.” Well, money rolls in from these grandmas who are shut-ins and these people who are sick and have cancer and they did an exposé. They showed this con man, people in his ministry would rip open the letter, take out the check and throw the letter in the dump. Just throw it in the garbage can, never prayed for anybody. He said that is the most disgusting, despicable thing in the world. There is a special place in hell for guys like that. Right, that take grandma’s money and don’t even read the letter to pray for her and they’re just charlatans, taking advantage of hurting people. That’s disgusting. Right?
And we all just object to that. That’s just horrible. To take advantage of somebody like that. But that does not negate the fact that there are legitimate gifts and ministries of healing. Okay, there are and just because a gift has been misused doesn’t mean we throw it out, it means we use it rightly. In the same way, there are people that have done terrible things with a Bible. It doesn’t mean the Bible’s bad. It means they used it wrong. So we don’t punt on the Bible, we use it rightly. We don’t punt on healing, we use it rightly. Those with the gift of healing trust that God can heal the sick and pray in faith for the physical restoration of those in need. These people see healing as a sign that God uses to reveal his power to people so that many will come to believe in Jesus. The point of healings is not just that people would be physically well, but they would be completely well – mind, body, emotion. That their mental state, their emotional state, their physical state, their spiritual state would all be restored to health. All right, so the point is to point to Jesus. The point of the healing is to reveal Jesus and his ability as great physician to heal the whole person.
Furthermore, people with this gift don’t see someone healed every time they ask God. I’ve got some verses there, but healing is what God decides to do. Someone with the gift of healing can’t just run around healing everybody. They can ask and God answers and sometimes he answers affirmatively and he, in fact, does heal. How about Jesus’ ministry? Did he have a healing ministry? He really did. I’ll read some verses. Matthew 4:23 through 24 “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness,” I mean that’s a gift right there. Every disease and sickness. There was nothing that was not – under the lordship and the authority of Jesus insofar as sickness and injury and illness was concerned. “News about him spread all over Syria,” right, word got out – this guy heals people, “and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed, and he healed them.” He healed them. Right, blind people saw. Lame people walked. Deaf people heard. Dying people were restored. A few dead people came back. That’s a healing gift and Jesus had it.
Matthew 9:35 says it this way, “Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.” Every disease and sickness. Jesus had a ministry of healing. As Christians, some of us will have a ministry of healing.
Other people in the Bible that had this gift, for your further study – Matthew 10:1 says that Jesus gave the ministry of healing to his disciples. Additionally, there were more disciples in Luke 10:8 and 9, 70 in all, and they were given the ministry of healing. Peter, in Acts 5, is exercising a healing ministry. Paul has occasions where he sees people healed in his ministry and today, James 5 says that this is a ministry of pastors or elders in churches. Says is anyone sick, let ‘em go to the church elders, the pastors. They will anoint the person with oil, symbolizing the Holy Spirit and they’ll pray for them in faith that God can heal them and God answers prayer and some will be healed. So today, this is not some obscure ministry. This is even something that we as pastors and elders in this church – we pray for the sick and by God’s grace, we have seen people healed and we praise God for that. We praise God for that. And so with this, however, sadly, there are many common errors regarding the gift or the ministry of healing. I’ll hit some of them to clarify our position.
Some say that healings ceased in the first century; that they didn’t exist thereafter; that this happened in the early church and it’s not for us. Well, we say God is the same yesterday, today and forever. God doesn’t change. People’s needs don’t change and additionally, there’s nowhere in Scripture that says that healing will stop, right? They infer it from one section in 1 Corinthians 13, we’ll get to in a few weeks, but there is no evidence in Scripture that healing was just for, you know, 70 years or 100 years. There’s no evidence of that whatsoever. Furthermore, it doesn’t hold up, historically because church fathers in the second and third century attest to people with healing ministries and people who were healed. So that position that healing stopped – it doesn’t hold up Biblically, it doesn’t hold up historically, it’s not a tenable position. The only reason that some people gravitate toward it is they’ve seen this gift misused or seen people fake having the gift and take advantage of vulnerable people who are struggling but that doesn’t negate the real gift. It just means we need to be wise and reject the counterfeits.
Secondly, just because someone says they’re healed doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re under the ministry of a healer. What I mean by this is that when you go to a lot of these sort of miracle crusades and you see the craziness on TV, what happens is people came up – come up on stage and they say, “You know, I had cancer and now it’s gone,” and “I was blind and now I could see.” And they tell you all this stuff and everybody’s crying and the band whips you into a frenzy and they take 27 offerings and, you know, the guy gets a new Rolex and praise be to Baal and that’s the way the thing goes down. You hear I’m a little jaded on this but when it goes down that way, you gotta ask, “Is everyone up there giving a testimony credible?” See, we don’t wanna just hear that a healing is testified, we wanna see that a healing is verified. Meaning if you were going to the doctor and they said you had cancer and then they prayed for you, and God healed you, go back to the doctor and have the doctor verify that you don’t have cancer. And this is where a lot of healers fall down. They’ll have testifying but not verifying of possible healings and for us, we wanna see it verified. We don’t wanna just hear a story, because they’ve shown in some of these cases that the people giving the testimonies are faking it and they’re in on a cut of the offering and it’s one big scam to take advantage of hurting people, which is disgusting.
Some, also, would say, “Well it needs to happen in the church service,” and I would say there is nowhere in the Bible that the gift of healing is exercised in a church service. It’s not. Doesn’t mean it’s a sin, but it doesn’t mean it’s common. It doesn’t mean it’s to be done. Right, we’ll pray for you after the service. We’ll do that, we do that every week. Elders will pray for the sick in this church. We’ll send people to visit with you in the hospital and pray for you. We’ll schedule meetings to pray for you. We don’t mind praying for you. Your community group and that’s where you should be, will pray for you. We don’t mind praying for people. We’ll pray but not everything gets done on the stage on a Sunday. The Sunday gathering is for the worship of God, the partaking of communion, and the teaching of the Bible. We’ll get into that a little bit further in 1 Corinthians 14, but those are the primary purposes of the corporate assembly of God’s people in the church. So we don’t do healing services. Healing happens and we pray for the sick, but the best place to do that isn’t in a church service and the New Testament gives no evidence that that was ever the case.
And then some come along and say, “Well, you know, if you’re really a Christian, you don’t need medical insurance, you don’t need a doctor, because you know, God’s a healer and Jesus is the great physician. Hallelujah! You won’t get sick, praise the Lord! And we say that’s nonsense. And they’ll say, “No, no, no! Read the book of Acts. In the book of Acts, people get healed. You don’t need a doctor, you need the Holy Ghost!” You with me? Who wrote the book of Acts? A doctor! I hate to point out the obvious. To read the book written by the doctor to say you don’t need a doctor – that’s not real sharp, right? That’s not the best logic. Luke was a doctor. He wrote the Gospel of Luke, he wrote the book of Acts. He’s the great historian of the New Testament. He’s a doctor and the point of his teaching is not that you don’t need a doctor, right? I mean this is crazy talk. And part of Luke’s ministry is sometimes traveling with Paul and other times to go do medical ministry.
All right, so here’s what we believe. Go to your doctor and pray to the great physician, right? Do both. Right, we believe in doctors. Sometimes God works through doctors. We believe that and God also sometimes does the supernatural as the great physician and just works divinely and heals you and we’re – praise be to God for that, too. Whatever God decides to do, we’re down with that and we support that. Go to a doctor. Don’t be so silly as to think you don’t need a doctor. There was a case in the news just in the last week or two where a kid died of a common illness that coulda been cured from an antibiotic but his parents wouldn’t take him to the doctor because they thought in so doing, they wouldn’t be demonstrating faith in Jesus. What? No, go see the doctor. Go see the doctor.
And some say if you love God and you’re filled with the Holy Ghost, you’ll never get sick, right? And it comes under and usually, too, they’ll also say you’re gonna be rich. Right, so we call it prosperity doctrine. Name it, claim it. Blab it, grab it. You know health and wealth, right? These are the banners that this junk flies under. And they’ll say things like, “If you’re filled with the Holy Ghost and you really trust the Lord, you’ll never get sick. Your faith will make you well.” That’s a disgusting doctrine. It’s despicable. I knew one meathead, his wife got cancer. He taught this doctrine. If you get sick, it’s because you don’t have enough faith, you have unbelief. You’re a godless person because godly people don’t get sick. And then his wife got diagnosed with cancer and this guy had a choice. He had a choice to either change his doctrine, which was horrible, or rebuke his wife on her deathbed as a godless woman who lacked the faith to be healed. And he rebuked his wife.
You say, “Is that what Jesus wants? Jesus wants you to go to your wife’s deathbed as she’s breathing her last with cancer and point the finger at her and say, ‘Oh ye of little faith.’” What? What in the – how do you get the idea that you’ll never get sick and you’ll always be rich when you worship a homeless guy who got murdered? Like, how do you get there? I don’t understand that, right? We worship a suffering homeless guy and we’re promised that we’ll be rich and never sick? What? I don’t understand. And we reject that position because in the Bible are there people who do love God who are filled with the Holy Spirit. People who have unbelievable love for Jesus and they’re sick. Yeah, yeah, it’s true.
I’ll give you some examples. Epaphroditus, Philippians 2, he loved the Lord and he was sick. Timothy – 1 Timothy 5:23 – he was sick. I had one, sorta health preacher tell me, “Well, he didn’t have enough faith.” Dude, we have two books of the Bible named after the guy. He’s on the team, right? Like, if he doesn’t have enough faith, we’re jacked, all right? That’s my point. If Timothy isn’t close enough to God and God writes two letters to him, me and Hank are in serious trouble, right? Of course Timothy had faith. He was still sick, Trophimus, 2 Timothy 4:20, he was sick – and how about Paul? Did Paul have the gift of healing? Did he see people healed? Yeah. Was he sick? Yeah. You think people made fun of him for that? I’m sure they did, right? Paul was sick.
I’ll give you some examples. It’s – a lot of his letters, he’s like, “Pray for me, I’m sick. I don’t feel so good.” Right? And by the way, I healed so-and-so. You’re like, “Wha- that musta been a bummer,” right? Like, you and you and you – healed. Me? Dang it! You know? 1 Corinthians 2:3, 2 Corinthians 11:30, 2 Corinthians 12:5, 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, Galatians 4:13. Paul keeps saying, “I’m sick.” And again, I had one crazy preacher tell me, “Paul didn’t have enough faith.” I’m like, Paul? Paul wrote half the New Testament. Like, if Paul doesn’t have enough faith, we’re all doomed! Like, you know, Paul did belong to Jesus, you know, and it’s just silly. It’s just silly to say that it’s our faith and not God’s grace that heals us and that God must heal us or that God can’t heal us. God can heal. God does heal. God doesn’t have to heal. God’s God. He gets to do what he wants.
How about this. Do you have this gift? Well how about this – do you have a deep compassion for people who are sick? You hear that somebody’s sick or got hurt or got diagnosed with something terrible and your heart just breaks. You are just emotionally connected. You wanna call them, email them, pray for them, go visit them. You just – you, you’re just drawn to those who are sick. Do you have a deep conviction that God can heal anybody? All right, you believe that God could heal people and so you have hope and it maybe that it’s even tied to the gift of faith. Do you enjoy praying for people who are sick? You know, some people are freaked out by sick people. They don’t like to go to hospitals. They don’t need – like be around sick people. If you have the gift of healing, you’re drawn to people who are sick and hurting. You’re drawn to hospitals. You’re drawn to those who are suffering. It doesn’t repel you, it compels you toward them.
Have you seen God heal someone? Boy, if so, that fired you up to pray even more, didn’t it? And when God heals someone, are you so excited ‘cause it shows the power and the majesty of Jesus and the goodness of Jesus and the hope is that more people will hear about Jesus because of that healing. And do you long for the coming of God’s kingdom? When there’ll be no more curse, no more sickness, no more sin, no more death and everyone will be healed. And you love it when God’s kingdom breaks into this world and somebody’s healed and you really long for that day when we all get our final healing.
Now let me say this – I’ve seen people healed. I’ve seen people who had demonic affliction, that gave them physical injury and when we dealt with the demonic oppression, then they were healed, right? Their panic attacks went away, their mood changed, their multiple personality disorder went away, their – they changed, right? What they had was demonic oppression. Sometimes it’s supernatural imposing itself in a negative way on the physical. We’ve also seen people who have been healed. And I’ll tell you the first person that ever thought actually had this gift was someone early on in the years of Mars Hill and they told me about their gift – and this made so much sense to me – they said, “I think I have the gift of healing, Pastor Mark.” I said, “Well, explain it to me because I’m a skeptic and I’ve heard all kinds of nonsense. I believe it exists but I don’t know if I’ve ever seen it for real.” And they said, “I love to pray for the sick and oftentimes when I pray, God heals them.” I said, “Well how do you do this?” They said, “I don’t like anybody to know, because I don’t want lots of attention, don’t wanna be a rock star. I don’t want an arena. I don’t wanna be on TV.” They said, “I love kids.” This was actually an older woman. She said, “I love kids.” She said, “I go to hospitals. I go to hospitals and I visit either children’s hospitals or I visit the children’s wing of hospitals. And I go from room to room and I talk to kids about Jesus and I pray for them. And I tell them that if they get better, it’s because Jesus loves them.”
And I thought, you know what, if you really did have that gift, that’s probably how you’d use it, right? Not white suit, new jet, 27 offerings and some exposé on Dateline. It probably wouldn’t go that way. She said, also, she said, “I love to pray for people who are burn victims.” I thought, you know, how many people wanna go to the burn ward, right? You talk about a horrifying place, the burn ward. She said, “I like to go to the burn ward and pray for burn victims and I pray for their healing. And some get healed and many have met Jesus.” And I thought, you know what, that sounds like a legitimate gift to me. Right, this is not a scam artist. This is – this is – this is a real gracious, humble, quiet use of the gift.
So we believe the gift exists. We don’t believe that everyone who says they have it has it unless it’s verified. And we don’t believe that we are to just embrace all people who declare themselves to be healers. At the same time, we do not negate the fact that healing is for today, that God gives the gift to some people and he does answer their prayers and he can and does heal people and we don’t want to dismiss them because a few con men ruin it for the rest of us.
Third gift – miracles. This one gets funky, too. The gift of miracles is in 1 Corinthians 12:9 and is the ability to call on God to do supernatural acts to reveal his power. Miracles are where God shows up in some extraordinary way and you can’t account for it, it’s just God. And I’ve heard people say, “Oh, I’ve never seen one.” That’s because they don’t happen very often. Miracles are, by definition, things that don’t happen very often. If they happen all the time, we call ‘em Tuesday, right? Not miracle. Tuesday. It’s far out of Heaven day. Woo hoo! You know it’s unusual, right? “Oh, the sea parted! Look at that, must be Tuesday.” No, these things are unusual. They don’t happen all the time.
People with the gift of miracles see God show up in extraordinary ways, from little daily events, to major public displays. Examples from the Bible include seeing demons cast out of people. That’s a supernatural act of power. Nature obeying God’s authority and the dead being raised. Some of you say, “Do you believe dead people could be raised?” Sure I do. Not a lot. Right, Jesus rose and what does it say? That other people rose, too. It can happen. It does. Have I seen it? I don’t think so but it could happen. God can do anything God wants to do. Obviously, as I say these things are uncommon, do not happen regularly, otherwise they would not be viewed as miraculous but rather commonplace. People with this gift are not to chase signs and wonders but they do expect signs and wonders and miracles to follow God’s people.
Here’s our position. We do not chase signs, wonders and miracles. We don’t go to crazy crusades and the healing guy and the snake handling church and the, and the guy, who for $ 29.95 will get rid of your gout. We don’t, we don’t chase all that kinda nonsense. We chase Jesus, right? We wanna follow Jesus, love Jesus, obey Jesus, get close to Jesus and we believe that as we pursue Jesus, we don’t follow miracles but we do believe that miracles follow us. To give evidence that we’re going in the right direction. To encourage others to continue to follow us toward Jesus. How about Jesus’ ministry? Did Jesus’ ministry include the miraculous? It sure did. John, Chapter 20, Verses 30 and 31 says, “Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, were are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” It says that Jesus did so many miracles, that we don’t even have a complete record of them in the Bible, there was just so many but the ones in the Bible were hand-selected to prove that Jesus is God.
So the point of miracles is to be – a series of signs that point to Jesus as God. So the point of the miracle is still to get people to Jesus. I want you to see that. Want you to see that. Additionally, in Acts 2:22, we are told that “Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited to God, by you – by God to you, rather – by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know.” So God the father did miracles, signs and wonders through Jesus and today, as we continue as Christians in Jesus’ wake and ministry, sometimes God shows up and does miracles, signs and wonders through us, too.
Here are some of Jesus’ miracles. He commanded nature. You know, there’s a storm. “Knock it off!” No more storm. That’s cool, right? Jesus walked on water. I mean that’s unbelievable. Imagine this – Seafair Hydro Weekend, everybody’s out on the log boom and you’re just walking along, “Hey guys! Howya doin’?” On Lake Washington, right? They’ll be like, “Where does he go to church? We’re going there.” You know, you know, he’s walking up –that’s a miracle. How about this one – he turns water into wine. That’s hard, right? Yeah, take 100 gallons of water and turn it into really good wine. That was his first miracle. How about this one – Jesus brings back guys from death like Lazarus. That’s a neat miracle. How about this one – Jesus’ miracle of taking a little boy’s lunch and feeding 5,00 men plus the women and children, maybe 20,000 people. He fed ‘em with a Lunchable. Right? This little boy, “Mommy, I’m going to see Jesus.” She gives him a Hebrew Lunchable. “Here’s a Lunchable, son.” So he gets his little Hebrew Lunchable, he goes to see the Lord Jesus, he looks around, “Jesus, there’s 20,000 people, you’ve been preaching all day. You’re worse than Pastor Mark. They’re hungry. They need something to eat.” And Jesus says, “Cool, thank you son,” and he fed 20,000 people with a Lunchable.
And the Bible says in there was 12 baskets because each of his disciples then had a take home, right? A to-go bag, right? A Hebrew to-go bag. That’s a miracle. That’s a miracle. And so Jesus’ ministry had all kinds of miracles. How about biblically? Other people have it? Yeah. It says in Acts 2:43 that the Apostles did, “many miraculous signs.” All pointing to Jesus. Stephen, we’re told in Acts 6:8 did “great miracles.” Paul, we are told in Acts 19 did extraordinary miracles in Ephesus. Also, Paul cast demons out of people in Acts 16. You say, you believe in demons? Yeah, we’ll get to that in a minute. We do. We don’t like ‘em, right? People say, “What’s your position on demons?” We’re against them. You know, we believe in them and we don’t like them. And there was a guy in Acts 13, he was a demonic-inspired sorcerer who was messing up the ministry and so God blinded the guy and a miracle was done by God. And in the Bible, too, if you wanna see guys who have miracles around ‘em, look at Moses. Tons of miracles around Moses. I mean, it starts with a bush talking to him. The next thing you know, you know, there’s frogs everywhere. I mean, it – there’s a lot of miracles around Moses. You go to Elijah and Elisha, tons of miracles. Fire down from heaven, right? I mean, there’s miracles around these three people’s ministries and lives.
Here’s some common errors regarding the gift of miracles. One, people who use this gift wrongly exalt themselves instead of God. And that’s what – they say, “I’m anointed. I have the power of God.” The worst I’ve ever seen was a guy who said, “And now Holy Spirit, I command you,” what? The Holy Spirit’s God. He’s not, you know, an errand boy to go do what you tell him. You know, this arrogant puffing up with pride to the degree where, “I have the gift and I tell the Holy Spirit what to do and he obeys me.” Hoo hoo! Boy, oh boy I hope, I hope, I hope you have some fireproof underwear for the end, you know? I mean, it’s just gonna be terrible for you. Thinking you’re God, bossing the Holy Spirit around, that’s crazy talk. Right, any time you use it to exalt yourself – “I’m the Lord’s anointed. I do miracles. I speak for the,” Oh, no you don’t. Jesus talks about these guys. They come to him at the end and they say, “Lord, Lord, didn’t we do miracles in your name?” What does he say? I don’t know who you are. You’re going to hell. “We had a great ministry!” Well, it’s over now. You didn’t – you did not exalt me. You didn’t serve me. You were just doing it for your own thing.
Some people too, say, “You know that it’s a mighty man or woman of God if they have a miracle or if miracles surround them, because that shows that God’s anointed them.” No it doesn’t. I’ll prove it to you. Just because miracles are part of someone’s ministry does not mean that they are superior to other religious leaders in any way. I’ll prove it to you. Jesus says, in Matthew’s Gospel – that no one is greater than whom? John the Baptizer. Jesus says, there’s never been anybody born that’s greater than John the Baptizer. John, Chapter 10, Verse 41, Jesus also says John the Baptizer never performed a miracle. Do you know that? Right, would you look at John the Baptizer and say, “Well, there’s a second-class servant of God. There’s a man who we don’t know if God was with him, because we never saw a miracle.” No. Those who would say, “I should get a crusade. Everybody should come follow me. I got some miracles.” That doesn’t mean anything. Do you love Jesus? Do you have sound doctrine? Are you serving the Lord? Jesus says, “Nobody’s greater than John,” and John never did a miracle. All right, the gift of miracles doesn’t make you a superior servant or child of God. It just doesn’t. It’s one of the gifts. It’s one of the ways to serve. We praise God for it but those who would make it the litmus test for spiritual maturity and the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit have erred grievously.
Other errors that are common. Jesus says in Luke 11:29, “A wicked, adulterous generation seeks for a sign.” Some people just want power, not Jesus. They want miracles, not Jesus. They want the supernatural, not Jesus. They want the paranormal, not Jesus. They wanna be clairvoyant. They wanna read people’s minds. They wanna see the future, they want all – and Jesus says, “That’s just wicked.” We don’t seek signs, we seek God. We don’t chase signs and wonders. They follow us as we follow Jesus. And some of you say, “But I’m not a Christian, but Pastor Mark, I would become a Christian if I saw a miracle.” You know what? That’s not true, either. There are people who saw Jesus walk on water, Jesus feed thousands with a little boy’s lunch, saw Jesus turn water into wine, saw Jesus resurrect from death – the greatest miracle in all of history – men like Judas Iscariot. And because their hearts were hard, the truth came to them like bullet off a rock and just deflected itself away, never penetrated so that they would know and love Jesus. It’s not so much about how many miracles you see, but it is more about the receptivity of your heart and mind to the truth. The Bible is filled with more than enough evidence and more than enough eyewitness testimony about the miracles of Jesus and those must be sufficient.
Do you have this gift? Do you truly believe that God can do the impossible? Miracles can happen. That person could get saved. That person could get healed. That church could be planted. That country could be reached. That marriage could be saved. You know, that, that demon could be cast. Anything could happen. Do you believe that God is the God of the supernatural, the miraculous, the unexplained. Secondly, when you read of the many miracles in the Bible, you’re encouraged because you love seeing God show off in a way that can’t be ignored. Right, are you the person, when you read the Bible, you gravitate toward the miracles, right? “Woo! Fire outta Heaven! Yes! I love that! Woo! Walkin’ on water! Yes! Love that! Jetskiing 1.0. Love that!” You know, you love the miracles. My sons love the miracles. “Daddy, tell me ‘bout the dead guy who came back and stunk.” Right, they love that stuff. In the King James, it says that Lazarus stinketh. They love that! Right, and some of you love the miracle stories in the Bible. You just love those. You read those, you remember those, they stick with you. You pray for those things to happen, maybe this is your gift.
Have you seen someone freed of demonic oppression? Right, they were demonized, oppressed or internally influenced and God delivered them and they were changed and it was a miracle. Have you seen God perform miracles? Have you ever seen one? When you see or hear of a miracle, is your faith increased? You’re like, “Yes! I know God could do that. He did it! That’s awesome. I trust him and I believe in him. I gotta tell everybody so they believe too.” And do you use stories of God’s miracles to help prove to others that Jesus is God? Some of you with the gift of miracles, when you’re arguing for Jesus, people are like, “I don’t believe in Jesus.” “You have to, man. He rose from the dead. How do you explain that? How do you get a dead guy outta the grave? You know where Buddha’s at? He’s in the grave. You know where Mohammad’s at? He’s in the grave. You know where Jesus is at? Alive and well. What are you gonna do with that?” You’re the miracle people. You love to argue for the miracles. “Jesus fed people. Jesus walked on water. Jesus healed people. Jesus rose from the dead. What are you gonna do with that?” And you argue for your faith from the miracles because for you, that’s such convincing evidence.
Some say, “Well, I’ve never seen a miracle.” I tell you what. I’ve seen some. I’ve seen unbelievable acts of God, but I tell you one of the coolest miracles – and maybe you don’t agree with me – but I think Mars Hill’s a miracle. I mean we’re in the least churched city in America. There’s more dogs than Christians, right? There’s nowhere to park. You know? And you’re here. It’s crazy. And it’s hot. It’s really hot. Like I shoulda preached on hell and used this as an illustration. It’s hot in here all summer, right? And everybody said, “It can’t be done and people won’t come to church,” and you know what? People are becoming Christians. Last week, 63 people got baptized at Mars Hill. Sixty-three. You know what it is, 63 miracles, that’s what that is. You know, and some people say, “Oh that’s not a miracle they became Christian,” Oh it’s a miracle when somebody becomes a Christian. See, they say, “Oh, God parted the sea.” Well, the sea’s not nearly as stubborn as people. When the sea obeys God, I go, “I see that.” When somebody obeys God, “That’s a miracle. That’s unbelievable,” Because people are stubborn, man. To see people become Christians. To see people be saved by God, repent of sin and love Jesus and have new lives and to have a completely different eternally destiny – that’s a miracle. So we see it all the time and some of the miracles sometimes are just seeing lives changed by God, miraculously. I mean, I’ve seen people who were divorced get remarried because they became Christians and changed. That’s a miracle. That doesn’t happen apart from God.
Fourth one, discernment. Last gift we’ll look at. So 1 Corinthians 12:10. This is one of my gifts. I don’t talk about it a lot, because it freaks people out. The spiritual gift of discernment is the ability to quickly perceive whether people, things, ideas, events are from God or Satan. You’re the person something happens, they’ll be like, “Oh my gosh! That was a supernatural event,” and you’re like, “Was that God or Satan?” Right? Was that God or – you don’t just immediately go to joy. You go to test and approve, right? I’m there with you, man. I’ll tell you how those of us with this gift work. We know that there is God, who made human beings and angels. Some of the angels obeyed God and remain angels. Some disobeyed God and became demons. And they mimic and copy and counterfeit everything that God does. They’re not equal to God, they’re made by God – God’s eternal, they’re created. The leader of the demons is Satan. We believe that. Okay, some of you are going, “Oh come on, I went to college.” I went to college, too, and grad school and I believe in demons. Okay? I believe in demons. And angels and God.
And here’s how it works. There’s God and Satan. Again, I’m not saying Satan is equal to God, but this is – this is how the conflict is set up. God has angels, Satan has demons. God tells truth, Satan tells lies. God has teachers, Satan has false teachers. God has Apostles who lead ministries and plant churches and the Bible says that Satan has false Apostles. The Bible says that – that the point of those who serve and follow Jesus is humility and faith in Jesus and Satan’s whole goal is to get us puffed up with self-sufficiency and pride. Also known as self-esteem, which is demonic. And as well, those of us who have this gift know that the results are heaven or hell and that to get us there, God often does do miracles and signs and wonders and healings but Satan will do counterfeit signs, wonders and miracles, even healings- 2 Thessalonians says, to attempt to even deceive Christians.
Some of you say, “Come on.” No, I’m serious. See, Satan doesn’t come up to you and say, “Hi, I’m Satan. Would you like to believe lies, be in a cult and go to hell?” That’s not a great sales pitch. He will come up to you and say, “Would you like to have self-esteem? Would you like to have a spiritual power? Would you like to see into the spirit world? Would you like a miracle or a healing? Would you like a religion that told you you’re smart and right and everything you believe is true and you need to just love yourself and not God?” And people sign up for that by the millions. And those of us who have the gift of discernment, we know that not everything is from God. Not everything is true. Not everything is biblical. Not everything is about Jesus. Not everything leads to God’s glory. Not everything leads to God’s kingdom. There are counterfeits. There are copies out there to lead people astray and discernment is the ability to distinguish – is this Satan or God? Is this – is this lie or truth? Is this a counterfeit sign, wonder and miracle or a real sign, wonder and miracle that points to Jesus? Is this a false teacher who’s using the Bible but using it like Satan did when he fought Jesus? Or is this a real teacher, who teaches the Bible rightly and exalts Jesus? See one of the reasons I always talk about Jesus is that’s the only way you can really grow in discernment – is being clear about Jesus and connecting everything to Jesus and that’s how we stay out of sin and error and the darkness and the demonic is by sticking close to Jesus.
So let me ask you this. Did Jesus have discernment? He did. Satan comes to him in Matthew 4 and he says, “You’re Satan.” He knows who he is. See, that’s important. Do you know that Satan and demons are coming to people in Seattle right now and Seattle has zero discernment. “I saw an angel!” Was it an angel or a demon? “What’s the difference?” Big difference. “Well, I’m into spirituality.” Which spirits are you following? “Does it matter?” Yes. Some are demons. “Well, I believe in God.” Which God? “Does it matter?” Yes, there’s only one God and then there’s demons who pretend to be gods – you don’t wanna worship a demon. It does matter. “Well, I’m praying.” Great, who are you praying to? “I don’t know.” You should. Right, before you pick up the number, dial and talk about all the important things, you should make sure you know who you’re calling. In Seattle it’s – the thought is – you know, who cares about the Bible. There’s all kinda books. Who cares about God. There’s all kinda gods. Who cares about religion. There’s all kinda religions. As long as it works for you. That is demonic. Because when you die, it doesn’t work and that’s when you really need it. Right? I mean this is Seattle. We believe in Jesus and the Bible and heaven and hell and that sin is the problem and that Jesus is the answer, and that Satan and demons don’t want you to believe that. They want you to be religious and spiritual, which is where demons hide and false teachers hide – in religion and spirituality.
Jesus could tell when Satan was at work. He looks at Peter and says, “Peter, Satan has asked to sift you as weak, but I’ll pray for you.” He tells Peter, you better watch out, he’s coming to get you. You better, you better keep your game face on, kid. It’s gonna be hard. He also knows when someone is speaking words that are inspired of Satan, not of God. He looks at Peter elsewhere and says “Get behind me, Satan.” Biblically, John, Paul, Peter, the disciples all demonstrate the gift of discernment.
I’ll give you some examples. This is one of my gifts, okay? Some of you that’s manifest itself theologically. You can hear a teacher and two minutes in, you’re like, “He’s a heretic. [sniffs] I’m a bloodhound for Christ. [sniffs] I smell it coming. That’s a bad teacher right there. He quoted a verse but he quoted it wrong. He didn’t quote the other half and [sniffs] oh! Smells like a Jehovah’s Witness. You know, I know it.” You could tell teaching. You start reading a book and you’re reading it and you’re like, “Nope, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no! This is wrong, that’s not what the Bible says. That’s not pointing to Jesus. That’s wrong.” Your friends are like, “Well, I think it’s a good book.” You’re like, “No it’s not. For this reason, that reason,” Because you saw- you could tell good teacher, bad teacher, true doctrine, false doctrine. You have theological discernment. You can just clean it all up, right? How many of you, your friends come to you, say, “Is this a good book? Is this a good author? Is that a good teacher?” Because they know you got the gift of discernment.
It also manifests itself with people. You can read people. People come up and you can read their mail. Some people think, “Oh, you’re just a jerk. You’re judgmental. You’re mean-spirited.” But then two, three weeks later, you’re right. Right? “Oh, don’t talk to her. She’s an adulteress.” Right? Dude’s looking at his wife, like, “Uh, how do you know?” I just know. A month later, comes out, she is. Right? People with the gift of discernment, sometimes they read people’s mail. They get a cue on people way before anybody else does. A miracle happens. Something supernatural happens. They say, “Oh, was that God or Satan? I don’t know.” The person with the gift of discernment knows. They know whether it was God or Satan.
I’ll give you some weird examples. I, I love this gift but I’ll be honest with you, this gift is exceedingly hard at times ebcause sometimes God will give me discernment to see beyond what’s visible, to know what’s going on behind the scenes, spiritually and sometimes, for me, God speaks to me. Sometimes I get visions and I see things. I don’t talk about this a lot. I’ll give you some examples. There was a gal I was talking to, I was hearing voices. She was under demonic oppression. “You’re fat. You’re stupid. You’re an idiot. God doesn’t love you. Your husband doesn’t love you. You should kill yourself. You should die.” She’s hearing all of this in third person. So it’s accusation. Revelation 12:10, “Satan is the accuser of the children of God. He accuses them day and night.” She’s getting all these accusations and she’s suicidal. They put her on multiple different medications, saying it’s physical, hormonal. I meet with her. I think it’s definitely spiritual. So I say, “Well, I don’t know what’s going on. Let me pray for you.” She’s with her husband. She’s a nice gal, loves Jesus, loves her husband. They have a good marriage. I couldn’t understand where this was all coming from. Where are these voices coming from. It’s not Jesus and it’s not her, so it must be the enemy because only the enemy wants to come to kill and steal and destroy and Jesus comes to give life. So I start praying for her and I pray with my eyes open and it’s like I’m watching a film. It’s literally as I’m watching a film. And I see her on the changing table as about a two-year-old little girl and her dad is changing her diaper and sexually assaults her as a little girl. And some evil spirit that was connected to her father then transferred to her and has been on her since and then came to her as a comforting spirit, as an invisible friend as a little girl and had been with her all this time.
And was the one that was a demon pretending to be a friend that was giving her these accusations that she was audibly hearing, thinking that she was depressed, suicidal and, and possibly bipolar. And I know people have real medical problems, real mental problems, real emotional problems, real hormonal problems but she had a real spiritual problem.
And I said, “You know, I just saw this film. Your daddy did something horrible to you and something evil came on you and it’s been with you ever since and it is what is speaking to you.” She just starts bawling. She says, “My daddy loves Jesus. We’re very, very close. He would never do that to me, Pastor Mark.” I said, “Go ask your daddy.” She comes back, she said, “He did it. How did you know?” I said, “Look, I don’t know. God knows. And all I see is what’s going on and God wanted us to know what was behind all of this, so he made it known. I don’t understand.” So we prayed and got rid of that and she got rid of her medication. She’s happy. She’s doing fine. Totally transformed woman. Life’s better. Life’s better.
I had it on another occasion where I’m talking to a gal and she was struggling with depression and voices and demonic attack and I, I prayed for her with my eyes open and I saw her out on a date with a guy and I saw how tall he was and the color of his hair and his necklace and his coat and his clothing and he bought her a drink and he slipped something in her drink and he took her home and I could see the room, the colors of the wall and where the bed was and the décor and the necklace he was wearing and he raped her, repeatedly, and the guy was demonized and something evil came upon her and had been tormenting her other – ever since. And I said, “Did you go out with this guy? Did he look like this and was his bedroom like this and were the color of the walls like this and was he wearing a necklace like this and he took off his black leather jacket,” and I see the whole thing. I said, “Because I just watched you get raped. Did that happen?” “Yeah.” “Well that’s where your problems started.” “How did you know?” “Look, I don’t know.” That’s discernment. You know, you tell me what happened and then I see what caused it and now we can deal with that.
And sometimes, it’s personal. I was in a counseling meeting with a young couple one time and I prayed for them because they were having marital trouble and I saw him, the night before, throw her up against a wall – again, like watching a film – grab her by the throat and beat her and tell her that if she told me, he might kill her. And I looked at him and I said, “Dude, last night – did you throw your wife against the wall, grab her by the throat, slam her head up against the wall, smack her around and tell her if she told me that you’d hurt her even worse, maybe even kill her?” He bowed up, got all angry, he said, “Yeah, did she tell you?” I said, “No, Jesus did,” you know and, and the guy was a wife-beater. Now they came in and told me they were having marital difficulties. She wasn’t gonna say anything, she wasn’t gonna say anything but the gift of discernment allows you to get behind the story to get the real story to deal with the real problem. That being that this guy’s a wife-beater.
And sometimes it comes off just like being a mean-spirited jerk and I’m still working on what to do with that part of it. I’ll give you one example. I was brought as a consultant for some ministry leaders and pastors – this was some years ago – and we’re sitting in a living room of this well-known author’s house. There’s maybe 20 or 30 of us and this is the opening session and they’re asking me questions and I’m thinking, “Oh, this is fun. This is fine. No problem. Cool, I’ll answer your questions.” First question, a guy that I don’t know asks me—I’d heard about this guy, but I never met him – and I met this guy at this thing and we’re talking and so then, he asks this question. He says, “You know, you got a lotta young people going to Mars Hill. How can I get young people to come to our church? What do you think the secret is?” And I looked at him and I said, “I won’t tell you because you’re a false teacher and you’re a false prophet and you’re committing adultery on your wife and you’re an alcoholic and you don’t love the Lord and you don’t know the Lord is gonna judge you. He’s gonna take down your ministry and the last thing he wants me to do is help you get more people.” Okay? And I was like, “I hope that was the Lord. I hope that was the Lord.”
This is like the first 15 minutes of the meeting. I’m supposed to be there for three days. “Next question?” You know? Everybody’s like, “No, that’s cool. We’re fine. No more questions,” you know? And this guy got all angry and just bowed up and cussed me out and you know what, within a year, he’d been exposed for having ongoing, multi-year sexual adulterous relationship with his secretary. He was an alcoholic. Got checked into a multi-month rehab stint and is no longer in ministry. I go, I don’t know. Right, I mean, I don’t know how this always works to be honest with you and sometimes you can come off as mean-spirited, judgmental. “You just met that person, how do you know what they’re like?” Look. I’m not telling you I’m batting 1,000 but I’m telling you, I see something you don’t see and I think I know where this is gonna go. And this is one of the painful parts of my ministry. Right, I don’t wanna see kids get molested. I don’t wanna see women get raped and beaten. I don’t – I don’t wanna see guys sleeping with their secretary but sometimes, like a film, I get to see stuff and I believe that is one of the expressions of the gift of discernment.
Do you have this gift? Do you feel a special responsibility to protect the truth of Scripture by exposing false teachers? Do you make swift evaluation of people? That some people think is premature but in time, you nailed it and it was God? Do you have a solid understanding of Scripture, love the Bible and sensitivity to the leading of the Holy Spirit? You better know your Bible, you’re gonna use this gift. Are you keenly aware of moral sin and doctrinal heresy? “That person’s a false teacher. There’s something funky there.” Can you read a book, here a teacher and almost immediately uncover any false teaching and do you have an ongoing sense when there is demonic presence or activity around you or in people’s lives that the enemy is at work and needs to be exposed – darkness brought into the light? This is part of the ministry. To guard the church, to protect the church from false teachers, from false miracle workers, from sinners who are unrepentant, from evildoers. It’s a gift to protect the whole church.
I’ll close with this and I appreciate your patience, because we have taken your time. Let me end with this. It really is all about Jesus, okay? We talked about faith. Faith in who? Jesus. We talked as well about healing. Jesus will heal some of you in this life and if you belong to him, you will spend forever in his kingdom and we will all experience the gift of full and total healing of our mind, our body, our emotions, our will, our soul, in the kingdom. Healing is guaranteed for all of God’s children in time. Miracles, what is the greatest miracle? In my opinion the greatest miracle, well obviously, the greatest miracle in history is the resurrection of Jesus but the greatest miracle in our lives is when God makes us a Christian. Has God done that miracle? Are you a Christian? Do you love Jesus? Have you repented of sin? Have you trusted in him? Have you gone from darkness to light? Have you gone from lies to truth? Have you gone from religion and spirituality to Jesus? That’s the miracle. That’s the miracle of miracles. If you’re not a Christian, that’s the most important thing. Ministry is secondary. Jesus is primary.
If you’re not a Christian, what you lack is this gift of discernment. You don’t know whether it’s God or Satan who’s speaking to you. Whether – you don’t know whether it’s God or Satan that you’re following. You don’t know whether it’s God or Satan you’ll spend eternity with. We want you to have discernment and clarity and we want you to get that through focusing on Jesus and asking yourself, “Do I know Jesus? Do I worship Jesus? Do I belong to Jesus? Am I following Jesus? Am I into Jesus? Or am I just trying to be a good person, a morals person, a religious person, a spiritual person?” You can use any of those words but really what you’re saying is a demonic person. You wanna be with Jesus. That’s what you want. That’s what you want. Not supernatural power and miracles and clairvoyance and, and insight and – you want Jesus. That’s what you need.
If you’re not a Christian, you’ll become a Christian today. You experience the miracle of salvation. You give your sin to Jesus and pray. You say, “Jesus, I’m a sinner. Forgive me, be my God,” and he will. For those of you who have, ask Jesus, “What is my ministry? God, why am I here at Mars Hill? What am I supposed to be doing to build up this church?” and then be about that business and some of you have known and have been serving and God has used you and I want you to get a few moments in prayer to thank God ‘cause you know what, he’s blessed us all. Things are going well and we get to be part of a miracle. A church in this city, reaching people who previously had no knowledge of Jesus and now he is in the process of changing lives by the thousands forever. And whole generations are affected by this. When you’re ready, you can come forward for communion. We remember the body and blood of Jesus, given on the cross for our sins. All Christians, or those who become Christian tonight, are welcome to partake.
You’re welcome to give of your tithes and offerings as long as you’re not a visitor or non-Christian. You’re our guest, we love you, but for the rest of us, it’s part of our act of worship, and then we’re going to sing and celebrate and give praise to Jesus Christ. That we have faith in Jesus. That today or forever, one way or another, we will experience healing through Jesus. That we have been saved as a miracle through Jesus and now we have discernment to get rid of all the confusion and lies and just know, love, serve, follow, worship, obey, adore, emulate Jesus.
I’ll pray. Father God, I pray for my friends. I pray that right now, a Holy Spirit, I ask humbly. I don’t tell you to do anything, but I’m asking Holy Spirit that for those who aren’t Christians, that you would come to be with them now. That you would do a miracle in them. You would give them a love for Jesus and a hatred of sin, and faith in the Bible and desire for new life. That you would make them Christians. Holy Spirit, I ask as well, humbly, that for those who are Christians, you would encourage them that they have an important ministry and that you would enable them to do it well. That they would follow in the example of Jesus so that others might be helped, and Holy Spirit, we thank you for the spiritual gifts that you have given to this church, that you’ve given to us, individually and corporately. We ask that we would serve like Jesus served and that we would glorify the father as Jesus glorified the father and we ask that this would be a church that is increasingly like Jesus, filled with people who are increasingly like Jesus.