Releasing God's Power Through the Spiritual Gifts of Faith, Healing, and Miracles
Summary: The Bible speaks of three manifestations of the Holy Spirit that are often called the “power gifts” — faith, healing, and miracles (1 Corinthians 12:9-10). But why do we see these gifts so seldom occurring in most of our churches today? Understanding some biblical foundations can help us see a greater release of these gifts of supernatural power in our lives and our churches.
Do you personally believe that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are for today? Specifically, do you believe that God is still blessing His Church today with gifts of healing, miracles, and “mountain-moving” faith? More than believing in them, are you seeing this type of heaven-sent power manifested? Most will answer “no.” In many Spirit-filled churches, we see the expression of prophecy, tongues and interpretation, and God-given words of knowledge. But, sad to say, many of the same churches are seeing very little expression of the power of God to heal and do miracles today. Yet there are simple foundational principles, which we will look at today, that will prepare you and your church for a release of God’s power in your ministries.
Luke 9:52-55 And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” But Jesus turned and rebuked them. [NIV margin = Some manuscripts add: “And he said, ‘You do not know what kind of spirit you are of, for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.’”]
• The power gifts have explosive potential, both for good and for bad. Consider James and John’s misguided desire to use the power of God to call down fire on some Samaritans who simply “did not welcome” Jesus!
• (1) The power gifts are not intended for people’s destruction. Jesus came to save men’s lives, not to destroy them, so He rebuked the two disciples for their desire to use God’s power in an inappropriate manner.
• (2) The power gifts do not operate out of an emotional, “knee-jerk” reaction. That was the problem with James and John. They were upset because the Samaritans did not welcome Jesus. Their emotions got the better of them, and they spoke to Jesus about their invoking fire from heaven to judge the Samaritans! Jesus rightly rebuked them. If we wish to be used in faith, healing, and miracles today, we must be fully submissive to God’s timing and leading, rather than to the hasty reactions of our human emotions.
Acts 3:6-7, 11-12, 16 Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong…  While the man held on to Peter and John, all the people were astonished and came running to them in the place called Solomon’s Colonnade. When Peter saw this, he said to them: “Fellow Israelites, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? …  By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see.
• (3) Being used in the power gifts requires great humility. The apostles had drawn much attention by this healing of the paralytic. The crowds flocked to them and were staring at them (vs. 12). Yet they showed the proper humility required of those God uses in such dramatic ways. Peter asked, “Why do you stare at us, as if by our own power or godliness…” they had done this.
• (4) They properly — and evangelistically! — turned the focus upon Jesus. They declared that it was faith in Jesus’ name that had brought about this healing. The power gifts often astound the onlookers and provide openings to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with them.
Acts 14:8-15 ...(vs. 10) [Paul] called out [to the lame man], “Stand up on your feet!” At that, the man jumped up and began to walk. When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have come down to us in human form!” … (15) [Paul replied] “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.”
• (5) Having done this great miracle, the apostle Paul refused to profit by it. The heathen people wanted to offer sacrifices to Paul and Barnabas as they would to their own gods. But the apostles absolutely forbade them from doing so. They truly lived out Jesus’ words: “Freely you have received; freely give.” They refused to make merchandise of God’s gifts of power.
• Sadly, church history shows an unfortunate tendency. The power gifts, especially healing, may begin to function in someone’s ministry. Far too often then he incorporates separately as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, enters traveling ministry, and the money begins pouring in! Let me speak very anonymously here, as I have no desire to single out abuses by name. I once attended four days of a three-week revival held by a healing evangelist in another state. Aggressive, heavy-handed offerings (sometimes lasting a half hour!) were taken in every service by the evangelist and were more than enough to fund his three-week stay in the penthouse suite of an elite local hotel. In sharp and edifying contrast, the great apostle Paul’s attitude was: “I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold” (Acts 20:33).
• (6) Similarly, Paul and Barnabas refused to build their own “image.” Even after this dramatic healing of the lame man, Paul strongly declared, “We too are only human, like you.” And he pointed them to “the living God,” the Creator of all things and the obvious source of the healing power they had just witnessed.
Exodus 7:8-12 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “When Pharaoh says to you, ‘Perform a miracle,’ then say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and throw it down before Pharaoh,’ and it will become a snake.” So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did just as the Lord commanded. Aaron threw his staff down in front of Pharaoh and his officials, and it became a snake. Pharaoh then summoned wise men and sorcerers, and the Egyptian magicians also did the same things by their secret arts: Each one threw down his staff and it became a snake. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs.
• (7) Discern the counterfeit from the real. Aaron obeyed the Lord’s leading and did a miracle before Pharaoh. Then, amazingly, the Egyptian magicians “did the same [miracle] by their secret arts.” Make no mistake: Satan has power to produce counterfeit signs and wonders. In fact, Satan uses lying signs and wonders to deceive people (2 Thessalonians 2:9). Be discerning here — the counterfeits do not glorify God. The counterfeits do not further the kingdom of God and do not bring honor and glory to the Lord Jesus Christ. And just as Aaron’s snake-staff swallowed up the Egyptian magicians’ snake-staffs, God’s manifestations of power will always triumph over the devil’s phony imitations.
John 11:40-44 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”
• (8) The power gifts are used to bring glory to God — “you will see the glory of God.” Remember this as you pray for the sick or seek a miracle or a gift of faith.
• (9) And they are very effective in helping bring people to saving faith in Jesus Christ. In Acts 3 we read of Peter and John being used by God to heal a lame beggar. This miracle, hard on the heels of the dramatic, miraculous events of the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4), led to the conversion to Christ of thousands of souls (Acts 2:41 and 4:4).
1 Corinthians 14:12 So it is with you. Since you are eager for gifts of the Spirit, try to excel in those that build up the church.
• (10) A compelling motive in all the spiritual gifts, including the power gifts of healing, miracles, and faith, is to “build up the church.” Jesus’ clearly stated desire is to build His church (Matthew 16:18).
• The Great Commission, when properly fulfilled, will build up the Lord’s Church. Our call is to preach, teach, and testify of the Good News about Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. The Lord confirms our words with supernatural signs — things like healing, modern day miracles, prophecies, tongues, and more. People hear God’s word, see His great power, and come to saving faith — faith not based on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God (1 Corinthians 2:4-5).
In sum, there are foundational truths and proper attitudes and motives to release God’s gifts of power in our churches and ministries:
1. See the power gifts as constructive, not destructive.
2. They are not to be done out of emotional, knee-jerk reactions (like James and John), but by the leading and enabling of God.
3. They require great humility in the person being used.
4. They often have an underlying evangelistic motivation.
5. Refuse to seek personal profit from the power gifts.
6. Refuse to use these gifts to build up your own reputation and stature in the eyes of others.
7. Be alert to the counterfeit, as opposed to the true power of God.
8. See the power gifts as instruments to bring glory to God.
9. See them as powerful aids in leading others to saving faith.
10. Be motivated, when these gifts are manifested, to build up the Lord’s Church.