Recently on my YouTube Channel someone posted a question that seemed to be more of an attack than an inquiry. After hearing a message on Knowing and Feeling the Love of God the writer asked, “Can this heal this sick, raise the dead, and work miracles?” The answer is a resounding “Yes!”
We have many ideas about what will produce miracles that are neither born out in Scripture nor proven in life. One such concept is that faith will produce miracles. People should certainly be taught the principles of faith, but this concept has somehow degenerated into beating people up and making them feel condemned for not having enough faith.
Then there are the groups that feel if you just talk about miracles enough faith will get high and you can “initiate” a flow of miracles. Personally, I believe testimonies are among some of the most powerful words spoken. Nothing is as influential as the story of one who has experienced something personally.
I could go down the list of casting our demons, flowing in words of knowledge, prophecy, and all the other biblical truths that have been presented disproportionately as a means to get the same results, but you really didn’t see Jesus place the same emphasis on these topics as we do today, yet there was no lack of miracles in His personal ministry!
The truth is teaching about faith doesn’t necessarily produce faith; it merely gives information about it. Testimonies, on the other hand, are actually used to get optimism high and create expectancy. Expectancy is, in fact, the definition of the Greek word for hope. According to the apostle Paul, to emphasize faith and hope more than love is a reversal of truth. 1 Cor. 13:13 says, And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. So if I intend to embrace God’s priorities my greatest emphasis must be love. I like what my friend Ed Elliot points out about this verse. “The reason love is the greatest is because love can produce faith and hope, but faith and hope cannot produce love.”
In the Book of Galatians Paul continues to point out the reason to place such a high priority on love. For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love. (Gal. 5:5-6) In context he is addressing the argument of circumcision and following the law or uncircumcision. It probably astounded people on both sides of the argument when he pointed out it really doesn’t matter if you claim to be free from the law or claim to live under the law, what matters is whether or not you are living in a faith that is rooted in love.
But Paul actually gives us an incredible insight into what makes faith work. Faith works by love. Now that presents the need for two dimensions of love. First and foremost, faith must be rooted in the love of God. The word “faith” really means “to have an immovable trust.” We know that we will not trust someone of whom we are afraid. When we are afraid it implies we are not sure of the motives or intentions of the other person. We know that the only cure for fear is love. When we are sure the other person loves us we are able to fully trust them. We have no fear of them hurting us! The apostle John said it like this, …perfect love for us eliminates all dread of what he might do to us. If we are afraid, it is for fear of what he might do to us and shows that we are not fully convinced that he really loves us. (1 John 4:18, LB) When I become fully convinced of His love for me I become immovable in faith.
My first experience with this took place in a small jungle crusade in the Philippines. I preached to a few hundred people who walked through the mountains in response to the messages that were shouted out over megaphones across the mountains and valleys, “Bring the sick, and they will be healed.” Sure enough, the people came to the announced place at the appointed time and they brought the sick, crippled, blind, and dying!
As I began to preach in the sweltering heat there were all manner of disruptions. The two dogs fighting were not nearly as distracting as the drunk who had gotten up on the concrete foundation of a fallen building that we were using as a stage. He walked back and forth between my translator and me as I attempted to preach a strong message of faith. If that wasn’t bad enough, it started to rain. Although the people stood in the rain listening, I saw no proof that they were connecting to my message. I labored even harder to convince them to have faith.
Late in the message, as my translator was delivering my last point, in my heart I cried out to God, “If you’re within a thousand miles of this place I can’t tell it. We’ve promised miracles and nothing is going to happen. These people will probably kill me as a fraud and I’ll never see my family again.” Then, I delivered my next sentence to be translated just on cue as the translator did his, the Lord spoke to my heart and asked, “Do you believe I love these people?” “Lord! Of course, I believe you love them!” was my heart’s response. His instructions came, “Just convince them of my love!” At that moment I shifted my message so that it was all about how much He loved them.
As I saw their excitement grow I knew they were connecting to this message. When I gave an opportunity for people to give their lives to Jesus as Lord the response was overwhelming. Then we prayed to this God whose love they now were fully convinced of and there was an explosion of miracles and healings. Blind people received their sight! The sick were healed and even deaf ears were opened. It was like something I had only read about in the Bible but it was happening in real life. They were willing to trust God for the miraculous because they were fully convinced of His love as expressed through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.
The other dimension of faith working by love zeros in on our motive for operating faith. Is it our love for the world that moves us to believe for miracles or is it our desire to have a “power ministry?” In other words, is it for us or them? Jesus was moved to the miraculous by compassion! What’s moving me?
In 1 Cor. 13:1-3 Paul brings some things into perspective: Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. When love is not motivating my actions, no matter what I do, I have nothing, I am nothing, and I benefit nothing!
If I really want the power of God in my life I need to know and feel the love of God. In Ephesians Paul said when we are rooted and grounded in love we will be filled with all the fullness of God! We’ve tried to experience the fullness of God by having enough faith rather than by having faith in the love of God!
When your heart is established in love faith will abound. Until you believe in the love of God faith will be intermittent, wavering, and hard. The more you feel the love of God the more you trust Him. The more you love people the more you will be moved to bring them the fullness of God… including the miraculous!