When St Paul explained the basis of his evangelistic work among the gentiles to the congregation of Corinth, he said in his first canonical letter:
“For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.”
Here Paul was making clear not that baptism was not important for salvation (Mk 16:16; Ac 2:38), but that without personal faith, baptism had no effect in a human, and therefore his first responsibility was to convert people, by preaching the message of Jesus to the world. Baptism would follow naturally as it was the apostolic practice.
(Ac 2:41; 8:36-38).
But St Paul also said something else. He said that Lord Jesus did not send him to preach with human argumentation, but with the power of God.
Paul many times used human reasoning and rhetoric in his preaching to Jews and Gentiles (Ac 17:2, 17; 28:23), something that it was also encouraged in the new converts (1Pe 3:15). However, there was not ‘only’ reasoning and argumentation in his preaching, which is essential to intelligent beings, but also it was backed up by the ‘power of God’ (1Co 1:24). Paul was referring to the power of God manifested in miracles and supernatural interventions through his preaching, that proved to anyone, that God Almighty was in Jesus, and that Jesus was in him, under whose Name he performed this portents (Ac 19:11).
Paul explained that the philosophical mind of the Gentiles valued reason, and that is why he always provided a rational explanation of the message and person of Jesus to them (1Co 1:22). They needed to understand who Jesus was, why He had to die on our behalf, and the mechanics of the atonement. So, Paul explained to them logically the soteriology of Christ.
But to the Jews, used to human reasoning since they lived in Egypt, and became familiar with Greek philosophy, Paul needed to demonstrate that God was with him beyond arguments, and he did this through the miracles he performed under the invocation of the Holy Name of Jesus, accrediting supernatural origin to his message, specially through the resurrection of dead people, a portent that only God can do, and impossible to imitate through magic or demonic power (Ac 9:40-42).
Supernatural divine power was the main reason why by the end of the first century, the message of the gospel of Jesus of Nazareth spread to the whole Roman Empire and beyond, even to India and China. Reasoning was sound, but it could be argued against it as well; but it was the ‘proof’ of God favour on the apostles, which became the corner stone of their preaching. It became the determining factor that made thousands (Ac 2:41) to embrace their message and gave people a testimony so solid as to offer their lives in sacrifice in obedience to Christ.
Furthermore, this was never given an ‘expire date’ as some think today by arguing that the supernatural gifts will stop when the ‘perfect comes’ (1Co 13:9-10). The same passage also says that ‘Knowledge will pass’, numbering it among the supernatural gifts, but knowledge is something we need today as essential to follow Christ and obtain salvation. Knowledge is said to be partial today, but when the ‘perfect comes’, our knowledge will be complete, because we will ‘know as we are known’ (1Co 13:12), cancelling faith and hope as a consequence, except love as a virtue, making it clear that the ‘perfect’ is only at the Second Coming of Christ.
Today, one of the signs of the Christian Church is the manifestations of true miracles.
The Bible says that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever (He 13:8). So, as Jesus was merciful and healed and assisted all those who came to Him with afflictions, also the same way, today Jesus assists all those who come to Him asking for help (Mt 15:30). Miracles are an essential part of the gospel of salvation. Miracles are still the signature of God in the message we proclaim, and if no manifestations ever occur, we must become worried and stop to analyse why God is not backing up our message.
In the New Testament, we always read that is God who does the portents, through the apostles (Ac 5:12) or directly (Ac 10:44); but always in all cases, God is mentioned as the cause of them (Ac 15:12; 19:11). If God is the cause of miracles and we cannot dominate God, we must realize that only God has the prerogative to initiate any supernatural portent. It is God’s initiative, and God’s doing, either independently from us, or through us, but it is ultimately God’s decision. Therefore, we cannot assume God’s positive response every time we ask for something. But nevertheless, we have his promises and we know that Jesus promised his presence among the believers (Mt 28:20), supernatural signs in his Name for all those who believe (Mk 16:17-18) and that the prayers of the faithful and the righteous are effective (Jm 5:15-16).
We must trust in God’s promises and preach the unadulterated gospel and let God do his mighty work. God is real, God is alive. He will manifest Himself if He is with us.
We may have occasional negatives, not necessarily due to our mistakes, even though that could be a reason, but mainly because it is not the time or purpose of God for us at that moment. But manifestations must occur, nevertheless. If nothing ever happens, then we must stop and examine ourselves, our conduct, and our message, and fix it.
God is real, and the least converts expect from the God of holiness, it is to be liberated from the power of Satan. And Jesus always delivered all those oppressed by demons (Mt 8:16), and this means not only sicknesses but also spiritual bindings and demonic possession. If God is with us, He will work through us bringing true liberation, meaning physical healings, spiritual freedom, and forgiveness of sins to all who come to Him through our ministration.
Let us become aware that God is not a legend, or a concept, or a theory. GOD IS REAL, AND ALIVE!
Let us become the card of presentation of the Holy Trinity; Father, Son and Holy Spirit to the whole world, so they may know that God is real, and that He is here to save.