The Importance of Discernment
There are four key principles that help us discern if a miracle really happens and if that miracle was done by God. They can be deduced from the story of Jesus changing water into wine (Jn 2:1-11).
Just as in any aspect of life, such as economics, politics, or religion, there are individuals who prey on the vulnerable and gullible. People are scammed out of their money, they are duped by political promises that were never intended to be fulfilled, and in the religious aspect of life, there remain influencers without scruples who are primarily concerned with their own success. We need to be wise discerning followers of Christ to avoid being taken advantage of by faithless individuals. Here are four important principles to guide us in the event a miracle occurs.
Jesus is a Miracle Worker
There’s more to the world than what our senses detect. What is real includes what we taste, touch, smell, hear, and see. But there’s a part of us our senses don’t identify.
It’s our feelings and emotions. They are beyond the physical aspects of this world. Our emotions are non-physical. If people have two parts to them, the sensorial and the non-physical, then it doesn’t take much imagination to conceive of the whole universe including a non-physical or spiritual aspect.
When discussing miracles, the physical and spiritual aspects of life interact. God is Spirit (Jn 4:24). He’s the God of all creation (both material and spiritual) who is interacting with his creation. He requires of us to physically and emotionally respond to him. That is, we are to obey him with our behavior and to deeply love him within our spirits. Miracles are out of the ordinary divine interventions into the physical world.
What is a Miracle?
Are miracles possible? If we believe in an open universe, that is, that God exists and is personally involved in the creation, then miracles are possible. They really do happen.
Rationalists and cynics exclude the possibility of miracles, not because they have a rational reason for doing so, but because they begin with the assumption that miracles are impossible. Christians don’t limit their imagination as do naturalists. Christians hold the assumption that some things are supernatural because within the realm of reality there exist physical and spiritual aspects of nature.
Today the world is dominated by information producers and seekers. We live in an information age where data and intellectual content are valued commodities (property). Valuable information consists of organized thoughts and ideas that often express a plan or procedure necessary for producing something.
When Solomon compiled and wrote the book of Proverbs most employment was agriculturally oriented. It was manual labor. Only the wealthiest experienced the luxury of contemplating philosophy and theology. Few books were written compared with today’s publishing endeavors. Speaking your thoughts was not commonly considered work (unless you were a Greek philosopher or a teacher). Actions constituted work. Thoughts expressed in hopeful plans were considered only works yet to be done.
Yet, this verse strikes at the very heart of a man of action in any age.
We are not God
To illustrate the difference between human beings and God, imagine an empty canister about the size of a large peanut butter container. There is a label on the jar that reads: “To determine if you are in fact God use only the contents of this container to create a 1957 Corvette, preferably a red convertible model. You have ten minutes to accomplish this task. Ready. Set. Go!”
The person screws off the top of the jar and looks inside only to find it empty. The small print on the back of the container reads, “Since God was able to create all matter and every living thing in the universe in six days, it is not too much to ask of you to create one thing from nothing.” This is called the “You’re Not God” kit.
Part six of six
God possesses two types of qualities. The first type he shares with human beings. We are spiritual, able to think, and are moral beings. This is possible because God is a Spirit, possesses intellectual capabilities, and is moral (loving and just). Although we share these type of qualities with God, he possesses them perfectly while our ability to be spiritual, intellectual, and moral is flawed by sin. The second type of characteristics is unique to God. He is self-existing, unchangeable, infinite, and perfect. We possess no parts of this type of qualities and never will because God is totally other than his creation, while we are part of the things he has created.
The Power of Truth
Speaking the truth is more powerful than lies. A lie requires constant deception and continuing lies to support itself. Its foundation is so weak that once discovered it is rejected. Truth, on the other hand, is powerful. Truth needs no support. Truth is the pillar of knowledge and wisdom with all of creation grounded in truth. The truth may be denied and ignored for a period of time, but it will eventually overcome all lies.
Part five of six
To understand and celebrate the majesty of Christ takes a bit of mental strength. His majesty is so enormous that the Bible uses six words that when combined explain how majestic Jesus is. We have talked about the majesty of Jesus being glorious, powerful, eternal, and triumphant. Each characteristic highlights a benefit we enjoy as we place our faith in the Majestic One. This next characteristic is not to be separated from the other six. Often we think of truth as something abstract. Truth to God is not impersonal facts. To God, truth is personal. The truth of God’s Word is the pillar upon which this world was created (2 Pet 3:5-7) and the foundation of salvation in Christ (Jm 1:18).
Breakfast with the President
Meeting an important person can make you do funny things. Their presence can be overwhelming. I was invited to the President’s Prayer Breakfast in Washington D.C. a few years ago. Dignitaries, world leaders, politicians, Supreme Court Justices, and prominent business owners filled the Hilton ballroom. At this hotel’s main entrance, a few years earlier, President Regan was shot with a .22 pistol. With the recently elected President, George Bush senior in attendance security was high. Excitement and anticipation were elevated.
Part four of six
Before the breakfast, I was introduced to a mayor from a prominent city on the eastern seaboard. Initially, it was like any other greeting until she looked directly at me. She projected a confidence and composure I had never experienced. While shaking her hand I felt my knees weaken. What was happening to me? My mind was registering how powerful and authoritative she was, my heart sensed I was in the presence of someone important, and my legs couldn’t take the weight of being in the presence of an important person. Her presence had a significant effect on me.
We are Temporal Beings
Eternity is a difficult concept for us to grasp because we can’t fully experience it during our lifetime. When the Bible speaks of eternity it isn’t simply a designation of unending time. It is the quality of life that God exists in and refers to the continuation and consistency of his majestic authority for all time.
Part three of six
Majesty is such a huge concept in the Bible that it requires six terms to fully describe what it means. The third characteristic of majesty is eternity.