If the answer to this question is ‘yes’, it seems that our hospitals would be emptier and our churches fuller. But rather than interpreting the Scriptures by our experience, let’s instead interpret our experience by the Scriptures.
“And He called to Him His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction” (Mt. 10:1).
Kings have authority over their subjects, and they also delegate authority to ambassadors. In this passage, King Jesus delegates authority to His twelve ambassadors, who then demonstrate Christ’s reign over demons and diseases by giving them the boot.
You might be thinking, “But that was for 12 specific men, and for that specific mission. We don’t necessarily have the same authority as them!”
Au contraire. Not only do we have the same authority as the 12 disciples in the scene above; we have more authority. Consider how Matthew’s Gospel ends:
“And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…” (Mt. 28:18-19).
Again King Jesus delegates authority, but this time, it’s a greater authority—“all authority on heaven and on earth”—for the greater mission of discipling nations. When Jesus states that this tremendous authority “has been given to Me”, He’s saying, “I didn’t have this much authority before.” Why not? Because it wasn’t until He went to the Cross that Jesus “disarmed the (demonic) rulers and authorities and put them to open shame” (Col. 2:15). Having conquered all opposing authorities through the Cross, God the Father conferred upon our resurrected Lord “all authority on heaven and on earth”.
Now if demons and diseases had to submit to the disciples when they operated under a lesser authority (Mt. 10), how much more must demons and diseases submit to disciples of Jesus who “until the very end of the age” carry with them “all authority in heaven and on earth” (Mt. 28)?
Then Why Aren’t We Seeing More Fireworks?
Now it’s time to interpret our (in)experience in light of the Scriptures. Most of us haven’t raised the dead in quite a long time. Why aren’t we seeing more miracles? Here are four reasons:
1) We don’t ask – James tells us “you have not because you ask not” (4:2). When was the last time you prayed for the blind to be healed or for demons to be cast out?
2) We don’t have enough faith – When the disciples asked Jesus why they couldn’t cast out a demon, He said it was because of their unbelief (Mt. 17:20). Do you believe God would use you to heal terminal cancer, or to resurrect someone who died from it?
3) We live in a faithless generation – It’s not just our own faith that matters, but also the faith of our generation (Mt. 17:17). Even Jesus “could not do many mighty works” in His hometown because of their unbelief (Mk. 6:5-6). Undoubtedly, we’re all affected by the skepticism of our culture.
4) We don’t spread the Gospel – Would you fill your car with gas if it never left the garage? Neither will God fill His church with power if we never leave the church. The purpose of power is not for the amusement of the parishioners, but the salvation of the lost (Acts 1:8). Almost all the miracle stories in the Book of Acts come in the context of spreading the Good News.
The Book of Acts is not some click-bait Internet article trying to seize our attention with miraculous tales. It’s a blueprint for what church should be like. Perhaps our churches would be fuller and our hospitals emptier, if instead of explaining away our lack of experience, we obeyed Christ’s commission and followed God’s blueprint.
A lost and dying world is counting on us to do just that.
And so is the King of the Universe.