AND WONDERS. Miraculous manifestations of the Spirit of God. If you haven't
witnessed them already in your own life and in the lives of believers around
you, you soon will because they are happening everywhere ... and they are
on the increase.
I don't mind telling you, I love it!
I love to watch God work. I love to see miracles and feel the move of the Holy Ghost. It's the most thrilling, wonderful kind of fun there is.
It's so much fun, in fact, that if we're not alert, we can get so caught up in watching and feeling these great manifestations of God that we neglect the Word and allow our faith to slip.
I can almost hear what you're thinking. Whoa! Wait a minute now, Brother Copeland. How could my faith slip while I'm watching miracles and feeling spiritual goose bumps? Don't those things increase my faith?
Not according to the Bible. It doesn't say anything about faith coming by what you see or what you feel. It says very simply that "faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17).
Sense-Realm Faith ... or the God Kind of Faith?
Some people might be inclined to argue with that. They might think that since they saw a miracle and believed it, faith had come to their hearts. But they'd be mistaken. What actually happens when you see something and then believe it is that faith comes to your head!
Head faith (or sense-knowledge faith) and heart faith (or as Jesus called it in Mark 11:22, "the God kind of faith") operate in two entirely different realms. The God kind of faith operates in the realm of the spirit. It takes hold of the Word of God in the unseen realm and brings that Word to pass in the natural world.
That is the kind of faith God used to bring this earth into existence. It's a powerful force. And when it flows from the hearts and mouths of believers, real spiritual faith changes natural things.
Sense-knowledge faith, on the other hand, has no real power. It doesn't change things. On the contrary, natural things change it!
Everyone in the world has sense-knowledge faith. They believe certain things just because they can see them, or because they've experienced them. People believe, for example, that when they flip a light switch, the light will come on. They have faith in that process because they've seen it work time and again.
But the light switch kind of faith comes strictly from the mind. When you exercise it, your spirit is dormant. Believing only what you can see and feel does not activate your spirit.
If it did, the whole city of Jerusalem would have been saved the day Jesus was raised from the dead.
He could have walked down the street holding up His hands for all to see. (The nails they drove through His hands weren't little house nails. They weighed two pounds each. You could see daylight through the holes they left in His body!)
No doubt, if He had done that, everyone in town would have believed that He'd been resurrected. People would have been so impressed that they would have followed Him in droves. They probably would have jumped and whooped and hollered because they were so excited about seeing someone raised from the dead.
But not one of them would have been born again. Their spirits would have remained dormant as long as they were simply believing what they saw. They might have felt goose bumps, but they wouldn't have been truly blessed.
The Secret of Being Truly Blessed
You see, to be blessed means to be empowered, and sense-knowledge faith doesn't generate any spiritual power. It doesn't bring blessing.
It's believing the Word of God before you can see or feel a natural manifestation of it that brings real blessing. Jesus Himself said that to Thomas, remember?
After the Resurrection, Thomas refused to believe that Jesus was alive unless he could see and feel the nail prints in His hands. So Jesus appeared to him and said:
Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side. and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed (John 20:27-29).
Obviously, Thomas would mentally believe what his eyes saw and his hands touched. Yet even so, Jesus firmly admonished him to "be not faithless, but believing. "That's because mental assent didn't qualify as faith in Jesus' estimation. He wanted Thomas to activate his spirit and truly believe. Jesus also knew that having seen Him in the flesh wasn't going to make that kind of believing any easier for Thomas. It might even make it harder for him.
Many Christians today don't realize that. They think if Jesus would appear to them in the flesh, their faith would skyrocket. But that's not so. If you're prone to depend more on sense-knowledge faith than you are on the Word of God, seeing some astounding manifestation in this natural realm can actually set your faith back. That's why Jesus did what He did on the road to Emmaus.
After His resurrection, two of His disciples were walking along that road talking sadly about Jesus' crucifixion, and Jesus Himself joined them. But Luke 24:16 says, "Their eyes were holden that they should not know him."
So Jesus, coming alongside them said, "What's the matter with you boys?" (This is the West Texas paraphrase.)
"Are you some kind of stranger or something?" they answered. "Haven't you heard what happened? They killed Jesus! They crucified our Lord and our best friend!"
Then, as they walked along together, Jesus began to preach the Word to them.
And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further. But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them. And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures? (Luke 24:27-32)
Think about what happened there. Jesus had been teaching those disciples. They had heard the Word, believed it, and their hearts were so filled with faith, they were burning up with it. But the moment they recognized Jesus with their physical eyes, He disappeared.
Why did He do that? Because He wanted them to be blessed or empowered. He wanted to keep their spirits activated by believing the Word instead of shutting down their spirits and simply believing He was alive because they had seen Him.
He didn't want to set their faith back. Some years ago when I didn't understand that principle, I used to pester God continually to appear to me. "Lord, You appeared to Kenneth Hagin, "I'd say "You appeared to Oral Roberts, You appeared to T.L. Osborn.. and I want You to appear to me"
I kept after Him about it for so long that He finally spoke to me by the Spirit and said, "Kenneth, if you keep on asking Me to appear to you, I'm going to have to do it But I'm warning you, it will set your faith back five years "
Why was that? It was because God knew at that point in my development such a manifestation would have caused me to want to lean more on sense-knowledge faith than on the faith that comes by hearing the Word of God. For instance, instead of just reading the Word and believing that I was healed because the Word said so, despite my symptoms, I might have been tempted to do what a lot of folks do and beg God for sense- knowledge confirmation by saving some silly thing like, "Oh Lord, if You'll just appear here in my room and lay Your hand on my fevered brow, I'll know I'm healed"
The fact is, Jesus would like to appear to every one of its if He could It would delight Him to be able to just walk into the room and sit down with us any time He wanted. But until now, He's had to restrain Himself because He was training us to govern our lives by the God kind of faith. He's been teaching us to "walk by faith, not by sight" (2 Corinthians 5:7).
Because we've come to the end of the age, God has had to raise up people who can get the job done and carry out His plan, He has had to develop us into people of faith.
March on to Victory
Why is faith so, important in these final days? Because at the same time God is pouring out His Spirit as never before, the devil is going to be working as never before to stop that outpouring -- and the realm of the senses is the devil's domain.
He has been banished from the realm of the spirit, so he has to fight in the mental realm. He has to bombard your senses with natural "evidence" to make you doubt the Word of God.
The devil can't get into your spirit to steal the Word. All he can do to stop you from believing it is to hammer away at you with natural circumstances. All he can do is shove negative things in front of your eyes and pressure you with negative feelings.
If your faith in God is merely mental, sense-knowledge faith, you will buckle under those attacks. But if you've been diligent in the Word and you have the God kind of faith, you will march right over them and on to victory.
When you're not seeing miracles, you won't be discouraged. You'll just call things that are not as though they were (Romans 4:17) and dare the devil to do anything about it. When instead of feeling goose bumps of glory, you're feeling like a speed blimp that's been run over a hundred times, you'll be like Abraham who "...considered not his own body .. staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strong in faith, giving glory to God ...fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able to perform" (Romans 4:19-21).
When tests and trials are staring you in the face, you'll fix your gaze on God's Word and say with the Apostle Paul, "Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal" (2 Corinthians 4:17-1 8).
Now more than ever, God needs for us to be people who walk, talk and live like that. He needs us to be people of faith. Because as glorious as these final days will be, they will also be days of great conflict with the devil. They will be days of war that will require us to fight the good fight of faith with more strength and courage than ever before.
Take the Runway!
When I think of the kind of spiritual guts we'll need in the days ahead, I think of a story I once read about a young man who was in pilot training during World War II. He was a bomber pilot training on the Martin Marauder, an airplane which in those days was considered hard to fly. There was a wing on it that they didn't understand like they do now, and if the pilot let that airplane get ahead of him, it would roll over on its back and crash.
One day, this young pilot was sitting in this airplane at the end of the runway, preparing to take a training flight with his instructor. His roommate, who was training in the same kind of airplane, was coming in for his final approach on the same runway. About a quarter mile from the end of the runway, right in front of this young pilot's eyes, his roommate flipped that airplane upside down, hit the ground and exploded in a ball of flames.
Stunned, the young man simply sat and stared in silence.
Then he heard the firm voice of his instructor. "Don't just sit there!" he said. "Take the runway!"
The young pilot was astonished. "Surely we're not going to go ahead and train today!" he said. "My buddy just got killed in that airplane right there!"
"Take the runway!" the instructor ordered. "We are in the middle of a war. We have no time to grieve. Take the runway!"
I know as well as anyone that living by faith isn't easy. There are times when the devil blind sides you and hurts you so badly that your flesh just wants to lay down and cry. There are times when you want Jesus to appear to you and give you some tangible, fleshly manifestation to help you go on. But crying won't get this war won. Neither will fleshly manifestations.
Walking by faith is what will win the war because faith is our link to the anointing of God. Faith releases within us and through s the burden-removing, yoke-destroying power of God. And faith comes by hearing the Word of God!
If you neglect the Word, it won't matter how many miracles you see or how many goose bumps you feel, the devil will eventually slap you down with sickness, financial lack or some other kind of demonic defeat. But if you'll keep your spirit activated and strong through the Word of God, when the devil takes a punch at you, you can rise up.
Start speaking the Word, pounding him with it until he runs for cover. "By Jesus' stripes I was healed ..." Wham! "No weapon formed against me will prosper..." Wham! "Greater is He Who is in me than he Who is in the world..." Wham!
Of course, Satan won't stay around very long when you start resisting him like that. He'll flee. But when he does, you can chase after him and keep hitting him with the Word. There's no place for him to hide.
I can tell you from personal experience what will happen when you keep hammering the devil with faith and refuse to let up. An anointing will come on you. I call it the "bull-dog anointing." Your spirit will be activated. Your inside will get bigger than your outside, and instead of whimpering in the corner you'll begin to roar like the Lion of the tribe of Judah!
That's the way believers ought to be. We shouldn't just skip from place to place looking for miracles. We ought to be miracles going somewhere to happen all the time. We ought to walk around so full of the Word and faith that all of hell quivers every morning when we wake up!
But to be that way, we must keep our spirit activated. We must continue to walk by faith and not by sight.
So commit yourself to do that from this day on. Make a quality decision that no matter how many great signs and wonders you see, no matter what outstanding manifestations you may enjoy, you won't let your spirit doze off by simply believing what you see. Determine to keep feeding on the Word, to keep activating your spirit by believing, speaking and acting on it. Then, and only then, will you truly be blessed!