People throughout the ages have always been captivated by the unique demonstration of God’s all-mighty power. The turning of water into wine, the feeding of the five thousands and more, the stilling of the storm, the healing of the sick, lame, and blind – everyone had been held in wonder and amazement at all these impressive demonstrations of God’s power. We have read of all these in the Bible. We believe in our heart that God is indeed all-powerful.
However, we hardly see such demonstration of the God’s power today. Some Christians reasoned that if God were to supernaturally demonstrate His power upon this generation regularly, like He did before, wouldn’t that be ideal? By the mere demonstration of the impressive nature of God’s power, wouldn’t unbelievers be converted? At the same time, wouldn’t those who are weak in their faith be strengthened by the sight of the demonstration of the power of God?
Have you ever experienced, as you share the Gospel with someone, the expressed response of that person: “If God were to appear in front of my eyes right now, then I would believe!” In such a conversation, do you admit that how you would have secretly desire that God would just manifest Himself to that person and demonstrate His power unto him and covert him? Or, are there times, when your own faith was wavering, how you wished that God would manifest His presence mightily before you such that your faith and love in Him would be tremendously strengthened?
Yes, many times and many people have often sought the demonstration of God’s power with the rationale that it will help to convert the unbelieving and to strengthen the faith of those who are weak. But does the demonstration of God’s power really draw the people closer to Him? Historically speaking, it doesn’t. Theologically speaking, it doesn’t either. Allow me to demonstrate from the Holy Scripture that such desires for the manifestation of God’s power do not and would not give birth to faith, nor deepen one’s love for God.
In the Bible, there were three epochs in the history of Israel where God demonstrated His power abundantly in an outwardly fashion. Firstly, we see this in the time of Moses. God demonstrated His power mightily through the hands of Moses in the ten plagues, the opening of the Red Sea and the total annihilation of Pharoah’s army which was pursuing Israel. But what response did God get from the people from such devastating display of God’s power? The immediate response was their praise for God but that was short-lived. Instead of continuing in their faith and trust in God, the people responded with ten rebellions (Num. 14:22) against God and started worshipping the golden calf (Exod. 32:1-6).
The second epoch of the demonstration of God’s power was during the time of the prophets, Elijah and Elisha. When God brought fire down from heaven at Mount Carmel through the hands of Elijah, for a moment, the people professed the Lord as God: “The LORD, he is the God; the LORD, he is the God” (1Kings 18:39). Yet, that moment was short-lived. By the time of Elisha, who took over the mantle from Elijah, the faith of the people in God had deteriorated and eventually to the extent that led to the destruction of both the northern and southern
kingdoms of Israel.
The third epoch was during the time of Christ. When Christ worked out His miracles, many acknowledged the power of God but never went beyond that. In fact, even the enemies of Christ did not deny that such works were by the power of God (John 10:32-33). For example, the power of God was demonstrated by Christ in the feeding of the multitudes of more than five thousand people with five loaves and two fishes (John 6:1-13). Straightaway the multitudes recognized that Christ was a special prophet and they wanted to make Him their king (John 6:14- 15). But when Christ later declared unto them that He is the Bread of Life, how many of the multitudes who had seen the power of God and tasted the miraculous bread accepted His saying? In fact, the Bible has this sad commentary immediately after: “From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him” (John 6:66). Does the demonstration of God’s power cultivate faith and love for God? From the evidences of the Scripture, the answer seems to be “No”.
When God manifested His physical power, many might be held in awe and wonder by the display of power, but hardly any would venture beyond that to draw near to God. When the demonstration was over, what did the people do? They left, of course. Clearly, the example at Mount Sinai demonstrated this. When God Himself spoke to the people, delivering unto them the Ten Commandments directly in His own voice with the demonstration of His power, what was the response of the people? They withdrew themselves: “And all the
people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off” (Exod. 20:18).
That is the problem with many of us today. Our problem is not that we do not believe God is powerful. Instead, our problem is we have a misunderstanding of how God works. We think that if God were to demonstrate His power today, unbelief would disappear from the face of the earth and faith will be strengthened. This is far from the truth. The demonstration or the outward manifestation of the physical power of God is never designed for such a purpose. The demonstration of the power of God in miracles, signs and wonders was designed to
authenticate His messengers that they were indeed sent by God and representatives of God to do His will on earth. God has never intended the manifestation of His power to turn unbelief into faith, as a means of evangelizing the lost. When Jesus healed the people, He was not trying to use His powers as a tool for evangelizing. Instead, the Bible says He healed them out of His compassion for them: “And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick” (Matt. 14:14;
cf. Matt. 20:34; Mark 1:41; Luke 7:13; etc.). God’s miracle power is never designed to convert the heart of unbelief unto faith.
The heart to trust God and to love God does not depend on seeing to believe but based on faith; and faith is founded on the believing the Word of God. The most impressive displays of power or miracles – the kind we may secretly long for – is not design to foster faith or love. No pyrotechnic displays of omnipotence could make us trust and love God more. The love for God comes to us when it dawns upon us on how much God has truly loved us. We could love God because He has first loved us (1Jn. 4:19). The foundation of our love for God is
the love of God itself. The deeper we feel the love of God in our lives, the more we would respond in loving God. And when we love God, we know we have the greatest power on earth – the power of God’s love. Do you feel the power of God’s love in your life? HCL.