Over the next few weeks, we will be looking at the supernatural. It's incredible how many events are recorded in scripture. However, this often represents a hurdle for people who have only recently picked up a bible. They read unfathomable stories of power and provision. It can almost seem like a set of childhood fairy tales.
Did you know Thomas Jefferson made his own version of the Bible that removed all of its miracles? I appreciate his dedication, but he took out some of the coolest parts: Seas parting, leprosy healed, and dead people coming back to life.
He just couldn’t make himself believe that miracles like this could happen. And I get it – some of them are beyond comprehension. How’s that saying go, “Truth is stranger than fiction.”
From the beginning of Genesis, where the Supernatural act of creation begins out of nothing, to the end of revelation where Jesus descends from the heavens. The supernatural is offered without apology. God is beyond anything we can conceive. Talking donkeys and feeding 5000 people from a kids lunchable. Seriously, who comes up with this stuff.
Theologian and author, RC Sproul says of the supernatural: “if you expect a miracle—if miracles are expectable—there’s nothing miraculous about them. If they’re ordinary then they carry no certifiable weight. It’s by their extraordinary character that they have sign power: sign-ificance.” http://www.ligonier.org/blog/does-rcsproul-believe-miracles/
I believe miracles take place today. I believe the scriptures that describe miracles taking place after Jesus’ resurrection have continued. I also believe Jesus left behind His Spirit to connect with ours so through our faith we will continue His work in this realm. Faith requires trust in the unseen and I would add in the presently unknowable.
Robert Speers wrote in 1902 - The known world in which we live is often considered the natural world. Natural refers to the laws of the physical plane in which we live. It is the laws of cause and effect, orderly succession, understandable by what we, as humans, know of the ways this world works. Supernatural implies the suspension of the laws of nature. (POJ 255)
Supernatural is the realm of activity of unseen agents unknowable by science because it is “above” or transcending or going beyond nature. We often call events of the supernatural, “miracles.” These events are unable to be explained by science or predicted by the scientist, even one who has all the information possible about the context and applicable natural laws.
Let me tell you about Tess. Tess was a precocious eight-year-old little girl. One day she heard her mom and dad talking in a serious and somber tone about her little brother, Andrew. Tess didn’t understand everything that they were saying, but she got the gist: Her little brother, Andrew, was very, very sick...and they were completely out of money. They would have to move out of their house and move into a small apartment because Mom and Dad didn’t have enough money for the doctor bills and the house payment. On top of that, only a very expensive surgery could save Andrew now...and they could not find anyone to lend them the money. Just then, Tess heard her dad say to her tearful mother in whispered desperation, “Only a miracle can save Andrew now.”
Tess ran to her room, pulled out a glass jelly jar from its hiding place in her closet. She poured out all the change on the floor and counted it carefully. She then put the change back in the jar, put the jar under her arm, slipped out the back door and ran down to the Rexall Drug Store six blocks away.
The pharmacist was talking to a man intently and at first he didn’t notice Tess standing there. She waited patiently for a while and then dramatically cleared her throat, but still, no luck – the pharmacist did not see her. Finally, Tess got his attention by taking a quarter out of her jelly jar and tapping it on the glass counter. That did it. The pharmacist noticed her and said, “Just a minute. I’m talking to my brother from Chicago whom I haven’t seen for ages.”
“Well,” said Tess, “I want to talk to you about my brother. He’s really, really sick – and I want to buy a miracle. His name is Andrew and he has something growing inside his head and my daddy says only a miracle can save him now. So… how much does a miracle cost? I have the money here to pay for it. It’s all that I have saved. If it isn’t enough, I will get the rest. Just tell me how much a miracle costs.”
The pharmacist’s brother was a well-dressed man. He stooped down and asked Tess, “What kind of miracle does your brother need?”
“I don’t know,” Tess replied, with her eyes welling up. “I just know he’s really sick and Mommy says he needs an operation. But my parents can’t pay for it, so I want to use my money.”
“How much do you have?” asked the man from Chicago.
“One dollar and eleven cents!” Tess said proudly. “It’s all the money I have in the world, but I can get some more if I need to.”
“Well, you are in luck,” the man said with a smile. “One dollar and eleven cents is the exact price of a miracle for little brothers.”
He took the money in one hand and with the other he took hold of her mitten and said, “Take me to where you live. I want to see your brother and meet your parents. Let’s see if I have the kind of miracle you need.”
That well-dressed man from Chicago was Dr. Carlton Armstrong who just happened to be a noted neurosurgeon. The operation was successfully completed without charge...and it wasn’t long until Andrew was home again and doing well. Tess’ mom and dad were so grateful. They were talking one night about the chain of events that had saved Andrew’s life. “That surgery,” her mom said, “was a real miracle.” And then she said, “I just wonder how much it would have cost.”
Tess smiled. She knew exactly how much a miracle cost… one dollar and eleven cents… plus, the skill and graciousness of a great doctor… and of course, the gracious, sacrificial love of an eight-year-old big sister!
Someone might say, “Well, it was only one dollar and eleven cents”… but, it was all she had! She gave all she had to save her little brother… and that’s an extravagant gift!
Isn’t that a great story? It’s powerful because it reminds us in a dramatic way that the spirit of Christ can empower and enable us… to be extravagant in our generosity, to be extravagant in our gratitude, and to be extravagant in our graciousness. Source: David Yarbourough, SC. Pastor Story
Again, Supernatural is the realm of activity of unseen agents unknowable by science because it is “above” or transcending or going beyond nature.
Colin Brown, a theology professor at Fuller Seminary, writes, "When I drive along the freeway and see a green sign that reads 'Pasadena: Next 11 Exits,' I am not being treated to a logical demonstration that each and all of the next 11 off ramps will lead me to Pasadena. I am being given a pointer. Only in following the directions of the sign do I discover whether the sign is telling the truth or not."
He goes on to say, "Miracles are like warning flags. They signal the presence of a different order of reality that is present in the midst of our everyday world." http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2012/september/a-new-age-of-miracles.html?start=2
Signs are never an end in themselves. They do not point to themselves. They are not proof of anything in themselves. They exist not to make us think we have arrived, but to lead us somewhere new.
Under this definition, Jesus himself was supernatural. He did supernatural works. His teaching was supernatural. The greatest of which was the resurrection. It’s the only action that needed to be validated because with it, all other aspects of Jesus life are confirmed.
Jesus’ first supernatural moment (miracle) came through His entrance into the material by taking on human form (Luke 1:26-28, Matt 1:18-25).
The second miracle came through His continual connection with God (John 10:30) demonstrated by conversation with Him as well as other spiritual beings.
The most important supernatural event came through His resurrection and ascension to heaven. An event witnessed, confirmed and unexplainable by the current understanding of the world in which we live.
Jesus' life, death, resurrection and assertion elevated all our lives to more than our physical experience. It expanded what the most intellectual suspected but could not prove. This all changed with Jesus. Jesus confirmed the supernatural side of the same world that operates according to the rules of physical being. The supernatural is part of the unseen because it's not present to be part of a show but a place of Faith which confirms one’s belief in God.
Jesus simply assumed the supernatural. He did not set out to prove it. He saw God and lived in Him. He came to open this God to us, to be for us the way to God and to show our hearts the heart of our Father God.