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Heavenly Visions

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    MIRACLES NOT A TEST OF TRUE PROPHETS

    J. N. LOUGHBOROUGH.

    “IF there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spoke unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; thou shalt not harken unto the words of that Prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” Deuteronomy 13:1-3. Comparing 2 Chronicles 32:24 with the marginal reading, we see that the “sign” to Hezekiah is called the working of a miracle.HEVI 49.1

    It has been affirmed by many theological writers, and stated in commentaries on the Scriptures, that the sign of the true prophet is the working of miracles. This is contrary to Scripture, as no such rule is given in the Bible.HEVI 49.2

    If the working of miracles is proof of a true prophet, then the “false prophet” mentioned in Revelation 19:20 would be declared, after all, a true prophet; for of him it is said, “The beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast.” The same power is spoken of again in Revelation 13:14, as deceiving “them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast.” By the same application of this rule, we would be driven to the conclusion that even Satan is a true prophet. Certain spirits who will do a special work under the sixth of the seven last plagues are called “the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.” Revelation 16:14.HEVI 49.3

    A true Bible vision, in which the prophet talks without breath, and walks about while wholly oblivious to things occurring around him, is indeed a miracle of God’s power; but if the proof of a true prophet is to be found in the miracles he performs while out of vision, we would find but few of the Bible prophets who would stand this test; especially if the decision is to rest upon what is recorded concerning their works. It is true that miracles are recorded as being wrought by some of the prophets, as in the case of Elijah, Elisha, and Paul. But who has ever found a record in the Bible of the miracles of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, etc? Yet these were true prophets of the Lord, and are shown to be such by the rules the Lord has given as the test of true prophets.HEVI 49.4

    That the working of miracles is not the test of a true prophet is clearly seen by reading the Scripture record of John the Baptist. That he was a prophet is shown by the prediction of Zacharias, the father, in relating the vision God had given him respecting the son that should be born to him: “And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways.” Luke 1:76. Our Saviour himself recognized John as that very Prophet who should prepare the way before him; for of John he said, “But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and much more than a prophet. This is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist.” Luke 7:26-28.HEVI 49.5

    Here, then, is a plain statement of the Saviour, that John was a prophet. Let us apply the test of miracle-working, and see the result. In the gospel, as written by John the evangelist, we have these words: “And many resorted unto him [Christ], and said, John did NO MIRACLE: but all things that John spake of this man were true.” John 10:41. This statement alone is a complete refutation of the claim that the sign of a true prophet is the working of miracles.HEVI 49.6

    The rule given in the thirteenth chapter of Deuteronomy, which we will designate as rule six in our present enumeration, is to guard against the running after anything wonderful or miraculous until we have first carefully noticed whether its tendency is to a greater nearness to the Lord or to a drawing away from him. This text (Deuteronomy 13:1-3) virtually tells us to apply all the rules, especially to see if it is in harmony with God and his law.HEVI 49.7

    This sixth rule teaches that if a miracle is wrought by a pretender, there will be seen with it, when carefully tested, a departure from the sacred truths of God’s word, and a lowering of the standard to meet a heart inclined to shun the way of self-denial. The Lord permits such a pretender to arise, and his course is a test to the true child of God, giving him an opportunity to weigh carefully the tendency or motive of said miracle-wonder. Those who cling to God’s word, instead of being captivated by the false miracle-workers, come forth strong in God as the result of such experience.HEVI 49.8

    In these evil days when many are claiming to be “faith-healers,” “divine healers,” or “Christian-science healers,” etc., it would be well to apply closely the Scriptural rules; for it will need divine rules, and the illumination of the Holy Spirit, to enable us clearly to discern the intent and purpose of some of these “healers,” so subtle is their work; while on the other hand are those who openly disregard God’s law and his truth for this time. In some instances these pretended “healers” have raged like men filled with madness at even a mention of the law of God. As surely as the Lord has a message proclaiming his holy law, so surely are the men destitute of the movings of the Holy Spirit who rail against his law, and thrust from their presence those who even mention it. The Review and Herald, December 5, 1899.HEVI 50.1

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