SIGNS… AND WONDERS…Part Two

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In Part One, I presented a review of the record of the Divine Healing and Miracle ministry of Jesus Christ. This was part, and parcel, of his preaching the Gospel.

The word, “gospel,” signifies “good news.” It certainly was “good news,” when Jesus strode into the towns and villages of Galilee, and the metropolis of Jerusalem,  with his retinue, and “went about doing good and healing all who were Oppressed of the Devil, for God was with Him” ( Acts 10:38b).

Considering the underdeveloped state of medicine and medical technology, in first century Judea, or Palestine, and unchecked fearsome diseases such as leprosy and palsy,  among others at the time, the Healing and Miracle ministry, or SIGNS and WONDERS that accompanied Jesus’s ministry, was indeed singular and wonderful “Good News” to those afflicted and in need of bodily healings and miracles.

Certainly, the Gospels are chock full of accounts of folks who sought out Jesus for special ministry and miraculous cures. Yes, Jesus was not only preaching the “good news” of his coming Kingdom that God would set up,… but he was ALSO the breathing, walking, living, “Good News,” that demonstrated the power of this Coming Kingdom by Signs and Wonders among the People.

Several incidences of Jesus being the literal “Good News” of Healing, Miracles, and Life-Giving Cures are shown above: The Raising of Jairus; the Woman with the Hemorrhage of Blood; Jesus healing a Blind Man; Jesus ministering to the Demonically Afflicted Who called upon him for Deliverance…Jesus Healing the Lame and Blind….In all, some 37 accounts of healings and miracles occurred in the record of the Gospels!

These “signs and wonders” did not cease with the end of Jesus’ ministry, but rather, was spread out, among the Twelve Disciples, later called Original Apostles, and other Apostles such as Paul, James, Silas, Barnabas, and Apollos, plus Evangelists like Philip and Stephen, and others like Ananias. This miraculous ministry always followed the Anointed Preaching of these servants of God.

However, at the close of the Jewish Polity, many of these principals were taken off the scene, and these special miracle ministries became sparse, as there lacked suitable substitutes, to carry on this particular Work, which apparently ended with the cessation of the Jewish Polity.

This however, was predicted, by Paul, Peter, and Jude. They had predicted, or prophesied of a “falling away,” or apostasy from First Century, or Early Messianic Christianity. Indeed, just after the destruction of the Jewish Polity at Jerusalem, post 70 C.E., the Gospel proceeded from Messianic Jewish control to that of Gentile control and influence, as the Jewish Messianic remnants were scattered, and had no further central location as a sphere of influence.

Apostles Paul, Peter, and Jude, All Prophesied of an Imminent Apostasy from, as Jude put it, “the faith once Delivered to the Saints.” No more than a generation following these Warnings, the transition into Apostasy had been completed…This paradigm change has become termed, “Orthodoxy,” in the Gentile Church system, but actually, it is “Heterodoxy,” compared to the Messianic Jewish belief structure, in the First Century Church of the Nazarenes, or the “Way.”

With this ongoing transfer  of control to Gentile believers, emphasis was no longer placed on “signs,” such as healing the sick, or miracles, but rather, elements of Platonic philosophy in the stressing of “gnosis,” or knowledge,…sometimes referred to in the Old Testament, and Apocrypha, as “wisdom” (1 Corinthians 1:22; Paul, in referring to this, apparently had noticed this early trend among the Corinthian Gentiles).

This metamorphosis of a Jewish Messianic Church into a Gentile mixture of gospel elements and Paganism, came into full fruition with the Council of Nicea, in 325 C.E., and the subsequent acceptance by the Emperor Constantine, to make this hybrid Gentile Christianity, the official State Religion.

As this process progressed, pageantry and paganism took stronger hold, and morphed into another paradigm, that had no basis or  foundation, from the New Testament record.

This effectively ended, all “signs and wonders.”

This also effectively ended, except for some “troubling of the waters,” the ministry of the Anointed Word, and the true, and genuine Gospel, which did possess…the power of salvation.

This continued for hundreds of years.

Then finally, one day, that started to change…as…

 

The “Water is Troubled” further: the Full Gospel Starts to Emerge Once Again…

 

Slowly, the Revelation that God can and will heal as part of the Message of the Gospel found a following.
One such following was the founder of the Quakers, a George Fox.

Fox developed a significant healing ministry, one which preceded his evangelistic travels to America, from his native England, in the late 17th century C.E.

When Fox prayed for the sick, he practiced the “laying on of hands.” In his Journal, that he kept record of his ministry and movement, there contained accounts of many who were healed, and after his death, a “Book of Miracles” was discovered which listed in detail, some 150 healings under his ministry.

A little later, certain Quakers split off, who had an active millennial vision. These were described as “Shakers,” as they featured certain manifestations of the Holy Spirit in their worship and practice. These believers, under Mother Ann Lee, regularly reported healings through the Prayer of Faith, and the “laying on of hands.”

This sort of activity flowed and ebbed until about the mid-19th century in Europe, when Blumhardt, Stockmayer, and a Dorothea Trudel, became prominent in advocating that Healing was part of the Blood Atonement of Christ. However, this was, with such teaching whether correct or incorrect, gave service to the increasing belief that healings and miracles were possible.

In the United States, about the same time, there arose a company of similar pioneers such as Phoebe Palmer, A.J. Gordon, and A.B. Simpson, who practiced the Prayer of Faith and the laying on of hands. In South Africa, the world renowned saintly minister, Andrew Murray, leader of the Dutch Reform Church there, received miraculous healing for a throat affliction, which led to changing the spiritual landscape almost exponentially.

The Healing Ministry of the Power of God through the Holy Spirit could no longer be swept under the rug of Cessationism and unbelief.

Bolder individuals emerged such as Mary Woodworth-Etter, and John Alexander Dowie amazed audiences with their faith and apparent gifts of healing. Dowie’s well publicized healings from his public stage at the Chicago World Fair made him…a national figure…

MARY  WOODWORTH-ETTER:  For  about  40  years, 1885-1924,  Etter  ministered  all  across  the  United States, in an unique healing and deliverance ministry.  These newspaper clippings are only a few from that time period reporting on her work.

Finally, a quantum leap was made… the Pentecostal Revival began. People started to seek for more spiritual power to be greater witnesses for Christ. There were several luminaries that God raised up that heralded the ministry of healing as part and parcel of the preaching of the Gospel.

  < Most notable of the Healing Evangelists in the early 20th Century that the Pentecostal Revival produced was Smith Wigglesworth, left, and right, Dr. Charles Price. A more obscure figure that had unbelievable results in praying for the sick and the working of miracles was a Dutch immigrant to the United States known as Carl Henry (Hjersman), pictured lower right. His book, “Christ, the Great Physician” (lower left, a very rare book ), documents his  ministry in the late 1930’s-40’s

Content and excerpts from Henry’s book and his other book, Exploits of Faith, are used for a college   credit course on faith healing by a major Pentecostal denomination.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Following  the  Pentecostal  Revival,  a  general  lifting  of the Holy Spirit (1925-1945) became evident as men started to try to control the Move of God into personal kingdoms and denominational factions.

There was again, some moving of the Holy Spirit, just following the end of the Second World War. This moving, or revival, was typical of all Gentile Church Age revivals…as, it appeared outside of the Established Church control…

Tent Evangelism, and Tent healing and deliverance services, became the new vogue. Out of nowhere, came a bevy of tent healing evangelists, one following the other in rapid succession from about 1946-1952. Several of these lowly Tent ministers and Healing Tent Evangelists became household names in Post-Modern times. Their message was…“Jesus Christ, the same, yesterday, today, and forever,” in dispensing healing and miracle cures.

^  Such  Tent  Healing  and  Miracle  Revivalists  Nearly Brought a New Paradigm into the Pentecostal Movement. Pictured, left to right top

The Flamboyant A.A. Allen; the first one to appear, and boldest of them, Jack Coe, who nearly electrified audiences with his convictions of faith and healing exploits, which included this collection of crutches in one service;

Pictured, left to right bottom

The Indefatigable Oral Roberts, who out-worked everyone with his zeal in the healing and deliverance ministry. And finally, perhaps, the most heralded photograph of this phenomenon…William Branham, shown here, with a halo “cloud” over his head.

Individuals arose such as William Branham, Oral Roberts, Jack Cole, A.A. Allen and others to preach and practice what they called a “full” gospel.

However, none of these men had the gifts, nor the graces, to have a lasting positive impact as a Wigglesworth, or a Charles Price, had. Indeed, many of these tent healing revivalists went off the scene in ignominy, obscurity, or scandal, …in contrast to their early successes.

^ Scenes of Gigantic Tent Revivals were witnessed all across the American landscape and its spiritual landscape following the Second World War.

Each healing revivalist sought to compete with each other as to who had the largest tent for publicity advantage. Jack Coe, visited a Oral Roberts tent meeting, and measured it, and then had one made just bigger, for bragging rights. Later, A.A. Allen purchased this tent from Coe, and for the duration of this healing ministry period, maintained that he had the “largest tent in the world!”

These activities on the Healing, Miracle, and Deliverance front made such ministries and their claims to be widely publicized throughout the United States. Again, Supernatural Spiritual Events, pantomiming some of the New Testament record of healings, were being brought onto the forefront of public consciousness. For those, who followed such exploits of faith, these were “heady times.”

However, such a demonstration of faith and power was not to last, at least, in its current application of those times. This was all swept away, to be replaced in times ahead, by a totally NEW paradigm…

In the interim though, before this NEW paradigm is revealed, something else did come in, and it was not for the better, as negative spiritual forces sought to undermine and corrupt the return of the Healing and Deliverance ministries to the Gospel.

Though, healing and miracles had been on the scene, there were signs of something greater yet, to appear…But the Enemy came in, to attempt to destroy this edifice of a Gospel with Power.

That is in, Part 3, of this series. This is the end of Part Two.

Thanks for reading.

 

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