Is God Raising the Dead Today?
This is the claim of many, largely within Charismatic circles, who have made claims of someone, somewhere, who is raising the dead. These individuals are always in some remote part of the earth, that is inaccessible to most so one is almost always unable to verify the claim. I have personally been confronted by a few of these proponents, and this always seems to be the case.
However, I believe the Bible clearly indicates that the days of miracle performing men have passed with the ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ and the departing of His apostles. Today, we are not living in the days of the apostles. In those days, out of all of Jesus “disciples ... he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles.” (Luke 6:13) Out of all of Jesus disciples He chose only twelve for the special ministry of apostleship. “And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.... These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them... Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.” (Matthew 10:1-8)
These were special men handpicked by the Lord for this special ministry and there were not more than twelve. In the future New Jerusalem, the wall “had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” (Revelation 21:14). In their earthly ministry, Jesus sent the “twelve disciples” out, “and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.” (Luke 9:1-2)
Jesus healed the sick, in fact, He “healed all that were sick: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.” (Matthew 8:16-17) This is one of the identifying marks and signs of the Lord Jesus Christ, and of His Kingdom to come, written aforetime in the Scriptures (Isaiah 35:5-6). When John the Baptist questioned if Jesus was the Messiah who was to come, he sent two of his disciples to ask Jesus, "Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another? Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me." (Matthew 11:3-6) This was certainly applicable to that time and those circumstances.
This same power He also gave, not to all, but to His chosen apostles. Even after He rose from the dead and ascended into heaven, this same power was manifest in the apostles, so that multitudes, “out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one.” (Acts 5:16) None passed by without being miraculously healed.
Now there was a very special reason for these mighty miracles. It was not only to announce the Kingdom of God, but to confirm their word. It was to accredit their proclamation. “And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.” (Mark 16:20) One thing that we need to understand, is that immediately after the ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ, none of the New Testament was yet penned down. In the early days of the apostles ministry, they had neither Christ with them in person nor any written record of His life and teachings.
The New Testament was slowly but surely written after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and completed before the death of the last Apostle John when he sealed the New Testament with the writing of the Revelation. Jesus told the apostles, that after His return back to His Father's house, “the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” (John 14:26)
In the interim, between the ascension of Christ and the sending of the Holy Spirit, until the completion of the New Testament, the apostles went preaching and teaching, confirming the Word with mighty miracles following, which was to verify and authenticate that their preaching was the truth and the very teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Finally they penned down in the Letters to the various churches under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
Furthermore, the apostles were eye witnesses of the ministry and teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ, right from the very beginning of John the Baptist's ministry. Luke would testify in his gospel, “Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order... That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.” (Luke 1:1-4)
The apostle Peter would declare, “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty... We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” (2 Peter 1:16-21)
The apostles did not follow cunningly devised fables, they did not follow hand me down traditions, written hundreds of years after the fact, like the Koran, written hundreds of years after the death of the false prophet Mohammed. The apostles were eyewitnesses of His Majesty, and God confirmed their word, bearing them witness with signs and wonders, authenticating the Word in the absence of the New Testament Scriptures. In fact, these mighty miracles were called, “the signs of an apostle” (2 Corinthians 12:12).
“How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?” (Hebrews 2:3-4)
The apostles were not just your average Christian for “by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people... And of the rest durst no man join himself to them: but the people magnified them.” (Acts 5:12-13) No one dared claim that they too were an apostle, no, they were set apart and magnified by the people, and their mighty miracles marked out their apostleship.
Now if you are claiming to raise the dead or heal the sick, or know of someone who can, please, PLEASE, go to the nearest hospital and give them some relief. The medical system is over taxed and many of the sick are in hallways on cots because there is no room for them. And many others just cannot afford the price tag of our modern medical system. And then PLEASE, go up to the cancer ward. I have been there. Many, multitudes, are suffering and dying daily. Can you go raise them from the dead. Jesus and His apostles did none of their miracles in secret, but rather, they turned the world in their day upside down.
Let me tell you, if there are any who are allegedly raising the dead today, you can bet that all the major News Media outlets would be there. Consider when the “Two Witnesses” are raised from the dead during the tribulation. And “when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves. And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth. And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them.” (Revelation 11:7-11)
These had gotten the attention of the whole world due to the mighty miracles they were performing. The whole world will be aware of God's Two Witnesses. They shall prophecy for the first 3 ˝ years of the tribulation, confirming their word with mighty miracles which they perform. “And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.” (v. 5-6)
And when they are killed, all that dwell upon the earth, all the people, kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies, and after three and a half days they shall rise from the dead, and those that see them shall greatly fear. The whole earth will see their resurrection from the dead, and this would only be possible with the current global communications that can beam their signals around the world in a moment of time. Their miracles got the attention of the media, and their rising from the dead is so sensational, the whole world is made aware of it. That is the modern day world that we live in, when any news item can be taken and run around the world in a moments time. So you can bet, that if the raising of the dead were truly happening today in any significant way, the whole world would know about it.
Rather, when there are claims of someone rising from the dead today, and it is investigated, there is never any evidence, and the perpetrators of such miracles are usually found to be false prophets, false teachers and charlatans, and “are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.” (Romans 16:18)
So, we must ask, is God raising the dead today? Jesus was rejected by Israel. He died for our sins and rose again from the dead, but is now ascended into heaven. His apostles since that time have also died and depart to be with Christ. Jesus Christ had ordained the twelve eyewitnesses for the very special ministry, to proclaim His Word with signs and wonders in the absence of the New Testament, but now they too have long ago departed, but not before leaving us with the New Testament.
There is therefore no longer the need to confirm their sayings with signs and wonders, for it is now written for our admonition, for our profit and instruction, for reproof and correction. We no longer need an apostle or prophet to declare and confirm the Word of God, for we now have the very Word of God, both sure and steadfast which we would do well to take heed as a Light in the darkness, until the Lord comes again.
Is God then not able to raise the dead or heal the sick today? He sure can. Does He use the so called “faith healers” of our day to accomplish this work? No He does not. Can you raise the dead? Can you heal the sick? No you can not! But you can do something.... you can pray. “Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms. Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” (James 5:13-16)
Can God heal the sick today? Yes, but not in response to any “faith healer”. It seems now to be in response to the effectual and fervent prayer of the righteous. The sick can call upon the elders of their assembly to pray for them, and if it be according to the Lord's will and serves His purpose, they may be healed, through the prayer of their church elder's. And of course, you can take your petition directly to the Lord in prayer.
Although not “everyone is healed” as in the days of Jesus and His apostles, nevertheless, occasionally, but not often, prayer is answered in a miraculous way. However, when the charlatans come, and their followers are not healed, their claim is that the sick did not have the faith to be healed, but notice in the record of James, that it is not the “prayer of faith” of the sick, but the “prayer of faith” of the elders.
Today however, God is more interested in healing those who are sick of sin. He said, “They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Mark 2:17) He is more interested in raising those who are dead in sins and trespasses. For what good is it to raise the dead, only for them to eventually die again and be cast into Hell.
We were all dead in sins and trespasses (Ephesians 2:1-10). But God has made the free gift of eternal life available to all who will repent and believe the Gospel. Christ paid our debt, He died for our sins and rose again for our justification. It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching the gospel, Jesus Christ crucified for sinners and risen from the dead, to save all those who believe. His ears are ever open to our prayers for forgiveness which comes only through faith in the blood of Jesus Christ. He shed His blood on the cross to wash away all our guilty stains, to make reconciliation for iniquity, and God has accepted His atonement, and given us assurance in that He raised Him from the dead. Today there is no “salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.” (John 5:24-27)
“And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” (1 John 5:11-13)
“He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” (John 3:36)
What is important today, is not some quacky claim that someone, somewhere is raising the dead, but the fact that Jesus Christ died for our sins and is now risen from the dead and ascended up on high, there to intercede for us. He is not dead, but is risen and is alive forevermore. Ultimately, because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, we too can live and have the hope of everlasting life if we will repent and believe the gospel.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Peter 1:3-5)
This was all written aforetime in the Law and the prophets concerning Jesus Christ. “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.” (Acts 2:36)
We have all sinned, we have all fallen short of the glory of God, we are altogether unprofitable, and an unclean thing, filthy, and our works as filthy rags, in the sight of the God who is Light, and knows all our innermost thoughts and intents of our heart. He knows every idle word we have ever spoken, and every unrighteous deed we have ever performed. Our hands have been tainted with blood and everything we touch has become defiled. How can we do good who are accustomed to do evil? Who have wandered after the lust of the flesh and of the eyes and the pride of life? But if you will but receive Him, trusting in His death and resurrection on our behalf, as sufficient to cleanse you from all unrighteousness, you can be saved right now! I trust you will not delay that decision.
In a final note, we would like to point out that these last days in the midst of which we live are defined by false apostles (2 Corinthians 11:13-15), false prophets (Matthew 24:11), false Christs (Matthew 24:24) and false teachers (2 Peter 2:1), deceitful workers who will come performing Satanic miracles. When the apostles come asking Jesus what shall be the sign of His coming, and of the end of the age, the very first thing He said is “watch and see that you be not deceived” (Matthew 24:3-4).
A description of these last days is that, “Evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse deceiving and being deceived.” (2 Timothy 3:1, 13) If any come today and say they are a prophet, a Christ or an apostle, bare with them not for they are false.
When the Lord shall judge the world in righteousness, many will come to Him in that day and say, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?” (Matthew 7:22) Not only have they gone about deceiving, they have deceived themselves into believing another gospel and another Jesus.
In the last days we read about “the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world” (Revelation 16:14). And again, “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils” (1 Timothy 4:1).
During the tribulation we read about the False Prophet who “deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do” (Revelation 13:14). We find out that the Antichrist is allegedly raised from the dead and causes the whole earth to wonder and worship Satan.
But even before the days of the Tribulation we are told that the Antichrist's coming, “is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved” (2 Thessalonians 2:9-10). Multitudes, before the rapture of the church, who will not receive the love of the truth are deceived by false miracles. This is in full bloom today. Satan is working his lying wonders and those who receive not the love of the truth are deceived thereby. Because they received not the love of the truth that they might be saved, “God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” (v. 11-12)
These are very sobering words for our time, as it is the modern day signs and wonders movement that is preparing the world for the Antichrist and this great delusion. See that you be not deceived!