by Eugene Wilson
The Bible is filled with stories of the miraculous. The Gospels-Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John-record thirty-seven distinct miracles performed by Jesus. But there were more. John writes, “And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written” (John 21:25, NKJV).
Because of the miraculous, people were in awe of Jesus. Crowds followed Him everywhere. When Jesus withdrew, as when having heard of John the Baptist’s passing, the crowds learned of His solitary place and showed up (Matthew 14:13). But the attraction of the crowds was short-lived. When Jesus’ teaching became difficult for people to accept, the crowds dissipated (John 6:60-66). Jesus, however, was undeterred: “I must preach the kingdom of God … for this purpose I have been sent” (Luke 4:43, NKJV). And preach is what He did.
Likewise, throughout the Book of Acts people were amazed with the miraculous. When the Holy Spirit came upon the believers in Acts 2, the onlookers were “amazed and perplexed” and “asked one another, ‘What does this mean?”” Some surmised, “They had too much wine.” Peter, however, began to preach. “Let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say” (Acts 2:14, NIV). Three thousand were added to the church that day. The people needed the words of God to explain the work of God. When the Word was preached, many were saved.
In Acts 3 a lame man received a miracle. The crowd was “filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him” (Acts 3:10, NKJV). Peter, seeing the reaction of the people, began to preach. Again, the people needed the words of God to understand the work of God.
Thankfully, the miraculous is still being performed, and the Word of God is still being proclaimed. But while the works of God may verify the Word of God, the Word of God is always needed to give meaning to the works of God.
DESIRING THE WORD OF GOD
Although people need to hear preaching, the Word of God is not always readily accepted. Sometimes it is shunned. Paul spoke of such in his letters to Timothy. He warned of a time in which people would desire the tickling of their ears: A time in which people would decide for themselves what was right or wrong. A time in which people would seek validation outside the Word of God for living contrary to the Word of God. A time in which people would reject truth. A time in which people would desire novel things, speculative things, sensational things.
Paul stated, “The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables” (II Timothy 4:3-4, NKJV). In response, Paul’s exhortation to Timothy was simple: “Preach the word” (II Timothy 4:2).
The desire for things that are novel, speculative, and sensational is different than the desire for a miracle. Similarity, however, is found when a person wants that which is unexplainable while shunning the Word of God. In other words, there is little difference in a person who wants the miraculous but discards the Word, and a person who desires myths and fables. The Word of God must accompany the words of God. A person who desires the miraculous without the Word is susceptible to deception. “For false christs and false prophets will rise and show signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect” (Mark 13:22, NKJV).
The Word of God must accompany the words of God. Unfortunately, some have little desire for the preached Word of God. Instead of messages that call for change-messages that move people to repentance, messages about the cross or the blood-many people want to hear they can be wealthy and healthy. But giving wealth and health was never Christ’s purpose. We can be saved without miracles of healing and of finances, but we cannot be saved without the preaching of the Word of God. Paul declared in Romans 10: 17, “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” But, “how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14).
May I encourage you to be supportive of the preached Word of God? When a preacher preaches without fear or favor, support it with words of affirmation. Say, “Amen.” Speak up. Thank the preacher for preaching the Word. Be supportive with your attendance, and stay out of the hallways and lobby while the Word is being preached. The pressure to be an eartickler is real. Your encouragement may be just what a preacher needs to hear.