The Demonstration of God’s Power in the Early Church

 


15220016_1773847699549460_3428195364988228756_n.jpg

As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.” (Matthew 10:7-8)

“For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.” (1 Corinthians 4:20)

“And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. (1 Corinthians 2:4-5)

And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” (Mark 16:17-18)

“Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” (Luke 10:19)

“This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will” (Hebrews 2:3-4)

“I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done– by the power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Spirit. So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ” (Romans 15:18-19)

“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:” (James 5:14)

I have come across people who were involved with the New Age, Shamanism and the occult and they saw real supernatural powers. Of course the source of those powers are from the devil but many people involved in it are ignorant of that fact. Yes, satan can do supernatural miracles. Remember Pharoah’s magicians (read Exodus Ch. 7)? The Antichrist will come with lying signs and wonders (2 Thess. 2:9). The False Prophet will even call down fire from heaven (Revelation 13:13).

So the enemy can do supernatural miracles but the Almighty God can’t or won’t? I believe the devil wants the churches to stay neutered and without any power while the devil demonstrates his power in false religions. Many people who are seeking for the truth go the route of false religion or occult practices because real miraculous supernatural powers can be found there as opposed to what they find when they visit an average church. Could this be at least part of the reason why millennials are ditching church [source]?As a body of Christ we can’t afford to neglect the supernatural gifts God has available for us. If we are to walk as Christ walked (1 John 2:6) then the practice of deliverance and healing should be more common since that was a large part of God’s ministry.

It is utterly ridiculous to believe the gifts have ceased as some Christian leaders teach (a doctrine called cessationism). If the gifts have ended with the apostles then why was such events recorded long after their deaths?

6642734_f248-1.jpg

In fact, the growth of the early church can be attributed to the demonstration of God’s power. Ramsey MacMullen, Dunham Professor of History and Classics at Yale University, in his work “Christianizing The Roman Empire (A.D. 100-400),” MacMullen believes that healing and deliverance were major contributors to the Church’s expansion:

This . . . sums up and sharply delineates a great deal that has been discussed in the preceding pages: emphasis on miraculous demonstration, head-on challenge of non-Christians to a test of power, head-on confrontation with supernatural beings inferior to God, and contemptuous dismissal of merely rational . . . paths toward true knowledge of the divine.

Peter Brown, the Philip Beulah Rollins Professor Of History, Emeritus, at Princeton University, said the same thing. Among other dynamics, Brown observed the impact of deliverance and healing on Christian expansion. In his noted work, “The World Of Late Antiquity AD 150-750,” he recounts the following,

“…Many sound social and cultural reasons the historian may find for the expansion of the Christian Church, the fact remains that in all Christian literature from the New Testament onwards, the Christian missionaries advanced principally by revealing the bankruptcy of men’s invisible enemies, the demons, through exorcisms and miracles of healing.”

Michael Green agrees, in “Evangelism in the Early Church” , Green recounts the following,

There was one other notable characteristic about the early evangelists, though it is one which reads strangely to modern Western eyes: the sheer power that went with the proclamation of the Christian message…there was another dimension to this power. It involved healings and exorcisms, and this was a factor of incalculable importance for the advance of the gospel in a world which had inadequate medical services and was oppressed with belief in demon forces of every kind.

Even the so called church fathers wrote about the supernatural power of the early church and this long after the death of the apostles.

Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons: (2nd century AD – c. 202) studied under bishop Polycarp, who in turn had been a disciple of Apostle John.

Irenaeus addressing certain heresies of his time had this to say: “For some [Christians] do certainly and truly drive out devils, so that those who have thus been cleansed from evil spirits frequently both believe [in Christ], and join themselves to the Church. Others have foreknowledge of things to come: they see visions, and utter prophetic expressions. Others still, heal the sick by laying their hands upon them, and they are made whole.” – Irenaeus Against Heresies, Book II, 32:4 (190 A.D.)

Just as also we hear many brethren in the church who have gifts of prophecy, and who speak through the Spirit with all manner of tongues, and who bring the hidden things of men into the clearness for the common good and expound the mysteries of God.” (Against Heresies, 5, 6:1)

. . . for which cause also his [Christ’s] true disciples having received grace from him use it in his name for the benefit of the rest of men, even as each has received the gift from him. For some drive out demons with certainty and truth, so that often those who have themselves been cleansed from the evil spirits believe and are in the church, and some have foreknowledge of things to be, and visions and prophetic speech, and others cure the sick by the laying on of hands and make them whole, and even as we have said, the dead have been raised and remained with us for many years. And why should I say more? It is not possible to tell the number of the gifts which the church throughout the whole world, having received them from God in the name of Jesus Christ, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, uses each day for the benefit of the heathen, deceiving none and making profit from none. For as it received freely from God, it ministers also freely. (Against Heresies, 2, 49:2)

Justin Martyr: (103–165 AD.) “For the prophetical gifts remain with us, even to the present time. And hence you ought to understand that [the gifts] formerly among your nation have been transferred to us. Dialogue with Trypho, Chapter LXXXII  http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf01.viii.iv.lxxxii.html

Others, again (the Montanists), that they may set at nought the gift of the Spirit, which in the latter times has been, by the good pleasure of the Father, poured out upon the human race, do not admit that aspect [of the evangelical dispensation] presented by John’s Gospel, in which the Lord promised that He would send the Paraclete; etc. but set aside at once both the Gospel and the prophetic Spirit. Wretched men indeed! who wish to be pseudo-prophets, forsooth, but who set aside the gift of prophecy from the Church; acting like those (the Encratitæ) who, on account of such as come in hypocrisy, hold themselves aloof from the communion of the brethren. We must conclude, moreover, that these men (the Montanists) can not admit the Apostle Paul either. For, in his Epistle to the Corinthians, he speaks expressly of prophetical gifts, and recognizes men and women prophesying in the Church.” Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho. Chapter XI. http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf01.ix.iv.xii.html?highlight=gifts,of,prophecy#highlight

Justin Martyr, Second Apology, Ch. 8 (153 A.D.) This apology was addressed to the Roman Senatel. “And they {demons), having been shut up in eternal fire, shall suffer their just punishment and penalty. For if they are even now overthrown by men through the Name of Jesus Christ, this is an intimation of the punishment in eternal fire which is to be inflicted on themselves and those who serve them.”

Second Apology, Ch. 6, “And now yon (Roman Senate) can learn this from what is under your own observation. For numberless demoniacs throughout the whole world, and in your city, many of our Christian men exorcising them in the Name of Jesus Christ, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, have healed and do heal, rendering helpless and driving the demons out of the men, though they could not be cured by all the other exorcists, and those who used incantations and drugs.”

Justin Martyr, Dialogue With Trypho, a Jew, Ch. 30 (150 A.D.), “For we call Him (Jesus) Helper and Redeemer, the power of whose name even the demons do fear, and at this day, when they are exorcised in the Name of Jesus Christ, they are overcome.”

Dialogue With Trypho, Ch. 76, “And now we, who believe on our Lord Jesus, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, when we exorcise all demons and evil spirits, have them subjected to us.”

Dialogue With Trypho, Ch. 85, “For every demon, when exorcised in the Name of this very Son of God … is overcome and subdued. But though you exorcise any demon in the name of any of those who were amongst you — either kings, or righteous men, or prophets, or patriarchs — it will not be subject to you. Now assuredly your (Jewish) exorcists, I have said, make use of craft when they exorcise, even as the Gentiles do, and employ fumigations and incantations.”

Tatian, Address of Tatian to the Greeks, Ch. 16 (160 A.D.), “Sometimes they themselves (demons) disturb the habit of the body by a tempest of folly, but, being smitten by the Word of God, they depart in terror, and the sick man is healed.”

Theophilus, Theophilus to Autolycus, Book II, 8 (160-180 A.D.) “… And this clearly appears from the fact, that even to this day the demonized are sometimes exorcised in the Name of the living and true God; and these spirits of error themselves confess that they are demons who also formerly inspired these writers (Homer and Hesiod).”

Tertullion, Apology, Ch. 23, (197 A.D.), “Tertullian, Apology, Ch. 23 (197 A.D.) – “Let any one be brought before your tribunals, who it is agreed is possessed by a demon. That spirit, when commanded to speak by any Christian you like to select, will as truly confess that he is a demon, as elsewhere he will falsely claim to be a god. In exactly the same way let any one of those be produced who are deemed to be under the influence of a god…  [If] these deities of yours do not confess themselves demons, not daring to lie to a Christian, you may there and then shed the blood of that most insolent Christian. What could be plainer than a fact like this? What could be more trustworthy than a proof of this nature? The simplicity of truth is before your eyes; its own virtue attends it there; suspicion is altogether out of the question…  And all this dominion of ours and power over them derives its force from the Naming of Christ, and from the enumeration of those judgments which they apprehend are threatening them from God through Christ the Judge. Dreading Christ in God and God in Christ, they [demons] render obedience to the servants of God and Christ. So at our touch and at our breath, seized with the idea and representation of that fire, they [demons] depart unwillingly and reluctantly at our command out of the bodies of men, and blush with shame in your presence.”

Tertullian, Apology, Ch. 37, “Who would save you (Roman Rulers), I mean, from the attacks of those spirits of evil, which without reward or hire we (Christians) exorcise?

Tertullian, To Scapula, Ch. 4, “The clerk of one of the courts who was liable to be thrown upon the ground by an evil spirit, was set free from his affliction (by Christians); as was also the relative of another, and the little boy of a third. How many men of rank (to say nothing of common people) have been delivered from demons, and healed of diseases?

Minucius Felix, The Octavious of Minucius Felix, (210 A.D.), “A great many, even some of your own people, know all those things that the demons themselves confess concerning themselves, as often as they are driven by us (Christians) from bodies by the torments of our words and by the fires of our prayers,” (The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. IV, p. 190.)

Origen, Against Celsus, Book I, 46 (230-254 A.D.), “And there are still preserved among Christians traces of that Holy Spirit which appeared in the form of a dove. The Christians expel evil spirits, and perform many cures, and foresee certain events, according to the will of the Logos.

Against Celsus, Book I, 67, “And the Name of Jesus can still remove distractions from the minds of men, and expel demons, and also take away diseases and produce a complete change of character ….

Lactentius, The Divine lnstitutes, Book II, 16 (250-320 A.D.), “But they (demons) fear the righteous, that is, the worshippers of God, adjured by whose name they depart from the bodies (of people); for, being lashed by the Christians’ words, they not only confess to be demons, but even utter their own names.” 

The Divine Institutes, Book V, 22, “For these (demons), as long as there is peace among the people of God, flee from the righteous, and fear them; and when they seize upon the bodies of men, and house their souls, they are adjured by the Christians, and at the Name of the true God are put to flight. For when the demons hear this name they tremble, cry out, and assert that they are branded and beaten; and being asked who they are, whence they are come, and how they have insinuated themselves into a man, confess it. Thus, being tortured and excruciated by the power of the divine name, they come out of the man.

Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lecturer, 16:12 (350-375 A.D.), “For He (Holy Spirit) employs the tongue of one man for wisdom; the soul of another He enlightens by prophecy, to another He gives power to drive away demons ….

Lactantius, The Epitome of the Divine Institutes, Ch. 51, “But of what great weight the cross is, and what power it has, is evident, since all the hosts of demons are expelled and put to flight by it. And as He Himself before His passion put to confusion demons by His word and command, so now, by the name and sign of the same passion, unclean spirits, having insinuated themselves into the bodies of men, are driven out, when racked and tormented, and confessing themselves to be demons, they yield themselves to God, who harasses them.

“What therefore can the Greeks expect from their superstitions and with their wisdom, when they see that their gods, whom they do not deny to be demons also, are subdued by men through the cross?

Eusebius was a fourth century bishop and Church historian. In Church History, he quotes Irenaeus (circa AD 190), it reads:

“…his true disciples, receiving grace from him, perform such works in his Name for the benefit of other men, as each has received the gift from him. For some of them drive out demons effectually and truly, so that those who have been cleansed from evil spirits frequently believe and unite with the Church. Others have a foreknowledge of future events, and visions, and prophetic revelations. Still others heal the sick by the laying on of hands, and restore them to health. And, as we have said, even dead persons have been raised, and remained with us many years.”

And in another place the same author writes: “As also we hear that many brethren in the Church possess prophetic gifts, and speak, through the Spirit, with all kinds of tongues, and bring to light the secret things of men for their good, and declare the mysteries of God.”  Eusebius. Church History.  Book V. Chapter VII.

The Shepherd of Hermas (A.D. 110) also contains a reference to speaking in tongues and prophecies. “When then the man who hath the divine Spirit cometh into an assembly of righteous men, who have faith in a divine Spirit, and intercession is made to God by the gathering of those men, then the angel of the prophetic spirit, who is attached to him, filleth the man, and the man, being filled with the Holy Spirit, speaketh to the multitude, according as the Lord willeth.”


If you believe you have demonic infestation or need prayer for healing in some area then feel free to reach out to me for prayer.

Advertisements

One thought on “The Demonstration of God’s Power in the Early Church

  1. True.
    The Church in Acts 8 was doing great without Paul the self-appointed false “apostle”.
    They were listening to the words of Jesus, given through His appointed Apostles, John, Matthew, and Peter, with Mark as scribe for those who could not write yet.

    Poem – What is love?

    Two men came to Jesus
    With different motivations.
    They asked Him the same question
    Relevant to all the nations:

    Which is the Most Important?
    The answer was the same.
    Jesus did not manipulate
    He was not there to play a game.

    “Love the Lord your God” said Jesus
    as He quoted from The Law –
    to fulfill and not abolish
    was His purpose, full of awe.

    Jesus did not make all Scripture
    Into one new great commandment.
    He summarized The Law and Prophets
    “First and Greatest” and “The Second.”

    The Love of God is higher
    Than the love of any man.
    Receive from God, give back to God-
    Then to others, that’s His plan.

    The Love of God involves much more
    Than simply “love your fellow man.”
    Worship, trust, and pray to God,
    and obey Him – that’s His plan

    To worship and pray to neighbors,
    Whoever they may be,
    Or trust and obey our enemies
    Would be idolatry.

    The love of God is first and greatest,
    And the love of man is second.
    “All we need is love” are words
    of dead Beetles on the pavement.

    “The entire law is summed up in a single command”
    are not the words of Jesus our Salvation.
    It’s false teaching of Paul the Pharisee
    an “accuser of our brethren.”

    “Love” without God is Satan’s word through Paul
    in his chapter to the Corinthians.
    “I will show you the most excellent way”
    is the road to eternal perdition.

    Where is God in Paul’s chapter on love?
    Nowhere in view of the eye.
    Paul sings about himself like a Mexican Mariachi
    “I, I, I, I.”

    Jesus is The Most Excellent Way
    Not the words of a Pharisee.
    The words of Jesus are very clear.
    Jesus said, “You must follow ME.”

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s