Keener is not one to throw ideas against walls to see if they’ll stick. Keener is one of the best-known scholars of the Bible and early Christianity in the world today. He is careful with his research and documents everything. The point of the book, as the back-cover states, is to demonstrate via examples “that miraculous works of God, which have been part of the experience of the church around the world since Christianity began, continue into the present.”
This stated goal is admirably accomplished by Dr. Keener. He commences the book by addressing a few preliminary questions. What is a miracle, anyway? Why do some people assume that miracles don’t happen? Do many people witness miracles? Do only Christians report Christian healings?
He then launches into the main portion of the book in which he briefly relates the details of hundreds of well-attested miracles, but especially healings. This middle section comprises about 75% of the book proper. At the end of the book, Keener addresses a few more key questions people often wonder about miracles. Why don’t we see more miracles in the West? What is the role of faith? What about when healing is temporary? What does the Bible say about non-healing?
I appreciate Keener’s candid honesty in acknowledging that most blind people who have received prayer are still blind, and most dead people prayed for are still dead (pp. 137, 202). He comments, “What we call miracles are still the exception rather than the rule,” (p. 221). But his main point is that whether you or I have personally witnessed a dramatic miracle or not, many significant and verifiable miracles have occurred and still occur in answer to the prayers of God’s people all around the globe.
One other thing I appreciate about this book is Keener’s acknowledgment that more dramatic miracles occur more frequently on the frontlines of Christian evangelism than they do where the church is well-established (pp. 31, 33 135, 183, 201, 203). He still affirms, however, that such dramatic miracles sometimes happen in the West, too (pp. 151, 203).
Practically, this book reminded me to stay expectant when I pray. In any way He chooses, and at any time He chooses, God may do something momentous to display His glory and help those who witness His mighty acts of mercy to trust Him more fully.
‘‘Is anyone among you sick? 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 will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up.’James 5:14-15
The clearly expected outcome – ’the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up.’ In verses 17-18, James continues to assert the miraculous power of prayers, offered in faith:
‘Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.’James 5:17-18
Clearly, James believed that prayers offered in faith would result in the physical, miraculous intervention of God. When we look at the life of Jesus, and the amount of time and energy he devoted to healing the sick, which was an expression of his deep compassion for the suffering, it is easy to see that James was closer to the truth than most Christians are today.
Jesus relied on miracles to confirm his words, moreover, He told us that those that believe in Him will do even greater works than He did.Do we really believe Him?
“I assure you: The one who believes in Me will also do the works that I do. And he will do even greater works than these because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in My name, I will do it so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.” John 14:12-14
Powerless prayers have been rendered as such by the long, slow erosion of faith among God’s people, and that erosion has been made possible by the embracing of false traditions. For example, the kind of prayers that close with ‘not my will but yours, be done’. This is not stated in faith, in expectation of an outcome, but more as a catch-all – ‘please ignore everything I just asked for, if it doesn’t suit you.’
This is not the model of discipleship we are to follow and teach, where we are completely unaware of the will of God, and our prayers are at best guesswork. Paul urges us to walk ever more closely with God, and increasingly understand his will.
‘Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.’Romans 12:1-2
As we yield to God’s mercy and walk closely with him, our ideas are changed. We jettison old ways of thinking, as healthier, more life-giving inspiration arises in His company, and as our minds are renewed, we become more attuned to Him and to His will. Only then, in our closeness with God, where His good, pleasing and perfect will is known, can we pray effectively.
In the early church, the lived experience of the Christian faith was far greater than it is today. There is much we have lost and must seek to restore.Back to the church as God intended as revealed in the Book of Acts.
Praying effectively: James sums it up well:
But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.’James 1:6-8
Adapted from the excellent article "The Prayer God Can’t Answer" by Duncan Edward Pile Patheos Nov. 23rd 2021
God often uses suffering for His purposes, even Christians, to purge sin from our lives. The suffering causes us to stop and re-evaluate our lives. Holy Spirit conviction comes upon us and we realise we have grieved Him and quenched His work in our lives, This invariably leads to repentance and make us realise how dependent we are upon God’s grace. It will also lead to a lot of other good things in our lives, greater discernment, greater sensitivity to things of the Spirit, transformed minds, wisdom, expanded hope, increased desire to spend time in His Word and to know the truth, teach us to give thanks in all circumstances, increased faith, strengthened character. Hopefully, when we see God transforming our lives in these ways we will come to the conclusion that the suffering was worth it.
Not all of us have had to suffer like Joni Eareckson Tada but she wrote in he book When God Weeps: “Before my paralysis, my hands reached for a lot of wrong things, and my feet took me into a lot of bad places. After my paralysis, tempting choices were scaled down considerably. My particular affliction is divinely hand tailored expressly for me. Nobody has to suffer ‘transverse spinal lesion at the fourth-fifth cervical’ exactly as I did to be transformed to His image.”
How about Nick Vujicic born without arms and legs. He tried to take his own life at age eight in four inches of water. Thank God he was unsuccessful, hundreds of thousands maybe even more will be in God’s Kingdom because of the testimony of this man.
End of September, Torben and the Last Reformation team drove to Washington D.C. for the prayer march 2020 organized by Franklin Graham. Over 100.000 people were there to pray for the nation. They recognised that America is at a critical time, a tipping point, when its Judaeo Christian heritage (In God We Trust) could be discarded.
Torben said, “We went there with a desire in our hearts to see America get Born again, as the scripture says “No one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born again out of water and the Spirit” We had great expectations from the beginning and we saw how God moved as we were preaching the Gospel and healing the sick. People got set free from pain, sicknesses, anxiety, demons, etc. A demon was cast out of a woman who considered herself a Christian. As we walked through the crowds singing the missionary anthem, many were touched and opened the ways for us to pass. It was truly a special moment.”
This is a video of some of the highlights that took place in those days.
This article is by Ron Cantor. He is the CEO of Tikkun International, a global family of Messianic congregations, leaders and ministries dedicated to the restoration of Israel and the church.
“For the past few years, a wave of healing and prophetic evangelism has been taking place in Israel. I know this because I’ve witnessed it firsthand.
In Hebrew, the word for “preaching the good news” or “evangelist” is mevaser. About a year ago, I was in the Mevaseret Mall—which could also be translated as the Gospel Mall—on my way to a meeting, and I thought, What better place to share Yeshua? I was in the drugstore when I noticed the woman in front of me point to her back as if she were in pain.
The woman in pain inexplicably stopped outside the pharmacy (as if God made her wait for me) while I paid for my item. Clearly, I was supposed to pray for her.
I ran out of the pharmacy just as she was finally walking away.
“Slicha (excuse me)!” I greeted her. “Did you tell the woman at the pharmacy that you have pain in your back?”
“Yes,” she said. “Can I pray for you?” I asked. “I believe God will heal your back right here.”
She was a little stunned. After all, asking a complete stranger if you can pray for them—who does that? But when you are in pain—especially lower back pain—you will do anything to get the pain to stop. Looking curious, she said I could pray for her.
I asked her if I could put my hand on her back, and she said I could. I prayed for her in Yeshua’s name in the middle of the public mall, with plenty of onlookers, and asked her to check her back. Clearly shocked, she reported that all the pain was gone. I explained that God healed her back because He wants to know her and for her to know Him. She was very grateful, and I asked if she could just wait a minute. I ran to the car and got my testimony booklet and my book Identity Theft—both in Hebrew. I wondered if she would wait.
I ran back in, and there she was. She took both items and again thanked me. I explained that God loves her and the healing was just the beginning. He wants more. She had no idea what I was talking about, but she now has all the information she needs.
This is just one example of the miraculous healings taking place across Israel. It all started when two young men began watching Todd White and other ministers on YouTube. These ministers would go out on the streets and pray for the sick, often after getting words of knowledge—information about someone that you could not have known naturally.
These young men didn’t know anyone in Israel who was doing this, and they wondered if they could go out on the streets of Tel Aviv and do the same thing. Being Israeli, they did not ask for permission. They began to ask people what was ailing them. Then they would pray. To their shock, a high percentage—roughly 80%—were being healed and touched by God.
They came back to our congregation and testified, and then more people started going out and praying for the sick—and more people got healed. Finally, they started getting invitations to come and share their testimonies in other Messianic congregations. Even more Messianic Israelis were emboldened to go out on the streets.
In our congregation, a woman from a kibbutz (a collective farm community) came to faith. She was under demonic oppression, and when they baptized her in the Jordan, she came under attack. She stepped into the water but then could not move. When they finally got her in far enough, she was immersed, and immediately, the demons left. Suddenly, all the cute nibbling fish that you endure during a Jordan River baptism began to attack! It was like when Yeshua cast the demons into the pigs (Mark 5:1-20).
One Friday, this woman came to share her testimony. One of the young men she grew up with came to hear her speak. He was deeply moved, but not convinced. He wore a prosthetic on his leg. One leg was an inch or two longer than the other. Noticing this, our senior pastor, Gil Afriat, prayed for him, and suddenly his leg grew out. The young man got rid of his prosthetic and is now born again and sharing the gospel.
A few months later, White himself came to Israel on a tour. Most tourists in Israel have no idea there is a growing, thriving expression of the body of Yeshua. There are over 200 congregations and more than 20,000 Messianic Israelis who love Yeshua. Overnight, we arranged for a meeting where White could encourage the believers in healing and prophetic evangelism. We had a crowd of 300 (which, for context, would be like gathering 30,000 in Dallas).
The next few days, I walked around with White throughout Jerusalem and received a master’s course in praying for unbelievers.At one point, a group of teenaged Israelis surrounded us as White prayed for each one to be healed. It was amazing. But I returned to my hotel angry and jealous. I thought, How could this man so freely share Yeshua in my city and see such results?
When I walked into my room, an Arab man named Mahmoud was cleaning the room. Without thinking, I asked him, “Are you in any pain?”
“Yes, my knee,” Mahmoud replied.
We prayed. He was healed. Over the next three days, I saw five workers at the hotel get healed—three Muslims and one atheist. They were all overwhelmed. On the last day, as we were departing for Tel Aviv, the Jewish front desk manager asked me, “Excuse me—can you heal people?”
“Well, God can,” I said. “What is hurting?”
She had hurt her knee. The woman asked for prayer, and God instantly healed her. She was overcome. (For the skeptics out there, yes—we have video of these healings.)
Later, we brought White back to Israel with Tom Routoto and Robbie Dawkins for three days of training and evangelism. We had 300 people at one time on the streets of Jerusalem praying for the sick and sharing Yeshua. The results were astounding.
I have discovered that if you don’t fan the flame, the flame goes dim. We had hoped that more evangelists moving in street healings would want to come to Israel to train believers, but we have not yet been successful in getting them to come. Many do not understand the biblical principle of Romans 11:12, which says, “Now if [Israel’s] transgression means riches for the world, and their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fullness mean?”
Paul is saying here that the key to world revival is Jewish acceptance of Jesus. He says if the Jewish people’s rejection of the Messiah resulted in the riches of the Book of Acts, then imagine what type of move of God will come when God’s chosen people finally receive the Messiah and fulfill their calling to be “a light for the nations” (Isa. 42:6, 49:6, Acts 13:47)?
In Romans 11:15, Paul repeats this point: “For if [Israel’s] rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?”
We are seeing this happen in our lifetimes. You can trace the revival in China to 1948 when Israel became a nation (again). Back then, there were roughly one million believers in China. Now, there are over 160 million! The greatest revivals are happening now in China, South America, Africa and India. Every miracle in the book of Acts is taking place. And I tell you, this is prophetically connected to Abraham’s seed after the flesh coming back to their Messiah.
When Paul addresses this, he tells the Romans (who had already adopted negative attitudes towards the Jews) that the issue of Israel and the church is a mystery, and if you don’t understand it, you may become proud. He tells the Gentile believers not to give up on Israel, as God will send a massive Jewish revival once the gospel hits every nation—the fullness of Gentiles.
“For I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, lest you be wise in your own estimation, for a partial hardening has come upon Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved” (Romans 11:25-26).
The more we see revival in Israel, the more we will see revival and spiritual riches in the nations. When we do our Israel tours at uptozion.net, we not only show people the dead stones of history but the living stones of the modern-day Messianic Jewish apostolic movement.
What began in Jerusalem is coming back. God has raised up Yeshua-loving congregations in the Galilee, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and even in Abraham’s desert hometown of Beersheva. The Israeli body has a Bible school and is producing indigenous Hebrew worship music. We live in amazing times—and we need you to stand with us!
It is now available for everyone to watch on YouTube for free. You can see the movie with subtitles in around 30 different languages. Since the premiere in Holland, a little more than a month ago, there have been over 1000 screenings all over the world and the response has been amazing. People really loved the movie and after watching the movie many people experienced healing, deliverance, repented, got baptised in water and received the Holy Spirit.
Now it is time to share it with everyone out there, so they can see church as God intended.