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Were Jesus’s Miracles Only Symbolic?

Core Christianity / Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier
The Truth Network Radio
November 5, 2020 1:00 am

Were Jesus’s Miracles Only Symbolic?

Core Christianity / Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier

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November 5, 2020 1:00 am

Episode 569 | Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier answer caller questions.

Show Notes

1. How do I know without a doubt that a choice I am making is God’s choice for me? It really feels like I am talking and listening to a wall 99% of the time.

2. I believe in the Trinity and in Jesus Christ, but what confuses me is that the Bible also says that “no one knows the day or hour” of Jesus’s return except for the Father. If Jesus is God, wouldn’t he know?

3. Does the bible say anything about the mistreatment of wild or domestic animals? I see so much of that going on today and was wondering if the bible addresses this.

4. I recently have become visually impaired. I have also heard that Jesus’s miracle of giving sight to the blind man was only symbolic of giving the man understanding to the gospel. What do you think?



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In Jesus' earthly ministry, he often performed miracles, but some people claim those were only symbolic.

Did they really happen? That's just one of the questions we'll be answering on today's edition of CORE Christianity. We'll begin with your question at 833-The-CORE.

That's 1-833-843-2673. And you can email us your question at Well, we'd encourage you to continue to pray for our nation with the aftermath of the election this week. And, Adriel, I was thinking in addition to the election, the other major thing that happened this week was Daylight Savings Time came to an end on Sunday. So I'm wondering, how many clocks did you have to change in your house? I don't change any clocks because, I mean, I have my computer and my cell phone and they do it for me.

Oh, they're automatic. You know, it's funny now that I think of it, I don't think we have one clock on our wall at home. We just don't care about time.

We're just, you know, going with the flow. Well, I thought this was interesting. In England, Queen Elizabeth's staff had to change over 1,000 clocks across her homes in Windsor Castle, Buckingham Palace, and her other fancy places. Seven of the Queen's 1,000 clocks are large tower clocks, so they're not particularly easy to change. They have to send some dude up there to move the hour hand back, and they say it takes about 40 hours for the Queen's staff to do the entire job. Wow. Well, and that's exactly why I don't have clocks around my house, because, you know, with all the rooms. Not quite the Queen's estates, but hey, Pastor Adriel's pad with his phone and his computer automatically going back. Let's get to our first question of the day.

This one was posted on our Instagram account. How do I know that a choice I'm making is God's choice for me? I can't seem to find the right way to pray and listen. It feels like I'm talking to a wall 99% of the time, and it's hurt my faith as a new Christian. Well, brother, I can say I totally understand that feeling. There have been times in my own life as well where you pray to the Lord, but it feels like your prayers are bouncing off the ceiling. It's not a sense of God's presence. And I remember, especially for myself as a newer Christian too, that was one of the things I really struggled with, because in the early, early days, you know, when I first began walking with the Lord, it did seem like I could really feel God's presence.

There was this definitive change, and it might have just been that everything was so new. But then after a while, you know, those feelings went away, and I started to wonder, well, is God still here with me? Has he abandoned me? Have I sinned in some way?

I'm like, what's going on? And I think part of it is just growing in maturity in the Christian life and realizing that God wants us to put our confidence not in how we feel, whether we sense God's presence tangibly or not. And there are times in our lives where we will feel God's presence very powerfully. Maybe, you know, it's in the context of a worship service as you're singing to the Lord or praying or you're reading the scriptures. But there are other times where you open up the Bible or you go to church, and you just don't have that strong sense of the presence of the Holy Spirit. And that doesn't mean that God has left us or that he doesn't hear your prayers. I think what God is teaching us is that we ought to put our confidence in what he has said in his word, not in how we feel or in looking for some sign from heaven.

Let me just say this, too. You know, some of the most godly people throughout the history of the church have felt the very thing that you're feeling, wondering, God, are you hearing me? Years ago, I remember reading C.S. Lewis's short little, I mean, I guess it would have been more like journal entries. It's called A Grief Observed. It's what he wrote down reflecting upon the death of his wife. And there's a passage there that, when I first read it, just brought me to tears. But listen to what he said as he was thinking about this very difficult question and suffering, going through this immense amount of suffering. He wrote this. Meanwhile, where is God?

This is one of the most disquieting symptoms. When you are happy, so happy that you have no sense of needing him, so happy that you are tempted to feel his claims upon you as an interruption. If you remember yourself and turn to him with gratitude and praise, you will be, or so it feels, welcomed with open arms. But go to him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain.

And what do you find? A door slammed in your face and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence. You may as well turn away.

The longer you wait, the more emphatic the silence will become. There are no lights in the windows. It might be an empty house.

Was it ever inhabited? It seemed so once. And that seeming was as strong as this. What can this mean? Why is he so present a commander in our time of prosperity and so very absent a help in time of trouble? There's a really just heavy passage. It also reminds me of what the psalmist said in Psalm 88, where the psalmist, throughout that entire psalmist, crying out to the Lord. And he's basically saying the same thing that C.S.

Lewis was saying there. God, where are you? Why do you feel so distant, so absent?

I call upon you day and night, and yet you do not answer me. And so I just want to say to you that this is a part of the Christian life. There are seasons, seasons of suffering, seasons of the ordinary Christian life where we don't feel the presence of God like we once did or like we will at some later point. And that is OK. What you have to do is put your confidence in God's word and what God has already said. I mean, your question, how can I be confident in the choices that I'm making?

Well, here's the very simple answer for you. Do they line up with God's revealed will? What God has said in his word? We oftentimes want God to speak to us from heaven. Well, he's already given us his revelation in scripture, and he speaks through the scriptures, study them, know them, and use godly wisdom to make everyday life decisions. And when you make those decisions in line with what God has revealed in his word, you can be confident that you're doing what God wants you to do and that he hears you when you pray to him.

John says this 1 John 5 verses 14 and 15. This is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the request that we have asked of him. When you pray according to the will of God, when you pray in line with what the scriptures teach, you can rest assured 100% that the Lord hears you and that the Lord is going to answer your prayers.

Maybe not in your timing and the way that you would like, but he promises to answer. And that's a confidence that you can have. You know, Adria, we often talk on this program about the danger of letting our emotions, letting our feelings about God being there, God being distant, rule us instead of just resting on the objective truth of his word to us.

And I'm wondering if you could just talk about that for a second, because it seems like so many of our listeners get tripped up by that. Yeah, and it really is. I mean, today, when a lot of people think about religion and faith, they primarily root it in feelings. I can't tell you how many people I talk to who say, oh, you know, I tried Christianity out, but it just didn't feel right.

And then I went to a Buddhist temple or, you know, some New Age retreat, and boy, the feelings were there. And so that must mean that it's true. But look, truth is not determined by how you feel or don't feel. I mean, we feel different every single day.

And that's one of the dangers is we can think about the Christian faith in this way. Well, I feel it. I feel the presence of Jesus, so he must be real. I'm not trying to harp on feelings. You know, feelings aren't necessarily a bad thing. It's nice to have those feelings of God's presence, the feeling of joy, the feeling of excitement when we're worshiping the Lord. But we don't rest our faith in our feelings.

That's disastrous because they're always changing. We rest our faith in something so much more stable in what God has revealed in his word. And I think as we mature in the faith, as we continue to grow in our relationship with the Lord, we place more and more confidence in God's word because we know that we can trust him than we do in how we feel. And that gives us stability in the Christian life so that instead of going back and forth and up and down this sort of spiritual rollercoaster, we're solidly rooted in what God has done for us in his Son, Jesus Christ, and what he's revealed in his word. And so what a call for all of us to know the word and to trust the God of the word.

Amen. You're listening to Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez, and here's a question that came in from Jess through our Facebook account. He says, I've had a big question weighing on me lately. The Bible talks about Jesus being the Son of God. And yesterday at my church, the pastor kept referring to Jesus as God. I believe in Jesus Christ and I place my faith in him, but what confuses me is the Bible also says that no one knows the day or hour of Jesus' return except for the Father. If Jesus is truly God, wouldn't he know? I fully accept Jesus as my Savior and the Son of God, but I struggle to explain to my family how Jesus is also God.

Can you shed some light on this for me? This is such an important question. You know, as I've been preaching through the book of 1 John, we just covered that passage at our church where John talks about the spirit of the Antichrist that is at work in the world today. And he makes it very clear that the primary mission of the spirit of the Antichrist in the world today is to deceive us about who Jesus is. He denies that Jesus is the Christ. And at the heart of the Christian faith, I mean, this is core Christianity, is who is Jesus? And the devil is at work in the world today trying to convince people that Jesus is not who the scriptures say that he is. And so this is so important.

I'm glad you asked this question. Actually, I mean, it was one of the most controversial questions that the church took up in the ancient days. And there were these false teachings, these heresies that denied things like the divinity of Christ. And so the church had to respond to these teachings with the clear teaching of scripture, what God has revealed in his word. And the Bible teaches, as you know, Jess, in the Old Testament and in the New Testament, that Jesus is God. Isaiah chapter 9, verse 6, Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and his name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Even there in these prophecies of the Messiah, the Messiah is referred to as the Mighty God. John, in John chapter 1, verse 1, says, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. I mean, this is the clear teaching of the scriptures, and you don't just find it in clear statements like that, but even in what Jesus does, he is the creator. By him all things were made, apart from him nothing was made that was made, John goes on to say, at the beginning of his gospel. But then you run into passages like the one that you mentioned, Mark chapter 13, verse 32, where Jesus said this, Concerning that day, that is the final day, that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

So how do we make sense of that? If the Bible very clearly teaches that Jesus is God everywhere, and then Jesus has this statement here where he says, When it comes to the last day, the day of judgment, the day of the second coming, no one knows that day or hour except for the Father. Well, typically, an appeal has been made to the doctrine of the Incarnation. When God the eternal Son assumed humanity, that is, when he took on flesh for you and for me, he embraced our weakness. And so many have understood this verse as Jesus speaking in the context of his incarnation, his condescension. And just another thing, especially with everything going on around us, you know, here's another thing that you get from this passage very clearly. I mean, don't make a timetable in terms of figuring out when the Lord is coming back. Jesus makes it absolutely clear here. No one knows the day or the hour.

And here again, he's speaking in the context of his own condescension, not even the Son, he says. And so it's so crazy when people today try to assume, you know, they'll build these sort of timetables of the second coming. Here's when the Lord is coming back.

It must be, you know, within the next five years, 10 years, 40 years, that kind of a thing. Well, don't do that. Our job is to fix our eyes on Jesus, to grow in holiness, to grow in our love for God and for each other by the grace of the Holy Spirit and through understanding the Scriptures. Let's commit ourselves to that in these days and see what the Lord does in us.

You're listening to Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. And as you may know, research has shown that a large percentage of kids from Christian families are leaving the faith as teens or young adults. Now, if you're a parent, we have an excellent resource that will help you prevent that from happening. Yes, it's called Five Ways to Help Your Kids Keep the Faith.

It's free for you when you sign up for our weekly newsletter. We often do hear from parents who are asking for advice on how to help their children grow in the Christian faith. This resource is practical and it includes down-to-earth ways to help your kids keep the faith this week. So don't miss out on this one.

Head over to forward slash offers to download Five Ways to Help Your Kids Keep the Faith. You can also call us for that resource or any one of our resources. Here's the number. It's 833-843-2673.

That's 833-The-Core. Adriel, let's get to a call that came in from Sharon in Wisconsin. I was wondering, does the Bible say anything about mistreating animals, whether they're domestic or wild? Because there's just so much of that going on and I'm wondering if the Lord has addressed that in any place in the Bible. God bless you and have a good day. Bye.

Yeah, thank you so much, Sharon. I know you think about the account of the creation, God making all things, including the animals and all things good and God delights in his creation and there are passages of scripture that do touch on this very question that you've brought up. Proverbs 27 verse 23 says this, Whoever is righteous has regard for the life of his beast, but the mercy of the wicked is cruel. Or I think of that passage that's quoted in the New Testament by Paul when he writes to the Corinthians. It's Deuteronomy chapter 25 verse 4 that says you shall not muzzle an ox when it is treading out the grain.

The idea there is that while the ox is treading out the grain, if it's muzzled, it can't also feed on the grain that it's treading out. And so it was just a way of caring for animals, of showing compassion to animals. And so I would say, Sharon, the Bible is absolutely clear that mistreatment or abuse of animals is not an okay thing. Another passage of scripture that comes to mind is what the Psalmist said in Psalm 104 verses 24 through 26. O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all. Here is the sea, great and wide, which teems with creatures innumerable, living things both small and great. There go the ships and leviathan which you formed to play in it.

Isn't that so interesting? There in verse 26, Psalm 104, 26, the leviathan which you formed to play in it, the Hebrew word there can refer to laughter or making merry. The idea is God delights in his creation, even the animals.

And I think we should delight in creation too, not abuse it or mistreat it. And so, yes, there are numerous passages and those would just be a few of the ones that I would go to, Sharon. Adria, let's go to another call that came in. This one from Lavette in Dallas, Texas.

Wow. Well, Lavette, thank you so much for your question. If you had trouble hearing that question, Lavette mentioned that she just recently became vision impaired. And she was listening to an audio book where they said that the miracles that Jesus did, in particular the one that she referred to was the healing of the blind man. That was more of a symbol of something else. A really important question, are the miracles that Jesus did symbols? Is it just symbolic or did he actually do these things? But then she also brought up, Bill, she was speaking to you, let us have our candy corn.

I love the fact that she actually appealed to Scripture though for that too, Bill. John the Baptist ate locust and honey. People didn't hear that last week before Halloween. We were talking about the fact that the coating on candy corn is made from lac bugs. And so I was saying it's probably not a good idea to eat candy corn. She said, let us have our candy corn.

Yes. Well, Lavette, amen to that. And you're right. I think John the Baptist was, he might have been the one that invented candy corn.

The lac bug and the honey and all that stuff coming together is the original candy corn. But let me just pray for you, Lavette, first. I'm sorry to hear that you recently became vision impaired. Let me pray for you. Father, thank you for Lavette. Thank you that she is your daughter and that she loves you and wants to grow in her faith and study your word. Father, we do ask for your healing in her life.

We know how difficult it is when our bodies begin to break down and vision begins to go. I pray for her, Lord, for your healing. I pray even for restoration for her sight. And ask God that in all things, Jesus, you would be with her, that you would cause her to continue to grow in the grace and the knowledge of your word. And Father, that you would just bless her in Jesus' name.

Amen. Well, you know, the passage I think that you might be referring to, Lavette, I mean, there are obviously different places in the Gospels where Jesus heals and where he heals the blind, but there's one account in John chapter nine in particular. I just want to read the first few verses there. John chapter nine.

I'll read the beginning of the text. As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth, and his disciples asked him, Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind? And Jesus answered, It was not that this man sinned or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day.

Night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. Now, first, this wasn't just symbolic, Lavette. I mean, this man was really healed of his blindness. And if you continue to read the story, that becomes absolutely clear. But Jesus was doing more than just healing him. I mean, the signs in John's Gospel, the miracles that Jesus did oftentimes did point to a greater reality. And in this context, you know, Jesus is saying, I am the light of the world, and he's giving a blind man vision. And so in one sense, it illustrates something to us of the identity of Jesus Christ. But that doesn't mean that the miracle was merely symbolic or that it didn't actually happen. Now, there's a theological liberalism that denies the miracles of Jesus.

In seminary, I had to read the work of a guy named Adolph von Harnack, which I wouldn't necessarily recommend to you. He was a quote unquote theologian who denied the miracles of Jesus. He said the real kernel of Christianity was the moral teachings of Jesus.

The husk, you think about the husk outside of the corn, the stuff that you're just supposed to strip off and it is meant to be shed away. Well, that was the miracles. Those are the things that we sort of do away with. That's not the real essence of Christianity. The real essence is the moral teachings. Love God, love your neighbor, be a nice person, that kind of a thing.

Well, he was wrong. The kernel of Christianity, what we can't do without, are the miracles. You think of the resurrection. I mean, Paul said if Jesus didn't actually rise again from the dead, if he didn't miraculously come back to life, we would still be in our sins and absolutely hopeless. Christianity would be pointless. He says in 1 Corinthians 15, if that's the case, let's eat and drink for tomorrow we die.

I mean, who cares what we do or how we live? But that's not the case. Christianity depends on the miraculous work of Jesus Christ. Jesus's miracles, whether it was giving sight to the blind or walking on water or rising from the dead, were not mere symbols, legends that we sort of read our own meaning into. Sadly, there are churches today that that's how they interpret the miracles. Even the resurrection is about Jesus rising in our hearts or that kind of nonsense. No, they were real events that ground our faith, our hope. Now, that doesn't mean that the moral teachings of Christianity don't matter.

They do. But they're rooted in the objective truth of the Christian faith. The reason we are driven to love one another, to love our neighbors, to love even our enemies, is because that's what Jesus did.

He loved his enemies. He came, he died for our sins and rose again from the dead, confirming the fact that he's God, as we talked about earlier in the program, and that we can really put our trust in him, our hope in him. One day, Levitt, the same Jesus who gave sight to the blind man will restore your sight. It may not be until glory, when God raises your body up in perfect holiness, but you have that hope, and so does everyone who has put their trust in Jesus Christ. One of the things we've been talking about a little bit on this program is just the goodness of creation. You think about the animal kingdom and the creatures that the Lord made and how God delights in his creation and even in our bodies. Sometimes people today think that Christianity is all about the spirit, the soul. Jesus died on the cross for our sins so that one day we can be these disembodied spirits in heaven floating around playing the harp, that kind of a thing. Well, no, the ultimate hope of the Christian faith is that through Christ's work on our behalf, the gospel, the whole creation is going to be restored. Our bodies that break down, that grow old and tired and weary, that ultimately go down into the ground one day through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, they're going to be raised up. Remind yourself of the fact that Jesus rose again from the dead and that one day, because you have faith in him, you too will rise. When you contact us, please let us know how you've been encouraged by this podcast and be sure to join us next time as we explore the truth of God's word together.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-30 02:48:52 / 2024-01-30 02:59:05 / 10

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