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Previously published at Jesus Army.
Elijah Stephens is a former Vineyard pastor and spiritual coach belonging to Bethel Church in Redding, California. Since 2015, he has been working on a documentary about medically verified miracles. Micael Grenholm asked him a few questions.
WHAT is a medically verified miracle?
That is a good question. When it comes to miracles, we are talking about when God enters the world and does something. What makes something a miracle is God’s activity.
This is why you can’t study miracles scientifically, but what you can do is to find cases where people have prayed and there’s “before and after” medical evidence. For example, a person has a tumor, one day there is prayer, the next day the tumor disappears.
What you want to do is to corroborate miracles with medical evidence. So that’s what we’re attempting to do with the movie; finding cases where miracles have been corroborated by medical evidence. (more…)
One and a half year ago I attended a Healing School conference in Malmo here in Sweden, arranged by Global Awakening and New Wine Sweden. Randy Clark, Bill Johnson, Tom Jones and Will Hart were speaking in 26 different sessions about how to pray for the sick and seeing the Kingdom of Heaven manifest on earth. Many miracles happened during that conference, as can be seen in the video above that I made. For example, a guy named Magnus was damaged in a car accident 21 years earlier and got metal plates to stabilize the body, something that made it impossible for him to bow down entirely. He named and claimed his healing and bam – he could touch the floor.
With this wonderful conference in mind, I was excited when I attended the New Wine leader’s conference in Stockholm this week where Randy was the main speaker. It was the same message – healing does not belong to the church margins but is at the heart of the Kingdom – but he had some new wonderful testimonies that illustrated his points. For example, he showed us this powerful video about a woman getting healed from metal constraints, just like Magnus:
I like Randy. Even though I think his former mentor John Wimber (someone I keep comparing him with) had a slightly sounder theology at some points, I love his passion for Jesus, the Kingdom, and the spiritual gifts. His ministry, labeled by Wimber as apostolic, has changed the life of millions – including Heidi Baker. And God surely blesses his meetings through marvelous signs and wonders.
At the first night of the leader’s conference, a man started to shout joyfully and clap his hands. It turned out to be Pekka Liljeblom, a passionate Pentecostal evangelist – and a Facebook friend of mine. He got up on stage and explained that about 30 years ago, he got hurt in a boat accident and damaged his left eye. Since that day, he could only see ten centimeters with it. After receiving prayer at the conference however, his vision got restored with 90 %. He could now see to the other end of the room! I spoke with him two days later and his vision continued to improve.
I’ve written a lot about how inspired I am by the life and teaching of John Wimber, the founder of the Vineyard movement. The Kingdom of God was the most central concept in his theology, just as it also was the most central concept in the teachings of Jesus. And what Wimber showed quite clearly was that the Kingdom cannot by any means be separated from signs and wonders.
The reason for this is that miracles manifest power. When God does impossible things like raising the dead or multiplying food, it becomes evident that He is an almighty King, and that He alone can save us from sin and death. Therefore, it is not surprising that the gospels tell us how Jesus and the disciples preached about the Kingdom and healed the sick at the same time (Mt 4:23, Lk 9:2). “For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power.” (1 Cor 4:20)
Wimber’s teaching got a huge impact. The Kingdom of God is central not only in the Vineyard but also in other Charismatic movements like New Wine, Bethel Church and Global Awakening. However, I’m afraid that they have missed a very important aspect of the Kingdom that is quite evident in the Scriptures. The Kingdom of God is of course also a political term, with political consequences in our lives.