THE WORK OF GOD—Part 18 A RECAP OF OUR STUDY

When we read an account in Scripture, we should think: what did the people involved actually see?  Was a prophet or an apostle seen doing some miracle?  Did the participants see a prophet or apostle do a “miracle,” which was an action beyond man’s natural ability to do?  Keep in mind:

  • God’s definition of his witness (miracleJohn 15:24John 15:24
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    24 If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father.  

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    ) is a work that no man could possibly do—above natural ability (John 3:1-2John 3:1-2
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    3 1 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: 2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.  

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    ).
  • The singular purpose of miracles was to bear witness to God Himself (e.g. on Mt. Sinai), a prophet or an apostle ( 2:3-4). God’s miracles (bearing witness) were to testify that what the prophets spoke were indeed the words that proceeded out of God’s mouth (Jer. 23:16Jer. 23:16
    English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

    16 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the LORD.  

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    ).
  • God foretold future events through the prophets to bear witness that the prophets were from God ( 8:7; Eccl. 10:14Eccl. 10:14
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    14 A fool also is full of words: a man cannot tell what shall be; and what shall be after him, who can tell him? is full...: Heb. multiplieth words  

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    ; James 4:13-14James 4:13-14
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    13 Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: 14 Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. It...: or, For it is  

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    ). Scriptures tell us that no ordinary man can know events ahead of time. God can tell events ahead of time, and he gave that ability to the prophets and apostles to show who was speaking his words (Jer. 28:9Jer. 28:9
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    9 The prophet which prophesieth of peace, when the word of the prophet shall come to pass, then shall the prophet be known, that the LORD hath truly sent him.  

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    , Deut. 18:20-22Deut. 18:20-22
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    20 But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die. 21 And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken? 22 When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.  

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    , Lam. 3:37Lam. 3:37
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    37 Who is he that saith, and it cometh to pass, when the Lord commandeth it not?  

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    , Isa. 41:23Isa. 41:23
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    23 Shew the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods: yea, do good, or do evil, that we may be dismayed, and behold it together.  

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    , Isa. 42:8-9Isa. 42:8-9
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    8 I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images. 9 Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them.  

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    ; Isa. 46:9-11Isa. 46:9-11
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    9 Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: 11 Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it. that...: Heb. of my counsel  

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    ).
  • In opposition to a miracle is God’s every-day work where His hand is not seen (Luke 23:44Luke 23:44
    English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

    44 And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. earth: or, land  

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    ; 1 Chron. 14:151 Chron. 14:15
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    15 And it shall be, when thou shalt hear a sound of going in the tops of the mulberry trees, that then thou shalt go out to battle: for God is gone forth before thee to smite the host of the Philistines.  

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    ; 108:10-13; Matt. 10:29Matt. 10:29
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    29 Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. farthing: it is in value halfpenny farthing in the original, as being the tenth part of the Roman penny  

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    and Acts 5:1-11Acts 5:1-11
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    5 1 But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, 2 And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet. 3 But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? to lie to: or, to deceive 4 Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. 5 And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things. 6 And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him. 7 And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in. 8 And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much. 9 Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out. 10 Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband. 11 And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.  

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In the series of lessons, THE WORK OF GOD, we have tried to distinguish between the miracles (witness of God) and his ordinary work in the world (John 15:23-24John 15:23-24
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

23 He that hateth me hateth my Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father.  

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).  We studied each of the following scriptural accounts very carefully (making notes as we went).  The following questions can be asked to discern God’s ‘unseen’ work.

  1. What did the people actually see?  Was a prophet or an apostle seen doing some miracle?  Did the participants see a prophet or apostle do a “miracle,” which was an action beyond man’s natural ability to do?
  2. Did God foretell (through a prophet or an apostle) that certain events would take place, which appeared to be from “natural causes?”
  3. Keep in mind:
  1. God’s definition of His witness (miracleJohn 15:24John 15:24
    English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

    24 If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father.  

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    )
  2. What he has said was the purpose of His witness to his apostles and prophets—his messengers ( 2:1-4)
  1. We took each event in scripture separately and tried not to confuse two types of accounts.
  2. The non-miraculous events are plain examples God uses to show how he works and yet man does not see anything with his naked (physical) eye. The events may appear to be from natural causes to those looking on, but God shows in these accounts that he does them.
  3. We have learned from myriad examples that holy men of God prayed and asked for his help and were told what to do and what to expect before his answers to their prayers took place.

With these things in mind, we also looked to the New Testament examples of how God worked in the early days of the church and how he works today.  Another example of God’s non-miraculous work today may be found in Acts 16:14Acts 16:14
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

14 And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.  

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.  “And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.”

(KJV+) And(G2532) a certain(G5100) woman (G1135) named(G3686) Lydia(G3070), a seller of purple(G4211), of the city(G4172) of Thyatira(G2363), which worshipped(G4576) God(G2316), heard(G191) us: whose(G3739) heart(G2588) the(G3588) Lord(G2962) opened(G1272), that she attended(G4387) unto the things which were spoken(G2980) of(G5259) Paul(G3972).

Note other passages which direct us to understand the same principle (Isa. 50:5Isa. 50:5
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

5 The Lord GOD hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back.  

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; Luke 24:45Luke 24:45
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45 Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,  

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; 2 Tim 2:25-262 Tim 2:25-26
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25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; 26 And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will. recover...: Gr. awake taken...: Gr. taken alive  

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; John 6:44-45John 6:44-45
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44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.  

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; Rom. 9:16Rom. 9:16
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

16 So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.  

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; 1 Cor. 3:6-71 Cor. 3:6-7
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6 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. 7 So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.  

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; 2 Cor. 3:14-162 Cor. 3:14-16
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14 But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ. 15 But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. 16 Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away.  

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; 2 Cor. 4:4-62 Cor. 4:4-6
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4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. 5 For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. 6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. hath: Gr. is he who hath  

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; Eph. 1:11Eph. 1:11
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11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:  

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; Php. 2:13Php. 2:13
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13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.  

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; 2 Tim 2:72 Tim 2:7
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7 Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things.  

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; James 1:16-17James 1:16-17
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16 Do not err, my beloved brethren. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.  

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My prayer is that we may all be encouraged to reflect on God’s loving care and his work today and every single day.  Perhaps we can be encouraged to pray more because we believe the work of the Heavenly Father is real and ongoing (Matt. 21:22Matt. 21:22
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

22 And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.  

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–Beth Johnson

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One thought on “THE WORK OF GOD—Part 18 A RECAP OF OUR STUDY

  1. My apologies:

    Under “#3 Keep in mind”
    There should have been an a. & b., but my formatting did not hold.:-) Therefore, ignore the new numbering and read the next 1,2, 3 as four, five and six. Thanks!

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