Miracles! The Bible is replete with accounts of miracles. However, when we come to the Church in Galatia, it not only had a history interwoven with stories of the miraculous, particularly in the ministry of Jesus and the post-Pentecost church, but they were also witnessing miracles in their midst.
What miracles they were seeing, we are not told, but they were indeed occurring. These events were akin to the overused phrase “naturally supernatural” – for them, it was more than mere click-bait for a conference; it was the real deal. Galatians 3:5 deeply resonates, posing the question, “Does He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith?”
This verse vividly depicts the Father—or perhaps the Son—bestowing the Spirit upon His people and performing miracles among them. The mechanism of this divine action is of paramount importance; and for those who may be uncertain, it is accomplished through faith. What is especially striking is the casual manner in which Paul poses this question to the Galatians.
God was at work
They are well aware of his reference; there is no ambiguity. God was actively present in their community, generously dispensing His Spirit and executing miracles among them. Paul’s inquiry does not address the nature or magnitude of these miraculous events in their community; rather, he questions the means by which they occur: Is it through the burdensome, authoritarian legalism—a return to the Law of Moses—or through faith in God?
The apostle Paul, with both empathy and unwavering conviction, highlights a central truth of Christian belief: it is not through strict adherence to the law, but through faith that we experience the fullness of God’s Spirit and witness His miraculous works. One might ponder the inverse question: Is there a lack of an outpouring of the Spirit, and are there few miracles due to legalism, rather than hearing by faith? This is light-hearted banter, yet it may well be a significant issue.
In our days
In a world faced with the war in Ukraine, the conflict in Gaza, economic challenges, and a cost of living crisis – not to mention wars, rumours of wars, earthquakes, famines, and volcanic eruptions – many Christians long to see an unprecedented surge in miracles and for God to unleash His power by His Spirit among us. And why not? There are many in the UK, even in my own church, who have yet to witness an authentic move of the Spirit of God where His manifest Presence is palpably felt and experienced, and where the weary are refreshed, renewed, and encouraged.
In the church I attend we find ourselves united in a quest for the extraordinary, yearning for a palpable manifestation of God’s presence among us. It’s as though we’re poised at the threshold of a grand adventure, each one of us boldly questioning, “If not us, then who?” Our search extends beyond historical accounts; we seek a genuine and dynamic encounter with God’s power and Spirit in our present lives. This journey is woven with threads of faith, hope, and eager expectation, as we ponder the ways and moments in which God might unveil His might in our midst.
In that light, Paul’s message to the Galatians, “Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith?” is intriguing. He takes for granted that God is pouring out His Spirit among them and performing miracles among them. This is a given. What Paul actually challenges is the means: does God do this by the law or because of your faith? Faith is the key! The question is not whether God can do it, but rather, HOW He does it.
Addressing our discouragement
In addressing the quandary of discouragement, particularly when miracles seem distant or absent, we venture into a realm where faith intertwines intricately with expectation and action. It’s a delicate dance, really, where our desires and God’s will lead in turns. We can’t command miracles at whim, as if summoning a butler with a bell, but we are invited to ask, to seek, to knock. How then do we practically step out in such a way that we begin to see miracles unfold among us?
Ask yourself, when was the last time you stepped out of your comfort zone, buoyed by nothing but a whisper of faith? Don’t beat yourself up on it though, take things one step at a time. It’s in these uncharted waters that miracles often find fertile ground. If miracles have become as scarce as a snowman in the Sahara in our experience, it might be time to examine our hearts and actions. Are we living in a manner that aligns with faith and expectation?
The gift of working miracles, as outlined in 1 Corinthians, is not a party trick or a spiritual badge of honour. It’s a manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. This gift, like all gifts, operates not in isolation but in concert with faith, love, and a surrender to God’s will. The guidelines, if any, are not etched in stone but written on the heart – a blend of expectation, conviction, and desire, tempered particularly by humility and obedience.
It’s that time (again).
It’s time to see these things again, but actually, it was never not time! Paul’s words to the Galatians are not a swan song to the era of miracles but a clarion call, reminding them of their beginnings: faith. He doesn’t pen a farewell to the miraculous; rather, he nudges the Galatians (and us by proxy) to remember that miracles don’t thrive on legalistic soil. They don’t start there, grow there or exist there, but they do end there. More likely, they blossom in the gardens of faith. Not just great faith (mega-faith) just, plain, faith. And if you have faith (believe) then all things are possible.
The time of miracles hasn’t ended; the baton is in our hands. It’s about stepping out in faith, not as reckless gamblers but as children of a God who delights in acting on behalf of those who earnestly seek Him. So, let’s roll up our sleeves, step out of the boat, and walk towards the One who calms seas and moves mountains.
In doing so, we might just find ourselves walking on water, in the midst of our very own miracle.