Raising the dead
The gifts of the Spirit and the authority to "heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils" (Matthew 10:8) were never lost in the church, but there seems to be a resurgence in recent years, no doubt another sign of the Lord's soon return and God pouring out His Spirit in the last days as prophesied in Acts 2:17.
In the past few years I have heard credible, confirmed reports of the dead being raised in different parts of the world, such as China, India and other Third-World countries. This is no doubt because people there have more simple, childlike faith in God's Word and are blessed to have fewer "doctors of theology" than we do, telling them it all "passed away" and is not supposed to happen, filling them with doubt and unbelief, so typical of the pseudo-intellectual West.
The other day I inquired of the Lord, "Lord, what do I say to people who say that your command in Matthew 10:5-8 was just for the disciples but is not for us today, and that you are not doing that any more?" My quick response was that the more classic Great Commission in Matthew 28 says, " Teaching them to observe ALL THINGS whatsoever I have commanded you." Observe all things! That seemed pretty clear.
The Lord then added a little icing on the cake. He reminded me that the Great Commission starts with the word "GO," and in the raise-the-dead passage of Matthew 10, He said, "AS YOU GO…!" It could not be more clear. The two passages go together. Mark 16:15-18 is another confirming Great Commission "GO" passage.
In addition to the inerrant Word of God, we have testimony of it actually happening. For example, recently I received a letter from a long-time missionary friend who just returned from Uganda. He tells about a pastor friend there:
"On September 25, 1999, after preaching in a village near the town of Bostime, Uganda, he was preparing to leave the meeting when a Muslim man approached him. The man had met a weeping mother walking along the road on her way to bury her dead child. He had told her that there was a man in town preaching about Jesus' power to raise the dead. The Muslim man brought the woman with the dead infant to Rev. Idrifua wanting him to pray for the dead child. Rev. Idrifua asked the mother if she was a believer. She said she was. The Spirit of God came on him. He told the woman, 'Remove your breast and prepare to nurse the baby.' (A common practice in Africa.) She did so and he laid hands on the baby and strongly rebuked the spirit of death, then commanded life to return. Immediately the baby came to life crying and began to swing its arms and legs, then quieted down and began to nurse! The Muslim man got so excited he went to a friend's house whose baby also had died several hours before the first baby. This dead baby was the child of a Muslim cleric (or pastor), a Haji. He brought this dead child and its mother to Rev. Idrifua. God raised the second baby to life too! Five Muslims gave their hearts to Jesus that day -- including the Haji!"
Here are more examples. Recently I was privileged to hear the testimony of David Hogan, a missionary who has lived in Mexico and the jungles of Guatemala for the past 22 or so years, preaching and planting churches among the Indians under the most dangerous and primitive conditions. He has planted several hundred churches, has been shot, stoned and beaten, losing 11 of his native pastors to martyrdom. As a jungle man from the front lines, Hogan is very unsophisticated. When he speaks he does so in his boots, blue jeans and with his trademark bandana. But he is an absolutely sold-out radical for Jesus who takes God at His Word!
Hogan's testimony is electrifying. He has seen thousands of miracles and healings. He tells of one near-dead, wasted, dead-flesh-smelling leper who was restored to perfect health. He has also seen about 200 people raised from the dead!
The testimony and teaching of David Hogan, "Faith to Raise the Dead," proclaims the living Christ and will supercharge your own faith. It is on four video tapes and can be obtained from the Brownsville Revival School of Ministry (where he was teaching.) The video set costs $48 plus shipping, and can be ordered by calling 850-458-5310, or visiting their Web site at http://www.revivalschool.org.
WARNING: This guy is really radical in his challenge to all believers, and he may offend your comfort zone. His world is a replay of the Book of Acts. But isn't that the way it is supposed to be? I suspect Peter, James, John, Stephen and Paul would speak to us the same way.