This morning we looked at words of knowledge, prophecy and deliverance from evil spirits in the book of Acts and realised that the miraculous happens because the spiritual world is real and God wants to lead and guide us into a knowledge of Him. Many do not believe in miracles because they believe only in a material, physical world, but this worldview precludes the miraculous because it precludes God. As Jesus made plain to the Sadducees, “He is not the God of the dead but of the living.” (Matt 22:32) There is so much more the life than what we can experience from our five senses; the spiritual world is real, even though it may be invisible and intangible msot of the time. Miracles bring us into connection with this spiritual world in a tangible and visible way. They literally connect us to the divine, opening our eyes to the invisible, enabling us to see and know that God is real and at work in the world.

In the book of Acts, we see the reality of this spiritual world on different occasions, showing us the contrast between good and evil. Simon was one who had practised sorcery before his conversion, which was largely due to seeing Philip perform miracles in Jesus’s name. (Acts 8:9-24) When he saw the apostles laying hands on people to receive the Holy Spirit, he wanted to be able to buy that same power, but Peter told him this was impossible; miracles happen not because of our ability or financial prowess, but because of dependence on God. Another example of someone who opposed the gospel message was Elymas, who became blind following Paul’s condemnation of him. (Acts 13:6-12) A word of knowledge from God demonstrated His complete knowledge and power to the proconsul who then became a believer.

Later in Philippi, a word of knowledge revealed to Paul that the slave woman’s speech was not from God and this led to her deliverance. (Acts 16:16-18) We need spiritual discernment at all times, because the enemy often masquerades as an angel of light (see 2 Cor 11:13-14). Jesus reminded us that words are not enough; a good tree will bear good fruit, but words alone will not guarantee us spiritual relationship. (Matt 7:16-23) What is needed is a personal relationship with God (described in terms of the good Shepherd and the sheep who know his voice in John 10).

When God speaks to us, the miraculous is involved! Sometimes He speaks audibly, but more often through dreams, visions, ‘nudges’ and even through circumstances, as Paul discovered on his missionary journeys (see Acts 16:6-10) It is our personal relationship through Jesus which matters, as the sons of Sceva discovered (Acts 19:13-19). Miracles testify to who God is and what He can do and often result in people coming to faith. In order to confirm His word and to show people His power, love and mercy, God works miracles through ordinary believers – even today