Can the dead still be raised today, just like biblical times?
John 11:1 - 57
ESV - 1 Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill.
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I have every confidence that the dead can still be raised today, and I have two stories to tell that confirm this: About 15 years ago, a missionary came to our church to speak. He was recounting the story of a woman who had died in a small village where his parents had been serving as missionaries for several years. I’ll call the speaker “Bob” to make things simpler. The funeral began for this woman—who had met Jesus—and her body lay atop a pile of sticks on a wagon in preparation for her cremation. Bob’s dad was the presiding minister over the service. After he had said the usual kinds words, people had had a chance to pay their respects, and some prayers were uttered for the loved ones this woman had left behind, Bob’s dad led the crowd in a hymn. Bob’s dad’s eyes were closed as he sang, and his back was turned toward the dead body, which lay peacefully on top of the sticks. All of a sudden, he felt something tapping his arm. Thinking it was just a large insect or some kind of small animal, he swatted it away, trying to focus on leading the singing. He felt a couple more taps, and finally decided to look for the source. He turned, and to his great surprise, the formerly dead woman smiled at him from her perch, and tapped the stunned minister one more time to wake him up out of his unbelief! The funeral turned into a celebration of God’s amazing power to raise the dead! My second story happened just a few short years ago. I was up early, spending time with Jesus, and—as I often also do early in the morning—checking Facebook. I’m glad I was checking, because I was tagged in an urgent post requesting people to pray for a friend who had suddenly experienced a heart attack. She was an active athlete and in her mid-thirties at the time, so this was a very unexpected shock. I started to intercede immediately, and kept checking Facebook for updates. In less than half an hour, the good report came—but with some shocking details: As many people were praying, this woman—I’ll call her “Jane”—had died for ten minutes, then was miraculously brought back to life. Now, you might attribute this to modern medicine and the skill of the nurses and doctors taking care of Jane, and I certainly don’t want to negate their part in this miracle. HOWEVER, there is more to tell... When Jane started having the heart attack, her husband put her in the car and drove her to the nearest hospital rather than calling an ambulance. Shortly after arriving in the parking lot, she lost consciousness, and she wasn’t breathing or responsive. Her husband started CPR as he waited for the care team to scoop her up and take her inside the hospital. By the time they got her into a bed and hooked up to monitors, she had no heartbeat. The team worked on her for ten minutes—which apparently is “the limit”—and then turned to Jane’s husband with these words: “It’s no use; we tried, but she’s gone.” Jane’s husband told me that in that moment, he screamed, “NOOOOO!” A great man of faith, he grabbed Jane’s feet and started calling on the name of Jesus with all his might. He started speaking in tongues and praying over her at the top of his lungs. The team tried to pry him from her, but he refused. I don’t know how long he did this, but all of a sudden, there was a blip on the heart monitor. One of the nurses turned to him and said, “I don’t understand what you’re doing, but keep doing it, because it’s working.” Long story short, Jane is alive and well today! And even more miraculously, she has NO BRAIN DAMAGE from the ten minutes or more of receiving no oxygen to her brain. So, yes! God still raises the dead! Praise our AWESOME God! Hebrews 13:8: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
I have seen the DVD, "Faith Like Potatoes," in which there are some really miraculous things that happen, such as God sending rain during the dry season to put out a raging fire which threatens to run wild along with a crop of corn battered and lying flat after a storm, which magically picked itself up the next day, to a Zulu woman who comes back to life. The white preacher raised her! This was in South Arica.
I would say, first, that raising the dead would certainly be within God's power today -- both because His character does not change (Hebrews 13:8), and because Jesus said that anyone who had faith in Him would do even greater works than He Himself had done (John 14:12). Conversely, as to whether such resurrections do occur today (and aside from any questions of documentation of such events), Jesus noted that skeptics and others who reject Him would not be convinced by such an act, even if it were to occur (Luke 16:30-31). It would not bring those who reject God and the Bible to faith, but would simply cause them to endlessly demand more such "proofs" or "signs", just as they did of Jesus. Also, I would say that, in light of Christ's finished work of salvation and the granting of eternal life to the faithful, believers should adopt Paul's eternal perspective that, as much as even Christians may be "attached" to this temporal life, it is better "by far" for them to depart and be with Christ (Philippians 1:23). These considerations taken as a whole would lead me to conclude that the dead are not being raised today.
My view is that the gift of raising the dead was exclusively vested in two apostles - Peter and Paul - in the New Testament church and specifically during the period of the Acts of the Apostles. Peter raised Tabitha aka Dorcas [Acts 9;36-43] and Paul raised the young man named Eutychus who sunk into deep sleep as Paul preached in Troas and fell from the third storey of a building and was taken up dead [Acts 20:7-12]. Some may argue that the young man went into a coma and was revived but given the details of the incident, my view is that the young man had died and was restored to life when Paul prayed for him. No other resurrection incident is recorded in the New Testament Scripture after this period. My view is that the gift of raising of the dead ceased and is no longer available to the church. This is not to suggest that God is unable to raise the dead but that He has permitted the gift to cease for His own divine purposes.
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