Healings, signs, and miracles in the name of Jesus

From a biblical viewpoint

We often see posters or receive fly­ers that invite peo­ple to heal­ing meet­ings, mir­a­cle fests, fes­ti­vals of bless­ing, etc. It is promised that the sick will be healed. There are lots of great “heal­ers,” preach­ers, pas­tors, and prophets who claim to have God’s anoint­ing and so are able to heal all ill­ness­es or raise dead peo­ple. In this arti­cle, we would like to have a look at what the Bible teach­es us regard­ing signs and mir­a­cles per­formed in the name of Jesus.

Caution!

Before being impressed by the above­men­tioned great promis­es, tes­ti­monies of peo­ple who were healed, or even per­son­al­ly wit­nessed mir­a­cles, we have to be aware of all the warn­ings in the Bible in this regard. The warn­ings call us to be care­ful, to exam­ine, and not to be too quick with con­clu­sions such as “This heal­er is def­i­nite­ly a great, anoint­ed man of God, so we can trust and fol­low him.”

If a prophet, or one who fore­tells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a mirac­u­lous sign or won­der, and if the sign or won­der of which he has spo­ken takes place, and he says, “Let us fol­low oth­er gods” (gods you have not known) “and let us wor­ship them,” you must not lis­ten to the words of that prophet or dream­er. The LORD your God is test­ing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. It is the LORD your God you must fol­low, and him you must revere. Keep his com­mands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him. That prophet or dream­er must be put to death, because he preached rebel­lion against the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slav­ery; he has tried to turn you from the way the LORD your God com­mand­ed you to fol­low. You must purge the evil from among you. (Deuteron­o­my 13:1–5)

Even if the mirac­u­lous sign or won­der takes place, we have to exam­ine the teach­ings of that per­son. Nowa­days, no preach­er would say, “Let us fol­low oth­er gods…,” but if they teach things con­trary to the words of Jesus and the apos­tles, we have to see them as deceivers who are try­ing “to turn you from the way the LORD your God com­mand­ed you to fol­low.”

For non-Catholics, a very clear exam­ple could be the heal­ings which hap­pen through “Moth­er Mary” at var­i­ous shrines (e.g., Vailankan­ni, Fati­ma, Lour­des, etc.) where “Mary” is ven­er­at­ed (in fact wor­shipped) in a way that is obvi­ous­ly unbib­li­cal. But in the same way, we have to exam­ine the words and teach­ings of protestant/Pentecostal preach­ers and heal­ers as well. The above vers­es from Deuteron­o­my show that the words and teach­ings are deci­sive and much more impor­tant in front of God than mirac­u­lous signs.

“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep­’s cloth­ing, but inward­ly they are fero­cious wolves. By their fruit you will rec­og­nize them. “Not every­one who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the king­dom of heav­en, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heav­en. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not proph­esy in your name, and in your name dri­ve out demons and per­form many mir­a­cles?’ Then I will tell them plain­ly, ‘I nev­er knew you. Away from me, you evil­do­ers!’” (Matthew 7:15–16; 21–23)

In verse 22, Jesus speaks about the Last Judge­ment. The peo­ple who say to him “Lord, Lord…” are preach­ers and prophets who preached, proph­e­sied, and per­formed many mir­a­cles in Jesus’ name. Yet, they will not be allowed to enter heav­en as Jesus has nev­er known them. Why? Because they did not do the will of God. Again a clear warn­ing not to be quick­ly impressed by mirac­u­lous signs but to exam­ine the fruit by which false prophets can be dis­tin­guished from true ones. Obvi­ous­ly, fruit can­not mean mir­a­cles as in the lat­er vers­es it is clear that they are con­demned in spite of the mirac­u­lous signs they per­formed. The fruit refers to their lives and teach­ings. It is often well known about famous heal­ers and preach­ers that they live in great lux­u­ry (1 John 3:17), love mon­ey (1 Tim­o­thy 6:6–10), love the hon­or of peo­ple (John 5:44, Mark 12:38–40), love the world (1 John 2:15–17), and are too busy, so per­son­al rela­tion­ship is hard­ly pos­si­ble with them (1 Thes­sa­lo­ni­ans 2:4–12). How­ev­er, some­times it is not so easy to know their lives; there­fore, we have to exam­ine their teach­ings on the basis of the Bible.

Now the Bere­ans were of more noble char­ac­ter than the Thes­sa­lo­ni­ans, for they received the mes­sage with great eager­ness and exam­ined the Scrip­tures every day to see if what Paul said was true. (Acts 17:11)

Luke, the author of the Book of Acts, acknowl­edges the noble char­ac­ter of the Bere­ans because they exam­ined the teach­ings of Paul whether they were true. We have to do the same before we trust and fol­low some­one. And we have to be very care­ful and thor­ough in this. It is not enough that some­one teach­es that Jesus is the sav­iour of the world and he is God (for exam­ple), but we have to look at the whole will of God:

There­fore, I declare to you today that I am inno­cent of the blood of all men. For I have not hes­i­tat­ed to pro­claim to you the whole will of God. (Acts 20:26–27)

If Paul had not pro­claimed to the Eph­esians the whole will of God, he would have been guilty of their blood, that is, he would not have shown them the way of eter­nal life. Still some more Bible pas­sages about being cau­tious:

For false Christs and false prophets will appear and per­form great signs and mir­a­cles to deceive even the elect—if that were pos­si­ble. See, I have told you ahead of time. (Matthew 24:24–25)

Then I saw anoth­er beast, com­ing out of the earth. He had two horns like a lamb, but he spoke like a drag­on. And he per­formed great and mirac­u­lous signs, even caus­ing fire to come down from heav­en to earth in full view of men. Because of the signs he was giv­en pow­er to do on behalf of the first beast, he deceived the inhab­i­tants of the earth. (Rev­e­la­tion 13:11; 12–14)

The com­ing of the law­less one will be in accor­dance with the work of Satan dis­played in all kinds of coun­ter­feit mir­a­cles, signs and won­ders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are per­ish­ing. They per­ish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. (2 Thes­sa­lo­ni­ans 2:9–10)

This last pas­sage shows the respon­si­bil­i­ty and guilt of not only the deceivers but also those who believed them. No one can blame the false prophets for being deceived by them. Their pun­ish­ment will be cer­tain­ly more severe, but, basi­cal­ly, God has giv­en every­one the abil­i­ty to dis­tin­guish between good and evil. We have the Bible, which guides us if we are open and love the truth. Hence, know­ing the Bible and cling­ing to it are the best pro­tec­tion against being deceived.

Test every­thing. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil. (1 Thes­sa­lo­ni­ans 5:21–22)

Jesus healed all—evidently, undoubtedly, completely

As we have seen above, not all mir­a­cles are from God, and a clear way to find this out is to exam­ine the teach­ings (and also the life) of the one who per­forms them. Apart from this, mir­a­cles per­formed in the name of Jesus should also look like the mir­a­cles per­formed by Jesus him­self. In the fol­low­ing, we will look at some char­ac­ter­is­tics of Jesus’ mir­a­cles and com­pare them with the mir­a­cles which we can see or hear of nowa­days.

Jesus healed all

When evening came, many who were demon-pos­sessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spir­its with a word and healed all the sick. (Matthew 8:16)

Aware of this, Jesus with­drew from that place. Many fol­lowed him, and he healed all their sick. (Matthew 12:15)

When they had crossed over, they land­ed at Gen­nesaret and anchored there. As soon as they got out of the boat, peo­ple rec­og­nized Jesus. They ran through­out that whole region and car­ried the sick on mats to wher­ev­er they heard he was. And wher­ev­er he went—into vil­lages, towns or countryside—they placed the sick in the mar­ket­places. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched him were healed. (Mark 6:53–56)

As is vis­i­ble from the above pas­sages, Jesus healed all the sick, not only some. Who­ev­er went to him in the hope to be healed was real­ly healed by him, what­ev­er ill­ness he had. At nowa­days’ heal­ing meet­ings, it is very sad to see that lots of sick peo­ple go to the “heal­er” full of hope and expec­ta­tion, but they have to go back home in the same con­di­tion as they came. The rea­son the “heal­ers” usu­al­ly give is the lack of faith of the sick per­son. How­ev­er, Jesus healed also such peo­ple who showed with their lat­er actions that they did not have a strong faith:

Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus trav­eled along the bor­der between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a vil­lage, ten men who had lep­rosy met him. They stood at a dis­tance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Mas­ter, have pity on us!” When he saw them, he said, “Go, show your­selves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, prais­ing God in a loud voice. He threw him­self at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samar­i­tan. Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the oth­er nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this for­eign­er?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” (Luke 17:11–19)

All the ten were healed; yet, Jesus acknowl­edges the faith of only that one who came back to him to give praise to God. This sit­u­a­tion shows that Jesus did not expect spe­cial faith of those whom he healed. It was enough if they believed and had hope that Jesus can heal them.

Jesus nev­er treat­ed peo­ple in such that first he gave hope to some­one and then failed to heal them. He nev­er failed in his heal­ings because of the lack of faith of the sick per­son. We nev­er see reports that he would have tried to heal some­one but he could not because they did not have enough faith. It can­not be that the mul­ti­tudes nowa­days who have to go home after great heal­ing meet­ings with­out being healed all did not have enough faith. The prob­lem must be some­where else.

Anoth­er fre­quent­ly heard rea­son giv­en by “heal­ers” is that it is not always God’s will to heal some­one. How­ev­er, if the “heal­er” is a man of God, why can he not under­stand in advance before he gives hope to the “patient” and before he starts his heal­ing attempt that this is not God’s will now. If their rea­son­ing is valid at all, then it rather tes­ti­fies that they are not con­nect­ed with God because they are not able to know God’s will in advance, only by tri­al and error. Jesus and lat­er the apos­tles (after receiv­ing the Holy Spir­it) nev­er made such unsuc­cess­ful attempts.

Still a fur­ther attempt of the “heal­ers” to jus­ti­fy their fail­ures is to refer to the sit­u­a­tion in Nazareth, where Jesus did not do many mir­a­cles:

When Jesus had fin­ished these para­bles, he moved on from there. Com­ing to his home­town, he began teach­ing the peo­ple in their syn­a­gogue, and they were amazed. “Where did this man get this wis­dom and these mirac­u­lous pow­ers?” they asked. “Isn’t this the car­pen­ter’s son? Isn’t his moth­er’s name Mary, and aren’t his broth­ers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? Aren’t all his sis­ters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “Only in his home­town and in his own house is a prophet with­out hon­or.” And he did not do many mir­a­cles there because of their lack of faith. (Matthew 13:53–58)

As we see, in Nazareth, the unbe­lief was very obvi­ous: “They took offense at him.” The lack of faith refers to their neg­a­tive and skep­ti­cal atti­tude towards Jesus and that because of this Jesus did not have a chance to help them. Jesus, see­ing their atti­tude, did not want to do mir­a­cles among them. This is a very dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tion from the failed heal­ing attempts of today’s “heal­ers.”

Jesus’ healings were evident, beyond any doubt, and complete

The dis­eases which Jesus healed, and about which we have detailed reports in the gospels, were most­ly very seri­ous ones: stroke, blind­ness (even from birth), mute­ness, lep­rosy, inter­nal bleed­ing (for 12 years), paral­y­sis (for 38 years), etc. The gospels also report about three cas­es, in which he raised peo­ple from the dead. All the cas­es were so evi­dent that even Jesus’ ene­mies could not deny them, though they tried very hard to prove that Jesus was a deceiv­er. For exam­ple, when Jesus raised Lazarus, who had been dead for 4 days, the mir­a­cle was so evi­dent that the Jew­ish lead­ers seri­ous­ly had to con­sid­er what to do:

Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” There­fore many of the Jews who had come to vis­it Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, put their faith in him. But some of them went to the Phar­isees and told them what Jesus had done. Then the chief priests and the Phar­isees called a meet­ing of the San­hedrin. “What are we accom­plish­ing?” they asked. “Here is this man per­form­ing many mirac­u­lous signs. If we let him go on like this, every­one will believe in him […]. So from that day on they plot­ted to take his life. (John 11:43–48; 53)

And lat­er:

Mean­while a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and putting their faith in him. (John 11:9–11)

When Jesus healed a man who had been born blind, the Phar­isees tried to dis­prove the mir­a­cle, but it was not suc­cess­ful:

Final­ly they turned again to the blind man, “What have you to say about him? It was your eyes he opened.” The man replied, “He is a prophet.” The Jews still did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they sent for the man’s par­ents. “Is this your son?” they asked. “Is this the one you say was born blind? How is it that now he can see?” “We know he is our son,” the par­ents answered, “and we know he was born blind. (John 9:17–20)

As men­tioned above, the ill­ness­es which Jesus healed were very seri­ous ones and the heal­ings were very obvi­ous to every­one. Nowa­days’ “heal­ers,” how­ev­er, most­ly heal headaches, back pain, neck pain, chest pain, stom­ach pain, etc.—illnesses which are not very evi­dent, and so also the heal­ing can­not be clear­ly proved (we do not want to deal now with the many pre­vi­ous­ly arranged or lat­er proved fake heal­ings). The only wit­ness is the patient. Also, most­ly we do not know how long the pain is absent after the “heal­ing.” As the above pas­sages and many oth­er cas­es in the gospels show, Jesus’ heal­ings were very dif­fer­ent.

Jesus’ approach to miracles

Jesus knew that the worst “dis­ease” that makes people’s lives mis­er­able is sin. His aim was to call peo­ple to repen­tance from their sins and to show them the way which leads to heav­en. He want­ed to heal the wounds of their hearts so that their rela­tion­ships with God can be restored.

But after he [Joseph, Jesus’ father] had con­sid­ered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is con­ceived in her is from the Holy Spir­it. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his peo­ple from their sins.(Matthew 1:20–21)

Jesus went into Galilee, pro­claim­ing the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The king­dom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:14–15)

Here is a trust­wor­thy say­ing that deserves full accep­tance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sin­ners. (1 Tim­o­thy 1:15)

Jesus called the peo­ple to fol­low him, which is only pos­si­ble if they are ready to deny them­selves and put to death their old cor­rupt selves and allow the Holy Spir­it, whom the believ­ers were to receive, to trans­form their lives (Eph­esians 4:22–24). This was the heal­ing that Jesus offered, and he knew that even if people’s bod­i­ly dis­eases are cured or their hunger is sat­is­fied, their lives can be real­ly restored only if they are ready to go his way. The mir­a­cles that he per­formed had the aim (1) to con­firm that he is the sav­ior of the world whom God sent and (2) to point to God’s ulti­mate pur­pose and give a cer­tain fore­taste of heav­en, where there will be no suf­fer­ing any­more (Rev­e­la­tion 21:4). He nev­er want­ed fol­low­ers who are impressed by his mir­a­cles but do not under­stand his actu­al mes­sage. He knew that such faith is super­fi­cial and is very short-lived:

Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many peo­ple saw the mirac­u­lous signs he was doing and believed in his name. But Jesus would not entrust him­self to them, for he knew all men. He did not need man’s tes­ti­mo­ny about man, for he knew what was in a man. (John 2:23–25)

In a lat­er sit­u­a­tion, this became very evi­dent:

Once the crowd real­ized that nei­ther Jesus nor his dis­ci­ples were there, they got into the boats and went to Caper­naum in search of Jesus. When they found him on the oth­er side of the lake, they asked him, “Rab­bi, when did you get here?” Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, you are look­ing for me, not because you saw mirac­u­lous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eter­nal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.” Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” So they asked him, “What mirac­u­lous sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? Our fore­fa­thers ate the man­na in the desert; as it is writ­ten: ‘He gave them bread from heav­en to eat.’ ” Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has giv­en you the bread from heav­en, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heav­en. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heav­en and gives life to the world.” “Sir,” they said, “from now on give us this bread.” Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will nev­er go hun­gry, and he who believes in me will nev­er be thirsty.” (John 6:24–35)

Jesus saw that peo­ple were inter­est­ed in him because of the phys­i­cal food they received from him. How­ev­er, when Jesus direct­ed their atten­tion to the spir­i­tu­al food, to the bread of life, many of his enthu­si­as­tic fol­low­ers left him:

“Just as the liv­ing Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heav­en. Your fore­fa­thers ate man­na and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live for­ev­er.” On hear­ing it, many of his dis­ci­ples said, “This is a hard teach­ing. Who can accept it?” Aware that his dis­ci­ples were grum­bling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! The Spir­it gives life; the flesh counts for noth­ing. The words I have spo­ken to you are spir­it and they are life.” From this time many of his dis­ci­ples turned back and no longer fol­lowed him. (John 6:57–58; 59–63; 66)

Jesus was not afraid of los­ing many of his dis­ci­ples by con­fronting them with what it means to fol­low him, although it was cer­tain­ly painful for him.

Miracles in the Bible

If we have a look at the entire Holy Scrip­ture, it is vis­i­ble that mirac­u­lous signs and won­ders did not hap­pen through­out the his­to­ry of God’s nation. God act­ed in this way in spe­cial times but not always: par­tic­u­lar­ly, in the time of Moses, in the time of Eli­jah and Elisha, and in the time of Jesus and the apos­tles. These were very impor­tant times in the his­to­ry of sal­va­tion. The time of Moses was the begin­ning of Israel as a nation and the Old Covenant. The time of Eli­jah and Elisha was a very crit­i­cal time when the spir­i­tu­al sur­vival of Israel was at stake due to the god­less rule of the Omri dynasty and Jezebel’s efforts to total­ly extin­guish the wor­ship of Yah­weh. Jesus and the apos­tles marked the begin­ning of the New Israel and the New Covenant. In these spe­cial times, God want­ed to help his peo­ple to believe in Him also through mirac­u­lous signs.

In the time of Moses, the ten plagues and the cross­ing of the Red Sea were very spe­cial expe­ri­ences for the Israelites.

That day the LORD saved Israel from the hands of the Egyp­tians, and Israel saw the Egyp­tians lying dead on the shore. And when the Israelites saw the great pow­er the LORD dis­played against the Egyp­tians, the peo­ple feared the LORD and put their trust in him and in Moses his ser­vant. (Exo­dus 14:30–31)

How­ev­er, God did not work in this mirac­u­lous way among them con­stant­ly. He expect­ed them to remem­ber and pass on these great events to their chil­dren from gen­er­a­tion to gen­er­a­tion.

Only be care­ful, and watch your­selves close­ly so that you do not for­get the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your chil­dren and to their chil­dren after them. (Deuteron­o­my 4:9)

The great things were not repeat­ed again and again. God expect­ed faith based on the tes­ti­monies. In a sim­i­lar way, the mir­a­cles that Jesus and the apos­tles per­formed are writ­ten down in the New Tes­ta­ment for all lat­er gen­er­a­tions so that we can also read them and believe even if we can­not see them with our own eyes. As John express­es it at the end of his gospel:

Jesus did many oth­er mirac­u­lous signs in the pres­ence of his dis­ci­ples, which are not record­ed in this book. But these are writ­ten that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believ­ing you may have life in his name. (John 20:30–31)

Just before this remark of John, there was an inci­dent in which Jesus rebuked Thomas because he was not ready to believe that Jesus had risen with­out see­ing him with his own eyes:

Now Thomas (called Didy­mus), one of the Twelve, was not with the dis­ci­ples when Jesus came. So the oth­er dis­ci­ples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my fin­ger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.” A week lat­er his dis­ci­ples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your fin­ger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubt­ing and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.(John 20:24–29)

Jesus did not expect Thomas to believe blind­ly. He had enough evi­dence to believe that Jesus had risen as he had heard the tes­ti­mo­ny of the oth­er apos­tles. The admon­ish­ment of Jesus is valid also for us. We too have a lot of evi­dence writ­ten down in the Bible about God’s mirac­u­lous act­ing. We should not demand more but believe based on the Scrip­ture.

Important signs other than miracles

As men­tioned above, mir­a­cles are often referred to as clear evi­dence that a preach­er, pas­tor, orga­ni­za­tion, or church is from God. How­ev­er, as we have seen, mir­a­cles can be imi­tat­ed and mis­used to claim divine author­i­ty and deceive oth­ers. There­fore, we have to be very cau­tious when hear­ing of or see­ing such things.

Nev­er­the­less, Jesus spoke also about some oth­er signs by which a sin­cere seek­er or believ­er can iden­ti­fy whether peo­ple who claim to belong to God are real­ly God’s peo­ple.

“A new com­mand I give you: Love one anoth­er. As I have loved you, so you must love one anoth­er. By this all men will know that you are my dis­ci­ples, if you love one anoth­er.(John 13:34–35)

The sign of broth­er­ly love can­not be imi­tat­ed. Lov­ing one anoth­er as Jesus did requires full devo­tion to God and deep inter­est in the spir­i­tu­al lives of my broth­ers and sis­ters. Chris­tians live in broth­er­ly fel­low­ship just as the first Chris­tians did, giv­ing their lives dai­ly for one anoth­er. There are lots of so-called church­es where great mir­a­cles are claimed to hap­pen, yet broth­er­ly love is miss­ing. If, for exam­ple, those who are rich sup­port­ed those who are poor to receive prop­er med­ical care or to live in health­i­er con­di­tions, then per­haps many of the ill­ness­es could be avoid­ed or healed in an ordi­nary way. Also, if Chris­t­ian broth­ers and sis­ters sur­round their sick broth­er or sis­ter with love, care, com­fort, and spir­i­tu­al encour­age­ment, they can receive much strength to bear their suf­fer­ing with patience and thank­ful­ness. This love and care for one anoth­er is a clear sign to the world that Jesus is real­ly present among the believ­ers. You can read more about Chris­t­ian church and broth­er­ly love in our top­ic What does Chris­t­ian church look like?

Anoth­er impor­tant sign, oth­er than super­nat­ur­al mir­a­cles, is the uni­ty of the believ­ers:

My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their mes­sage, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have giv­en them the glo­ry that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to com­plete uni­ty to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (John 17:20–21)

Jesus prayed that the believ­ers should be one, just as he is one with the Father. This uni­ty can exist only if every believ­er is ready to sub­mit to Jesus and does not cling to his/her own thoughts and wish­es. A super­fi­cial agree­ment in a few so-called essen­tial things (e.g., Trin­i­ty, sal­va­tion by faith alone, the Bible is God’s word…) can­not be called uni­ty in the sense of Jesus’ prayer. Such uni­ty can be found also in the world. The unique­ness of the uni­ty among true Chris­tians is that they are tru­ly one heart and mind (Acts 4:32). To reach and main­tain this, Chris­tians endeav­or to know each oth­er deeply and spend time with each oth­er, that is, love one anoth­er as Jesus did. Since this deep uni­ty can­not be imi­tat­ed, it is anoth­er unmis­tak­able sign of God’s act­ing.

Conclusion

Let us not be deceived by mirac­u­lous signs per­formed in the name of Jesus. Let us seek the true signs of God’s work: obe­di­ence to God’s word, humil­i­ty, holy life, broth­er­ly love, uni­ty.

Dear chil­dren, do not let any­one lead you astray. The one who does what is right is right­eous, just as he is right­eous. The one who does what is sin­ful is of the dev­il, because the dev­il has been sin­ning from the begin­ning. The rea­son the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will con­tin­ue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they can­not go on sin­ning, because they have been born of God. This is how we know who the chil­dren of God are and who the chil­dren of the dev­il are: Any­one who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is any­one who does not love their broth­er and sis­ter. (1 John 3:7–10)

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