Here’s a question I would like to ask as I post something I wrote years ago concerning the miraculous. What should our attitude be when God begins moving supernaturally at a church? How do we maintain a proper heart posture and protect ourselves from the bad fruit of pride, jealousy, and covetousness?
A CULTURE OF INDULGENCE AND GOLD TEETH
In our culture of indulgence, many of us are part of programs that force us to be weighed weekly, keeping logs for the groups we are part of or the doctors whose care we are under for medication to control our appetites. It is reasonable to assume that a percentage of those people who claim to have lost significant amounts of weight would be able to produce a chart from Weight Watchers or a Diet Doctor in at least a few instances. This same standard should apply to the claims of gold teeth, gold dust, and gems, as the compilation of the physical material should produce sufficient amounts of accumulation to sell the ‘stuff’ for profit.
This would be particularly relevant in cases where large unknown gems are claimed as proof. Unknown substances that are rare and without a category are normally very, very valuable, with any number of gemologists desiring to acquire the stones for jewelry or display. Understand, I am not an unbeliever regarding God supernaturally provisioning His people. Jesus demonstrated this ability of our Father very capably when He told His disciples to get a coin from a fish to pay their tax bill in Matthew 17:24-27.
Matthew says that, After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax came to Peter and asked, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?” 25″Yes, he does,” he replied. When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. “What do you think, Simon?” he asked. “From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes—from their own sons or from others?” 26″From others,” Peter answered. “Then the sons are exempt,” Jesus said to him. 27″But so that we may not offend them, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.”
God is more than able to do extreme things to bring provision for His people’s needs. Scripture is resplendent with accounts that demonstrate this truth as being viable. The stories of the Hebrews in the wilderness, the Manna and water miracle, Elijah and the raven, and the widow and her cruse of oil all demonstrate this capacity of God to move on behalf of His people to provide for their needs supernaturally. I am trying to articulate that the signs and wonders in these instances were provable in their addressing specific needs.
A friend of mine who was a career missionary told me a compelling story that happened to him in Argentina. Ralph (Rafael) Hyatt was visiting an Indian Tribe on the Rio de la Plata when he was asked to pray for a man with a severe toothache. Ralph had seen that the tribal members had bad teeth, with most of them never receiving professional dental care. As Ralph prayed for the man with the bad tooth, he noticed that he had gaps in his mouth and an assortment of dental problems. This man was not the only one, as this indigenous tribe was the equivalent of backwoodsmen in American history. They were people who had been brutalized and alienated by the juntas and were fearful of many of the complexities that interacting with civilization brought.
When the prayer had finished, he was amazed at the resulting miracle. Not only had the tooth been repaired, but it was also replaced with a golden tooth.
This proved to be the case with all his dental problems. That is not where this outbreak ended. As person after person was examined, mouth after mouth was filled with gold. It was a miracle indeed. When my friend left the village, Ralph went his way, astonished at the goodness of God but mystified by what he had encountered. It is important to establish Ralph’s credentials to establish the credibility of the man who shared the story of the teeth with me.
Ralph went to Argentina following an outpouring of the Spirit in the 1950s, where the Pentecostal church made significant inroads into the culture through a series of revivals and miraculous outpourings. Ralph was commissioned and sent to Argentina in the late 1960s with his wife, Francis. Claudio Friezen, Pablo Botieros, Carlos Annacondia, all these men are the fruit of his direct ministry. At one point in his life, he took a young intern from America under his wing. That man eventually returned to America as an evangelist. His name is Steve Hill, the preaching evangelist of the Brownsville Revival.
Approximately one year later, the missionary returned to the outpost on the river. As Ralph approached the stilt homes, he was amazed at what he saw. The homes had undergone significant renovations, and their boats, which were the tribe’s livelihood, had been upgraded. As he began to interact with the natives, he realized that a distinct change had occurred with the Indians he was speaking with, as they now had normal teeth. The gold fillings and teeth replacements were nowhere to be seen.
Amazed, he asked what had happened. The answer was quite simple. The community’s people had gone to the city and had their gold teeth removed. They took the gold and sold it. The improvements to the community and their fleet of boats had come through selling the gold. As a side note, they did get their teeth fixed with the proceeds. I present this story because I want you to understand that I believe in the supernatural, as I believe this account. It is extraordinary, but it is consistent with the dealings of the Lord in the Scriptural record as God provided for His people.
I think it is important to contrast this occurrence with some of the more questionable claims that have surfaced in recent years concerning healings and manifestations that purport to be supernatural in origin but may be more hoax than truth. I am not saying that all of the claims are exaggerations.
Claims of extraordinary happenings of gold, gems, or healings should be placed into the light of scrutiny to ratify what is authentic. The warning of Jesus should make us pause and ask ourselves if our reliance on doctrines that divide or manifestations that the claimants identify as being supernatural in origin but may be natural in their source should always be taken to heart.
Some of the more esoteric claims are reminiscent of apparitions in tree bark and pancakes of historical figures. They may make for good theater, but they detract from the faith, particularly when they are examined considering verification. We need only listen to the claims of some of the past discredited evangelists who testified to healings, raising people from the dead, and other extravagant occasions in their services.
Although many people may have had genuine encounters with God when the evangelists and the Association that served as the covering for a particular “revival” that happened in Florida looked at the evidence to verify the claims asked the media, the news media drew a blank with every claim of supernatural occurrences in the revival.
The lack of evidence is important to note, as the lack of authentication can easily lead to discrediting the authentic when we lend our credibility to that which may fall short of being true. This is why it is important to listen to the warnings of Jesus in this area. We do not need to exaggerate or conflate stories when God is doing supernatural things in, among, and through His people, like healing(s). In fact, Jesus’ attitude concerning the attention-drawing capacity of the supernatural should be the attitude of the church today.
We accept that the supernatural happens as we pray and proclaim in faith, but we should be mindful not to allow pride to creep into the events that should only glorify God and not the vessels God uses. Jesus told people to refrain from telling others what happened to them following their reception of the miraculous. He told others to go and show themselves to a priest to receive a certification of the healing. Priests often served as doctors and medical attendants in Israel.