The Function of Miracles—Part 5
After a long break, I’ve finished reading Bill Johnson’s The Supernatural Power of a Transformed Mind. For a while I thought he was going to lose me with his enthusiastic triumphalism, but in the end he didn’t. It’s a good book. He has some keen insights, and he makes a good case for a Pentecostal/charismatic way of thinking about miracles.
I’ll be blogging about this for the next few days, and I thought I would begin by listing the various inputs Johnson describes as essential for becoming miracle-minded (which is what he means by “a transformed mind.”)
Revelation. “It is absolutely impossible to live the normal Christian life without receiving regular revelation from God. The Bible does not say, ‘My people perish for a lack of miracles,’ or lack of money, or because of bad relationships or bad worship leaders or insufficient nursery staff…. It says, ‘My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.’ (Hosea 4:6)” 
Reckless Pursuit. “Few people I know receive substantial revelations or visitations of God without reckless pursuit. Most people I know who receive revelation cry out day and night for the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Casual prayer gets casual revelation.” 
In short, Christians need to fervently seek God’s personal direction so they will know when, for instance, to stop a stranger in the parking lot and offer healing prayer. It’s not one-size-fits-all. It is directed by God on a case by case basis.
Teaching that leads to expectation. “Why is it so easy to be fully convinced when we pray for someone to be saved that our prayer will work, and yet when we pray for healing we find it difficult to believe they will be healed? Because salvation, as it pertains to a born-again experience, has been embraced and taught continuously by the Church for centuries, while the revelation of healing has not been widely embraced, and has even been fought….. What would have happened if centuries ago Christians had embraced the power of the gospel to bring healing to the physical body, to the emotions, and to the mind? …. We would pray in power without one iota of doubt.” 
Johnson believes that we are seeing an escalation in belief that will lead to huge increases in healing miracles. In other words, welcome to the charismatic era.
Experimentation. “At our church, the only way we know to learn is to experiment. We fail a lot and occasionally we get it right. But we are light years ahead of where we would have been had we not tried at all.” 
Pray with Confidence. “[Pharisees] insist that you pray, but also insist you should have no hope of God answering. Theirs is a Russian roulette God: spin the chamber and maybe you’ll get an answer…. Or maybe not.” 
Assume control. “Most people’s ministry involves trying to get God to fix problems on earth… We should see situations from heaven’s perspective and declare the Word of the Lord—and watch heaven invade.” 
In other words (though Johnson doesn’t take up this phrasing), don’t pray “If it be your will.” Declare what you know (by personal revelation) to be God’s will. Don’t ask God whether he would be willing to stop the wind (or not). Command the winds and the waves to be still, just as Jesus did.
Listen with your body. “God’s first language is not English. He communicates with us in various ways, through impressions of the heart, mental pictures, feelings, emotions, and physical sensations. When we ignore our bodies, we are at least sometimes ignoring the voice of God…. I’ve spoken with people who get a tingling on the back of their heads, or a fire in their hands when God begins to move….My left hand gets hot.” 
I can offer all kinds of questions and quibbles about Johnson’s approach–and I will. But I lay out these comments as a mosaic, describing the kind of life—the transformed mind—that Johnson would endorse. It’s a life of utter conviction, a faith that won’t take no for an answer. It’s doing its best to lean into the kingdom of God.
Here are a few questions I want to raise in future posts:
–Is there a balance between confidence and realism? (Or do you have to be a little bit crazy to be a charismatic?)
–What happens when it doesn’t turn out the way you believed? (Or, what does Bill Johnson preach at funerals?)
–Why are miracles so important? (Or, can we talk about love in the transformed mind?)
–What’s your eschatology? (Or, do we have to wait for Jesus to come for the healing of all things, or is that just lack of faith?)