Does God work in Sunday churches?
“I have attended a Truth seekers fellowship in my area. I can see no conflict in my spirit with any doctrines that I heard expressed. My first question is: Is it possible to be anointed in the spirit of God, to perform manifestations of the spirit such as healing, prophecy, and any other gifts that are spoken of in the Word of God, if you are in error regarding the Sabbath, or any other misrepresentation of God’s Word? Next: My spirit has testified of the power and the presence of God in a Sunday church, how can this be? These two questions are really eating at me. I have been blessed to be led to the truth (over a decade ago) but these two things are a constant burden to me. I love the Lord with all my heart and want to always serve him. I guess my real problem is how can a church be under the sway of the anti-Christ and yet have the power and glory of the true living God? I pray that you can give me some guidance on these matters. Hope to hear from you soon.”
You brought up an excellent question. There were some Pharisees in Christ’s day who faced a similar dilemma. They said of Christ, “How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them.” (John 9:16) Of course in this case Christ was not a sinner, and the miracles were of God.
One of the gifts that God gives to His church is the working of miracles. However, notice the order in which God gives gifts to His church. “And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.” (1 Corinthians 12:28)
From this you can see the order of importance God places on these gifts. The first is apostles, then prophets, then teachers, and “after that miracles, then gifts of healing.” You see, the working of miracles is not a sure test of whether a person is right in doctrine or whether they have their lives right with God. Jesus said, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:21)
Here Jesus is talking about people who did many wonderful works, and even cast out devils in Christ’s name. Yet Jesus says to them, “depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Their lives were not right with God, yet they were performing miracles.
Not all miracles come from God. In fact, the description the Bible gives about the last days indicates that there will be more visible miracles done through satanic agencies than through God’s agencies.
In Revelation chapter 13 we read of a satanic power that “deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast.”(Revelation 13:14) This false prophet will be destroyed. The Bible says, “And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceivedthem that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.” (Revelation 19:20)
In the last days the manifestation of miracles will be more and more common, but many of these miracles will be designed to deceive people. John wrote, “I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.” (Revelation 16:13, 14)
Satan is working with signs and lying wonders to deceive men as quickly as he can because he has but a short time. “Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.” (Revelation 12:12) The Bible tells us that in the last days we will see the “working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.”(2 Thessalonians 2:9, 10)
The only safeguard against being deceived in the last days, by Satan’s miracles, is to receive the truth, love the truth, and follow the truth. Jesus said, “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” (Matthew 24:24) Satan’s use of miracles to deceive, in these last days, is focused upon God’s people. Satan would have little success among God’s people if he were to get a witch doctor from a tribe of headhunters to perform his miracles. All Christians would recognize these miracles to be of Satan. Satan seeks to use ministers of the gospel to work his miracles, because he knows that many people will trust a minister, who performs miracles, to tell them the truth. In this manner Satan can convince Christians of some of the most ridiculous falsehoods, merely because the people are willing to trust their eyes over the Word of God.
The Bible says, “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” (Isaiah 8:20) We are to compare everything with the Bible, no matter how reputable the source is from which we received it. Though Paul was an apostle, he commended the Bereans for searching the Scriptures for themselves to see if what he told them was the truth. (See Acts 17:11.) “The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.” (1 Corinthians 14:32) In other words, no matter where you hear something, you must compare it with the Word of God before you accept it.
Paul wrote of those whom Satan uses to masquerade as ministers of the gospel as, “false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.” (2 Corinthians 11:13-15)
We cannot trust ministers just because they are able to perform miracles. This is the primary tool that Satan uses to deceive God’s people in the last days. As Christians, above all, we must be more diligent than the world around us to examine the Bible, and more cautious when we see miracles performed. Unfortunately, many Christians see miracles as a sign that God is with a person, yet it should make us more cautious than if no miracle was performed, because we have been warned that miracles will be Satan’s primary means of deceiving God’s people in the last days.
The next question concerns your spirit testifying of the power and the presence of God in a Sunday church; First of all, this power and presence may have been with you alone. You can experience the power and presence of God when you are alone in a field, with nobody else around for hundreds of miles. God is not dependent upon a church gathering to make His power and presence known. Second, there are people who testify that the power and presence of God is with them, when in reality it is the work of the Devil. Please don’t get me wrong here. I am not judging you or your experience. However, it is something to consider. If you walked into a witches coven and had the same experience, would you conclude that God was truly working through those people? Certainly not! Our feelings must be subject unto the Word of God. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)
There are places in the Bible where God used people, and even groups of people, who were not living up to the light that God had given them, and were walking contrary to His law. I will give a few examples.
“And it was told Saul, saying, Behold, David is at Naioth in Ramah. And Saul sent messengers to take David: and when they saw the company of the prophets prophesying, and Samuel standing as appointed over them, the Spirit of God was upon the messengers of Saul, and they also prophesied. And when it was told Saul, he sent other messengers, and they prophesied likewise. And Saul sent messengers again the third time, and they prophesied also. Then went he also to Ramah, and came to a great well that is in Sechu: and he asked and said, Where are Samuel and David? And one said, Behold, they be at Naioth in Ramah. And he went thither to Naioth in Ramah: and the Spirit of God was upon him also, and he went on, and prophesied, until he came to Naioth in Ramah.” (1 Samuel 19:19-23)
Here is an example of the Spirit of God coming powerfully upon people who were in open rebellion against God; who had murder in their hearts. God was still able to manifest Himself in these people, although it was under unfavorable circumstances.
Another example of where God used a man who was in direct rebellion against Him is the story of Balaam. The Moabites were troubled by the presence of the Israelites, and their king, Balak, sought out a prophet to curse the Israelites. They found a prophet by the name of Balaam. Balaam agreed to consult God as to whether he should go curse these people or not. “And God said unto Balaam, Thou shalt not go with them; thou shalt not curse the people: for they are blessed.” (Numbers 22:12) At first Balaam was faithful to this command and told the representatives of Balak to return home. But Balak did not like to hear this report, and he sent more honorouble princes to talk with Balaam, and they said, “Let nothing, I pray thee, hinder thee from coming unto me: For I will promote thee unto very great honour, and I will do whatsoever thou sayest unto me: come therefore, I pray thee, curse me this people.” (Numbers 22:16, 17)
Balaam, knowing the command of the Lord but being desirous of honour and riches, decided to press the issue with God. He said to the princes, “I pray you, tarry ye also here this night, that I may know what the LORD will say unto me more. And God came unto Balaam at night, and said unto him, If the men come to call thee, rise up, and go with them; but yet the word which I shall say unto thee, that shalt thou do. And Balaam rose up in the morning, and saddled his ass, and went with the princes of Moab. And God’s anger was kindled because he went: and the angel of the LORD stood in the way for an adversary against him.” (Numbers 22:19-22)
God allowed Balaam to choose earthly honour and riches over God’s commands, but God was not happy about this and sent His angel to be his adversary. Then Balaam’s ass that he was riding spoke to him, rebuking his madness.
Instead of cursing Israel, Balaam blessed them, much to the dismay of Balak. “And Balak said unto Balaam, What hast thou done unto me? I took thee to curse mine enemies, and, behold, thou hast blessed them altogether.” (Numbers 23:11) Balaam chose riches and honour above the commandment of God, but he didn’t even receive the riches and honor. Balak refused to promote Balaam, but sent him back home. Balaam was eventually killed for his sin.
“Balaam also the son of Beor, the soothsayer, did the children of Israel slay with the sword among them that were slain by them.” (Joshua 13:22) Peter commented on this man’s wickedness when He wrote of those who, “have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man’s voice forbad the madness of the prophet.” (2 Peter 2:15, 16)
Yes, God can use people, or groups of people, who are living in rebellion against Him. This does not mean that we can live in rebellion against God and expect to receive blessings or gifts from God. Just because we can see that God uses a particular person or group does not mean that we should join that group or follow that person. We must each study the Bible for ourselves, and not trust our salvation to any man. “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent.” (Acts 17:30)
I pray that this helps to answer some of your questions.