Can miracles be performed by faith alone?

Can miracles be performed by faith alone?

Question

 

Gramps,

John was telling Jesus that there was a man [who not followeth them] casting out devils. But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name. From my understanding – people can perform miracles with faith alone and do not need the Priesthood to perform miracles?

Marco

 

Answer

 

Hello Marco,

I think Mark 9, verses 39-42 really gets to the core of what Jesus is trying to teach John:

39 But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me.

40 For he that is not against us is on our part.

41 For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward.

42 And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.

Jesus’ primary concern in this context seems to be for the anonymous stranger who, out of good intentions, is trying to do good in Jesus’ name and advance His cause.  The Lord did not want the zeal of this spiritual “little one” to be squelched, or “offended”, by an inappropriate insistence on legalistic procedures.  Of this situation Elder James E. Talmage wrote (in Jesus the Christ, chapter 24, pages 390-391):

“That the man who had attempted to do good in the name of Jesus was evidently sincere, and that his efforts were acceptable to the Lord we cannot doubt; his act was essentially different from the unrighteous assumptions for which some others were afterward rebuked; he was certainly a believer in Christ, and may have been one of the class from which the Lord was soon to select and commission special ministers and the Seventy.”

In a footnote to this passage, Elder Talmage contrasts this incident with the unsuccessful attempt of the sons of Sceva to cast out devils in Christ’s name as related in Acts 19:13-17.

Is it possible to work miracles through faith alone?  Clearly, yes.  In a recent conference address on healings, Elder Dallin H. Oaks taught:

We know that the prayer of faith, uttered alone or in our homes or places of worship, can be effective to heal the sick. Many scriptures refer to the power of faith in the healing of an individual. The Apostle James taught that we should “pray one for another, that ye may be healed,” adding, “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16). When the woman who touched Jesus was healed, He told her, “Thy faith hath made thee whole” (Matthew 9:22). Similarly, the Book of Mormon teaches that the Lord “worketh by power, according to the faith of the children of men” (Moroni 10:7).

 

A recent nationwide survey found that nearly 8 in 10 Americans “believe that miracles still occur today as [they did] in ancient times.” A third of those surveyed said they had “experienced or witnessed a divine healing.” Many Latter-day Saints have experienced the power of faith in healing the sick. We also hear examples of this among people of faith in other churches. A Texas newspaperman described such a miracle. When a five-year-old girl breathed with difficulty and became feverish, her parents rushed her to the hospital. By the time she arrived there, her kidneys and lungs had shut down, her fever was 107 degrees, and her body was bright red and covered with purple lesions. The doctors said she was dying of toxic shock syndrome, cause unknown. As word spread to family and friends, God-fearing people began praying for her, and a special prayer service was held in their Protestant congregation in Waco, Texas. Miraculously, she suddenly returned from the brink of death and was released from the hospital in a little over a week. Her grandfather wrote, “She is living proof that God does answer prayers and work miracles.”

 

Truly, as the Book of Mormon teaches, God “manifesteth himself unto all those who believe in him, by the power of the Holy Ghost; yea, unto every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, working mighty miracles … among the children of men according to their faith” (2 Nephi 26:13).

(Emphasis added.)

What, then, is the advantage of having a priesthood holder attempting to call down the same miracle?

Primarily, the advantage lies in the authority of the person offering the blessing.  This authority allows the priesthood holder the discernment he needs to, in the words of Bruce R. McConkie, “stand in the place and stead of his Master—who is the Chief Elder—in ministering to his fellowmen” (Only an Elder, June 1975) such that the priesthood holder’s voice becomes the Lord’s voice; the priesthood holder’s acts, the Lord’s acts.

The Lord recognizes this authority and, in the 42nd section of the Doctrine and Covenants, offers a special promise to those who seek blessings of healing through it:

44 And the elders of the church, two or more, shall be called, and shall pray for and lay their hands upon them in my name; and if they die they shall die unto me, and if they live they shall live unto me. . . .

48 And again, it shall come to pass that he that hath faith in me to be healed, and is not appointed unto death, shall be healed.

Notice that this promise does not say “may” be healed, or “might” be healed; but shall (for which one could grammatically substitute “must” or “will”) be healed.

Priesthood authority, then, can facilitate the working of great miracles even if those same miracles might also be attainable by faith alone.  However, one place where priesthood authority is absolutely irreplaceable is in the governance of the Church and the administration of saving ordinances.  In address entitled simply “Ordinances” given at BYU on February 3, 1980, Elder Boyd K. Packer drew a connection between the words ordain, ordinance and order; and I would highly recommend that you read the entire talk.  It is available here.

 

 

Gramps

 

 

How is it Joseph Smith saw God and lived?

How is it Joseph Smith saw God and lived?

Gramps, I was wondering how Joseph Smith saw God and lived? Here are two scriptures: Exodus 33:20, John 1:18…my Mom is Mormon, and gave me a copy of a LDS living magazine that said Joseph Smith actually saw God, how can I believe that with these scriptures?

Daniel, from Gilbert, Arizona

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Have you ever heard of someone being healed after performing baptisms for the dead?

Have you ever heard of someone being healed after performing baptisms for the dead?

Gramps,

I have been reading a book of Temple Manifestations. There is a section relating to baptism in the Temples. A phrase was used of baptism and confirmation for the healing of the sick. It describes how endowed members would go to the Temple and be “baptized and confirmed” and would leave healed. It also quotes that baptism for the dead and healing must be done in the Temple font. I never heard of baptism and confirmation in the Temples for the living. Have you heard of it? Where in the scriptures is this located? I would appreciate any information on this issue you could provide. Thank you,

Linda, from New Jersey

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Why don’t we see miracles now like we did in Bible and Book of Mormon times?

Why don’t we see miracles now like we did in Bible and Book of Mormon times?

Question

Dear Gramps,

I have been spending a lot of time reading the scriptures lately, especially the Book of Mormon and the New Testament. Both books are filled with many miracles performed by righteous prophets, church leaders and the Savior himself. There are many examples when evil men asked for a sign or proof of the power of God. They were often cursed because of their lack of faith. Most miracles were done in the presence of the righteous and were a result of their faith. I do understand the importance of this. My question is, why do we not seem to have miracles like in the scriptures?

We have many righteous people, the Priesthood and a living Prophet and Apostles. I would not dare ask this question in church as some would say I have no faith, but I need to understand this.

Brent

 

Answer

Dear Brent,

Miracles are probably more common today than they were in the times of the scriptures. We must remember that times have changed. Many of the things that were miraculous in those early times are now commonplace because of the advancement of science. Still, the signs that follow them that believe today include knowing that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that he was crucified for the sins of the world; knowing the differences of administration; knowing the diversities of operations, whether they be of God; being gifted with the word of wisdom, and with the word of knowledge; having faith to be healed; having faith to heal; the working of miracles; prophesying; the discerning of spirits; speaking with tongues; the interpretation of tongues, to name a few. See D&C 46:12-25.

Since such signs follow them that believe, and in themselves are very sacred, they are not trumpeted before the world, nor are they used to demonstrate the power of the priesthood or the truthfulness of the Church. The wicked will seek after some sort of a miraculous sign on which to base their belief, and partly in order to prevent that sort of a following the miracles that do occur are not advertised.

But let me give you just one simple example of miracles in our day-the gift of tongues. Perhaps no gift is more prevalent in the Church today than this one gift. Can you imagine tens of thousands of 19-year-old young men and women each year acquiring the skill to speak foreign languages with confidence and ability with just two months of training? If there ever was a miracle that is one. Also, practically every family in the Church has had experience with the gift of healing under the hands of the holy priesthood. Indeed, all of the miracles that have been mentioned in the scriptures have been manifested among the saints in our day.

Gramps

Why do we not experience so much in the Mormon Church the gift of tongues as is commonly practiced by the Pentecostal Christians?

Dear Gramps,
In reading latter day light devotionals on a daily basis, I have seen several references in the church history part of it that refers to early church meetings having speaking in tongues and things of a nature that I once participated in as a Pentecostal Christian. I understand tongues are unknown only in the sense that they are not known to the speaker when the spirit comes upon them, such as missionaries, and they begin to teach the things of God in another tongue. These experiences of the early saints, however; seem to be describing a meeting like that of the Pentecostals. What is going on here at these times?
James, from Asheville, North Carolina (more…)

Since the Savior brought Lazarus back to life, wouldn’t he be the first person resurrected?

Dear Gramps,
In Gospel Principals today we were reading and studying Chapter 12, The Atonement. When we came to page 74, second paragraph says “On the third day after his crucifixion, Christ took up his body again and became the first person to be resurrected”. That brought to mind the story of Lazarus, Mary and her sister Martha. Christ raised Lazarus after he had been dead for four days– John 11. Now I believe the whole point of the miracle was to show Martha his miracles and help her belief. Now wouldn’t Lazarus be the first person to be resurrected?
Jim, from Susanville, California (more…)

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