Church Message

No Natural Explanation
By Ronald Gallagher

Church message imageChurch sponsors jul17I love being fascinated, don’t you? When I was about 16, I paid fifty cents to see "Marvel the Magician” at our local county fair, and was thoroughly intrigued and mystified by his power to magically produce some things out of nothing and to make other things disappear. It sure looked like magic and was definitely exciting, but believing that such power actually existed was challenging and confusing. After all, if "Marvel” could really pull a rabbit out of a totally empty top hat, couldn’t he just as easily pull out a handful of $100 bills? You’d think that would be a lot easier than magically concocting something all hairy and wiggly like a rabbit. If he could pull some hard cash out of that hat, he wouldn’t have to be working at the county fair.

Since the supernatural isn’t, well …, "natural”, our tendency is to reject it, so we spent the rest of the evening proposing theories about how the tricks might have really worked. That was a lot easier than dealing with the implications associated with granting it authenticity. If things aren’t reasonably explicable within the framework of our comfortably familiar "cause-effect” process, it’s just too disturbing.

In the early days of their ministry, Peter and John experienced one of those events with no natural explanation, and the challenges attendant with it continue to confront us today. They encountered a physically disabled beggar and as they approached he asked for money. Peter responded, "Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk." (Acts 3:6 NKJV). Well, the man did more than that. He leaped up and down on his formerly immobile legs and ran around praising God. The event went as "viral” as things could go in those days, and a furor erupted.

Peter explained that the power that restored the disabled beggar did not originate with them. The simple truth was that it was Jesus, and he explained it this way: "Faith in His name, has made this man strong … Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.” (Acts 3:16 NKJV)

The tumult following the event and Peter’s impromptu sermon resulted in both men being thrown into jail for the night. The religious leaders assembled the next day demanding to know the cause behind the supernatural effect, and Peter’s courageous response prompted this reaction:

"Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus. And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it … "For, indeed, that a notable miracle has been done through them is evident to all who dwell in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it.” (Acts 4:13-16 NKJV)

The religious magistrates were stymied by Peter and John and "marveled”. They could find nothing in these ignorant, untrained, social and political outcasts that contributed to their ability to do what they did. The only conclusion left for the interrogators was that these men had been in contact with the only human they had ever seen with such power. Maybe we should learn from them.

Like Peter and John, we’re confronted every day by people begging for things that can’t fix the brokenness in their lives, and things that can only prolong their hopelessness. And like them, we don’t have what the beggars are asking for, anyway. What if we focused instead on the one priceless thing we do have to give away—our faith in the One who can do what we cannot?

The material abundance that so many are begging for is as impotent to lift us from our moral paralysis as the lame man’s legs were to hold him up. We desperately need something more, something undeniably supernatural, and this much is certain. It won’t be the product of our academic superiority, or our extensive ministerial training, and it won’t come by mimicking the gurus of corporate leadership, or expanding our name recognition in cyberspace. Supernatural effects demand a supernatural cause.

Peter and John had one explanation for what happened—Jesus did it. Maybe spending more time "with” the only supernatural One we know would result in more inexplicable things about which the only conclusion left to the world would be … "Jesus did it”.

In addition to being an active writer, speaker, teacher, and blogger, Ron Gallagher serves in a variety of roles as a ministry consultant for local churches. His Biblical insights are coupled with down-to-earth humor, satire, and relevant stories, all aimed at promoting "right side up thinking in an upside down world.” Ron strives to apply God’s truth in a way that stimulates the mind, encourages the heart, and challenges the cultural norm.  Check out his blog, "Gallagher’s Pen” at


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InBrief 27jul17

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