David Wilkerson was the founder of Teen Challenge, author of multiple books including “The Cross and the Switchblade,” and the pastor of Times Square Church in New York City. He passed away almost 10 months ago in a car accident while traveling in Texas, leaving behind an admirable legacy of decades of contribution to the kingdom of God. I don’t agree with every one of his teachings and prophecies, but there is much in the way of his teachings and ministry (especially to outcasts, gang members, etc.) that I deeply appreciate and that has had an impact on me. He often wrote and spoke with great passion and a deep care for those whom God had entrusted to him to lead and influence.
One of his sermons, titled “The Limitations of the Miraculous,” was re-posted on the World Challenge website on January 17, 2012 (SOURCE). What he said is very thought-provoking to me, and contains much truth. I believe it’s worth re-posting here as well. I hope that other readers will also be challenged by this message on having faith that endures and perseveres:
Nobody had ever seen as many supernatural works as Israel. God provided miracle after miracle for them—and yet each work left the people as faithless and unbelieving as before! You would think that the ten plagues on Egypt would have produced faith in the Israelites. When Egypt was afflicted with flies, none were found in Israel’s camp. When Egypt fell under total darkness, there was no darkness in Israel. Yet none of these plagues produced faith of any kind!
Even after God opened the Red Sea, Israel’s faith lasted only three days. Scripture says: “They did not remember the multitude of Your mercies, but rebelled by the sea—the Red Sea” (Psalm 106:7).
The psalmist is saying here: “They even doubted God at the Red Sea—the place where He performed His greatest miracle!”
We are so like Israel. We want God to speak a word, grant us a miraculous deliverance, quickly meet our needs, remove all our pain and suffering. In fact, you may be saying right now, “If God would just get me out of this mess—if He’d give me this one miracle—I would never doubt Him again!” Yet, what about all the miracles He has performed for you? They haven’t produced in you any faith to help you in your present trouble!
Two precious men of God from the Zulu tribe in Africa visited Times Square Church. An incredible revival was taking place among the eight million Zulus, and God was doing miraculous things among them.
Yet that is not what these men wanted to talk about. Rather, what impressed them most about the revival were the “overcomer Zulus”—those who stood for Christ, burning witchcraft books and witnessing boldly, even though they were being tested and tried severely. These people were once evil, with murderous spirits, and they were being transformed into the image of Jesus!
I believe the greatest sign or wonder to the world in these last days is not a person who has been raised from the dead. No, what truly makes an impact on the mind and spirit of the ungodly is the Christian who endures all trials, storms, pain and suffering with a confident faith. Such a believer emerges from his troubles stronger in character, stronger in faith, stronger in Christ.
My one exception to this sermon is that I don’t believe we are currently living in “the last days,” as I have written elsewhere. That point aside, though, I believe this is an excellent study. As the apostle Paul said in I Corinthians 10:11, what happened to Israel is meant to be an example to God’s people living under the New Covenant. May we not be quick to forget what God has done for us, and easily fall victim to doubt, worry, fear, or stress. May we also allow any difficult circumstances in our lives to shape us, refine us as gold is purified in the fire (I Peter 1:6-7), and help to produce in us (constantly and increasingly) a faith in God that endures and perseveres. May the joy of the Lord be our strength (Nehemiah 8:10) even when, in the natural, it doesn’t seem likely.
“I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
(Jesus, in John 16:33)