Does using Jesus’ name guarantee a miracle?

“Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name” was the excited cry in Luke 10:17. Even a man who wasn’t one of Jesus’ disciples was “driving out demons” using Jesus’ name (Mark 9:38). Suddenly, the use of Jesus’ name carried real power and authority. Say “Out” to a demon in Jesus’ name and out it went. It was like a magic mantra that guaranteed a miraculous answer. It really worked.

Is that how it works today too, then? Can Christians today get the same miraculous results from using Jesus’ name? Can we now heal people and drive out demons in a huge way, just as Jesus’ first disciples did? Did Jesus pass on the same power and authority his own disciples had over demons and sickness to all his disciples in all ages? Does using Jesus’ name in a prayer still guarantee a miraculous answer?

Well, it may produce a miraculous answer, but is that what using his name is for? I ask that, because in a shocking story Jesus told in Matthew 7:22-23 he totally dismissed people who used his name successfully to “drive out demons and perform many miracles” as “evildoers.” So here were people getting real results and real miracles from the use of Jesus’ name, but they also dared to assume that magic tricks in his name was their ticket to the kingdom of heaven (verse 21). It wasn’t; it was doing “the will of my Father,” Jesus said in verse 20, and the will of the Father was belief in his Son. That was the only result the Father was after, and that’s why he gave power to do miracles in Jesus’ name, to prove to the Jews in the first century that Jesus really was the Messiah he’d sent to rescue and restore Israel (Acts 2:22), so that thousands of them would be the first to believe in Jesus as their Lord and Saviour (Acts 3:19-20, 26), which is exactly what happened at the beginning of the book of Acts.

There’s also the story of the Jews in Acts 19:13, who “tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed.” They too viewed the use of Jesus’ name merely as a magic mantra to get a miracle to happen. It backfired horribly, though, when a man with an evil spirit beat them up (verse 16). From that point on “the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honour” (verse 17), the result being: “Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed their evil deeds” (verse 18). The clear fruit of Jesus’ name being properly used and respected wasn’t driving out demons and other great miracles, it was repentance.

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