I think that many Christians would say that they don’t believe in magic.
However, I think in some ways, Christians act and practice as if they did believe in magic. When this topic first came to mind, there were three areas that sprang to mind. There are probably other areas in which this truth applies.
First, a definition; by “magic”, I mean the concept and idea that words have power; this is one aspect of witchcraft and sorcery (as I understand it) – that the right words, spoken the right way and/or at the right time have power. That is the aspect or idea I want to examine.
First, let us consider prayer. I’m afraid that too often, the living God is treated as a mere vending machine; that is, “If I pray with just the right feeling in my heard and/or throb in my voice, or with the right amount of faith, He will give me what I ask for.” God is not a great vending machine that we can insert the right prayer words and guarantee that He will answer us. He is the Lord God Almighty; we are merely His creation. He does answer prayer, always for His honor and glory, and usually for our good (I’m remembering that there have been times when God answered the demands of His people, but sent leanness unto their souls). Certainly we should pray – but we should not think that there are “magic” prayer words that will force God to give an answer. I’ve seen articles and seminars that promise to give the secrets to getting prayers answered. Or I’ve heard Christians say “If only I could pray like X!” – God made you uniquely you, not a clone of X. Pray as yourself; you can at best be a poor imitation of another, but you are the best you that exists. Prayer is not magic.
Next, let us consider salvation. I think that the so-called “sinner’s prayer” that is so often used when talking to another person about his soul is treated as a magic incantation that guarantees salvation. I am very afraid that many people are putting their trust, not in Jesus Christ for salvation, but in the “magic” incantation that they said on their doorstep, or in their house. Salvation is frequently treated in such a trivial manner by some; it is treated like buying a lottery ticket to win a multi-million dollar prize – people may not be sure that hell exists, but they are willing to say “magic” words that will keep them out of it. There is no real awareness of their sinfulness; there is no real awareness of their sins. After these kind of “salvation”, there is no interest in following Jesus Christ or, frankly, in any spiritual matters. This is not the same salvation we see in the Bible. The Bible clearly teaches that salvation is the gift of God, and is not of works – but it just as clearly teaches that when someone is truly regenerated by the Holy Spirit, he is changed. Everyone in the Bible that came to faith in Jesus Christ showed a change (although some “fell away” later on). Sometimes we are in such a hurry to “get one” that we rush them into “repeat these words after me”, but there is no actual conviction by the Holy Spirit. There has been much written on this subject, by better authors than I. Let’s just summarize that salvation is not a matter of magic words.
Finally, let us consider the Bible itself. There are some today who appear to believe that the words of the Bible are somehow “magical” – powerful because they are (somehow) indwelt by the Holy Spirit. But that’s not what the Scripture teaches: the word of God is powerful, not because of the words themselves, but because God is all-powerful. The promise that Christians are kept by the power of God is powerful (and precious) because God Himself has the ability to do it. The words of the Bible are just English (or Spanish or Russian or Greek) – it is our God that has the power to back up His words, and THAT is what makes the Scriptures powerful. We don’t need to believe in any kind of “magic” that has imbued the words with some kind of mystic power – we need to believe in God who gave us His words. The Bible is a blessed book; a divine book; a book that is the words of the Living God to His creation – but it isn’t magic.
The Bible, God’s word, is powerful because it is the Word of God. Scripture is powerful when the Holy Spirit applies it to our hearts because it is God breathed in the first place. The translation, a different language than the original language the Scriptures were written in, does not negate the power of the Word of God. For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying “In you all the nations shall be blessed.” But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. Galatians 3:16 & 22 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. 2 Peter 1:20-21 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness 2 Timothy 3:16.
Prayer, salvation, and application of the Word of God to our lives all depend upon God’s hearing and working. Take care and God bless you.
I was excited to receive your comment – it’s the first one my blog has received.
I believe that I agree with all that you wrote. I don’t believe that any (good) translation negates the power of His word. I wrote what I did to refute the notion that somehow, the words that God gave to man are mystically imbued by the Holy Spirit. The power is not in the words themselves (that is the essence of witchcraft), but in the power and authority of the One who said the words. For example, if I tell someone that he is sentenced to 30 days in jail, that has no power because I have no authority to jail people. A judge, however, CAN pronounce sentence, and his word DOES have power. How much more powerful are the words of the Judge of all the earth?!!
I do believe that God gave His very words to man (that is what “inspiration” is), and thereafter preserved His words for us.
I would note that Scripture is powerful, whether or not the Holy Spirit applies it to our hearts; when He does, it is a demonstration of the power of the word of God.
I’m glad that you were excited to receive my comment. Hurray! The Scriptures that I shared with you show that the Word of God is powerful, because it comes directly from God and has His power, it is itself powerful. I do understand your point but we must always to take care that our reasoning comes directly from the Scriptures. I also agree that there are many who are treating prayer, the Bible, and what they say as powerful rather than God being the One with the power. I have experienced first hand those who pray and study the Bible by a spirit different than the Holy Spirit, and it is scary. On the other hand, we are reminded of Elijah who was just like us and God heard him because of his fervent prayers. The key though is that he knew God, and those who try to manipulate God by their prayers and reciting of His Word, either don’t know Him or are in gross disobedience. Thank you for your warning and exhortation. God bless you through His Son Jesus Christ.