November 29, 2023

Does Jesus Still Raise the Dead?

Our Alliance history sheds light on a controversial question

by Julie Daubé

One of the most hotly debated questions in the Church today is whether the kinds of miracles recorded in the Gospels and the Book of Acts still occur in the modern world. While most Christians would agree that Jesus continues His ministry of healing the sick, it might be a stretch to believe that His people can walk on water or change the weather. What about raising the dead? Surely in today’s world, when the apostles who established the Church are no longer on the scene, such a stupendous miracle is a thing of the past. Or is it?

For many believers, especially in the West, the answer could be “Yes.” Some protestant denominations and numerous para-church organizations teach that the types of miracles seen in the New Testament do not characterize the normal, expected operation of the Church today. They claim that while God still performs some miracles, supernatural signs and wonders such as raising the dead are no longer necessary to validate the message of the gospel because we now have the revelation of the Scriptures.

Alliance founder A. B. Simpson thought otherwise. “Christianity is supernatural or nothing,” he wrote. “What right have we to go to the unbelieving world and demand their acceptance of our message without signs following [it]? Our work is to . . . preach the gospel in its purity. We are to do it expecting the Lord to prove the reality of His power and to give the signs which He has promised.”

There is probably no greater witness to Christ’s power than seeing the dead raised to life in answer to the prayers of His people. Contrary to the claims of cessationists and others, there is a growing body of evidence that Jesus still raises the dead today. Some of these accounts have been reported by sources such as Christianity Today, books by respected New Testament scholar Craig Keener of Asbury Seminary, and yes—even in The Alliance.

I Want Some Ice Cream

In “A Life Full of Miracles,” Evelyn Mangham, who served as an Alliance international worker (IW) for 40 years, described her own restoration to life after being pronounced dead from paratyphoid fever during her childhood. “My tongue was stiff, and my pupils were fixed and dilated.” To make sure she was dead, doctors cut her foot and arm and saw that there was no blood flow.

Evelyn’s parents, who were Alliance missionaries, asked the hospital for permission to stay with their daughter’s body and pray for her throughout the night. “If God decides to not raise her from the dead, you may take her in the morning,” they said. Early the next morning, Evelyn threw back the sheet covering her face and sat up in bed, completely healed. “When I came back to life, the first thing I said was ‘I want some ice cream,’” Evelyn recalled.

Read more stories of God’s supernatural work in Evelyn’s life.

Long-Distance Prayers

Richard Herring, a former vice president for our Asia/Pacific Region, and Joe Kong, a retired IW to Cambodia, shared the story of Tot, a six-year-old orphan boy who was hospitalized with tuberculosis. After nearly a month in the hospital, Tot’s heart suddenly stopped, and he began hemorrhaging. His caregiver, Srey Da, was a member of the Khmer Evangelical Church (The Alliance in Cambodia) and a worker at Remember Nhu, an Alliance-related ministry that prevents child sex trafficking. She was two hours away from the hospital when she received a phone call informing her that Tot had died. Weeping, she called Joe Kong and other believers, asking them to pray for Tot.

When Srey Da returned to the hospital to pick up the child’s body for burial, the doctor told her that Tot was alive even though his oxygen had been disconnected when he died a few hours earlier. Although the doctor was skeptical when Srey Da told him this was the work of God, an X-ray revealed that Tot had a new lung, completely free of tuberculosis.

Carl Ralston, founder of Remember Nhu, said, “Tot was being prayed for by the Remember Nhu workers and prayer supporters. We had sent a request for prayer to several hundred people, and many Remember Nhu children were praying for him as well.”

Be Obedient

In an interview with Alliance Life, Di, an Alliance IW, shared how she clearly heard the Lord tell her that He wanted her to pray for two women who had died in the hospital room where she was being treated for COVID-19. Although the idea would seem outrageous even for many Christians, Di obeyed God’s promptings and saw Him restore both patients to life. One of the women, Maria,* progressively improved daily. Every time someone entered the room, her eldest son would point to Di and say, “That’s the American who prayed for my mom, and God brought her back to life!” Maria left the hospital in good health just one day after Di was released from the hospital.

The other woman, Helga,* remained very sick and passed away a few days after she came back to life. When Di questioned why God would keep one of them alive and not the other, she felt Him respond immediately: “Your job is just to be obedient to what I’m asking you to do. All of the results are up to Me.”

Yesterday, Today, Forever

The Christian and Missionary Alliance bears witness to the truth that Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever—and He is still raising the dead (Heb. 13:8). If that’s the case, how are we to respond when we see disheartening results to our prayers, as in Helga’s story? What if we dare to pray for God to raise the dead, and He doesn’t? Emmy Duddles, the former managing editor for Alliance Life, reflects, “When we are met with difficult outcomes to our prayers, may we trust that God’s purpose in those moments is still to bring reconciliation and redemption to our world. May we believe that when we ask in faith, He will rescue the oppressed, heal the sick, give sight to the blind, and raise the dead to life.”

*Name changed