A Study Of Apparitions

A.	Defined: " Anything that appears unexpectedly or in an extraordinary
	way;... " Webster's New World Dictionary, Third edition.
B.	The word "Apparitions" cannot be found in the Bible but, as we
	can see from the definition, there were "apparitions"that took
	place in the Scriptures:
	1.	Appearance of the star at Jesus' birth. Matthew 2:7
	2.	Appearance of angels. Luke 1:11
	3.	Appearance of Moses and Elias in the transfiguration.
		Matthew 17:3
	4.	Appearance of Jesus after His death. Mark 16:12,14;
		1 Corinthians 15:8
	5.	Appearance of cloven tongues on apostles. Acts 2:3.
C.	As we can see, apparitions of the Bible were miraculous.
D.	Our study, of necessity, will have to deal with a study of miracles.

I.	What Is A Miracle?
	A.	Defined: "A work of supernatural origin and character,
		such as could not be produced by natural agents and means".
		1.	The modern day definition for miracles is
			anything strange, a remarkable event or something
			difficult to understand.
	B.	Other words often used in the Scriptures to refer to
		miracles were "signs" and "wonders". Acts 2:43; Romans 15:19.

II.	Purpose of Miracles.
	A.	Revealing of God's Word. 1 Corinthians 12:8-11; 13:8-13
	B.	Confirming the Word. Mark 16; 15-20; Hebrews 2:3,4.
	C.	Today, we have a perfect, confirmed New Testament!

III.	Is There A Need For Miracles Today?
	A.	Mark 16:15-20
		"He that believeth		"These signs shall
		and is baptized..."		follow...believe."
		    Purpose?			    Purpose?
		"shall be saved"	      "confirming the word"
	B.	Is there still a need for water baptism? Yes, because
		people are lost!
		Is there still a need for miracles? No, because the
		word is already confirmed.

IV.	The Supremacy And Sufficiency Of The Word Of God.
	A.	Romans 1:16; 10:17; 2 Timothy 3:16,17; 1 Peter 4:11;
		Revelations 22:18,19.
	B.	Question: (1) Has the Word of God been completely revealed? 
			  (2) Has it be sufficiently confirmed?
		The correct answers to these two questions will settle
		the controversy over miracles, signs, and wonders today!

V.	Examples Of Modern Day Apparitions?
	A.	Modern day apparitions are believed to be "signs"
		and the majority of them focus attention upon Mary,
		the mother of Jesus:

		Vision of the Virgin in San Francisco:
			"Hundreds of people each night are visiting the
		Immaculate Conception Church in San Francisco to see
		an image of the Virgin Mary which has appeared on the
		church's gabled roof. The image appeared about the
		same time as two neighbourhood teenagers were killed
		in a nearby park.  The image appears after dark, and
		is visible throughout the night.  People gather each
		evening to pray and sing religious songs.  Some say
		they have smelled the scent of roses.There have also
		been reports of healings.  ‘The presence of her was
		quite overwhelming.  It was quite a spiritual
		experience ....  From my abdomen to my neck it was
		like this overwhelming spiritual sense,' said one
		visitor, Taren Sapienza.
        		Four local television stations and both major
		newspapers in San Francisco reported on the story. The
		Cable News Network (CNN) also produced a news story on
		the image. The church's priest, Father Guglielmo
		"William" Lauriola, told CNN:  "We have a sign that is
		pulling our attention toward something supernatural."
		"The image has had a positive effect on the community
		as well. I've seen lots of young people come here and
		many people who have not been to church for years,"
		Father Lauriola told the San Francisco Examiner.
        		The CNN story included a segment on Benjamin
		Creme. "‘British lecturer Benjamin Creme, who has
		written about religious phenomena, visited the chapel.
		He believes the image and similar signs signal a Second
		Coming as the new millennium approaches,' said reporter
		Fred Wayne. ‘This is part of the signs of an extraordinary
		event, which to my certain knowledge is taking place in
		the world,' said Creme."  (Sources: San Francisco Examiner;

		Australian vision of Virgin Mary:
			"'An image of the Virgin Mary on a wall of the
		Anglican church at Yankalilla is another sign pointing to
		the coming of a Christ-like teacher to unite all religions',
		a scholar of religious phenomena said yesterday."
        		Thus begins a news story in the Adelaide Advertiser
		newspaper in South Australia.  The scholar mentioned is
		a member of a Transmission Meditation group in Adelaide.
		According to the Reuters news agency: ‘Pilgrims and
		sightseers are flocking by the thousands to a small
		country church in South Australia after its priest
		described an image of the Virgin Mary and child on the
		altar wall.'
        		Parish Priest Andrew Nutter said that the image has
		grown stronger since he first noticed it in late 1994.  
		‘...now everybody's coming in. Sceptics, secular humanists,
		atheists, doubters, people who have no time for the church,
		and people who are faithful, see it....  This has become a
		people's shrine,' he said.  According to Nutter, the image
		shows a woman looking toward the part of the church where
		consecrated bread is kept.
			The phenomenon received little attention outside
		the parish until Reverend Nutter's article in a church
		newspaper attracted the mainstream media. The large number
		of visitors has prompted the church to schedule a weekly
		pilgrim service to celebrate the vision.
        		The Anglican diocesan bishop Graham Walden said the
		vision did not seem to have been caused by anything
		such as salt damp or mould and he believed the church
		could be hosting something genuine.  ‘If people receive
		something as being of God, then it is of God, they don't
		have some sort of mechanism for accreditation,' he said.
				It has also been reported that a stream of
		water has sprung up under the church since the image formed."
		(Sources:  Reuters; Adelaide Advertiser, Australia)

		(Benjamin Creme adds:  The image and the water are created
		by the Master Who was the Madonna 2,000 years ago.  Both,
		the water in particular, will be the source of "miracle"

		Weeping painting of the Virgin Mary:
			"Crowds are gathering at a church in Kenner,
		Louisiana, USA, to see a weeping portrait of the Virgin
		Mary that hangs beside the altar.  The painting in Our Lady
		of Perpetual Help Church reportedly began shedding tears
		last September.  Up to 125 people per hour are now
		permitted by church officials to view the manifestation.
			Many visitors reportedly have come away from the site
		convinced they had seen a miracle.  Catholic Church
		officials are taking a cautious approach, saying they
		may conduct an investigation, but only after media
		attention has waned."  (Source: New Orleans Picayune, USA)

		New Vatican approach to miracles:
			"God can still heal if you pray to him to do so,"
		said Pope John Paul II recently in his Sunday angelus
		message, which turned into a call to solidarity with
		the sick, the old and children.  According to the Pope,
		‘all of them are in danger of being regarded as a burden'.
			In Italy, this invitation from the Pope to pray for
		a miracle brings back into the public arena the claimed
		miracle of the Madonna in Civitavecchia, a village near
		Rome, where a small icon brought from Medjugorje weeps
		tears of blood.
        		A theological commission appointed by the Vatican has
		now accepted this as a miracle, according to an
		unconfirmed report.  The statue was first seen weeping
		tears of blood, which was found to be human, in early
		1995.  The second anniversary of this miracle was
		attended by about 10,000 pilgrims.  The local bishop
		surprised those present by blessing the occasion.
		He said that at least two people had been miraculously
		cured of cancer, one in Turin and the other in Toronto.
			In addition, political extremists, previously
		dedicated to violence, had been converted to peace and
		Christianity. Civitavecchia is now attracting thousands of
			Observers have recalled the tears of blood of another
		statue of the Virgin Mary in Montreal, Canada, in 1985.
		They say this was followed by a near-epidemic of such
		phenomena in the case of other statues, as well as
		icons and crucifixes, in the city.  Laboratory tests,
		commissioned by the Canadian Bishops Conference, found
		the tears to be blood mixed with fat, which melted when
		slightly warmed."  (Source: The Tablet, UK; El Pais, Spain).

VI.	What The Scriptures Teach. 1 Timothy 4:1-3
	A.	"Giving heed to seducing spirits". Deuteronomy 18:9-14;
		Lev 20:6
		1.	"Necromancer"- "Conjuring the spirits of the
			dead to predict or influence future events."
			(Holman's Bible Dictionary)
		2.	Catholics almost daily consult apparitions of Mary,
			who has been dead for nearly 2000 years.
		3.	Note Catholic teaching on apparitions of Mary:
			(From Catholic Truth for Youth, A Catechism on
			the Doctrines of Catholic Faith as Made Known
			by the Gospels, by the Magisterium, and reaffirmed
			at Fatima in Our Own Time, by Father Robert J. Fox,
			copyright 1977, published by the Ave Maria
			Institute, Washington, NJ 07882, bearing the NIHIL
			OBSTAT and IMPRIMATUR of the Catholic Church)
			Page 55, Lesson 6-
				"On May 13, 1917, the Mother of God appeared
			to three children at Fatima. This was the first
			in a series of six apparitions, each of which was
			preceded by a flash of light which served to alert
			the children of her coming. In addition to Fatima
			(Portugal), other famous apparitions of Mary are
			claimed to have occurred at Lourdes (France),
			Guadalupe (Mexico), and Medjugorje (Yugoslavia).
			The reported sightings of Mary have been on the
			rise in recent years, numbering in what must be
			the hundreds of incidents. Some Catholic bulletin
			boards are full of the messages, reputed to be
			from Mary, given at these sightings. Catholics
			flock to these sites by the thousands to witness
			them, and perhaps be healed by Mary's blessing."
			a.	If this is not necromancing, I fail to
				understand what is.
			From Catholic Truth for Youth, page 67-
				"In front of the palm of Our Lady's right
			hand was a heart encircled with  thorns which
			pierced it. We understand that this was the
			Immaculate Heart of Mary, outraged by the sins
			of humanity, and that she wanted reparation."
			Page 86- 
				"Mary had only ONE Child and that Child
			was Jesus. Thus, she was and remains the ever-virgin
			Mother of Our Lord and Savior. After her Divine
			Son, Mary enjoys the highest place in the Church
			because she did God's will perfectly and never
			committed the slightest sin. She was even exempt
			from original sin, which all the other children
			of Adam inherit. When she died, Mary's body and
			soul were taken to heaven. (This is what is meant
			by the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.--ERH)
			From her beautiful throne, the Mother of God
			continues to love and pray for all her children
			still living on earth."
			Page 89- 
				"When Pope Paul VI announced that a Golden
			Rose would be sent to the Sanctuary at Fatima, he
			also stated that he intended to entrust the entire
			human race to the care of the Mother of God."

			(From the booklet Questions and Answers about Mary,
			by Anthony M. Buono, published by Liguori
			Publications, copyright 1993, and bearing
			the IMPRIMI POTEST, and IMPRIMATUR of the Roman
			Catholic Church.)
			Page 9-
				"6. How is Mary our intercessor?
			Mary is our intercessor because in heaven she
			continues to intercede with her Son, Jesus, for
			us in the world. She is our intercessor because of
			the following reasons: (1) As worthy Mother of God
			and full of grace, she occupies a middle position
			between God and his creatures. (2) Together with
			Christ and under him, she cooperated in the
			reconciliation of God and mankind while she was
			still on earth. (3) Now from heaven she distributes
			the graces that God bestows on his children. Of
			course, this intercession is always secondary and
			subject to Christ's primary and self-sufficient
			intercessory role. All favors granted by God to
			his rational creatures are granted in virtue of
			and because of Mary's intercession. It is not
			necessary that we explicitly implore her
			intercessions in our prayers. But whether we
			mention her or not, it is through her that we
			receive whatever we receive."
		4.	In view of these statements, let us not forget
			the following verses:
			Acts 4:10 "Be it known unto you all, and to
			all the people of Israel, that by the name of
			Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified,
			whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth
			this man stand here before you whole."
			Acts 4:11 "This is the stone which was set
			at nought of you builders, which is become the
			head of the corner."
			Acts 4:12 "Neither is there salvation in any
			other: for there is none other name under heaven
			given among men, whereby we must be saved."
			1 Tim 2:5 "For there is one God, and one
			mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;"

			From the booklet Questions and Answers about Mary,
			Page 15-
				"11. Why does the Church render
			liturgical devotion to Mary?
			The Church renders liturgical devotion to Mary
			because Mary is joined by an inseparable bond to
			the saving work of her Son, which is made present
			in the liturgy. The liturgy make present Christ's
			paschal mystery (his life, death, and resurrection),
			enabling us to render fitting worship to God and
			to obtain the graces of Christ gained for all human
			beings. It is only right to show liturgical devotion
			to Mary, since she is joined inescapably to the
			saving work being represented."
		5.	The truth of the matter is Mary remains in the grave,
			quite dead, hearing nothing, interceding for no one.
			Catholic teaching on this matter cannot be found in
			the Scriptures, and rests on nothing but Catholic
		6.	Let us understand it for what it is: the most
			prevalent, and most dangerous form of idolatry and
			spiritualism! Exodus 20:4,5; Deuteronomy 12:2-4

	A.	The world has always sought after signs:
		1.	The "Jews require a sign". 1 Corinthians 1:22
		2.	So does "an evil and adulterous generation".
			Matthew 12:39; Mark 16:4
	B.	I, for one, believe the apparitions are "delusions"
		(2 Thessalonians 2:11) which God sends to those who
		do not love the truth.
	C.	Anyone who is seeking a sign, will find a sign.

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