There is the story of the man who was walking at night, and it was very dark, and there was a poisonous snake in the way. The Lord however, spoke to that man and gave him a vision of a snake biting him on the foot. Immediately – the man responsive to the Lord’s instruction, the man being filled with faith, the man knowing that the Lord had just spoken to him about not going any further lest he be bitten by a poisonous snake – turned around and headed in the other direction. The man in this case was spared from certain death.
There was another man, however, who also happened to be walking along that same path (though coming from the opposite direction) who reasoned within his lofty heart, “We don’t need any new revelations. Scripture provides all that I need.” This man was not so fortunate. As he walked — and the Lord did not warn him — he was instantly bitten by the snake, and died. When in heaven, he complained to the Lord, “Lord, I was walking along the road and you knew there was a poisonous snake in the way! Why then did you not warn me?” The Lord replied to him, “On account of your faith, so it shall be done to you.”
The story illustrates what I think has happened in many churches today. Good, sincere, people are attending these churches, but there is a prevalent teaching that while God somehow ‘relates’ with his people, he is not so intimate as to actually speak with them, or to communicate with them in any revelatory ways (supernaturally, via dreams and visions). Thus it is that God is hindered, in fact, from doing his work in these churches. His voice is cut off, so to speak. While God does his very best to communicate with these individuals on a number of levels, yet he cannot do so in the measure that he desires on account of the limited faith expectations of the people. God still loves these people very much, and does his best to communicate with them — it is only that they are not enjoying the rich heritage that they have been called to on account of their disbelief.
God never forces his will on people. If there is a group of people who do not believe in signs and wonders, or in dreams and visions, you can be sure that, by-and-large, they won’t see them happening at all. If they don’t believe in gifts of prophecy, or in the interpretations of tongues, you can be sure that, by-and-large, they won’t see them either. The lack of these ‘signs and wonders’, however, is in no way a sign that these gifts have ceased or that God does not want to move in powerful ways among his people! It is only that, true to his character, God has decided to honor these peoples’ faith.
“Then touched he their eyes, saying, ‘According to your faith be it unto you’. And their eyes were opened.” (Matthew 9:29-30a)