MODERN MIRACLES (Part 1: Defining Miracles)
There exist several denominationalists who claim to have been witness to a miracle from God. Some evangelists will even claim to perform miracles through the power of God and His Spirit. This series will examine the modern-day miracles and ask the question, “Do modern miracles really exist?”
First, defining a “miracle” the way God would use the term must be the first step. The Christian must define biblical ideas and terms the way God sees them, or risk conflict. If people use terms in two different ways, then confusion and disagreements will happen. No one wants to be in conflict with God, so believers must use biblical terms by God’s standard (1 Peter 4:11).
Several religious zealots possess a very broad understanding of miracle. Basically, anything that excites and inspires them may be defined as a miracle: the birth of a child, getting a good parking spot, falling in love, when someone is healed from a sickness using modern medical treatments, etc… If anything could be a miracle, depending on the perspective, then what makes them so special?
Furthermore, people see preachers who claim to perform modern miracles. They might talk to someone who suffers from back pain. They will dramatically proclaim, “I’m going to put my hand on you and say a prayer, and your back will miraculously heal.” Then, three months later (after the individual has gone to the doctor, had tests run, seen chiropractors, and endured a surgical procedure), his back heals. The preacher then claims, “See, it was a miracle!” That is not a biblical miracle! Could that possibly have been God working through providence? Working through the experience and expertise of others? Yes! However, it is not a miracle based on how a miracle is defined in God’s Word. While amazing occurrences in life could be providential, or they could be the answer to a prayer, the common everyday events in life do not fit the definition of a miracle. (Point of clarification: Certain events may not be everyday occurrences to you, so they feel miraculous, but often they happen every day all over the world. Additionally, this is why feelings cannot define miracles.).
The Bible provides several descriptions of a miracle, those things that occur outside these descriptions are not miraculous. Firstly, miracles exist outside the laws of nature, if a miraculous act could be explained by the laws of nature, then skeptics could discredit the work of God as nothing other than what naturally occurs in nature. All the examples of miracles in the Bible could not be explained by science: water into wine (John 2:1-11); Lazarus raised from the dead (John 11:14, 43); Jesus restored the sight of the blind with nothing but a touch (Mat. 20:32-34).
Secondly, miracles were instantaneous; Christ did not take five weeks to heal someone from blindness (Mat. 20:34). Those that had not walked for years and then suddenly had the ability to walk required no physical therapy (Luke 18:43; Acts 3:6-8). Skeptics could not assume the body healed itself. The healing was beyond anything naturally observed.
Thirdly, a biblical miracle was undeniable. Nowhere in the Bible do we see someone performing a miracle, and someone denying it. Even Christ’s enemies could not deny true miracles (Acts 4:14). The so-called “miracles” performed by preachers today are very suspicious, the words of the preacher will not always bring forth a miraculous act, and when the miracle fails, the preacher simply blames it on the individual that was seeking help proclaiming that the needful one did not have enough faith. This never happened in the Bible; sometimes Christ would ask an individual of their faith before producing a miracle, other times Christ would just heal them without questioning their faith in His ability (Mat. 9:27-30; 20:32-34). A true miracle worker has the ability to perform miracles in the presence of non-believers (Acts 13:8-12). Technically speaking, miracles were performed for the unbelieving and those who wanted to deny the existence of miracles. Christ didn’t perform miracles to reward the faithful; He did it to confirm His authority to the unbelieving (Heb. 2:3-4), but more on the purpose of miracles later.
Finally, those who produced miracles had control over that ability; the Holy Spirit did not possess them like a demon and force them to produce miracles while the vessels existed helpless to control their own actions. In 1 Corinthians 14:27-28, Paul forbids those with the ability to speak in tongues to do it without an interpreter; therefore, those that spoke in tongues had the ability to control that power and wait till an interpreter was present. The miracle was subject to the miracle worker.
All these attributes describe the character of a true miracle, without these features it is not a miracle. Christians possess the biblical right to test these so-called miracle workers to see if they are of God (1 John 4:1). It is not unfaithfulness to be skeptical of modern miracles. Paul praised those individuals at Berea for fact-checking him from the Word of God. Paul calls them “noble” (Acts 17:11). True ministers of God will not be offended that those listening “search the Scripture daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11).
The God calls His law perfect and unchanging (James 1:25; John 1:1; Rev. 22:18-19). God is also unchanging (Heb. 13:8). If miracles do exist today, they should be no different than those of the first century because they come from the unchanging source of divine power (James 1:17).
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