Joshua 3:5 (NKJV) – “And Joshua said to the people, ′Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.′”
John 2:11 (NKJV) – “This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him.”
By Milton J. and Pamela K. Orgeron
What is a miracle? In secular terms, a “miracle” is something that happens that cannot be explained by natural or scientific laws. According to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, “such an event may be attributed to a supernatural being (a deity), magic, a miracle worker, a saint or a religious leader.” (¶ 1) Informally, the word “miracle” is thrown around to describe happy occasions that may be statistically improbable but possible by the laws of nature. Such events might include surviving a tornado or the birth of a baby. For Christians, “A Miracle is when God intervenes in a situation or event that cannot be explained in scientific terms or by human reasoning.” (Bible History Online, 2016, ¶ 2) In I Corinthians 12:10 Paul speaks of men having the spiritual gift of miracles.
Can non-believers perform miracles? Yes, they can, according to Scripture. In Deuteronomy 13:1-5 Moses warned the Israelites against false prophets who performed signs and wonders and encouraged them to follow other gods. Pharaoh’s magicians duplicated “with their secret arts” the first miracles God performed through Moses–they also turned their staffs into snakes, though Aaron’s staff ate their staffs, and turned water into blood, and made frogs come out of the waters onto the land of Egypt. So it is possible by giving oneself over to demonic powers to produce “signs and lying wonders” (2 Thessalonians 2:9). But only to a point. Pharaoh’s magicians could not duplicate any of the plagues from dust becoming flies and gnats onward. God will glorify His name over all other names!
Miracles of the Old Testament
Miracles abound in the Old Testament (see 2nd reference below), and they served then the same purposes as in the New Testament and still today:
- To glorify God
- To show that a prophet, or an apostle, or most of all, Jesus, is truly sent by God
- To inspire or strengthen faith
- To save the people of God from their enemies or to heal an individual out of divine compassion and mercy
Perhaps the best-known Old Testament miracle is the parting of the Red Sea in the Exodus out of Egypt. It served all four functions listed above. God was glorified by something that only divine power could accomplish, Moses was again affirmed as sent by God when he raised his staff and stretched out his hand over the sea and the waters parted, the faith of the people was strengthened (though soon to fade again), and the Israelites were saved from the pursing Egyptian army when the waters closed again and drowned the soldiers with their horses.
We do well to recount to ourselves the miracles of God in the Old Testament and remind ourselves that the arm of the LORD is still not too short to save (Isaiah 59:1), and that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
The Miracles of Jesus
During His life on earth, Jesus touched a multitude of lives through miracles. According to Fairchild (2017), “The four Gospels record 37 miracles of Jesus, with Mark’s Gospel recording the most.” (¶ 1) These miracles include healing the sick (e.g.: 10 lepers healed, Luke 17:11-19), resurrections from the dead (e.g.: raising of Lazarus, John 11:1-44), exorcisms (e.g.: Jesus sends demons from a man into pigs, Mark 5:1-20) , and control over nature (e.g.: Jesus calms a storm, Matthew 8:23-27). These testimonies represent only a small proportion of the numbers of miracles performed by Jesus: John 21:25 – “And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen.”
What was the purpose of Jesus’ miracles? Certainly, they weren’t for entertainment or show. That’s exemplified by Jesus’ not performing a miracle for Herod at their meeting (Luke 23:8-9). Jesus performed miracles to meet genuine human needs and to bring glory to the Father.
Do Miracles Still Happen Today?
Whether miracles still happen today is a hotly contested debate in some quarters of the church. The continuationist/cessationist debate is far beyond the scope of a single blog post, and one’s position on it should not be considered a salvation issue, unless either stance taken to an extreme leads us to or is based on unbiblical beliefs or teachings. Most Christians, perhaps wisely, fall somewhere between the two ends of this spectrum in their convictions. No, a parking spot opening in a packed lot just as we approach it is not a miracle! Neither can some healing be explained away as coincidence or mere chance nor accounted for by modern medicine, especially when doctors have offered little or no hope. Milton personally has been free of narcolepsy and off of any narcolepsy medications for more than seven years now, and he has not yet found any other such accounts of narcolepsy going into remission. It just doesn’t happen–normally. But he found out after the fact that Pam had voiced her concern about Milton’s narcolepsy to the Lord just two days before all narcolepsy symptoms disappeared. Many, many other people have similar stories of healing that doctors cannot explain and that were preceded by individual or group prayer.
Does or should our faith depend on God repeating in our lives the kind of miracles and signed gifts described in the Old or New Testament? Heaven forbid! God is utterly sovereign, and He has proven Himself faithful over and over. “If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself” (2 Timothy 2:13). Perhaps the greatest ongoing miracle today is the changed heart given to each born-again, blood-washed believer–a gift and miracle that cannot be deserved or earned or bought. Without being saved by grace, we deserve only death and eternal separation from God, and even our righteous deeds are as filthy rags, worthless to save us. In the virgin conception, sinless birth and life, atoning death, bodily resurrection to eternal life, ascension to heaven, and promise to return as the disciples saw him disappear into the cloud, Jesus has given us miracles enough for all eternity!
About Bible Prophecy. (2018). Miracles of Jesus Christ. Retrieved January 9, 2018 from http://aboutbibleprophecy.com/miracles.htm
Bible History Online. (2016). Miracles in the Old Testament. Retrieved January 9, 2018 from http://www.bible-history.com/old-testament/miracles.html
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. (2018). Miracle. Retrieved January 9, 2018 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miracle