Last week we saw the spiritual gift of healing. Healing does take place, but we don’t know why God heals some and not others. We do know that God is involved in all healing – from the cut on your arm to the terminal disease. Every Christian has at least one gift, given by God at the moment of salvation to be used for His glory and for the common good of the body. We continue on with another sign gift – it is the gift of the effecting of miracles.
Grab your bible and let’s look at 1 Corinthians 12:6-11 once again.
So what is a miracle? We throw around the word miracle. We think that it’s a miracle if our spouse remembers to pick up the milk and bread they were asked to pick up. It’s a miracle if our kids get off the computer and help with the yard work. Think about the space shuttle, walking on the moon, that’s a miracle. Remember when David Copperfield moved Diamond Head – that’s a miracle. A friend of mine was involved in an accident a couple of months ago, his vehicle rolled three times yet he escaped with only a couple of scratches. Is that a miracle? Who can forge the United States hockey team in the 1980 winter Olympics in Lake Placid, NY? Al Michaels excitedly asked us, “Do you believe in miravles?”
What’s a real miracle? Search for miracles on Google, and you’ll find 23.4 million websites. You can find statues that seep blood or olive oil, find paintings that cry, you can also find cheese toast and potatoes that looks like Christ. Are these things miracles?
In the truest sense, a miracle is an event of supernatural power that appears inexplicable by the laws of nature, observable by the senses, and accompanies the servant of the Lord to authenticate the divine commission. Three words appear most frequently in Scripture in connection with miracles. Power from the Greek word dunamis, is translated miracle 9 times. Wonder occurs 16 times, is always plural and means something astonishing. Sign appears in Scripture 70 times with 60 of these times meaning miracle. It gives us the idea of signaling or signifying. In John 20:30-31, it is said that Jesus did lots more signs than were written in this book so that people would believe that Jesus was the Christ. It is the effecting of miracles: effecting is from the Greek word energema which means to effect operation. Power, wonder, and signs are used together in the same verse on more than one occasion. Acts 2:22 says, “Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know.”
The workings of miracles involves an event of supernatural power. The gift of miracles involves a supernatural ability to perform an act that is contrary to natural law. C. S. Lewis said that nature had to be interfered with by supernatural power for any event to qualify as a miracle. I hate to be the one to break it to you, but there are some things God cannot do. What??? Yes. God cannot lie, break a promise, cannot be wrong, and He cannot cease to exist. But can God defy the laws of nature? Absolutely. He can do anything (well . . . except those things I just listed.) God can choose to act apart from the laws of nature.
Remember Moses? He parted the Red Sea, he turned water into blood, and who can forget about those frogs? What about Elijah? He raised a child from the dead, he called fire down from heaven. Jesus walked on water. Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead – 4 days dead.
To qualify as a miracle, the event must be observable to the senses – a wonder. Let’s look at some Scriptures that mention miracles. To qualify as a miracle, it must be seen.
- In Mark 2:12 when Jesus healed the paralytic, “He got up and immediately picked up the pallet and went out in the sight of everyone, so that they were all amazed and were glorifying God, saying, ‘We have never seen anything like this.'”
- Acts 6:8: “And Stephen, full of grace and power, was performing great wonders and signs among the people.”
- Acts 8:6: “The crowds with one accord were giving attention to what was said by Philip, as they heard and saw the signs which he was performing.”
- Luke 5 records the story of Peter and his friends fishing. After fishing all night, they had caught nothing. Jesus tells them to move to deep water and throw their nets out. They had so many fish; they needed help to get them in the boat. Luke 5:11 says, “For amazement had seized him and all his companions because of the catch of fish which they had taken.” Amazed comes from the words that means to render immovable.
The common outcome of these miracles was wonder and amazement because people actually saw what took place.
Back to the definition, a miracle must accompany the servant of the Lord to authenticate the divine commission – a sign. The amazement and wonder people had indicated something significant. People saw things that defied the natural laws of nature. The miracles performed authenticated the doer as a divinely commissioned servant of God. When the miracle was seen, it validated the message. The message was what was important. The message always pointed to God for salvation through His only begotten Son; the message always said trust in Him.
In other miraculous news, John 6 tells us the story when the disciples were in quite the quandary. There was a large crowd of people – 5000 men. The people were hungry so Jesus asked Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these may eat?”Philip says, “We don’t have the money to feed all these people.” Andrew comes up and says, “We’ve got this kid’s lunch; his mom made him 5 loaves and two little fishes.” So they started distributing the food. John 6:11 says the people got as much as they wanted. V. 14 says, “Therefore when the people saw the sign which He had performed, they said, ‘This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.'”The miracle validated the message of Christ – that Jesus was the Messiah.
- When Peter raised Dorcas from the dead, “It became known all over Joppa, and many believed in the Lord.” (Acts 9:42)
- When Paul made Elymus the magician blind in Acts, “The proconsul believed when he saw what had happened.” (Acts 13:12) Believe comes from the same root word as faith.
Miracles proved the message.
What about miracles today? In the New Testament, it seems there was a miracle around every corner. Today, we don’t see people walking on water. We don’t see the dead raised. We don’t see a small lunch feeding thousands. We don’t see trees withered by the power of a voice. Does that mean miracles do not occur? Wouldn’t signs and wonders be a great opportunity to win the lost? You’re thinking, “If people saw miracles today, people would believe,” right? Unfortunately, we have become a people that tries explains things away. People try to say that Moses never parted the Red Sea. Critics say Jesus never died, He simply passed out.
Seeking signs and wonders is diametrically opposed to faith. Luke 11:29, “This generation is a wicked generation; it seeks for a sign.” John 12:37, “But though He had performed so many signs before them, yet they were not believing in Him.”
Do we need miracles in America? Mike and Mechanics sang a song with the chorus of, “All I need is a miracle.” Remember, miracles validated the messenger. In America, surveys indicate that nearly 90% of people believe in God, but in Afghanistan, the figure is <1%. When the messenger of God presents Jesus as the Christ in Afghanistan, wouldn’t a miracle validate the messenger? It is likely that miracles are taking place in those countries or area that are darkened to the Light of the world. In Africa: Eritrea, Egypt, and Sudan. In Asia: Indonesia, Pakistan, and Viet Nam. In the Middle East: Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and Syria.
What about miracles in the broad sense? The definition of a miracle that I gave earlier is very restrictive. It has to be a supernatural act that transcends the laws of nature. In this very restrictive sense, miracles are a rarity, but that doesn’t rule out the incredible. We think about answered prayers, about strength, about provision, about timely protection. The Lord’s involvement in the spiritual world is much more significant than his involvement in the physical world. Feeding the 5000 was incredible, but what about when you eat the Bread of life? Jesus calmed the raging storm of the sea, but what about when He calms the raging inside you? It was awesome when He raised Lazarus from the dead, but what about when He raised you from the dead?
Miracles do happen today in the most restrictive sense of the word, but I think that it is limited to those areas of the world that need Jesus the most. In the broadest sense of the word, they occur everyday.