Does God still do miracles in today’s world? Or are miracles something that were limited to biblical times? This article will attempt to provide an answer to the question of miracles today.
What is a Miracle?
There are a couple of preliminary questions that need to be addressed before tackling the question of miracles in our time. And the first of these involves the definition of miracle. Just what is a miracle? We hear the term used freely today. “It was a miracle that I found a parking place near the store.” The “Miracle on Ice” describes the U.S. hockey team’s unexpected defeat of the Soviets for a gold medal in the Olympics. Or, “It was a miracle that he survived that car crash.”
But are those really miracles? Or just highly unusual and unexpected events or outcomes? The biblical use of miracle is an action of God that produces a result apart from natural means. An action that pointed to God as the cause. Crossing the sea on dry land, healing the sick, casting out evil spirits, feeding a multitude with five small loaves of bread and a couple of fish, or walking on water are just a few examples of biblical miracles. These are clearly God caused, not just something that was unusual.
Now it is quite possible that God arranged for your parking spot to open up for you, or that he favored the U.S. hockey team, or any of these other things sometimes labeled as miracles. But how would we know?
For the purposes of this article I want to break up miracles into two distinct categories. The first is for those miracles that are similar to what we label as miracle in the Bible. Those God caused events that focus attention on him and are challenging to deny. And they will be the subject of the rest of this article.
But I believe there is a second category of miracles. Those that are unseen or not as obvious. These might include God’s intervention to prevent an accident. A miracle because it is something that God did, but we likely have no idea that it even occurred.
And I believe that when God answers prayer, that a miracle has occurred. God has stepped into our world to act in response to our prayer. Whether that is to heal the sick, protect from harm, or equip us for service in his kingdom. All of these are miracles. They are God’s intervention in the normal working of the natural world. And these miracles are happened in the world today.
What Was the Purpose of Miracles in the Bible?
A second preliminary question about miracles concerns their purpose. Why did God perform miracles in the Bible? What purpose did they serve?
It might be tempting to think that there are miracles recorded throughout the Bible. But that is not the case. Miracles are mostly clustered around three distinct time periods. The first period is during the Exodus and into the conquest of Canaan under Moses and Joshua. The second period is during the ministries of Elijah and Elisha. And the final period is during the ministry of Jesus and his apostles. While that covers the entire New Testament period, it leaves large gaps in Old Testament history. Gaps where there were few, if any, miracles recorded.
In each of these times God was demonstrating his presence in a powerful way. Especially during the time of Moses and of Jesus. With Moses, God works to free the Jewish slaves and transform them into a nation. And with Jesus, the miracles are intended to prove that Jesus was from God and to establish his church. In both cases God is showing that the work being done is not of men but is of God. The miracles during the ministry of Elijah and Elisha are not in the establishment of a people of God. But they do happen in the context of a call of God’s people back to the worship of the true God.
Does God Perform Miracles Today?
I know of no scriptural reason why God would not, or could not, perform miracles today. He is still sovereign God and our modern world has not somehow minimized his ability to act in miraculous ways.
But God most often works through his people. He has commissioned his church to take the gospel to the world, making disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:18-20). The Bible records for us the miracles that God used to establish his church. And we can look back at those to validate the divine origin of the church and God’s calling. We do not need miracles today to do that.
The gospel of John records a number of post-resurrection appearances of Jesus. Among these was a visit with Thomas in John 20:24-29. At the end of this appearance, Thomas believed that Jesus had indeed risen from the dead. This passage then closes with what I believe is Jesus’ answer to the question of miracles today. “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
Jesus said that we who believe without physical proof of the resurrection are blessed. And, by extension, I would think that is applicable to miracles in general. Those who believe by faith alone, apart from the miraculous, are blessed. Of course, all who believe are blessed. But even more those who believe apart from external experiences.
Judging the Source
The Scripture references two sources of miracles. The primary source is God. But in 2 Thessalonians 2:9, and several places in Revelation, you find another source. Satan and his Antichrist will use signs and wonders to deceive people and lead them away from the truth. And that poses a challenge for the believer. If I were to see a miraculous sign, how would I know who had produced it?
When you see a miraculous sign, the first thing to evaluate is who is glorified by it. Does it draw attention to the one producing it, or to someone or something other than God? If it does, then it is not of God. A true miracle from God will never exalt anyone other than God himself.
We might like to see a big miracle. And we might believe that it would advance the cause of Christ if people were to see such an obvious sign of God’s reality. But I believe that it is highly unlikely that we will see anyone duplicating the miracles of Jesus today. God calls on us to trust him by faith, not by sight.
The views expressed here are solely mine and do not necessarily reflect those of any other person, group, or organization. While I believe they reflect the teachings of the Bible, I am a fallible human and subject to misunderstanding. Please feel free to leave any comments or questions about this post in the comments section below. I am always interested in your feedback.
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