Category: Creation, Word: MIRACLES
August 21, 2015 | by: Kendell Easley, prepared by Dave Maniquis | 0 Comments
Posted in: 52 Words
Men of Israel, listen to these words: This Jesus the Nazarene was a man pointed out to you by God with miracles, wonders, and signs that God did among you through Him, just as you yourselves know. (Acts 2:22)
DEFINITION: A miracle is a powerful intervention worked by God or some other supernatural agent in which ordinary operations (the laws of nature) are displaced, often serving as public signs authenticating the human agent through whom the miracle is performed.
Enlightenment thinkers of the eighteenth century argued that everything could be understood by human reason and that the entire universe must be explained scientifically through the laws of cause and effect. There was no place in this system for miracles, which imply that something beyond natural law can be at work. Christian thinkers responded with a variety of defenses for miracles as truly God-caused events. C.S. Lewis’s book Miracles was the most popular twentieth-century work defending both the idea and the actual occurrence of miracles.
Careful use of the term “miracle” must be distinguished from casual use. In the truest sense, none of the following classify as a miracle.
- A magnificent sight (mountains, seas, starry sky). Such is nature, not miracle.
- An awe-inspiring event (baby’s birth, falling in love). Such is providence, not miracle.
- Most answers to prayer. Such do not usually have sign value confirming an agent as divine.
- Spiritual transformation in someone’s life. This is usually not externally discernable.
- Magic or sleight of hand, in which the illusionist knows how to pull off the trick.
The Bible, moreover, gives examples of miraculous deeds done by the Devil and his agents (Mt 24:24; 2 Thess 2:9; Rev 13:14). If the exorcisms of Jesus are counted as miracles, then the original demonic possession must equally be counted as a miracle of darkness.
The miracles reported in the Bible focus on—but are not limited to—three time periods. In all cases, the miraculous deeds served to authenticate the human agent. These periods are the time of Moses the lawgiver (and his successor Joshua); Elijah the great prophet (and his successor Elisha); and Jesus the Savior (and His successors the apostles). Christian thinking has disagreed whether workers of divine and supernatural miracles should be expected today. Jesus’ miracles impacted three realms, and their sign value is always clear (people recognized that God had intervened). These three are: (1) the supernatural realm (the exorcisms or casting out demons, showing Jesus’ authority over evil spirits); (2) the realm of human bodies (the healings, showing Jesus’ compassion); and (3) the realm of nature (nature miracles, such as the feeding of the 5,000). Jesus refused to do miracles on demand, and He knew that a faith based on miracles is inadequate. The two grand miracles, stupendous signs indeed, are the incarnation and the resurrection of Christ (Jn 1:14; Rom 1:4). Jesus’ miracles pointed to His identity as Messiah, but the resurrection alone proved He is God’s Son.
REFLECTION: Have you heard people use the term “miracle” carelessly? Why should the word be used carefully? To what extent do you think divine miracles are being done in today’s world?
PRAYER: Lord God of miracles, thank You for the greatest of all Your mighty deeds, sending Your Son in human flesh, and raising Him from the dead as proof that He is truly the Son of God, our Lord and Savior. Amen.
Dave Maniquis is a Teaching Elder at Restoration Church. He holds a BA in History from Rutgers University and an MA in Biblical Studies from Reformed Theological Seminary. He enjoyed a 23-year career in the U.S. Government, working and traveling extensively in Western and Eastern Europe. He has been a Christian for most of his adult life and has been involved in church planting, overseas as well as here in Port Orange, teaching the Bible and speaking into others’ lives with the Gospel. He is married to Maureen and they have two wonderful sons, Dylan and Evan.