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Miracles. What God Says?
Miracles are an obvious fact of Christianity. How much importance should we place on them... and are miracles applicable in the Church age?
It's essential to have an accurate definition of miracles because the word is often clouded with mis-representation and ill-interpretations. A miracle is an event or act whereby God supernaturally acts in the natural world.
The Bible describes miracles in three terms: signs, wonders, and mighty works (Hebrews 2:4). They were acts that birthed wonder in those who witnessed them. Miracles were not an end in themselves but acted as signs pointing outside the natural realm. They were exacted by God to demonstrate His power and love. The ultimate purpose of miracles, signs and wonders were always to draw one's attention and affection to Jesus' authority and divinity. Miracles were also employed to authenticate the ministry and message of the early church under the teaching ministry of the apostles. These miracles... in particular: healing miracles, were exacted by God through the apostles to validate their message of the gospel and their teachings.
Should Christians seek miracles from God in order to validate and even stimulate faith in the Lord Jesus Christ? When we rightly divide the word of truth... it is clear that Believers are to depend exclusively on the Word of God as influenced by the Holy Spirit. Faith in Christ does not come by or is even nurtured by seeing miracles... it is by hearing (Romans 10:17). We are in possession of all that is necessary for faith in Christ Jesus... namely, the Word of God (Matthew 4:4). Seeing a miracle would not and could not make Jesus any more real to us than He already is.
From a biblical perspective, miracles were primarily associated with Israel in the Old Testament and with the church in its infancy as it appealed to the Jewish people. Once we get to Acts chapter thirteen, we find the church's appeal to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ go universal and thus, the diminishing use of miracles. Any Miracle employed through the church was primarily to persuade Israel to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. The Israelites were accustomed to miracles as a means of validation. So it is not unusual to see miracles employed by Jesus and the apostles. Biblically recorded miracles were always exacted in the presence of Israelites... this is a matter biblical record.
With Israel, the Holy Spirit always used miracles, signs and wonders. This is distinctly realized in the book of Acts where we observe the Holy Spirit working outwardly with signs. In his address at Pentecost, Peter spoke with outward evidences of the Holy Spirit to a Jewish audience (see Acts 2:1-4). The Holy Spirit literally came upon (outwardly) their flesh. The point is this: In Acts chapters 2 through 9, the Holy Spirit is working outwardly with Israel while the church in her infancy observes. It is not until we get to Acts 13 that we begin to see the Holy Spirit working inwardly in the Church. Not to distinguish this major difference in which the Holy Spirit employed miracles will cause confusion in churches by placing emphasis on patterns such as miracles and signs and wonders that are exclusively intended by God to draw Israel to recognition of Christ and repentance towards Christ Jesus. It is not until we move to the future as noted in Revelation that we begin to observe once again the employment of miracles, signs and wonders that will be powerful and personal to the Jews in The Great Tribulation.
Christians are identified as being in the body of Christ... a heavenly body. Thus, we do not live by sight nor influenced by signs and wonders... we live by faith. The greatest of all miracles still being realized today is the the New Birth. God wills that all who were born, to be born-again (2 Peter 3:9).
Sincerely, Dr. Arthur Belanger
COLLEGE OF THE OPEN BIBLE Institute