Friday, July 29, 2011

A comment on miracles

Today's people want miracles. They want fabulous signs and wonders, and flock to places where they think God is performing them. I happen to believe that once the scriptures were closed that the signs and miracles all but ceased. God used the signs and wonders through His designated apostles (the 12 plus Paul) to authenticate the performer of those miracles as being from God. Acts 2:22 says, “Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know.” 2 Corinthians 12:12 says, “The things that mark an apostle—signs, wonders and miracles—were done among you with great perseverance”. Hebrews 2:4 says of the Gospel, “God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to His will.”

Once the canon was set, once the apostles were dead, the signs ceased, because we now had the miracle of God revealed in His closed Word. In my opinion that is why we don't see the large swathe of validated miracles and signs occurring today.

I'd like to make a distinction about the Tribulation. During that 7-year judgment period, there will be signs, wonders, and miracles. Many will be false (Matthew 24:23-24; 2 Thessalonians 2:9). Some of them will be true: (Revelation 11:1-6; Revelation 14:6-9). The very judgments themselves will be miracles, in that the laws of physics will be set aside and magnificent but deadly miracles will occur such as oceans turning to blood and 100 pound hailstones, and a sun that goes dark.

But between the period of the close of the canon and the death of the original apostles, and the tribulation, showy miracles have all but ended. In His wisdom here and there the Lord may certainly perform a sign in His sovereign will. In Mark 8:12 Jesus signed deeply and asked of the people, "Why does this generation ask for a miraculous sign? I tell you the truth, no sign will be given to it." He was saying that their belief rested in the show and not in faith. It is like that today.

Back to the clamor for miracles. In the ever-questioning God's authority, emergent church, counter-reformation, 'God spoke to me' generation, they want a show. They desire a sign that will confirm the faith. But I remind us all, we overlook the miracles every day! There are so many. But they are getting lost in the clamor.

What about the miracle of a sinner repenting and coming to faith? It is the greatest act of a Holy God to draw a sinner to Himself for cleansing in redemption and forgiveness. It never fails to make me cry to see someone set aside the old man and ask Jesus to take over their life. It is a miracle of the Holy Spirit, since no man can make that decision for himself, being completely craven. (John 6:44). What about an adulterous marriage restored through faith and love? It is a miracle, because they chose God as their foundation and not their lusts. What about a teen or youth involved in cults, or cutting, or depressed and suicidal, brought to joy in the Lord after prayer and tearful prayers of the family and church? What about the birth of a child? Each child, formed by the Lord Himself. (Jeremiah 1:5, Psalm 139:13). What about answered prayer? A miracle that we have a God who listens to His people, though he is so High and we are so low. He listens and responds to us. A miracle. These are miracles. I praise the Lord for them all.

The quiet miracles from the Holy Spirit's work are daily occurring around us. Take some time to thank Him for them. They are just as powerful, if not a more powerful witness to His everlasting love in this deeply fallen world.

15 comments:

  1. Amen. Amen. Daily miracles, each breath. Amen, I can't say that enough.

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  2. Thanks for posting this Elizabeth. :)

    What about the physical healing? I believe these do happen today. My husband, being a physician, has had dead people rise again when he prayed for them. He has had a medical word given to him from God and was able, through this word, reverse the process of a drowned victim. Some new idea that had never been thought of through research, God gave my husband, and now this technique will be used on other drowned victims.

    I do believe there will be false prophets that will perform miracles in these last days but I also believe true prophets will have miracles come about through prayer.

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  3. Hi Child of God,

    Yes, I absolutely agree that the Lord works within His sovereign will to perform medical miracles today. Here is an article from Christianity.com about medical miracles today and what to look for in true ones and how to spot false ones
    http://www.christianity.com/Christian%20Living/Features/11622712/

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  4. The miracle of forgiveness and restoration.

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  5. I've had amazing miracles and breakthroughs occur since I became a christian but I agree that it is the quiet miracles everyday that showcase God's never ending love and work in our lives and in this world. There's would be no way to even begin to notice them if it wasn't for the holy spirit...I love God so much. Everyday He's doing something for me and sometimes I just feel..no I know that He's just holding me in His arms...Thank you Lord for all that you do for us!

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  6. http://www.christiananswers.net/dictionary/miracle.html

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wonder

    I like your post and I think it's very timely. One thought about your list of "miracles" today. Many of these would better be described as "wonders" or must be defined in articles/posts like this one as the colloquial use of the word "miracle" rather than the Biblical definition of "miracle". The common use of the word "miracle" is different than the Biblical use of the word. Example: Babies are born every day (God created everything to reproduce after it's own kind, a natural law), but when Isaac, John the Baptist, Jesus Christ were born, those were true miracles. I agree - salvation is a miracle - God intervenes in the natural process of a person's life by: electing, regenerating, justifying, sanctifying, glorifying.

    We must differentiate in our thoughts and written words between the common use of "miracle" and the Biblical use. "It is an occurrence at once above nature and above man. It shows the intervention of a power that is not limited by the laws either of matter or of mind, a power interrupting the fixed laws which govern their movements, a supernatural power. ... God ordinarily effects his purpose through the agency of second causes; but he has the power also of effecting his purpose immediately and without the intervention of second causes, i.e., of invading the fixed order, and thus of working miracles. Thus we affirm the possibility of miracles, the possibility of a higher hand intervening to control or reverse nature's ordinary movements. ... Miracles are seals of a divine mission. The sacred writers appealed to them as proofs that they were messengers of God. Our Lord also appealed to miracles as a conclusive proof of his divine mission (John 5:20, 36; 10:25, 38). Thus, being out of the common course of nature and beyond the power of man, they are fitted to convey the impression of the presence and power of God." (from link above)

    http://www.monergism.com/directory/link_category/Ordo-Salutis/

    An interesting chapter on miracles: http://www.frame-poythress.org/Poythress_books/Symphonic_Theology/bst9.htm

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  7. I look at my life today as a miracle.

    I was raised in an abusive home, first contemplating suicide at the age of 7 (I was going to stab myself through the heart with a chef's knife if you were curious) and continuing the thought into my mid 20's. My anger and hatred of my life consumed me, even spilling over into the music I write as a guitarist and vocalist. Even the release of writing hateful songs was never enough. I had a nearly insatiable desire to hurt and kill the individual responsible. I would get falling down drunk and then cry in my pillow before I passed out. My pain and hatred consumed every part of my being.

    When I accepted Jesus as my Lord, my Savior, my King, my Comforter, my Prince of Peace, my heart was healed. The anger and hatred are no longer there. The memories of my upbringing are still there but I feel nothing but compassion and a longing for salvation for the person responsible.

    That, my friends, is a miracle.

    I am still a sinner deserving hell, and I will never be perfect this side of glory. I thank God that Jesus paid for my sin debt every single day. That being said, the "heart transplant" as it were is miracle enough for me. My suicidal and homicidal thoughts are gone. Our God is truly an Awesome God.

    I can't wait to meet you all in the presence of our Lord Jesus my brothers and sisters.

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  8. Many people claim if God did more miracles people would come to faith. However, miracles never bring people to faith. If that was the case, then how can one explain the falling away of Israel in the desert after having witnessed the plagues, the parting of the red sea, the daily presence of the pillar of fire or smoke, the manna, etc?

    There are a lot of claims from the WOF and other charismatic leaders of raising people from the dead, yet there has never been any evidence. “Child of God” sounds very much like a WOF adherent, with unprovable anecdotes. I do not give credence to the majority of miracle healings claimed for the mere fact is that they are almost always he said/she said stories. Many investigations into these over the years have yielded no real medical evidence to prove the stories. Call me skeptical.

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  9. Hi Glenn,

    I agree that medical miracles are very rare these days (I hesitate to say they *never* happen because I don't know the mind of God). The article I linked to in my reply to her debunked many of the notable ones from recent times, exposing that all too often they are a 'my cousin's sister's husband's brother in law heard that..." but also said that in investigating one claimed miracle in a transparent manner, the baby Lyanna miracle could not be really explained to medical science. I dunno.

    I'm skeptical as well. It is my default position so often today. At least until I balance it against scripture...

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  10. Hello to Glen,

    My husband was witness life brought back from the dead. It was through the obedience to God to pray for this and God answered his prayer. You do not need to believe me but you really should be careful how you judge.

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  11. "Child of God"

    I judge by the Word of God. I need to see evidence that the person was actually dead. Too often people thought to be dead really weren't. My attitude is very much like that of Missourians - "Show me."

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  12. The recent case of the person in South Africa (I think - correct me if that's the wrong country) who was in the morge for several hours shows us that the 'dead' are not always really dead. I recently attended a Ukrainian Baptist funeral and just before interment, the deceased's hands and feet were untied (funerals are very different here). When I asked why, I was told it was in case she really wasn't dead. When I pressed further the person responded that it was simply a custom now from the previous generations when people thought someone had died, but were instead in a deep coma or something. I believe Poe wrote a poem or story about something like that? (Again, correct me if I've got the wrong author. :) )

    One of the women in our church is a medical doctor (retired) and has told us the story of how she had been declared dead at two seperate times in her life before becoming a Christian, papers filled out, death certificates already signed. Both times she was told by someone that she didn't belong in heaven yet and had to come back to earth. Obviously, she is still among the living now. When she heard the Gospel the first time, she believed and has been a member in good standing since. Do I believe her? It's her story and I have to leave it there - I won't argue with her on it. (Now that she has been redeemed, if it happens again maybe she'll get a big welcome in heaven instead of instructions to come back here??). We are not a charismatic/pentecostal church in any way, not WOF!!

    My point is that physical death is not always 'really dead' AND there are things we just do not understand this side of heaven.

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  13. Hello Glen,
    My husband is a physician, specializing in respiratory, critical care and internal medicine. He is well qualified to know when someone is dead. And this person was dead. God told him to pray and he did resulting in the heart beating and the lungs breathing then the full code came back in and this man is alive and well to this very day with zero side effects from being without oxygen and all vitals not working.

    Like I said you do not need to believe. Some people need to see the miracle happen right before their very eyes yet even then they will doubt.

    <><

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  14. mstair has left a new comment on your post "A comment on miracles":

    NOTE, edited to delete the commenter's link to his own iTunes downloadable book

    Because the Bible (in comparatively limited pages) covers such a long span of time (nearly five thousand years), we come away from reading it believing that the miracles documented there were frequent occurrences. In reality, concentrated miraculous activity occurred in only four periods of biblical history. In between those relatively short periods are long epochs in which very few miracles occurred.

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