Doctrine of Miracles

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Doctrine of Miracles — Has God performed miracles?

Tod Kennedy, Revised May 3, 2006

 

1.      What is a miracle? A miracle is something that is outside the laws of nature or outside of the natural processes.

a.      Henry Morris said "A true miracle must be defined in terms of its relation to the basic laws and natural processes of the present Pcosmos, which are now being sustained by God Himself in Christ (Hebrews 1:3; Colossians 1:17; 2 Peter 3:7). Thus, it must be basically an event outside the scope of either the fundamental laws of nature or of the normal operation of natural processes." (Henry M. Morris, Biblical Naturalism and Modern Science, Part III, Issue 449 of Bibliothecasacra).

b.     C.S. Lewis wrote "I use the word Miracle to mean an interference with Nature by supernatural power" (Miracles, C.S. Lewis, page 5).

c.      The fundamental laws of nature (the first and second laws of thermodynamics) are 1. Mass-energy must always be conserved--nothing in the physical universe is now being created or destroyed, though it may change form, 2. Entropy must always increase--all things tend to decay and die.

d.     Natural processes are the actions on space, time, mass-energy that go on within our universe and are ruled by the two fundamental laws. God works a natural process miracle by changing the time, or space, or mass-energy of something.

 

2.     Scripture study of miracles.

a.      Miracle Hebrew mophet [m] 1x miracle singular (wonder, sign, portent), or pala’ [p] surpassing, extraordinary 5x plural miracles

i.        Exodus 7:9  m Pharaoh, Moses, and Aaron.

ii.      Exodus 3:20 p Strike Egypt with all miracles

iii.    Exodus 34:10 p I will perform miracles not done in all the earth.

iv.    Judges 6:13 p Where are the miracles?

v.      Psalm 78:11 p They forgot his deeds and miracles

vi.    Micah 7:15 p As in days when you came out of Egypt, I will show miracles.

b.     New Testament. Greek dunamis (power, might, strength, force, ability, dead of power, miracle); semion (sign, mark, divine sign, miracle.

i.        Mark 6:5 Unbelief prevented Jesus doing miracles.

ii.      Mark 9:39 One cannot do a miracle in Jesus’ name and then criticize him.

iii.    Acts 4:16 A noteworthy miracle.

iv.    Acts 4:22 On whom this miracle of healing had been performed.

v.      Matthew 7:22 Have we not… performed many miracles?

vi.    Matthew 11:20 The cities where most of his miracles were done.

vii.  Matthew 11:21 Woe to Chorazin and Bethsaida.

viii.  Matthew 11:23 Miracles would have been done in Sodom.

ix.    Matthew 13:58 He did not do many miracles because of unbelief.

x.      Mark 6:2 Listeners were saying…such miracles.

xi.    Luke 10:13 Woe to Chorazin and Bethsaida.

xii.  Luke 19:37 Whole multitudes began to praise him for his miracles.

xiii.  Acts 2:22 attested by God with miracles (and signs and wonders).

xiv.  Acts 8:13 Simon observed signs and great miracles.

xv.  Acts 19:11 God performing…miracles through the hands of Paul.

xvi.  1 Corinthians 12:10 To another the effecting of miracles.

xvii. 1 Corinthians 12:28 God appointed…miracles.

xviii.1 Corinthians 12L29 Works of miracles.

xix.     2 Corinthians 12:12 The signs of a true apostle.

xx.  Galatians 3:5 And works miracles among you.

xxi. Hebrews 2:4 And by various miracles (and signs and wonders).

 

3.     Who works miracles?

a.      God--Father, Son, Holy Spirit (Exodus 3-12, burning bush, Moses’ objections, plagues on Egypt; Exodus 14, Red Sea; Daniel 5, handwriting; Daniel 6, Lion’s den; Matthew 8, leprosy, paralyzed servant, Peter’s mother-in-law, storm, demons; John 2, water into wine; John 11, Lazarus; Acts 28, Publius’ father; and many others).

b.     Angels (Daniel 6:22; Acts 5:19; 2 Kings 6:17-18; Hebrews 1:14; Psalm 103:20).

c.      Satan and demons have limited ability to perform miracles and they work through people (2 Thessalonians 2:9).

d.     Conclusion: God the Father and God the Son do miracles through Paul, Peter, and other apostles. Note that contrary to the Pentecostal emphasis the words “Spirit” and “miracles” in the same verse are found only in Galatians 3:5 and Hebrews 2:4. In neither are miracles attributed to the Holy Spirit. Note also that the words “Spirit” and “signs” are only found in Romans 15:19, and there Paul serves in the power of the Holy Spirit, but the emphasis is not on the Holy Spirit doing miracles. So a caution to those who make great claims about Pentecostal power.

 

4.  What kinds of miracles are there?

  1. Creative miracles, in which God sets aside the two fundamental laws of nature, include restoration of life to one who had died, the provision of manna for Israel, changing water into wine, giving sight to the one born blind, Jesus walking on water, and others.
  2. Providential miracles, in which God changes the time, space, or the energy of natural processes, include the drought and rain during Elijah's time (James 5:17-18), the earthquake at Philippi (Acts 16.26), Daniel protected from the lions (Daniel 6:22), Peter being delivered from prison, and others.

 

5.     Why does God perform miracles?

a.      To authenticate himself, his plan, and his authority (John 2:11; 6:14; 11:47). Jesus performed miracles to authenticate his own person, ministry, and authority (John 2:11; 6:14; Acts 2:22).

b.      Miracles then can demonstrate God and his character. This strengthens our faith in Him (Exodus 4:1-5; Luke 4:25-28, 32-36; John 2:11; 20:31; Hebrews 2:2-4).

c.      Jesus performed miracles to accomplish what the OT prophets said of him (Matthew 8:16-17 with Isaiah 53:4).

d.      Miracles forced unbelief to show itself. The miracles frustrated the Pharisees because they could not explain them away, yet they did not want to recognize Jesus was Messiah (John 11:47-48; Acts 4:16). Miracles also demonstrate God and his ability so that an unbeliever firm in unbelief will harden his heart against God (Exodus 7.8-13). Jesus’ miracles did the same for those firm in their unbelief (Matthew 11:20-21; John 12:37).

 

6.     Evidence for miracles.

a.      Eyewitnesses

b.      Bible record

c.      No one denied the biblical miracles when they had the opportunity.

d.      Early witnesses do not doubt that Jesus performed miracles. Josephus called Jesus a wonder-worker; Rabbinical writers say that he performed miracles by sorcery, but do not deny the miracles. The apostles spoke of them as facts to an audience that was equally familiar with the miracles of which they spoke (the New Testament Documents, F.F. Bruce, 68).

 

7.      How do we evaluate miracles? We evaluate miracles the same way God instructed Israel to evaluate a prophet (Deuteronomy 18:20-22; Matthew 7:15-20).

a.      First, is the miracle real? Today, with all the fakery, it is difficult to get below the surface to fine out. But, there is research available that has followed up so-called miracle workers. The general result is that miracle workers do not exist today.

b.      Second, is the supposed miracle worker in agreement with Bible doctrine and are the supposed miracles done in the Biblical pattern?

 

8.     Why do people say that miracles are impossible?

a.      They reject the supernatural: they have rejected God or that God operates in the world and in individual lives.

b.      So-called miracles: people react against what are in fact false or questionable "miracles." These so-called miracles have no evidence or credibility.

 

9. Why we know that God has worked miracles.

a.      If the God of the Bible is real, then the biblical miracles are fact.

b.      Therefore the nature of the God of the Bible makes miracles easy for him. God is omnipotent. Omnipotence is part of his essence, his nature; it is one of his attributes. Without omnipotence he is not God.

c.      No one has disproved the miracles recorded in the Bible, when, in fact, people had the opportunity to discredit them at the time they were spoken of and written about.

d.      The biblical miracles are attested by God, by witnesses, and by the evidence. Other miracles or claimed miracles must stand or fall based on their own evidence and credibility.

e.      The resurrection is the final attestation to the miracles of Jesus.

 

10.  The supernatural sign gifts for the church were limited to the apostles’ era. The spiritual gifts of healing and miracles are no longer in use today. The principle of temporary spiritual gifts is found in Hebrews 2:3-4, 2 Corinthians 12:12, Romans 15:18-19, and 1 Corinthians 13:8-11.

a.      Hebrews 2:3-4.

                                       i.      3 how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard,
4 God also bearing witness with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.

b.      Second Corinthians 12:12.

                                       i.      12 The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with all perseverance, by signs and wonders and miracles.

c.      Romans 15:18-19.

                                       i.      18 For I will not presume to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me, resulting in the obedience of the Gentiles by word and deed,
19 in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Spirit; so that from Jerusalem and round about as far as Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.

d.      First Corinthians 3:8-11.

                                       i.      8 Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor.
9 For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.
10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building upon it. But let each man be careful how he builds upon it.
11 For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

 

11.            How should miracles affect us today?

a.      God’s miracles teach us about the nature, the character, and therefore the ability and power of God “for by a powerful hand the Lord brought you out from this place” (Exodus 3:13); “I know that thou canst do all things, and that no purpose of thine can be thwarted” (Job 42:2); “Jesus said, with men it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God” (Mark 10:27).

b.      God’s miracles increase our faith in the God of the Bible and therefore our confidence that “he is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20); “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).

c.      God’s miracles motivate us to glorify God, “to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever, amen” (Ephesians 3:21); because he is all powerful, all knowing, and works on behalf of his people.