|Vol. 1, No. 7||Page 16||July 1999|
Have Miracles Ceased?
“Sorry, but who are you to said that miraculous of the Church has ceased ????? You know that God is healing today ???” ~ Juan FarrugiaThe first dictionary definition of the word “miracle” is: “an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs.” A corresponding Greek definition for miracle is: “a deed manifesting great power, with the implication of some supernatural force - ‘mighty deed, miracle.’” The second dictionary definition of the word miracle is: “an extremely outstanding or unusual event, thing, or accomplishment.” The failure to distinguish between these two circumstances, itself, is a great source of confusion regarding the subject of miracles. The first involves an obvious, supernatural interference with what mankind knows to be possible according to natural law. The second incident does not require supernatural suspension of natural law, only that a given circumstance be uncommon or awe-inspiring. Respecting the second definition, then, people commonly refer to the birth of a baby as a “miracle” because it is awe-inspiring—though it is neither a supernatural event nor uncommon. Also, the word “miracle” is sometimes applied to survivors of some catastrophic event (though others present, too, may not have survived); yet, their survival no more required divine intervention via miracle than would God’s miraculous intervention be required for anyone to fall victim to any (and every) accident.
A biblical miracle involved: (1) ACTIVITY which cannot be attributed to human agency and the outcome of the cause and effect of natural law; (2) often INSTANTANEOUS RESULTS; (3) usually COMPLETE or perfect fulfillment of the activity; (4) universally OBVIOUS activity that cannot be ascribed to human activity or natural law; and (5) activity that suited a DIVINE PURPOSE. Bible miracles are easy to distinguish from even contemporary activities dubbed as miracles today. What passes for miracles today fails to demonstrate activity inconsistent with natural law, often does not involved instantaneous results, is frequently incomplete (a sad accusation, especially regarding healing, to render against God), are not universally obvious (as in the case of healing hidden or internal diseases) and more nearly represent carnal rather than divine purposes.
The real question is not does God heal today; it is does God heal today through NATURAL or SUPERNATURAL means? The question is not does God have the power to circumvent natural law with biblical miracles, but has God limited miracles to a time already past and for purposes already achieved? The Bible, especially the New Testament, answers these questions and mankind is obligated to apprise himself of this information.
First, the PURPOSE of New Testament miracles is indicated in Mark 16:20. Jesus listed in verse 18 some miracles that his first-century disciples would perform. After our Lord’s Ascension is recorded in verse 19, the holy narrative says of these miracles in verse 20: “And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following.” The purpose of miracles was to CONFIRM new revelation—the Gospel. The miracle that Jesus did CONFIRMED him to be the Messiah. “And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name” (John 20:30-31). Biblical miracles CONFIRMED both new revelation and the ones (including Jesus) who delivered that new revelation.
Especially Christians in Corinth were as confused concerning the purpose of miracles as professed miracle workers today. The apostle Paul devoted 1 Corinthians chapters 12-14 to correcting the misconception regarding miracles entertained by the church in Corinth about 2,000 years ago. Corinthian Christians were using miracles for show and not to deliver or confirm new revelation. Paul strongly directed these misguided souls to seek EDIFICATION or understanding of God’s will for man rather than to imagine that miracles were somehow an end or purpose of themselves.
It is clear from the New Testament that miracles succeeded in accomplishing the purpose for which they were given to the early church. The purpose of miracles and that they were in the process of accomplishing their divinely given purpose is evident from Hebrews 2:3-4. “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?”
Most people who profess Christianity today would acknowledge that God’s giving of new revelation (we call it the Gospel or the New Testament) is complete. Most people today are not expecting God to give any more new revelation, and rightly so. It is not the case that God plans to add chapters to the Bible. The Bible is sufficient for the purpose for which God gave it to mankind. Nothing else is needed; nothing else is coming. “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue” (2 Peter 1:3).
Therefore, miracles (the purpose of which was to deliver new revelation, confirm new revelation and authenticate the presenters of new revelation) are no longer necessary. Therefore, biblical miracles are not now occurring. That miracles would cease was expected since it was foretold in the New Testament. The center chapter of the apostle Paul’s three chapter discourse on miracles in 1 Corinthians notes the superiority of love over miracles. One of the reasons for the superiority of love over miracles pertains to the temporary nature of miracles versus the permanent nature of love.
Miraculous prophecies, tongues and knowledge were to cease (1 Corinthians 13:8). These miracles also produced imperfect or incomplete knowledge of God’s will. “For we know in part, and we prophesy in part” (1 Corinthians 13:9). This imperfect knowledge, acquired through the use of miracles, is in this context contrasted with a superior, complete or perfect knowledge in verse 10. “But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.” Verses 12 and 13 portray contrasts between inferior and superior circumstances. These illustrations depict the inferiority of miracles (through which piecemeal revelation was received in the first century) with the perfect counterpart—the completed revelation—the New Testament.
The Corinthian Christians were foolish to revel in the fanfare of miracles and ignore the purpose for which miracles were given. They were unwise to cherish miracles to the ignoring of the revelation that the miracles were designed to deliver and confirm. It was hopeless for the Corinthians to harbor such passion for miracles when they were merely temporary tools toward the accomplishment of a certain purpose—the delivering of the Gospel. Contemporary souls are equally ill advised to manifest the same error toward miracles practiced by the Corinthians 2,000 years ago.
From biblical evidence, one can only conclude that true,
biblical miracles are not now occurring. To announce anything else
is essentially to argue with God, who through the apostle Paul, foretold
that miracles would end when they served their purpose.