Category Archives: Miracles

Confirming Miracles (5)

D. Work:

The Greek word egron is translated “works” or “deeds” throughout the New Testament (See Jn 5:36; 6:28,29; 7:21; 10:25,32, 37,38; 14:11,12; 15:24). In reference to miraculous activity, a miracle as a work signified the natural activity of the environment of God that is manifested to men.

As a work, a miracle indicated the natural environment in which God dwells. If Jesus is the Son of God, as He so claimed, then we would expect Him to work as God. We would expect Him to reveal the supernatural world that is beyond this world. We would expect Him to manifest the environment of God that is beyond the perception of our senses. And this He did.

The very nature of the miraculous to manifest the environment of God defines a miracle to be something that is not of this world. If the event can be explained by the occurrence of any natural law or the psychological activity of any person, then the work is not a miracle. If one can explain the psychological power of the mind to block out bodily pain, then it is not a direct work of God. If one can explain the hypnotic ability of one who has hypnotized another, then it is not a miraculous work. A confirming miracle as a work of God cannot be explained by any scientist or psychologist. Confirming miracles are unexplainable by our knowledge of the physical world in which we live. A miracle as a work of God must be witnessed to be the activity of the Supernatural as opposed to the work of man.

From the Holy Spirit’s use of the words teras (wonder), semeion (sign), dunamis (power) and ergon (work) in reference to the activity of God among men, He wanted to convey the meaning that action or reaction must take place on the part of man. These Greek words in reference to confirming miracles, therefore, are defined by the response of those who witnessed the occurrence of the miraculous event. In the case of miraculous work that is recorded in the Bible, it would be the work of God before either those who did not believe, in order to bring them to belief.

It was not the purpose of the miraculous to convince the true believers. They did not need convincing. God worked to generate wonder on the part of unbelievers in order to convince them that He was present with His message and messenger. He worked to signal to beholders that the message of the gospel must be heard and obeyed. He worked powerfully in order to dispel any question as to who was at work. And thus, His intervention in the affairs of man was defined as the work of the Lord. He worked through the miraculous in order to accomplish the purpose of convincing unbelievers that His messengers were sent from Him with the message of the gospel. Jesus said, “But I have a greater witness than John’s; for the works which the Father has given Me to finish—the very works that I do—bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me” (Jn 5:36).

Our definition of the words that are used to refer to the miraculous work of God still leaves us wondering what actually took place when a miracle occurred. Our words, whether Greek or English, do not adequately define the work of God in His intervention into our natural world. It will be easier to understand the work of a confirming miracle by understan­ding the realm of the Supernatural, though it is difficult to understand the environment of God by use of earthly words.

The preceding Greek and English words are words that express the experiences of man with man. It is difficult for us to use our dictionary to explain that which is above our experiences. For example, Paul said that he was caught up to Paradise and “heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter” (2 Co 12:4). In other words, he saw things that could be expressed only by using “God’s heavenly dictionary” which has no earthly definitions. If he did utter such words, then we could not understand them because they would have heavenly definitions. Such illustrates the difficulty we have in using earthly-defined words to explain heavenly activities among men in the form of miracle. So in reference to Paul trying to explain the Paradise unto which he was taken, the Spirit simply said that it was not lawful for him to try to explain.

[End of series]

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Confirming Miracles (4)

C. Power:

The Greek word dunamis is usually translated in the English Bible with the words “powers,” “mighty deeds,” or “mighty works” (See At 2:22; 19:11). Emphasis on a miraculous event as a “power” is placed on the supernatural power that is revealed through the occurrence of the event.

A confirming miracle as a power is meant to manifest the tremendous energy of the realm of God in relation to the physical environment of man (See Gn 18:14; Is 40:12-17; At 15:12; Mt 10:1; 12:28). As a power, a miracle manifests the nature of the environment in which Deity dwells. A miraculous power is a manifestation of the real environment of the supernatural that has existed from eternity and will exist, from our viewpoint, into eternity without end when this world ceases to exist.

As with the words “wonder” and “sign,” a miraculous work as a power must be defined as such by those who behold the event. If the event does not manifest power that is beyond the natural world in which we live, then it is not a “power.” It is only something that has happened according to the ordinary occurrence of the natural laws of this world. Therefore, in order for a miraculous event to be defined as a power, it must be witnessed by those who confirm its occurrence as greater than the ordinary occurrence of natural laws.

In the biblical context of definition, miracles were defined as powers by the unbelieving beholders of the miraculous events. Pharaoh did not at first know the God of Israel (Ex 5:2). However, after the power of God was unleashed through the ten plagues, he realized that a Supernatural power was working (Ex 12:31). The same was true of many unbelievers throughout the Bible’s record of God manifesting power through miraculous works (See Dn 3). Therefore, any event that is proclaimed to be miraculous, and yet, does not convince the unbeliever that it is the Supernatural at work, cannot be defined as a confirming miracle. If the power that is unleashed through the event of a miracle convinces the unbeliever, then it is the power of God at work, and thus is defined as a confirming miracle.

[Next in series: May 28]

Confirming Miracles (3)

B. Signal:

The Greek word semeion is correctly translated “sign” (See Mk 16:20; Jn 3:2; At 14:3; 2 Co 12:12; Hb 2:4). In reference to supernatural works, the purpose of a miraculous event as a sign was to manifest to man the presence of the supernatural. In other words, the sign was meant to be a token, or indication of something above the actual happening itself. The miracle as a sign directed the attention of the beholders to the Supernatural above that which is the natural. Confirming miracles must signal the presence and work of God.

As in the use of the word “wonder,” the word “sign” must generate a response on the part of those who behold the sign. Nicodemus said, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him” (Jn 3:2). Nicodemus, and those who were with him, witnessed the miraculous work of Jesus. Their conclusion was that Jesus was confirmed to be from God. They could have concluded this only if what Jesus did was beyond the ordinary occurrence of natural laws. The miraculous work of Jesus had to be so definitive that the beholders could not deny that God was at work.

The same was true in God’s miraculous work with the disciples as they went forth to preach the gospel after the day of Pentecost in Acts 2. God was with them, “confirming the word through the accompanying signs” (Mk 16:20). The preached word of the gospel was signaled to be from God. It was signaled to be the word of the gospel by the miraculous work that God worked through the messengers. And, it was signaled as the word of the gospel before unbelievers. A miracle, therefore, must be of such a nature that it has the powerful witness to signal before unbelievers that God is at work.

We would not define a confirming miracle as such if the unbeliever could deny its occurrence. In other words, there would be no “signaling” of the Supernatural if the unbelievers could deny or explain away the event of the miracle. True miracles cannot be explained away by unbelievers. They cannot be denied because the force of the event of the miracle is so strong that it works to confirm either the message or the messenger who worked the miracle.

[Next in series: May 26]

Confirming Miracles (2)

A. Wonder:

The Greek word teras is often translated “wonder.” It is a word that is never used by itself in reference to miracles (See At 2:22,43; 4:30; 5:12; 6:8; 15:12; Hb 2:4). It is a term that emphasizes the actual reac­tion of the pe­ople to the particular miraculous happening that was witnessed (See Mt 9:26; Mk 2:12; 6:51; 7:37; Lk 8:56; 13:17).

The use of this word defines a true miracle as an event that causes some type of reaction on the part of those who behold the miracle. Acts 4:14-16 records the reaction of unbelievers who witnessed the miracle that Peter and John worked in healing the lame beggar at the temple. The beholders said, “For, indeed, that a notable miracle has been done through them is evident to all who dwell in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it” (At 4:16).

Though Simon the sorcerer “astonished” the people with his magical tricks for years, he himself was “amazed” when he beheld the true miracles that were worked by Philip (At 8:11,13). The action of a true miracle is so strong, therefore, that it must stimulate a response in those who behold it. A valid and true miracle, therefore, cannot be denied even by those who are unbelievers.

The fact is that a confirming miracle is not defined as such unless it does cause wonder on the part of those who behold it. Miracles were to confirm both the spoken word of God and the messengers who preached the word of the gospel (Mk 16:20; Hb 2:3,4). God’s work of confirmation was not meant to be carried out before believers. The work of confirmation of the message of the gospel was to take place before unbelievers. Therefore, the miracle must be of such a nature that unbelievers have to admit that something above nature occurred in the event of the miracle.

The judge of whether or not a miracle occurs must be the unbelievers, for it was before the unbelievers that confirming miracles occurred in order to confirm both the message and messenger of the gospel. This vital truth is affirmed by the use of the word teras in reference to the miraculous work of God as recorded in the Bible. Therefore, a miracle is a miracle only when it causes wonder on the part of the unbelievers. This is what we would define as a “confirming” miracle.

[Next in series: May 23]

Confirming Miracles (1)

The term “supernatural” has also come into use in reference to miracles. “Super” comes from the Greek word huper that means “above.” When we say that something is “supernatural” we are referring to that which is above natural law. A miracle is an extraordinary happening that is above, or beyond, the ordinary occur­rence of natural laws that govern this physical universe.

The English term “miracle” comes from the Latin word miraculum. This word was used by English translators to translate the Greek words dunamis and semeion. Both words were originally used in language to refer to that which causes wonder and astonishment. They were words that were used to refer to that which was extraordinary and unexplainable by empirical definitions.

Though the words “miracle” and “supernatural” are used today to refer to all the work of God both past and present, the biblical interpreter must understand the common error that we make for ourselves by reading our present-day experiences into the Bible. We define words by our experiences in everyday life. The word “miracle” is commonly used in our society to refer to any unusual event that people experience. For example, what is easily understood as a physiological condition of epilepsy is often defined by some to be demon possession. A nervous condition on the part of some individuals is sometimes referred to as demon possession by others. Some hallucination that one might experience at a time of emotional distress is often defined by some to be a vision from God. Unusual dreams are sometimes considered to be visions from God. All such experiences are also defined today with the words “miracle” or “miraculous.”

The problem is that our experiences are read into the Bible where the word “miracle” is used. This is the problem many have in understanding the miracles of the Bible. They define the miraculous work about which we read in the Bible with the experiences of their own lives.

If one assumes that God works today in the affairs of man as He has always worked in a miraculous manner two millennia ago, then it is easy to assume that He miraculously works today in the same manner. If we assume that He continues to work in our lives as He did in the life of Isaiah or Paul, then it is only natural to assume that miracles occur today in our lives in the same manner they occurred in the lives of the Bible characters.

However, the problem with this method of interpreting the Bible is that we do not allow the Bible to speak for itself. We want it to speak according to our own experiences. Nevertheless, we must allow the Bible to be its own dictionary of the miraculous work of God. In other words, we must allow the Holy Spirit through the inspired words of the Bible to define the miraculous work of God. We cannot use our own experiences as the definition of God’s work. If we do, then our own experiences become the foundation upon which we interpret the word of God, and subsequently base our faith.

Since it is easy to be deceived by our own experiences and environment, it is imperative that we allow the Bible to define the miraculous work of God. It is imperative that the Bible be the only guide by which we understand the work of the Holy Spirit in the affairs of man. The following are Greek words that were used by the Holy Spirit in the New Testament in order to define the miraculous or supernatural work of God in the affairs of this world:

[Next in series: May 21]