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]