Purpose of Miracles

God does nothing without a purpose. He does not unleash His great and powerful hand to entertain man. The miraculous healings of the Bible were not circus acts. J. W. McGarvey once wrote, “A miracle wrought by a man is an exercise of Divine power entrusted to the man for some Divine purpose.”20:354 There was purpose behind the miracles of the Bible. Therefore, when the purpose was fulfilled, the miracles were no longer needed because the Holy Spirit, through the inspiration of the Bible, provided a foundation upon which our faith is built.

  1. Miracles were a stamp of God’s approval. Many of the miracles found in the Old Testament made known that God was the only true and living God and that His messengers were sent from Him, not Satan. Elisha, the successor of Elijah, was proven to be the messenger of God by the miracles he worked (2 Kg 2). Moses had the witness of God with him when he showed God’s power over the tricks of the magicians of Egypt (Ex 7:8-13). When these miracles had fulfilled their purpose, there was no need that they continue. God did not have to prove continually to Pharaoh after the Israelites were released, that He was the only God.
  2. Miracles proved the sonship of Jesus. Miracles authenticated Jesus as the Son of God. John wrote, “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God” (Jn 20:30,31). Jesus’ miracles produced faith in the minds of the beholders. “This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him” (Jn 2:11). Nicodemus proclaimed, “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; see 4:48).

“But I have a greater witness than John’s,” Jesus stated, “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; see 6:14; 10:27,37,38; 11:15; 14:11). When John sent his disciples to Jesus to ask Him, “Are you the Coming One, or do we look for another?” Jesus responded, “Go tell John the things which you hear and see. The blind receive their sight and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them” (Mt 11:2-6; see Lk 7:20-22).

The works of Jesus proved that He was the Son of God and that He had the authority to forgive sins (Mt 9:6; see Mk 2:9-12; Lk 5:26). Peter stood up on the day of Pentecost and preached, “Men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know” (At 2:22).

If there were to be such a thing as a “Son of God,” it is reasonable to believe that this “Son of God” should have command over the environment that He created. The working of miracles to prove His authenticity would be necessary in order that gullible men not follow after every so-called, self-made “miracle” performer that ventured upon the stage of history. And certainly, history has proven God right in making miracles the proof of His messengers. Has anyone, anywhere in the history of the world, worked such works as God’s messengers in the Bible? Many have claimed to do so in these modern times. But they are found to be frauds in view of the definition of the true confirming miracles that are listed in the Bible.

  1. Miracles proved that the early Christians were from God. Miracles that were worked by the hands of the first century messengers of Christ testified to their commission from God to preach the truth of the gospel. Mark recorded, “And these signs will follow those who believe; In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover … And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. “Amen” (Mk 16:17,18,20).

The Hebrew writer also wrote, “How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit” (Hb 2:3,4). The witness of miracles was necessary in the first century to authenticate the messengers and the message. Once the testimony of this miraculous witness was recorded, then there needed to be no more confirming miracles. If one would believe the message today, then he or she must search through the recorded testimony of miracles that confirmed the message in the first century.

In our courts today we produce witnesses to verify a fact or evidence. The reliability and character of the witnesses plays a vital role as to the truthfulness of the witnesses’ testimony. Witnesses are questioned extensively and put to the test by the lawyers. After their reliability is substantiated, and their testimony is placed on record, then the witnesses are no longer needed. The jury does not take the witnesses to the jury chambers in order to make their decision. They take the record of the trial which contains the testimony of each witness.

So it is with the word of God. Who can find a flaw in the record of the miracles that the inspired writers have recorded for us today? Are not Paul, Peter and John reliable witnesses? Who can find fault or flaw in the life of Jesus of Nazareth? Miracles proved the trustworthiness of the witnesses. The Word of God has been confirmed by miracles. The facts have been established. The living witnesses are no longer needed. We have the record of their testimony with which to make our decision concerning the claim that Jesus is the Son of God.

Therefore, confirming miracles must be defined in relation to their occurrence in the Bible. Any other source used in their definition would produce both an unjust and false definition. This is especially true in reference to those who profess to perform confirming miracles today. One of the problems that Christians face today is that the unbelieving world scorns the miracle-performing false prophets of today. In fact, these performers do a great disservice to validating the Bible to be the word of God, and thus the foundation of our faith. The unbelievers use the performances of the miracle worker today in order to define the miracles of the Bible. Since the unbeliever concludes that the miracle performances of today are not valid miracles, then he assumes that all the miracles of the Bible are of the same nature. The fake miracle workers today, therefore, take Christianity backwards in reference to convincing unbelievers, and not forward.

Miracles were not happenings of unknown natural laws, nor were they in contradiction to natural laws. They were the manifestations of the working hand of God by the setting aside of natural laws. This manner in which God worked in past times lies outside the scientific method of investigation. Therefore, scientists cannot on a scientific basis deny the past occurrence of miracles.

Miracles of the Bible were facts, but not repeatable facts to be examined today by the scientific method. This does not say that God could not make Himself known today in the same manner as He did at various times in the past. It does say, however, that He has chosen not to do so in order that our faith be based on the recorded fact of what is recorded in the Bible. We have recorded in the pages of the Bible those evidences that are necessary to satisfy to those who are hungering and thirsting after truth. God now wants us to focus on His word, not miracles that He could work today. Because we have the written word, which the early disciples did not have, we must focus on the recorded testimony of those who personally experience the direct work of God in the lives of His people.

If we would seek for more confirming miracles than what is provided in the Bible, then we are asking for more that what God promised. We are minimizing the Bible as the foundation of our faith. We are revealing our lack of faith in the Bible as the foundation upon which we should establish our faith. It is an axiomatic truth that those religionists who know little of the Bible seek to call on God to work a miracle in their lives in order that they might believe. This was the problem of Thomas after the resurrection of Jesus. He said, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails and thrust my hand into His side, I will not believe” (Jn 20:25). This is the situation with many religionists today. They will not truly believe unless they personally experience some miraculous manifestation for God. Jesus would say to such people the same thing that He said to Thomas after He appeared again to the apostles, “Because you [Thomas] have seen Me, you have believed. ‘Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed’” (Jn 20:29). We do not want Jesus to stand before us miraculously today, because if He did, He would steal away our “blessedness.” We are more blessed than the apostles of Jesus because we have not experienced a confirming miracle, and yet we believe. If a true miracle were worked in our presence, then our blessedness would be stolen away.

It is true that God continues to work today in the lives of His people. But He does not work to produce faith through confirming miracles. We may call His work a “miracle,” but we must understand that there is a difference between a confirming miracle, and the purpose thereof, and God’s ordinary outreach to work all things together for good for those who love Him. In working in this manner in our lives, He confirms the faith that we already have. He does not work in a manner that we have faith. Because we walk by this faith we already have, we believe that He is working in our lives, and thus, we are blessed.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

  1. Richard C. Trench, Notes on the Miracles of Our Lord (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1968).
  2. George Park Fisher, Manual of Christian Evidences (New York, NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1903).
  3. Gus Nichols, “Jesus as a Miracle Worker,” Spiritual Sword (Memphis, TN: Getwell church of Christ, 1970), Vol. 1, No. 3.
  4. Darrel Conley, The Gospel Versus Occultism (Shreveport, LA: Lambert Book House, 1975).
  5. Floyd E. Hamilton, The Basis of Christian Faith (New York, NY: Harper & Row, 1964).
  6. Vernon C. Grounds, “Miracles,” Baker’s Dictionary of Theology, Everett F. Harrison, ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1966).
  7. “Miracle,” Webster’s New Twentieth Century Dictionary (Cleveland, OH: World Publishing Co., 1971).
  8. Alfred Grant Walton, This I can Believe (New York, NY: Harper S. Brothers, 1935).
  9. Albert N. Wells, The Christian Message in a Scientific Age (Richmond, VA: John Knox Press, 1962).
  10. R. Hooykass, Religion and the Rise of Modern Science (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1974).
  11. William M. Taylor, The Gospel Miracles in Their Relationship to Christ and Christianity.
  12. F. Bettex, Science and Christianity (New York, NY: The Abingdon Press, 1901).
  13. James O. Boswell, “Miracles,” Zondervan Pictorial Bible Dictionary, Merril C. Tenney, ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1968).
  14. Bernard Ramm, Protestant Christian Evidences (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1971).
  15. Peter Eckler, Searching For Truth (New York, NY: Peter Eckler Publisher, 1902).
  16. Manford G. Gutzke, Plain Talk of the Resurrection (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1974).
  17. Stanley Sayers, For This Cause (Austin, TX: R. B. Sweet Co., Inc., 1957).
  18. John G. Machen, Christianity and Liberalism (New York, NY: Macmillian, 1923).
  19. E. V. Zollars, The King of Kings (Cincinnati, OH: Standard Publishing Co., 1911).
  20. John William McGarcey, Short Essays in Biblical Criticism (Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate Co., 1956).

[End of series]

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