What got this series started? That is Everything is a Miracle by insanitybytes22. When violetwisp and rautakyy asked some challenging questions in the comment trail following ‘s post, I decided to answer in posts of my own (starting here). This is the final post in that series.
The Definition Of A Miracle
In my mind, this had become a rather complicated post. What should I do with it? Then I remembered, when confused we must go back to the fundamentals (That is what I call Fundamentalism. 😉 ).
So what is fundamental? In “Ownership of the Christian Message?”, takes on a critic of Christianity. That critic played up all the divisions among Christians. Instead of observing the flaws in human beings, the critic claimed the divisions among Christians suggests the teachings of Christ do not come from God. Nevertheless, as the Apostle Paul explained, to those who are called the Bible provides a clear message.
1 Corinthians 1:22-24 New King James Version (NKJV)
22 For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
So what do miracles have to do with this? Later in 1 Corinthians, Paul emphasizes the importance of the resurrection.
1 Corinthians 15:12-19 New King James Version (NKJV)
The Risen Christ, Our Hope
12 Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. 14 And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. 15 Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. 16 For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. 17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! 18 Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ serves as the central miracle of the Christian faith. We must accept this miracle or our faith is pointless. As I 53:5 Project observes:
Truth is, by nature, intolerant of falsehood. If Christianity is not true, then Jesus was not God, then Jesus did not do miracles, then Jesus did not heal the sick, then Jesus did not walk on water, then Jesus did not die and rise from the dead after three days. (from here)
Everything is a miracle, but we do not ordinarily call everything a miracle. Instead, what we call miracles are mysterious events for which we can perceive no immediate cause. Because God makes special use of miracles, we associate miracles with Him. Consider this definition provided by Don Merritt.
The gift of Miracles is the ability to perform supernatural acts as an instrument or agent of God which altered the expected course of nature; its purpose is to change or alter the expected course of nature in order to draw attention to God and glorify His name. (from here)
Rob Barkman has observed that God uses miracles with restraint, that over Biblical history His servants have performed miracles for short bursts of time. Then they performed sign miracles to establish their credentials as servants of God.
In each case, the “sign miracles” were in existence for approximately 70 years. In each case, a “silent time” existed after each group of miracles, where no sign miracles and few, if any, other miracles were performed. Why? Once God established the validity of each of the above segments, there was no need for miracles until another segment was about to take place. (from here)
So it is that about 2,000 years ago, Jesus came, and we had a burst of “sign miracles,” the greatest of which was the resurrection. The resurrection proved the divinity of Jesus Christ, that the crucified Christ had died for our sins.
Is there proof? How can we know that this miracle, the resurrection of Jesus Christ, truly happened? altruistico has considered that issue. Here are a couple of good posts.
- Is there proof for the inspiration of the Bible? looks at the Bible itself. Because the Bible is the inspired Work of God, it constitutes proof, our proof. The Bible itself is a sign miracle.
- Is faith in God a crutch? considers the charge that Christianity is only crutch versus a rational choice. Contrary to the suggestions of some, belief in the Bible requires serious commitment. Before we can make such a commitment, we have to weigh the costs.
In the end, however, we don’t know anything for absolutely certain. Hence, to act upon our beliefs, even the notion that the sun will come up tomorrow, requires faith. That’s why we speak of faith. To act upon our belief in Jesus Christ, we must must have faith in the salvation He offers.
Here is how Wally Fry explains.
Not only is there the chance that faith not accompanied by works is not true saving faith, but our works are the only way believers have to illustrate to a non believing world that our faith is a real faith. Here is a quote I found in The Wilmington’s Guide to the Bible that seems to express the thought perfectly.
The proof of the pudding is still in the tasting. The only test of a man’s salvation is through his works. A silent believer may be indeed considered a saint before God, but he remains a sinner before man until he walks the walk and talks the talk of Christian service
What is the proof that matters? That is the significance of having Jesus Christ in our life. Christianity has significance — the fact the Bible is God’s Word has significance — because acting upon the teachings of Jesus Christ produces a heart change above and beyond what we can rationally explain. If the Bible is not the Word of God, then what we know about Jesus and the effect of Christianity upon our world makes very little sense. We don’t really know how to explain how one day a man can be a great sinner and then repent.
We can pretend we do understand such a change. We can speak of the supremacy of human wisdom, of Man’s ability to perfect himself, but we cannot do so with honest humility. We may want to believe that the heart of Man is naturally good, but we each know better.
Each of us knows of the depravity in our own heart. We know of some prideful, unrepentant sinner who is always doing something wrong. We know of the outbursts of temper, the twinges of greed, the delight of humbling our enemies…. We know that wayward soul may not wish to admit it, but deep down we also know just how much we need a savior to change our stony heart.
Ezekiel 36:26 New King James Version (NKJV)
26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
One Last Thought
I thought this post complete, but I was still curious to see what others think of miracles. So I checked out BJ‘s blog. John 6:28-29 (Great Works) begins with a quote from the Book of John and a string of psalms. then asks us to contemplate something.
What was God’s greatest miracle?
Finally, he nominates his own candidate.
You see, about thirty-three years ago I was a young child sitting in a Sunday school classroom at Greece Assembly of God. The teacher was talking about one of these great moments where God displayed His awesomeness and power. Or perhaps it was one of the many, many other great things God has done that I didn’t get a chance to mention here. Then that Sunday School teacher asked a simple question. Would we like to invite Jesus to come live in us. I said yes. She had us bow our heads and I said a simple prayer that went something like this, “God, I know that I am a sinner. I have done things that have made You sad and for that I am sorry. Please forgive me. I know that You died on the cross to take my sins away. Please take them. I invite You to come live in my life. I surrender my life to You. Thank You for forgiving me. Amen.” At that moment, when I made that prayer real in my life, the great God of the universe came and took up residence in me. To me, that was when God was at His greatest. What about You? (from here)