About a decade ago I wrote this:
Jesus never commanded us to perform miracles. He commanded us to love God and each other. He said that if we love Him we would obey His commands. When we do as Jesus commanded — when we love God and each other — we have the gift that matters most. We are the children of God. (from here)
Was I wrong? Did Jesus command us to perform miracles? What is a miracle? There are several definitions, but the first one applies to this discussion.
mir·a·cle | \ ˈmir-i-kəl \
1: an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs
\\the healing miracles described in the Gospels
Many of us have trouble believing in miracles. So, imagine being a Christian who feels commanded to perform the miraculous.
Did Jesus command us, those of us alive today, to perform the sort of miracles that that definition refers to? That does not seem likely. Even when the apostles were alive not many people went around performing miracles. Are not miracles, by definition, rare?
Consider why God gave Moses the power to perform miracles (see Exodus 4:1-9). Moses asked this question.
Exodus 4:1 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
4 Then Moses said, “What if they will not believe me or listen to what I say? For they may say, ‘The Lord has not appeared to you.’”
We won’t believe someone who either claims to be speaking for God or claims to be God just because they make such a claim. We need some sort of proof, and miracles provide proof. If miracles were not extremely rare, then not even miracles would provide proof.
Jesus was not necessarily happy about it, but He clearly understood we need such proof.
John 4:48 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
48 So Jesus said to him, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you simply will not believe.”
So, does God give us miraculous powers? Well, God does give us spiritual gifts. What sort of gifts? In John 14-16, Jesus explains He is going to the Father, but He promises His disciples He will not leave them orphans. He promises them a Helper, the gift of the Holy Spirit.
What does the Holy Spirit do for us (John 14-16)?
- He makes his home in us, bringing us close to God.
- He gives us knowledge of the Truth, understanding of Jesus Christ and His teachings.
- He gives us peace, the faith to believe we are the beloved of God and assured of salvation.
- He gives us the ability to produce spiritual fruit, fruit that is of the Holy Spirit.
- He convicts of sin, showing us the need for salvation in Jesus Christ.
What is the fruit of the Holy Spirit?
Galatians 5:22-23 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Miracles? Well, not in that list. Making us miracle workers does not seem to be high on God’s list of priorities. Read 1 Corinthians 13. Consider how it ends.
1 Corinthians 13:8-13 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
8 Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part; 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. 11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. 13 But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.
So, what about miracles? Exactly how do miracles fit in with our work as Christians today? Instead of trying to write a long, lengthy post or a series of short ones, I think it best to provide some links and a few thoughts attached to each link.
- Don Stewart :: Why Should Anyone Believe in the Miracles of Jesus? (blueletterbible.org): If we are going to discuss miracles, then we need to consider whether we should believe that miracles happen.
- Why Don’t We See Miracles Like the Apostles Did? (thegospelcoalition.org): The title explains the purpose of this article.
- Why Can’t More Christians Perform Miracles? (str.org): This is a short brief answer to the title question.
- Does God Still Work Miracles Today? (whatchristianswanttoknow.com): The answer is yes, but the author makes it clear we do not see today the kinds of miracles the Bible records. Why not? Read the article.
- If I Have Enough Faith, Will God Heal Me? (epm.org): Imagine you know someone who is sick or crippled. Would you tell them that if they have enough faith God will heal them? That is not a good idea.
- The Signs of an Apostle (raystedman.org): What is the funny thing about this article? The signs of an apostle don’t have as much to do with miracles as you might think.
- Six Distinguishing Marks of a True Apostle (heritagegrace.com): Here is a different perspective on the same Biblical text as the article immediately above. This article is distinguished by a focus on Bible exposition.
- The Signs of an Apostle, Part 1 and The Signs of an Apostle, Part 2 (gty.org): Here we get a couple of sermons that focus on the issue of miracles.
Here is a series from settledinheaven.wordpress.com that looks at the issue of miracles from the perspective of accreditation. The writer, Brother Rob Barkman, is now deceased.
- Spiritual Gifts: When Did The Accrediting Gifts Go Out Of Existence? (Part 1)
- Spiritual Gifts: When Did The Accrediting Gifts Go Out Of Existence? (Part 2)
- Spiritual Gifts: When Did The Accrediting Gifts Go Out Of Existence? (Part 3)
- Spiritual Gifts: When Did The Accrediting Gifts Go Out Of Existence? (Part 4)
- Spiritual Gifts: When Did The Accrediting Gifts Go Out Of Existence? (Part 5)
Well, that’s enough. I put the short articles up front. Hopefully, some of you read some of them.
How should we sum this up? About a year ago I wrote YOU NEED PROOF? In that post I listed a bunch of reasons to believe the Bible and in Jesus Christ. Let me emphasize that last “proof”, Christianity makes a difference. When we call ourselves Christians, others should see Christ in us, and we should be able to see Christ in other Christians. If we don’t believe Christ is within us and cannot see Christ in other Christians, then we need to go back to the Bible. We need to pray and study. We need to figure out just who Jesus Christ is and how He makes a difference in us. We need to understand that we are sinners who need a Savior.
James 1:21-25 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
21 Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. 22 But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; 24 for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. 25 But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.
Until we receive the Bible’s message of God love for us and how He saved us, we will not learn how to love God and how to love our neighbors. Until we have been convicted of our sins, we have not been reborn. Until we are born again in the Holy Spirit, we won’t see in others and in ourselves the miracle we most need to believe in.
So, what purpose do miracles ultimately serve? Except for the miracle that Jesus accomplished when He died and rose from the dead, miracles don’t save us. Miracles do, however, help to show us that God is real, that we are not alone.
Don’t watch movies much these days. So I can’t say much about it. But I hope you enjoyed the song.
So, is it okay to believe God commanded us to perform miracles, that you can perform the miraculous. Well, the Bible says we are suppose to pray for each other. That includes praying for the healing of the sick. And I suppose it is possible that God gives some people miraculous powers, but I have never seen much evidence of it, and that is odd. When the prophets and the apostles performed miracles, there was no mistaking what they were doing was miraculous.
One other thought. If you could perform miracles, that doesn’t necessarily mean you are that much more wonderful than anyone else. So that no one mistakes who is the source of His miracles, God seems to go out of His way to select weak vessels to be His wonder workers. The apostles, for example, became humble and virtuous men, but Jesus spent several years effecting that change in them. We know that because the Bible tells us so.