Have Miracles Ceased?

There are men and women who claim to perform miracles today. Preachers on T.V. supposedly demonstrate the power of miraculous works on the sick and afflicted. Many people are confused as to whether these things are true or false. So, in our study we ask the question, "Have Miracles Ceased?"

First let us define our terms. What is a miracle? A miracle is "an act of God superseding or suspending a natural law." Many use the term "miracle" in a very loose way, contrary to the biblical concept of the word. To some, almost everything is a miracle; from the trees budding in the spring, to the birth of a child. But these things are not actually miracles. A miracle is not a work of nature or an effect resulting from natural law. Neither should we confuse a miracle with God's providence. Providence is God working, but through a natural means.

The birth of a child is a working of natural law, not a miracle. Though it is a marvelous thing, child birth is simply the working of God's natural order set forth in the beginning-seed bearing fruit after its kind (Gen. 1-2). An example of a work of providence would be the birth of Samuel in answer to barren Hannah's prayer (1Sam. 1). God's hand is seen in Hannah being able to conceive, yet she conceived through a natural means. The virgin birth of Jesus was a miracle. This went beyond the working of nature or providence, it was super-natural.

We learn from the Scriptures that the purpose of miracles were two fold; to cause men to believe in the Lord (Jn. 14:11; 3:32), and to confirm His word (Jn. 20:30-31). Jesus promised His disciples the ability to perform miracles in order to confirm the word they would preach (Mk. 16:15-20). We learn from the New Testament that these miracles were performed and did indeed confirm the gospel that was proclaimed (Heb. 2:2-4).

The apostle Paul, however, spoke of a time when these miraculous gifts would pass away. In 1Cor. 12:8-10 nine spiritual gifts are mentioned, including prophecy, tongues, and knowledge. In the next chapter Paul states, "Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away" (1Cor. 13:8-10).

Note the apostle speaks of the partial being done away when the perfect comes. Some, who try to say miracles still exist, say that the reference to "that which is perfect" speaks of Jesus. But here Paul isn't speaking of Jesus. If so why speak of Him as a thing instead of a person-- "that which is perfect"? The word "perfect" refers to that which is brought to completion, wanting nothing. The thing in the context that would eventually come to be perfect or complete, in contrast to that which was then only partial, is God's revelation. At that time God's revelation was only partially known through prophecy, tongue speaking, etc. It however, would eventually be completed, written down, and preserved.

Today we have God's complete and perfect revelation-- the Bible. Thus, miracles have ceased just as the Lord's apostle foretold. More on Miracles next week.

Paul Smithson

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