Contend Earnestly: Biblical Miracles: Part I

Monday, October 22, 2007

Biblical Miracles: Part I

One of my favorite sayings is this:

We should be constantly conforming to the Word and not expect the Word to be conforming to us.

Paul puts it even more plainly in 1 Thess 5:21: examine everything carefully

Do you know what a biblical miracle is? Do you believe they still happen? Can you support your views with Scripture?

We have really all kinds of views of miracles in the world today. We have those pagan skeptics who say there is no such thing as miracles, all the way to the televangelists who believe that they see Jesus everyday healing someone from an ingrown toe nail. Yet, we must be able to decipher this through the word.

Ernest Renan who wrote “The Life of Jesus” back in the 1800’s denied the existence of miracles.
He said that Christ only aided the sick people by his gentleness to make them feel better, and that is how Jesus healed people

When Jesus walked on the water on the Sea of Galilee he was only walking on a thick amount of lily pads.

When Christ fed the 5000 there was really a hidden stash of food that the apostles secretly went to, to feed the people. Making the illusion of a miracle

We have this, and then we have people like Jan Crouch, who is the wife of Paul Crouch, who started TBN, who said that God answered two 12 year old girls prayers when he raised their pet chicken from the dead.

I have also heard, from a close friend of mine, where his music pastor stood up and said that he raised his son’s dead gerbil from the dead.

I have also seen on TV, many lies being spread; from no evil oil, so that when you spread it on your aches, God heals you, to prayer cloths that will heal your wallet from being sick and without money. I have also heard direct reports that Oral Roberts, being in the front of his school, baptized wallets so that they would have the miracle of money placed in them.

With these posts, I would like to answer, biblically, the thoughts on everyone one of these instances, so we can have a better understanding of why we believe what we believe, and then to challenge you and aid you in what you believe about the topic of miracles.

The Timing of Miracles

The hard thing sometimes when reading the Bible, is how long periods of time relate to each other. You can go from one verse to another and years have passed. So when thinking of miracles it can seem as though, also because of the order of the Bible, that miracles have always been around throughout the entire narrative of the Bible. That is not the case.

There are three distinct times of miracles and they are not continuous. The other amazing thing is that they are never more than 100 years in length.

Three periods:
Moses and Joshua

Elijah and Elisha

Jesus and the Apostles

First take a look at Exodus 4 to see why miracles came.

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.’ ” The LORD said to him, “What is that in your hand?” And he said, “A staff.” Then He said, “Throw it on the ground.” So he threw it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from it. But the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand and grasp it by its tail”—so he stretched out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand— “that they may believe that the LORD, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.”

Exodus 4:1-5

Notice verse 5: that they may believe that the LORD, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.

This is a key to understanding what the purpose of miracles are, but we will cover this more in detail in part II of this discussion.

Second distinct period is in the time of Elijah and Elisha. One example comes from
1 Kings 18:20-39. Notice again the reason behind this miracle on the Mount. For the glory of God and His word being proclaimed. The response of the people in verse 39 really shows the reasoning of the miracle in the first place:

When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, "The LORD, He is God; the LORD, He is God"

As we continue to look at this division notice that Christ Himself speaks about the Old Testament in what way? He says :

The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John; since that time the gospel of the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it.
Luke 16:16

The two time periods that Jesus continues to point to is the division of the Old Testament is the Law and the Prophets. Think of also Matthew 17, who did Jesus show himself with on the mount of transfiguration?

Moses and Elijah. Moses being the representation of the Law and Elijah the representation of the prophets. This is not just by coincidence. This was for a purpose. These represented distinct, historical times of God that were important for the laying of God's word, confirmed by miracles.

Then, Christ came to fulfill the Law and the prophets and with Him he brought the most miracles showing that He was more powerful and greater than all before and more powerful over sickness, death and even nature.

Wayne Grudem

So as we see this introduction to the time period of miracles, it was definitely for a purpose divided into three specific times. In the next couple of posts we will deal with the purpose and aspects of miracles. Before that comes do know that I am, what is called a concentric cessationist, which is defined as:

Miraculous gifts have indeed ceased in the mainstream church and evangelized areas, but appear in unreached areas as an aid to spreading the Gospel

So, you will notice in the upcoming posts that I don't deny miracles happen today, but I will deny those who are rampantly purporting the happenings of miracles "...who suppose that godliness is a means of gain."


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