You have probably seen announcements on TV or the internet of a ‘great’ man of God who is in town with goodie bags of miracles to dish out. An advertisement could go like this, ‘The anointed man of God is in town. This Friday, come for your hour of visitation. Come for healing, financial breakthroughs, finding a marriage partner, and all other needs. Come one, come all! Your breakthrough miracles awaits!‘
Before we all get it wrong, I believe that God, in his wonder and sovereignty, does mighty works or miracles among men. But there are questions we need to ask as a way of establishing just how the sovereignty of God is now under the control of frail men and women to perform miracles.
The Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology states, “Although English speakers regularly use “miracle” to refer to a broad range of wondrous events, a biblical understanding of miracles only covers events and occurrences that are not explainable solely by natural processes but which require the direct causal agency of a supernatural being, usually God.” Gotquestions.org defines miracles this way: “In summary, a miracle is a divine work of God that transcends human understanding and inspires wonder. Miracles also display the greatness of God, causing people to recognize that God is at work in his world. God employs miracles in the Bible to reveal Himself, His character, and His purposes to humans through phenomena that are not otherwise explainable.”
It is clear here that miracles and miraculous happenings are not within the range of human explanation and, therefore, cannot be within the range of human arrangement. The thing about miracles is that they are miraculous, thoroughly God-ordained. Some will refute the reality of miracles. However, there are no Biblical grounds to support this sentiment. To downplay the existence of a miracle-working God is to downplay the heart of sovereignty. Because God is God, his ways and thoughts are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9). Therefore, human intellect and growing knowledge can not be assumed to have the finer details of his workings. After all, if we could fully wrap our minds around God, he would, logically, cease to be God.
God Performs Miracles
God is the author of miracles. Before anybody could do anything miraculous, God, as it is recorded, has a track record of doing wonderful and unique works. We see his miraculous power in:
The Creation Account
Scriptures in Genesis 1:1-3:24 clearly show the first miracles to be performed. We see how God created the heavens and the earth, placing all the planets and starry hosts in their place. He created the earth, all living creatures, land, aquatic life, and every microscopic creature creeping around the planet. All this God performed with no previous copy in existence. Above all, he created man from the dust of the earth and breathed into him the breath of life (Genesis 1:26-27), and the lump of soil became a living being. Who else can do that but God, a miracle working God?
The next miracle God performs is to bring his Son into a sinful world through a virgin birth. Christ was born of a virgin woman, and there is no science to explain this work (John 1:14; Philippians 2:7); only God could make such possible. The most mind-boggling fact about this incarnation is that God, eternal and immutable, took upon himself the form of weak humanity without being blemished in the course of it (John 1:1, 14, Hebrews 2:17-18, Philippians 2:5-11). No one can pull that off except God, a miracle-working God.
Not only did Jesus live in this world as the God-man, but he would eventually be arrested and tried and killed by the religious leaders of the day. After his death and burial, Jesus would rise from the dead on the third day. In the days that to come, once all of God’s will has been accomplished in this world, God will also raise from the dead those who put their trust in Jesus (Romans 4:24-25; 10:9; Hebrews 2:14; Revelation 1:18). These are things too lofty for man’s doing, only God could do such things. He is, indeed, a miracle-working God.
Other Noteworthy Miracles
In Joshua’s victory over the Amorite Kings, the Lord caused the sun and moon to stand still to aid Joshua’s army at Gibeon in their victory over the Amorite kings (Joshua 10:9–15). Scientists have tried to downplay this truth. However, God’s word is more reliable than scientific research and findings.
In the parting of the Red Sea during the Israelite migration from Egypt to Canaan, we see the miraculous hand of God at work. Not only then, but also as they approached Jordan, God would part the Jordan to create a passage for the Israelites as they went in to conquer the land (Exodus 14:21-22; Joshua 3:14-17). In all these instances and many more that we have not cited, we do not see God consulting with man or man instructing God to show his power. God does his miraculous works at his own volition.
God uses Human Agents
In the New Testament, God uses the apostles to perform miracles in his Son’s name, but most significantly, he uses Jesus Christ, his Son. In all four Gospels, miracles play a critical role in Jesus’ ministry (Mark 1:32–34; 3:7–10). Jesus performs miracles of healing (John 4:46–53), provision of food (Mark 6:30–44), and control over nature (Matthew 14:32–33). New Testament miracles consistently display God’s power and either confirm or demonstrate the message of salvation through Jesus Christ (John 11:38–46). The Gospels record about 37 miracles of Jesus. However, the apostle John stresses that these only scratch the surface of all our Savior’s miraculous works (John 21:25). The God-man, Jesus Christ, performed miracles to bear witness to God’s power and to confirm his deity.
While the apostles went about preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, God used the miracles to draw men and women to himself (Acts 2:43, 5:12, 14:3). Jesus gave them (even the 72 disciples in Luke 10:1-17) the power and authority to heal the sick, raise the dead, cure the leprous, and cast out demons (Matthew 10:7-8). One can only imagine the great miracles the disciples performed during these mission trips (Mark 6:12-13) because details aren’t given to us. Peter expounds on why the apostles had these extraordinary powers: “And the Father, as he promised, gave Jesus the Holy Spirit to pour out upon us, just as you see and hear today” (Acts 2:33). They healed lame people, the sick and ailing, even with their shadows (Acts 3:1-11, 5;15-16, 9:32-35). Through their hands, people were raised to life (Acts 9:36-43, 20:9-12).
Why God Performed Miracles through Human Agents
Jesus’ main reasons for performing miracles were to glorify God the Father and announce that the Kingdom of God had arrived in the flesh (John 5:36). In essence, Christ’s miracles were an expression of salvation. Is there any reason to think that Jesus’ apostles had differing reasons for their miracles? Not at all.
The apostles performed miracles, not so much because they could but because God enabled them. They did the miracles not so much for their fame and establishment of ministries but, just as their Savior did, sought to glorify the Father and confirm his deity. Contrary to many modern-day so-called ministers, the apostles’ motivation was not selfish, and neither was the opportunity to work miracles a plan in their calendars. The miracles happened as they focused on the main thing: preaching the gospel that saves. Remember Simon the magician, who wanted to use the power of God for selfish gain (Acts 8:9-24)? Peter rebuked and asked to repent of his wickedness.
The danger in our day is that we have many magicians, such as Simon, who purport to be men and women of God. These wolves in sheep’s clothing desire to be seen as mighty servants of God without functional relationships with God. Have you ever wondered why nowadays, unlike in bible times, pastors are following miracles (Mark 16:16-18) rather than it being the vice versa? Like guitars, keyboards, and saxophones are to the musician, so are miracles to the preacher of the Good News. For the man of God, the main thing must always be preaching the gospel and disciple-making (Matthew 28:18-20).
Be Cautious but Expectant
True miracles are not ordained by man. In God’s economy, man cannot calendar down and plan for a God-sized work. Of all the miracles cited above, there was no given time when the apostles planned for a miracle service. They knew that the greatest need for souls was not physical healing but eternal life in Christ. That is why they never calendared and decided on behalf of God, who, when, and how he should perform miracles. The people being ministered to were expectant, as we should be, but they were most satisfied with having the savior in their hearts. Be open to the reality that our sovereign God is powerful today to do anything he desires at any time.
The message that God wants us to proclaim around the world is not, “Come to Jesus for your healing and breakthrough!” Many are anti-Christ and are only seeking financial benefits. The work that Jesus Christ assigned us to do is to preach that he died for our sins and has now risen again. Only those who repent and believe in his name will be saved (Acts 20:20-21).
Still, we must be careful not to diminish the significance of God’s miracles. The supernatural phenomenon of miracles is spectacular and indeed glorifies the Lord; however, we must never forget that the salvation of one spiritually dead, by God’s grace, is the greater miracle (Ephesians 2:1-9).
Suppose men focussed on following and growing in the Lord while proclaiming the simple gospel message, being faithful in their sojourn on earth. In that case, the faithful God, the author and executor of all miracles, is willing and able to authenticate his message whenever, however, and to whomever he wills.