Should We Expect Miracles Today? (Bill Kimbley)
Are miracles, signs, and wonders for today? Are they necessary now that we have the Word of God? Some suggest they are not necessary since the word has been revealed and the cannon of scripture is closed. I perceive they are necessary today and that God’s children are taught in the Bible to expect them. As I was reading my devotions today the Lord revealed some things out of the book of Deuteronomy regarding His wonders.
In Deuteronomy, Moses is writing the story of the Israelites to the Israelites. He is reminding them of all that the Lord did for them. In chapter four, I realized that through Moses’ teaching we are told some of the reasoning for miracles, signs, and wonders. The Israelites were taken out of bondage and brought through the wilderness on their way to the promised land. In remembrance of this, Moses asked the people, “Has any god ever attempted to go and take a nation for himself from the midst of another nation, by trials, by signs, by wonders, and by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and by great deeds of terror, all of which the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes?” (Dt 4:34) Essentially, he is asking who or what would do such a thing? He is pointing to an all knowing, all powerful, all loving GOD – Yahweh. Moses goes on and gives the reason why these miracles, signs, and wonders were accomplished. He writes, “To you it was shown, that you might know that the Lord is God; there is no other besides him” (Dt 4:35, Emphasis mine). Why the miracles? To show that the Lord is God. God wanted them to know of His reality and His love for them. Moses had told them about their God. As they were in captivity Moses was commanded to tell them that God cared for them and that He knew their troubles and that He was going to rescue them. But that was not enough. They needed to know His power. They needed something tangible in order to grasp the reality of God’s presence and love. They had the word of the Lord through Moses but they didn’t believe the word, so God performed the miracles to show His existence and love for His people and that is why Moses said, He did this so, “that you might know that the Lord is God.”
The same reason God showed the Israelites miracles, signs, and wonders is the same reason Jesus performed them – to let the people know of God’s presence and love for them. When Jesus was questioned by some in His own small group Jesus said, “Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves” (Jn 14:11). Jesus said clearly, the miracles point to the Father. Notice He said “Father” which implies love, strength, benevolence, etc. Miracles, in Jesus’ words, point to the reality and love of God the Father. Another interesting passage is in John 10:37-38 where Jesus says, “If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” Here again, Jesus is pointing to the miracles. He is suggesting that the works prove who He is, so they can believe in Him. It is interesting that they had Jesus’ words which they did not fully accept, so Jesus pointed to the miracles.
We see the same emphasis of miracles among the disciples. Philip was in Samaria preaching the good news about Jesus. We are told, “And the crowd with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip when they heard him and saw the signs that he did. For unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice, came out of many who had them, and many who were paralyzed were healed. So there was much joy in that city” (Acts 8:6-8). Philip was performing miracles through the power of Jesus Christ in him. The miracles emphasized the word and brought joy to the people because they understood the presence and love of God. There were many who accepted Christ and were baptized because they saw the grace of God poured out. It is worthy to note that it is always God doing the works (miracles) and not humans. In Acts 19:11 we are told, “God did extraordinary miracles through Paul.” God is the miracle worker, but He often chooses His children to the deliverer His graces.
In every instance above we see that the word was backed up by miracles so the people could truly know the love of their Father in heaven. Miracles, signs, and wonders are to give God praise and glory and to show His children His love and presence among them. They are simply His graces poured out upon His people. Some say that miracles, signs, and wonders are not needed today because we have the completed cannon of scripture. The above examples show that having just the word is not all that is necessary to know the love and presence of God. Don’t take me wrong, the word is everything we need to tell us about God, but the word is not all we need to experience God. To experience God we need Him. Jesus told the Pharisees, “you search the scriptures because in them you think you have eternal life; it is they that bear witness about me” (Jn 5:39). The scriptures are to point to Jesus and then by faith we experience Jesus. We believe the word and then experience the Word. In John 17:3 Jesus said, “And this is eternal life, that they may know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ in whom you have sent.” The word “know” in this text is a Greek word that means to know by experience. Eternal life is to know God through experience. Thus, the word cannot be set aside, but God realizes that sometimes an experience is needed to build the faith of the people and to let them know of His love and presence in their lives. In each of the examples above, the word of God was already delivered to the people and yet God gave miracles to help them in their unbelief.
Is God different today? No. In fact, I think miracles, signs, and wonders are needed even more today than ever before because of our “trained minds.” We have trained ourselves in Aristotelian philosophy to only acknowledge what we can perceive by the senses, yet our God and Father operates outside of the senses – He is spirit, not matter. There are so many people today who reject the Father because they have never experienced the Father. How can you get a trained atheist who spends his free time rejecting Christ through word and deed to come to know Him? It will not be through a great presentation of theology. (Trust me I have never won a person to Christ through intellectual debate.) How do they come to know Christ? He is won through miraculous love born out through the people and perhaps a miracle performed through the prayers of a believer in Christ.
Before I diverse, let me give one other passage of scripture to prove my point and then sum up my thoughts by applying miracles, signs, and wonders to us today. First, in John 4:48 Jesus said, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” There are two semantic observances that need to be made. The Official who approached Jesus wanted a miracle for his son. In response to the Official’s request, Jesus addressed the crowds because the “you” in this verse is in the plural. So Jesus spoke to the bystanders. (Some of us are bystanders in the same position.) A second, and very important semantic is the word combination “will not.” In Greek this combo is called an “emphatic negative.” This is an absolute negative statement and must be taken as such. Therefore, Jesus is really saying that “unless you see a miracle it is impossible for you to believe.” Or, “you will never, no not ever, believe if you do not see a miracle.” An emphatic negative means “no, it will never happen, it absolutely cannot happen.” Jesus is pointing to the need for a miracle to bring them into belief. Of course, in the grace of God the official’s son was healed and lived and the official believed. A miracle was given in perfect timing and belief came.
Now I want to bring this around to us today. Are we to expect miracles, signs, and wonders among believers today? The Bible teaches us that we should expect them. They were not only given by the hand of the Apostles, but were prevalent in the churches. Paul asked the Galatian church, “Does God give you His Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?” (Gal 3:5). God was working miracles in that church outside of the Apostles. In the church in Corinth, Paul wrote to teach them how to properly walk in the gifts of the Spirit which are all miraculous workings of God through His people (1Cor 12-14). These are clear references to the expectation of miracles, signs, and wonders in the church, but what about us individually?
The scriptures are clear that Christ took up residence in His believers through His Spirit (Gal 4:6, Col 1:27, Gal 2:20). Thus, if anyone works a miracle today we must first acknowledge it was the Spirit of Christ doing the work. Jesus told us that we would walk in His miracles. He taught in John 14:8-14 that the miracles He accomplished pointed to the Father. This has already been mentioned above. However, read what He said in John 14:12. Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.” Do you believe in Him? If so, this verse applies to you. The works are His miracles because in the verse prior He told Thomas to believe the works because they point to the Father. The works were the miraculous healings, casting out of demons, multiplying the loaves, raising the dead, etc. So, Jesus Himself said that the miracles He did will be accomplished by His believers and even greater miracles will be accomplished. Can this be? It has already been proven. People were healed when they touched the garments of Jesus (Mk 5:28-29). But Peter did something greater! He was so filled with the Spirit of Christ that people were healed in his shadow (Acts 5:13) and handkerchiefs that had been touched by Paul were brought to the sick and they were healed and evil spirits left them (Acts 19:12). These are greater miracles than Jesus performed. Jesus commanded His disciples to perform miracles to show them the Kingdom of God was at hand. He said, “Proclaim as you go, saying ‘the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons” (Mt 10:7-8). In Mark’s Gospel we are told these signs will accompany all who believe (Mk 16:17-18). If you are a believer you are commanded to walk in the power and love of Jesus Christ and let Christ perform such things through you.
Often times many rebuke this teaching because they feel it would be blasphemous to do something that Jesus didn’t do. Well, you can’t! Jesus is the one doing the miracles through His Spirit and therefore when it occurs through a man, the man can take no credit as he was simply the vessel delivering the miracle. Miracles happen all the time. The key to them is God’s love. Remember the Deuteronomy passage above. God performed miracles because He was calling out a people for Himself. In Jesus’ miracles pointed to a Father who loved the people. All God’s benevolent miracles, signs, and wonders point to the greatness of our God and to His love and presence with His people.
I also want to encourage those who have been taught all your lives that miracles are not possible in today’s walk with Christ. Do you believe the scriptures? Then go back over all the scriptures that I posted here and read them over and over until they are ingrained in your spirit. The problem is that many people have created doctrines based on what they have seen, not what the scriptures actually say. That is demonic! You bet the enemy would love it if the church disbelieved miracles today, and unfortunately, many in the church disbelieve. If you believe the word then you must accept it. Don’t listen to futile doctrines of man who suggest otherwise. Does John 14:12 say you will do greater things? Yes! Jesus Himself said it. So believe the Word of God not the teachings of man. Does Mark 16:17-18 say, “These signs shall accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons… they will lay their hands on the sick and they will be healed”? Yes, it does! So believe it. Even if you pray and nothing happens at first, believe the Word of God. Realize, God’s word is true and is perfect and inerrant. If something doesn’t happen when we pray for the sick, then there is something not lining up, but it is not with God. We simply must believe like children and not try to think we can figure out God and all His ways. But the word says it, so we must believe it and press into it!
If you want to be a vessel for which God performs these miracles, you must be immersed into His love. His love is the power behind everything He does. God is love (1Jn 4:8). The more we know His love for us and for His creation, the greater position we are for Him to use us to touch others. We must be overwhelmed by His amazing love!
Remember, God wants His children to be free. Jesus came to save, heal, and deliver the children of God. Salvation alone is the greatest miracle! When a person turns from darkness to light, when they reject the world, their flesh, and the devil and accept Christ it is a miracle! Every healing is a miracle! When sin entered the world so did death and sickness. When a person is healed through prayer, through doctors, or through time, it is a miracle. On the cross Jesus paid for our sin and that is why we can be healed in His name. God owns all the cattle on a thousand hills. He can do all things. So we can call on Him, through our faith in Jesus, to give us our daily bread and to do the miraculous because He is outside of time and constraints. He is God. God’s miracles are not miraculous to Him. They are simply Him doing what He does for the people He loves.
I once disbelieved in the miraculous lifestyle and now that I have embraced the truth of the scriptures and began to pursue Christ and His love I have seen many miracles. I now understand that it is “Christ in me, the hope of glory” (Col 1:27) and that I am to go about my days revealing Christ to others as the Spirit gives me opportunity. I have seen healings, been given dreams about things I am to do, have been given promptings for people that only God would know, and have received prophetic words (not additions to scriptures, but encouragements for believers, see: 1Cor 14:3). I have also prayed for and watched God do amazing things in the lives of His Saints which were miraculous. I am seeing more and more as I press into Christ’s love and presence in my life, believing He can do all things – including miracles. Finally, I leave this thought. We should never pursue the miracles, but rather pursue Christ and then walk in this world as He walked loving on people and staying in tune to the Holy Spirit who tells us what the Father’s will is everywhere we go. The more you are in tune to the Father’s will, the more you will see the Father’s works! May the Lord bless you as you pursue a greater relationship with Him and as you expect the miraculous!