MIRACLES: The Nature of New Testament Miracles
In this, another article upon the subject of miracles, we would like to continue with a comparison of the miracles in the New Testament with those of so-called miracle-workers today. They are of entirely different natures. If one will but recognize what the Bible says about the nature of miracles, then he will not be deceived by the pseudo-miracle-workers of today.
New Testament Miracles Were Undeniable
As we turn to about the nature that the miracles performed by Christ and the were undeniable. When the apostle Peter be present the proofs of Christ's deity on the Pentecost to a group of unbelieving and murdering Jews, he begins by saying that the miracles that Christ performed were indisputable proofs of His deity. The Jews had a part in the crucifying of Christ and yet Peter said to them, "Ye men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God unto you by mighty works and wonders and signs which God did in the midst of you, even as ye yourselves know; him being delivered up by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye did by the hand of lawless men did crucify and slay" (Acts 2:22, 23). Notice that Peter declared that these Jews themselves knew of the miracles which Jesus had performed. Even these who were so profane in heart that they could slay God's Son could not deny the actuality of Christ's miracles. Even the most wicked of Christ's enemies could not deny that Jesus did perform miracles.
Seeing that the New Testament miracles were undeniable, contrast that with the so-called miracles that we are asked to believe. On Pentecost, Peter could declare that these unbelieving Jews knew of Jesus' miracles; but, today, fake-healers, and pseudo-miracle-workers depend upon testimonials of their own adherents to prove their miracles. It was never necessary for New Testament miracles to be proven by testimonials, for they were of such nature that they were apparent. On the other hand, today's so-called miracles are questionable.
Not very long ago a fellow came to the church building where I was preaching and had a lot to say about the fact that we denied miracles were worked today. I asked him to point out one modern-day miracle, and he proceeded to do so. He told me that a preacher performed a miracle on a little black boy in Chattanooga, Tennessee. This little boy had lost an eye, and in its stead, he had a glass eye. This man declared publically that the preacher performed a miracle on the glass eye so that the little boy could see out of it. Well, that all sounded pretty good. But quite coincidentally, I happen to be in Chattanooga at the time that this "miracles" was supposed to have been performed. Of course, the man did not know that I was. In fact he was not there himself! He had only heard about it. But I was preaching in a Gospel meeting in that town when this great wonder occurred. The members of the church of Christ there carried a large advertisement in the local newspaper exposing the fraud. After the little boy was supposed to be able to see out of glass eye, the preacher absolutely refused to let a member of the church blindfold the little boy's good eye. The man who related the story to me, thinking it was the truth, was astonished when I completed the facts for him, but that is exactly what happened. Biblical miracles never depended upon such deception and fraud. Peter could say, "which ye yourselves know". They were undeniable. But not so with the so-called miracles of today.
New Testament Miracles Were Subject to Empirical Senses
Secondly, let us note that New Testament miracles were such that they could be examined by the empirical senses. They were such that they could be tested by the eyes, ears, touch, taste, etc. We find that Jesus made the dumb to speak. If a man had never spoken, and suddenly began speaking, one could hear what he said, and thus test the miracle. He made the lame to walk and one could see that the healed man could walk. He raised the dead; they could examine the raised man. He turned water into wine and they could test this miracle by taste. But contrast this with the attempted miracles of today. In the first place, they only attempt healing. They never attempt any other kind of miracle that Jesus did.
But, what kind of healings do they attempt to perform? They will heal one of an internal cancer. But did you ever see them heal a man whose face had been eaten off by this terrible disease? Their failure to cure the man would soon be apparent. Hence they do not try it. Or, did you ever see them instantly cure any broken bones? You did not, and will not ever see it. However, they can give testimonials as to people that were cured of indigestions, of stomach disorders, of the smoking habit, or T.B. or some other internal disease. But try to find a single miracle that one can test with the sense of touch, sight, or hearing. You cannot do it! You will not find it!
Some time ago a man came to my home advertising a meeting, and we began discussing the Bible. Eventually the matter of miracles came up. He himself could not work a miracle, but he knew others who could. Finally, I asked him if he had even witnessed a miracle. In his honesty, he admitted that he had not. But he replied that he had talked with people who had. I cite this example just as an, admonition to you. When you hear of miracles' being performed, try the difficult task of tracing down the person who was healed. Ask for the names and addresses of some of the people who are healed and then find out what they were healed of. It will likely be nervousness, smoking or some disease that is internal. But the miracles that Jesus and the apostles performed were of an entirely different nature. They could be tested with the senses and were undeniable.
New Testament Miracles Were Instantaneous
Another characteristic of New Testament miracles is that these marvelous happenings occurred instantly. They were immediate. I want to cite a few New Testament miracles-please note that they were instantaneous and never partial healings.
Luke 13:10-13: "And he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath day. And behold, a woman that had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years; and she was bowed together, and could in no wise lift herself up. And when Jesus saw her, he called her, and said to her, Woman, thou are loosed from thine infirmity. And he laid his hands upon her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God."
Luke 8:43,44: "And a woman having an issue of blood twelve years, who had spent all of her living on physicians, and could not be healed of any, came to him, and touched the border of his garment: and immediately the issue of her blood stanched."
Matt. 20:29-34: "And as they went out from Jericho, a great multitude followed him. And behold, two blind men sitting by the way side, when they heard that Jesus was passing by, cried out, saying, Lord, have mercy on us, thou son of David. And Jesus stood still, and called them, and said, What will yet that I should do unto you? They say unto him, Lord, that our eyes may be opened. And Jesus, being moved with compassion, touched their eyes; and straightway they received their sight, and followed him."
John 5:2-9 "And straightway the man was made whole, and took up his bed and walked."
Acts 3:6-8 "In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk. And he (Peter) took him by the right hand, and raised him up: and immediately his feet and his anklebones received strength. And leaping up, he stood, and began to walk; and he entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping and praising God."
When God enabled a man to work a miracle, he enabled him to do it immediately. Some time ago I received a letter from a lady that I have never met, but in it she told me that some fellows who thought that they could work miracles had been several days trying to heal a boy with a broken leg next door to her. Now if they had persistently continued their efforts, they could have pronounced it partially healed-in about eight weeks.
What I am saying is not in the least to doubt the power of God. God worked the miracles we have just read about, but the purpose of miracles exists no longer. While I do not doubt the power of God, I certainly doubt the assumed authority and power of pretentious men who think that they can work miracles.
Several years ago a "healer" came into Tampa, Florida, and a good personal friend of mine took a little boy of his who had the chicken pox to be healed. The "healer" took the little boy and put him in the healing line. When the time for the healing of the boy came, he took the little boy by the shoulders, shouted at him, jerked him around and then pronounced him healed. Yet, the chicken pox were still very apparent. When the great miracle-worker was asked why the spots did not instantly go away, he replied, "Oh, they will leave in two or three days." How much longer would they have lasted if he had not "healed" the boy? Not any! Such deceit and fraud does not even deserve to wear the name religion.
New Testament Miracles Were Complete
Furthermore, one never reads in the Bible of where one was partially healed. God does not do a half job on His miracles. Yet, we find people testifying that they can see better after they were "healed" than before. But if God healed them at all, they would have as perfect eyesight as any human being.
One lady was rather provoked at my beliefs (unbelief!) about such healers. She called me up and after a conversation with her, she invited me to her house. We had several good discussions. But, she maintained that God had healed her. I asked of what she had been healed, and she promptly replied, "bad eyesight". Yet at that very instant she was wearing glasses. God does not halfway heal a person. When God does it, He does a complete job. This same lady claimed to be getting direct revelation from God. She was kind enough to make me copies of the "divine" messages. In one of them, God had told her to vote for a republican, even though she was a democrat.
In this lesson on New Testament miracles it has been necessary to contrast the miracles of the Bible with the "miracles" of today. Since most modern "miracleworkers" attempt nothing, or very little except healing, we have mostly discussed "healings". Next week the topic will be specifically "Miraculous Divine Healing".
Truth Magazine XXI: 8, pp. 120-122