Miracles -- Then and Now
Wheat Ridge, Colorado
In the world today there are multitudes of people who claim either they or others have power from God to perform miracles. In spite of clear New Testament teachings that miracles (being part and parcel of the apostolic message) were confined to the apostolic age, these persons continue to claim that they have performed miracles and have witnessed the performance of miracles by others. Due to these claims hundreds of innocent persons are being led into a grievous deception and are emphasizing the presence of the supposed miraculous events to the exclusion of the revelation from the Spirit of God. It is a grievous deception because they are rejecting the salvation of their souls and accepting the love of the present world. It is most important that men today learn the difference between the so-called miracles of today and the valid miracles of the apostolic age.
In the New Testament we are given a command to "try the spirits whether they are of God." In line with that we set forth the following tests of modern miraculous claims and modern faith healers. We will leave it to the readers to discern the validity of the test and the validity of the modern claims.
I. For a miracle to be valid, it must be instantaneous. We do not find cases of New Testament miracle workers performing miracles which took days, weeks, and even months to take effect. Numerous examples are found in the New Testament of instantaneous healing - a leper was immediately cleansed (Mt. 8:2-3), Peter's mother-in-law was healed as soon as Jesus touched her hand (Mt. 8:15), and Malthus' ear was restored whole immediately (Lk. 22:51). A multitude of other examples can be cited to demonstrate our point but these should suffice. Let the modern claimants present a New Testament case of a "slow" miracle. They cannot do this, and yet, this is the only kind of "healings" which are performed today. Innocent people are told, and they sincerely believe, that they have been healed even though their symptoms remain. Any slow abating of their disease is not attributable to the power of the "miracle workers," but to the power of God inherent in natural law.
II. For a miracle to be valid it must be complete. Partial recovery of some of the afflicted is the usual track record for today's so-called healers. People may feel better for a time, usually while under the hypnotic influence of the healer, but their pain soon returns, sometimes worse than before. When Jesus healed people, they were made "whole" (Mt. 9:22; 12:13) and the apostles gave "perfect soundness" to those they healed (Acts 3:16; 4:9).
III. For a healing to be valid it must be the cure of an organic disease. "The limitations of present day healers, however, is tragic to witness. Of 1400 modern cases of healings that were investigated, not one of an organic character was discovered; all supposedly cured were of a neurotic nature" (Herbert Lockyer, The Healer and Healing Movements, p. 46). Though this statement was made over 20 years ago I am certain that its truth can be confirmed today. (For further reading on this subject see Dr. William A. Nolen's book A Doctor In Search Of A Miracle.) New. Testament healings were of an altogether different nature: Christ restored a severed ear (Mt. 26:51), Peter healed a man who- was born lame (Acts 3), and the dead were raised (Jn. 11:43). Surely, the evidence is in favor of New Testament miracles and against modern claims.
IV. For miracles to be valid they must not foster division among God's people. I have personally asked a number of persons who believe in modern miracles to explain how there can be conflicting doctrines among various miracle workers. One fact is certain from these inquiries, no one is willing to call the other's miracles fake even though they teach different doctrines. Thus, so long as they can oppose a gospel preacher's stand on miracles, they will walk hand-in-hand even though they differ on such crucial doctrines as the nature of Deity and the number of beings in the Godhead. I challenge anyone to find a case of two inspired persons in the New Testament teaching conflicting doctrines. The apostles and other inspired persons in the first century stood together when it came to the teachings of Christ.
V. For miracles to be valid they must be universally accepted. No one who saw the Lord and the Apostles perform a miracle ever claimed that they did not actually perform the miracle. One effort was made to attribute the Lord's miracles to an unholy source (Beelzebub), but even then these enemies of Christ admitted the actual occurrence of the miracles. It should be emphasized that these enemies of the Lord would have had much to gain by claiming that He did not actually perform miracles, that the miracles were just delusions, or that they were merely the control of functional disorders. In contrast, the modern claims are universally denied. Only a small minority of the world accepts the modern "miracles." The New Testament evidence cited shows that this would not be the case if the modern "miracles" were like the miracles of the New Testament.
Many other tests could be applied to the modern claims of the faith healers, but these should be sufficient to demonstrate the fallacious nature of the claims. I put it before the readers to test these claims of the so-called healers. Do not just accept their word that they are performing miracles. Put them to the Bible test and accept only that which can be validated by the scriptures. Reject anything which cannot meet the test.
Truth Magazine XXIV: 49, p. 793