By Cecil Willis
The nature of this lesson shall to be to study the different kinds of miracles that were done in New Testament times. There are those today who would have us believe that the exact kinds of miracles that were very definitely done then, are yet being done by men claiming supernatural power. But I think that by a careful observation of the wide variety of miracles done in New Testament times, we can see that even the most ostentatious of modern sensationalists dare not even try to imitate but a few of them. In fact, even those that advertise themselves most, and have the greatest following, and persuade so many dare not try some of the miracles that were done in Biblical times. They will try some two or three kinds of miracles but the majority of the kinds done in the New Testament era, they know even the gullible would not believe, so they somehow forget that these also were done in Bible times. To one with supernatural power, one miracle is no more difficult than another. Let us now notice the different kinds of miracles wrought by the Lord. Of course we will not be able to notice every miracle the Lord performed. In fact they could not all be written in the Bible, according to John: “Many other signs therefore did Jesus in the presence of the disciples which are not written in this book” (Jn. 20:30). Later the same writer said, “And there are also many other things which Jesus did the which if the should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the book that would be written” (Jn. 21:25). So we will not even be able to take a passing glance at all of the mighty works which He did.
Jesus’ Many Powers
1. His power over nature. “Water glorified its Lord by blushing itself into wine” when Jesus turned the water into wine (Jn. 2:1-11). “Water acknowledge its Master and bore him upon its boson” when the Lord walked upon the sea (Matt. 14:25). “At his command a raging tempest was transformed fear-soothing zephyr” when Jesus spoke to the storm and said “Peace, be still” (Mk. 4:39). “Food in submission to his will multiplied itself sufficiently to feed multitudes. ” On one occasion five thousand men ate of the multiplied loaves and fishes and the left-overs were twelve basketfuls (Mk. 6:38-44). At another time Jesus took seven loaves and a few fishes and fed four thousand men besides women and children and there were seven baskets of broken pieces left (Matt. 15:32-39). “A fish as obedient as the great fish of Jonah provided a tribute coin for its Lord” (Matt. 17:27). “In obedience to his desire over crowding fish entered into the captivity of discouraged fishermen” when they complied with Jesus’ command to cast the net on the right side of the boat (Jn. 21:6). “A fruitless fig tree’s bare boughs gave evidence of his withering curse. Behold the Master of Nature!” (Matt. 21:19).
2. His power over the human body. “The snow of leprosy melts into flesh like that of a little child” when He heals the lepers (Matt. 8:3). “The unbound tongue of the dumb became garrulous in his praise” when its captive chain was broken by Christ’s infinite power (Matt. 12:22). “The inactive paralytic felt his body energized anew” (Matt. 11:5). “Unseeing eyes beheld the beauties of the handiwork of God” when Jesus removed their thick covers (Matt. 15:30, 31). “His ministry to the ills of humankind was an invigorating elixir of life.”
3. His power over demons. “Frequent passages in the gospel give evidence of the power of Jesus over demons of every kind” (Matt. 8:29). “The supremacy of power or force alone would not have proven the complete superiority of Jesus over the demons. He possessed authority over them and all demons contacted acknowledged his Lordship and in terror submitted to his commands. Power shows mastery while authority shows lordship. Demons of every order knowing the spirit world acknowledge and proclaimed his divinity and submitted to his will.”
4. His power over death and hades. “His power and authority over unclean spirits and various demons would not have proven a complete mastery had he not demonstrated like authority and power over death. Go to the home of Jairus where the spirit of his little girl had hardly entered into hades when Jesus took the lifeless hand and by a single command the spirit reentered the body to restore life (Lk. 8:41-46). The heart of Jesus was touched with compassion when he was a weeping widow following the bier of her son. Soon the bosom of earth would receive his mortality but the procession was halted and mourning was turned into joy (Lk. 7:11-15). Who has not admired the tears of Jesus as they found kinship with those of Martha and Mary? Who has not uttered the praise and admiration for him who could command and earth would release its embrace and the grave surrender its captive (Jn. 11:146 )?
“A greater challenge to his power and authority came when death was administered to his own body. This was the supreme test. When death makes marble the flesh of the Son of man will he be able to give humanity an ever abiding assurance that death cannot conquer life? The power of the demon world expended its force but the head of the seed of Eden’s serpent was crushed. Jesus the Christ now holds the keys of death and the unseen world for he is alive forevermore. Rejoice, ye sons of Adam! Jesus has revealed that death may subdue life for a time but never can conquer life. Though we die, we shall life again.
“Without the resurrection of Jesus, Gethsemane would have heard only the piteous wail of a soul in despair and Calvary’s cross would have been but a death stake for a martyr of a lost cause and would not have been retained in the memories of men. He conquered death when administered to his own body” (NOTE: The above sentences in quotation marks are taken from Ben F. Taylor, “Miracles” in Truth in Love, July, 1955).
So one can see the wide variety of miracles that Jesus performed. Not just a few kinds , but many kinds. Men professing to be miracle-workers today will not even attempt to manifest their claimed supernatural power in the many different ways as did Jesus. Did you ever see one of them attempt to walk on water? Did you ever see one of them speak to a raging storm and immediately all was still? Did you ever see one of them take one to lunch and feed five thousand people all they wanted? Did you ever see one totally blind immediately healed? Did you ever see them go to a grave in a cemetery where one had been dead four days, as was Lazarus, his body already decaying, and raise the dead? I am sure that each reader will have to answer these questions as do I: NO! They do not attempt these sort of things.
In Mark 16:17,18, Jesus said, “And these signs shall accompany them that believe: in my name shall they cast out demons; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall in no wise hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” Actually, Jesus was not speaking of all believers in this passage, but to the apostles. And every denominationalist who professes to be able to perform miracles knows this, because no denominational body claims that every person in it can work miracles. But Jesus said that “these signs” shall follow them that believe. If He refers to all believers, then everyone who cannot perform all five kinds of these miracles is an unbeliever. I want to notice that none of the men who claim this passage as their proof will undertake to do all that it says. It says: (1) they shall cast out demons; (2) they shall speak with new tongues; (3) they shall take up serpents; (4) deadly poison shall not hurt them; (5) they shall heal the sick. There. is not a preacher in any town who will try to perform all of these things. They will undertake to cast out demons, they will profess to speak with tongues, and they claim to heal the sick. But if they actually did all that they try and profess to do, please remember that this is not all that Jesus said the believers would be able to do. He said that they shall take up serpents, and’shall drink deadly things without hurt. There is no Bible principle which says that three of these signs shall follow modern-day believers, and the other two shall not. If these five signs are for this time, then all five of them shall follow. If they are not, then none of them is being done. Now why will a preacher claim to cast out demons, speak in tongues and heal the sick, but will not even undertake to take up serpents, and drink deadly things? As soon as one questions one of them on this point, they reply that it would be to tempt God to try these last two things. But did those men in New Testament times-whom these signs did follow-tempt God? If not, and if these signs are still to be done today, neither will one tempt God if he does them. It would only be to do what God said would be done.
Quite often we read of one of these preachers claiming to be unable to heal a certain one becau lacked faith. However, we should remember that raised a dead man from the grave. I wonder how faith a dead man has. But if faith is that upon which successful performance of a miracle hinges, as som us, then these preachers certainly should be ab handle serpents and drink deadly things. If anyone has faith enough for a miracle to be done on him, it certainly ought to be one of these miracle-working preachers. I think I can tell why these men do undertake to handle serpents and why they will attempt to drink deadly things without hurt. These things will get a preacher killed! And they know it! But Jesus said these signs shall follow them that believe, and then He listed five kind of miracles. If these signs are to be yet done today, then all five kinds of signs must be done. If just three of them are to continue, the Bible should tell us somewhere about when the other two were done away. The truth of God’s word was confirmed by the signs which followed and so signs are no longer done.
Compare the nature of Jesus’ miracles with the n of the so-called miracles of today. A while ago television program, I saw a man profess to have healed one of heart trouble. Was there any proof given that the man had heart trouble to begin with? Or, that he no longer had it? Not a bit. A woman was “healed of indigestion on the same program. Common baking soda may have done as well! And quite often today we hear of the same people being healed again and again of the same disease. I saw a newspaper clipping of a woman’s being “healed” of cancer. However, within the same year, the same newspaper report states that she died of cancer the same week the healing miracle was telecast. The woman’s physician at Pasadena Tumor Institute listed the cause of her death as cancer. Obviously, her miracle-healing did not last long.
I wish that these men really had the power they profess. I would like to see the suffering of humanity alleviated as much as any other fellow. If these men really had the power they claim, they would be healing many more than the five or six each week that will gain for them a little publicity. The apostle John exhorts us “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but prove the spirits whether they are of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 Jn. 4:1). Our only purpose is that God’s truth be declared as it should be, and the truth concerning false teachers clearly be made known.
Truth Magazine XXI: 4, pp. 51-53
January 27, 1977