One of the most remarkable things about the Bible narrative is the presence of miracles. By miracles we mean events and occurrences that cannot be explained by the laws of nature that we are familiar with.
In both the Old Testament and the New Testament we read of miraculous healings, of the dead being raised, of food being multiplied. Water is a good example of how the elements of nature acted in extraordinary ways. The children of Israel walked through the Red Sea and the River Jordan. Bitter water was made sweet by throwing a branch in it, and water came from a stone for both Moses and Samson. Iron floated on water for Elisha, and both Jesus and Peter walked on water.
What are we to make of these miracles? One common explanation is that these stories are myths and legends. It is true that some of the Bible stories, such as Noah and the universal flood and Jonah who was swallowed by a great fish seem to be somewhat similar to myths and legends of other ancient peoples. On the other hand, the apostle Paul, who is the essence of logic and reason, reports of the “signs and wonders and mighty deeds” that he performed (2 Corinthians 12:12). To assume that he exaggerated, lied or that his letters were changed later challenges the fundamentals of our faith. A major tenet of the Christian faith is that the Bible record is true and accurate, including the accounts of miracles.
The Bible indicates that miracles will be a continuing part of the Christian experience, not limited to ancient times. Jesus said, “He who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father” John 14:12. “And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues, they will take up serpents and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them? they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover” Mark 16:17,18.
The apostle Paul asserted that all Christians are to be given spiritual gifts, and among these are “gifts of healing” and “the working of miracles” 1 Corinthians 12:9,10. There is nothing any of these or other scriptures that would indicate that miracles would be unusual, limited to just a few “super-Christians” or limited to the first century AD.
Why do we see so few miracles today? The main reason is the lack of faith. A man brought his son to Jesus’ disciples, hoping for a miraculous healing of his epilepsy, but the disciples were not able to heal the boy. Jesus told the father, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes” Mark 9:23.
In our modern scientific age it is difficult for people to believe that a miracle could happen, and this attitude itself is a barrier preventing them. The people of Nazareth could not believe in Jesus because they had known him as a young boy. “And He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief” Matthew 13:58.
Christians do not expect to perform miracles, and do not cultivate the faith they need in order to do so. When the disciples failed to heal the boy with epilepsy, Jesus told them that the boy’s illness was caused by a particularly stubborn form of demonic influence-“This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting” Μark 9:29. Christians today desire immediate gratification and rarely spend the time in prayer, let alone fasting, that are required to really take hold of the Lord by faith.
Faith must be in God and in His word, not in our own or someone else’s spiritual gift. The apostle John wrote, “This is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him” 1 John 5:14,15.
We notice in these verses that we can have faith in that which we ask “according to His will”. There is no point in trying to convince ourselves that something must be His will or hoping hard enough, refusing to allow any misgivings to enter our minds. We can know that anything God has promised or commanded is according to His will. Beyond that it is up to God to give us certainty and faith in any particular case.
We should also keep in mind that we cannot have faith that God will change someone so that they will act or believe in a certain way. God always respects everyone’s personal freedom, and although He may send promptings or influences, He will not manipulate their minds. We can and should pray for people to change, but we cannot have perfect faith that they will.
Faith does not mean that every time we want a miracle we will get one. If that were the case, there would never be any sickness or death among a faithful Christian community, but there are a number of examples in the Bible that show that healing and miracles are not always provided, even for people of great faith . God is sovereign, and He decides when a miracle should be granted.
The fact is that some miracles do more harm than good, and we should not insist that God provide one . God would love to heal every case of illness and help everyone to have miraculous solutions to all their problems. But that would mean that sinners could do whatever they wanted, there would be no consequences, and the reign of sin would continue forever. God’s great priority is to rid the universe of sin forever, but miracles that solved every problem while leaving the sin in place that created the problems would simply perpetuate sin.
Besides miracles from God there are also false miracles from Satan. Jesus warned against deceptive miracles in the last days. Signs and wonders are not a sure sign of God’s activity, since they can be performed by false christs and false prophets, and are present in all religions. We should not believe someone just because they perform a miracle. For more information about satanic miracles see the article “Can Satan Perform Miracles?”.
We need to be careful that we do not ourselves block the miracles that God wants to work for us. One of the surest ways to do that is to give the credit for miracles to someone besides God. Miracles are from God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, not from the saints. As good and holy as they may have been, they are not the source of the healing power and should not get the credit.
The idea that we should try to make friends with the saints so that they will influence God to help us is blasphemous to God the Father who sent His only begotten Son so that we could have life. Jesus said, “Come to me”, and if we go to someone else, we may not only keep ourselves from receiving the blessing from God that He wants to give us, but we may end up with a “miracle” from the devil. It is good to have other Christians pray for us, but we must give all the credit and glory to God, not to the people who pray.
God can and does provide miracles for people today, even for unbelievers, because He loves them. It was the same in the Bible times; “the whole multitude sought to touch (Jesus), for power went out from Him, and healed them all” Luke 6:19. But the ones who saw miracles every day were those who were with Him all the time. Rather than living our own lives, ignoring Jesus and then coming to Him when we need a miracle, we should enter into a close personal relationship with Him, following Him every day. Then we will see the greatest miracle of all, as our life changes to become like His.
<![if !supportFootnotes]>  <![endif]> 2 Cor. 12:7-9, 2 Tim. 4:20, 1 Thess. 4:14
<![if !supportFootnotes]>  <![endif]> An example is King Hezekiah, who would not accept the prophet’s word from God that it was time for him to die. He insisted on healing, and God granted it, but during his remaining years he fathered the child (Manasseh) who led the kingdom of Judah into ruin (see 2 Kings 20,21).