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It's a Miracle!

In the inaugural gospel sermon, Peter preached Jesus, “a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know” (Acts 2:22). The author of Hebrews said of the message of salvation, “After it was first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His will” (2:3-4).

The word miracle is used rather loosely these days. It is applied to anything that is amazing—from perfectly natural phenomena (such as childbirth) to extraordinary efforts (do you remember Captain Sullivan’s “miracle on the Hudson”?) to who-would-have-ever-thought-it events. These imprecise uses of the term rob it of its significance in the Bible.

A miracle is an interference with nature by a supernatural power. It is something only God can do or empower a man to do.

There are four great periods of miraculous activity in the Bible: (1) Moses and the delivery of Israel from Egypt; (2) the days of Elijah and Elisha; (3) the era of the Babylonian captivity (e.g., Daniel); (4) the life of Christ and establishment of the church. These were all periods or establishment and/or conflict with heathen powers. Miracles were not an ongoing phenomena, nor were they given for the ease of the lives of those who would serve God. No Bible preacher ever told someone, “God has a miracle waiting for you.”

Each of the three terms for such supernatural power has a different emphasis. Miracle is from dunamis, the Greek word from which our English word dynamite comes. It stresses source, the divine power in the act. Wonder emphasizes effect, the amazement that such acts produce. Sign points to purpose: miracles were not merely for show, they were intended to convey a message.

The New Testament identifies three primary purposes of miracles. (1) Jesus used them to prove His identity (John 5:36; 10:37-38; Acts 2:22). That sets Him apart from other religious leaders, both those of His day and all others who have come since. (2) Miraculous empowerment was the means by which God revealed His will to the apostles and prophets (Ephesians 3:3-5; 1 Corinthians 12:8-10), giving their word divine authority. (3) Closely associated with that, they used miracles to confirm to listeners that God was speaking through them; in Paul’s words, “so that your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men but on the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:4-5; Hebrews 2:3-4).

John effectively summarized the place of miracles when he wrote, “Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:30-31).

What is your response to the miracles recorded in Scripture? Do you believe in Jesus?

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