Here, we take a bit of the mystery out of miracles by answering four common questions asked by Bible readers.
1. How Can You Tell If a Miracle Is of God?
There are at least three biblical tests for recognizing a legitimate miracle:
a. The miracle glorifies God.
Miracles declare that God is active in our world and that he can disrupt the activities of nature to reveal his character and accomplish his purposes. The principal test of a miracle is: Who receives the glory? Beware of people (such as Simon the sorcerer in Acts 8:9) who boast of their own greatness.
b.The miracle stems from a righteous source.
Jesus said that in the last days false prophets will come and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect (Matthew 24:24). Someone’s words may sound true and their actions may be impressive, but they are counterfeit if their lives show no good fruit.
c. The miracle rings true to the Holy Spirit.
According to Paul, one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is distinguishing between spirits (1 Corinthians 12:10). Paul demonstrated this gift when he told Elymas, a Jewish sorcerer, that he was a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right (Acts 13:10). Through the Holy Spirit, Paul perceived the utter baseness that was in the man. Likewise, we must look to the Holy Spirit for guidance regarding the source of a miracle.
2. Why Did Jesus Perform Miracles?
If miracles satisfied peoples’ craving for sensationalism, why did Jesus do them? Because they sometimes led to faith. Like many things, miracles produced both positive and negative results.
Jesus’ miracles provided proof that he was sent from God (Acts 2:22 – 24). Though they gave evidence of God’s victory over Satan (Luke 11:14 – 23), they were never designed to be the primary focus of Jesus’ activity (1 Corinthians 1:21 – 25). Jesus pointed to miracles as signs of something deeper and more significant (John 10:24 – 25, 38). Jesus’ miracles were like object lessons demonstrating the vast scope of his power. They showed his authority over nature, demons, disease and death (Luke 8:22 – 56). Miracles occurred ultimately to reveal Jesus as the Messiah, the Savior, the one who came to perform the greatest miracle of all.
Jesus’ miracles provided a spiritual starting point for those whose hearts were open to the things of God. But for those who resisted God, miracles were an end in themselves. That’s why Jesus refused to devalue his ministry to a kind of spiritual sideshow just to satisfy those who only wanted to see something sensational.
3. Why was Faith Necessary for Jesus to Do Miracles?
God has unlimited power, but it pleases him to exercise his power in response to our faith. Jesus did not force divine blessings on people who openly rejected him. He often performed miracles for those who already believed, and sometimes his miracles led to faith in those who did not previously believe (John 11:45; 12:9 – 11; 14:11). But Jesus would not perform miracles simply for his own personal benefit.
4. Will We be Healed if We Have Faith?
Jesus taught that faith prompts God to respond to our need. Sometimes it is the faith of friends or family that God rewards. Occasionally, God’s healing work seems unrelated to anyone’s faith — the only explanation is God’s sovereign choice. But Jesus never taught that faith automatically brings healing. Of Jesus’ 35 miracles recorded in the Gospels, no formula guaranteeing healing can be found.
That said, as we go about our daily lives, miracles are happening all around us — in hospitals, schools, neighborhoods, and even in the workplace. We see the critically ill healed, at-risk students excel, addicts turn their lives around, and opportunities open up for those in the direst situations. If you experience a miracle in your life or you are blessed to witness something miraculous, let others know and be sure to give God the glory.
Questions and answers are drawn from the NIV Quest Study Bible.
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