In 1965 the Lovin Spoonful band asked the question “Do you believe in magic?” , this became a top 10 song for their group. (Listen to this song at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBVOYkhNb1o&feature=related)
Although the “magic” the song spoke of was the magical effect of music on it’s listener… it is still a great question to ask in many different contexts.
One of the areas of today’s entertainment that I enjoy is magicians practicing their craft. David Copperfield, Doug Henning, David Blaine, Penn and Teller, Kevin James the list goes on and on. It never ceases to amaze me how their “magic” looks so real, it almost makes me a believer. And yet, in actuality, it is only an illusion they have created for the benefit of their audience. In other words, today’s magic is complex deception meant to entertain and amuse.
What about the sign miracles performed in the Bible? Were they real, or just deception, that was intended to entertain? Could they be believed in?
Let’s see what God’s Word says….
Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee: (Jer 32:17)
I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee. (Job 42:2)
And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you…And Moses answered and said, But, behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The LORD hath not appeared unto thee. And the LORD said unto him, What is that in thine hand? And he said, A rod. And he said, Cast it on the ground. And he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; … And he put his hand into his bosom: and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous as snow. … And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe thee, neither hearken to the voice of the first sign, that they will believe the voice of the latter sign. (Exo 3:14, 4:1-8)
God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will? (Heb 2:4)
To begin our look at the Scriptures, I would like us to quickly summarize the above passages in the context of our subject “Can the miracles of the Bible be believed?” Basically, we can draw from the verses above the following truths:
1. Our God is able to do all things…. This includes giving His followers the ability to perform miracles, as a sign of their ministries authenticity (1 Cor 12:8-11). If it is His will…. He can do these things! (Jer 32:17, Job 42:2, Heb 2:4)
2. Both in the Old and the New Testaments, God’s motive for bestowing this miracle working power upon His followers was to accredit their message and to prove He was the only true God. This is why these types of miracles are called “sign gifts” from God (Exo 3:14, 4:1-8) A listing of the sign gifts can be found at 1 Cor 12:8-11.
Over the years, studying the sign gifts of the Bible, I have noticed something very interesting. It seems as if these sign miracles of God were basically performed in three “groups” throughout Biblical history. Please notice the following basic, generalized table to help explain my point:
Group 1 Group 2 Group 3
Miracle Workers: Moses, Joshua Elijah, Elisha, Prophets Christ, Apostles
Worship Accredited: Tabernacle Temple Church
Message Accredited: Law Prophets New Testament
It has been so interesting for me to come to an understanding of the Lord’s motives in these sign miracles that were performed. Note that the Lord, through divine miracles, accredited the messenger, as well as the section of Scripture written, and the worship place used at that time.
In each case, the “sign miracles” were in existance for approximately 70 years. In each case, a “silent time” existed after each group of miracles, where no sign miracles and few, if any, other miracles were performed. Why? Once God established the validity of each of the above segments, there was no need for miracles until another segment was about to take place.
For example, following the accreditation of the tabernacle and the message of the law, there was no reason to accredit anything, or anyone, until the temple and the prophets came on the scene. Likewise, there was an extended period of “miracle silence” after the completion of the Old Testament. It was only when Christ came on the scene that we have a period of sign miracles taking place to validate the message of the New Testament and the church as the new place of worship for God’s people.
We have the end of the last period of miracles being described in 1 Cor 13:8-10…
“Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. “(1Co 13:8-10)
This verse is teaching us that the miraculous gifts of prophecies, tongues, and knowledge, shall come to an end. At the time of Paul’s writing this letter, the NT was not yet completed. This is why he makes the statement that “we know in part and we prophesy in part”. However, when the New Testament reached completion, bringing about the perfect Bible (that which is perfect) then the revelation of His Word, bit by bit, (that which is in part) would be finished and no longer needed. The completion of the Word acted upon the sign gifts of prophecies and knowledge, immediately bringing them to an end.
(Note:The sign gift of tongues died out as that generation of gifted men died and went home to their Lord, shortly thereafter.)
Also remember, prior to the Word’s completion, the church had already been established in Jerusalem as the worship place of the True God, through the sign miracles of tongues and healings etc.
THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION:
How do we know the church is where we are to worship? We can read all about the wonderful miracles the Lord performed as the New Testament church was being established that proves to us it is His place of worship.
How do we know the Bible is truly His Word? We can look in the Bible and see where all the segments of the Bible have been accredited previously… the Old Testament which is made up of the law and the prophets, and the New Testament. They have all been clearly proven to be the Words of the True God through the sign miracles that were performed.
It is now simply an issue of faith in His Word. In our day, we need no sign miracles to accredit anything… we have the Word that has recorded these previous accreditations for us to rely on today. In the last days, the working of counterfeit miracles will be on the increase, empowered by Satan, performed to mislead even God’s elect (if it were possible). (2 Thess 2:7-10, 2 Cor 11:13-15, Matt 12:38-39)
Does the Lord still perform miracles? Absolutely everyday, spiritual and physical healing, to name a few, are common place in today’s time.
Does the Lord still give men the ability to perform the “sign gifts” listed in 1 Cor 12:8-11? Absolutely not. He used the sign gifts to accredit the ministries He had ordained. There is no longer a need for these gifts to be exercised by men. We have a written record in His Word of the accreditation of these ministries.
As Christians, our responsibility is to be on guard, always watching for the workings of Satan and the deceptions that only he can perform…
Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. (Mat 24:23-25)
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May the Lord bless your study of His Word. Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”