Miracles in the Church?
Recently, I was told that a church leader was on public television claiming that, for him, a miracle was 'a piece of cake', and to support his assertion, he said he has blown on a person's credit card, which was 'maxed out', and the debt disappeared. Perhaps the definition of miracle, being used by this person, is influenced by popular tele-evangelists who state that one must plant a seed (money) and then expect a miracle. There is even one who advertises on local TV, stating that, by obtaining a 'prayer cloth' with your name on it, you can get a financial miracle. For them, the Christian life is an unending experience of miracles. We are to expect them every day and it has a financial backdrop.
However, miracle, by its very nature, implies that which is rare. Miracles were a rarity, and those that actually worked miracles are no more than 20 or so different people in the Bible. How many times did Jesus raised someone from the dead? Not even five times, and thousands of people died during Jesus' lifetime. Miracles are rare.
Of the approximately 350 miracles in the Bible, the gospel of John records about 10 miracles, namely, turning water into wine; the healing of official's son; the walking on water; the healing of the man born blind; the raising of Lazarus; and the greatest miracle of all - the resurrection of Jesus. Additionally, only about two miracles, namely, the feeding of the 5,000 and the resurrection of Jesus, are described in all four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
A miracle is more than an extraordinary feat. It is, to use the definition of C.S. Lewis, noted Christian thinker, a suspension of the natural order for a while. A miracle is an effect or event in the physical world deviating from the known laws of nature.
LIFE AFTER MIRACLES
The conception of Jesus the Christ was a miracle, in that there was no sperm, just the Holy Spirit overshadowing the Virgin Mary. However, after the conception, which was a miracle, the pregnancy was a normal nine months' pregnancy. Similarly, Joshua prayed for the sun to stand still for almost a full day and the moon stopped to allow the nation to avenge the enemies (Joshua 10:13). And that was a miracle, but the sun continued operating normally afterwards. So after deviating from physical laws, it then returns and abides by the natural laws. Therefore, it follows that even after a miraculous healing, the cycle of life continues and we still will die.
Jesus' miracles were evidence for the divine nature of the Lord. When John the Baptist sent messengers to Jesus, questioning His deity, Jesus told them to go back and tell John about the miracles they had seen Him perform. Miracles settled the issue of Christ's deity (Matthew 11:2-5; Luke 4:14-21; 7:20-22). Miracles were also done by the apostles. The apostles were special men commissioned for a unique role in a particular time period for the church. An apostle was a commissioner of Christ with miraculous powers (Acts 2:43, 5:12, 14:3). The Bible is clear this was specifically done through God's appointed and anointed apostles or those who travelled with them.
If a church leader can blow away a financial debt, then all that is needed is for Greece and Jamaica to ask him to blow away our serious debts. The greatest miracle is the resurrection which defines Christianity and we should not expect a repeat of this miracle, but rather exercise faith in God as revealed in Jesus and as convicted by the Holy Spirit that God will ensure good triumphs over evil and life over death!
- Rev Devon Dick is pastor of the Boulevard Baptist Church in St Andrew. He is author of 'The Cross and the Machete', and 'Rebellion to Riot'. Send feedback to columns@ gleanerjm.com.