In continuing our study of biblical miracles from last week, we look at the question of whether biblical miracles still occur today. Many today claim to perform miracles but their claims are found to be lacking when compared with the miracles of the Bible. What we will do in this article is examine the different types of miraculous gifts listed in Scripture and compare them to the “miracles” commonly claimed to occur today.
Paul listed the various kinds of miracles, or “spiritual gifts,” in his first letter to Corinth in the New Testament (1 Corinthians 12:1-11). Two of those gifts were miraculous wisdom and miraculous knowledge (v. 8). Knowledge (what one knows) and wisdom (the ability to use correctly that which one knows) are obtained naturally through education and experience. Thus, miraculous knowledge and miraculous wisdom would come instantaneously, without having taken the time to grow in them via education and experience.
Paul also mentioned faith as a spiritual gift (v. 9). This is not the faith which comes naturally through the hearing of God’s Word (Romans 10:17), but rather is the type of faith needed to do something miraculous like move a mountain (1 Corinthians 13:2; Matthew 17:20). Today, the only way anyone obtains wisdom and knowledge is through natural means. Many people who have strong faith in their ability to perform miracles have attempted to move mountains or perform other miraculous acts and claim their faith in their ability to perform the miracle will bring about the miracle, only to no avail.
Paul then listed gifts of healing and the working of miracles as spiritual gifts (vs. 9-10). Those who claim to miraculously heal the sick and perform other types of miracles today do so quite differently from how Jesus and the apostles miraculously healed people and worked miracles back in biblical times. Today, those who claim to do miraculous things to other people usually ask them to “wait a while” before they “begin to feel the effects” of the miracle. In many cases therapy or medicine are also required for healing to take place. However, the miraculous healings in the Bible were complete and instantaneous. When Jesus or the apostles healed people who were crippled, they were immediately and completely healed with no additional therapy or medicine required (Matthew 9:1-5; Acts 3:1-10).
Paul also listed prophecy and distinguishing between spirits as spiritual gifts (v. 10). Prophecy is not only the miraculous foretelling of the future, but also literally means “to speak on behalf of someone else.” Today, prophecy takes place naturally whenever one preaches and teaches nothing more than God’s Word (2 Timothy 4:2; 1 Peter 4:11); by doing so one is “speaking on behalf of” God. Those who attempt to miraculously prophecy by predicting the future have always been proven to be false prophets when their prophecies fail to come to pass (Deuteronomy 18:20-22). The distinguishing between spirits refers to the miraculous power to automatically know what is in a person’s heart. Scripture cites Jesus and Peter as having this miraculous ability (John 2:24-25; Acts 5:1-11). Obviously, such a power doesn’t exist today. How many times have we been sure about what a person has been thinking or planning, only to be proven wrong?
Tongues and the interpretation of tongues were then listed as spiritual gifts (v. 10). Biblical speaking and interpreting of tongues were the miraculous ability to suddenly speak in an actual, societal language or interpret it, without having first studied and learned it naturally. The very first time one reads of anyone speaking in tongues in the Bible is in chapter 2 of Acts. Read that passage and you’ll see how the Scriptures specifically define speaking in tongues as the different languages spoken by different peoples who lived in different nations all over the known world at that time (Acts 2:6-8; cf. 1 Corinthians 14:10-13). Having tasked the early Christians with the awesome task of preaching the gospel to all nations (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16), the miraculous ability to speak these nations’ languages would be very expeditious to the fulfillment of that task. Those who claim to miraculously speak in tongues today say they are doing so when in reality they speak nothing more than gibberish instead of actual foreign languages spoken by other nations and societies.
Lord willing, next week we will conclude our study of what the Bible teaches about miracles.