Witnessing the use of a miraculous gift during Biblical times would have been an amazing thing to behold. Seeing men truly speak in tongues (Acts 2:4-6) or witnessing a man’s amputated ear reattached by simply touching it (Luke 22:50-51)…I’m not even sure how to describe what I would think. And immediately healing someone who had suffered a lifetime with blindness (Mark 8:22-26). Just wow.
Miracles were definitely an important part of the ministry of Jesus and the apostles. But do miracles still exist today? Many claim they do, and some even claim to have the ability to perform such miracles. Take Benny Hinn for instance. Even today he travels the world in his crusades that include “healing services” where is proceeds to “heal” people in front of a live audience. It even gets down to some denominations that claim the Holy Spirit will come on them and allow them to speak in tongues. But if you speak to some Christians, you will be told that miracles no longer exist today? Both can’t be right, so which one is it?
Before we answer that, we must first understand the purpose of miracles. Believe it or not, healing someone of an illness was not always done just to improve that person’s life. If so, Jesus and the apostles could have wiped sickness and disease from the Earth during their lifetimes, but they didn’t. Although miracles were used for acts like the ten plagues, Creation, and the crossing of the Red Sea, according to Scripture, miracles served two main purposes in the New Testament:
- Miracles were used to reveal the Truth. Before Jesus was crucified, He spent some time talking with his disciples. Several times during Jesus’s interactions with them, it was obvious that the disciples did not really understand every detail of what Jesus was doing. It’s easy to understand that they would be concerned about being able to teach adequately when Jesus was gone. In John 14:25-26, Jesus said the following to His disciples: “These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” In other words, they would receive a miraculous dose of knowledge. When the Holy Spirit came, they would immediately have knowledge of everything they needed to teach. We see that promise fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2:1-4. Paul also confirmed this occurred in I Corinthians 2:7,10: “But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory…But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit.”
- Miracles were used to confirm the Truth that was being taught. In other words, these miracles helped Jesus and the disciples prove that they were the real deal. Two different Scriptures clearly state this reason. “And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs.” [Mark 16:20] “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book, but these are written 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] You have to remember that the Bible did not exist at this time. Many false teachers existed, so how were people to know who they were supposed to believe and who they weren’t. The miracles allowed Jesus and the apostles to stand out from the rest and to verify they were speaking with the full authority of God.
The two reasons for miracles to exist during the life of Christ and the apostles were driven by one thing: the Bible did not yet exist. If the apostles could carry with them a full copy of The Holy Bible, they would not have needed a miraculous dose of knowledge with which to teach. They could have simply opened up the Bible. Also, if the people to whom they were preaching had the Bible, they would not have needed a miracle to know who was preaching the truth and who was a wolf in sheep’s clothing. They could have simply opened up the Word of God and confirmed it themselves.
So, it sounds like once the Bible came along, the miracles of the first century were no longer needed. Would you be surprised if I told you that’s exactly what the Bible says? In I Corinthians 12, Paul spends a good section of Scripture talking about spiritual gifts and how the church in Corinth was allowing them to cause division. When he gets to chapter 13, he explains to them the greatest gift of all: love. Listen to what he says in I Corinthians 13:8-10:
“Love never fails. But whether there are prophesies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.”
All these spiritual gifts that Paul mentions (prophesies, tongues, and knowledge) will stop. They will go away. They will no longer exist. But when will that happen? That will happen “when that which is perfect has come.” The word perfect here is the Greek word teleios, which means complete or finished. Keep in mind that the Holy Spirit gave the apostles the knowledge they needed at the given time. They were only given bits and pieces as required and not given the entire revelation of God all at once. Therefore, “when that which is complete/finished has come”, then these miraculous gifts would cease. So, what is this complete revelation? The Bible! With the complete revelation of God recorded in one place, the miracles of the first century were no longer necessary.
So, do miracles exist today? According to Scriptures they don’t. We don’t need a miracle to give us the Word of God. We already have that. We don’t need someone to perform a miracle to prove they are speaking the Truth. We can look it up for ourselves. For all those today who claim to be able to perform miracles, what exactly are they doing? Whatever it is, it’s definitely not the miracles talked about in the Bible. From what the Bible says, miracles had a purpose, they served that purpose, and that purpose is no longer needed. In turn, miraculous gifts no longer exist. Today we are blessed with something so much more powerful and convincing: the Word of God.