Last summer, questions were submitted in our teen class that I answered each week. This is one of the questions from that series of lessons. I have provided the notes from my research and what I shared with the class that evening. Feel free to use it in the future in a bible study, if you would like.
Question: How many miracles happen each year?
Answer: To answer this question we must first have a better understanding of miracles. First, take an overall look at the miracles which happened in the New Testament. Are those those type of miracles happening today? Miracles were used for 4 purposes:
1. The first purpose of the miracles was to prove that Jesus is Deity/God. (John 1:1-3; 20:30; Acts 2:22). Why would John have made a record of these miracles, if Jesus were still performing miracles today?
2. The second purpose of the miracles was to confirm God's word to those who heard (Mark 16:20; Hebrews 2:1-4). Why was this important? The people in the New Testament did not walk around with their leather bound bible that had their favorite translations. They relied on manuscripts and word of mouth. So, in order to confirm that the words were truly from God, then miracles were performed.
3. The third purpose of miracles was to verify a true apostle (2 Corinthians 12:12). Reputation was important and God knew that, so He performed miracles through the apostles to give verification to those they were teaching that they indeed were apostles.
4. The fourth purpose of the miracles was to fulfill prophecy (Matthew 8:17). Isaiah wrote about someone who was coming that could heal the sick and take away illnesses. So, Jesus performed miracles to fulfill a prophecy that was written in the Old Testament. We do not have prophecies to be fulfilled today because the ultimate prophecy was fulfilled on the cross (Isaiah 53).
I, also, would like for you to take a look at I Corinthians 13, particularly around verse 8. After instructing the Corinthian Christians on the proper attitude in using miraculous gifts, he tells them that they are only temporary. Prophecies will fail. Tongues will cease. Knowledge will vanish away. When will this take place? The miraculous knowledge is limited. The prophecies are limited. But, the completeness (that which is perfect) will come; and when it does, these partial things (miracles) will vanish away.
Even though Paul had the ability to heal the sick, he didn't always heal them (2 Timothy 4:20). He mentions his leaving Trophimus sick at Miletum, by which it appears that though the apostles healed all manner of diseases miraculously, for the confirmation of their doctrine, yet they did not exert that power upon their own friends, so it would not look like a conspiracy.
The word "miracles" translates the Greek word "dunamis." Where teras is a display of power, dunamis is the power. It is translated as "mighty work," "power," "strength," or "miracle." Miracles are alterations of natural events. The birth of a baby is a wondrous event, but it is not a miracle because its birth follows the course God set for the world. Jesus healed people, but the reason we call his work miracles is because they happened instantaneously. There was no reversal of the course of a disease; the disease ceased to exist. There was no recovery time as the body restored itself after a battle with disease, the people displayed full use of their bodies. Take the example of the lame man: "Jesus said to him, "Rise, take up your bed and walk." And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked" (John 5:8-9). Read through the miracles of the Bible and notice how often it is emphasized that the change was immediate and complete.
By calling typical event "miracles" we are actually diminishing the true miracles recorded in the Bible. Were the works of prophets, Jesus, and the apostles everyday events or simply the change in attitude of people? Were they not something so notable, so extraordinary, that even reading about them 2,000 years after the fact we still sit in awe at what happened?
We do not need miracles today, because we have the completed word of God!
Andrew Thompson is the Youth and Family Minister at Rose Hill Church of Christ in Columbus, GA. He is married to the beautiful, Joy Thompson (who is way out of his league!). They enjoy sharing life together, ministering to teens and families, football in Tuscaloosa (Roll Tide!), and musical theatre. Andrew is a proud supporter of sarcasm and dry sense of humors. Thank you for reading!