WHERE DID ALL THE MIRACLES GO?
Not including salvations how many miracles would you guess are in the Bible? 500? 1000? More? The question is a little tricky depending on your definition of miracle but there are about 160 miracles recorded in Scripture. This may seem like a large amount considering there are only 66 books, but the majority of biblical miracles happened in three brief periods of Bible history: In the days of Moses and Joshua, Elijah and Elisha, and during the time of Christ and the Apostles. Apart from those three eras the only supernatural events found in Scripture are isolated incidents.
In the New Testament, outside of the Gospels and the Book of Acts (and Revelation, but those miracles haven’t happened yet), do you have any idea how many miracles are recorded to have happened? ZERO. Not one. Apart from Jesus, the only people we see performing miracles were the apostles or those the apostles worked with. It never extends beyond that. Most people in the bible never witnessed a miracle. Here’s the point, what we find in the Bible are highly concentrated clusters of miracles performed by only a select group of people. Not every person and not for every generation. That’s the Pattern of Scripture.
The book of First Corinthians refers to the time when certain gifts will be done away with:
1 Corinthians 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. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
There are a few thoughts on what the “perfect” referred to in this verse could mean but if these apostolic gifts were to confirm the Word of God wouldn’t it make sense that when the revelation of God was complete that those sign gifts would go away?
We have no mandate or model in Scripture for the continuance of apostolic gifts today. No other epistle outside of First Corinthians even mentions miraculous gifts. It’s likely the only reason Paul did write about these gifts was due to the constant abuse of them by the Corinthian church. First Corinthians is one of the earliest New Testament books written. Later books like Ephesians and Romans contain detailed passages on the gifts of the Spirit, but the miracle gifts are not mentioned.
Take for example the book of James which is likely the earliest penned book of the New Testament. In James there are no instructions to seek out those with a gift of healing instead James writes that you should, “call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him.” (James 5:14)
Even before the Apostles had all died the frequency of these miraculous gifts come to a screeching halt in Scripture. Toward the end of his life Paul wrote to Timothy about a stomach illness the young preacher was having and Paul says:
1 Timothy 5:23
Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities.
Wine would act as a purifying agent in the water to kill bacteria. Why wouldn’t Paul just encourage Timothy to seek out one of the many people with the gift of healing to take care of his frequent sickness? After all, this is the great Apostle Paul we are talking about. Instead, Paul turns to a more medicinal approach.
Maybe an even better example of this is found in Paul’s second letter to Timothy when he writes about Trophimus.
2 Timothy 4:20
Erastus abode at Corinth: but Trophimus have I left at Miletum sick.
Why would Paul leave this faithful companion who he had known for years sick? Surely one of the nearby churches could provide a believer who possessed the gift of healing. Maybe Trophimus didn’t sow a big enough seed to the Apostle Paul’s ministry?
What about the Apostle Paul himself? As Paul wrote to the church in Galatia, he reflects on his preaching the gospel to them but mentions that when he originally came, he had an illness.
Ye know how through infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel unto you at the first.
Of all the churches that Paul visited, did no one offer to use their gift of healing? Or had this temporary sign gift already begun to fade from the church?It should be noted that even if these gifts were still around the miraculous gifts described in the Bible are nothing like what we see today. The healing we see in Scripture appears nothing like what is observed from supposed “faith healers” today. Healing was never based on money or sowing a seed or even at times, faith! (Luke 22:51) The gift of tongues which is so popular in charismatic circles doesn’t resemble the Biblical gift at all! But it does remind us of the false gift of tongues Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 14.
Where are the healers? Where are the miracle workers? There is not one single verifiable self-proclaimed miracle worker today who has ever raised someone from the dead. If the greater works Jesus spoke about in John 14 refer to miraculous gifts the church must not have gotten the memo!
THE REAL DEAL
“If you are a believer, the miracle of miracles has happened: God has forgiven your sins. Nothing can be greater than that.” – Owen Strachan
A few weeks ago, I sat across from a 60-year-old woman who had been religious for most of her life but never truly saved. As I explained the gospel to her, she finally realized her great need. With tears rolling down her face she cried out to Jesus for salvation.
Do we want to see a miracle? Let’s admonish the church to stop following these phony faith healers and start evangelizing the lost. To see a spiritually dead sinner made alive in Christ by the power of the Spirit is to witness an actual miracle! To have the burden of sin removed, the guilt of sin gone, to be forgiven, and become a child of God is the unspeakable joy the Bible tells us of. That’s the real gold.