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Theology > Jesus > Life and Teaching > The Miracles of Christ


Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know (Acts 2:22; ESV has “mighty works and wonders and signs”).

Scripture affirms through the words of Peter on the Day of Pentecost that the miracles of Christ were the means by which God affirmed Him, certifying indeed that Christ was from God; for it was God who did the works through Christ. And the works were done for all the people to see—“in your midst”—and thus they were able to form an opinion of Christ. Peter says that they, the people, “know” this to be true, the fact that the deeds accomplished by Christ were of God and therefore prove Christ to be from God; they knew these things to be true because they had personally witnessed them.

According to Peter the people’s rejection of Christ was a rejection of knowledge; by crucifying Christ the people were participating in an act they knew to be wrong because they had witnessed the deeds done by Christ and knew that Christ was from God. It was not that they were rejecting reason but were denying Revelation; they were rejecting events that required a definite conclusion. That which had been confirmed in their hearts by God was irrefutable knowledge that they deliberately and willingly refused to embrace.

Acts 2:22 refers to “miracles, wonders, and signs” (dunamis, teras, and sameion). These three Greek words are similar with distinct nuances: dunamis speaks of power or strength, an act of power, the power of God, a miracle; teras speaks of a wonder, an object of wonder that creates awe and even fear; and sameion speaks of a sign by which something is known or indicated, a signal or miraculous sign, indicating a deeper truth or conclusion that should be drawn. Two points need to be made: one, all three words are related to the supernatural; and two, all three words serve to indicate that the deed they refer to is for the purpose of instruction. Consider the following testimony from Biblical and non-Biblical sources:

Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him (Jo. 3:2; words of Nicodemus);

The works which the Father has given Me to finish—the very works that I do—bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me (Jo. 5:36; words of Jesus);

Since the world began it has been unheard of that anyone opened the eyes of one who was born blind. If this Man were not from God, He could do nothing (Jo. 9:32-33; words of the blind man who was healed);

The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me (Jo. 10:25); words of Jesus);

Believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him (Jo. 10:38; words of Jesus);

Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves (Jo. 14:11; words of Jesus);

God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him (Acts 10:38; words of Peter).

For just as, though invisible, he is known through the works of creation; so, having become man, and being in the body unseen, it may be known from his works that he who can do these things is not man, but the power and Word of God (Athanasius, On the Incarnation);

His very miracles have convinced us of his deity (Gregory of Nyssa, Against Eunomius).

The mighty work of Christ are different from the so-called miraculous deeds claimed by others:

One, the deeds of Christ are the deeds of God through Him; the deeds of others can be attributed to deception or demons, but they are not of God;

Two, the deeds of Christ flow from a pure nature, that is, they reflect His character and His teachings; the deeds of others are from those with sinful natures and some who claim to perform miracles are gross examples of depravity, such as pagan witch doctors and sorcerers;

Three, the deeds of Christ challenge those who witnessed them and those who hear of them to live moral lives; the deeds of others do not issue a call to ethics;

Four, the deeds of Christ reflect His larger work of redemption, with the physical healing indicating and teaching the fact of a deeper and more profound spiritual healing, which is personal salvation; the deeds of others know nothing of sin and redemption;

Five, the deeds of Christ contain within them a certification of their authenticity, meaning that they are of God—they are self-authenticating—to be exposed to them is to be exposed to the proof of them; the deeds of others are devoid of such reality;

Six, the deeds of Christ were anticipated by the Old Testament, so an element of prophecy is related to the miracles of Christ (Isa. 35:5-6; Matt. 11:4-6); the deeds of others know of no such prophecy;

Seven, the deeds of Christ led and lead to the fear of God; the deeds of others claim no relationship to the true God who demands worship.
What is a miracle? Can it be explained? Or should the believer simply maintain that the precise meaning of a miracle is inexplicable?

Is a miracle something that is rare, meaning that it seldom occurs, and this uniqueness is the perspective from which to determine and interpret a miracle;

Or is a miracle something that is contrary to the laws of nature—a suspension of natural law, such as the floating iron—and can only be effected by God;

Or is a miracle a hidden and unknown component part of nature that is activated or utilized by God in order to instill wonder in Him, to confirm Truth about Him, and to teach of His supernatural and mysterious ways;

Or is a miracle to be understood in the sense that it is an accelerated process of nature?

A miracle appears to violate the natural process, but his may be more perception than reality. In fact, the perception may be the result of a limited understanding of the natural process by the beholder, or by the one to whom the miracle is reported. In the larger sense, a miracle reflects the work of God, either accomplished through some unknown facet of the created order or by His immediate intervention into the created order by which He contravenes that order. Whichever perspective is assumed, the events recorded in the Scriptures that are called miracles/wonders/signs/mighty works must be believed, or the Text has no authority. The same book that records the plagues upon Egypt and the Exit from Egypt also records the Ten Commandments—they stand or fall together.

In the modern mind miracles are invalidated by the assertions of science which claim that the universe operates according to natural law or the laws of science, and without the influence of any manipulation from outside the system, namely some sort of God. It is assumed that the universe is a closed system. But the so-called laws of science are merely generalizations based upon supposed observation with no guarantee that what has been observed in the past will occur in the future; there is always the caveat that the existing laws can be modified by new data from continued observation—particulars cannot establish universals. Thus the question of miracles on the part of the modern man, who is conditioned by this scientific perspective, is discussed in terms of presuppositions that eliminated any reference to the Supernatural. And the irony is that the scientific man accuses the believer of a bias in favor of belief in the Supernatural. The truth is that each individual bring presuppositions to the discussion, that is, the man of science begins without God, while the believer begins with God. This dictates that there cannot be synthesis between those who predicate God and those who reject the option of God.

Acceptance or rejection of miracles is a reflection of the worldview with which one approaches the question. To view the world as a closed system that operates according to observable law is to discount the Supernatural and, therefore, the miraculous as even an option. To view the world as a creation by the Creator is to entertain the possibility that the One who made it can intervene within it and, therefore, miracles become feasible.

All true miracles are of God, in that the miracles would not occur if God did not cause them, either directly by His own action, or through the actions of men through His empowering of them. Jesus asserts: “The Father who dwells in Me does the works” (Jo. 14:10). The “signs and wonders” accomplished by Paul were performed “by the power of the Spirit of God,” and, as a result of the same, he was enabled to “preach the Gospel of Christ” (Rom. 15:19; see: Acts 10:36-38).

Therefore they stayed there a long time, speaking boldly in the Lord, who was bearing witness to the word of His grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands (Acts 14:3).

How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will (Heb. 2:3-4).

True miracles are associated with the Truth of the Scriptures, meaning they are associated with the person and teaching of Christ. The two cannot be divorced because they are essentially one.

True works of wonder lead to the God of wonder.

Untrue miracles, those performed by pagans and demons, never find their explanation in the unique deeds of God, but arise from deception or the manipulation of natural elements by those performing the untrue miracles. Untrue miracles are associated with error and heresy, with the attempt to deceive and to lead away from the Truth. Untrue works of wonder lead away from God (see: Matt. 24:23-24; II Cor. 11:14; II Thess. 2:9-12).

Were miracles an indication of His Deity, or are they to be understood as arising from His humanity and are to be understood as works of faith enabled because of His faith in God? Or, is the question irreverent and inappropriate?

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