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How Can We Know That the Miracles Really Happened?

The Nature of Biblical Miracles

Miracles in the Bible are extraordinary events that manifest divine intervention in the natural world. They are not mere anomalies but are purposeful acts that reveal God's power and authority. The Bible consistently portrays miracles as signs and wonders that authenticate God's message and messengers. For example, in John 20:30-31, it is written, "Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name." This passage highlights the purpose of miracles in affirming the identity and mission of Jesus Christ.

Old Testament Miracles: Evidence of Divine Power

The Old Testament is replete with miracles that demonstrate Jehovah's sovereignty over creation. One of the most significant collections of miracles is found in the account of the Exodus. The plagues in Egypt, culminating in the parting of the Red Sea, are prime examples. Exodus 14:21-22 describes this miraculous event: "Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and Jehovah swept the sea back by a strong east wind all night and turned the sea into dry land, so the waters were divided. The sons of Israel went through the midst of the sea on the dry land, and the waters were like a wall to them on their right hand and on their left." This miracle served to deliver the Israelites from bondage and to demonstrate God's power over nature and nations.

The provision of manna in the wilderness is another significant miracle. In Exodus 16:14-15, the Bible records, "When the layer of dew evaporated, behold, on the surface of the wilderness there was a fine flake-like thing, fine as the frost on the ground. When the sons of Israel saw it, they said to one another, 'What is it?' For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, 'It is the bread which Jehovah has given you to eat.'" This daily provision for forty years sustained the Israelites and evidenced God's continual care and miraculous provision.

Miracles of Elijah and Elisha

The prophetic ministries of Elijah and Elisha are marked by numerous miracles that affirmed their divine calling and message. In 1 Kings 18:38-39, Elijah's contest with the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel culminates in a dramatic miracle: "Then the fire of Jehovah fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, 'Jehovah, He is God; Jehovah, He is God.'" This miracle validated Elijah's message and demonstrated the power of Jehovah over false gods.

Elisha, Elijah's successor, performed miracles that similarly authenticated his prophetic ministry. In 2 Kings 4:32-35, Elisha raises the Shunammite woman's son from the dead: "When Elisha came into the house, behold the lad was dead and laid on his bed. So he entered and shut the door behind them both and prayed to Jehovah. And he went up and lay on the child and put his mouth on his mouth and his eyes on his eyes and his hands on his hands, and he stretched himself on him; and the flesh of the child became warm. Then he returned and walked in the house once back and forth, and went up and stretched himself on him; and the lad sneezed seven times and the lad opened his eyes." This resurrection miracle affirmed Elisha's role as a prophet and God's power over life and death.

New Testament Miracles: Signs of the Messiah

The New Testament records numerous miracles performed by Jesus, which serve as signs of His messianic identity and divine authority. In Matthew 14:25-27, Jesus walks on water: "And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea. When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified and said, 'It is a ghost!' And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, 'Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.'" This miracle demonstrates Jesus' mastery over the natural elements and His divine nature.

One of the most significant miracles in the New Testament is the resurrection of Lazarus, recorded in John 11:43-44: "When He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, 'Lazarus, come forth.' The man who had died came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth. Jesus said to them, 'Unbind him, and let him go.'" This miracle not only foreshadows Jesus' own resurrection but also serves as a powerful testament to His authority over life and death.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the cornerstone miracle of the Christian faith. As recorded in Matthew 28:5-7, the angel at the tomb announces, "Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you." The resurrection is the ultimate validation of Jesus' divine identity and the guarantee of eternal life for believers.

Apostolic Miracles: Continuing the Mission

The apostles continued to perform miracles after Jesus' ascension, demonstrating the ongoing power of God through the early church. In Acts 3:6-8, Peter heals a lame man: "But Peter said, 'I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene—walk!' And seizing him by the right hand, he raised him up; and immediately his feet and his ankles were strengthened. With a leap he stood upright and began to walk; and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God." This miracle not only brought physical healing but also served as a sign to the people of the divine authority and power at work in the apostles.

Another significant miracle is the raising of Tabitha (Dorcas) from the dead by Peter, as recorded in Acts 9:40-41: "But Peter sent them all out and knelt down and prayed, and turning to the body, he said, 'Tabitha, arise.' And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter, she sat up. And he gave her his hand and raised her up; and calling the saints and widows, he presented her alive." This resurrection miracle affirmed Peter's apostolic authority and the power of Jesus' name even after His ascension.

The Purpose and Verification of Miracles

Biblical miracles serve specific purposes: they authenticate God's messengers, demonstrate divine authority, and provide tangible evidence of God's intervention in human history. Miracles are not random acts but are intentional and meaningful, often accompanied by a message or teaching that points to a greater spiritual truth. For instance, in John 9:3, Jesus explains the purpose of a man's blindness and subsequent healing: "It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him." The miracle not only restored the man's sight but also revealed the works and glory of God.

The historical reliability of the miracles recorded in the Bible is supported by the consistency and coherence of the biblical narratives, the early composition of the New Testament texts, and the willingness of the apostles and early Christians to suffer and die for their testimony. The resurrection of Jesus, in particular, is attested by multiple independent sources, including the Gospels and the letters of Paul. In 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, Paul provides a summary of the resurrection appearances, emphasizing the eyewitness nature of these accounts: "For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also." The numerous eyewitnesses and the transformation of the apostles from fearful followers to bold proclaimers of the resurrection provide compelling evidence for the historicity of this central miracle.

The Role of Faith and Reason

While the historical and textual evidence for biblical miracles is substantial, faith also plays a crucial role in accepting their reality. Hebrews 11:1 defines faith as "the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." Faith in the miraculous works of God is not blind belief but is grounded in the reasonable evidence provided by Scripture and the internal witness of the Holy Spirit. The miracles recorded in the Bible invite believers to trust in the God who transcends natural laws and intervenes in human history for His purposes.

Christian apologetics bridges the gap between faith and reason, demonstrating that belief in biblical miracles is intellectually viable and spiritually enriching. As 1 Peter 3:15 exhorts, "But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence." This call to defend the faith includes providing reasons for believing in the miracles recorded in the Bible, emphasizing their role in revealing God's character and redemptive plan.

Addressing Skepticism and Misunderstandings

Skepticism regarding biblical miracles often arises from a naturalistic worldview that denies the possibility of supernatural intervention. However, a theistic worldview, which acknowledges the existence of an omnipotent God, provides a rational basis for the occurrence of miracles. If God created the universe and its natural laws, He is not bound by those laws and can intervene in extraordinary ways.

Some skeptics argue that the accounts of miracles in the Bible are mythical or symbolic rather than historical. However, the Historical-Grammatical method of interpretation, which seeks to understand the text in its original context and meaning, supports the literal understanding of these miraculous events. The detailed and consistent nature of the biblical narratives, along with the cultural and historical context provided by archaeological findings, reinforces the historicity of the miracles.

The Transformative Power of Miracles

The miracles recorded in the Bible are not only historical events but also carry profound spiritual significance. They reveal God's compassion, power, and desire to restore and redeem His creation. The healing miracles of Jesus, for instance, demonstrate His compassion for the suffering and His authority over sickness and death. In Matthew 9:35-36, it is written, "Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd."

The miracles of provision, such as the feeding of the five thousand in John 6:1-14, reveal God's ability to meet the needs of His people. In this account, Jesus multiplies five barley loaves and two fish to feed a large crowd, illustrating God's abundant provision and care. These miracles serve as reminders of God's faithfulness and His ability to provide for His people's physical and spiritual needs.

Miracles as Foretastes of the Kingdom

The miracles performed by Jesus and the apostles are also seen as foretastes of the coming Kingdom of God. They provide glimpses of the future restoration and renewal that God has promised. In Revelation 21:4, it is prophesied, "And He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away." The miracles recorded in the Bible point forward to this ultimate restoration, offering hope and assurance to believers.

Conclusion on Miracles' Reality

The miracles recorded in the Bible are historically reliable and theologically significant. They are acts of divine intervention that reveal God's power, authenticate His messengers, and provide tangible evidence of His redemptive work. The Historical-Grammatical method of interpretation supports the literal understanding of these miracles, and the substantial historical and textual evidence corroborates their occurrence. Faith in biblical miracles is both reasonable and enriching, inviting believers to trust in the God who transcends natural laws and intervenes in human history for His purposes.

About the Author

EDWARD D. ANDREWS (AS in Criminal Justice, BS in Religion, MA in Biblical Studies, and MDiv in Theology) is CEO and President of Christian Publishing House. He has authored over 220+ books. In addition, Andrews is the Chief Translator of the Updated American Standard Version (UASV).



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