Miraculous displays of God’s power fill the pages of Scripture. From the mind-boggling plagues that liberated the Israelites to resurrection of Jesus, supernatural events mark major turning points in God’s redemptive plan.
This consistent biblical theme prompts an important question – should Christians expect to regularly encounter divine miracles in their lives today? Does God still actively perform supernatural signs and wonders in our modern age?
While debates exist within Christianity regarding these issues, studying the trajectory of miracles throughout Scripture provides helpful principles for thoughtfully evaluating this topic.
God’s Pattern of Miraculous Works in Biblical History
Throughout the Old Testament, miracles function as powerful signs confirming God’s presence and purpose in specific historical moments.
During Israel’s infancy as a nation, epic supernatural events like the 10 plagues and the Red Sea crossing validated God’s covenant with His people and demonstrated His supremacy over false gods.
Later in Israel’s history, prophets like Elijah and Elisha performed awe-inspiring miracles to revive wayward hearts back to faithfulness. Healings, resurrections and divine fire from heaven authenticated these prophet’s ministries during pivotal times of spiritual decline.
Miracles in the Old Testament were not everyday, mundane occurrences. But neither were they extremely rare or limited just to famous biblical heroes. The diversity of miracles and their repetition across various Old Testament narratives displays God’s willingness to work in extraordinary ways to accomplish His redemptive plan.
Turning to the New Testament, we find in Jesus’ ministry the most extensive demonstration of God’s supernatural power recorded in Scripture. The sheer variety, public nature and sheer quantity of Jesus’ miracles eclipse any Old Testament prophet or Jewish leader. His profound words are regularly coupled with equally profound signs and wonders – healing lifelong disabilities, rebuking violent storms, multiplying food, and even resurrecting the dead.
Why did Jesus’ couple such an extensive ministry of teaching with such a prolific ministry of miracles? He certainly could have proven His Messianic identity through preaching the arrival of God’s Kingdom alone. But the miracles consistently point to God’s compassionate desire to restore broken wholeness in all dimensions of life – physical, mental, relational and spiritual. They display in real-time the truth Jesus proclaimed.
In addition, Jesus’ integration of miracles into His ministry became a model for His followers to emulate. He gave authority to preach the Kingdom and “heal the sick” to both His select disciples and later the wider circle of 72 (Luke 10:9). After His resurrection, Jesus told His apostles to go and make disciples of all nations, “with signs following” to accompany their preaching. (Mark 16:17-18).
Jesus fully expected the miraculous to consistently follow the advance of God’s Kingdom through His body on earth. His Spirit-empowered life overflowing with signs and wonders was intended to be replicated in His people.
The book of Acts records this continuation of miracles among early believers, including remarkable healings, supernatural escape from prison, even raising the dead. The young church experienced the Holy Spirit moving in extraordinary ways that advanced gospel mission.
Paul’s letters provide intriguing glimpses into how miracles functioned within local churches. He refers to Christians in Corinth regularly exercising gifts of healings, tongues, prophecy and other supernatural manifestations of the Spirit. These were not abilities reserved just for apostles, but broadly distributed to all believers.
So when we survey the progression of Scripture, we find a consistent pattern of God displaying His power through miraculous events and spiritual gifts, especially in seasons of fresh Kingdom advance. While miracles recede during some historical periods, the fading is never permanent or decreed as the new normal. Their key purpose remains vividly showcasing God’s active presence.
Biblical Principles for Evaluating Modern Miracles
In light of this biblical foundation, what principles should guide Christians today in assessing modern claims of miracles?
First, Scripture itself never declares that the possibility of miracles or supernatural spiritual gifts would permanently cease after the apostolic age before Christ’s return. There is simply no definitive biblical statement limiting God’s sovereign ability to display miracles through His people today.
Second, placing experiential restrictions on God’s power based merely on historical patterns can be theologically precarious. If God in His wisdom desires to work miracles in fresh ways in our modern age compared to certain historical periods, He remains entirely free to do so according to His sovereign will.
Third, Christians should avoid pressuring God by demanding He must work in certain prescribed ways on our timetable. The apostle Paul states that spiritual gifts are apportioned by God’s Spirit “as He wills” (1 Cor 12:11), not according to human expectations or limitations.
Fourth, claims of modern miracles must be approached with careful biblical discernment and wisdom. Sadly, many outlandish miracle claims stem from exaggeration or fraudulent motives. Christians should sincerely desire God’s supernatural works while also filtering all claims through the lens of Scriptural authority.
Fifth, the heart and character of individuals claiming miracles require sober assessment. Even genuinely supernatural events can be distorted to improperly exalt human leaders if transparency and humility are lacking. Any miracles occurring should point people towards God, not showcase human talents.
Sixth, while anticipating God’s miraculous works, Christians must remember that inward spiritual fruit produced by the Holy Spirit is far more important than any outward miracles witnessed or experienced. As theologian Jonathan Edwards noted, even if the supernatural gifts have temporarily ceased, this means little if fervent love for Christ and holy living are absent.
So in summary, believers can remain sincerely open to God’s potential miraculous works today while also emphasizing key biblical values of humility, discernment, integrity and Spirit-transformed character.
Examples of Miracles and the Supernatural Throughout Church History
Throughout the last 2000 years, many miraculous stories have surfaced among various Christian traditions that seem to continue the biblical pattern.
Ranging from documented healings and prophetic visions to angelic visitations and demonic exorcisms, these accounts remind us of a God who at times intervenes in extraordinary ways to accomplish His purposes throughout history.
While theological differences exist on interpreting specific miracles claims, together they display a trajectory of the Spirit actively dispensing supernatural gifts beyond just early biblical generations. The same Spirit who empowered the early church continues to work in diverse ways.
Modern examples that appear to reflect biblical themes include:
- Carefully verified healings in response to prayers that convey God’s mercy and power
- Undeniably supernatural knowledge of situations that ended up bringing unbelievers to faith
- Missionaries describing divine guidance or provision that opened doors for the gospel
- Dreams, visions and other revelations on the mission field that transformed communities
- Unusual strength, peace and hope among persecuted believers that could only be explained as supernatural
- Amazing protection and deliverance for those advancing God’s Kingdom in dangerous areas
- Believers empowered through prayer in evangelism to communicate in a language they have never learned
While major differences exist within Christianity regarding which miracle claims to accept as valid, these types of stories encourage many to remain open to God acting outside the natural laws He Himself created to accomplish redemptive purposes on earth.
Applying a Biblical Kingdom Focus
Scripture repeatedly calls believers to a faith anchored in pursuing God’s Kingdom more than seeking miracles. Unity among Christians in proclaiming the gospel and displaying the Holy Spirit’s love, joy, peace and other inner virtues matters far more than differences regarding the continuation of miracles.
In addition, the Bible prohibits using miracles as flashy merchandize or pointless amusement to satisfy curiosity. Any miraculous works will align with and serve God’s mission of redemption, not become alluring distractions.
Those anticipating God’s miraculous activity today must also guard against superficial sensationalism. Miracles without meaningful context reduce God’s glory to cheap entertainment. Approaching miracles with maturity, wisdom and eternal perspective is imperative.
Believers should cling tightly to the sufficiency of Scripture. While expecting God to actively work today, Christians must remember the Bible remains the sole final authority for faith and practice, not personal experiences.
With these guardrails in place, Christians can pray to God with faith-filled expectancy, believing He still works in miraculous ways to advance His Kingdom according to His wise will. But faith rooted in Scripture will also overflow with the fruit of the Spirit, eager to glorify God more than craving personal miracles.
In closing, the consistent biblical pattern of God displaying His mighty power through redemptive miracles across every era of history provides confidence that He remains able to supernaturally work in the world today.
While debates exist within Christianity over the precise continuation of certain spiritual gifts, we must admit that an unchanging God who transcends time hardly seems restricted by it.
The testimonies of miracles continuing, even if less frequently compared to eras like the book of Acts, provide many Christians assurance that the same Holy Spirit who empowered early believers still actively guides the church today.
This gives freedom to approach God with great expectancy, while avoiding presumption. By His grace, we may witness fresh displays of His loving might that provide glimpses of eternity breaking into present reality. What a blessing to serve a God who can still dazzle our senses and silence our doubts through miraculous works!
Yet above all, believers cherish God’s miracle of inward transformation as His Spirit cultivates love, joy, peace and other beautiful virtues in receptive hearts. Outward miracles fade, but inward renewal lasts forever. This glorious miracle surpasses all others.
May our sovereign God continue working in seen and unseen ways as He accomplishes His redemptive plan on earth! By faithfully walking with His Spirit, we can confidently anticipate God occasionally granting extraordinary glimpses of His majesty until the day His miraculous power is fully revealed at Christ’s return and God’s Kingdom triumphs forevermore.