Saturday, November 29, 2014

Tests Determining True from False Miracles: Pointing to the Biblical Jesus

Deuteronomy 13:1-3a “If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, 2 and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them,’3 you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams...".

Introduction and Review
The past couple of posts have been concerned with determining what are genuine miracles from God versus those that are of a counterfeit nature. We have considered two tests thus far: namely that a genuine Divine miracle will point back to the True and Living God and will confirm His Word, the Bible. 

I felt it necessary to include this particular discussion in this overall blog series on miracles because of the prevailing challenges posed by false religions and skeptics alike. This overall series has been concerned with both defining miracles and discerning true ones from false ones. The proposed definition of a miracle that emerged from our study is the following: "A miracle is an irregular, direct act of God that has attending signs the confirm God's personal identity, message and messenger." As we aim to draw this overall series on miracles to a conclusion, we will consider one more indicator regarding whether or not a given phenomena or event is a genuine miracle from God, namely....

True miracles point to the Biblical Jesus 
In Acts 16:16-18 we read: "It happened that as we were going to the place of prayer, a slave-girl having a spirit of divination met us, who was bringing her masters much profit by fortune-telling.17 Following after Paul and us, she kept crying out, saying, “These men are bond-servants of the Most High God, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation.” 18 She continued doing this for many days. But Paul was greatly annoyed, and turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her!” And it came out at that very moment. This episode helps us to see clearly the difference between a counterfeit miracle and a true one.

The girl following Paul and his companions had a familiar spirit, a spirit of divination that had her owners claiming her ability to foretell the future. This girl's demonic possession was so-powerful and convincing that her unscrupulous masters had profited much from both her exploitation and the curious people who were willing to pay the price. As the girl followed Paul around, she told the truth about what Paul was doing, but notice the subtlety of the message: namely that attention was being put upon Paul, not Jesus! Paul could not allow this deceiving spirit to continue and so by the power of Jesus exorcised the demon.

This point is so vital because in today's world we have many religions and groups claiming to do miracles and speak in the name of God. However, in evaluating their claims, is their message and alleged miracles pointing to the Jesus revealed in the Bible or to the speaker or some other figure? 

Jesus Christ Himself came by means of one of the greatest miracles - the virgin birth. As God in human flesh, Jesus Christ was and still is the very embodiment of not only the miraculous, but the source of all true miracles: God Himself.  We read for example in John 10:25 "Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, these testify of Me." Then later on Jesus states plainly in  John 10:38 "but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.”

Closing thoughts
It is vital that we as God's people know how to discern truth from error. In-as-much as these past several posts have labored to show the reality of miracles, we must hasten to be sure that what we are seeing and hearing are genuine miracles (in the Biblical sense). We have seen that in order to discern true from false miracles, we must use the following three tests:

1. Does the miracle point to God?
2. Does the miracle point to His Word?
3. Does the miracle point to the Biblical Jesus?

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