Monday, November 24, 2014

What is a miracle? Miracles include visible signs

Hebrews 2:3-4 "how will we escape if we neglect so great asalvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, 4 God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and byvarious miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will."

Introduction and Review
For the past couple of days we have been doing a series of posts that aim to answer the question: what is a miracle?
In studying a few key scriptures we have come up with two thoughts thus far:

1. Miracles are irregular events
2. Miracles are directly done by God

In looking at these two descriptions, we realized that a miracle is any irregular event directly done by God. Today we consider another description that we can add to our overall answer to this question. 

Miracles include a visible sign 
So in understanding that miracles are irregular events directly done by God, how can we tell whether or not a miracle has occurred? Notice again what we read in Exodus 34:10 "....and all the people among whom you live will see the working of the Lord, for it is a fearful thing that I am going to perform with you....". 

Whenever we consider the miraculous in the Bible, we see other words used to describe such events.  For example, Hebrews 2:3-4 states - "how will we escape if we neglect so great asalvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, 4 God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will."  

The reader may had noticed the three underlined words in the text. These three words are the most common ones used in providing both the categories and detailed explanation of miracles. The first, "sign", refers to a visible phenomena the points back to the miracle and ultimately to God Himself. The Apostle John for instance uses this term to describe seven main miracles of Jesus in the Gospel of John. Just a signs in a building point people to finding specific locations and other people, the word "sign" tells us that the particular miracle has the quality of "pointing back" to it's point of origin - God Himself.

Then we see the second underlined in Hebrews 2:4, namely "wonders". This term is used often in contexts where God is directly affecting the physical environment or physical laws that would otherwise operate in a predictable fashion in the course of His Providence. Much like a catalyst works in chemistry, causing two or more elements to react and change, a "wonder" functions in much the same way. Think of "wonders" as God's "billboard" for bearing witness about Himself, His message and His messengers. 

Then the third term, translated "miracles", can just as easily be translated "workings". This term refers to a type of miracle whereby God may use ordinary events or people to do extraordinary things. Physical healing is one of the most common examples of this type of miracle. God can choose to use the body's own immune system to eradicate disease or reanimate dead people to come back to life - just as Jesus did with Lazarus. "Workings" are the most practical-type of miracle that are not so much designed to "shock and awe" as they are to meet a personal and practical need. 

Now with all three of these types of miracles, God includes some type of visible manifestation to vindicate His power and presence and the people whom he has directed to communicate His words. With the inclusion of such visible signs, miracles can be tested and verified. Such a point is worth noting, demonstrating that God's manifestation of such miracles was to demonstrate the truth of what was being said. Though miracles in and of themselves contain no power to convert the human soul, they do work in rendering people without excuse for not believing in God or trusting in Him for their salvation. 

We see then that miracles are possible in this world as part of irregular events that occur in this world.  We have also observed that a miracle, by definition, is an event directly done by God. Both these points show the possibility of miracles and their source. Today's trait included the idea that miracles include some sort of visible accompanying sign that verifies the reality of the One true and living God, the messenger and the message being conveyed. This final point shows that miracles are not just things that are imagined in the mind. Rather a true miracle can be readily identified as a genuine event occuring in history. 

Tomorrow we will consider one last characteristic that will complete our overall answer to the question: what is a miracle?

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