Should You Believe in Miracles? Yes and No

Many people have asked me over the years if I believe God still works miracles today.  My answer has usually frustrated people because I always answer “Yes and No.”  Why do I do this?  Read how R.C. Sproul explains this below on a recent Ligonier blog:

Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it… It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.” — Hebrews 2:1-4

I get this question all the time, “R.C., do you believe that miracles happen today?” If you want me to give the simple answer, the answer is no. Today, you can go into a pastor’s office and see a sign that says, “Expect a Miracle.” But if you expect a miracle—if miracles are expectable—there’s nothing miraculous about them. If they’re ordinary then they carry no certifiable weight. It’s by their extraordinary character that they have sign power: sign-ificance.

Now of course when people ask me, do I believe in miracles, they’re asking one question and I’m answering a different one. If they’re saying to me, “Do you believe that God is still working in the world supernaturally?” Of course I do. “Do you believe that God answers prayers?” Of course I do. “Do you believe that God heals people in response to prayer?” Of course I do. All miracles are supernatural, but not all supernatural acts are miracles. Theologians get real tight in their making of distinctions, and when I say I don’t believe in miracles today, I don’t believe in the tight kind of miracle in the very narrow sense where a miracle is defined as a work that occurs in the external perceivable world; an extraordinary work in the external perceivable world against the laws of nature, by the immediate power of God; a work that only God can do, such as bringing life out of death, such as, restoring a limb that has been cut off—by command—such as, walking on the water, such as, turning water into wine.

Why This Is Important

Even some of the marvelous signs in the New Testament wouldn’t qualify as a miracle in this tight definition. So why do we labor so hard for this tight definition? For this reason: if anybody can perform miracles, if a person who’s not an agent of divine revelation can perform a miracle, then obviously a miracle cannot certify an agent of revelation. Let me say it again. If a non-agent of revelation can perform a miracle, then a miracle cannot authenticate or certify a bona fide agent of revelation. Which would mean that the New Testament’s claim to be carrying the authority of God Himself, because God has certified Christ and the Apostles by miracles, would be a false claim and a false argument.

So what’s at stake here is the authority, the authenticity, and the truthfulness of the Bible itself. That’s why I have this tight definition, and why I don’t expect miracles, because I don’t expect to find Apostles running around today. So the narrow miracles, they stopped at the end of the Apostolic age.

God’s Still Alive and Working

Now God’s still alive, He’s still working; He’s still answering prayers in an amazing way. I’ve seen marvelous answers to prayers, I’ve seen people healed of so called terminal illnesses, I just have never seen anybody raised out of the cemetery, or an arm that is severed grow back, or a preacher walk on the water, or water turned into wine. But in any case, the Lord Jesus did these miracles not only in the broad sense, but also in the narrow sense. It’s the miracles of the New Testament that are so important to us, because they are God’s attestation of Jesus’ and of the Apostles, before whose authority we submit.

2 thoughts on “Should You Believe in Miracles? Yes and No

  1. What “kind” of miracle does Sproul then believe in? Why does it follow that if a believer was used by God to raise someone from the dead that would automatically attest to that believer being an apostle? Granted we don’t see a “period” of miracles that were worked during the first century. But how do we know that occasionally in some hidden corner of the world God doesn’t work at so-called “tight” miracle to accomplish his purpose? And, if we learned that he did, would we have to brand that “miracle-worker” a false apostle/prophet, because we’ve decided doesn’t do that sort of thing anymore? I’m just simple enough to say that when I ask God for a miracle in Jesus’ name, I’m not going to worry about the “category” and hopefully I’m not limiting him in anyway by my “theological (?) unbelief”!

  2. It’s been brought to my attention that my exclamation point at the end of my comment above may imply I’m angry at Pastor Adam. I’m sorry for that implication. I’m not angry. The exclamation point was for ME: I don’t want to limit God’s work in any way by an incorrect theological system or unbelief of any kind. I respect Pastor Adam and R.C. Sproul. That brothers can openly dialogue and disagree while still honoring each other is a good thing that ultimately leads to a deeper understanding of the Gospel, a unity that is grounded in Christ himself, and a humble realization that despite the written Word and the sanctifying of the Spirit, that “now we see in a mirror dimly”..

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