MIRACLES, SIGNS, etc. Part II.
What is a miracle?
A long time ago, Calorius preached once at the Christian Medical Fellowship in Ghana; we never allowed him back again but he made the point accurately that when John the Baptist send emissaries to the Lord Jesus to ask if He is the Christ or should they expect another, the response from our Lord was enlightening. Jesus Christ sent a reply to this effect; the sick are being healed, the dead are being raised and the Good News is being preached to the poor. To Calorius, the order in which the miraculous phenomena are listed is important and the preaching of the Gospel and the conversion of sinners is the ultimate miracle. I agree.
I am not side-stepping the question and rationalizing my inability to move even a small hill in my backyard with my faith. I believe and have said this elsewhere that miraculous healing and wondrous signs have a different purpose for the unbeliever and the believer. For the unbeliever, it is a demonstration of God’s power and to confirm the preaching of the Gospel. For the believer however, it is primarily an act of God’s mercy in this fallen world. So Paul pleaded for mercy from God for the ill Epaphras, though Paul on other occasions healed the sick and raised a dead young man. When a believer falls ill, we have to lean on God’s grace and mercy and trust Him, otherwise I would have lost my faith by now- if it were possible.
You and I know that we are experiencing God’s great mercy each day we wake up. It is a miracle that we do not rupture a small blood vessel as we sleep peacefully or engage in other activity at night, as the case may be. Every arrival back home after my daily 36 mile commute is an act of mercy that a careless or drunken driver did not take me out. Every new word that my daughter speaks and every new sentence she reads…the list is endless. The direct absence of evil or misfortune in our daily lives should not be taken for granted.
I do not have much of a problem with misfortune, illness or death of a believer; I have no difficulty praying for an ill friend/relative and I fully expect God to answer and He does answer. We can all attest to it. Sometimes He does not answer (the way we expect) and I don’t know why but I will wait till I can see completely, no longer in a mirror…..
The other part of your question is why, if what I say is right, do we not see the miraculous being performed to convince the scoffing unbeliever, i.e., as a sign of God’s power. I have some thoughts on that too and may write further about that unless one of you says it better for me. Assuming that your premise is accurate, I will just for the moment paraphrase what Jesus said in the parable: “… if they did not believe Moses and the Prophets, then they will not believe even if someone is raised from the dead and goes back to tell them…” Consider that there were people who were direct witnesses to Jesus’ miracles, including some of the Pharisees and Chief Priests and yet would not believe; some even to the extent of suggesting that He did his miracles by the power of Beelzebub!
Here then is the ultimate miracle; Christ in you, the hope of glory. - Robbo
See also Where have all the miracles gone?