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Miracles as Evidence for God, Jesus and the BibleMiracles as Evidence for God, Jesus and the Bible

A Biblical Approach to Evidences for God, Jesus, and the Bible

Do miracles give evidence to convince us to believe in God, Jesus, and the Bible? What are the characteristics of a true miracle? What eyewitness testimony do we have that miracles occurred?


Testimony #5: Miracles


This is part of a complete series of evidences for the major claims of the Bible that God exists, the Bible is God's word, and Jesus is God's Son. This article must be studied in context of the whole series of articles. To start at the beginning of the series, please go to www.gospelway.com/god/evidences.php.

A miracle, according to the Bible, is not just any unusual event, nor would an event be called a miracle just because God caused it. A miracle is an event that would be impossible by natural law, but is brought to pass by the supernatural power of God.


I. What Do Miracles Prove?


Miracles accomplished the following purposes:

A. The Bible Claims that Miracles Prove God Exists and Is the True God.

Consider what is stated about the following examples. (We will study many of these examples more closely later. For now, simply note what is stated about why they occurred.)

The plagues on Egypt

Exodus 9:13-16; 10:1,2 - The plagues on Egypt occurred so people throughout the world and even in future generations would know Jehovah is the true God. Those future generations would include us today. And sure enough, people throughout history have heard of the plagues God brought on Egypt through Moses.

Exodus 12:12 - The plagues were also a judgment on the gods of Egypt. Some plagues were direct attacks on certain gods (the Nile River, the sun, etc.). But the main point is that Egyptian gods could not do such great works as these, nor could they resist the power of God. So God proved He is the true God in contrast to heathen idols.

[Exodus 5:1,2; 7:3-5,17; 8:18,19,23; 13:3,8,9; Deut. 6:20-25; Num. 33:4]

Crossing the Red Sea

Exodus 14:18,31 - The ultimate goal of the parting of the Sea was that God might gain honor, so the people would fear the Lord and believe in Him.

Joshua 24:5-7,14 - As a result of these miracles, God would be honored and people would forsake other gods and serve only the true God.

[Ex. 14:4; 15:2,11-18,26; Deut. 7:19; 1 Sam. 4:8; Neh. 9:9-11; Psalm 78:4-7, 10-13, 42-53; 105:26-38,45; 106:6-13; 135:8,9; 136:10-15; Isaiah. 51:10]

Manna in the wilderness

Exodus 16:12-15,31-35 - God provided Manna as food for Israel for forty years as they traveled to Canaan. It fell like dew on the ground, so each morning they had simply to gather it for food. This confirmed to the people the existence of God (v12).

Giving the law at Mt. Sinai

Deuteronomy 4:32-40 - Moses said that God led Israel out of Egypt by signs and wonders and then spoke to them out of great fire "that you might know that the Lord Himself is God; there is none other besides Him" (vv 34,35,39). As a result they should keep His statutes and commandments (v40).

Crossing the Jordan on dry ground

Joshua 4:22-24 - God caused the Jordan to stop flowing, so Israel could pass on dry ground. This gave people reason to fear the Lord as God forever.

Elijah on Mt. Carmel

1 Kings 18:36-39 - God sent fire from heaven (which Baal could not do) so people would know to believe in the true God and that Elijah was acting by God's authority.

Daniel's three friends in the fiery furnace

Daniel 3 - Nebuchadnezzar King of Babylon commanded men to bow to his image or be thrown into a fiery furnace. Daniel's three friends refused and were thrown in but were not harmed. Nebuchadnezzar decreed that no other god could deliver like that (vv 24-30).

These claims are mainly found in the Old Testament. By the time the New Testament was written, Old Testament miracles had abundantly proved the existence of God and the fact that the Bible God is the true God.

Nevertheless, New Testament miracles confirm the existence of God just as surely as did Old Testament miracles. Such events are impossible by natural means. The fact that they occurred proves there must be a God. And the fact these miracles were done by the God who guided the Bible writers proves that He is the true God, since no other "gods" can duplicate these acts.

B. The Bible Claims that Miracles Prove Jesus Is God's Son as He Claimed.

Mark 2:3-12 - Jesus claimed that His power to heal proved He also had power to forgive sins, which only God could do (v7).

John 3:2 - Nicodemus said people knew Jesus was a teacher come from God, since no one could do the works Jesus did unless God was with him.

John 5:36 - Jesus said His works proved that the Father sent Him.

John 10:37,38; 14:10,11 - Jesus claimed people should believe His works, so they would know the Father is in Him and He in the Father.

John 20:30,31 - Jesus' signs give people reason to believe that He is God's Son, so we can have life in His name.

Acts 2:22-24 - God gave testimony to Jesus by doing wonders, signs, and miracles through Him. Note again that God gives us testimony on which to base our faith.

The point is that Jesus did works that were impossible by natural law. If He had been an imposter, God would not have allowed Him to do such works. The fact God allowed Him to do them would confirm the validity of His claims.

[John 1:47-51; 2:11,23; 4:48; 6:14; 9:16,25-33; 11:4,15,40-48; 12:9-11; Luke 7:16; 2 Peter 1:16-21]

C. The Bible Claims that Miracles Prove Bible Writers (& Other Prophets) Were Inspired by God.

Bible writers and prophets said that miracles done through them confirmed that their message was from God.

Old Testament prophets

Exodus 4:1-9 - Moses feared that the people would not believe God had sent him (v1). So God gave him signs expressly to convince the people to believe.

Exodus 14:30,31 - After the crossing of the Red Sea, the people believed the Lord and His servant Moses.

Joshua 3:7-17 - When Joshua led Israel across the Jordan on dry ground, God said this showed the people that He was with Joshua as He had been with Moses (v7).

1 Kings 18:36-39 - Elijah called down fire from heaven (which the prophets of Baal could not do) so people would know that Elijah was acting by God's authority.

[Num. 16:28-35; chap. 17; 1 Kings 17:24; 2 Kings 1]

New Testament prophets

Mark 16:20 - Jesus sent apostles to preach (vv 14,15), and as they did so, He worked with them, confirming the word by the signs He gave them (vv 17,18).

Acts 14:3 - God spoke through Paul and Barnabas. He bore witness to the word of His grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands.

2 Corinthians 12:11,12 - Signs, wonders, and miracles would confirm one was an apostle.

Hebrews 2:3,4 - God bore witness to the message of salvation by signs, wonders, etc.

People needed a way to distinguish true prophets from false ones. This was the purpose of miracles. If men could do works that could be performed only by the power of God, people would know God was working in those men and they would believe the message preached.

Note again the many references to "witness," "signs," "testimony," etc. God does not expect people to believe that He spoke through Bible writers on the basis of speculation or blind faith. He offers proof. Miracles were a deliberate demonstration by God to prove that He exists, that Jesus is His Son, and that the Bible writers and prophets were His spokesmen.

[Acts 9:33-42]


II. The Characteristics of True Miracles


The power of miracles as evidence rests in the nature of the acts themselves. Considering the specific details of Bible miracles will help us see the convincing nature of the evidence. This evidence is further strengthened when we contrast Bible miracles to the so-called miracles fraudulently claimed by those who are not really from God.

Note that Bible miracles in general possessed the following characteristics. (As with all eyewitness testimony, certain details are not mentioned in some cases; but when the details are mentioned, they always harmonize with these characteristics.)

A. There Was Conclusive Evidence that the Miraculous Event Occurred.

The occurrence of the event was unmistakably evident to observers.

Fake miracle workers often claim miracles in cases of invisible or undetectable diseases. Or the problem may be psychosomatic, caused by the person's mental or emotional state, such that an improvement in their mental or emotional state would remove the problem. Often there is no obvious evidence that the supposed event occurred at all. In some cases, in fact, the whole thing could have been staged or faked in harmony with natural law.

Contrast this to the following examples of Bible miracles. We will see no sleight of hand or trickery. In miraculous healings, there was clear evidence that the people had organic disorders, and there was conclusive proof that the problem was removed.

* Lazarus - John 11:17,38,39,43-45. It was clear to all witnesses that Lazarus had been dead four days yet came alive again.

* Blind man - John 9:1,7,18-20,21,25. It was unquestionably proved that the man could not see from birth, but then he was so healed he could see.

* Woman bowed together - Luke 13:11,13,16. All could see she was hunch-backed, but then she was straightened.

* Lame man - Acts 3:2,7,8,10; 4:22. Many people knew the man could not walk, but it was obvious that he was enabled to do so. [Cf. 14:8-11]

* Son of the widow of Nain - Luke 7:11-17. The man had died and a great multitude gathered for his funeral procession. Yet Jesus raised him in the presence of the crowd.

* Elymas - Acts 13:6-12. Elymas was a sorcerer who opposed Paul's effort to convert a proconsul. Paul struck him blind temporarily, resulting in the proconsul's conversion.

Note how Bible miracles are so obviously different from fake so-called miracles.

[See also Mark 1:44; 2:1-12; 4:35-41; 7:32-37; Matt. 12:9,14; 14:22-33; John 6:5-14; 2:1-11; Acts 9:33-42]

Local people were personally involved in the miracles.

Fake miracle workers often claim miracles that supposedly happened to someone somewhere whom no one knows locally, so no one can visit them to verify the event. In contrast, local people received the effect of Bible miracles, and local people could observe for themselves and check the matter out. They could question the people involved, check out whether they had really been ill, observe if there was a complete healing or whether there were relapses, etc. Hence, they could determine for themselves whether there had been a real miracle.

* Lazarus - John 11:1,17-19,31,45. Lazarus was healed in his own hometown, where he was known to be dead and could then be observed alive.

* Blind man - John 9:1,7-9,18-20. To determine the validity of the healing, people could contact witnesses. Jesus was not afraid to have people check out the validity of His miracles.

* Son of the widow of Nain - Luke 7:11-17. This young man was raised from the dead in the presence of his own funeral party - the very people who knew him best, knew of his death, and could see for themselves that he had come back to life.

* Lame man - Acts 3:2,9,10; 4:22,16. This man was known by the people of the city to be lame. Multitudes of these people saw him both before and after he was healed.

Again, why are Bible miracles so obviously different from fake so-called miracles?

[Acts 9:33-42; 13:6-12; Mark 2:1-4,10-12]

Miracles were often done in the presence of unbelievers, false teachers, and even false miracle-workers.

Fake faith healers often refuse to do miracles if doubters or opponents are present, or they excuse their failure on the grounds that the observers lack faith. But when men of God had true power to do miracles, they were not afraid to do them in the presence of people who had questions or doubts, or even people who openly opposed their teaching. At times they would deliberately do miracles in the presence of those who did false miracles, so that people could see the difference. Observers could investigate for themselves the validity of the miracles.

* Ten plagues & Red Sea - Exodus 8:17-19; 14:26-31. Pharaoh's magicians tried to duplicate Moses' miracles, but eventually admitted Moses did miracles by the power of God. Pharaoh and his army witnessed the crossing of the Red Sea, and they drowned when the water collapsed.

* Elijah on Mt. Carmel - 1 Kings 18:20-40. The people of Israel doubted who was the true God. Yet in their presence Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal to a showdown to see who had real power of miracles.

* Daniel's three friends- Daniel 3. Nebuchadnezzar King of Babylon compelled people to worship an idol. He threw Daniel's three friends into a fiery furnace, then he and his advisors witnessed that they were not hurt in any way (vv 24-30).

* Malchus - Luke 22:50,51. When Jesus was being arrested, Peter cut off the ear of the high priest's servant. In the presence of the very men who were arresting Him, Jesus restored the man's ear!

* Simon the Sorcerer - Acts 8:5-13. Simon did works claimed to be from God, but Philip did true miracles in his presence. Simon was so amazed by the contrast that he was converted.

* Elymas - Acts 13:6-12. When Elymas opposed the truth, Paul struck him blind. Elymas, powerless to prevent or overcome the blindness, admitted the miracle by seeking a guide.

* Lazarus - John 11:47,48. After Jesus raised Lazarus, His enemies admitted He did many miracles.

* Lame man - Acts 4:10,14-16. After Peter & John healed the lame man (3:1-10), the Jewish opponents admitted it was a great miracle.

* Saul of Tarsus - Acts 9:1-18. After His resurrection, Jesus appeared to the persecutor Saul to convince Him of the resurrection.

* Crippled man in Lystra - Acts 14:8-18. Paul and Barnabas healed a crippled man who had never walked. The result was that the idol-worshipers of the city wanted to make sacrifices and worship them as gods.

Note the contrast between men who had true miraculous power from God and false teachers who attempted to do miracles but failed. Fake miracles, both today and in Bible times, obviously fail to measure up to the characteristics of true miracles. True Bible miracles, by their very nature, demonstrated to everyone present that a real and obvious change occurred. Why are Bible miracles so different in nature from so-called modern miracles?

[John 9; Num. 16:28-35 & chap. 17; Matt. 12:9-14,22-24; Luke 5:17-26; 6:6-11; 13:10-17; 1 Kings 13:1-6; chap. 22; 2 Kings 1 & 6; Dan. 2,3,&5; Jer. 28; Acts 19:11-17; 2:22]

B. True Miracles Occurred at a Specific Point in Time.

Many modern so-called miraculous healings gradually develop over a period of days, weeks, or months, yet people still claim it is a miracle. In Bible miracles the transformation or change caused by the miracle almost always occurred at a specific time when the inspired man attempted to do it or said it would occur. Specifically, Bible healings did not gradually develop over a period of days, weeks, or months but occurred instantaneously.

* Acts 3:7 - The lame man immediately leaped and walked.

* Luke 13:11-13 - The hunch-backed woman was immediately made straight.

* Mark 2:10-12 - The paralyzed man got up immediately.

* Mark 5:25-29 - The woman with an issue of blood for 12 years was healed immediately.

* Mark 5:35-42 - Jairus' daughter had been dead but arose immediately.

[Acts 9:33-42; 13:11; 14:8-11; John 9:1,6,7; Mark 1:42; Luke 7:14,15; 1 Kings 18:25-30,35-39]

C. True Miracles Were Always Successful.

Modern so-called miracle workers often attempt miracles but fail, especially when attempting to heal obvious physical deformities. Neither Jesus nor His apostles (after they received Holy Spirit baptism) ever attempted to do a miracle and failed. There was no kind of disease they were unable to heal.

Matthew 4:23,24 - Jesus healed all manner of diseases.

Matthew 14:34-36 - All were healed.

Acts 5:12,15,16 - They were healed every one.

Jesus and His apostles healed people born blind (John 9:1), born lame (Acts 3:2; 4:22), lepers (Mark 1:40-45), raised the dead (John 11; Luke 7:11-17; Acts 9:36-42), replaced missing or withered body parts (Luke 22:49-51; Mark 3:1-5), turned water to wine (John 2:1ff), walked on water (Matt. 14:25-33), calmed storms (Mark 4:35-41), and fed thousands with a few loaves & fishes and had more left over than they started with (Matthew 14:13-21; 15:32-38). (See also Matthew 8:16,17; 10:1; 9:35; 12:15; Mark 7:32-37; 16:17,18.)

[In two cases, the apostles failed - Matt. 17:14-20; 14:25-33. But this was before they received Holy Spirit baptism.]

D. True Miracles Were Complete & Perfect

Modern so-called miracles often involve partial improvements or relapses or require further medical care and treatment, yet the results are claimed to be miracles. Biblical miracles always completely accomplished what the inspired man said they would and always completely satisfied the need. In healings, people returned immediately to complete and normal health. Every symptom of the disease was removed.

* Matthew 12:10,13 - A man's withered hand was restored whole as the other hand.

* Mark 1:40-45 - The leper showed himself to the priest as evidence of a complete healing.

* Acts 3:8 - The lame man leaped and walked.

* Mark 2:10-12 - The paralyzed man could walk and carry his bed.

[Cf. Matt. 14:36; 1 Kings 18; John 9:7,11; Acts 13:11; Luke 13:11-13; 7:14,15; Mk. 7:32-37]

Remember, true miracles almost universally possessed the above characteristics. The point is that the event clearly demonstrated to the observers that something impossible by natural law had occurred, therefore it had to be evidence of God's power. This was necessary in order for miracles to accomplish their purpose of confirming the word preached.


III. Evidence that Miracles Occurred


Since we cannot personally see Jesus and the Bible writers, how can we reach a verdict whether or not miracles really occurred? Again, we must examine the testimony of witnesses. As we do so, we should evaluate the testimony using the tests we listed in the introduction (number of witnesses, number of events, the integrity and motives of the witnesses, etc.).

A. Writers Who Recorded Bible Miracles

Here are a few of the writers who described Biblical miracles.

Moses

Exodus 7-12 - Moses described in detail how God brought the plagues on Egypt to give evidence that He is God. The last plague involved the death of the firstborn son of every family of the Egyptians.

Exodus 14:15-18,21-23,26-29 - Moses recorded the parting of the Red Sea, so Israel passed through on dry ground. Pharaoh's army, attempting to pursue them, was drowned in the sea.

Exodus 16:13-15,31-35 - God provided Manna as food for Israel for forty years as they traveled to Canaan. It fell like dew on the ground, so each morning they had simply to gather it for food. To confirm the manna, God had Moses put a pot of it in the ark, so Israel could carry it with them into Canaan.

Note that Moses was a first-hand eyewitness of the miracles he records.

Joshua

Joshua 24:5-7 - Joshua confirmed the crossing of the Red Sea, Remember, he would have been an eyewitness, so his testimony confirms that of Moses. [2:10; 4:23]

Joshua 3:7-17; chap. 4 - He also wrote as an eyewitness that God stopped the flow of the Jordan so that Israel crossed it on dry ground.

Joshua 5:12 - As an eyewitness, Joshua confirmed Moses' record regarding the manna. He confirmed that the manna continued till the day Israel ate food in Canaan.

Joshua 6:1-20 - Joshua recorded the fall of the walls of Jericho by miraculous means. Israel simply marched the way God commanded, and God caused the walls to fall.

Matthew

Matthew 9:9; 10:1-8 - Like the other original apostles, Matthew personally accompanied Jesus for three years; so his record constitutes eyewitness testimony of Jesus' miracles. Furthermore, he himself did miracles by the power Jesus gave the apostles.

Matthew 14:33 - Every time the account says the apostles (or twelve disciples) were present, Matthew would have been included. In this case, he joined the other apostles in confessing Jesus to be the Son of God, because they witnessed his walking on the water.

Like Moses and Joshua, etc., Matthew was an inspired man who wrote part of the Bible, who was a personal eyewitness to miracles done by other inspired men, and whose work as a prophet was confirmed by miracles he himself was empowered by God to do.

Luke

Luke 1:1-4 - Luke wrote a history of the life of Christ and a history of the early church in the book of Acts (Acts 1:1-3). Regarding Jesus' life, Luke himself was not an eyewitness, but he served as an historian to record the eyewitness testimony given him by others regarding the miracles of Jesus. He himself was an eyewitness of many of Paul's miracles (note his use of "we" and see Acts 13:6-12; 14:8-20; 16:16-19; 19:11-17; 20:9-12; 28:2-10). As an historian, his reputation is well established.

John

John 20:30,31 - John recorded the signs Jesus did so we can believe Jesus is the Son of God and we can have life in His name. Like Matthew, John was one of the original apostles. Having accompanied Jesus for three years, he testified regarding miracles he personally saw. And like the other apostles, he himself did miracles to confirm his own record (cf. Acts 3:1-10).

John 21:24 - John wrote his testimony of these events and testified that it was true.

1 John 1:1-3 - He bore witness about what he and others heard, saw with their eyes, and handled with their hands.

Peter

2 Peter 1:16-21 - Peter claimed he (and others) were eyewitnesses of the majesty of Jesus, having heard the voice of God who spoke at the Transfiguration.

Like Matthew and John, Peter was also one of the original apostles. His record of Jesus' miracles constitutes eyewitness testimony. And he himself did miracles to confirm that God guided him in his writing (cf. Acts 3:1-10; 9:32-43; 10:1-11:18.)

Paul

2 Corinthians 12:11,12 - Paul claimed that the signs, wonders, and miracles he did confirmed his apostleship. Note that he claimed these miracles were done in the presence of the people to whom he wrote, so they would have known whether or not he did these miracles.

1 Corinthians 15:1-8 - Paul specifically listed himself as an eyewitness of Jesus' resurrection.

Note that Paul's claim to do miracles and be an eyewitness was confirmed by Luke, who recorded many of Paul's miracles (Acts 13:6-12; 14:8-20; 16:16-19; 19:11-17; 20:9-12; 28:2-10).

All these men recorded in writing their eyewitness testimony of miracles that confirm Jesus' claims and the claims of Bible writers. As discussed earlier, these men fully meet the qualifications of valid eyewitnesses. Specifically, all of them suffered greatly for the faith they upheld, and many died at the hands of persecutors. Yet they never denied or compromised their testimony.

B. Testimony from Other People Who Personally Witnessed Miracles

The following witnesses did not write their own testimony in the Bible; however, they did personally witness miracles done by Jesus or by Bible writers, and other Bible writers as historians recorded their testimony.

* Jesus' mother Mary - Luke 1:26-38. Mary testified that she had no relationship with a man, but the angel Gabriel spoke to her and explained that Jesus would be conceived miraculously by the power of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, Jesus would be the Son of the Highest, God would give Him the throne of David, and His kingdom would never end. The testimony of Mary and the angel confirm the reality of the Virgin Birth, which is turn validates Jesus' claims.

* Joseph - Matthew 1:18-25. Likewise Joseph knew that he had not caused Mary to conceive, but an angel also spoke to him and explained that Mary had conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit. So the One to be born would save the people from sin and would be called "God with us." So Joseph's testimony and that of the angel again confirm the Virgin Birth.

* The shepherds - Luke 2:8-20. A host of angels appeared to shepherds at the time of Jesus' birth and directed them to Jesus. They said that He was the Christ who would be a Savior (v11). So the testimony of the shepherds and of the angels confirms that Jesus was the Christ sent by God. Note that, at the time of these events, the shepherds widely broadcast their testimony about what the angels had told them - v17.

* John the Baptist - John 1:29-34. John bore witness that Jesus is the Son of God, because he saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove and remain on Him. This is John's testimony, not just as a prophet, but as an eyewitness to the miraculous events at Jesus' baptism.

* Nicodemus - John 3:2. He said people knew Jesus was a teacher come from God, since no one could do the works Jesus did unless God was with him. So he testified that he knew Jesus had done miracles.

* Man healed of blindness - John 9:25-33. He testified that Jesus had healed him, and one who could do this had to be from God.

* Lepers who were healed - Matthew 8:2-4; Luke 17:11-14. After healing lepers, Jesus told them to go show themselves to the priest. This was a legal requirement under the law: the priest would perform an elaborate examination to confirm that leprosy was gone (Lev. 14). Note that this was done as a "testimony" - i.e., evidence to confirm the healing.

* Moses and Elijah - Matthew 17:1-6; Mark 9:2-8; Luke 9:28-36; 2 Peter 1:16-18. God sent Moses and Elijah back from the dead as miraculous proof that Jesus had their approval and God's approval. Jesus' appearance was altered, and God spoke His approval from heaven. All these miracles serve as testimony to Jesus. Peter said they were eyewitnesses and heard God, so we can be sure this is not a cunningly devised fable.

* All Jesus' apostles - Acts 10:38-42. They witnessed His miracles, how He healed people because God was with Him. As a result, they often made statements that confirmed the validity of the miracles they had witnessed (Matthew 14:33; Mark 4:41; John 2:11; Luke 24:48; John 15:27; Acts 1:8).

* Multitudes who observed miracles - Jesus and other prophets did their miracles publicly where many people - often great multitudes - could openly observe them. Often the response of the multitudes constitutes acknowledgment of the validity of the miracle. Note 1 Kings 18:39; John 6:14; Luke 7:16,17; Mark 2:12; 7:37. [Exodus 20:18; Deuteronomy 6:22; John 7:31; 11:4,15,40-48; 12:9-11; Matthew 11:1-6; Acts 9:33-42; Luke 7:11-16; 13:17]

* The converts on Pentecost - Acts 2:22-24. Peter openly proclaimed that this huge crowd knew that Jesus had done wonders, signs, and miracles among them. He said this was God's way of attesting to Him. Note that this testimony of Jesus' miracles was preached publicly just fifty days after His resurrection. The fact that 3000 accepted the message (v41) proves they knew they had seen Jesus' miracles. If there was no evidence for these events, the people could easily have said so and would surely not have been convinced by the message. [Cf. vv25-36.]

All of the above people personally witnessed the events listed; they had no reason to lie. The events were recorded (many of them in more than one Bible account) calmly in a way that is evidently intended to constitute historic evidence. Remember that the Bible writers are historically trustworthy. We have earlier established their credibility as historians.

[John 1:47-51; 11:45]

C. The Testimony of Divinely Ordained Memorials

In many cases, God deliberately commanded His people to institute various memorials to His miraculous acts. The memorials served as continuing testimony to remind people that the events were historic fact. In all cases people who were eyewitnesses to the event were given instructions about the memorials immediately following (or even before!) the event. They did not begin years later as a result of legends and myths.

Note that God knew people would need testimony regarding these events to convince them to believe, so He arranged continuing memorials as testimony.

* The Passover - Exodus 12:1-14. The Passover was a memorial to God's act of slaying the firstborn in each family of the Egyptians, while sparing the sons of all the Israelites. The memorial actually was instituted before the event occurred (vv 12-14). Jews even today still celebrate this memorial. The event it memorializes is known universally.

* Pot of manna - Exodus 16:12-15,31-35. God provided Manna as food for Israel for forty years as they traveled to Canaan. It fell like dew on the ground, so each morning they had simply to gather it for food. To confirm this miracle, God had Moses put a pot of it in the ark, so Israel could carry it with them into Canaan. (Heb. 9:4).

* Aaron's rod - Numbers 17. God caused Aaron's rod to bud to prove that only his descendants could be priests. God commanded Moses to put the rod in the ark of the covenant as a sign (v10). (Heb. 9:4)

* Twelve stones taken from the Jordan - Joshua 4:2-24. God caused the Jordan to cease flowing so Israel could cross into Canaan on dry ground. God commanded Joshua to have the people take twelve stones from the midst of the river and set them up as a sign to remind following generations of this miracle (vv 6,7).

* The Lord's Supper - 1 Corinthians 11:23-29; Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:14-21. Even before He died Jesus instituted this memorial. But the memorial is meaningless unless He has been raised from the dead. He said He would do it with us in the kingdom, and we do it till He comes again - both of which require that He arose (Matthew 26:28,29; 1 Corinthians 11:26).

After Jesus died, His disciples were discouraged and defeated. Had He not been raised, they would never have kept this memorial. So the Lord's Supper serves as a testimony to His resurrection, and is kept even today.

* Baptism - Romans 6:3-5; Colossians 2:12,13. We are buried with Christ in baptism and raised with Him to a new life. Those who do this must believe that Jesus arose from the dead (Romans 10:9,10). We are born again in baptism just as surely as He was raised (Romans 6:4). Hence, baptism serves to remind us of the miracle of Jesus' resurrection.

But baptism for remission of sins in Jesus' name was first practiced on Pentecost in response to the apostles' preaching that Jesus had been raised from the dead (Acts 2:38-41). Had He not been raised, baptism would never have become an institution. As such it constitutes a memorial to His resurrection, which has been practiced from the first century till today.

All these memorials began among those who were eyewitnesses of the miracle that they memorialize. They were begun at the express command of God with the intent of reminding people of future generations that various miracles were historical fact. So the existence of the memorial constitutes evidence that the event historically occurred.

D. Enemies Who Testified or Witnessed Miracles Done by Prophets of God

Men, who had true power to do miracles, were not afraid to do them in the presence of people who doubted or even openly opposed their teaching. At times they would deliberately do miracles in the presence of those who did false miracles, so that people could see the differences. We would not expect unbelievers to make a deliberate effort to spread the knowledge of Bible miracles. Nevertheless, opponents to the truth often, either directly or tacitly, admitted that the miracles really occurred or at least failed completely in efforts to disprove the miracles.

Indirect (tacit) admissions

* The Egyptian Army - Exodus 14:15-18,21-23,26-29. Moses recorded that Pharaoh's army pursued the Israelites as they left Egypt and caught up to them at the Red Sea. God caused the Sea to part, so Israel passed through on dry ground. Pharaoh's army, attempting to pursue them, was drowned in the sea. The fact that the Egyptian army entered the sea demonstrates that they recognized it had really been parted and that Israel had passed through it. The fact the entire army drowned when the sea returned demonstrates the power of the miracle.

* Prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel - 1 Kings 18:20-40. Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal to a showdown to see who had real power of miracles. The false prophets attempted but failed to perform a miracle, which Elijah then obviously accomplished. The fact they could not do such a miracle and then were powerless to prevent their own deaths is a tacit admission that Elijah really did the miracle recorded.

* Pharisees - John 9:13-41. Pharisees attempted to deny that Jesus had miraculously healed the blind man, but were completely unable to disprove it. Their efforts to disprove the miracle simply confirm its validity.

* Elymas - Acts 13:6-12. When Elymas opposed the truth, Paul struck him blind. Elymas was powerless to prevent or overcome the blindness. By seeking someone to guide him, he admitted he really had been struck blind.

* Masters of a demon-possessed girl - Acts 16:16-19. As an eyewitness ("we"), Luke records that Paul cast a demon out of a girl who had brought gain to her masters by her power of fortune-telling. After the demon was cast out, the masters could no longer make money off her, so they persecuted Paul. By dragging Paul before the magistrates, the masters admitted the demon was gone (why would they be upset if the girl had not lost her power?).

[Num. 16:28-35 & chap. 17; 1 Kings 13:1-6; 2 Kings 6:8-23; Daniel 2&5; Acts 19:11-17]

Direct admissions

* Pharaoh's magicians - Exodus 8:17-19. Pharaoh's magicians opposed Moses and tried to duplicate his miracles, but eventually they admitted Moses did miracles by the power of God. [Cf. Ex. 14:26-31.]

* Nebuchadnezzar and his advisors- Daniel 3. Nebuchadnezzar and his advisors were idolaters. They witnessed the miracle when Daniel's three friends were protected by God in the fiery furnace. Nebuchadnezzar decreed that no other god could deliver like this (vv 24-30).

* People of Nazareth - Mark 6:2,3. The people of Jesus' own hometown rejected Him, because they knew Him and could not believe such a great man could come from their own midst. Nevertheless, they admitted that "mighty works" were performed by His hands.

* Pharisees - Matthew 12:22-24. The Pharisees said Jesus cast out demons by the power of Satan. But in so doing, they admitted that Jesus really had cast out the demon. (Jesus then refuted their claim that the power was from Satan.)

* Council of chief priests and Pharisees - John 11:47,48. After Jesus raised Lazarus, even His enemies admitted He did many miracles.

* The Jewish Sanhedrin council - Acts 4:10,14-16. After Peter & John healed the lame man (3:1-10), the Jewish opponents admitted it was a great miracle.

* Simon the sorcerer - Acts 8:5-13. As a sorcerer, Simon did works people claimed to be from God. But Philip did true miracles in his presence. Simon then acknowledged the validity of Philip's miracles by being himself converted.

* Idol worshipers in Lystra - Acts 14:8-13. Paul and Barnabas healed a crippled man who had never walked. The result was so convincing that the idol-worshipers of the city wanted to make sacrifices and worship them as gods.

* Saul of Tarsus - Acts 9:1-9,18. Saul was an opponent of truth who persecuted Christians, casting them into prison. Jesus appeared to Saul to convince him He had been raised from the dead. This enemy of the gospel then admitted the truth of Jesus' resurrection by being converted and then going everywhere preaching Jesus' gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-9).

[2 Kings 1; Dan. 2,3,&5]

Surely none of these witnesses had any inclination to testify in favor of Bible miracles. None were friends of God's message or messengers - at least not till after they observed the evidence of the miracles. All of them would have denied and disproved the miracles, if they could have successfully done so. But in the end, none of them could successfully deny Bible miracles, and most of them directly or indirectly acknowledged the miracles. If the enemies of the Bible could not disprove these miracles at the time they occurred, how could anyone thousands of years later expect to disprove them? This testimony demonstrates the overwhelming power of the evidence that miracles really occurred.

Conclusion

We have now studied more than 35 miracles described in the Bible, and many more could be discussed. These were done by God at the hands of at least ten different prophets. They were recorded by at least ten Bible writers in at least 15 books of the Bible. In addition, the accounts cite more than 15 individuals or groups who were opponents of God's people but who directly or indirectly acknowledged that Bible miracles really did occur. In addition another 15 individuals or groups (who were not necessarily opposed to the message) are also cited as having acknowledged Bible miracles. That makes a total of more than forty individuals or groups who admitted Jesus or Bible prophets really did miracles. Furthermore, we know of at least six memorials that were established to memorialize Bible miracles at the time they occurred.

Compare this to other religious groups who claim to be from God. Many of them make few claims of miracles. If they make some claims, they have no eyewitnesses and accounts are often legends recorded years after the event allegedly occurred. Or the events fail to measure up to the characteristics of Bible miracles, so those of us who disagree with their teaching can easily deny the validity of their "miracles" and point out where they fail to measure up.

For example, compare Moses and Jesus to men like Mohammed and Joseph Smith. Everyone knows about the miracles of Moses and Jesus. People immediately associate the plagues and the crossing of the Red Sea with Moses. And they immediately associate Jesus with the virgin birth and the resurrection. When people think of Moses and Jesus, they think of miracles. Mohammed and Smith also claimed to be prophets like Bible prophets, and they delivered writings and religious systems that they claim are equal to those of the Bible. But what miracles are associated with Mohammed or Smith? What miracles do you immediately think of when you think of those men, like the miracles people associate with Moses and Jesus?

Moslems and Mormons rarely make serious claims that Mohammed and Smith did miracles to confirm their messages. If you press for examples of miracles, they may make a few claims based, not on eyewitness testimony, but on tradition or fables written years after the alleged events. Some claim that, one night, Mohammed was allegedly carried to Jerusalem and from there ascended into heaven to see wonderful visions. However, no one saw it happen. His wife says he never left the bed. There is absolutely no eyewitness testimony to confirm any miracles done by Mohammed. (For details see www.gospelway.com/instruct/ for our article on Islam.)

Whether friend or foe, the people who really saw the works of Jesus and His apostles, could not successfully deny that miracles were done. Their testimony becomes evidence on which we can base our faith. No religious group which is not based on the Bible can even approach the Bible evidence of miracles.

The miracles of Jesus and of the Bible writers are God's stamp of approval on their teaching. This witness testifies that there is a God who possesses supernatural power. And since the Bible writers did miracles, they must have been guided by God's power. Likewise the fact that Jesus did miracles confirms the truthfulness of His claims that He was the Son of God.

This is part of a complete series of evidences for the major claims of the Bible that God exists, the Bible is God's word, and Jesus is God's Son. To continue with the next article in the series, please go to www.gospelway.com/god/evidences-resurrection.php  To start at the beginning of the series, please go to www.gospelway.com/god/evidences.php.

(C) Copyright 2006 David E. Pratte
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