"Thou hast given a banner to them that fear Thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth" (Ps. 60:4).

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Miracles' Distinctive Nature

Representations Made by Dean E. Boelt
"And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following" (Mk. 16:20).
The distinctive nature of miracles was the subject of a message to our assembly by Dean E. Boelt. It was prompted by today's widely-indiscriminate concept and use of the term "miracle." The speaker recognized and freely acknowledged that both the Father and the Son are "working still," as Jesus declared (Jn. 5:17, RSV). It is simply a matter of the way of the working being different from what it was in previous times, in accordance with the objective sought in the working.
The Essential Character. The essential character of a scriptural miracle is that of a sign, it was pointed out. Jesus' prodigious miracles were primarily to attest His identity as the Son of God. That is clear by the use made of them, for example, by John, in John 20:30-31. They were wrought and are recorded to produce faith in Jesus as the Christ (Jn. 10:25, 37-38; 14:11; 15:24). So faith is represented by Scripture as belief of "the record that God gave of His Son" (I Jn. 5:10).
The Apostles' miracles were for confirmation of the "great salvation" which they proclaimed (Heb. 2:1-4). They are called "the signs of an Apostle," because they were his credentials as God's oracle, in his proclamation of the new covenant in Christ's blood (II Cor. 12:12).
It is logical, therefore, that, when God's purposes in the first-century miracles were served, the miracles should cease. That they did so is the testimony of history, and the indication of Scripture. The unnecessary expenditure of miraculous power by God simply is not consistent with His nature, as that is revealed by Scripture.
Christ's Deity and the new covenant's authenticity being duly confirmed by supernatural "wonders and signs" (Acts 2:22; Heb. 2:4), there just is no further need for them, it was em­phasized. "Truth, once validated by God," Brother Dean remarked, "remains so forever. It is not now necessary for peo­ple to witness miracles in order for them to believe in Christ and the gospel. Their responsibility is to believe the inspired record which God has given of His Son, which has been duly confirmed by miracles." If they do not do that, it can be added, they have made God a liar, as John observes (I Jn. 5:9-10), and will be so charged by Him (see Jn. 16:9).
An Integral Association. An association integral to the claim of modern miracles, usually overlooked, was pointed out. It is that, were they genuine, such works would betoken a new revelation from God. That would contradict Jesus' assertion that the Apostles were to be led "into all truth" (Jn. 16:13). It would also negate Peter's declaration that already God has given us "all things that pertain unto life and godliness" (II Pet. 1:2-4), and Paul's assertion that the Scriptures are able to make us "complete, completely furnished unto every good work" (II Tim. 3:16-17, ASV).
In light of the purpose of miracles, another weighty con­sideration must not be overlooked, we were reminded. A bona fide miracle today would obligate us to follow the miracle­ worker in his doctrine. And that would be to depart from "the faith once for all delivered unto the saints" (Jude 3, ASV), im­peaching the sufficiency of the completed revelation of Scrip­ture.
The Providential Working. All that is not to say that God does not now work providentially among men, Brother Dean explained. That working, however, is distinct from scriptural miracles, in that it usually employs natural means, though direct intervention by God, as it pleases Him, is not excluded.
This situation provides ample grounds and reason for prayer to God and confident expectation that He will hear and answer in accordance with His will. It also allows for full persua­sion that God will guide and sustain us in our commitment to Him, as the Scriptures repeatedly say that He will. So do we pray for the sick, commit our ways to the Lord, and constantly look to Him for sustenance and strength in the life of faith.
The gospel is now "the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth" (Rom. 1:16), it was concluded. Both the Father and the Son are working through it for the salvation and edification of people. We may pray and fully expect that They will give success to the divine Word, as we faithfully pro­claim it, and devotedly live unto God.
Those who are serious with God, and would walk becoming­ly as His enlightened children, have clear responsibility at this point, it was observed. It is to cease talking of and expecting present-day miracles. Instead, they should busy themselves us­ing to the full God's providential care for them, and in the ministration to others of His grace and truth.
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"Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning;  and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately" (Lk. 12:35-36).

 

 

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