THE PURPOSE OF GOD'S MIRACLES

With His wisdom, sovereignty, and infinite power, God created the universe with a number of established orders over which He superintends on a moment to moment basis as a matter of His normatively established course, i.e., not miraculously. But whenever He does intervene and interrupts this normatively established order, then the Bible indicates that this is a miraculous event.

Throughout the history of His creation of the planet earth and mankind, God has commenced certain programs for His purposes and initially superintended over them miraculously for a time in order to protect His plan and purpose against the rebellious efforts of men and demonic angels to thwart Him and His purpose. But after a time, when God has provided certain men with enablement to continue His new work, God has turned this new work over to those men as a test to see if those He has chosen would be faithful, without the use of those miraculous powers. Mankind has inevitably failed to be faithful, proving that only through God's complete and total sovereign rule, will mankind prove to be faithful: when Jesus Christ comes again to rule. A key example of this was the inception of the church, the body of believers who became part of the body of Christ. The early period of the church age saw miraculous events, but later these miracles ceased. And today, after nearly 2,000 years of church age history, the church has not served God's purpose successfully. We await the return of the LORD Jesus Christ to fulfill that purpose.

Personal experiences of individuals throughout the world are not without spiritual influence and intervention, some more evident than others, some from God, some from the demonic side - but most are within the range of the way God has sovereignly set up the universe to operate under His supervision. So healings, material blessings, needs being met, etc., etc., are all a part of God's non-miraculous, established order. These, in fact, are daily, even moment to moment events blessing the righteous and the unrighteous alike:

[Mt 5:45b]:

"...for His causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous."

These blessings, called 'common grace', are in the normative order of the universe and are demonstrations of His common grace - His unmerited blessings and favor which are constantly bestowed upon all of humanity.

[Cp Mt 6:25-26, 30, 33]:

(v. 25) " 'For this reason I say to you, do not be anxious for your life, as to what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body than clothing?

(v. 26) Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?"

(v. 30) "But if God so arrays the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more do so for you, O men of little faith?"

(v. 33) "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you."

As a matter of fact, since God holds together the universe from moment to moment:

[Col 1:17]:

"And He [Jesus Christ, (v. 13)] is before all things, and in Him all things hold together."

...then every breath that you take, every movement of an electron around the nucleus of every atom, every petal and leaf that falls to the ground has been decreed to take place by God as a part of His established order of the age, within which He is intimately and actively involved. These are not miraculous things but simply a part of God's marvelous and sovereign order of things.

Recall that the universe, man included, has been in existence according to God's Word for approximately 6000 years ,

Over this time, there have been just a few relatively short periods when miraculous events have occurred. These events always authenticated the man, the event or the words spoken as coming from God. For example, God intervened in His established order of things at the Fall of Adam and Eve when He altered the universe to reflect mankind's fallen condition:

[Gen 3:16-17]:

(v. 16) "To the woman He said, 'I will greatly multiply Your pain in childbirth, In pain you shall bring forth children; Yet your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you.'

(v. 17) Then to Adam He said, 'Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, 'you shall not eat from it''

Cursed is the ground because of you;

In toil you shall eat of

it All the days of your life.

(v. 18) Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you;

And you shall eat the plants of the field [which must be tilled by you]

(v. 19) By the sweat of your face

You shall eat bread,

Till you return to the ground [Now man will be immortal]

Because from it you were taken;

For you are dust,

And to dust you shall return.' "

Then, hundreds of years later, came the 'supernatural' event of the Noahic Flood, (Gen chapt. 6), when God again supernaturally intervened into His established order. Here He is bringing to pass a major event in world history which changes the entire face of the earth and the way man lives especially his longevity.

From that time until the Tower of Babel, (Gen chapt. 11), Scripture does not record His extra-normative intervention - a period of hundreds of years. At the time of Babel, God supernaturally intervened and caused language and other differences to enter in upon humanity causing them to disperse and not continue to unite in one single cultic mass against Him.

Then hundreds of years later, God again intervened in Abraham's life, establishing him as the progenitor of a chosen race - the Israelites - through whom the Savior would be born. Throughout this period which includes Moses and the Law and the Prophets, miracles would once more authenticate God's chosen individuals as His spokesmen and leaders or authenticate the event as one decreed and brought about by God.

And as attested to later we have our Lord authenticating Himself as the Son of God, the Messiah/Savior of the world with His miracles. And after Him the disciples and believers of the early church age whose miracle works attested to their message from God

- messages which would shortly be written down in the New Testament addition to God's Word.

So comparative to time and history, miracles are few and far between. And they always occurred in order to authenticate the man, the event or the words spoken as coming from God.

[Cp Heb 2:3-4]:

(v. 3) "How shall we escape [eternal punishment] if we ignore such a great salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard Him. (v. 4) God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to His will."

[Acts 2:22]:

"Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know -"

[Acts 14:3]:

"Therefore they [Paul and Barnabas] spent a long time there speaking boldly with reliance upon the Lord, Who was bearing witness to the word of His grace, granting that signs and wonders be done by their hands."

So the signs and wonders authenticated our Lord's Diety and God's apostles, Paul and Barnabas.

And the miracles performed by the Apostles testified to their being representatives of God:

[Acts 2:43; 5:12-14]:

(v. 2:43) "And everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles."

(v. 5:12) "And at the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were taking place among the people; and they were all with one accord in Solomon's portico.

(v. 5:13) But none of the rest dared to associate with them; however, the people held them in high esteem.

(v. 5:14) And all the more believers in the Lord, multitudes of men and women, were constantly added to their number"

[Acts 19:11]:

"And God was performing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul."

[Ro 15:17-19]:

(v. 17) "Therefore in Christ Jesus I have found reason for boasting in things pertaining to God.

(v. 18) For I will not presume to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me, resulting in the obedience of the Gentiles by word and deed,

(v. 19) in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Spirit; so that from Jerusalem and round about as far as Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ."

[2 Cor 12:12]:

"The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with all perseverance, by signs and wonders and miracles."

And miracles were performed by early church age believers before the New Testament was completed. This was in order to authenticate the testimony of those believers:

[Heb 2:4]:

"God also bearing witness with them, (those who spread the gospel of salvation, v. 3), both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will."

[Gal 3:5]:

"Does He then, who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?"

However, our Lord's attitude about miracles is evident from the following passage:

[Mt 12:38-41]

(v. 38) "Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the Law said to Him, 'Teacher, we want to see a miraculous sign from You.'

(v. 39) He answered, 'A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.

(v. 40) For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man [Himself as the GodMan, Dan 7:13-14] will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. [speaking of the ultimate miracle of His death, burial and resurrection, paying the penalty for the sins of the whole world, I Jn 2:2]

(v. 41) The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented [i.e., were saved unto eternal life] at the preaching of Jonah, [which was done without miracles] and now One greater than Jonah is here. [speaking of Himself as the Son of God, Whom is eternal Life Himself, Jn 1:4]

Compare the Lord's parable of Lazarus and the rich man in Hades, (Lk 16:19-31) which ends with verse 31 stating that the Bible would serve the living better than a miracle of raising from the dead relative to the truth's that must be obeyed unto eternal life:

(v. 31) "But He [Jesus] said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, [the Bible], neither will they be persuaded if someone rises from the dead."

And miracles did little to enable some people to believe in our Lord as Savior, especially the Jewish leaders:

[Mt 12:38-41]:

(v. 38) "Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered Him, saying, 'Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.'

(v. 39) But He answered and said to them, 'An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign shall be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet;

(v. 40) for just as Jonah THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS IN THE BELLY OF THE SEA MONSTER, so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

(v. 41) The men of Nineveh shall stand up with this generation at the judgment, and shall condemn it because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, something greater than Jonah is here."

[Jn 12:34-37]:

(v. 34) '''The multitude therefore answered Him, "We have heard out of the Law that the Christ is to remain forever and how can You say, 'The Son of Man must be lifted up?' Who is this Son of Man?"

(v. 35) Jesus therefore said to them, "For a little while longer the light is among you. Walk while you have the light, that darkness may not overtake you; he who walks in the darkness does not know where he goes.

(v. 36) While you have the light, believe in the light, in order that you may become sons of light."

These things Jesus spoke, and He departed and hid Himself from them.

(v. 37) But though He had performed so many signs before them, yet they were not believing in Him'''

[Cp I Cor 1:22]:

"For indeed Jews ask for signs, and Greeks search for wisdom"

On the other hand, many did believe, their belief being enhanced by the miracles and signs of our Lord:

[Jn 1:47-49]:

(v. 47) "Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and said of him, 'Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!'

(v. 48) Nathanael said to Him, 'How do You know me?' Jesus answered and said to him, 'Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.'

(v. 49) Nathanael answered Him, 'Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel.'

(v. 50) Jesus answered and said to him, 'Because I said to you that I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You shall see greater things than these.' "

(v. 2:11) "This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him."

(v. 2:23)"Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name, beholding His signs which He was doing."

(v. 4:48) "Jesus therefore said to him, 'Unless you people see signs and wonders, you simply will not believe.' "

(Cp. 52-53; 7:31; 10:41-42; 11:42, 45; 20:26-31).

[Heb 2:4]:

"God also bearing witness with them, (those who spread the gospel of salvation, v. 3), both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will."

Our Lord Himself encouraged faith based on the signs He performed:

[Jn 1:50-51]

(v. 50) "Jesus answered and said to him, 'Because I said to you that I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You shall see greater things than these.'

(v. 51) and He said to him, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, you shall see the heavens opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.' "

[Jn 4:48]:

"Jesus therefore said to him, 'Unless you people see signs and wonders, you simply will not believe.' "

[Jn 10:37-38]:

(v. 37) " 'If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me;

(v. 38) but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.' "

(Cp Jn 14:11).

And the Apostle John testified that the signs which our Lord performed were indeed intended to induce faith unto salvation:

[Jn 12:37; 20:30-31]:

(v. 12:37) "But though He had performed so many signs before them, yet they were not believing in Him."

(v. 20:30) "Many other signs therefore Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book.

(v. 20:31) but these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God;' and that believing you may have life in His name."

The miracles indicated in Scripture were real and the following passages attest to that fact:

Herod testifies to Jesus actually performing miracles:

[Lk 23:8]:

"Now Herod was very glad when he saw Jesus; for he had wanted to see Him for a long time, because he had

been hearing about Him and was hoping to see some sign performed by Him."

The Jews in general knew and acknowledged that our Lord performed many miracles:

[Ac 2:22]:

"' Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which god performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know-"

Jewish leaders testify to our Lord's performing miracles:

[Jn 3:1-2]:

(v. 1) Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews;

(v. 2) this man came to Him by night, and said to Him, 'Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him."

(Cp Jn 10:31-38)

The Jewish ruling body, the Sanhedrin, testifies that Paul and John were also performing miracles in the name of Jesus.

[Acts 4:16]:

(v. 15) "But when they had ordered them to go aside out of the Council, they began to confer with one another,

(v. 16) saying, 'What shall we do with these men? For the fact that a noteworthy miracle has taken place through them is apparent to all who live in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it."

Miracles are often short lived in the memory of people:

[Ps 78: 42-43]:

(v. 42) "They did not remember His power,

The day when He redeemed them from the adversary,

(v. 43) When He performed His signs in Egypt,

And His marvels in the field of Zoan."

[Mt 11:20-24]:

(v. 20) "Then He began to reproach the cities in which most of His miracles were done, because they did not repent." (Lk 10:13-15)

The miracles of Jesus were often discounted because people refused to acknowledge that Jesus was God's Son:

[Mk 6:2-5]:

(v. 2) "And when the Sabbath had come, He began to teach in the synagogue; and the many listeners were astonished, saying, 'Where did this man get these things, and what is this wisdom given to Him, and such miracles as these performed by His hands? (v. 3) is not his the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James, and Joseph, and Judas, and Simon? Are not His sisters here with us?' And they took offense at Him.

(v. 4) And Jesus said to them, 'A prophet is not without honor except in his home town and among his own household.'

(v. 5) And He could do no miracle there except that He laid His hands upon a few sick people and healed them.

(v. 6a) And He wondered at their unbelief."

(Cp Jn 10:24-26, 31-33, 36-38)

[Jn 14:9-12, 15:24]:

(v. 9) "Jesus said to him, 'Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how do you say, 'Show us the Father?' Father

(v. 10) Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in m Me does His works.

(v. 11) Believe Me that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me; otherwise believe on account of the works themselves."

People who knew Jesus as a local man were incensed at His miracles:

[Mt 13:53-58]:

(v. 53) "And it came about that when Jesus had finished these parables, He departed from there.

(v. 54) And coming to His home town He began teaching them in their synagogue, so that they became astonished, and said, 'Where did this man get this wisdom, and these miraculous powers?

(v. 55) Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not His mother called Mary, and His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas?

(v. 56) And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this man get all these things?

(v. 57) And they took offense at Him. But Jesus said to them, 'A prophet is not without honor except in his home town, and in his own household.'

(v. 58) And He did no do many miracles there because their unbelief."

Even our Lord's brothers were not convinced by our Lord's miracles:

[Jn 7:3-5]:

(v. 3) "His brothers therefore said to Him, 'Depart from here, and go into Judea, that Your disciples also may behold Your works which

You are doing.

(v. 4) For no one does anything in secret, when he himself seeks to be known publicly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world.'

(v. 5) For not even His brothers were believing in Him."

Our Lord's miracles however, testified to His Diety - that He was the Son of God Who was equal with the Father:

[Jn 10:37-39, 41; 14:11; 15:24]:

(v. 37) "If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me;

(v. 38) but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.'

(Cp Jn 14:11)

[But in disbelief, they sought all the more to kill Him]:

(v. 39) Therefore they were seeking again to seize Him, and He eluded their grasp."

[And notice that John the Baptist did not perform miracles which would have pointed to himself rather than to our Lord]

(v. 41) And many came to Him and were saying, 'While John performed no sign, yet everything John said about this man was true."

[Cp Jn 15:24]:

"'If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have both seen and hated Me and My Father as well."

And for whose benefit ultimately was the miracle of the feeding of the 5000?

Ultimately the people misunderstood Jesus' miraculous signs and attempted to force Him to take over the nation Israel and kick out the Romans. They lacked the knowledge of their own spiritual bankruptcy and a repented faith in Him instead of themselves.

Ultimately the benefit went to the disciples who would remember the many miracles that our Lord performed. For the disciples would themselves go out on their respective ministries and likewise be performing miracles such as our Lord performed. The disciples would remember that most people reacted in lack of faith. Inspite of Jesus' innumerable miracles, the people self-centeredly desired more miracles for their own benefit or amusement and were not willing to trust that Jesus was the Son of God. This would be the reaction of many to the gospel message the disciples would bring to the world. However, many others did believe - and as the miracles performed by our Lord served to authenticate to many Who Jesus was, so the miracles the disciples would perform would serve to authenticate these messengers of the gospel later on.

The disciples would then benefit by experiencing first hand the different responses of people to the performing of miraculous signs so that they could wisely choose to utilize their miraculous spiritual gifts when the time came.

The Bible Knowledge Commentary on Matthew indicates that the disciples benefited by the miracle of the feeding of the 5000 in another sense which does not seem to be clearly indicated in this passage.

Author Barbieri suggests that Jesus was teaching the disciples that they would later be involved in feeding people spiritually and that the source of that feeding would be the Lord Himself - Who provides a superabundance of 'spiritual food'. Barbieri suggests that Jesus fed the 5000 primarily as an object lesson to the disciples to teach them this. Although this may be correct doctrine per other Scriptural passages - the passage here does not seem to develop such a lesson for the disciples so that the reader of this passage could definitively say that Matthew intended for his account of this miracle to teach such doctrine. It seems that the primary reason that Jesus fed the 5000 was because they were hungry - for our Lord is a God of compassion Who supplies all that you need. Of course our Lord fed all of those hungry people!

Of course the disciples should be mindful of and respond to the true needs of people - physical, emotional as well as spiritual. - just as our Lord did.

MIRACLES PERFORMED AS GOOD FOR EVIL PURPOSES:

[Ex 7:10-11]:

(v. 10) So Moses and Aaron came to Pharaoh, and thus they did just as the Lord had commanded; and Aaron threw his staff down before Pharaoh and his servants, and it became a serpent. (v. 11) "Then Pharaoh also called for the wise men and the sorcerers, and they also, the magicians of Egypt, did the same with their secret arts."

[Ex 8:6-7]:

(v. 6) "So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land of Egypt.

(v. 7) And the magicians did the same with their secret arts, making frogs come up on the land of Egypt."

[Mt 24:24]:

"For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect."

[2 Thes 2:8-9]:

(v. 8) "And then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming;

(v. 9) that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders,

[Rev 13:3-4, 11-15]:

(v. 3) "And I saw one of his heads...

["his" = it's - the revived Roman Empire's, cp Dan 7:7-8

"heads" = rulers - this one being the Antichrist, cp v.12]

(v. 3 cont..) "And I saw one of his heads as if it had been slain, and his fatal wound was healed. And the whole earth was amazed

(v. 4) and they worshiped the dragon, [Satan] because he gave his authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, 'Who is like the beast, and who is able to wage war with him? (v. 11) And I saw another beast coming up out of the earth; [the false prophet] and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spoke as a dragon..

(v. 12) And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence. And he makes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound was healed. [The first beast, the Antichrist, underwent an apparent healing miracle of

being raised from the dead after receiving a mortal wound]

(v. 13) And he performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down out of heaven to the earth in the presence of men.

(v. 14) And he [The Antichrist] deceives those who dwell on the earth because of the signs which it was given him to perform in the presence of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who had the wound of the sword and had come to life.

[So a coming back to life of a human being was performed - a miracle but to an evil end: so that all would worship the Antichrist and the beast]

(v. 15) And there was given to him to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast might even speak and cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed." [Rev 16:13-14]:

(v. 13) "And I saw coming out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs;

(v. 14) for they are spirits of demons, PERFORMING SIGNS, which go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them together for the war of the great day of God, the Almighty."

[Rev 19:20]:

"And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshipped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone."

[So signs and wonders which includes miraculous healings can be performed by Satan and the demonic world, and they are done to deceive people into following the viewpoint that is produced by demons and Satan himself. These signs and wonders appear to be good works, and often are with respect that material gain or being cured in and of itself is not evil, but the deception which it is tied to is evil. Many healings by individuals claiming healing powers such as devotees of false religions, (Hinduism, Western Indian, Haitian and other tribal witch doctors, etc), deceive those who follow such Satanic religions and further encourage people to worship idols. The good that is done by the miracle is therefore used to deceive the individual into following a demonic religion. These miracles and healings are obviously welcomed and bring conviction and allegiance to a false god. The power behind those healings which are often real is Satan and the demonic world. In addition to this, there have been far more 'miraculous' healings under circumstances which do not involve any religion at all.

Furthermore, many so called miracles are even done in the name of the Lord Himself but are not of God at all:

[Compare Mt 7:22-23]:

(v. 22 ) '''Many will say to Me on that day, "Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?

(v. 23 ) "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE INIQUITY' " '''

"on that day" ? The day - the time - of the Lord's Second Coming when He will judge men living on the earth at that time, cp Mt 25:31-46.

Notice that the prophesying, casting out of demons, and MANY miracles which were performed in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ were miraculous and yet were officially called by God the Son as EVIL.

[Compare Acts 19:13]:

"But also some of the Jewish exorcists, who went from place to place, attempted to name over those who had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, 'I adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preaches."

[Cp 2 Cor 11:12-14]:

(v. 12) "But what I am doing, I [Paul] will continue to do, that I may cut off opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the matter about which they are boasting.

(v. 13) For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.

(v. 14) And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.

[An angel of light performs good deeds and so can Satan in his disguise as such an angel. For Scripture indicates that Satan's disguise is often effective. After all he is the ruler of this world, (Eph 2:2; 1 Jn 5:19)] (v. 15) Therefore it is not surprising if his [Satan's] servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their deeds."

[An angel of light and a servant of righteousness both do good works. One who disguises himself as either must necessarily perform deeds which either have the deceptive appearance of good works or are truly good deeds toward an evil deceptive end - one which gains the allegiance of the deceived]

The miracles and healings of the demonic world are obviously perceived as good since they are welcomed and applauded, especially those miracles performed which convince people that the Antichrist is God:

[2 Thes 2:8-11]:

(v. 8) "And then that lawless one [The Antichrist] will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming;

(v, 9) that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders,

[Notice that the Antichrist is empowered by Satan with "all power and signs and false wonders" This includes the power of healing for that IS one of the sign and wonder gifts]

(v, 9 cont.) that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders,

(v. 10) and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved."

[Notice that the use of the power and signs and false wonders by the Antichrist, as empowered by Satan, was extremely effective, deceiving many so as not to be saved. So it also effects believers who are secure in their eternal destiny but not in their rewards that they will receive in heaven. These demonically originated miracles and healings can and do deceive believers, preventing them from being effective Christians by getting them to follow the deceptions of the demonic world's leading via these miracles and healings]

Many miraculous healings and signs performed by pagan witch doctors and the like, (which are demonically empowered), deceive people into worshipping false gods. Inspite of the obvious immediate good that the healings did, these healings have a demonic origin as permitted by the Sovereignty of God Almighty. Because of the continued disbelief of individuals. God invokes a turning of them over to their delusions:

[2 Thes 2:8-11 cont.]:

(v. 10) and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved."

(v. 11) And for this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they might believe what is false,

(v. 12) in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness."

[This principle not only applies to unbelievers, but to believers also. Those Christians who continuously reject the truths as they hear them in God's Word are in danger of having God "send upon them a deluding influence so that they [also] might believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged [not for eternal life, but for discipline and for losing rewards in heaven, Heb 12:5-15, 1 Cor 3:8-15].

[Compare Ro 1:28, 32 which indicates that there are those who know what God says in

His Word but choose to repeatedly defy God and even encourage others to do the same. Just as unbelievers are subject to God's hardening of the mentality so He will also harden the mentality of the unrepentant believer] [Ro 1:28, 32]:

(v. 28) "And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things

which are not proper,

(v. 32) and, although they know the ordinance of God........

[applying this to believers: 'and, although the believers knew better from what they learned from God's Word']

(v. 32 cont.) and, although they know the ordinance of God that those who [are unbelievers] who practice such things are worthy of death they only do the same [as the unbeliever who has not been saved], but also give hearty approval to those who practice them."

"And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper,

[applying this to believers: 'and, although the believers knew better from what they learned from God's Word about, for example, God's purpose and use of healing and miracles, they not only continued to violate His Word but gave "hearty approval to those who practice..." false miracles......So God gave them over to "a deluding influence so that they might believe what is false" (2 Thes 2:10). So God permits the demonic healing and other miracles to seal their minds in a delusion.

Recall that the Antichrist was 'raised' from the dead by Satan, (Rev 13:3-4).

Healings and miracles as reported today do not follow the Scriptural pattern. Throughout history there have been more 'miraculous' healings under the auspices of non-Christians authorities such as doctors who are unbelievers, non-Christian friends and family members, non-Christian organizations, etc., etc. than in the Christian church itself. These 'miraculous healings' were for the most part not attributed to anyone with the gift of healing. Many of these healings it can be shown were psychosomatic in origin and were healed by the release of the patient's mentality which caused the illness. Many of the illnesses were temporarily in remission but as typical with many diseases, started up again shortly after the reported 'miracle' cure' this time worse than ever. Many of the 'miraculous cures' were actually hysterically oriented - where enough adrenalin flowed in the body of the patient such that he or she gave visible evidence of being cured - but shortly after the 'cure' they relapsed into the same ailment, only worse than ever with new physical and emotional complications. And many of the 'miraculous cures' were without the aid of a person designated as having the gift of healing - and were legitimate miraculous healings - given the extent and knowledge of medical science at the time.

Many, many miracles and healings have been claimed and authenticated by the Roman Catholic church. Many of these miracles have been substantiated as truly supernatural events and healings. And they served to enhance the conversion and continued devotion of millions of Roman Catholics throughout the world - to their own destruction! For the Roman Catholic church teaches a false gospel of salvation by works and the mediatory work of Mary who is made out to be a goddess to be worshipped on an equal level with Jesus Christ. Certainly the agent behind these good works miracles and healings is not God Himself leading millions of individuals astray.

SINCE GOD'S REVELATION TO MANKIND IS COMPLETE FOR THIS AGE, FULLY CONTAINED IN THE BIBLE THEN THE MIRACLES WHICH GOD USED TO AUTHENTICATE THOSE PRONOUNCING HIS AS YET TO BE 'PUBLISHED' WORD WOULD NO LONGER BE NECESSRY

The canon of Scripture is closed for this age, (1 Cor 13:10). So no new revelation is of God until the age is past, not even via spiritual gifts. Early in the church age, believers were used by God via spiritual gifts of signs and wonders to reveal to the body of Christ and to the unbelieving world information which later was written down in epistles and then organized into the 27 books of the New Testament Bible. But these signs and wonders were only temporary.

In the book of Hebrews written about 68 A.D. the author warns of the consequences of ignoring the message of salvation. In so doing he states that signs, wonders and miracles were things which happened in the past and therefore were not happening during the then present time of about 68 A.D:

[Heb 1:14-2:4 N.A.S.]

(Heb 1:14) "Are they [the angels, vv. 5-7,11,13] not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation (Heb 2:1) For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, [the message of salvation, v.3] lest we drift away from it.

(Heb 2:2) For if the word spoken through angels [the Law of Moses, Acts 7:53, Gal 3:19] .....

[Heb 2:1 - 2:4 cont.]:

(v, 1 cont.) For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense,

(v. 3) 'how shall we escape [this just recompense, i.e., punishment in Hell] if we neglect so great a salvation? [as is provided for us]

[And then what follows is the key part of this passage which indicates the past tense in which signs, wonders, miracles and certain spiritual gifts were exercised]:

(v. 3 cont.) How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it [the message of salvation] was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard,

[Notice that the tense here is past tense: the message of salvation was "spoken through the Lord" then "confirmed by those who heard" Then in the next verse the author continues writing in the past tense, indicating how God had authenticated the gospel message of salvation given by our Lord and "confirmed to us by those who heard" in days gone by. The author states that God then authenticated the message of salvation through signs, wonders, miracles and spiritual gifts]:

[Heb 1:14-2:4 cont.]:

(v. 3 cont.) how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it [the message of salvation] was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard,

(v. 4) God also bearing witness with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will."

(v. 2:4 AMP) "Besides this evidence it [the message of salvation] was also established and plainly endorsed by God, Who showed His approval of it by signs and wonders and various miracle manifestations of His power and by imparting the gifts of the holy Spirit to the believers according to His own will."

God's Word is saying here that in the past - before 68 A.D. when the Book of Hebrews was written, signs and wonders, miracles and certain spiritual gifts were utilized - past tense - by God through men to authenticate the messengers as men of God; and thereby to authenticate the truth of their message which was revealed in the past to them by God. Compare the following passages which confirm this point:

[Acts 14:3]:

"So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, Who confirmed the message of His grace by enabling them to do miraculous signs and wonders." Notice that this passage and the following one speak of the past when referring to "miraculous signs and wonders":

[Rom 15:18-19a]:

(v. 18) "I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished [past tense] through me [Paul] in leading the Gentiles to obey God

(v. 19a) by what I have said and done - [past tense] by the power of singns and miracles, through the power of the Spirit."

At the time of Acts 14:3 Paul and Barnabas were utilizing their spiritual gifts performing miraculous signs and wonders for the purpose of confirming their message from God according to Acts 14:3. But then later on, as indicated in Romans 15:18-19a, Paul speaks in the past tense about his performance of these signs and wonders, as if to say that his work with them is in the past and they are no longer available to him to exercise. Thereafter the sign and wonder gifts were no longer manifested. It is evident from Scripture that the Apostle Paul lost his gift of healing about this time when he did not heal Epaphroditus, (Phil 2:25-31), or Trophimus, (2 Tim 4:20), and church history up till the present time has NOT seen a renewing of the authentic sign and wonder - miracle type gifts as specifically defined and detailed in Scripture. A detailed study of the purpose for and the godly operation of spiritual gifts beginning with 1 Corinthians chapters 12-14 will verify that whatever is going on today is in direct violation of Scripture and therefore not of God.

Compare what 1 Cor 13:1-13 has to say about the miraculous spiritual gifts

ADDITIONAL NOTES ON MIRACLES

THE PURPOSE OF GOD'S MIRACLES

Comparative to time and history, miracles are few and far between. And they always occurred in order to authenticate the man, the event or the words spoken:

[Heb 2:3-4]:

(v. 3) "How shall we escape [eternal punishment] if we ignore such a great salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard Him. (v. 4) God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to His will."

[Acts 2:22]:

"Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know -"

[Acts 14:3]:

"Therefore they [Paul and Barnabas] spent a long time there speaking boldly with reliance upon the Lord, Who was bearing witness to the word of His grace, granting that signs and wonders be done by their hands."

[So the signs and wonders authenticated our Lord's diety and God's apostles Paul and Barnabas]

And the miracles performed by the Apostles testified to their being representatives of God: [Acts 2:43; 5:12-14]:

[Acts 19:11-20]:

AC 19:11 God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them. AC 19:13 Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, "In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out." 14 Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. 15 One day the evil spirit answered them, "Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?" 16 Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding. AC 19:17 When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor. 18 Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed their evil deeds. 19 A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas. 20 In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.

[Ro 15:17-19]:

RO 15:17 Therefore I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God. 18 I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done-- 19 by the power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Spirit. So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ.

[2 Cor 12:12]:

And miracles were performed by early church age believers before the New Testament was completed. This was in order to authenticate the testimony of those believers: [Heb 2:4]:

[Gal 3:5]:

However, our Lord's attitude about miracles is evident from the following passage:

[Mt 12:38-41]

(v. 38) "Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the Law said to Him, 'Teacher, we want to see a miraculous sign from You.'

(v. 39) He answered, 'A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.

(v. 40) For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man [Himself as the GodMan, Dan 7:13-14] will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. [speaking of the ultimate miracle of His death, burial and resurrection, paying the penalty for the sins of the whole world, I Jn 2:2]

(v. 41) The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented [i.e., were saved unto eternal life] at the preaching of Jonah, [which was done without miracles] and now One greater than Jonah is here. [speaking of Himself as the Son of God, Whom is eternal Life Himself, Jn 1:4]

And miracles did little to enable some people to believe in our Lord as Savior, especially the Jewish leaders: [Mt 12:38-41]:

[Jn 12:34-36]:

[I Cor 1:22]:

On the other hand, many did believe, their belief being enhanced by the miracles and signs of our Lord: [Jn 1:47-49, 2:11, 23, 4:48, 52-53; 7:31]:

[Jn 10:41-42; 11:42, 45: 20:26-31]:

[Heb 2:4]:

Our Lord Himself encouraged faith based on the signs He performed:

[Jn 1:50-51; 4:48; 10:37-38; 14:11]:

And the Apostle John testified that the signs which our Lord performed were indeed intended to induce faith unto salvation: [Jn 12:37; 20:30-31]

The miracles indicated in Scripture were real and the following passages attest to that fact:

Herod testifies to Jesus actually performing miracles:

[Lk 23:8]:

The Jews in general knew and acknowledged that our Lord performed many miracles: [Ac 2:22]:

Jewish leaders testify to our Lord's performing miracles:

[Jn 10:31-38]:

[Jn 3:1-2]:

The Jewish ruling body, the Sanhedrin, testifies that Paul and John were also performing miracles in the name of Jesus. [Acts 4:16]:

Miracles are often shortlived in the memory of people: [Ps 78: 42-43]:

[Mt 11:20-24]:

[Mt 13:57b-58]:

[Lk 10:13-15]:

The miracles of Jesus were often discounted because people refused to acknowledge that Jesus was God's Son: [Mk 6:2-5]:

[Jn 10:24-26, 31-33, 36-38]:

[Jn 14:9-12, 15:24]:

People who knew Jesus as a local man were incensed at His miracles: [Mt 13:53-58]:

Even our Lord's brothers were not convinced by our Lord's miracles: [Jn 7:3-5]:

Our Lord's miracles, however, testified to His Diety - that He was the Son of God Who was equal with the Father:

[Jn 10:34-38; 14:11; 15:24]:

So for whose benefit ultimately was the miracle of the feeding of the 5000?

Ultimately the people misunderstood Jesus' miraculous signs and attempted to force Him to take over the nation Israel and kick out the Romans. They lacked the knowledge of their own spiritual bankruptcy and a repented faith in Him instead of themselves.

Ultimately the benefit went to the disciples who would remember the many miracles that our Lord performed. For the disciples would themselves go out on their respective ministries and likewise be performing miracles such as our Lord performed. The disciples would remember that most people reacted in lack of faith. Inspite of Jesus' innumerable miracles, the people self-centeredly desired more miracles for their own benefit or amusement and were not willing to trust that Jesus was the Son of God. This would be the reaction of many to the gospel message the disciples would bring to the world. However, many others did believe - and as the miracles performed by our Lord served to authenticate to many Who Jesus was, so the miracles the disciples would

perform would serve to authenticate these messengers of the gospel later on.

The disciples would then benefit by experiencing first hand the different responses of people to the performing of miraculous signs so that they could wisely choose to utilize their miraculous spiritual gifts when the time came.

The Bible Knowledge Commentary on Matthew indicates that the disciples benefited by the miracle of the feeding of the 5000 in another sense which does not seem to be clearly indicated in this passage.

Author Barbieri suggests that Jesus was teaching the disciples that they would later be involved in feeding people spiritually and that the source of that feeding would be the Lord Himself - Who provides a superabundance of 'spiritual food'. Barbieri suggests that Jesus fed the 5000 primarily as an object lesson to the disciples to teach them this. Although this may be correct doctrine per other Scriptural passages - the passage here does not seem to develop such a lesson for the disciples so that the

reader of this passage could definitively say that Matthew intended for his account of this miracle to teach such doctrine. It seems that the primary reason that Jesus fed the 5000 was because they were hungry - for our Lord is a God of compassion Who supplies all that you need. Of course our Lord fed all of those hungry people!

Of course the disciples should be mindful of and respond to the true needs of people - physical, emotional as well as spiritual. - just as our Lord did.

MIRACLES PERFORMED AS GOOD FOR EVIL PURPOSES:

[Ex 7:10-11]:

(v. 10) So Moses and Aaron came to Pharaoh, and thus they did just as the Lord had commanded; and Aaron threw his staff down before Pharaoh and his servants, and it became a serpent.

(v. 11) "Then Pharaoh also called for the wise men and the sorcerers, and they also, the magicians of Egypt, did the same with their secret arts."

[Ex 8:6-7]:

(v. 6) "So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land of Egypt.

(v. 7) And the magicians did the same with their secret arts, making frogs come up on the land of Egypt."

[Mt 24:24]:

"For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect."

[2 Thes 2:8-9]:

(v. 8) "And then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming;

(v. 9) that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders,

[Rev 13:3-4, 11-15]:

(v. 3) "And I saw one of his heads...

["his" ? it's - the revived Roman Empire's, cp Dan 7:7-8

"heads" ? rulers - this one being the Antichrist, cp v.12]

(v. 3cont.) "And I saw one of his heads as if it had been slain, and his fatal wound was healed. And the whole earth was amazed

(v. 4) and they worshiped the dragon, [Satan] because he gave his authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, 'Who is like the beast, and who is able to wage war with him? (v. 11) And I saw another beast coming up out of the earth; [the false prophet] and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spoke as a dragon..

(v. 12) And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence. And he makes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound was healed.

[The first beast, the Antichrist, underwent an apparent healing miracle of being raised from the dead after receiving a mortal wound]

(v. 13) And he performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down out of heaven to the earth in the presence of men.

(v. 14) And he [The Antichrist] deceives those who dwell on the earth because of the signs which it was given him to perform in the presence of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who had the wound of the sword and had come to life.

[So a coming back to life of a human being was performed - a miracle but to an evil end: so that all would worship the Antichrist and the beast]

(v. 15) And there was given to him to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast might even speak and cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed."

[Rev 16:13-14]:

(v. 13) "And I saw coming out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs;

(v. 14) for they are spirits of demons, PERFORMING SIGNS, which go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them together for the war of the great day of God, the Almighty."

[Rev 19:20]:

"And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshipped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone."

[So signs and wonders which includes healing people can be performed by Satan and the demonic world, and they are done to deceive people into following the viewpoint that is produced by demons and Satan himself. These signs and wonders appear to be good works, and often are with respect that material gain or being cured in and of itself is not evil, but the deception which it is tied to is evil. Many healings by unbelievers claiming healing powers such as devotees of false religions, (Hinduism, Western

Indian, Haitian and other tribal witch doctors, etc), deceive those who follow such Satanic religions and further encourage people to worship idols. The good that is done by the miracle is therefore used to deceive the individual into following a demonic religion. These miracles and healings are obviously welcomed and bring conviction and allegiance to a false god. The power behind those healings which are often real is Satan and the demonic world. In addition to this, there have been far more 'miraculous' healings under circumstances which do not involve any religion than all of the 'miraculous' healings from all of the religious organizations combined.

[Acts 19:13]:

"But also some of the Jewish exorcists, who went from place to place, atempted to name over those who had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, 'I adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preaches."

[2 Cor 11:12-14]:

(v. 12) "But what I am doing, I [Paul] will continue to do, that I may cut off opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the matter about which they are boasting.

(v. 13) For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.

(v. 14) And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.

[An angel of light performs good deeds and so can Satan in his disguise as such an angel. For Scripture indicates that Satan's disguise is often effective. After all he is the ruler of this world, (Eph 2:2; 1 Jn 5:19)]

(v. 15) Therefore it is not surprising if his [Satan's] servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their deeds."

[An angel of light and a servant of righteousness both do good works. One who disguises himself as either must necessarily perform deeds which either have the deceptive appearance of good works or are truly good deeds toward an evil deceptive end - one which gains the allegiance of the deceived]

The miracles and healings of the demonic world are obviously perceived as good since they are welcomed and applauded, especially those miracles performed which convince people that the Antichrist is God:

[2 Thes 2:8-11]:

(v. 8) "And then that lawless one [The Antichrist] will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming;

(v, 9) that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders,

[Notice that the Antichrist is empowered by Satan with "all power and signs and false wonders" This includes the power of healing for that IS one of the sign and wonder gifts]

(v, 9 cont.) that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders,

(v. 10) and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved."

[Notice that the use of the power and signs and false wonders by the Antichrist, as empowered by Satan, was extremely effective, deceiving many so as not to be saved. So it also effects believers who are secure in their eternal destiny but not in their rewards that they will receive in heaven. These demonically originated miracles and healings can and do deceive believers, preventing them from being effective Christians by getting them to follow the deceptions of the demonic world's leading via these miracles and healings]

Many miraculous healings and signs performed by pagan witch doctors and the like, (which are demonically empowered), deceive people into worshipping false gods. Inspite of the the obvious immediate good that the healings did, these healings have a demonic

origin as permitted by the Sovereignty of God Almighty. Because of the continued disbelief of individuals. God invokes a turning of them over to their delusions:

[2 Thes 2:8-11 cont.]:

(v. 10) and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved."

(v. 11) And for this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they might believe what is false,

(v. 12) in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness."

[This principle not only applies to unbelievers, but to believers also. Those Christians who continuously reject the truths as they hear them in God's Word are in danger of having God "send upon them a deluding influence so that they [also] might believe

what is false, in order that they all may be judged [not for eternal life, but for discipline and for losing rewards in heaven, Heb 12:5-15, 1 Cor 3:8-15].

[Compare Ro 1:28, 32 which indicates that there are those who know what God says in His Word but choose to repeatedly defy God and even encourage others to do the same. Just as unbelievers are subject to God's hardening of the mentality so He will also harden the mentality of the unrepentant believer]

[Ro 1:28, 32]:

(v. 28) "And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper,

(v. 32) and, although they know the ordinance of God........

[APPLYING THIS TO BELIEVERS: 'and, although the believers knew better from what they learned from God's Word']

(v. 32 cont.) and, although they know the ordinance of God that those who [are unbelievers] who practice such things are worthy of death they only do the same [as the unbeliever who has not been saved], but also give hearty approval to those who practice them."

"And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper,

[APPLYING THIS TO BELIEVERS: 'and, although the believers knew better from what they learned from God's Word about, for example, God's purpose and use of healing and miracles, they not only continued to violate His Word but gave "hearty approval to those who practice..." false miracles......So God gave them over to "a deluding influence so that they might believe what is false" (2 Thes 2:10). So God permits the demonic healing and other miracles to seal their minds in a delusion.

Recall that the Antichrist was 'raised' from the dead by Satan, (ref).

Healings and miracles as reported today do not follow this Scriptural pattern.

Throughout history there have been more 'miraculous' healings under the auspices of non-Cnristians authorities such as doctors who are unbelievers, non-Christian friends and family members, non-Christian organizations, etc., etc. Than in the Christian church itself. These 'miraculous healings' were for the most part not attributed to anyone with the gift of healing. Many of these healings it can be shown were psychosomatic in origin and were healed by the release of the patient's mentality which caused

the illness. Many of the illnesses were temporarily in remission but as typical with many diseases, started up again shortly after the reported 'miracle' cure' this time worse than ever. Many of the 'miraculous cures' were actually hysterically oriented - where enough adrenalin flowed in the body of the patient such that he or she gave visible evidence of being cured - but shortly after the 'cure' they relapsed into the same ailment, only worse than ever with new physical and emotional complications. And

many of the 'miraculous cures' were without the aid of a person designated as having the gift of healing - and were legitimate miraculous healings - given the extent and knowledge of medical science at the time.

Many, many miracles and healings have been claimed and authenticated by the Roman Catholic church. Many of these miracles have been substantiated as truly supernatural events and healings. And they served to enhance the conversion and continued devotion of millions of Roman Catholics throughout the world - to their own destruction! For the Roman Catholic church teaches a false gospel of salvation by works and the mediatory work of Mary who is made out to be a goddess to be worshipped on an equal level with Jesus Christ. Certainly the agent behind these good works miracles and healings is not God Himself leading millions of individuals astray.

QUESTIONS ON MIRACLES

(Note: send answers to this email address if you wish comments on them: )

1) Consider these passages and advise the purpose(s) of the miracles:

a) [1 Kg 13:1-6]:

(v. 1) '''By the word of the LORD a man of God came from Judah to Bethel, as Jeroboam was standing by the altar to make an offering.

(v. 2) He cried out against the altar by the word of the LORD: "O altar, altar! This is what the LORD says: 'A son named Josiah will be born to the house of David. On you he will sacrifice the priests of the high places who now make offerings here, and human bones will be burned on you.'

(v. 3) That same day the man of God gave a sign: "This is the sign the LORD has declared: The altar will be split apart and the ashes on it will be poured out."

(v. 4) When King Jeroboam heard what the man of God cried out against the altar at Bethel, he stretched out his hand from the altar and said, "Seize him!" But the hand he stretched out toward the man shriveled up, so that he could not pull it back.

(v. 5) Also, the altar was split apart and its ashes poured out according to the sign given by the man of God by the word of the LORD.

(v. 6) Then the king said to the man of God, "Intercede with the LORD your God and pray for me that my hand may be restored." So the man of God interceded with the LORD, and the king's hand was restored and became as it was before.'''

[Commentary help from 'The Bible Knowledge Commentary', Victor Books, USA, 1981, p. 514]:

"13:1-3. The mission of this anonymous man of God had its origins in the word of the LORD (vv. 1-2, 9); this was a prophecy of judgment fully authorized by God. The prophet was sent from the Southern Kingdom of Judah to Bethel; he lived under the authority of God's Davidic ruler rather than under the influence of the apostate Jeroboam. He uttered his prophecy publicly at the altar as Jeroboam was standing near it offering a sacrifice.

This man's prophecy is one of the most remarkable in Scripture because it predicted the name and actions of a king who would not appear on the scene for 290 years. Josiah, who reigned from 640 to 609 B.C., fulfilled this prophecy just as the man of God predicted (2 Kings 23:15-20). Josiah demolished the Bethel altar built by Jeroboam and slaughtered the false priests there. A sign was often given in prophecies of this kind when the fulfillment would take place many years later. The man of God predicted that the sign, a miracle to verify the prophecy, would be performed then. The sign, he said, was that the altar would split apart that very day (cf. 1 Kings 13:5).

13:4-6. Jeroboam's reaction to the prophecy was to order the arrest of the prophet. When the king's outstretched hand, symbolizing his authority, withered, this illustrated that God's authority was greater than Jeroboam's. God could paralyze Jeroboam's might and render it completely useless. The sign (the altar splitting apart; cf. v. 3) also left no doubt in the minds of those present that the prophecy came from the God Who controlled Jeroboam and Who could judge his wickedness.

The king acknowledged God's power and asked the man of God to ask God to restore his hand, which God graciously did. Jeroboam referred to Yahweh as your God not 'my God,' thereb y testifying to his own idolatry."

b) [Cp Heb 2:3-4]:

(v. 3) "How shall we escape [eternal punishment] if we ignore such a great salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard Him.

(v. 4) God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to His will."

c) [Acts 2:22]:

"Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know -"

d) [Acts 14:3]:

"Therefore they [Paul and Barnabas] spent a long time there speaking boldly with reliance upon the Lord, Who was bearing witness to the word of His grace, granting that signs and wonders be done by their hands."

e) [Ro 15:17-19]:

(v. 17) "Therefore in Christ Jesus I have found reason for boasting in things pertaining to God.

(v. 18) For I will not presume to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me, resulting in the obedience of the Gentiles by word and deed,

(v. 19) in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Spirit; so that from Jerusalem and round about as far as Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ."

f) [Jn 3:1-2]:

(v. 1) Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews;

(v. 2) this man came to Him by night, and said to Him, 'Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him."

g) [Acts 4:8-17]:

(v. 8) "Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: "Rulers and elders of the people!

(v. 9) If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed,

(v. 10) then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed.

(v. 11) He is " 'the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone. '

(v. 12) Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."

(v. 13) When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.

(v. 14) But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say.

(v. 15) So they ordered them to withdraw from the Sanhedrin and then conferred together.

(v. 16) saying, 'What shall we do with these men? For the fact that a noteworthy miracle has taken place through them is apparent to all who live in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it.

(v. 17) But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn these men to speak no longer to anyone in this name."

h) [Jn 10:31-32; 37-42]:

(v. 31) '''Again the Jews picked up stones to stone Him,

(v. 32) but Jesus said to them, "I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?"

(v. 37) "If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me;

(v. 38) but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.'

(v. 39) Therefore they were seeking again to seize Him, and He eluded their grasp.

(v. 40) Then Jesus went back across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing in the early days. Here he stayed

(v. 41) and many people came to him. They said, "Though John never performed a miraculous sign, all that John said about this man was true.

(v. 42) And in that place many believed in Jesus.'''

i) [Ac 19:11-20]:

(v. 11) "God did extraordinary miracles through Paul,

(v. 12) so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.

(v. 13) Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, "In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out."

(v. 14) Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this.

(v. 15) One day the evil spirit answered them, "Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?"

(v. 16) Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.

(v. 17) When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor.

(v. 18) Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed their evil deeds.

(v. 19) A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas.

(v. 20) In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power."

j) [2 Cor 12:12]:

"The things that mark an apostle--signs, wonders and miracles--were done among you with great perseverance."

k) [1 Cor 13:8]:

(v. 1) If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

(v. 2) If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.

(v. 3) If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

(v. 4) Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

(v. 5) It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

(v. 6) Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

(v. 7) It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

(v. 8) Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

(v. 9) For we know in part and we prophesy in part,

(v. 10) but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.

(v. 11) When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.

(v. 12) Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

(v. 13) And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love"

2) ACCORDING TO THE BIBLE, IF YOU HAVEN'T EXPERIENCED A MIRACLE LATELY OR AT ALL IN YOUR LIFE (Multiple choice - may be more than one)

a) You may not be saved

b) You are not in the will of God

c) You lack faith

d) You are not going to the right church

e) You don't recognize miracles

f) You are not spiritually mature

3) ACCORDING TO THE BIBLE, THE OCCURENCE OF MIRACLES IS SOLELY DEPENDENT UPON MAN'S ACTIONS - GOT MUST WAIT FOR MAN TO INITIATE A FAITHFUL RESPONSE OF SOME KIND IN ORDER FOR GOD TO INITIATE A MIRACLE (T or F)

4) ACCORDING TO THE BIBLE, THE GREATER THE MIRACLE, THE GREATER THE SPIRITUALITY OF THE PARTICIPANTS (T or F)

5) ACCORDING TO THE BIBLE, WHICH OF THESE TODAY IS SOMETIMES, ALWAYS OR NEVER A MIRACLE

a) Answers to prayer

b) God's supernatural intervention into history

c) Personal experiences which validate God's love or sovereignty

d) The salvation unto eternal life of an individual

e) God's operation outside of His normal supernatural way since Adam & Eve

6) CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING PASSAGES AND ANY OTHERS THAT COME TO MIND IN ORDER TO VERIFY WHICH OF THE ITEMS LISTED BELOW THE BIBLE SPECIFICALLY TEACHES LEADS TO SPIRITUAL GROWTH AND MATURITY

a) Passages To Consider Re: What The Bible Says About Spiritual Growth & Maturity:

i) [Eph 4:11-13]:

(v. 11) "It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers,

(v. 12) to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up

(v. 13) until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ."

ii) [2 Tim 3:14-17]:

(v. 14) "But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it,

(v. 15) and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

(v. 16) All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,

(v. 17) so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."

iii) [Heb 12:7-11]:

(v. 7) "Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?

(v. 8) If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons.

(v. 9) Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live!

(v. 10) Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness.

(v. 11) No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it."

iv) James 1:2-4]:

(v. 2) "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds,

(v. 3) because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.

(v. 4) Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."

v) [Pr 3:1-6]:

(v. 1) "My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart,

(v. 2) for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity.

(v. 3) Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.

(v. 4) Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.

(v. 5) Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;

(v. 6) in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight."

b) Check Each Item Which The Bible Specifically Teaches Leads To Spiritual Growth And Maturity

i) God's testing

ii) God's discipline

iii) Proper study of God's Word

iv) Biblically defined miracles

v) Obedience to what you have learned from proper study of God's Word

vi) Non-miracle events which authenticate God's Word and direct your path

vii) Agape (godly) love

viii) Perseverance in obedience to the doctrines of the bible

ix) Reception of the proper teaching of others in the body of Christ

7) Indicate Whether It Is A Miracle (M) Or The Normative Way In Which God Operates Today (N):

a) Healings which are beyond comprehension, seemingly impossible

b) Blessings which are beyond comprehension, seemingly impossible

c) Provision of food, shelter and clothing which are beyond comprehension, seemingly impossible

d) Survival which is beyond comprehension, seemingly impossible

8) Quote Passages Fully Which Indicate That Biblical Miracles Are To Be Expected In The Life Of Today's Believer - keeping in mind who, what, where, when, why, how and to whom it applies