What exactly what is a miracle? People use that term rather loosely, without any realization that that they are doing so without any scripture to back it. What are those tell-tale traits that identify the miracle and distinguish it from a natural phenomenon? If Christians knew what to look for in certifying the miraculous, they would be aware at just how many miracles are still being performed in this age, but also how many “miracles” are false. The Bible is the perfect place to look to understand what God truly means when He performs the miraculous.

There are at least three biblical tests for recognizing a legitimate miracle. First, the miracle glorifies God. Miracles declare that God is active in our world and that He can disrupt the activities of science and nature to reveal His character and accomplish His purposes. The principal test of a miracle is: Who receives the glory? In Acts 8:9, Simon the sorcerer claimed miracles as being from his own greatness, rather than Gods. Christians should be aware of these types of people and avoid them. Those who call themselves or are called by others as “faith healers” are not biblical in any sense. God is the one who chooses to heal a person. Supposed faith healers have a win-win situation. If they “heal” a person, then they get the credit because they laid hands on them. If they are not able to heal someone, they usually say that the person lacked faith in God.

Secondly, we know it is a miracle from God if the miracle stems from a righteous source. Jesus said that in the last days false prophets will come and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect (Matthew 24:24). Someone’s words may sound true and their actions may be impressive, but they could be counterfeit idols.

Lastly, if the miracle rings true to the Holy Spirit then we can tell it’s from our Lord. According to Paul, one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is distinguishing between spirits (1 Corinthians 12:10). Paul demonstrated this gift when he told Elymas, a Jewish sorcerer, that he was a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right (Acts 13:10). Through the Holy Spirit, Paul perceived the evil that was in the man. Likewise, we must look to the Holy Spirit for guidance regarding the source of a miracle.

While we understand what constitutes a miracle, why did Jesus perform them? The short answer is that it was because it sometimes led to faith. Jesus’ miracles provided a spiritual starting point for those whose hearts were open to the idea of God. Jesus, however, did not want to reduce His miracles to only be seen as sensational. He did not perform them to wow the crowd.

Jesus’ miracles provided proof that He was sent from God (Acts 2:22–24). Though they gave evidence of God’s victory over Satan (Luke 11:14–23), they were never designed to be the primary focus of Jesus’ activity (1 Corinthians 1:21–25). Jesus pointed to miracles as signs of something deeper and more significant (John 10:24–25, 38). Jesus’ miracles were like object lessons demonstrating the vast scope of His power. They showed His authority over nature, demons, disease and death (Luke 8:22–56). Miracles occurred ultimately to reveal Jesus as the Messiah and the one who came to perform the greatest miracle of all.

Jesus had the power to exercise miracles how He saw fit, and chose to do so mainly on those who already had some faith. He did not want to force blessings on people who openly rejected Him. He often performed miracles for those who already believed, and sometimes His miracles led to faith in those who did not previously believe (John 11:45; 12:9 – 11; 14:11). But Jesus would not perform miracles simply for His own personal benefit.

Does that mean that if we believe, we will receive miracles as well? Jesus taught that faith prompts God to respond to our need. Sometimes it is the faith of friends or family that God rewards. Occasionally, God’s healing work seems unrelated to anyone’s faith and the only explanation is God’s sovereign choice. Jesus never taught that faith automatically brings healing, though. Of Jesus’ miracles recorded in the Gospels, no formula guaranteeing healing can be found.

That said, as we go about our daily lives, miracles are happening all around us in places like hospitals, schools, neighborhoods, and even in the workplace. We see the critically ill healed, at-risk students excel, addicts turn their lives around, and opportunities open up for those in the direst situations. If you experience a miracle in your life or you are blessed to witness something miraculous, let others know and be sure to give God the glory.

If you are a born-again believer, then you have received the greatest miracle that any human could ever experience.

It is a miracle in the sense that you were once an enemy of God, was blind but now can see, and were separated from God by your sin. Jesus took on God’s wrath in your place. You now have eternal life and can never, ever be lost (John 10:28-29). The fact is that this is the greatest miracle of all and one that supersedes all of the miracles of healing or being raised from the dead that have ever been written in the Bible.

Miracles might not seem very close to you, but they’re happening every day. Don’t miss out on the chance to witness something incredible by God by believing they aren’t happening as often as they did when Jesus walked the earth. When you open your eyes, you see the power God has over this world.

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