Preface by Dave Brown
Believe in Miracles? by Dave Brown
Miracles in the Book of Acts by Dave Brown
A Four-Part Study of New Testament Miracles by Bryan Gibson
Part 1 - Who Performed Miracles?
Part 2 - What Was Their Purpose?
Part 3 - Spiritual Gifts
Part 4 - Review and Summary
Return to Bible Subjects Articles page
Preface. In our religious discussion we have encountered many who are totally convinced that one of the following is true: (1) they have seen or experienced an obvious supernatural event that can be used either as new revelation or to prove new revelation, (which on this page is what we are referencing by the word miracle); (2) God speaks to them directly (i.e., not through the Bible nor through Divine Providence, neither of which are miraculous) and thus, the words that God speaks to them in this way would have to take precedence over the Bible, which all of them that we have spoken with agreed IS the Word of God; and/or (3) they can actually perform miracles themselves. This third conviction is the easiest of verify or discredit, since the proof to us would be obvious – just perform one. The other two are much more difficult and we have seen very few who have been discouraged from this type of faith system once they are engulfed in it.
While we do not have high hopes of converting those who feel that we are still in the age of miracles today, we would appeal to you to read these articles carefully with the intent of learning why we believe what we believe on this subject, and thus (if nothing else) equipping yourself to enlighten us or others who hold similar beliefs.
To those who are open and objective about this whole subject, it must be that you do NOT fall in the first two categories given above. You have never seen anything that you could ONLY classify as a supernatural event (miracle). And, you do not believe God speaks to you directly. Now let us qualify things here somewhat. We are not saying that you never saw anything that was really weird and highly unlikely to be something normally encountered. Most of us can think back on things that totally mystified us. But we are not ready to allow such a recollection to get us to ignore the teachings of the bible. Also, we may have experienced times when we were undecided about something and suddenly we “saw the light” in terms of our recognizing which way to go at a crossroads in life. We are NOT saying that God (the Father, Son or the Holy Spirit) had no input to that flash of insight. ALL we are saying is that it is not of the caliber of New Testament miracles that were all of sufficient public recognition and scrutiny so as to be either: (1) evidence of a new revelation or (2) proof that this new revelation was clearly from God.
James 2:4-5: “And let patience have (its) perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all liberally and upbraids not; and it shall be given him.” I lack wisdom, and thus, I pray for it often. Does God give it to me? Read the passage above again – it has the answer: “it shall be given him.” This is no different from the many prayers that we offer before God. Do we expect God to answer them and change things? Of course, or we would not pray. Does he do this by supernatural means? Of course, or they would not be the result of God’s actions. This is true even if the Source is hidden, as is the case in what we call Divine Providence. BUT the real question is – are these supernatural events things that we can use to prove the validity of what we believe? Absolutely not, and we should not try. Everyone has his own such experiences, and for everyone to be using them to convince others would lead to nothing but mayhem – or should we say, it already has led to nothing by mayhem.
If you have gotten this far, it seems clear that you have not experienced anything that could be used as new revelation or to confirm new revelation. This, in itself, is evidence. We reason that if miracles were happening today, it would be so obvious that no one could deny it. As will be seen in the articles below, this WAS the case in the first century and those who defied Jesus and the apostles never did so by denying that their miracles never took place. They knew that they did, and if they did not, they would have been as easy to refute back then as they are today – perhaps much easier to show today since there are electronic tricks that can make the impossible seem to be possible. Fortunately, the charlatans do not use these things (as they did a few decades ago) because they KNOW that those who know better and understand electronics will expose them for the liars that they are. In addition, our news agencies today are quite eager to check out any miraculous claims – if, in fact, supernatural things were going on, they would be reported.
God has given to each of us a sense of reality, often called part of our common sense, and He expects us to use it. Just because we want something to be a certain way does not make it that way. We cannot believe truth into existence; a teaching is either in God’s word and consistent with it, or it is not. As you go forward in studying the following articles that review miracles in the light of the Bible, please ask yourself: does this not correspond to what I see around me, and thus what I KNOW to be true? And be sure to apply the truth of Romans 3:4: “… let God be found true, but every man a liar …” Do not trust us – verify for yourselves what we present below from the references given.
BELIEVE IN MIRACLES?
by Dave Brown
All bible-believers recognize that God can do anything righteous (Genesis 1:1), and that Jesus, the apostles, and the first century prophets performed legitimate miracles. But let us begin by defining the word: miracle.
Today almost any strange events is called a miracle by some people. Not confined to the Charismatics, a recent daily radio spot called "moment of miracles" demonstrated that those in most mainstream establishment denominations believe that such things as disease regressions and escapes from traffic accidents are miracles. They seem to believe that these events correspond to those recorded in the New Testament in the event’s ability to prove their doctrines and practices. (Otherwise, why testify to it?)
An in-depth study of the word miracle as used in the New Testament reveals that there were three words used:
- Dunamis (from which we get our word dynamite) usually translate power – overwhelming power above and beyond coincidence or natural occurrence (Mk. 9:39; Acts 2:22; 19:11; 1 Cor. 12:10, 28-29; Gal. 3:5; Heb. 2:4);
- Semeion – usually translated sign – a clear sign pointing to something unclear (Lk. 23:8; Jn. 2:11; 3:2; 4:54; 6:2,14,26; 7:31; 9:16; 10;41; 11:47; 12:18,37; Acts 4:16,22; 6:8: 8:6; 15:12; Rev. 13:14; 16:14; 19:20); and
- Teras – usually translated wonder – something unexplainable by natural means that caused people to marvel (Mt. 24:24; Mk. 13:22; Jn. 4:48; Acts 2:19,22,43; 4:30; 5:12; 6:8; 7:36; 14:3; 15:12; Rom. 15:19; 2 Cor. 12:12, 2 Thes. 2:9; Heb. 2:4).
If you are truly serious about learning all that the Bible says about miracles, you will read these scriptures and all other references to miracles, taking note of the particular miraculous event described. These show that Bible miracles were absolutely nothing like the self-serving spectacles or coincidences which are often called miracles today. If one of them did qualify, it would be so obvious that no one would be able to question it (see Acts 4:16). We will again go over most of these in the next article below.
The scriptures state that miracles would cease once the word was fully delivered (e.g., Zech. 13:1-2; Heb. 2: 2-4; 1 Cor. 13:9-10; etc. – further discussed in articles below). But the scriptures were never intended to prove or disprove the occurrence of miracles. It was the other way around: the miracles revealed and confirmed the truth of God’s revelations. Thus, if God were delivering new revelation now, there would be miracles to confirm it – undeniable signs, powers and wonders just like those recorded in the New Testament.
All who believe that the miracles described in the New Testament did occur cannot possibly believe that the feeble claims made today are legitimate miracles. There is no further revelation today (Jude 3; Rev. 28:18-19). None dare claim to add to the perfect word delivered to us about 2000 years ago. Instead, the "miracle workers" will deride it saying that "an experience is worth a thousand scriptures." Is that not the same thing as saying we should not trust the scriptures at all? Effectively it is.
We dare not be deceived (2 Corinthians 11:13-14; 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10), for today our salvation depends upon our obedience to what the Holy Spirit had delivered to us in the scriptures (Jn. 20:30-31; Rom. 10:17; 2 Tim. 3: 16-17).
Miracles in the Book of Acts
By Dave Brown
The subject of miracles is one of the most controversial of religious topics. In the bible, three Greek words are translated “miracles.” The Greek word dunamis (power) is the word from which we get our word dynamite. The second is the Greek word semeon (sign). A sign is something that is clear and obvious that points to and identifies something that is somewhat hidden. Also, teras (wonders) is sometimes used to indicate that the event could not be explained in any natural way, and thus it caused great wonder among those who witnessed it. All three words indicate that bible miracles were obvious overt supernatural events—not tricks or coincidences.
The purpose of this article is to show, by example, what the Bible says a miracle is (the word being defined by the Greek words above). To do this, we will go through the book of Acts and observe all of the miracles that occurred once the Lord’s church was established on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2). Please consider the characteristics of the following miracles:
- On Pentecost itself (Acts 2), a sound like “a mighty rushing wind,” the appearance of “cloven tongues like as of fire” that sat upon the apostles, and the apostles’ ability to speak in about 14 other languages—nothing hidden at all, clearly supernatural and verifiable signs, wonders and powers.
- Other non-specified miracles were performed at this point, but they were strictly “by the hands of the apostles” (Acts 2:43; 4:43; 5:12). It is made clear that no one except the apostles had the power to perform miracles until the events of Acts 6.
- In Acts 3, Peter and John healed a man who was more than 40 years old (4:22) that had never walked prior to this; he leaped in the air (3:8), again a clear sign and power that caused wonder.
- In Acts 5 we have what we might call the first punitive miracle, in that it caused the death of two people who committed a grievous sin against the Lord’s infant church. The context of Acts 5 shows how God demonstrated His power and brought about fear (Acts 5:11) by striking dead Ananias and Sapphira his wife, two people who conspired to lie to the church about a gift that they offered, apparently to receive the praise of the church.
- Acts 5:16 shows that the apostles were able to heal all that were sick or vexed with unclean spirits.
- The only remedy that the high priest thought effective was to jail the apostles (Acts 5:18). But they were immediately released by an angel of the Lord (5:19). Acts 5:23 indicates that the doors were not even opened. This would be a very clear sign, power and wonder.
- The first instance of a non-apostle performing a miracle is Steven (Acts 6:8). The apostles had laid hands upon him and six others, one of whom was Phillip (Acts 6:5-6). Stephen was stoned shortly thereafter (Acts 7), and the Christians in general were “scattered abroad … except the apostles” (Acts 8:1).
- Phillip went down to Samaria preaching Christ and validating his words with the miracles that he performed (Acts 8:6). These were clearly superior to the tricks performed by Simon the sorcerer.
- It is clear from the context of Acts 8 that, in general, baptized believers did not have power to perform miracles, and Peter and John were sent to them so that they could receive such power, which was bestowed upon them by the laying on of the apostles hands (Acts 8:18).
- A second punitive miracle is recorded in Acts 9. Some say that Paul was converted on the road to Damascus; in reality he was struck blind. The Lord got his attention in this way, but then commanded him to go to Damascus “… and it shall be told thee what thou must do” (Acts 9:6). Paul was taught the same thing that all other hearers of the gospel were taught, and he obeyed the same commands as they did (Acts 22:16).
- Later on in Acts 9:32-43, the scene focuses back on Peter who heals someone who had been sick of palsy for eight years, and then he raised a woman from the dead. Both highly spectacular events. It is possible that Luke focuses on these miracles in order to provide credibility for Peter, who, in Acts 10, is going to baptize the first Gentile converts, much to the alarm of some of the Jews in the Jerusalem area.
- In Acts 10 the first gentiles hear the gospel, and some events quite similar to those on Pentecost occur (Acts 10:44f). The fact that these were not common events, however, is made quite clear in Peter’s explanation back to the Jewish brethren in Acts 11:15-16. If this was common at all conversions, then Peter’s statement that this was like “on us at the beginning” would have no meaning whatsoever. There are only two instances identified as “baptisms in the Holy Spirit” given in the book of Acts: Acts 2 and Acts 10-11. Both of these were accompanied by spontaneous miracles that were totally unexpected.
- A second incident of a miraculous release from prison is given in Acts 12:7-17. This too was quite unexpected as the people in the home where Peter went were ready to declare mad the girl who told them that Peter was at the door. Prisoners just did not escape back then, and if they did it usually cost the lives of their guards (see Acts 12:19).
- The third example that we have of a punitive miracle in Acts 12:21-23. While only a couple of verses are given to it, Josephus tells us that Herod’s agony of being eaten of worms lasted three days, demonstrating God’s wrath upon those who would dare to accept the praise of deity.
- A fourth example of a punitive miracle is given in Acts 13:8-11—an evil man was temporarily struck blind. If the same miracles as occurred in the first century are occurring today, why is it that we never hear the claim of a punitive miracle?
- In Acts 14:8-19, during Paul’s first missionary journey, he healed a man crippled from his mother’s womb. So spectacular and different was this that the people wanted to proclaim that Barnabas was the god Jupiter and Paul was the god Mercury, which, of course, they forbade. Shortly after this Jewish enemies of the gospel persuaded these same people to stone Paul, who miraculously walked away after the stoning (Acts 14:20). Consider the contrast between Acts 14:18 and Acts 14:19, and ask yourself it the mere performance of a miracle is sufficient to produce saving faith.
- The absence of any miracle in Acts 15 is significant. Here was a major crisis over the doctrine of circumcision (and generally keeping the Law of Moses) that you would think God could easily resolve with a miracle. However, the context of Acts 15 shows that God had already spoken on this subject, and so nothing more needed to be revealed or confirmed. Previous miracles were cited as sufficient evidence (Acts 15:12).
- Miracles still continued for the purpose of guiding the apostles and providing confirmation to those who had no other means of validating the gospel. For example, in Acts 16:26f, Paul and Silas are miraculously released from prison, leading to the conversion of the Philippian Jailor and his household.
- In contrast, no miracles were presented to those who could validate the teachings by means of the scriptures (see Acts 17:11), and no miracles were performed during Paul’s trials in Jerusalem (Acts 22-26). Clearly miracles were not the solution to every problem, and God used them judiciously as they were essential. However, when other means of proof, such as the Old Testament scriptures, were adequate, no miracles were forthcoming.
- Since the New Testament had not been written at this point, there was still a need for ongoing revelation. However, the gifts were not given to all Christians, and the necessity for the apostles to impart these gifts to a limited number is further evidenced by the events of Acts 19, and specifically, Acts 19:6.
- Some “special miracles” were performed at this time (Acts 19:11-12), indicating that these were not normal, even for miracles, they were unusual.
- Punitive miracles also persisted as shown by the unusual (and rather humorous) event in Acts 19:13-16. Note the effect that this had in 19:17.
- The final miracles recorded involve the saving of all aboard after the shipwreck (Acts 27), and Paul’s not being affected by the bite of a venomous snake (Acts 28:1-6), giving confirmation to the gentiles on the remote island of Melita.
If even one of the events like those given above were happening today, there would be no way that they could be hidden, nor would there be any reason to hide them. Obviously, God allowed miracles so that they would be obvious and not the least bit hidden. That would be like erecting a sign pointing to a major area of interest and then covering it up. Were any of the miracles above hidden? And did anyone ever dispute the validity of a legitimate miracle?
If modern day “miracles” followed the pattern above (as many claim that they do in calling themselves “Pentecostals”), there would be a wide variety of healings of all types of maladies, giving life to the dead, and notable punitive miracles (e.g., people struck dead or blind). Further, in the first century, even the very enemies of Christ knew that miracles were occurring, and knew that they would have no credibility at all if they denied them (see John 11:47; Acts 4:16).
Our media today explores even the remotest prospects of the miraculous, and their quest for sensationalism totally assures that if anything like the miracles listed above were occurring, we would be fully aware of them. If we truly believe that the events that are recorded in the book of Acts did occur, then we cannot help but come to the conclusion that these things are not continuing today, as Paul prophesied (1 Cor. 13:8-13), which is explained in other articles on this page.
A FOUR-PART STUDY OF NEW TESTAMENT MIRACLES
by Bryan Gibson
Who Performed Miracles?
The list of those who performed miracles in the N.T. is probably shorter than most people think. Please notice the Holy Spirit’s role in these miracles. All those on this list performed miracles by the power of the Holy Spirit. Let us present this in outline format:
1. Jesus (John 20:30-31; Acts 2:22; 10:38).
a. God anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit, enabling Him to perform various miracles (Acts 10:38).
b. “…If I [Jesus] cast out demons by the Spirit of God …” (Matt. 12:28).
2. The seventy men Jesus sent out on a preaching trip (Luke 10:1-20).
a. While Jesus was on the earth, He could impart the Holy Spirit to others, giving them the power to perform miracles. He did this for the seventy (Luke 10:17-20).
3. The apostles (Luke 9:1-2; Acts 2:43; 5:12).
a. While Jesus was on the earth, He also empowered the apostles to do miracles (Matt. 10:1; Mk. 3:14-15; 6:7; Lk. 9:1)
b. But what about after Jesus went back to heaven? Before He left, Jesus promised His apostles that He would send the Holy Spirit to them (John 14-16), that they would in fact be “baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:4-8). This came to pass in Acts 2:1-4. Not only did this give them the power to perform miracles (Rom. 15:18-19), but they could also now impart the Holy Spirit to others.
4. Those on whom the apostles laid their hands (Acts 8:14-18; 19:1-6).
a. In Acts 1-5, only the apostles perform miracles. That changes in Acts 6:8 as we read of Stephen performing signs and wonders. Then in 8:6 we read of Philip performing miracles. How were these men able to perform miracles? The answer is that the apostles had laid their hands on them, imparting the Holy Spirit to them (Acts 6:1-6; 8:18; 19:6).
b. While those on whom the apostles had laid their hands could perform miracles, they could not impart the Holy Spirit to others. They could not empower others to do miracles. This is clear from Acts 8. Philip was preaching in Samaria, performing miracles (Acts 8:5-8). When some became Christians in Samaria, Philip was not able to impart the Holy Spirit to them. Two apostles, Peter and John, had to come from Jerusalem and lay their hands on these people (Acts 8:14-18). The imparting of the miraculous capabilities of the Holy Spirit was required in the first century prior to the completed revelation of God’s word.
5. Cornelius and his household (Acts 10:44-48).
a. These were the only people to receive the Holy Spirit without the apostles laying their hands on them. They were baptized with the Holy Spirit in order to demonstrate to the Jews that came with Peter that Gentiles were to be accepted on the same basis as the Jews (Acts 10:44-48; 11:15-18), and without circumcision.
To those who claim to work miracles today, we must ask this question? How did you receive the Holy Spirit? You were not baptized with the Holy Spirit, for this was only promised to the apostles (the one exception being the household of Cornelius, and that being for the purpose of confirming to the Jews that the Gentiles were to be baptized without circumcision). And you did not have the apostles lay their hands on you. According to the New Testament, there is no other way that you could be empowered to do miracles.
A FOUR-PART STUDY OF NEW TESTAMENT MIRACLES
by Bryan Gibson
What Was Their Purpose?
Words used in the New Testament to describe miraculous activity include signs, wonders, miracles, spiritual gifts, mighty works, and in some cases, even the simple term works. Miracles were performed by different individuals by the power of the Holy Spirit (see Part One for details). But what purpose did these miracles serve? And, if they served those purposes then, what passages tell us that they should serve any different purposes today? These are the questions that we want to focus on in this article.
In general, the purpose of miracles was to confirm the word. Two passages make that very clear:
“And they [apostles] went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs” (Mark 16:20).
“How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?” (Hebrews 2:3-4).
When Jesus, the apostles, and others went out to preach, how did the people hearing them know that what they were saying really came from God, i.e., that it was really the truth? Answer: By the miracles they performed. This proved to people that God was with them, and that what they were saying was from Him – that it was the truth. After Elijah raised her son from the dead, a widow had this reaction, "Now by this I know…that the word of the Lord in your mouth is the truth” (1 Kings 17:24). The New Testament answers the following questions quite clearly (please verify these statements):
- How did Jesus prove that His words came from God, that He was the Son of God, as He claimed? By the miracles He performed (Acts 2:22; John 20:30-31; 3:2).
- How did the people of Samaria know that the words of Philip were the truth? By the miracles he did (Acts 8:6).
- How did the people of Iconium know that Paul and Barnabas were preaching the truth? Again, by the signs and wonders done by them (Acts 14:3).b This was God’s way of confirming that His word was being preached.
How did you check the truthfulness of the statements above? Was a miracle required?
Keep in mind that at the time written about in the New Testament (i.e., the first century), these scriptures had not been completed. People could not check what they were hearing against what the New Testament said. They needed to see these miracles to know for sure that they were hearing God’s word.
But what about today? Are miracles needed today to confirm that one is speaking the truth? Today, we do have the completely written New Testament. To know if the truth is being spoken today, we simply compare it to what we read in the New Testament. The message in the New Testament has already been confirmed (Hebrews 2:3-4), so when I preach what is recorded there, people can know that the “word of the Lord in my mouth is the truth.” The age of miracles has passed. They served a very important purpose at one time, but that purpose is no longer in effect.
Those who claim to perform miracles today, do what they do in an attempt to prove that their cults are of God. They do not need to prove the New Testament, and if they were totally consistent with the New Testament they would use it to validate their ministries. But, since they cannot do that, they must resort to trickery. The punishment for such is clearly stated in the New Testament (e.g., 2 Thessalonians 2:8-10).
A FOUR-PART STUDY OF NEW TESTAMENT MIRACLES
by Bryan Gibson
Included among the miraculous activity in the New Testament were “spiritual gifts.” These gifts are listed in 1 Corinthians 12:7-11: wisdom, knowledge, faith, healings, miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, tongues, interpretation. Let’s consider the following other important facts about these spiritual gifts:
- These were spiritual, not natural, gifts or abilities. “But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills” (1 Cor. 12:11).
- The way the Holy Spirit was imparted to these individuals was through the laying on of the apostles’ hands (Acts 8:14-22; 19:1-6; Rom. 1:11; 2 Tim. 1:6). In other words, individuals could exercise these gifts only after the apostles had laid their hands on them. Doesn’t this indicate how long these gifts would last? In other words, when the last apostle died, the means of imparting the Holy Spirit would no longer be present.
- While we are at it, let’s consider the alternative that many false teachers today try to teach: that the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit were to all Christians. Can you imagine the total confusion that such a dispensation would have caused in the first century? Oh, but you do not have to imagine it, just look at the state of what is called “Christianity” today where most preachers are claiming direct inspiration from the Holy Spirit. God has given us common sense and He expects us to use it. God is NOT the author of such confusion, but of peace (1 Corinthians 14:33).
- In the distribution of these gifts, no one man was enabled to do all things (read 1 Cor. 12:7-11 carefully; also 1 Cor. 12:29-30).
- The purpose of these gifts was not to bring glory to those exercising them, but to edify the church (1 Cor. 14:12, 26).
- There were certain regulations as to how these gifts should be exercised in the assemblies.
- Only two or three to speak in tongues, and each one in turn. If no interpreter was present, no tongues were to be spoken (1 Cor. 14:26-28). Clearly, not all Christians had this gift, which seems to be the favorite today among false teachers, probably because in the erroneous way they apply it, it is impossible to validate. (“Tongues” in the first century were legitimate languages that were totally understood by the natives of the countries where they were spoken.)
- Two or three prophets could speak, but they had to do it one by one (1 Cor. 14:29, 31).
- If another received a revelation, the first was to keep silent (1 Cor. 14:30).
- Women were to keep silent in the churches (1 Cor. 14:34-35), although some of them had the gift of prophecy (Acts 21:9) outside of the assemblies.
- There was to be no confusion; all things were to be done decently and in order (1 Cor. 14:33, 40).
- These gifts were not given to continue indefinitely: “But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they shall cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away” (1 Cor. 13:8-10). What was in part at this time was God’s revelation to man. It was not in its completed form, that is, the New Testament had not yet been completely written. But when that day came, according to this passage, these spiritual gifts would cease. They would no longer be needed.
Click here for additional articles on the Holy Spirit.
A FOUR-PART STUDY OF NEW TESTAMENT MIRACLES
by Bryan Gibson
Review and Summary
We have studied the miracles of the New Testament in the three previous articles above. This article we will review and summarize the points made in those articles by the answers to the following questions:
1. What words are used to describe miraculous activity in the New Testament?
Signs (John 2:11; 2:23), wonders (Acts 4:30; 5:12), miracles (Acts 8:13; 19:11), spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 12:1-11), mighty works (Matt. 11:20-23; 13:54), works (John 5:20, 36; 7:3).
2. Who performed miracles in the New Testament?
- Jesus (John 20:30-31; Acts 2:22; Acts 10:38).
- The seventy men Jesus sent on a preaching trip (Luke 10:1-20).
- The apostles (Luke 9:1-2; Acts 2:43; 5:12).
- Those on whom the apostles laid their hands (Acts 8:14-18; 19:1-6; Rom. 1:11; 2 Tim. 1:6).
- Cornelius and his household (Acts 10:44-48; 11:1-18).
3. How were they able to perform miracles?
- By the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:38; Rom. 15:18-19; Gal. 3:5).
- After Jesus returned to heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit to the apostles, enabling them to perform various miracles. From that time on, the only way that someone could receive the Holy Spirit was through the laying on of the apostles’ hands (Acts 8:14-22).
- The one and only exception to this was Cornelius and his household. They, like the apostles, were baptized with the Holy Spirit, but this was for a special, one time only purpose (Acts 10:44-48; 11:15-18).
4. What was the purpose of these miracles?
- In general, to confirm the word of God (Mark 16:20; Hebrews 2:3-4).
- When those preaching the word performed miracles, the listeners knew that God was with these preachers, and so what they were saying had to come from Him (see also Acts 2:22; 8:6; 14:3).
5. When would miracles cease?
- Once the apostles died, there was no way that the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit could be imparted to others (Acts 8:18-19). So when the last person died on whom the apostles laid their hands, miracles would be no more.
- 1 Corinthians 13:10 has this to say about the duration of spiritual gifts: “But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.” When God’s revelation to man was completely written, these miraculous gifts would cease.
Click here if you have any doubts about what the Bible teaches regarding its sufficiency (full growth or perfection).
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