What does the church of Christ believe about miracles? Were miracles only performed by Jesus and the apostles, are there still miracles today?
In the Bible, a miracle was the working of God in an event that was entirely beyond the ordinary course of Nature. The purpose of miracles was to demonstrate the power of God (Luke 9:43), and to conclusively validate the authenticity of the prophets and their teachings to witnesses (Mark 16:20).
The working of miracles is not unique to New Testament times. God worked miracles through many Old Testament prophets such as Elijah who set up a contest of sorts between Baal and Jehovah. His goal was to demonstrate that Jehovah was a real God while proving that Baal was a false god. In the end, God miraculously proved beyond any doubt that He was the one true living God (1 Kings 18:19-39). Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego miraculously survived being thrown in Nebuchadnezzar's furnace in Daniel 3 with Daniel surviving a night in King Darius' lion pit (Daniel 6).
Jesus and the Apostles, through the power of God, performed many miracles in the first century. The apostles were able to pass the ability to work miracles on to other people. In Acts 6:5-8 we see Stephen who was not an apostle being selected to receive the ability to work miracles. The miracles performed in the first century by the apostles were one of the miraculous spiritual gifts mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 and could only be passed on by the laying on of hands of an apostle (Acts 8:18).
The working of miracles was only one of the spiritual gifts of the Holy Spirit. A complete list of them are as follows:
The Word of Wisdom
was the power to reveal God's wisdom, the Gospel, such as the apostles and
prophets did; for example, Paul, speaking of himself and other such men about
the Gospel, wrote, "We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden
wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory.... These
things we speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches, but which the Holy
Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual " (1
Corinthians 2:7 &
The purpose of these gifts was to teach the first century Christians the will of God in the absence of the written record we know as the Bible and to authenticate the words of the teachers with signs and wonders. Once the inspired writers finished writing the scriptures there was no further need for the miraculous gifts. Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God, (Romans 10:17). Once the word of God was fully recorded, there was no longer any need for the spiritual gifts.
Concerning the miraculous spiritual gifts, Paul wrote, "Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away" (1 Corinthians 13:8-10).
To "know in part" and to "prophesy in part" refers to two
miraculous gifts: inspiration and prophecy. During the first century, God
revealed His word to those who had inspiration in small pieces (or in part) as
it was needed. The miraculous gift of knowledge was the mechanism that
revealed God's word in parts. Scripture calls this inspiration, (2
In addition, as mentioned previously, the ability to pass the spiritual gifts rested solely on the apostles (Acts 8:14-18). Since no apostles are alive today to bestow these gifts upon anybody, then it is obviously impossible for us to acquire them today.
In conclusion, spiritual gifts were intended for the first century church to reveal and confirm the message of the New Testament. The scriptures claim internally that we have been given "all things pertaining to life and godliness" (2 Peter 1:3) and that the scriptures thoroughly equip us unto every good work (2 Timothy 3:17). Since all things have been given and we are completely furnished, then there is no longer any need for the word of God to be revealed or confirmed.
added June 30, 2007