Miracles: Then and Now

There is a dramatic difference between the miracles of the New Testament and the so-called “miracles” of today. Undeniably, some people are “cured” by modern-day faith healers, but invariably such cases involve psychosomatic illnesses that respond to emotional suggestion. There’s nothing miraculous about that — pagan witchdoctors perform those kinds of cures.

The Bible instructs us to “test everything; hold fast to what is good…” (1 Thessalonians 5.21). At the very beginning of His ministry, Jesus warned His disciples to “beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruit…” (Matthew 7.15-16). Later, His apostles, Peter and Paul, reinforced His warning, “…there will be false teachers among you…and in their greed they will exploit you with deceptive words…” (2 Peter 2.1, 3), “…such boasters are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is not strange if his ministers also disguise themselves as ministers of righteousness. Their end will match their deeds” (2 Corinthians 11.13-15).

By definition a miracle is something which exceeds natural law and cannot be explained apart from supernatural intervention. The miracles of Jesus and His disciples, recorded in the New Testament, unquestionably conform to that definition (e.g. changing water to wine, feeding five thousand, healing leprosy, restoring sight to the blind, walking on water, stopping a storm, raising the dead, etc.).

However, when it comes to the so-called “miracles” of today, the definition changes to include anything that seems coincidental, extraordinary, or amazing. In his book, Miracles of Seed-Faith, Oral Roberts cites numerous examples of “miracles” including acquiring bank loans, getting better jobs, improving family relationships, and increasing personal efficiency and self-confidence. Nothing in the book, including vague references to “healing” qualifies as a miracle in the sense of exceeding natural law.

  • In the New Testament every kind disease or illness was successfully healed (Matthew 4.23; 9.35; 10.1).

Today’s faith-healers concentrate on complaints which respond to the power of suggestion. Never do they attempt healing involving physical impossibilities, such as restoring an amputated ear, straightening a severe deformity, or instantly curing leprosy.

  • In the New Testament all who came were healed (Matthew 4.24; 8.16; Luke 4.40; 6.19; Acts 5.16; 10.38).

Nowadays observe those leaving a “healing” service. Many are turned away unhealed and those who claim to “feel better” continue to have the same problems as before. Several years ago a physician named William Nolan investigated 82 cases of claimed healing by Kathryn Kuhlman. He found that all the illnesses “healed” were of the kind easily influenced by the power of suggestion — “I was led to an inescapable conclusion: Not one had been miraculously cured of anything” (A Doctor in Search of a Miracle).

  • In the New Testament healings and miracles were instantaneous virtually every time (Matthew 2.12; 5.29; Luke 4.39; 5.13, 25; 6.10-21; Acts 3.7-8; 9.34; 13.11, etc.).

With modern-day “miracles” very little is visibly instantaneously. When interviewed after their “healings,” people have said, “I began to feel better” or “God is preparing me to be healed.” In his book, Keys to Scriptural Healing, Kenneth Hagin describes his own “miraculous cure” this way: “I knew in my innermost being that I was healed, and I praise God for my healing. My heart still did not beat right. My body was still partly paralyzed…It is a mistake to start looking at your body to see if you are healed.” And in Seven Things You Should Know about Divine Healing he writes, “…sometimes instant healings are a curse…people who are gradually healed can see that they walk in God.”

There is nothing miraculous, in the Biblical sense, about a gradual healing. That’s the natural way people get better. There’s nothing supernatural about a natural recovery, so by definition a “gradual healing” cannot qualify as a miracle.

— Bill