by Clem Thurman
via Gospel Minutes, Vol. 57, No. 47, Nov. 21, 2008.
Most of the older members of the church tell me that the age of miracles has ended. But I can't find anyone who can give me the passage of Scripture that teaches that. Can you provide me with the Scriptures?
In order to answer this, we must first define "miracle" and then determine the purpose of the miracles. Many people are willing to call anything they cannot explain a miracle: the birth of a baby, a close escape from an automobile accident, etc. But a miracle is not just an unusual incident; it is a "supernatural" event. An event that not only does not act in accord with natural law but even contradicts the laws of nature. Jesus healed the sick -- completely and instantaneously -- contrary to the laws of medicine and nature. As He told the disciples of John, "Go and tell John the things which ye hear and see: the blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good tidings preached to them" (Matthew 11:4-5). Miraculous powers were also given to the apostles. Peter healed a lame man (Acts 3:1-10), a paralytic (Acts 9:32-35), and raised the dead (Acts 9:36-41), and Peter was miraculously released from prison (Acts 12:1-11).
The apostle Paul writes of the "gifts of the Holy Spirit" (I Corinthians 12:7-11): "But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit to profit withal. For to one is given through the Spirit the word of wisdom; and to another the word of knowledge, according to the same Spirit: to another faith, in the same Spirit; and to another gifts of healings, in the one Spirit; and to another workings of miracles; and to another prophecy; and to another discernings of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; an to another the interpretation of tongues; but all these worketh the one and the same Spirit, dividing to such one severally even as He will." Let us notice these nine gifts, and what they were.
The nine gifts named were: "Wisdom, Knowledge, Faith, Healing, Miracles, Prophecy, Discerning of Spirits, Tongues, Interpretation of tongues." These were all "gifts." That is, they were not acquired through natural means but given directly by the Holy Spirit. With us, we acquire wisdom by experience and observation, knowledge by study, faith by hearing the Word of God (Roman 10:17), etc. But the apostles and other inspired people of the early church had no New Testament Scriptures to turn to for guidance, so they had to have guidance from God in some other way. That way was by the direct inspiration by the Holy Spirit, those gifts from the spirit are listed above.
There are numerous examples in the Bible of miraculous healings, miracles of various kinds and prophecy (speaking from God). This was all made possible by the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The gift of prophecy enabled one to "speak from God" -- as the apostles did on Pentecost, they "Spoke as the Spirit gave them utterance" (Acts 2:4). And when the apostles went "into all the world and preached the gospel" (Mark 16:15), "They went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word by the signs that followed" (Mark 16:20). That clearly shows the purpose of those miraculous gifts: to deliver the Word of God and confirm It by signs (miracles). This is stated also in (Hebrews 2:4), "God also bearing witness with them, both by signs and wonders, and by manifold powers, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own Will." And it is said of the miracles of Jesus: "These are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that, believing, ye might have life in His name" (John 20:31).
God tells us clearly that these "gifts of the Holy Spirit" were to cease. In (I Corinthians 12), the apostle Paul lists those gifts (above). Then in the next chapter, he wrote: "Love never faileth: but whether there by prophecies, they shall be done away; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall be done away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; but when that which is perfect is come, that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I felt as a child, I thought as a child: now that I am become a man, I have put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, darkly but then face to face; now I know in part; but then shall I know fully even as also I was fully known" (I Corinthians 13:8-12).
Notice that each gift was a "part". But when "the perfect" came, the parts were to cease. The expression "the perfect" is from the Greek "to telion" which literally means: "complete, full-grown, fully developed." So, when the revelation of God's Word was completed and confirmed, then the "parts" were done away. Note that Paul says, "For now we see in a mirror, darkly; but then face to face; now I know in part; but then shall I know fully even also I was fully known" (I Corinthians 13:12). This is explained by James, "But be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deluding your own selves. For if any one is a hearer of the Word and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a mirror; for he beholdeth himself, and goeth away, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But he that looketh into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and so continueth, being not a hearer that forgetteth but a doer that worketh, this man shall be blessed in his doing" (James 1:22-25).
Some contend that these "gifts of the Spirit" were to continue until Christ comes, and we then see Him and the Father "face to face." But look at the passage again: "Now we see in a mirror, darkly, but then face to face" (I Corinthians 13:12). No one looks into a mirror to see God, or anyone else. We look into a mirror to see ourselves. To shave, to put on makeup, etc., we need to see "face to face." That is the purpose of the mirror. And the Word of God is "the perfect law of liberty" (James 1:25), a spiritual mirror, into which we look to see our spiritual condition as God reveals it in His Word. That is what Paul says in I Corinthians 13.
Because we have the revealed and written Word of God, confirmed (proved) by the miracles which the apostles did, we no longer need those "parts" which brought it into existence. So they have ceased, been done away. And that includes all the miracles -- healing, raising the dead, etc. So, yes, the age and purpose of miracles have ended. Because we have the completed Word of God confirmed by these miracles and therefore there is no more need for such miracles.