When Miracles Ceased

by Jefferson David Tant

Miraculous events were commonplace in the Old and New Testaments, beginning with Creation, when God “spoke” and the heavens and the earth came into existence. A true miracle is basically the suspension of or overriding the laws of nature. The word is used rather loosely today, as people refer to the birth of a baby as a “miracle.” A baby is born according to the laws of nature. Someone may have escaped injury in an accident and claim that it was a miracle they were spared. Their escape may have been unusual, but it was not a miracle in the true sense of the word.

We want to examine whether the age of miracles has passed or if we still live in the age of miracles today. Many claim miraculous powers, particularly the power to speak in tongues and perform healings.

Claims that Are Made Today

Some years ago, there was a debate in Covington, GA, between a Pentecostal preacher and David Harkrider. Preacher Payne, as he was called, claimed he had all the power of the apostles. One night, David brought a bottle of something that would make one throw up and vomit but would do no permanent harm. He put a poison label on it and challenged Payne to drink it. He referred to Mark 16:17-18: “And these signs shall accompany them that believe: in my name shall they cast out demons; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall in no wise hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.

Preacher Payne responded by citing the “if” in the phrase about drinking deadly things and thus said he had no obligation to drink the “poison.” After I got home that evening, David called asking if I could secure a rattlesnake for him. I called a local Science Center curator and talked the fellow into loaning us a snake. Of course, I had to sign waivers in case the snake got out and bit someone. If that happened, the curator said he would claim he did not know me and had never heard of me!

The next night, we put the snake in a glass cage inside a cardboard box with the lid closed. David again referred to the passage in Mark 16, citing the phrase, “they shall take up serpents,” and emphasizing the "shall" in the passage. Payne wouldn’t go near the box until, after being chided two or three times, he went and looked in the box. Surprise! It really was a rattler. He wouldn’t touch it! I guess he realized he didn’t have all the power of the apostles after all.

Another incident took place in California. A while back, there was a faith healer named Amiee Semple McPherson. She had a large place called Angeles Temple. Tours could be taken through the facility, which included a “trophy” room, where a display of canes, crutches, and various other similar items was left after a person was “healed” of some infirmity. Foy E. Wallace, Jr. was with a group taking the guided tour. After the group left the trophy room, Foy stayed behind. Soon, the guide (a church member) came looking for him. “Can I help you, sir?” “Yes,” replied Foy, and he explained he was looking for a glass eye, an iron hook replaced by a healed hand, or a wooden leg left after an amputated leg was replaced. None could be found. If McPherson had miraculous powers, why could she not do such things? Christ healed the blind and replaced a fellow’s ear that Peter had cut off.

Then, there was Oral Roberts and his hospital. He was a famous faith healer of a generation ago, holding “healing” revivals nationwide. He founded Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, OK, and then built a hospital. When funding ran short, he got on TV and claimed he had seen a vision of a 9-foot-tall Jesus in his closet, who told him he would take his life if he didn’t raise 8 million dollars to complete the hospital. And sure enough, some fellow in Florida gave him the money.

But why did he need to build a hospital when he could just touch people and heal them? Come to think of it, neither Christ nor the apostles built hospitals. They just healed people with their power.

So, what was the purpose of miracles in the New Testament? They were used to authenticate the message of Christ and the apostles. Anyone can claim to be a messenger of God, but their claim needs to be authenticated.

The apostles had a new revelation from God that supplanted the former, the Old Testament. The Hebrews' writer mentioned this in Hebrews 8:13: “When He said, 'A new covenant,' He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear.” When a fact or statement has been proven true, it doesn’t have to be authenticated again. Once established as true, that foundation stands.

Christ warned that some would claim that they were performing miracles to draw people to them, "And then if anyone says to you, 'Behold, here is the Christ'; or, 'Behold, He is there'; do not believe him; for false Christs and false prophets will arise, and will show signs and wonders, in order to lead astray, if possible, the elect" (Mark 13:21-22).

I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, that in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge, even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you” (I Corinthians 1:4-6).

And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed” (Mark 16:20).

Some time ago, a reporter went to one of the “healing” campaigns and contacted those who had been “healed.” He got their name and contact information. After some time had passed, he contacted each of these people. And guess what he found? Not a single person had a healing that lasted. It is known that under a hypnotic stance, one may temporarily overcome some physical weakness. But in time, that wears off, and one’s normal state returns. He didn’t find a single person who had been permanently healed.

Dear Readers, the Word has been confirmed. We don’t need miracles today. In fact, the apostle Paul said that in time, they would cease. “Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away” (I Corinthians 13:8).

Be sure you follow God’s Word, not false prophets and false signs.

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