We often say, “It’s a miracle!” and life’s events often warrant this exclamation. But do we know what this exclamation actually means? God performs two types of miracles. In my own life, I can look back and clearly see God’s hand at work through providence on a number of occasions. But miracles are not just a cute thing that God does to blow our minds. He has a purpose for miracles.
Types of Miracles
Miracles that Defy the Laws of Nature
Sometimes God defies the laws of nature: the seas are parted, an ax head floats, the sun stands still, the dead raised to life. God created nature’s laws, so the laws that govern things like the buoyancy of an object, the gravitational pull on seas and oceans, the earth’s rotation, and the natural decay of a human body answer to His command. He can suspend, reverse, or augment nature’s laws at any time. He is transcendent above His creation.
Miracles of Providence
At other times, God orchestrates the events of this world in such a way that leaves us sure that it was His intervention. On a daily basis, He brings His will to pass while allowing men to freely choose—this is a great mystery—but sometimes it is more obvious to us. This is called providence, but these acts are no less miraculous. He works this way in the Old Testament narratives such as those of Joseph, Daniel, and Esther. In His providence, God is sovereign yet immanent.
The Purpose of Miracles
Miracles and Revelation
Miracles always accompany God’s special revelation. When God spoke through Moses and the prophets of the Old Covenant, He gave miracles in the form of confirmatory signs so that the people would confirm that their message was truly from God (Deut. 18:20-22). The same thing is true when Christ (Hebrews 1:2) came to earth and the Apostles (Acts 14:3, Hebrews 2:4) recorded the New Testament. Christ—God’s incarnate Word—and the New Testament writings—God’s inscripturated word—were accompanied by tongues, healings, and other miracles. These confirmatory miracles would serve to validate Christ and the Apostles.
Miracles and Apologetics
Miracles serve an apologetic purpose as they serve to strengthen the faith of the church and point sinners to Christ (John 20:30-31). This is ultimately the goal of apologetics. Sometimes Christians are hesitant to embrace the miraculous; they are shy to admit that an ax head can float, a donkey can talk, fortified city walls can fall at the sound of shouts. But a true Christian can not deny the miraculous. The reliability of Scripture and the validity of Christianity is inseparable from the miraculous. The Scriptures are full of miracles! It is impossible to view any part of the Bible as reliable if the authors were lying and/or exaggerating when they recorded these miracles. And the very thing that makes Christ our Savior is the fact that he miraculously conquered death (1 Cor. 15:17). Without miracles, you have no Bible, and you have no Risen Savior (John 11:25).