Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 8, 1955
NUMBER 18, PAGE 8-9a

Miracles, Mysteries And God's Power

Cecil B. Douthitt, Brownwood, Texas

Some people think the mysteries of nature are miracles. When they are told that miracles have accomplished their purpose, and that no man is performing miracles now; they sometimes ask, "Don't we see miracles every day in the growing plants, the budding trees and the blooming flowers?"

God does not work miracles today as he did when Jesus and the apostles were on earth, and we do not see miracles every day in the trees and flowers and other plants. There is a great difference between the mysteries of nature and the miracles of God.

A miracle is an operation of divine power in the world of nature, but independent of the laws of nature. When God exercised this power through human agency, it was for the purpose of attesting a divine mission.

There are many mysteries and wonders in the world of nature today, but these mysteries and wonders are produced by operation of natural law; therefore they are not miracles.

When a grape seed is planted in the ground, a vine grows up, and grapes grow on the vine. The juice is pressed out of the grapes, and wine is produced therefrom. In the growing of grapes there are many mysteries that nobody understands; but it is all done through the operation of natural laws, which laws are well known to every man of science. In the whole process there is no operation independent of natural law; therefore, no miracle occurs. In order for it to be a miracle the wine must be produced outside of the operation of natural law.

Jesus produced wine independently of all natural processes; therefore, he performed a miracle. (John 2:1-11.) He ordered the servants at a wedding feast to fill six water pots with water. These vessels were filled to the brim with water, and the water immediately became wine. The water was changed into wine by divine power independent of natural law; it was a miracle.

By the science of suggestive therapeutics some are healed today of many diseases of body and mind. These cures are often mistaken for miraculous healing, when they are not miraculous at all.

The effect that the mind can have on the body is wonderful, and sometimes mysterious. Some people are cured of certain physical ailments just by getting in the right frame of mind. But such cures are not miraculous, because they are wrought through the working of the laws of a science well known to every physician and man of science. But this method of healing is limited. No man can raise the dead, or straighten a crooked bone, or set a broken limb, or restore an amputated member of the body, by auto-suggestion.

Christ and the apostles went beyond the confines of suggestive therapeutics; they performed miracles; they wrought cures through divine operation independent of the science of auto suggestion.

When the officers came to arrest Jesus, Peter drew a sword and cut off the ear of the servant of the high priest. Jesus touched the man's ear, and restored it just as it was before it was amputated, and he did it without any surgeon's knife or needle. That was a cure separate from all natural law; that was a miracle. No man can do that by the science of suggestive therapeutics.

On three occasions Jesus raised the dead. He and the apostles did many other miracles which no man can do today, and which are beyond the power of any practitioner of suggestive therapeutics, regardless of how skilled he may be.

The Bible very clearly teaches that the purpose of miracles was to confirm the message as preached by certain men, and to prove that they were sent from God. They did not have the New Testament then in written form as we have it now; therefore God gave men the power to perform miracles so that the people could know they were preaching the truth. Today we can determine whether or not a man is preaching the truth by searching the New Testament. If the thing he teaches is not taught in the New Testament, we know it is not gospel truth.

These passages show that the purpose of miracles was to confirm the word of God's chosen messengers: "And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word by the signs that followed." (Mark 16:20.) "The very works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me." (John 5:36.) "Many other signs therefore did Jesus in the presence of the disciples which are not written in this book: but these are written, that ye may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God." (John 20:30-31.) "God also bearing witness with them, both by signs and wonders." (Heb. 2:4.) Nicodemus mentioned the signs that Jesus did as proof that God was with him. (John 3:2.) Moses was given power to perform miracles that the people might believe that God was with him. (Exodus 4:1-9.) Jesus healed the man with palsy that we "may know that the Son of man hath authority on earth to forgive sins." (Mark 2:10-11.) Jesus was approved of God "by mighty works and wonders and signs which God did by him." (Acts 2:22.)

Every careful and honest student of God's word should be able to understand that I Corinthians 12:4-10, 31, and I Corinthians 13:8-10 clearly teach that, 1) there were diversities of miraculous gifts in the early church; 2) none could perform all these miracles; 3) they were done "in part"; 4) the prophesying, speaking in tongues, and other miracles done "in part" would be done away, when that which is perfect is come."

The perfect law of liberty has come (James 1:25), furnishing us completely unto every good work. (II Tim. 3:16-17.) Therefore we have no need of miracles now. The recorded miracles still serve the original purpose, if the New Testament is believed. The gospel as preached by the apostles of Christ, and as we now have it in the New Testament is the only standard by which one can determine the divine authority of what is preached. Paul says in Galatians 1:8-9, "But though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach unto you any gospel other than that which we preached unto you, let him be anathema. As we have said before, so say I now again, If any man preach unto you any gospel other than that which ye received, let him be anathema." Since nothing can be preached with divine approval, except what the apostles preached, what need is there for a miracle today?

Miraculous healing is no part of the remedial system provided by the atonement of Christ. When enough miracles had been performed to confirm the gospel, and near the close of the miracle working age, Paul told Timothy to "use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities." (I Tim. 5:23.) Timothy would have been healed miraculously without medicinal remedies, if the Lord had designed the continuity of miraculous healing as a part of the remedial system of his sacrifice.

Trophimus was left at Miletus sick (II Tim. 4:20), because only purely natural means of physical healing were available then as now.

Paul himself was weak in body and he had some kind of impediment in his speech. (II Cor. 10:10; 11:6, 30; 12:5-10.) If healing of the body is provided for in the atonement of Jesus, it was a provision that Paul, Timothy and Trophimus never enjoyed, as far as we know.

Oil, wine, poultice of figs, etc., were divinely appointed for physical ills. (Luke 10:34; I Tim. 5:23; II Kings 20:7.) Luke was a physician. (Col. 4:14.) The sick have "need of a physician." (Matt. 9:12.) All of which shows that physical ills must be treated with physical remedies.

Several religious sects claim that some people today have a miraculous type of faith, and that God is performing miracles through them. The Mormons, Christian Scientists, several branches of the Holiness sect, some Premillennialists who claim to be members of the church of Christ, and others hold this erroneous theory. They sometimes charge us with questioning the power of God, when we try to teach them the truth on the purpose and end of miracles. They seem to think that if God has the power to perform miracles through the agency of man, He surely is doing it today.

Nobody denies that God has the power to do anything He wants to do. It is not a question of God's power. It is a question of whether or not we believe what God says about the end of miracles in I Corinthians 13:8-10. God does not do everything he has the power to do. He has power today to take a rib from the side of some man and create a woman. But He is not creating women out of men's ribs today, and I know that He will not, because of what He says in Genesis 1:28. God, through the agency of man, has power to heal the sick and speak in other languages miraculously. But I do not believe He is using men today to perform these miracles, because I believe what He says about the end and purpose of miracles in John 20:30-31 and I Corinthians 13:8-10.

To argue the need for a continuation of miracles today is to question the all-sufficiency of God's word. The miracles recorded in the Bible are sufficient to confirm the word. To argue they have ceased is to attack God's word, for he says they have ceased.

We should pray for the sick to recover, for our daily bread, for wisdom, for salvation, for forgiveness, and for everything else that we need and that is right for us to have. But we need not expect God to perform miracles in answer to our prayers. He answers through the operation of His natural and spiritual laws. And we should remember that prayer without works is just as dead as faith without works. We must respect God's word, anddo the things that He commands us to do in order to obtain the things for which we pray. We cannot ignore God's natural and spiritual laws and obtain by miracles the things for which we pray.