Afternoon Bible study after church
We were studying miracles:
Most people mix up miracles with the providence of God.
The providence of God is when you're driving down the road, a deer runs out in front, you stop so fast that the car goes rolling down the embankment and is almost totaled but you get out without a scratch. The intervention of God, or a coincidence? Even if it is the intervention of God, you have to call it the providence of God, you can't call it a true miracle because it's still possible to have happened naturally.
But if you are driving down the road and a deer runs out in front and your car levitates slowly up and over the deer and is set down gently on the other side ... that's a miracle, because it would be undeniable even to an atheist that something supernatural had occurred.
God's providence and God's miracles are both God intervening in the affairs of men to alter the outcome of the natural course of events, but the true miracle will be undeniably supernatural even to naysayers.
For instance, in Acts 3 and 4 when Peter and John healed the man who had been born lame, even the Pharisees who couldn't stand them lamented that they could not deny "that a noteworthy miracle had taken place". Everybody knew the lame man. The man had been lame from birth so his muscles would never have developed, but he immediately starts leaping around, none of this tepid "faith healing" coaxing someone to shuffle painfully out of their wheelchair and look like they're about to fall over.
Miracles had to be undeniably supernatural because they were used to prove that the one doing them had a message from God to be obeyed.
Jesus worked miracles to prove who he was (John 20:30-31). And the apostles could work miracles; that's why their letters are accepted in the Bible as something God requires us to follow.
But the Bible says the the system of faith has been given once for all (Jude 3). It was finished in the first century, which is perfectly logical because ...
Miracles stopped happening in the first century ...
The apostles could do miracles. They could give the power to do miracles to other people by the "laying on of the apostle's hands." But the people they gave the power to could not pass that power on. (See Acts 8)
So when the 12 apostles died, and when everybody they had laid their hands on died, miracles came to an end.
This is logical because the miracles were to prove the New Testament as it was being written once for all time.
First century christians did not have the complete New Testament until the last epistle had been written and shared among all the churches and so they still had miracles and messages from God going on as temporary stop-gap measures:
8 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. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part; 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. 11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. 13 But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:8-13)Footnotes: The prophecy, tongues and knowledge is talking about miraculous prophecy, miraculous speaking of languages you never studied before, miraculous revelation.
The word "perfect" in the Greek is the word "teleos" which is also translated "complete".
Lots of people think the "perfect / complete" is talking about the Second Coming of Jesus, but it's talking about the complete and the partial here, and a part has to be the same thing as the whole. If the partial is talking about bits and pieces of messages from God then the complete is when we got the whole New Testament. (Not to mention when Jesus comes again hope will become sight and cease being hope, so it can't be talking about the second coming of Christ.)
So, we don't need miracles to confirm the word of God today because we have the written word of witnesses who saw the miracles. God evidently thought an affidavit was sufficient for us. He doesn't have to do a miracle for each person anymore than a judge and jury need to witness the crime themselves to give a verdict. (Hebrews 2:1-4, John 20:30-31)
Don't call the providence of God a miracle.
A miracle is instantaneous, complete, and even an atheist would have to say something undeniably supernatural had occurred.
Miracles were used to prove the word (or the New Testament) which was finished in the first century.
Only the apostles could pass on the power to do miracles.
After the last apostle died, nobody could pass on the power to do miracles.
Only the apostles could give us the system of faith once for all.
When the last apostle died the the New Testament was finished for all time.
Mind you God's providence is still occurring, but it will not be an out-and-out miracle or we might have to add the speaker's words to the Bible, which has long been done, finished, an objective standard that can have its testimony examined.
You get the gist. I suppose I could retweak this for days, and the paragraphs should be arranged more logically, but a perfectionist has to learn to call it a day.
My mom making bread.