By the Numbers

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Did Jesus Really Perform Miracles?

                                                Did Jesus Really Perform Miracles?
#miracles   #Jesus   #supernatural-faith 
The universe’s expansion, it’s running down, the impossibility of eternal backtracking, and its complexity, all point to its being the effect of a self-existing, eternal, infinite, unchanging intelligence and will which best explains the world and is rightly called God. And since this Creator God exists, it’s a small thing for him to perform miracles or even take on a human nature and body and walk among us as said of Jesus. Several factors require honest consideration.

Jesus’ Miracles Require Open-minded Consideration

Some object saying that’s religious, bias and unfair. But isn’t government refusal of research grants to religious universities biased? Isn’t Bible study and prayer illegal in public schools biased? Isn’t forbidding discussion of Christian ethics on TV and radio biased? Isn’t politically correct secular legislation against the Bible, prayer and Jesus biased? Isn’t a judge’s opinion contrary to a nation’s will biased? Secular politically correct philosophy is what's biased and unfair--God made us with the right to free speech and to know the truth.

Some claim nature’s laws make miracles impossible and it would destroy science.  Ridiculous! A rocket going to the moon didn't destroy gravity or make science impossible. Jesus' turning water to wine, walking on water, feeding the hungry demonstrated he was nature's Lord. Unless God did extraordinary astonishing things beyond nature’s usual patterns, we would never recognize his presence and power.  Nature’s regularity is required in order to identify miracles as exceptions and Jesus as its Lord. Miracles show conclusively there is a God who can act in our world.

Others claim the scientific empirical method alone leads us to knowledge as only repeated experiments under controlled conditions can insure a predictable outcome. Scientific method can’t prove ethics, history, macro evolution, or even the scientific method itself. And there’s no rule the Almighty must submit to our controlled experiments for us to believe in him. God could be the primary sustaining Cause and nature’s patterns secondary causes. We can’t show nature is everything
without exhaustive knowledge. Do we even know what's taking place in the house next door?

Good objective science doesn’t exclude God and miracle before investigation. Science’s role is to describe what is, not prescribe what can and cannot be. supernatural--that's a closed-minded, biased, unscientific dogmatism. Beware of biased scientists who say there's no God and no miracles. 

The skeptic philosopher David Hume said miracles were impossible but he never weighed the evidence of Jesus’ miracles. He assumed overwhelming evidence of natural events outweighed their possibility. He said miracles would violate nature’s laws. No wise man, only ignorant superstitious persons in some unknown corner believes them. Hume claims also that miracles occur in all religions alike that discredits their opposed teachings. He never examined the exceptional nature of Bible miracles.

Hume’s objection would eliminate the possibility of any unknown or exceptional event even when we know it occurs, such as walking on the moon. Unlike other miracle accounts, Jesus’ disciples were eyewitnesses and martyred for their belief. Jesus’ miracles astonished his disciples and his  hostile  critics couldn’t deny them, which shows all knew nature’s laws. We know miracles impossible only if we  know no miracle working God exists and that requires exhaustive knowledge we don’t have.

Naturalistic philosophy makes us soulless material manipulative dirt without dignity, worth or rights. Pantheism makes us illusion cycles of energy awaiting absorption into nothingness. If Jesus arose bodily from the grave, it assures everybody’s vital human needs and rights. For only Jesus showed life beyond the grave. Since only God the Creator has power over death, we can know Jesus Christ is the incarnate God-man who walked among us. God grants us the right to life, dignity, and free speech as created in His image for His glory and for relationship with Him.

What basic momentous things did Jesus teach? The Bible is God’s message to man. We’re beings of great value in God’s rational, moral, immortal image. God gave us laws, justice, love and his human life to save us. Jesus alone can save us from sin. Heaven and Hell are eternal realities-- we decide our destiny. Jesus makes history climactic, life ultimately meaningful, truth and ethics realities, the world understandable, experimental science possible, and our daily choices crucial. Wow! Can speculative philosophy and religion match that? No way!

Now, let’s examine Christ’s miracles. Our present well being and eternal destiny could be at stake. Unless we have irrefutable proof it can’t be true, we’re most wise to give it utmost honest consideration. Jesus’ miracles were God’s exceptional acts within nature showing his claims true.

Jesus’ Miracles Are True History

Several lines of evidence establish Jesus’ miracles as real historical events showing he was the God-man who walked among us. But even then, it requires open-minded consideration.

Historians accept two primary sources as verifying events and three as excellent. Jesus has six independent sources each telling the same general events but with different details: the four gospels, the sermons of Acts and statements of Paul and Peter in their epistles. Except for an anti-supernatural bias, that alone would establish historical fact.

Matthew and John were Jesus’ disciples for over three years. Mark was a close associate of his chief apostle Peter while Luke was Paul’s disciple and an extensive eyewitness researcher. That’s immediate documentation. And while other historical events have few manuscripts to document them with the New Testament there are thousands.

The Gospels mention well-known persons, places, dates, events, and customs. Archaeological and historical research has repeatedly verified the Gospels as history. Luke mentions thirty prominent names of that time and place known to secular writers and archaeologists. For example, Tiberius Caesar, Caesar Augustus, Herod Antipas, Herod the Great, Pilate, and high priests as Caiaphas and Ananias. An ossuary or bone box recently found may contain Caiaphas’s bones. He mentions social Jewish customs, laws, places, feasts verified as true to the time. Fiction writers dare not mention things fact hunters would expose.

Published by A.D. 100, the whole New Testament amazingly circulated among churches less than seventy years after Christ. The few copies of other ancient documents are dated hundreds of years after publication. Over five thousand Greek copies, thousands of copies in other languages and New Testament quotes of all but eleven verses of the church fathers give far greater evidence of accurate history than the few surviving ancient secular documents. Scholars point to creeds and hymns of the early church the apostles received and incorporated in their letters (Rom. 1:3-4; 1 Cor. 11:23-33; 15:3-8; Phil. 2:6-11; Col. 1:15-18; 1Tim. 3:16; 2 Tim. 2:8; 1 Pet. 3:18-22; 1 Jn. 4:2-3). They date them as early as A.D. 33 to 48, which rules out any legendary and imaginary embellishment. So the accounts of Jesus’ miracles then are true history.

Jesus’ Miracles Show He Is God

Biblical prophets and apostles performed miracles grouped around three crucial periods in Israel’s history. During slavery in Egypt, Israel needed miracles to establish Moses as their leader to the Promised Land. Again, miracles group around Elijah and Elisha to save Israel from Baal worship. Finally, miracles occur with Christ and the apostles to show God’s new revelation. Of course, the Creator can heal and provide miracles any time. But these grouping in crises times show they are not everyday occurrences. What’s different about Jesus’ miracles is that he alone claimed to be Israel’s predicted Messiah and humanity’s God. What is the character of Jesus’ miracles that elicit faith?

First, the Gospels mention only 35 miracles but Jesus performed hundreds if not thousands (John. 3:2; 21:25). Individuals and groups requested healing for over three years wherever he went between towns, in people’s homes, by the seaside and at the temple. Hostile critics accused Jesus of blasphemy claiming to be God, said his miracles were Satanic, but could never deny them even when challenged to do so (John. 10:33; 11:47-48).

Second, Jesus performed visible close-up miracles before watching crowds and critics in the daylight. Sleight of hand tricks in darkness or at a distance and freakish accidents or anomalies of nature were simply impossible.

Third, wherever Jesus went both individuals and crowds requested healing, and they were healed on the spot (Luke 4:40). He healed the nobleman’s son (Jn. 4:46-53) and the centurion’s son (Matt. 8:5-13) from a distance. Preplanned healings among strangers might be faked, but not spontaneous healings among well-known townspeople and relations.

Fourth, Jesus’ miracles were of varies kinds and in four categories. He did nature miracles such as stilling the storm, walking on the water, cursing the fig tree and ascending into Heaven—no magic or anomalies of nature here. He healed obvious visible ailments such as blindness, deafness, leprosy, dropsy, and paralysis—no deception or hypnotism possible here. Demons acknowledged Jesus as the holy one of God who cast them into pigs restoring the possessed to sanity. Jesus raised three stiff cold people from the dead. He visibly showed control of all nature, disease, demons and death. Natural causes can’t explain away Jesus’ miracles.

Fifth, Jesus works identify him as God. Only the God-man could live without sin, forgive sins, and die to save sinners. Only God could fulfill scores of detailed ancient prophecies of a divine Messiah. Only God could come down from Heaven, existed before creation, raise the dead, command angels and demons, knew people’s inner motives, change into Light. Only God could claim to be the only way, truth and life to the Father. Jesus showed himself the self-existing I Am of the unconsumed burning bush. No sorcerer or anyone was like Jesus.

Sixth, Jesus’ miracles stand alone in the world’s knowledge. Modern medicine can’t heal every disease and do it instantly as did Jesus. World religions don’t claim anything like Jesus’ supernatural actions. Jesus’ miracles were not freakish bizarre myths like moving statues, one-eyed giants, snake headed Medusas or flying carpets in some far away land. Jesus turning water into wine, multiplying food and catching fish in great abundance show the natural order. What better visible proof could we have that Jesus is in fact nature’s Lord and our God? He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6).

But, the decisive question is this: Is Jesus your Lord and Savior from sin, self, Satan and Hell? As rebellious sinners before a morally perfect God, we face an eternity of darkness, despair, tears and torments. Or, we can have an eternity of love, fulfillment, joy and service with our Maker. Won’t you humbly say, Lord, I’m an unworthy sinner deserving Hell? But I trust Jesus taking my place bearing my sin upon the cross. I accept you right now as my Savior, Lord and Guide throughout life. Thank you Lord. Help me live a life pleasing to you and share my godly faith with others according to your Word. So be it. Feel free to link & share these blog articles, even translate them into other languages.

1 comment:

  1. Some terrific articles in the categories on the right side. Check them all out & tell others about them. You are doing real good for others.


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