When I refer to modern-day “miracles,” I refer mostly to those of the Benny Hinn / Florida Revival variety. When we compare these to the miracles the Gospels and Acts, it’s easy to see that they are not of the same kind.
There are two big differences between these miracles and the miracles performed by Jesus in the Gospels and the Apostles in Acts.
1. The miracles of the New Testament were obvious healings.
What I mean by this is, the healings of the New Testament were of disabilities and diseases the reversal of which would be easily noticed and unmistakable. Withered hands, the lame made to walk, and a man dead four days raised to life. You see something like that and you know beyond any doubt a miracle has occurred.
There was the woman with the “issue of blood” (as the KJV puts it, probably some kind of hemorrhage relating to menstruation) but in that case both the woman and the Lord knew right away that something had happened and the effect on the Lord was so palpable that those around him knew something had happened. If indeed it was some sort of hemorrhage, there might very well have been some immediate, visible result. She would have had to seek ritual cleansing from the priest so others would no doubt have known of her healing.
The “miracles” of our day are of things like kidney disease, people’s legs being two different lengths (I’ll never understand that), and other things where the healing is not readily apparent. And as far as these go, how do you know the kidney disease or other illness wasn’t simply responding to prior treatment? How do you know they didn’t just go into remission? Who knew so many people just couldn’t walk at all because their legs were two different lengths? You may choose to believe that these were actual honest-to-goodness healings (I don’t) but you can’t deny that these are unlike the healings of the New Testament. This leads me to the other thing.
2. The miracles of the New Testament were immediate.
What I mean is that you could see right away that a miracle had occurred. A man who had been lame from birth, and everybody present knew it, suddenly got up, grabbed his pallet, and walked away. He wasn’t wheeled away in the same wheelchair he rode up in only to go to the doctor the following week and find out he had been healed. In the case of the woman with the blood disease, if it was a hemorrhage, there might very well have been immediate evidence that it had stopped.
In the so-called “miracles” of our day, the person is supposedly healed of some internal disease that no one can really see and many times they are hauled back out on the same stretcher they came in on (as it were). The ones who report healing only find out later after they have gone to the doctor, but, again, how do we know there wasn’t some other reason for the change in blood count of liver function or whatever it was?
I realize that this is considered bad form to discount someone’s experience because our culture holds personal experience sacrosanct, but viewed objectively, these types of healings are suspect. As I concluded before, you may choose to believe that a miracle occurred, but you cannot deny that they are different in form from the healings of the New Testament.
But what if I was healed (or know someone who was healed)?
What if you or a loved one is healed today and you believe it is miraculous either through someone who claims the ability to heal or through prayer or because the elders laid hands on you and prayed over you (James 5:14-15)?
You should praise God. By all means, praise God. Anytime you are delivered from anything whether through prayer, medicine, providence, or a helping hand from a friend, you ought to praise God because he ultimately is behind it.
I have known someone who was healed like this. A cessationist like me, neither they nor their family believed in such miracles any more than I do, but God’s people prayed and they were healed. The cancer was completely gone. I don’t know if it was a mistake on the part of the radiologist, I don’t know if God in his mercy simply chose to remove the cancer, I have no idea. None at all.
But whatever the explanation, I have no doubt that God was behind it and I praise Him for it.
But that doesn’t mean I’m going to bring a bus to the next Benny Hinn revival.