And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen. (Mark 16:15-20)
Miracles Were To Confirm The Word, Not Entertain
The age of so-called “Faith Healers” is not a new phenomenon. Deceiving the people with the allurement of the impossibility has always enticed the simple-minded to believe. There have been multitudes of men and women made famous for their trickeries and delusional antics of healing people through the work of the Holy Spirit. Charismatic churches thrive on the allure of speaking in tongues, casting out demons, and removing disease. The lame walk, the blind sees, and the troubled spirits are cast out; or so it seems. Events called “healing services” draw people in. Miracles are said to be done. Churches fill to capacity. The professional miracle wranglers become wealthy at the expense of the common man.
Jesus commissioned the eleven after His resurrection to go into all the world and preach the gospel. The apostles would become the tip of the spear in the work of evangelizing and establishing the church and kingdom of Jesus Christ. Twelve men would begin the global enterprise in the city of Jerusalem when the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they were endued with power from on high. This was not the first time they had experienced the power of the Holy Spirit. During the ministry of Jesus, the Holy Spirit worked through the apostles to heal the sick, raise the dead, and cast out demons. As Jesus returns to the Father, He sends the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, to guide the apostles into all truth. Luke records the story of the acts of the apostles as they take the gospel to the world using miracles as confirmation the word.
Before Jesus returned to the Father, He told the eleven to tarry in the city of Jerusalem, where they would be endowed with power from on high. The eleven tarried in Jerusalem as instructed by the Lord; when on the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came upon the eleven and the newest apostle, Matthias. They began to speak in languages preaching the gospel to a multitude of devout Jews from every nation under heaven. The church had begun. Miracles were done. People believed. Souls were saved. Miracles were not the focus though. There were many miracles done by the hands of the apostles and those granted the power, but the emphasis of the early church was preaching the word. As the years progressed, fewer miracles were done because the gospel was becoming embedded into the world – until one day, the power of the Holy Spirit was removed from the hands of men. Miracles ceased. They no longer had a purpose.
The life of the apostle Paul best explains the purpose of miracles. He was a chosen vessel of the Lord to take the message of salvation to the Gentile world. Paul preached everywhere. He was relentless in his pursuit of lost souls. There were occasions when he would confirm his teaching with a miracle. But there were many instances where Paul could have used the power and did not. In the letter to the church at Philippi, Paul mentions Epaphroditus, who was sick almost unto death. God had mercy on Epaphroditus, and he recovered. Why did Paul not use his power to heal his dear brother, fellow worker, and fellow soldier? Timothy had stomach problems, and Paul did not heal him. He advised his young protégé to seek medicinal relief. Paul suffered from illness. He tells Timothy he left Trophimus in Miletus sick. All these close friends and fellow workers of Paul and he would not heal them. Why? Miracles were limited to proving the word, not for the entertainment and benefit of others. There is no purpose to miracles today because God has delivered His will through one of the great miracles of divine grace: the Bible. Miracles do not save – the gospel of Jesus Christ does.