John (J L) Han
Miracles are essential to Christianity. What qualifies a true miracle? What are key miracles in Christianity? Do miracles still happen today? These are questions I will address below.
@ Different Meanings of Miracle
A true miracle cannot be produced/reproduced by human or man-made devices/programs, e.g., Artificial Intelligence programs, no matter how sophisticated they are. In other words, a true miracle is supernatural in nature.
The word miracle is often used colloquially for something extremely unlikely to happen but still could happen. For example, someone might say “This new bridge is finished ahead of schedule. It is a miracle!” It probably means that construction of this bridge had to overcome many difficulties and constraints but nothing supernatural.
@ True Miracles
Many cultures have folklore or legends. Are they miracles? Perhaps some had factual support but most of them were not miracles (if you have questions let me know and I can elaborate this). Many think that religions are based on legends, folklore, or moral values. This may be true for most religions but not Judaism or Christianity since they are based on true miracles, that is, miracles performed by God.
Some miracles in the Old Testament are hard to corroborate because they occurred long time ago. But many miracles in the New Testament era can be verified. One web site considers the greatest miracle is God became flesh (John 1:14), lived (1 John 1:2), was murdered (John 19:16-27), died (John 19:28-37), was buried (John 19:38-42), resurrected (John 20:1-10). This claim in fact is huge and need many papers to explain them. Let us consider a small part of it, i.e., the birth of Jesus, his life, his cruxation, and his resurrection now.
Numerous times prophets in the Old Testament foretold the coming of Messiah (also known as Christ or Saviour). For example, virgin birth (Isaiah 7:14), The branch from Jesse (Isaiah 11; Jer.23:5-6), suffer for our sake (Isaiah 53), and so on. These prophecies were made about 700 years before Jesus. Jesus also predicted his own death and resurrection (Luke 18:31-33). These could not have occurred by chance (God specifically prohibited sorcery or divination, Deut.18:14-22). No human is capable to foretell these, not even close. It is impossible even to predict events of tomorrow. How any person can predict hundreds years later? These must be true miracles from God.
@ Miracles Today
The above concerns miracles in the biblical time. What about today? Might miracles still occur today? They can. However, sometimes the line between true miracles and miracles in daily conversation is blurred.
First, a true miracle is done by God and no human is capable to perform miracle alone (see 3, 4, 5 below).
Second, God is sovereign. For a particular need, for example, a cancer patient needs cure or relief, we can petition God through prayer (see 6 below). Whether God performs miracles or not is completely up to Him.
Third, true miracles are gifts from God (1 Corinthians 12:28-30). This separates true miracles from colloquial miracles.
Fourth, there are gifts greater than performing miracles (1 Corinthians 13:2). Why? Because God is more concerned each and every one of us spiritual well being. What benefits one has if he/she is cured of cancer but condemned to the Hell?
Fifth, for true miracles to happen one needs faith. There are many examples in the Bible, for example, Matt. 15:21-28, Acts 3:1-10.
Sixth, pray for each other James 5:13-20.
@ Read and Think
Matthew 16:1 The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and tested him by asking him to show them a sign from heaven. 2 He replied, “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ 3 and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. 4 A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” Jesus then left them and went away. This passage has several important points. Jonah is a book in the Old Testament. Read it and ask you what are miracles in that book and what Jesus meant.