Does God perform miracles today? Do you believe all the Biblical miracles written 2,000 years ago? Do you believe that in the centuries since the New Testament that people have been raised from the dead, due to the powers of God?
These are key questions that can have a profound impact on any believer. What do the experts say? What does the Bible say? What does other history say?
First, I believe that we as Christians must believe that God did perform, and STILL DOES perform miracles- which in some rare cases DOES include the raising of the dead. It appears that over the past 2 centuries, especially the past 50-60 years, man has become increasingly reliant on our own abilities (medical, scientific, etc), and has turned away in many aspects from trusting and relying on the Lord. This fact has in turn led many away from the Church; our society is not in the same place it was 800 years ago. In another way, we- even Christians- have become more skeptical of the stories of miracles- be it in the Bible or in other Church history. In fact, since the late 17th century there was a large movement- within and apart from the Church- to largely discredit Biblical miracles. They were trying to remove the supernatural from the Bible- the Word of God. That was a very dangerous and faulty undertaking that has mostly subsided- but its effects have been long-lasting for many.
What does the Bible say about miracles, including the ultimate miracle- raising the dead? Here are a few verses from the New Testament that would seem to clearly answer the question:
“Why should it be thought a thing incredible, that God should raise the dead?” –Acts 26: 8
“Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out devils; freely have you received, freely give.” –Matthew 10: 8
“Amen, amen I say to you, he that believeth in me, the works that I do, he also shall do; and greater than these shall he do.” – John 14: 11-12
If you believe in the Bible, then you must believe that in Biblical times Jesus and his disciples DID in fact raise the dead and perform other miracles. You also would have to infer that it’s likely that later devout followers of Jesus also performed miracles. On this subject, there is one great book out there with research involving many “proven” occurrences of the dead being raised in various times of Church history. If interested, please read Saints Who Raised the Dead, by Father Albert Hebert (Tan Books and Publishing). This book has so many stories and details that most people would find it hard to say that EVERY story listed is a farce or a fraud or merely an exaggerated myth. This book was written by a Catholic priest- which some may claim is self-serving to the Catholic Church specifically. However, most noted miracles (of saints and other religious persons) were performed well before the Protestant Reformation- and as such these noteworthy “saints” were truly part of the history of the Universal Church.
One fact that cannot be ignored from this book specifically is that there are not many listed after the 1600’s, and very few listed in the last 125 years. There lies the question- why did God stop performing miracles? Well, I don’t believe he stopped; he may have slowed down a bit. I don’t have the complete answer to this question, but I have a hypothesis. Today, Christianity is the largest religion in the world- with 2.1 billion people. Most of the significant miracles from the earlier years of the Church were performed via missionary priests in areas very hostile to Christianity. In some ways, raising the dead was one of the only ways to “prove” that we were following the one true God. This helped lead the Church from a group of 12 men to a group of over two billion. Recently, maybe God’s “need” for such miracles is not as strong?
However one look’s at this subject, believing in true miracles is part of Christianity. If one tries to remove the power of God and answer all of life’s questions via man’s finite knowledge, trouble can soon arise. This trouble has led many away from His Church. Therefore, do your own research. Pray about it.
Miracles can, and do, still happen.