Thursday, June 28, 2012

Believing in Miracles: Part I

Fellow Folders! Good morning.  I have been traipsing through lots of personal stuff, study, work, and as promised, I am crafting my "Miracles" post. The topic is too large for one entry, so I hope you stay with me. The reason I have chosen to write about miracles is that a Biblical understanding will be a helpful tool during the last days for strengthening our faith in a time when the world will be in mass confusion. Personally, I think we will need to know the difference between the Holy Spirit miracle and the counterfeit. And, honestly, I would like to live in the world of the miraculous, not for vainglorious reasons, but to feel nearer to my most awesome God. Like receiving a love note, reminding me that He is taking care of me and that I don't have to finish the race by myself - a faith-booster shot. Disclaimer:  I'm not a theologian, just a Christian lady minding her own business, when God decided to enlist me in another program. My study is as much of an encouragement for me, as I hope it will be for you, too.

Oxford's definition of a miracle is "an extraordinary and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore attributed to a divine agency." I spent hours researching scholarly apologetics, and found that some Ph.D.'s, in their sincere attempts to clarify the miraculous, have talked themselves into unbelief. They believe that the violation of the scientific law of nature must be so spectacular, such as the parting of the Red Sea, and be witnessed by multiple people, that anything less is not miraculous.  Job chapters 5 & 9 speak of miracles that can't be counted, indicating that some are not so grandiose that they register 10 on the Miracle Richter Scale.  Strong's Greek definition for miracle includes "sign, token, wonder." If one of Paul's handkerchiefs was given to an old lady living alone, and she was healed, could that be more of a "sign" or "token" miracle than a "wonder" (Acts 19)? Where does it say that the miraculous can't be simple? To me, any intervention from God on my behalf is momentous, large or small, and greatly cherished.

Jesus' first recorded miracle, changing water in to wine at a wedding, is mentioned in John 2:1-11. What I found most intriguing was his mother's involvement. Mary had to have known her son's capabilities because she approached him with the problem. Why? He was a guest, not the host and, as a carpenter, I doubt he had pocket change to purchase approximately 180 gallons of high quality wine. Mary instructed the servants to do whatever he asked, so, who knows what miracles she had already witnessed in the privacy of their own home prompting her to make such a request of her son?

Then, of course, there are those that believe that miracles no longer exist or are necessary, citing I Corinthians 13:9,10. "That which is perfect," is doctrinally translated as the Bible, hence, now that we have the Bible we no longer need miracles.  If you read the rest of the chapter, it's referencing Jesus' return, when we'll see Him "face to face" (v.12).  For an unpoetic book, referencing the Bible as having a face doesn't fit. Another perspective is that we now have a better understanding of science so our Ph.D.'s can offer scientific explanations for what these ancient folk attributed to as miraculous. C.S. Lewis states that thousands of years ago society "knew that people who died, stayed dead." Lazerus and Jesus were both dead, and then days later were seen by hundreds of people in public, so advanced knowledge of the heart and brain would not have changed the fact that dead is dead.

This is in no way exhaustive, and I could fill the screen with lots of Greek and Hebrew verbs and multiple passages, but I want you to get the gist. I encourage those who have time to continue their own study. My hope is that I don't move on to the other parts, only to find that I neglected to introduce proper foundation - that's the type A in me: Watch Me Break This Down In To 50 Easy Steps.

During this sojourn, in addition to books and my Bible, I've used some very helpful free online tools that I'd like to pass on to you: 
Apologetics 315
The Veritas Forum 
 Miracles are not necessary to believe or a replacement for faith. We continue to fix our eyes on not on what is seen, but what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal (2 Corinthians 4:18). Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed (John 20:29). Lord willing, the next posts will cover the purpose and recognition of miracles, types, and personal testimony of those that I have experienced.

See you soon.....

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