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If you understand how a miracle works, is it still a miracle? If I can do something you have no explanation for, does that make me spiritually superior to you? What is a miracle anyway? These are just a few of the questions which have perplexed me as I have tried to understand what my position should be with regard to the supernatural.

In this age of technological wonders, it is sad that nominal Christians so often choose to put their faith in miracles rather than in a God who just happens to do things that no human being can understand.

Jesus said, "Evil people seek miracles, but no miracle will be given to them except the miracle of Jonah." (Luke 11:29-32) He goes on to say that Jonah's message was proof that he was right, just as Solomon's wisdom was enough to bring the Queen of Sheba all the way from Africa to listen to him.

So, with or without miracles, God is looking for people who will stay true to certain principles contained in the message that Jesus delivered. Such people are extremely rare.

Paul said that the Jews were looking for miracles; but that God chose to save the world through the foolishness of preaching (I Corinthians 1:21-22), and in particular, through preaching the cross.

What is this "preaching of the cross"?

Jesus calls on us to take up our cross and follow him. It sounds like he is asking for a commitment to something that would be so deep as to prepare us to face even martyrdom if necessary. But such a calling is unpopular today. People prefer miracles to martyrdom. Or, as Paul put it, the preaching of the cross is, to them, foolishness.

The Bible tells us that there is a coming world ruler who will deceive the world through dishonest miracles. (II Thessalonians 2:9-11) It says that he will only be able to do this because the masses will have already rejected the truth.

What an accurate picture of so many today: There is a significant section of the church world today which has rejected much of the truth in the teachings of Jesus, and has replaced it with promises of miracles.

The Pentecostal movement relies strongly on a misinterpretation of the final verse of Mark's gospel. In this passage, Jesus orders his disciples to go to all the world preaching the gospel; and he promises that miracles will "follow them that believe".

Ask yourself, "What is my part of the contract? and what is God's part?" Jesus is not commanding us to do miracles in this passage. But he does promise that miracles will happen if we do our part. And our part is to "preach the gospel".

If miracles aren't happening, it's probably because we aren't preaching the gospel. (We won't go into details here on what preaching the gospel means. You can read about that in such articles as Living by Faith: How to Do It, and Fingers in Their Ears.)

Jesus said that we would do greater works than he did. What could be greater than raising the dead? Giving eternal life, of course--something that not even Jesus himself could give until after his sacrificial death.

But eternal life does not have the here-and-now excitement that an evil world seeks; and so it has been replaced by sensationalism, and lying signs and wonders.

As believers, we have had a few experiences that escape natural explanation... experiences that we cannot label as anything short of miraculous. But the bigger picture is that we've never been able to find a simple formula for harnessing God and getting him to act when and how we tell him to. So our primary emphasis has been on "preaching the gospel" the way he told us to; and then we just thank him for any miracles that follow as a result.

Remember, God won't judge us by how many miracles we experience, but rather by how faithfully we obey him.

(See also The Great Escape, and The Spirit Of Prophecy.)

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