God’s Word for You
Acts 4:31 Miracles
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Wednesday, October 2, 2019
31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. In addition, everyone was filled with the Holy Spirit, and they proclaimed the word of God with boldness.
There are times when a sincere Christian will say, “I asked God for a sign; why didn’t he give me a sign?” This passage gives us an excellent opportunity to look at miracles: what they are, why God does them or permits them to be done, and what their purpose is.
Miracles are supernatural events or very unusual happenings brought about by God beyond the natural order of things. The New Testament groups these things in three categories: miracles, signs, and wonders (Acts 2:22; 2 Corinthians 12:12).
In theology, miracles fall under the heading of God’s divine providence; the way he cares for his created universe and especially for man, the crown of his creation. This providence is God’s care based on his love, his foreknowledge, and his will or purpose for the world and his creatures. There are three kinds of acts of this providence. They are:
1, Preservation. Here, God keeps and maintains all created things so that they retain their characteristics and purpose (Hebrews 1:3). When man attempts to alter the nature or purpose of God’s creation, he must consider whether or not that act will be sinning against the will of God.
2, Concurrence. God works with his creatures (especially man) in producing their activities through an immediate influence on them appropriate to their nature (Philippians 2:13; Job 10:8). To illustrate: a lamp gets its power from the power outlet in the wall. The lamp may have different ways to break down: a frayed wire, a broken bulb, etc., or it may become disconnected from the socket. But the power in the socket is always there, ready to work in the lamp.
3, Governing. God regulates and directs all things for the best (Romans 8:28), corresponding to his goodness and for the glory of his name. This is especially seen in his work for the salvation of his people (1 Samuel 8:7). Those who reject God as Savior discard his governance in their lives and the benefit of his Son’s atoning sacrifice.
Under the last heading, “Governing,” we note four areas of special working from God for our good. Those are prophecy, miracles, answers to prayers, and his care for us at the end of life.
We must limit ourselves here to miracles. Jesus’ miracles were always done by his own authority, but when he permits, for example, the prophets and apostles to perform miracles, those are through his (Jesus’) power, they are done to his glory, and they are done to show God’s approval on their message.
Jesus performed miracles over the raw forces of nature, such as calming the storm with a single word (Mark 4:39), walking on water (Mark 6:45-52), and feeding large crowds with a few fish and loaves of bread (Matthew 14:19-21, 15:36-38).
Jesus healed all sorts of diseases and ailments, including leprosy and even death. He showed his power and authority over demons. Some miracles involved his omniscient knowledge of all things, such as telling Peter to catch a fish which would have a coin with enough value to pay the temple tax (Matthew 17:24-27).
Two special cases are Jesus’ transfiguration and his resurrection from the dead and the many surrounding miracles up through the ascension and which must finally include his real presence in the Lord’s Supper to this day.
But having said all of this, we come back to the person who wants to know, “Why didn’t he give me a sign?” The answer is that God nowhere promises that he will perform a miraculous sign whenever and wherever anyone should happen to ask for it. We submit our lives to God’s care and to his keeping, even if he does not heal us of every ailment, cure us of every sickness, or rescue us from every danger. He may do any or all of these things at times, but he has not promised to do it always. What he has promised is to be with us always, to the very end of the age.
Another way of looking at the miracle in our text is that in this moment, the Apostles did not yet have any of the New Testament written down; they only had the Old Testament. Therefore, their godly position of opposing the very high priests of the temple in Jerusalem was entirely new territory, and God wanted to give them a sign which otherwise would have been clear from the later writings of the Apostles and evangelists, the New Testament Scriptures.
Pastor Timothy Smith