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Gifts of the Spirit Study:

Miraculous Powers


“…to another miraculous powers,…” – 1 Corinthians 12:10

We humans are suckers for a good miracle, aren’t we? Nothing seems to convince people of the power of God so much as a miracle. The “rational” gnostics proudly proclaim that they believe in nothing they can’t see, feel, hear, or touch. Miracles provide that “solid evidence” they desire.

The Bible is replete with stories of miracles throughout the Old and New Testament. God worked miracles through Moses in an attempt to reach the hard-hearted Pharaoh. Elijah called down fire on his enemies and dried up the skies. Jesus walked on water, turned water into wine, and raised the dead. The first century apostles worked many miracles by the power of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost in the book of Acts. Yet we don’t see many genuine miracles performed these days? Why is that, and will we see this gift of the Holy Spirit poured out again?

First of all, we need to get on the same page with regard to defining a miracle. After all, many of us have either been divinely healed or know someone who has. That’s miraculous, isn’t it? Well, of course it’s miraculous, but I don’t think Paul is lumping healing in with miraculous powers here, as he addressed that separately. In truth, all of the gifts of the Spirit could be considered miraculous, as they are powers granted by the Holy Spirit, and are outside of our human capacity. And while I may consider it a miracle if the Seattle Seahawks win the Super Bowl in my lifetime, a true miracle is something on a much grander scale. The ability to bring down fire from heaven, or dry up the sky, or bring about famine – those are definitely miraculous powers.

We’ve read about them in the Bible, but we haven’t seen anything on that scale since. Will we again? The Bible assures us that we will. Acts 2:16-21 says,

“No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ ”

As you can see, the last days will see miraculous signs and wonders as the Holy Spirit is poured out on all people. During the Tribulation, the two witnesses will be given special miraculous powers. In Revelation 11:5-6 it says, “If anyone tries to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and devours their enemies. This is how anyone who wants to harm them must die. These men have power to shut up the sky so that it will not rain during the time they are prophesying; and they have power to turn the waters into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they want.” What is the purpose of miracles in the last days? Primarily, the purpose is to get people’s attention. In John 4:48, Jesus said, “Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders, you will never believe.” He recognized that a disbelieving generation places a great deal of importance on the visual fireworks that miracles provide. Hebrews 2:3,4 states, “how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.” Miracles (and for that matter, the other gifts of the Spirit) are an evidentiary testimonial to the power of God.

Satan knows the power of bells and whistles to bedazzle and attract those who are weak or lacking in faith. Paul tells us that the Antichrist will use this as a tool: “The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing,” – 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10a. God desires a massive harvest of souls, and does not wish that any would be enticed and led astray by Satan’s false miracles. For this reason, He will show His power and might on a scale that will minimize the devil’s magic tricks. He did this before through Moses. Pharaoh’s sorcerers were able to copy many of Moses’ miracles, but they could not replicate them all. In the end, God’s power was shown to be greater than the dark power from which Pharaoh’s hirelings performed their theatrics.

Miraculous powers were evident in the first century church, but have faded away. They won’t be poured out by the Spirit again until the last days. I believe the reason for this is simple – an outpouring of miraculous powers will not get the attention of the unbelievers if it is status quo. Were miraculous powers the norm, they would not accomplish God’s mission of sending a wake-up call to a disbelieving and hard-hearted generation. God is holding the miraculous powers from this world, and will release them in the last days in a manner akin to the grand finale of a fireworks display. He will once again provide the evidentiary testimony of His power in an amazing and compassionate last attempt to bring more sinners to their knees in prayer.

Paul listed the gifts of the Spirit, but He never made any claim that every gift would be evident at any time for all time. Let us remember to thank God for His spiritual gifts – not only for the gifts that are currently evident in our lives, but also for those gifts that are currently being withheld to complete the work of the Lord.