NextLevel Online: Miracles

Session 1: Jesus as a Worker of Wonders in Ages of Skepticism

In this first lesson, we want to develop the theme, “Jesus as a Worker of Wonders in Ages of Skepticism.” In other words, we probably have to deal with the apologetic issue right up front. Can we know that these miracles actually happened?



Classroom

Classroom Instructions

Lesson
Materials: Lesson Outline
Leader
  • Welcome to these 10 lessons on the “Miracles of Jesus” as given to us in the Gospels.

  • In this first lesson, we want to develop the theme, “Jesus as a Worker of Wonders in Ages of Skepticism.” In other words, we probably have to deal with the apologetic issue right up front. Can we know that these miracles actually happened?

  • Well, listen to what the Gospels claim about Jesus’ miracles:

    • Lk. 11:20, “But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you.”
    • Lk. 23:8, “When Herod saw Jesus, he was greatly pleased…he hoped to see him perform some miracles.”
    • Jn. 3:2, “For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.”
    • Jn. 7:31, “When the Christ comes, will he do more miraculous signs than this man?”
    • Jn. 10:25, “The miracles I do in my Father’s name speak for me.”
    • Ac. 2:22, “Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs…”
    • Ac. 10:38, “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil.”
  • So let the record show, as far as the testimony of the earliest disciples was concerned, “Jesus Christ was no mere slight-of-hand magician. He was, in the truest sense, a worker of wonders.”

  • Therefore we could probably say at least three things:

    • The Gospel writers claimed that Jesus worked miracles. These stories are not written as fiction.
    • These miracles were part of Jesus’ saving work. They were not unattached to the cross.
    • These miracles were incorporated into stories in the Gospels that we call miracle stories. Sometimes the miracle itself only takes a verse or two. But the story can sometimes be whole chapters.
  • So can believe this testimony? Did the Gospel writers get this right? Or were they biased due to their belief in Jesus? Can someone who is inclined toward a perspective write accurate history?

  • There are lots of questions—not the least of which are the following:

    • What constitutes a miracle? What is it? How is it defined?
    • Where is the line between God’s daily providential watch-care and something that could be truly said to be miraculous or supernatural? And what about God’s noninterventions? If he is God and can act, why does he sometimes chose not to act (Jn. 5; 2 Tim. 4:20; Dr. George Wood’s sermon on Ac. 27).
    • Are miracles welcomed or resisted given the climate of the philosophy of the culture?
    • Are some miracles more foundational to faith than others? Do some stir more faith than others? The resurrection of Lazarus from the dead seems more fundamental to faith than catching a fish with a coin in its mouth. Both may be miracles, but one seems to matter more. They aren’t all created equal.
  • There are certainly more specific questions than even these to ask. So I would like to ask three, what I call fundamental questions. These are more primal in nature. They are:

    • Does God exist? If he doesn’t exist then the universe runs by natural causes and probably doesn’t vary from those causes.
    • Is God really God? If he is all powerful, then could anything be beyond his ability to do? And do the miracles teach me anything about the kind of God I have?
    • Do people reject miracles because of evidence and eyewitness testimony or due to a philosophical possibility? Does their paradigm or system preclude the belief that miracles could happen? If you have determined that miracles cannot exist (David Hume) then no matter how much collaborative evidence you have, you won’t entertain then possibility.
  • Think about the ages in Western Christian Civilization and miracles:

    • Pre-modern: A warm embrace (If God says it…). But does this mean that the people in the ancient world were stupid? Were they easier to fool? They might have had a premodern worldview but don’t write them as naïve nor believe that skepticism didn’t exist in their world because neither of those things would be true (e.g. Jn. 9).
    • Modern: A distaining frown (The Bible is messy)—reality only from what we can see.
    • Post-Modern (Late Modern): An exuberant joy (It could happen)—reality beyond what we can see
  • The apologetic issue is really beyond the emphases of these lessons. But it never goes away. So, don’t be surprised if you have to do some apologetic spadework when studying or teaching the miracles of Jesus.

  • Maybe a few tools will help:

    • Douglas Geivett and Gary Habermas, edited In Defense of Miracles.
    • Craig Keener, Miracles, 2 vols.
    • C.S. Lewis, Miracles.
    • “The Reality of Miracles” in A Humble Defense edited by Mark Moore and Mark Scott.
  • Make no mistake: The Gospels affirm that Jesus Christ was a working of wonders.

  • Next, we will turn our attention to Jesus’ love/hate relationship with miracles and the clusters of miracles we find in the Bible.

About NextLevel Online

The vision of Ozark Christian College is to glorify God by evangelizing the lost and edifying Christians worldwide. The mission of Ozark Christian College is to train men and women for Christian service as a degree-granting institution of biblical higher education.