When Peter and Paul were executed, the apostle John did not raise them up from the dead. In the Bible there are nine miraculous resurrections:
1) Elijah raises the widow’s son (I Kings 17:17-24).
2) Elisha raises the Shunammite’s son (II Kings 4:20-37).
3) Elisha’s dead body raises another dead man (II Kings 13:20-21).
4) Jesus raises a widow’s son in Nain (Luke 7:11-17.
5) Jesus raises Jairus’ daughter in Capernaum (Matthew 9:18-26; Mark 5:22-44; Luke 8:41-48).
6) Jesus raises Lazarus in Bethany (John 11:38-44).
7) The Godhead raises Jesus (Matthew 28; Mark 16; Luke 24; John 20).
8)Peter raises Dorcas (Acts 9:17, 18);
9) Paul raises Eutychus (Acts 20:9-12).
Now John was the last living apostle. He lived 40 years longer than Peter or Paul. In fact, he ended up in an important Pauline city—Ephesus. One would think, with the terrible persecution being aimed at Christians that a good thing for him to do would be to raise up Peter and Paul to make a statement for God and to stabilize things.
This would have been a tremendous “sign and wonder” miracle that would say, “You cannot stamp out Christianity!” Why didn’t John do this? Because he couldn’t. The times of the “signs and wonders” miracles were gone. This is why people who lie to a church today don’t drop dead. This is why people who get bit by a deadly serpent must go to a doctor or face death. This is why people who go to jail, don’t have angels bust them out. The days of the “signs and wonders” miracles are done.
Do “signs and wonders” miracles occur during the present Grace Age?
To this question we state a dogmatic and emphatic NO ! There is only one “sign and wonder” miracle left to occur in this dispensation and when it does occur it will signal to the entire world that the Church Age is over and a new dispensational program has just begun. The one and only “sign and wonder” miracle left to occur is the Rapture, which will include a massive resurrection of all those who died “in Christ” (I Thessalonians 4:16-17).
There are a couple of key observations we want to make about life in the present dispensation:
Observation #1—Signs and wonders” miracles are contrary to a faith that pleases God.
A God honoring life in the Grace Age is one of faith, without which it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). Furthermore, the kind of faith that pleases God, according to the Apostle Paul, is one that walks by faith and not by sight in the miraculous (II Corinthians 5:7). Furthermore, Jesus, Himself, taught that the truly blessed person was one who believed, not having seen the spectacular (John 20:29). A “signs and wonders” miraculous Grace Age is contrary to a solid faith walk with God that truly does please Him. MIRACLES (15)
Observation #2 —Those who claim they are miracle workers are liars, shysters or satanic.
John Calvin said he took the same position Augustine took on these so called “miracle workers.” He said, “the Lord made us wary of these miracle workers when he predicted that false prophets with lying signs and prodigies would come to draw even the elect (if possible) into error (Matthew 24:24). And Paul warned that the reign of Antichrist would be “with all power, and signs and lying wonders (II Thessalonians 2:6).
But these miracles, they say, are done neither by idols, nor by magicians, nor by false prophets, but by the saints. As if we did not understand that to disguise himself as an angel of light (II Corinthians 11:14) is the craft of Satan” (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Vol. 1, p. 17). Don’t be deceived, Satan appears as an angel of light and his tactic of producing “signs and wonders” miracles is out to deceive the whole world (Revelation 12:9).
What do we say to people who claim they have experienced a miraculous “sign and wonder” healing via some miracle working service?
To one who claims they have been miraculously healed by a miracle worker, there are seven possibilities:
Possibility #1—There is the possibility that he/she is a fraudulent liar and there was never really anything wrong with him/her in the first place. I had a physical therapist tell me that there are many people who actually have nothing wrong with them who try to convince them (therapists) that there is something wrong with them so they can get out of going to work. This kind of person could go to a pseudo-miracle worker and claim he was healed and the whole thing is a lie.
Possibility #2—They actually deceived themselves into believing they had some infirmity that they never really had so their so-called healing is really a healing of nothing. There are hypochondriacs who live their entire lives with “fancied ailments.”
Possibility #3—The mind is somewhat out of order causing some type of body disorder. There are those with psychosomatic illnesses and if one of these types of people went to a miracle working crusade, something in their mind might click and they would think themselves healed from a disease they actually never had or one caused by their own minds.
Possibility #4—The real disease had actually run its course or was at the tail end of its influence at the time the person went to the “miracle” crusade.
Possibility #5—Medical treatment which has been prescribed and administered by doctors and nurses, finally kicked in and worked and the person credits the “miracle worker” instead of the doctor or nurse, who God really used.
Possibility #6— In the dynamic emotional moment of almost a hypnotic influence, the person appears to experience a healing that really hasn’t occurred. I was hunting elk in the Teton Mountain Range and hiked up a mountain, so I could watch the opposite mountain. I have terrible arthritis and in order for me to get to this spot, I had to step over dead-fall, but could not lift my arthritic leg high enough to get over.
So I would have to sit down on every log and swing my bad leg over. I repeated this multiple times. Shortly after arriving to my hunting spot, I looked and here came, trotting down the mountain, a big, beautiful, grizzly bear. Not knowing for sure where he was going to go, I decided I needed to get out of there. I started back down the same way I came up. I came to the same logs and to my surprise, I could raise my leg over every one of them without any pain whatsoever.
The next day, I was right back to square one. I could only raise the leg a few inches. When I got back to my doctor, I asked him about it, as well as my physical therapist, and both said that when adrenaline kicks in, the body is capable of doing some amazing things, but once the adrenaline shuts off, it is back to the real world and real disease. That is exactly what happens to many who go to healing services. There is a dynamic, hypnotic hype and many experience some emotional adrenaline rush and believe they have been healed. They will discover, the miracle healing won’t last, because it wasn’t real.
Possibility #7—A false, lying, sign and wonder miracle did take place by the power of Satan . Satan is a liar and a deceiver and he would like nothing more than to cause people to believe that his agents are those who can perform the miraculous. The underlying purpose of this is to keep people from ever coming to a solid and stable faith in God and to deceive the whole world (Revelation 12:9) into believing a lie.
There are a series of books which were written within a couple hundred years before Christ, which were not inspired by God, but they were preserved by God and they are interesting. These books are called the Apocrypha. They contain some information as to what life was like shortly before Christ was born. In one interesting passage, we see that people living at that time believed two things were necessary to being healed: Medical doctors and prayer.
In Ecclesiastes 38:1-14 (138 B.C.) we read: “Honor a physician with the honor due unto him for the uses which you may have of him: for the Lord has created him. For of the Most High cometh healing, and he shall receive honor of the king … The Lord has created medicines out of the earth; and he that is wise will not abhor them … And He has given men skill, that He might be honored in His marvelous works. With such does He heal (men), and take away their pains…
My son, in your sickness do not be negligent: but pray unto the Lord, and He will make you whole. Leave off from sin, and order thy hands aright, and cleanse thy heart from all wickedness. Give a sweet savor and a memorial of fine flour… Then give place to the physician, for the Lord hath created him. There is a time when in their hands there is good success. For they shall also pray unto the Lord, that He would prosper that which they give for ease and remedy to prolong life” (Sir Lancelot C. L. Brenton, The Septuagint with Apocrypha Greek & English, Ecclesiasticus, p. 107).
Clearly, the emphasis at a time when a “sign and wonder” miracle was possible was not on healing via miracle, but healing via medical doctor and prayer.
How does the present dispensation of Grace differ from the other dispensation which featured the “signs and wonders” miracles?
There is absolutely no doubt that the vast majority of miracles occurred during the dispensation of the law and not the dispensation of grace . The apostle John was one who made a sharp distinction between these two dispensations (John 1:17). In charting the miracles we may observe that almost all of the Old Testament miracles and almost all of Jesus’ miracles were done under the dispensation of the law. The rest were done in the transition period between law and Grace , in the book of Acts.
What this means is that by the time we get beyond the infant days of the Age of Grace, the “signs and wonders” miracles are gone. As Sir Robert Anderson said, “the purpose of the miracles … was to accredit the Messiah to Israel, and not, as generally supposed, to accredit Christianity to the heathen” (The Silence of God, p. 162).
In fact, Paul made it very clear that by our faithful lives, not by miracles, we bring an appearance of God’s grace to all men in this present age (Titus 2:11; 1-13). In the present dispensation in which we live, grace completely and totally reigns. As Ada Habershon said, “Grace is on the throne” (The Study of Miracles, p. 245).
When it comes to the subject of miracles, a miracle was in fact a supernatural demonstration of God’s grace in the dispensation of law. For example, a miracle that gave sight to a blind person or health to a diseased person or life to a dead person brought the grace of God to that person living under the law. In fact, as Miss Habershon said miracles “were often example of grace putting out its strength against law” (Ibid., p. 245). This is a critical point.
For what this means is that everything God permits now is a Grace Age permission, not a Law Age punishment. For example, if God permits a sickness, or an infirmity, or a deformity, or a death, it is under the “reign of grace.”
An Israelite under the Old Testament law who was stricken with a disease like leprosy, was typically stricken because of sin. This person had to go through a specific, legal cleansing ritual and process, after which he could expect to be healed. Under law, that is how it worked. However, this is not the case under grace. Under grace if someone is similarly afflicted, and has been personally and privately before the Lord, one must consider the infirmity as something God has permitted to show His grace is sufficient.
Through the medical treatment and prayers of His people, God may or may not heal the physical problem, but what He will do in this Grace Age is permit His child to experience strength, growth, peace, contentment, joy and even thanksgiving. The Grace Age child of God realizes that everything that happens to him comes from God’s royal hand of grace. __________________________________________
Pastor David E. Thompson is pastor/teacher at Texas Corners Bible Church in Kalamazoo, Michigan with a nationally syndicated radio show reaching all across the United States. Pastor Thompson may be classified as a true systematic Bible expositor and communicator of God’s Word. He carefully expounds books of the Bible in a way that is contextually, exegetically, grammatically, historically, and theologically accurate to the text and relevant to the time. He is also an very skilled in New Testament Greek.