Why Don’t We Have as Many Miracles Today as the Early Church Had?
It has been a question I have asked for a long time now. Why can’t modern- day Christians, through Christ’s power, raise the dead and heal as many of the sick as Peter and Paul did for those first believers in Jesus? Over the years I have gone to healing meetings and sometimes a person seemed to be healed from an uncurable diseases. I have read every book I could find about Christian healing and miracles and asked any Christian leader I could corner this question. Why aren’t we experiencing the miracles and healings that the early church did?
Some pastors answered that most likely we sophisticated and educated Christians today don’t have the simple childlike faith that those early Christians had. So, most of us don’t have enough faith today because we are too educated? I wasn’t sure that was the answer. And weren’t those early Christians intelligent and have questions too? In any generation a child of God must have the childlike faith that God will hear her or his prayer and answer it according to His will.
Others Christian leaders answered my question this way: that God gave miracles and healings to the early Church perhaps because they didn’t have what we have today. We have the Word of God, the Bible, and we can each have our own copy to read and study. The early Church often didn’t have that and many of them couldn’t read anyway. God’s Word is powerful, and we receive salvation because we believe what Scripture says about Christ – that He conquered death for us.
Also, Christianity has been around for more than two thousand years now and we today have the benefit of seeing that the Christian Church has made a huge difference wherever it has gone. The Christian church was the first to establish hospitals, orphanages, charities, and missions around the world. None of the other world religions did that. And no other religion other than the Christian religion believes that God loves us so much that His Son, Jesus, died to take away our sins and conquered death for us. No other world religion teaches that we are to forgive one another because God offers forgiveness to us.
Christianity is the only religion in the world that does not teach that a person must work to earn their own salvation. The burden is all on the individual to make it or not. To please a holy God or to miss the mark. Only Christianity teaches that Jesus Christ is the only One who can make us victorious over sin and give us the gift of eternal life. Only He can take away our sins and give us His robe of righteousness. Only He can pay the price. So, Christianity is completely different from all of the other man-made religions on this earth. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. There is no other. (John 14:6)
All the other religions are legalistic – some have laws that a person must pray so many times a day and go on so many religious pilgrimages, etc. or measure up on a scale – in order to please God. Christianity is the only world religion where the God of the Bible, the God we serve, loves us and gives us His Holy Spirit to guide and comfort us, making us free in Christ.
Christians down through the ages have put their trust in Christ, and we Christians today have the advantage of reading that long history of Christianity and following along that pilgrim way in the Christian tradition. The early Christians didn’t have that advantage.
The early Christians were just starting – just beginning – to learn to trust Jesus as Savior and Lord. No one had gone before them. The Old Testament points the way to Christ, the Messiah. But the Jewish leaders were expecting their promised Messiah to be different than Jesus was. They overlooked His many miracles and healings and tried to cover up His resurrection.
So, these first Christian were the very first to believe in Jesus as Savior and Lord. Many of them were leaving Judaism and were being persecuted because they were leaving. Many Bible scholars believe that God gave the miracles and healings, signs and wonders to the first Christian apostles and leaders to validate their new message of salvation through Christ.
Perhaps, since they were the first believers to follow in the Christian path, they might have been given more helps and more healings and miracles from God, to point them along that new Way. Our Scripture says that “Jesus is the Way.” (John 14:6) And for more than two thousand years now the Christians that went before us walked on this narrow Way. And our faith is strengthened by their example as we can follow in their footsteps.
Many Bible scholars believe in dispensationalism. Dispensationalism is the belief that God has dealt with the Church in different ways down through the ages. As parents takes care of their child differently when he is a baby than when he is a young child. And differently when their child is in grammar school than when she is a teen-ager. Some believe that our heavenly Father also deals differently with His children when their spiritual or physical needs are different.
I believe this idea of God, parenting His children differently, comes out in the parable in the Bible of the rich man and Lazarus. In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:27-31) the selfish rich man who has died and is in hell is begging Abraham to allow him to go back to earth and warn his five brothers to change their ways because there is a hell. His brothers are living selfishly like he did when he was alive and turning their backs on the poor. If only the rich man could go back from hell and warn his brothers, so that they could repent and turn to God and obey God’s laws of love and not go to hell like he did.
But Abraham answered the rich man: “Your brothers have Moses and the Prophets, let them listen to them.” And the rich man in hell argued: “No, Father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.” But Abraham answered: “If your brothers do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.” (Luke 16: 29-31)
This parable shows that the brother was not allowed to go back from the dead and warn his five living brothers because they already had God’s Word (Moses and the Prophets) These five brothers were religious men who knew already that God had commanded them to help the poor.
God had already spoken to their hearts through His Word and it seems they had already hardened their hearts against obeying. So, a miracle wouldn’t do any good in changing them. Does this parable in Scripture point to the possibility that God might not give as many miracles to He children who already have “Moses and the Prophets” - or His Word, the Bible?
Over the years we have heard stories of visions and healings from missionaries who are living in countries where it is illegal to have a Christian church. And countries where a person can be killed for having a Bible or for becoming a Christian. Over and over again these stories of healings and miracles come from a non-Christian praying for God’s guidance. Or from brave Christians who are being persecuted so severely for following Christ that they need guidance as to how to witness and where to turn. And often when a person who is living in one of these anti-Christian countries prays and asks for guidance, God gives him or her a vision directing them to a Christian church or to a Christian person for their answers.
God’s Word tells us to ask and we shall receive. And to seek and we shall find. If we believe in Him, He promises to answer our prayers, if they are His Will. Our many answers to prayer really are miracles. They just aren’t as dramatic as some of the miracles we read about in Scripture. God works in different ways in different situations.
When we pray for God’s love to be in our hearts, He gives us that love. And love has power. Love crosses boundaries and overcomes fear. Being able to pray and ask for anything in His Will is powerful. Allowing Jesus to work through us is powerful. And God’s Word is powerful. God has distributed the gifts of the Holy Spirit to the modern- day Christian Church. He has empowered each Christian with a gift or gifts to do something. (1 Corinthians 12:7-11 and 27-30) The work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of Christians in our churches validates the Christian message that Christ came to save sinners. That light shines brightly. What more do we need?