Greatest Miracle of All

Greatest Miracle of All - Jesus Resurrection

The resurrection of Jesus is the best-documented event in ancient history. Of all religions in the world, Christianity is the only one in which the founder claimed to be the Son of God. Furthermore, He proved His claim through miracles. However, the greatest miracle of all, and the only one He predicted in advance, was His resurrection from the dead.

The gospels tell us that Jesus raised others from the dead, including the widow’s son at Nain (Luke 7:11-15) and His friend Lazarus (John 11). However, neither of them is alive to tell about it because they eventually died again. Their second chance at life did not fully conquer death.

Jesus ultimately and completely defeated death because He is alive today. When Jesus brought the young man and Lazarus back to life, they got their ordinary bodies back. After His resurrection, Jesus had a physical body able to speak and be touched and eat. But His resurrection body could also pass through walls. (See Luke 24:33-40.) The stone was rolled away from the tomb not so that Jesus could come out but so that others could see that His body was no longer there.

Some skeptics today go beyond denying the miracles of Jesus to deny that He ever lived. No credible historical scholar would make such a claim. An article in National Geographic quoted Eric Meyers, an archaeologist and emeritus professor in Judaic studies at Duke University, saying: “I don’t know any mainstream scholar who doubts the historicity of Jesus…The details have been debated for centuries, but no one who is serious doubts that he’s a historical figure.”

Jesus is real. He is alive! He conquered death! The same National Geographic article said that more than two billion people today believe Jesus Christ is “the very Son of God.” The resurrection was His greatest miracle of all and is the best-documented event of ancient history. It is not a legend that developed years later. The gospels recorded it within a generation of the event when eyewitnesses were still alive. Even before the gospels were written, Paul testified of the resurrection within a few years after it happened (1 Corinthians 15:3-8). He had learned of it less than five years after the event.

The greatest miracle of all is a historical fact. There is no other way to explain the change in Christ’s apostles, who dared to spend the rest of their lives testifying of the resurrection, even when it led to persecution and death. So we can say with confidence, “Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!”

— Roland Earnst © 2023


Christ Confirmed His Message by Miracles

Christ Confirmed His Message by Miracles
Jesus raising Jairus’ daughter from the dead

Many things are unique to the life and teaching of Jesus Christ. Among those is the fact that He never endorsed force or war and established no power structure for humans to follow. Also, the fact that Christ confirmed His message by miracles is another unique feature of the teachings and life of Christ. Unfortunately, some people look for miracles today to solve life’s problems, but they misunderstand the purpose and nature of Christ’s miracles and those of the apostles.

The miracles of the apostles were meant to establish who spoke for God and who was a fraud. Neither Christ nor His followers sought to remove the reality of life and death. If becoming a Christian would solve all of life’s problems, people would come to Christ solely to solve physical or emotional pains. New Testament Greek used two words to indicate the nature of a miracle. One was “dunamis” used to show power (Mark 9:39, Acts 2:22). The other was “semeion” dealing with a sign (John 2:11, 2:23, 3:2, 4:54, 6:2, etc.) Christ confirmed His message by miracles.

The Bible records miracles of Christ that show His power over the problems humans face. Studying these miracles demonstrates the absolute ability of Christ to meet all the needs of humans. Look at this list:

Power over things in the natural world: Matthew 8:23-27
Power over disease: Matthew 8:1-1, Luke 17:11-19
Power over spiritual forces: Mark 1:23-26 Matthew 9:32-33 and 12:22-29
Power over human disabilities: John 5:1-16, Matthew 9:1-7, John 9
Power over mental issues: Matthew 8:28-34 Power over death: Luke 7:11-17 and 8:40-56, John 11:1-46

Notice that Jesus didn’t randomly remove all of these things from human existence. Each miracle had a purpose, and it was not to eliminate all human problems on the planet. In today’s world, all of these problems still exist because people still have illnesses and die. However, Christ has provided a way for everyone to deal with the maladies in this life and ultimately be free of them. Christ confirmed His message by miracles. The Bible spells out the war between good and evil and the purpose for our existence. God helps us in this life in many ways, but the perfection of heaven is not yet available to us while we live in the flesh.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

The Apostles of Jesus Used Evidence

The Apostles of Jesus Used Evidence - Peter preaching on Pentecost
Peter and the Apostles speaking on the Day of Pentecost

Yesterday, we said that we should not be afraid of evidence. We point out in our daily postings that solid evidence supports our faith in God, Jesus, and the Bible. We pointed out that Jesus used evidence. Today, we want to look at some examples of how the apostles of Jesus used evidence.

The Church began on the day of Pentecost when Peter preached to the crowd in the Temple. To convince the people of the fact that Jesus was God in the flesh and convict them of their sin of rejecting Him, Peter began by showing that the miracle of the apostles speaking in languages that they had not learned was evidence that their message was from God. Then he pointed out that Jesus of Nazareth had proven that He was from God by “miracles, wonders, and signs that God did among you through him” (Acts 2:22). Then in verses 23 and 32, we find Paul using the miracle of the resurrection as evidence that Jesus was the Messiah, God in the flesh.

On Pentecost, Peter spoke to the Jews who believed in the prophecies. Paul took a slightly different approach when he addressed the Greeks in Lystra. They did not have the Old Testament prophecies. Instead, they believed in many gods, even mistaking Paul and Barnabas for gods. Paul appealed to them on behalf of “the living God,” whose existence was evidenced by the fact that He “made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and everything in them” (Acts 14:15). Paul used a similar approach in speaking to the pagan philosophers in Athens. He spoke to them of the true God “who made the world and everything in it.” The evidence for God was in the things He had made, and Paul quoted Greek poets who had said, “For we are also his offspring.” (See Acts 17:22-29.) Paul also wrote similar words to the Romans, saying that all people can know there is a God by the things He has made (Romans 1;20).

Thus, we see that the apostles of Jesus used evidence to convince people of God’s existence and that Jesus is God. Likewise, Paul used eyewitness evidence when he wrote to the Corinthian church. First, he quoted an oral tradition of the Church that most likely originated within five years of Christ’s resurrection, telling about various people who witnessed Christ alive after the resurrection, including over 500 individuals at one time. Then Paul said that most of those people were still alive and could confirm what they had seen. Paul then testified that he also was an eyewitness of the resurrected Christ. (See 1 Corinthians 15;1-11.)

As we can see from these examples of Peter and Paul, the apostles of Jesus used evidence to testify to the existence of God, the deity of Jesus, and the truth of the resurrection. Evidence does not destroy faith. It reinforces faith. We can know that Jesus was God with us by His miracles. His greatest miracle, and the only one He predicted in advance, was the resurrection, and we have eyewitness testimony evidence for that. We can know there is a God by the things He has made, and science testifies to the fact that creation was fine-tuned for us to be here.

— Roland Earnst © 2022

What Is a Miracle?

What Is a Miracle? Jesus Raising Lazarus
Jesus Raising Lazarus

One of the challenges we all face is whether to believe claims of miracles. What is a miracle? Those of us trained in the sciences frequently hear someone call a normal action of the forces of nature a miracle. Scammers often claim to be able to perform miracles. That also happened in biblical times. In Acts 8:9-24, we read about a man who made a business in sorcery. Acts 19:13-16 tells of a group of itinerant schemers who tried to perform exorcisms. What is the definition of real miracles, and what is their biblical purpose?

Religious people take John 21:25 to indicate that Jesus randomly performed a miracle for whoever had a need. That is not only irrational but fails to understand why Jesus performed miracles. If receiving a miracle was just a matter of a chance encounter with Christ, then some were given an advantage over others. Why were the widow’s son (Luke 7:11-15), Jairus’s daughter (Luke 8:40-42, 49-56), and Lazarus (John 11:1-44) the only ones the gospels tell us that Jesus raised from the dead? Didn’t many other people have huge unmet needs?

What is a miracle in the Bible? The New Testament has different words that refer to “miracles.” First, the Greek word “semeion” is used when the miracle was a sign, as in John 2:11 and 23 or Revelation 12:1 and 3. Next, the Bible uses the Greek word “teras” to refer to anything extraordinary, as in Matthew 24:24, Mark 13:22, or Acts 2:19, where it is usually translated as “wonders.” Finally, the Greek word “dunamis” indicates the miracle was one to show the power or the “mighty deed” of God, such as in Luke 4:36.

In the Old Testament, we see the concept of God’s power in Psalms 19:1, where the Hebrew word is usually translated as “handiwork.” Today, we have a scientific understanding of much of what would have been miraculous to an ancient Hebrew shepherd, but it is still powerful. The phrase “marvelous works” in Psalms 139:13-14 is not describing an instantaneous creation. Instead, it refers to the process of the development of a child in the womb, which people often refer to as a miracle even though it is well understood today.

The Bible shows God’s intelligence and design involved in all His actions. For example, Romans 1:18-23 reflects on the fact that everyone can all see God’s wisdom and design in nature–if they are willing to look. Likewise, Proverbs 8 tells us that all of creation shows God’s wisdom without suggesting magic or micromanaging by God.

The point of miracles in the Bible is to reveal God’s nature and show who spoke for God and who didn’t. What is a miracle today? There have always been those who claimed to be God or God’s representative on Earth. Miracles described in the Bible had a purpose and addressed a spiritual need. They showed God’s love and compassion, but also His power.

In today’s world, with the Word of God available, the practical guide for how to live and how to die is far more critical than looking for a flashy theatrical show. God can do whatever He chooses to do, but the focus on miracles today takes us away from the essential things in life. Knowing how to live with one another in love and peace is more important than seeing miracles.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

What Is Falsification and How Does it Relate to Faith?

What Is Falsification and How Does it Relate to Faith?

We see misunderstandings of the question of falsification by both atheists and religionists. What is falsification, and how does it relate to faith in God?

Let us begin this discussion by giving a simple definition of falsification. The Falsification Principle, initially proposed by Karl Popper, is a way of demarcating science from non-science. It suggests that for a theory to be considered scientific, it must be testable and falsifiable. For example, the hypothesis that “all swans are white,” can be falsified by observing a black swan.

It always disturbs me to read a religious writing that claims scientific proof that a faith healer accomplished a miracle cure. An excellent example of this was William Nolen’s studies reported in a book titled In Search of A Miracle released in 1975. Nolen investigated the claims of faith healers Kathryn Kulman and Norbu Chen. He showed that there were observable, natural explanations for what had been called “miracles.” Nolen believed he could test Kulman and Chen’s claims by investigating whether there were other explanations for their claimed miracles. There were, so they could not be scientifically proven to be true. What is falsification, and how does it relate to faith in God? You can have faith in someone, but you cannot call it science.

The scientific community is guilty of the same kind of error when it promotes an idea that cannot be tested and calls it science. It is fashionable in today’s world for scientists to propose the existence of an infinite number of parallel universes. They use this idea to explain how our universe could be fine-tuned for life. With a nearly infinite number of universes, we just happen to be in the one with all of the right stuff for life. Multiverse proposals say that quantum pops create universes and that an infinite number of pops would eventually produce every possible set of properties, including ours.

That is an interesting fantasy, but it is just that. There is no way to falsify that proposal, and so it is not scientific. Skeptics will be quick to point out that, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” is also not falsifiable, and that is true. But look at the logical outcome of these two choices. If God created the universe and placed humans in it, then there is a reason there is something instead of nothing, and there is a purpose for our existence. If the faith statement of the multiverse is true, the question of why we exist remains unanswered, and any purpose for the “pops” is pure fantasy.

Romans 1:20 tells us we can know there is a God through the things He has made. The Bible, as a whole, brings us understanding that we are part of a struggle between good and evil and that God is love and wants to have a relationship with us. We can’t offer scientific proof of that, so it is a statement of faith. But it is far more full of meaning and purpose than to speak of what we see in the cosmos as “quantum pops” of something without a cause or purpose. So the question we all have to entertain is, “What is falsification, and how does it relate to faith in God?” The proposed multiverse alternative to God is not falsifiable, and therefore it is faith and not science. In what do you place your faith?

— John N. Clayton © 2020