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Should Christians Expect Miracles Today? Objections and Answers from the Bible, Part 1, by Wayne A. Grudem

3. If we say that miracles should accompany the gospel today, doesn’t this cheapen the gospel? Wouldn’t this show that we don’t think the gospel itself is powerful enough to save sinners—rather, we think the gospel of Christ is weak and needs help from miracles?

If this objection is correct, then the working of miracles must have cheapened the gospel when Peter preached the gospel4  as well, and when Paul preached5 —and even when Jesus preached.6  Miracles must have detracted from the gospel when Stephen and Philip preached (Acts 6:8; 8:6-8), and when Christians at Corinth and in the churches of Galatia worked miracles (1 Corinthians 12:28; Galatians 3:5). Did miracles cheapen the gospel in almost the whole of the preaching of the Early Church, and still the Church used them? Surely this is an incorrect conclusion about miracles.

If miracles did not detract from the gospel in the repeated patterns we see in the New Testament, and if the working of miracles was given by God in all those cases, then this objection is not valid, and we are right to seek God for the working of miracles along with evangelism today as well. The New Testament pattern is that present-day miracles attest to the gospel and enhance the power of its proclamation (Romans 15:18, 19); they demonstrate the power of the gospel, but they certainly do not weaken it.

4. What do miracles prove anyway? Since there can be true miracles and false miracles, miracles alone can never prove anything. Therefore, how could a miracle ever be God’s means for converting an unbeliever?

This objection is stated well by James Montgomery Boice, who says,

My point is that miracles alone prove nothing. They may be false and deceptive as well as true and instructive, and we are never told that they are God’s means for converting unbelievers or that we should seek to perform them …The New Testament does not teach that evangelism is to be done by cultivating miracles.7 I can agree with the beginning of the first statement: miracles alone prove nothing, and they may be false and deceptive as well as true and instructive. But I cannot agree with Boice’s conclusion: Therefore miracles are never said to be God’s means for converting unbelievers. For that to be true, we would first have to assume that populi can never distinguish true from false miracles. Then the bare fact of a miracle would have no value for evangelism, because any given miracles could be either evil or good, and we could never tell the difference. (This is what Boice seems to assume in order for his argument to work.)

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Category: Pneuma Review, Spirit, Winter 2000

About the Author: Wayne A. Grudem is Professor of Theology and Biblical Studies at Phoenix Seminary, Phoenix, Arizona. He has authored over twenty books, including Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (1994), Politics According to the Bible: A Comprehensive Resource for Understanding Modern Political Issues in Light of Scripture (2010), The Poverty of Nations: A Sustainable Solution (2013), The Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament and Today, Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism, and "Free Grace" Theology: 5 Ways It Diminishes the Gospel (2016). He was also the General Editor for the ESV Study Bible (Evangelical Christian Publishers Association Book of the Year, 2009).

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