Early in his ministry career—before his long years of service as senior editor with Standard Publishing (1981 to 2014)—Jon Underwood had a brief stint as director of publications with Christ In Youth. It was during that time that he wrote this concise examination of miracles.
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IT’S A MIRACLE!
By Jon Underwood
Oct. 26, 1980; p. 9
“It’s a miracle!” So easily we say it—and often so carelessly. In our quest for restoring New Testament Christianity and calling Bible things by Bible names, this word “miracle” deserves careful attention.
What is a miracle? In Scripture there are three ideas involved in miracles: power, wonder, and evidence. However, working a miracle is not the only way any of these could be portrayed. The power, wonder, and evidence of God are all seen in nature as well. A miracle occurs when God goes beyond the natural (even though it is perfectly “natural” for Him) in a powerful, wonderful, and evidential way.
Perhaps the most important aspect of miracles is this third one—evidence. Distinguished Professor George Mark Elliott of The Cincinnati Bible Seminary calls miracles “God’s autograph.” This seems especially appropriate when we notice that one Greek word translated thirty-three times in the King James Version as “miracle” is the same word used of Paul’s autograph in 2 Thessalonians 3:17. Miracles are always used in connection with revelation in Scripture. They were God’s way of revealing himself, His Son, and His will. And miracles were recorded in Scripture to provide us with evidence for our faith (see John 20:30, 31).
Do we have miracles today then? First Corinthians 13 makes it clear that miracles are temporary, although we cannot be sure from this passage exactly when they were to cease. But the completed revelation of God—the New Testament—makes us strongly doubt that miracles continue to exist. If they did, then we could expect continued revelation, also.
But what do we make of the reports of “miraculous” healings and other wonderful events? We must recognize that God is still in control of His universe. He can still work in amazing ways unknown to us as He controls the healing processes and the rest of nature. But we dare not base our faith on events we don’t understand just because they are wonderful. We can be deceived in this way. It would take new revelation to know exactly when, where, and how God is working. We need to take Him at His word that He loves us and provides us with our needs. Our “faith comes by hearing . . . the word of God.”
Yes, God is working—and in wonderful ways. We can believe that; we can trust Him to provide for us. But we need not expect miracles, for God has already given us all we need to “believe that He is, and that He is the rewarder of all who seek Him.” So let’s seek Him first and let Him take care of us—His way.
Jonathan Underwood is associated with Christ In Youth, Inc., Tulsa, Okla.
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During his time with Standard Publishing, Jon Underwood spent many years overseeing creation of the best-selling Standard Lesson Commentary. In 2014, he left Standard to become chaplain with the Christian Benevolent Association/Christian Village at Mt. Healthy, where he continues to serve. In 2018, he also began serving as minister with New Burlington Church of Christ (just down the road from the senior housing facility he serves as chaplain) in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Oh, by the way, Jon also oversees creation of the syllabus for the weekly Lookout Bible lessons featured in our magazine and at this website.
—Jim Nieman, managing editor, Christian Standard