Are The Miracles In The Bible Real?
Many in our science-oriented world today just don't find the Bible to be credible when it talks about miracles. It tells of people holding two-way conversations with snakes, turning water into wine, walking on water, and coming back to life after they died. Those are not occurrences we are used to seeing in everyday life.
So, here's the question - does it make sense to believe the Bible's accounts of such things?
I think so, and here's why:
Did miracles really happen the way the Bible says they did?
Most Christians believe that as incredible as some of the accounts in Scripture may look to modern eyes, they provide a reliable historical record of what actually occurred. To such believers, the Bible literally is what it proclaims itself to be, the written word of God. And because the accounts of miraculous events in the Bible were inspired by God, we can have confidence that those episodes actually happened pretty much the way the Scripture says they did.
On the other hand, many religions have a holy book that adherents believe provides them with divinely inspired information. Is the Bible any different?
What do you think?
Did the miracles in the Bible really happen?
What the Bible says about the credibility of its reports
The question of credibility is one the Bible itself anticipates and provides an answer for. The apostle John produced five of the New Testament’s twenty-seven books. In his introduction to one of those books, John wanted to make sure readers understood why they could trust his accounts.
1 John 1:1-3 (NKJV) That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life- 2 the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us- 3 that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.
John’s point is that accounts given by him and the other apostles (men who had been with Jesus throughout His earthly ministry) are entirely trustworthy because they are eyewitness reports. These are not things that somebody told a friend of a cousin of an acquaintance whose name I can’t quite remember. John wants it clearly understood that he is speaking only of things “which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled.” He was there. And that fact is of the highest significance in assessing the Bible’s reliability.
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled...that which we have seen and heard we declare to you.— The Apostle John
The importance of eye-witness testimony
Someone once asked me, “Why wasn't the resurrection of Christ reported anywhere outside the New Testament? Seems like an event that astounding would have been reported all over the place.”
But of course, it couldn’t have been. Who would have carried the story? The New York Times wasn’t yet printing “all the news that’s fit to print,” and CNN wasn't yet broadcasting news reports 24/7 on cable television. The Roman and Jewish authorities wanted to suppress the news of the resurrection, not spread it.
That’s why God prearranged for a group of eyewitnesses, called apostles, who could give first hand testimony about what happened during the ministry of Jesus. These were men who were there when Christ is reported to have walked on water, and when He raised Lazarus from the dead. Because they were on the scene, when they report in the Bible that these things actually happened, they are either deliberately lying, or they are truthfully reporting what they personally saw and heard. And these were men who understood the Scriptural injunction that “all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone” (Revelation 21:8).
If there had been only one of them, it might be claimed that he was somehow confused, or mentally unstable. So, God arranged for there to be at least twelve of them, all giving the same basic account of events.
The answer to the question
History records that most of that apostolic group proved their veracity by their willingness to die a martyr’s death rather than recant the claims they made. In the 21st century we know that it is not unusual for suicide bombers, and other fanatics, to be willing to give up their lives for what they believe in. But nobody willingly goes to their death for what they know to be a lie.
Courts universally accept eye-witness testimony as significant evidence, leaving it to a judge or jury to decide how credible that evidence is. The apostle John’s testimony detailing the eye-witness basis of the biblical accounts provides ample reason to rate those accounts at the highest level of credibility.
© 2013 Ronald E. Franklin