The Importance of Miracle
Ramsay Macmullen, Emeritus professor of History at Yale University, and a non-Christian, has written quite extensively on the spread of Christianity in the first 500 years of its existence and according to him one of the major reasons behind the successful invasion of the Christian movement into the Roman empire during this period, was miraculous manifestations. Healings and exorcisms, were a regular occurrence among the Christians. This is a quote from Irenaeus who lived from 120-220AD. He was a disciple of Polycarp, who was a disciple of John the apostle, and in his "Against Heresies," an apologetic treatise, he writes concerning the miraculous in the church,
"Wherefore, also, those who are in truth His disciples, receiving grace from Him, do in His name perform [miracles], so as to promote the welfare of other men, according to the gift which each one has received from Him. For some do certainly and truly drive out devils, so that those who have thus been cleansed from evil spirits frequently both believe [in Christ], and join themselves to the Church. Others have foreknowledge of things to come: they see visions, and utter prophetic expressions. Others still, heal the sick by laying their hands upon them, and they are made whole. Yea, moreover, as I have said, the dead even have been raised up, and remained among us for many years. And what shall I more say? It is not possible to name the number of the gifts which the Church, [scattered] throughout the whole world, has received from God, in the name of Jesus Christ, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, and which she exerts day by day for the benefit of the Gentiles, neither practising deception upon any, nor taking any reward Acts 8:9, 18 from them [on account of such miraculous interpositions]. For as she has received freely Matthew 10:8 from God, freely also does she minister [to others]."
Miracles are a common part of the Christian experience every time a prayer is answered, or a door that should not have been opened to you is thrown off of its hinges for you, or any sign or gentle nudge from the Holy Spirit is evidence of the miraculous life we have been invited to. In 2006 a Pew survey covering 10 countries called "Spirit and Power" concluded over 200,000,000 believers throughout these countries reported experiencing miraculous events. Indeed some may write this off as nut jobs simply running their mouths and I agree! There indeed are probably some nut jobs in that mix, but it would be rather difficult and I would say implausible to attempt to discredit over 200,000,000 people's testimony. Defense attorneys face the task of discrediting eyewitness testimony, and when there are literally millions of eyewitnesses to discredit the burden becomes quite impossible.
Craig Keener a brilliant NT scholar wrote an epic two volume work simply called "Miracles" in which He records miracles from around the world. These miracles range from the blind and deaf being restored to resurrection and everything you can think of in-between. He meticulously and tediously researched miracles from across the world and gathered account after account of authentic, credible, verified miracles. Commenting on his findings Keener states, "It is no longer plausible to tout 'uniform human experience' as a basis for denying miracles, as in the traditional modern argument. Hundreds of millions of claims would have to be satisfactorily explained in nonsupernatural terms for this appeal to succeed."
Miracles are a mode of communication for the Lord. God uses them as a direct, in your face, way of communicating His love, His affection, and His care. As Christians, we are the chosen vessels through which God desires to communicate His love in tangible and powerful ways. Let us be encouraged by the data presented in this post and choose to risk embarrassment and uncertainty and instead spit in the face of fear for the sake of the souls around us!
If you are an unbeliever, and you need a miracle, I encourage you to call on the name of Jesus. It is through this name that miracles all over the world for centuries have been experienced. God loves you and desires to demonstrate His goodness to you. All you have to do is ask!