According to Pastor John Piper, there are more miraculous acts taking place in modern times than even those mentioned in the Bible, despite what people think.
During his weekly question-and-answer-themed podcast posted on his website, Desiring God, Piper answered a question from an Ivy League freshman who frequently finds his friends questioning his faith. The young man explained that his friends and classmates will ask him, “Why doesn’t God work overt miracles today in twenty-first century America like he did in both the Old and New Testaments? Doesn’t it seem convenient that God only worked miracles in the Bible?”
He also told Piper that he grew up as a missionary kid, as his parents are missionaries in a former Soviet bloc country. He explained that getting used to a secular university coming from the mission field has been tough because the contrast is “night and day.”
As usual, Piper had a thoughtful answer to a very difficult question.
“There were fewer miracles in the Bible than you probably think, and there are more miracles today than you probably know, and there is a good biblical reason for why there would be a certain kind of prevalence of miracles in the Bible that is different from today,” the pastor began.
Piper continued, noting the many miraculous interventions that are seen throughout the Old Testament.
“It’s simply a great mistake to think that there are miracles running all through the history of God’s people as the Bible records it,” he said. “They were not running all through the history of God’s people. They sprung up around certain periods of time like the exodus and like the ministries of Elijah and Elisha.”
Piper explained that many of the heroes in the Old Testament that we look to lived in a faith that was grounded in the past. These heroes might have not ever seen God’s promises themselves, but they knew He would deliver because of fulfilling other promises.
“When it comes to the New Testament, it is gloriously true that Jesus did miracles perfectly and consistently, though even he raised only three people from the dead and didn’t heal people in many places where he traveled or where he didn’t travel,” he continued. “Not only that, but Jesus himself explains his own miracles as pointing to his divinity. In other words, something about these miracles attached to him and you wouldn’t expect them to attach to other people in the same way.”
Piper went on to describe how even though Jesus’ disciples worked miracles, there was always a difference between the ones they worked, and that of Jesus. Jesus was always set apart, for He was the son of God.
“When you turn to the book of Acts and the rest of the New Testament, it’s obvious that the apostles did some astonishing miracles, but it’s also true that they suffered much and their colleagues got sick. Paul carried a doctor around with him. They got thrown into prison. They got killed,” he added.
One thing that is important to note is Piper believes in continuationism, which means that miracles did not end when the last apostle died, or when the canon of Scripture ended. He believes that miracles happen today. There are some within Christianity that believe that miracles are not possible because of the closing of the canon, they are called cessationists.
“If we could collect all the authentic stories all over the world — from all the missionaries and all the saints in the all the countries of the world, all the cultures of the world — if we could collect all the millions of encounters between Christians and demons and Christians and sickness and all the so-called coincidences of the world, we would be stunned. We would think we were living in a world of miracles, which we are,” Piper said.
Lee Strobel, a well-known atheist turned Christian, hired the Barna Group to do a study on what Christians believe about miracles, and supernatural happenings.
Thirty-eight percent of respondents stated that they had things happen in their lives that only possibly could be a miracle of God.
Another 66 percent of respondents said that they hold the belief that miracles and supernatural happenings are possible today.
“We live in a period of time precisely where suffering is normal,” Piper continued. “Nevertheless, God does now and then, and sometimes regularly in periods of revival, use his power to perform, according to his sovereign will, miracles for his people. Why he doesn’t do it more now than he does is partly (perhaps) owing to our lack of expectancy and faith, but is ultimately owing to his sovereign decree.”