Miracles Are Insufficient To Bring About Belief

There is a dishonest refrain that is spoken when the atheistic/secular humanist is confronted with the possibility of miracles and how that might relate to their own personal salvation. They’ll offer up thousands of variations on the same basic idea. While it may be helpful to list a few of them, they all come down to the same basic premise “If God exists, let him show me a miracle, then I’ll believe.” These people will protest that if they were ever faced with a legitimate supernatural experience, a legitimate miracle, then on the basis of seeing that that they would then bow the knee and believe.  They reiterate that they are opened minded enough so that when they do see these supernatural events, they possess the ability and the intellectual honesty to shrug off their disbelief and accept God as existing. They believe it to be a simple thing- just show them supernatural evidence, and on that basis they will discard their worldview and will confess Christ as Lord.

In this, they are arrogantly mistaken. They think too highly of themselves and give themselves far too much credit in terms of understanding their psyche and their ability to theoretically respond to a theoretical miracle. They think they are better than the people in Jesus’ day, when in reality they are not. Because here’s the thing- what was the response to the miracles of Jesus in his lifetime? Unlike modern day charlatans who claim they heal thousands in third world countries but don’t dare step foot in hospitals in North America, Jesus had a very public ministry where miracles were commonplace. These weren’t the bad backs and leg-lengthening tricks that are exemplified by modern faith healers, but rather great, grand-scale miracles that people did not deny. Healing  lepers, paralytics, and blind men women and children. Restoring withered limbs, healing the deaf, mute, and those who were on their deathbed. In fact, we see Jesus going all over the countryside and healing everyone who came to him. Thousands upon thousands of people. We see him feeding 20,000 people with small amounts of bread and fish and see him on at least three occasions rising people from the dead. These miracles were not disputed. No one denied they happened. The issue was not whether or not they were legitimate but rather whether Satan himself was helping Jesus do them.

And yet the response of those who were firsthand witnesses and recipients of the miraculous was not necessarily faith in Christ or obedience to him. Tens upon thousands were impacted by him and his miracles- possibly even a hundred thousand, and what is the end result? A crowd shouting “crucify him” and only 120 believers holed up in the upper room after his death. Despite a three year public ministry where his miracles were undisputed by even his enemies, he ended up alone and abandoned by those who witnessed the miracles and still chose to reject him. Some did believe and were faithful, yes. I don’t believe that the miracles of Christ had no impact whatsoever, because they did. They were used to validate the message of Christ- the gospel. But in terms of their ability to produce conversions and penitent hearts- scripturally speaking we see that this was never the case. In John 6, after Jesus had performed miracles, he tells us that people were following him not because of the miracles, but because he had fed them, and soon after this they argued with him over his teachings and abandoned him, not believing he was the Son of God.

So then the question- do you really think the secular humanists will cry out “I am undone! I believe!”  if only they are privy to a miracle? No. Scriptures says that they are spiritually dead, slaves to sin and children of wrath. Don’t let these people fool you who say that a miracle from God will make them believe in God. Besides, they already believe in God- they are just suppressing the truth about God in unrighteousness. For this reason, seeing a miracle won’t do anything for them. They won’t believe because of that. Seeing a miracle will not crush their  worldview or shatter their atheism wholescale.  It didn’t happen then, and it won’t happen now.The author of their salvation is not themselves on the basis on their perceived ability to independently turn to God after viewing and judging a miracle as legitimate.  Rather the author of their salvation is God, who is also the finisher and perfecter of their faith. They will believe because God calls them and draws them and gives them faith, not because of miracles.

When people say “All I need is a miracle and then I’ll believe” they are lying to you and to themselves. They don’t understand how their spirit and soul works in relation to God. They think themselves neutral moral agents who are perfectly free to come to faith on the basis of their own will through whatever catalyst they deem acceptable- in this case miracles. But that is not the case. Humanity has not changed much over thousands of years. The heart is still wicked, disbelief still present, and rebellion still prevalent. People don’t need to see big, flashy miracles in order that they may believe.That won’t help them. Rather they need the Gospel of Jesus Christ and for God to give them faith and repentance, which is the greatest miracle of all. Then they will believe.

[Contributed by Dustin Germain]

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