OceanSide church of Christ
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THE HOLY SPIRIT
Victor M. Eskew
A. Why a study of miracles under the topic of the Holy Spirit? It was the Holy Spirit that was the power behind the working of miracles (Heb. 2:4; see also I Cor. 12:7-11).
God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will.
B. There is much misunderstanding about the subject of miracles.
1. Some believe that men can still perform miracles today.
2. Some believe that God is still working miracles apart from man today.
3. Others refer to exceptional events as miracles.
a. The birth of a baby
b. Living through an extremely bad accident
c. Surviving a deadly disease
C. In this lesson, we want to look at three aspects of miracles.
1. The Characteristics of Miracles
2. The Purpose of Miracles
3. The Cessation of Miracles
I. THE CHARACTERISTICS OF MIRACLES
1. Definition: being above or beyond what is natural; unexplainable by natural law
2. Miracles do one of two things to natural law.
a. They speed up or slow down the processes of natural law (Josh. 10:13).
b. They defy or go beyond natural law (John 11:43-44).
1. The miracles of the Bible were immediate.
2. The Ten Lepers (Luke 17:14)
And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go show yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.
1. The miracles of the Bible could not be refuted or disproved. They were never found to be the shenanigans of man.
2. The miracle of Peter and John at the Gate Beautiful (Acts 4:15-16).
But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, saying, What shall we do to these men? For that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it.
1. The miracles of the Bible were real. There was no sleight of hand or magic involved.
2. The ear of Malchus (Luke 22:50-51)
And one of them smote the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear. And Jesus answered and said, Suffer ye thus far. And he touched his ear, and healed him.
E. Miracles did not always require faith on the part of the one healed (i.e., the centurion’s servant, Matt. 8:3).
And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.
F. Performed out of worthy motives
1. Signs were used for spiritual purposes. They were not done for personal aggrandizement or just to draw crowds or do raise large sums of money.
2. Elisha healed Naaman of leprosy and would not take his gifts (II Kings 5:15-16; see also Acts 14:9-18)
G. Cannot be explained by any secondary causes
1. Surviving a car crash can be explained by looking closely at the laws of gravity and physics.
2. There was no way to explain how a man can turn five loaves and two fish into a meal that could feed a multitude of 5000 men plus the women and children (Matt. 14:16-21).
II. THE PURPOSE OF MIRACLES
A. God used miracles to create the heavens and the earth and all that in them is (Jer. 10:12; Ps. 33;6, 9).
He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and he hath stretched out the heavens by his discretion.
B. To reveal truth to man (II Pet. 1:21).
For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
C. To confirm the truth proclaimed by inspired men
1. Mark 16:20
And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following.
2. Hebrews 2:3-4
How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to his own will?
D. To bring the Son of God into the world (Luke 1:31, 34-35)
And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus….Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.
E. To prove Jesus is the Son of God (John 20:30-31)
And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: but these are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.
F. To show compassion (Luke 7:11-15)
And it came to pass the day after, that he went into the city called Nain; and many of his disciples went with him, and much people. Now when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: and much people of the city was with her. And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not. And he came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise. And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother.
G. To reward faith (Mark 10:52)
And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.
H. To equip the first century church (Eph. 4:7-8, 11-12)
But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, When he ascendeth up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men….And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.
I. To fight for and protect God’s people, especially in the Old Testament (II Chron. 20:17, 24).
Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the Lord with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them: for the Lord will be with you….and when Judah came toward the watchtower in the wilderness, they looked unto the multitude, and, behold, they were dead bodies fallen to the earth, and none escaped.
J. To bring the world to a conclusion
1. Seeing Jesus return with His holy angels (Rev. 1:7)
2. Resurrection of all the dead (John 5:28-29)
3. The ascension of the righteous living from the earth (I Thess. 4:17)
4. The changing of our bodies into glorified bodies (I John 3:2)
K. NOTE: Some miracles many serve two or more purposes (See Luke 7:16).
And there came a fear on all: and they glorified God, saying, that a great prophet is risen up among us; and, that God hat visited his people.
III. THE CESSATION OF MIRACLES
A. There are many who still claim that men can perform miracles today. This is a falsehood. The Bible teaches that the age of miracles has ceased.
B. Three major texts
1. Ephesians 4:13 teaches that miracles would last “till” we all come in the unity of the faith.
Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.
a. “Till” involves time. It means “as far as, up to a certain point.” In other words, Paul says: “Miraculous gifts will last up to this point in time.”
b. That time is “when we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God…”
1) Some think that he is saying until such time that all religious groups are united in Christ.
2) The faith, however, refers to the system of faith, the gospel.
a) Acts 6:7; I Tim. 4:1; Jude 3
b) When the complete system of faith was come, then miracles would cease.
c) NOTE: The faith is tied to the words, “and of the knowledge of the Son of God.” The knowledge of the Son of God is found in the perfect Word of God.
2. I Corinthians 13:10 reveals that the miraculous manifestations of the Holy Spirit would last until “that which is perfect is come.”
1) The church at Corinth was divided over which spiritual gift was the best, the most profitable.
2) In chapter 12, Paul argues for the oneness of the body, that is, many members with different spiritual gifts operating in complete harmony with all of the members being necessary.
3) In chapter 13, he shows them “a more excellent way” (I Cor. 12:31), the way of love.
4) In chapter 14, he regulates the use of miraculous gifts in Corinth.
b. Summary about miracles
1) The miracles involved what Paul refers to as “the part.” For we know in part, and we prophecy in part (I Cor. 13:9).
2) The part, miraculous gifts would “fail,” “cease,”, “vanish away,” and “be done away” (I Cor. 13:8, 10).
3) They would be done away when that which is perfect is come (I Cor. 13:10).
But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
a) Some teach that the “perfect” is Jesus Christ.
- Thus, when Christ comes miracles will cease.
- Not so.
+ When Jesus comes miracles will begin: resurrection, changed bodies, ascension from the earth, etc.
+ The word “perfect” is in the neuter gender in the Greek. If Jesus were being referenced, it would be in the masculine gender.
+ The word “perfect” is tied to the word “part.” The part was part of the perfect. The part involved the revelation of God’s Word to the church until such time that all revelation was revealed in full.
+ If miracles were not going to cease in the near future, all of this discussion by the apostle Paul would have meant nothing to the church at Corinth.
b) That which is perfect is the complete, full, written revelation from God to man.
c) Miracles confirmed the spoken word and supplied the church with all they needed until they had the complete written revelation was given. Miracles confirmed the Word. When the Word was revealed, the miracles were no longer needed (i.e., scaffolding on a building).
3. Acts 8:14, 18
a. Philip, the evangelist, preached Christ in Samaria and converted many (Acts 8:5, 12).
b. These individuals did not receive the Holy Ghost from Philip, even though he could perform miracles (Acts 8:6-7).
c. Only the apostles could pass on miraculous manifestations of the Spirit by the laying on of hands (Acts 8:14-18).
…Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money.
1) Only the apostles could pass miraculous gifts to others.
2) When the last apostle died, the ability to pass on the miraculous gifts ceased on earth.
3) When those who had received miraculous gifts from the apostles died, miracles ceased.
A. We do not deny miracles.
B. We deny that miracles can be performed by men today.
C. NOTE: The proof is in the pudding.
1. Go to the graveyard and raise the dead. Jesus did.
2. Let poisonous snakes bite you with no harm coming to you. Paul did.
3. Let them restore human body parts. Jesus did.
D. The miraculous age was not a time that Paul longed to see continue.
1. It was fraught with problems (Eph. 4:14).
2. He eagerly looked to the time when all could come in the unity of the faith, that is, having the complete Word of God (Eph. 4:13).