Should I expect miracles today? In the first part of this article, I dispelled the idea that miracles only took place in a very short period in the Biblical era. There seems to be a plentitude of faith healers and Churches that seem to think so. A significant proportion of the future Church in Africa seems to hold that miracles are normative, and we can expect God’s supernatural way of dealing with our everyday lives. Some people believe that all of God’s actions are deemed unnatural as it speaks of His actual hand in life’s day-to-day, natural affairs. Others hold that miracles are not normative, and we cannot expect God to move spectacularly in any way, as there is a specific aim for these supposed manifestations indicating and pointing to something better or beyond.

I can sympathize with both sides and find myself in a context where people are in desperate need. They petition God daily and expect His interventions as it is all they have. In Africa, we are keenly aware that miracles are God’s supernatural intervention which defines any natural cause or sequence of events. So, when people say we should be aware that miracles are all about how you define them, we can agree we know when God did something “out of the norm.” We also recognize that there are pedlars of miracles that promise relief and cures for the desperate masses, and then Churches which try to show the animistic culture something about God’s transcendence above witchcraft and African magic practices. We also have a growing contingent of Churches in Africa that believe God’s interaction with humanity should be normative; miracles are not enough.

This would be too limiting because it is only apparent to a partial event or circumstances. African Spirituality wants to settle for proximity; we want to live and abide with God and see Him move close in our everyday experiences. Like the Israelites, we want presence, not just presents. We long for God’s hand in all affairs and His movement in all things. It sounds strange to us when someone suggests that God only dared to move in a very short period in the old testament. For us, the God of the Christian Scriptures wants to dwell amongst us, and we should expect Him and invite Him to affirm His presence with us. Dr. Craig Keener says that any form of hard cessationism’s hermeneutic seems to:

“undercuts Scripture’s authority in practice, because it keeps us from living in the spiritual reality of God’s activity as depicted in many different periods in the Bible.”

I remember the words of Dallas Willard in that those who doubt that God acts and speaks today as he did in the Bible are a sort of “Bible Deists.” Whereas the original Deists thought that God began the universe and then withdrew from active involvement, some Christians today act as though God withdrew as soon as the Bible was completed.[1]  My question to someone that holds this position is, “Why pray?” Not expecting God to move today is like casting yourself into fate and constructing hopelessness. It is very hard to pray in faith with a cessationist for an impossible situation. In the Scriptures, God almost seems offended by those that denounced that he would move or that He seemed powerless. Usually, when cessationists denounce the frequency of miracles, they try to make six points, the first we dealt with. We looked at the assumption that there are only three periods of miracles. The other questions would be:

  • Were miracles meant to be temporary? And.
  • Are spiritual gifts for today? And.
  • Can we expect miracles? And.
  • What is the purpose of miracles?
  • What about those that do not receive a miracle?

So, let’s quickly look at these:

Were miracles meant to be temporary?

Frank A. DeCenso[2] writes an incredible article about Church fathers throughout the centuries that claim the miraculous works of God among them.[3] God would heal and deliver people supernaturally, and they were witnesses of this. Martyn Lloyd-Jones preached in 1965.

It is perfectly clear that in New Testament times, the gospel was authenticated in this way by signs, wonders, and miracles of various characters and descriptions. . . . Was it only meant to be true of the early church?.. The Scriptures never anywhere say that these things were only temporary – never! There is no such statement anywhere.[4]

The Biblical evidence seems to be that all disciples are instructed to preach the Gospel and to do miraculous things as the Holy Spirit works amongst them (Matt. 28:19, 1 Cor.12:11). So, are spiritual gifts for today? I agree with Dr. Michael Brown; we better expect it as we believe ALL of the scripture.   

Are spiritual gifts for today?

John Piper writes.

in the New Testament [miracles] were not the prerogative of apostles only. The “seventy” performed them (Luke 10:9,17), deacons performed them (Acts 6:88:6), Galatian Christians performed them (Galatians 3:5), Corinthian Christians performed them (1 Corinthians 12:9-10). Since signs and wonders were not the prerogative of the apostles, there is no New Testament warrant for inferring that these miracles were to cease after the apostolic age.[5]

Dr. Jack Deere gives three Biblical reasons we can expect miracles today.[6] First, Luke the Physician describes the empowerment of the Church as a normative experience for all to advance the Gospel. Matthew especially shows Jesus as a miracle worker and a perfect model for disciples. We are not proficient in all the gifts, but we are surely all practicing some of these gifts in the journey of God’s miraculous workings. Third, Paul gives an account of ecclesiology that functions in the gifts as he lays it out in his writings. So, can we expect miracles?

 Can we expect miracles?

Dr. Wayne Grudem basically asks plainly, well, can you trust these words of Our Lord when he said.

And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name, they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover. (Mark 16:17-18).  

Grudem writes:

Here also, the power to work miracles is assumed to be the common possession of Christians. Those who wrote and passed on this early tradition, and who thought it represented the genuine teaching of Jesus, were certainly not aware of any idea that miracles were to be limited to the apostles… The New Testament primarily shows how the church should seek to act, not how it should not seek to act.[7]

When we reflect on Mark 16, we notice that the qualification is to believe, not a dispensation or a time in history, nor is it limited to the Apostles alone. (Sola Apostolica). What, then, is the purpose of these miracles?

 What is the purpose of miracles?

What would God want to accomplish whenever He performs the miraculous? Dr. Alan Richardson writes that the power of the gospel is seen in miracles:

The New Testament. . . sees in the miracles of the Lord a revelation of the power and of the saving purpose of God. . . . The miracle stories do not constitute a secondary stratum of the Gospel tradition which is somehow foreign to the ethos of the Gospel in its primary sense.[8]

Prof. Walter Grundmann stresses that the power of God, which is the power of salvation, in the New Testament’s view, is expressed in miraculous healing in Christ’s name as well as in proclaiming the gospel:

In the message of Christ, we thus have the power of God, which is the power of salvation. . . . The dunamis Theou [“power of God”], which is the Gospel, is not an empty word. . . . The risen Lord associates Himself with them [the apostles] and gives them His power, in which they work. . . . The apostles continue the activity of Jesus, both proclaiming the Christian message (Acts 4:33) and also working miracles (Acts 4:7, v/10). Luke gives us a similar picture of Stephen . . . in Acts 6:8. This dunamis [“power”] is expressed in proclamation on the one side (6:10) and miracles on the other (6:8).”[9]

Now this is not the only reason for miracles; in fact, Wayne Grudem and Gary Grieg give quite a few other reasons why the miraculous would still be evident among us.  I need to say it again, God still does miracles. You might ask, but what about those that do not receive miracles?

 What about those that do not receive a miracle?

We do not know why God refrains from intervening in certain affairs and not others. We are not God. But we know we should trust Him no matter what. Sometimes we experience tough times. Just as cessationists do not deny that miracles can happen, continuationists do not deny that some people do not receive any intervention in the here and now. Philip Yancey wrote an incredible book on the topic of pain and suffering which is worth a read. 

In Closing, I need to say that Jesus is the object of our affection, not miracles. We become obscure if we demand and become infatuated with signs and wonders or if we built our churches solely on the expectation of the miraculous. Even though, Biblically, we should profess God the Holy Spirit’s freedom to do as he pleases even if He does not intervene miraculously in our affairs or not. We say, as Job says, “Even if God slays me, I will still love Him.” (Job 13:15), but we also agree with the Psalmist.

“I will remember the deeds of the Lord;    yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds. Your ways, God, are holy.  What god is as great as our God? You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples.”




[1] In Search of guidance, Pg.110.111.


[3] John Wimber with Kevin Springer, Power Evangelism Pg. 157-74.

[4] The Sovereign Spirit, Pg. 31-32


[6] Surprised by the power of the Spirit. Pg. 219-227.

[7] Strangers to fire, Pg 227-228

[8] The Miracle-Stories of the Gospels, Pg. 17.

[9] “dunamai/dunamis,” TDNT2:309-11.