Miracles and Apparitions—Why Not Needed
WHEN on earth, Jesus performed many miracles. He changed water into wine, provided food for crowds of people, healed the sick, and expelled demons. Jesus’ teaching and the fact that he fulfilled the Bible prophecies concerning the Messiah convinced many of his contemporaries. Others reasoned as follows: “When the Christ arrives, he will not perform more signs than this man [Jesus] has performed, will he?”—John 7:31.
The Purpose of Miracles
What was the purpose of the miracles that Jesus performed? The Bible explains that Jesus was to be ‘a prophet like Moses.’ (Deuteronomy 18:15, 18) Jehovah God gave Moses the power to perform certain miracles to prove that he was the leader chosen to liberate the Israelites from captivity in Egypt. (Exodus 4:1-9, 30, 31) Just ‘like Moses,’ Jesus performed miracles to identify himself as the Messiah, as the promised Liberator of the Jews.—Acts 3:22.
But Jesus’ miracles also proved that he had received special power from God. When God’s Kingdom rules the earth unopposed, Jesus will use to the full the power that he demonstrated on a small scale while on earth. To illustrate, let us take the miracle of the loaves and the fishes. (Luke 9:12-17) In God’s new world, Jesus will see to it that all mankind have enough to eat. (Psalm 72:16) He will also cure all sickness and disease, thus enabling obedient humans to live forever. (Revelation 21:4) By performing three recorded resurrections, he proved his ability to raise millions from the dead.—Luke 7:11-17; 8:40-56; John 5:28, 29; 11:11-44.
A Means of Identification
Another reason why Jehovah performed miracles on behalf of Israel was to prove beyond any doubt that they were his chosen people. (Deuteronomy 4:32-34) The beneficiaries were an entire people, not a few privileged individuals.
Similarly, first-century miracles were one of the proofs that Jehovah had transferred his favor from fleshly Israel to the early Christian congregation. (Matthew 21:43; 27:51; Romans 9:6; 11:7) The many miracles performed by the apostles were evidence of God’s approval of the congregation under the leadership of God’s Son, Jesus Christ.—Acts 2:22, 43; 4:29, 30; Hebrews 2:3, 4.
Furthermore, in those days, people would lay the sick ones in places where merely Peter’s shadow might fall on them, and the Bible states that those brought to him “would one and all be cured.” (Acts 5:15, 16) Why, then, are all those who today go with faith to shrines not cured?
Apparitions Not Needed
The primary reason is that signs and miracles are no longer needed to prove that God has transferred his favor from fleshly Israel to the true Christian congregation. In a letter to his Christian companions, the apostle Paul clearly explained that miraculous gifts would eventually be done away with. The time would come when they would no longer be a means of identifying true Christians.—1 Corinthians 13:8-13.
Even calling on Jesus’ name would not prove that a person was a true Christian. In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus foretold that he would reject certain ones who claimed: “Lord, Lord, did we not . . . work many miracles in your name?” For what reason would Jesus reject these miracle workers? He answers: “I have never known you; away from me, you evil men!” Evidently, some would work miracles in Christ’s name, but in fact they would be impostors.—Matthew 7:22, 23, The Jerusalem Bible.
The Real Criterion
In view of the foregoing, how is it possible to identify true Christians today? Jesus provided a criterion when he declared: “A good tree cannot bear worthless fruit . . . Really, then, by their fruits you will recognize those men.” The day before his death, Jesus reminded his apostles: “By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love among yourselves.” It follows that performing miracles would not be the criterion forever. But all would have to prove themselves Christ’s disciples by their true love.—Matthew 7:18-20; John 13:34, 35.
So should your faith be founded, even partially, on “miracles” performed today in Christ’s name? Or should it be founded entirely on the truth found in God’s Word, the Bible? It is essential to examine in the light of God’s Word the conduct of those claiming to be God’s servants.
Around the world today, who are making known God’s Word and who endeavor to live in harmony with it? Who are known worldwide for their unity? Who have no national, political, racial, or religious barriers among them? Who zealously preach the good news of God’s Kingdom? If as a sincere person you have more questions, Jehovah’s Witnesses will be happy to provide you with the facts you need in order to judge for yourself. Please feel free to contact the Witnesses in your neighborhood or at their local Kingdom Hall. They will help you place your trust in Jehovah and Jesus Christ, his Son, for “there is no salvation in anyone else.”—Acts 4:12.
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Miracles of healing are no longer needed to identify the true Christian congregation