A writer from Faith Talk Ministries writes online, “I was sitting on the balcony, of an Ocean Front Condo in Hawaii, when a thought popped into my mind. The thought was, ‘Is God still doing miracles like the ones he did in the Bible?’ My wife called me so that we could go and eat. As we were driving down Front Street, in downtown Lahaina, I saw the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company restaurant on the right-hand side. I asked my wife if she wanted to eat there. She said, ‘Yes’ and we went in. The waitress sat us on the side overlooking the ocean. The waitress then took our drink order and left. Actually, it was on my birthday May 7th. I turned around and saw a picture on the wall that said, ‘Miracles happen everyday; some people don’t think so, but they do.’ I was blown away! God had answered my thought from a picture on the wall. Brace yourself! That was a miracle in itself. Some of you maybe saying, ‘That was a coincidence!’” This author will go a step further; I do not believe it happened at all. The conclusion of this Faith Talk Ministries writer,
The answer to the question, “Do miracles still happen today,” is; Yes. Miracles happen every day, all day long. God still has a covenant with his children. God still blesses the marriage. God still wants to show unbelievers that he is real and that he loves them. The church is still praying and believing God for miracles. God still wants to show us his glory. God told me just the other day; “Behold, I will do a new thing… shall you not see it spring forth?” God still loves us. In fact, Paul said, “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39) I challenge everyone who is reading this blog to open your spiritual eyes and watch God do miracles that will blow your natural mind and take you on the journey of your life. I can tell you from experience… there is never a boring day with God. He is a Father that loves to give his children good gifts.
On the question of Does God do miracles today, compellingtruth.org offers us a balanced answer.
Many miracles took place during the times of both Moses and Elijah/Elisha in the Old Testament. The Gospels also record at least 35 miracles by Jesus, while the New Testament records many others that took place at the hands of His disciples. Yet often we do not experience similar miracles today. Does God still perform miracles? Why do the miracles of our times seem unlike the miracles of Bible times?
The answer lies in the purpose of God’s miracles. Miracles were performed to authenticate the work of the one performing them. For example, in Acts 2:22 Peter preached, “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know.” The same was true of the apostles, as 2 Corinthians 12:12 notes, “The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with utmost patience, with signs and wonders and mighty works.” Hebrews 2:4 confirms, “while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.”
These miracles, along with the resurrection of Jesus, the greatest miracle of all, have been recorded for our benefit. God does not need to perform miracles, in the same way, today. As Jesus taught on one occasion, “If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.” (Luke 16:31)
In addition, the miracles recorded in the Bible were recorded because they were extraordinary. While those miracles in Scripture are extremely important, they certainly would not have occurred every day. Much of the lives of those in the Bible would have been ordinary, though God was continually at work in the lives of His people and within the early church, just as He is today.
That said, this does not mean God is done performing miracles. By definition, a miracle is something that occurs that is beyond natural explanation. In some parts of the world, accounts are given of people who have had dreams about Jesus and wake up and pray to become a Christian, despite living in an area with no missionary activity and never hearing the teachings of the Bible. In other situations, God has worked through changes of weather or the perfect timing of circumstances in the lives of a person to bring forth an outcome that is part of His perfect will.
God does still perform miracles. However, He does not need to duplicate the actions He has already performed that are available for us to read in the Bible. Instead, we are called to study His Word (2 Timothy 3:16-17) and apply its wisdom and teachings in our lives today.
Perhaps the best advice regarding the miracles of the Bible was given near the end of John’s Gospel. After years of following Jesus, he wrote, “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:30-31). The goal of miracles is ultimately for us to believe in Jesus and to live for Him each day.
It should be stated that this author does not deny that God has performed miracles since the days of the New Testament, up unto this very day, and will do so until the return of Christ. However, they are not the same and in the same way, for the same prose, nor to the same extent as specified times within Scriptures. Many of the above-quoted points will be expounded on throughout this chapter and others.
An Apparition in an expanded sense is an appearance of a supposed ghost or something ghostly, but here it is used in the sense of an appearance of Mary. “A Marian apparition is a supernatural appearance by the Blessed Virgin Mary. The figure is often named after the town where it is reported, or on the sobriquet given to Mary on the occasion of the apparition. They have been interpreted in religious terms as theophanies.” What are the criteria for evaluating these apparitions of Mary?
The steps of the investigation are mandated as follows: An initial evaluation of the facts of the alleged event, based on both positive and negative criteria:
- moral certainty (the certainty required to act morally in a situation of doubt) or at least great probability as to the existence of a private revelation at the end of a serious investigation into the case
- evaluation of the personal qualities of the person in question (mental balance, honesty, moral life, sincerity, obedience to Church authority, willingness to practice faith in the normal way, etc.)
- evaluation of the content of the revelations themselves (that they do not disagree with faith and morals of the Church, freedom from theological errors)
- the revelation results in healthy devotion and spiritual fruits in people’s lives (greater prayer, greater conversion of heart, works of charity that result, etc.)
- glaring errors in regard to the facts
- doctrinal errors attributed to God, the Blessed Virgin Mary, or to the Holy Spirit in how they appear
- any pursuit of financial gain in relation to the alleged event
- gravely immoral acts committed by the person or those associated with the person at the time of the event
- psychological disorders or tendencies on the part of the person or persons associated
After this initial investigation, if the occurrence meets the criteria, positive and negative, an initial cautionary permission can be granted that states: “for the moment, there is nothing opposed to it”. This permits public participation in the devotion concerning the alleged apparition.
Our Lady of the Pillar: In the year AD 39, according to tradition, the Virgin Mary appeared to Saint James the Great, in Zaragoza, Spain. The vision is now called Our Lady of the Pillar and is the only reported Marian apparition before her Assumption. The Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar was built in Zaragoza, Spain and a key piece of Roman Catholic Marian art, the statue of Our Lady of the Pillar, refers to this apparition.
Our Lady of Lourdes: In 1858 Saint Bernadette Soubirous was a 14-year-old shepherd girl who lived near the town of Lourdes in France. Bernadette Soubirous was out gathering firewood in the countryside. She reported a vision of a miraculous Lady who identified Herself as “the Immaculate Conception” in subsequent visions.
Our Lady of Banneux: A young child, Mariette Beco a native of Banneux, Belgium in the 1930s, reported the apparitions of Our Lady of Banneux. They are also known as the Virgin of the Poor. The Roman Catholic Church approved the apparitions in 1949. Beco reported eight visions of the Blessed Virgin Mary between January 15 and March 2, 1933. She reported seeing a Lady in White who declared herself the Virgin of the Poor and told her: “Believe in me and I will believe in you”. In one vision, the Lady reportedly asked Mariette to drink from a small spring and later said that the spring was for healing. Over time, the site drew pilgrims. Today, the small spring yields about 2,000 gallons of water a day with many reports of miraculous healings.
One can see the problem of investigating your own claims. Those who made claims of seeing Mary were in harmony with the model established by the church. Are we surprised to find that these apparitions approved by the Catholic Church confirm the churches traditions and doctrines exclusively? Thus, we ask ourselves, are the supposed miracles and apparitions actually signs from heaven that proves the truth, accuracy, and reliability of the Catholic Church’s teachings? It is self-defeating in that it takes its own authority as to whether apparitions and related miracles come from God or not; i.e., it is its own judge. All good Roman Catholics believe that the popes throughout history were infallible and cannot err or make a mistake when issuing decrees on faith and morals. Well, let us judge the supreme judges of the Roman Catholic Church. If the men that follow are without error and can forgive sins, it does not agree or is not consistent with Scripture.
Stephen VI was Pope from 896 to 897. Fueled by his anger with Pope Formosus, his predecessor, he exhumed Formosus’s rotting corpse and put “him” on trial, in the so-called “Cadaver Synod” in January 897.
With the corpse propped up on a throne, a deacon was appointed to answer for the deceased pontiff, who was condemned for performing the functions of a bishop when he had been deposed and for receiving the pontificate while he was the bishop of Porto, among other revived charges that had been leveled against Formosus in the strife during the pontificate of John VIII.
The corpse was found guilty, stripped of its sacred vestments, deprived of three fingers of its right hand (the blessing fingers), clad in the garb of a layman, and quickly buried; it was then re-exhumed and thrown in the Tiber. All ordinations performed by Formosus were annulled.
The trial excited a tumult. Though the instigators of the deed may actually have been Formosus’ enemies of the House of Spoleto (notably Guy IV of Spoleto), who had recovered their authority in Rome at the beginning of 897 by renouncing their broader claims in central Italy, the scandal ended in Stephen’s imprisonment and his death by strangling that summer.
Benedict IX was Pope from 1032 to 1044, again in 1045, and finally, from 1047 to 1048, the only man to have served as Pope for three discontinuous periods, and one of the most controversial Popes of all time. Benedict gave up his papacy for the first time in exchange for a large sum of money in 1044. He returned in 1045 to depose his replacement and reigned for one month, after which he left again, possibly to marry, and sold the papacy for a second time, to his Godfather (possibly for over 650 kg /1450 lb of gold). Two years later, Benedict retook Rome and reigned for an additional one year, until 1048. Poppo of Brixen (later to become Pope Damascus II) eventually forced him out of Rome. Benedict’s place and date of death are unknown, but some speculate that he made further attempts to regain the Papal Throne. St. Peter Damian described him as “feasting on immorality” and “a demon from hell in the disguise of a priest” in the Liber Gomorrhianus, a treatise on papal corruption and sex that accused Benedict IX of routine homosexuality and bestiality.
Sergius III was Pope from 897 to 911, and has been the only pope known to have ordered the murder of another pope and the only known to have fathered an illegitimate son who later became pope; his pontificate has been described as “dismal and disgraceful.” The pontificate of Sergius III was remarkable for the rise of what papal historians call a “pornocracy,” or rule of the harlots, a reversal of the natural order as they saw it, according to Liber pontificalis and a later chronicler who was also biased against Sergius III. This “pornocracy” was an age with women in power: Theodora, whom Liutprand characterized as a “shameless whore… [who] exercised power on the Roman citizenry like a man” and her daughter Marozia, the mother of Pope John XI (931–935) and reputed to be the mistress of Sergius III.
John XII was Pope from 955 to 964. On 963, Holy Roman Emperor Otto I summoned a council, levelling charges that John had ordained a deacon in a stable, consecrated a 10-year-old boy as bishop of Todi, converted the Lateran Palace into a brothel, raped female pilgrims in St. Peter’s, stolen church offerings, drank toasts to the devil, and invoked the aid of Jove, Venus, and other pagan gods when playing dice. He was deposed, but returned as pope when Otto left Rome, maiming and mutilating all who had opposed him. On 964, he was apparently beaten by the husband of a woman with which he was having an affair, dying three days later without receiving confession or the sacraments.
Leo X was Pope from 1513 to his death in 1521. He is known primarily for the sale of indulgences to reconstruct St. Peter’s Basilica and his challenging of Martin Luther’s 95 theses.
According to Alexandre Dumas, “under his pontificate, Christianity assumed a pagan character, which, passing from art into manners, gives to this epoch a strange complexion. Crimes for the moment disappeared, to give place to vices; but to charming vices, vices in good taste, such as those indulged in by Alcibiades and sung by Catullus.” When he became Pope, Leo X is reported to have said to his brother Giuliano: “Since God has given us the papacy, let us enjoy it.”
His extravagance offended not only people like Martin Luther, but also some cardinals, who, led by Alfonso Petrucci of Siena, plotted an assassination attempt. Eventually, Pope Leo found out who these people were, and had them followed. The conspirators died of “food poisoning.” Some people argue that Leo X and his followers simply concocted the assassination charges in a moneymaking scheme to collect fines from the various wealthy cardinals Leo X detested.
Alexander VI was Pope from 1492 to 1503. He is the most controversial of the secular popes of the Renaissance, and his surname (Italianized as Borgia) became a byword for the debased standards of the papacy of that era. Originally Cardinal Borgia from Spain, Pope Alexander’s claims to fame were taking over much of Italy by force with the help of his son Cesare (yes, his son), a racy relationship with his daughter Lucrezia (some say her son was his), and his affinity for throwing large parties, bordering on orgies, that usually culminated with little naked boys jumping out of large cakes.
Innocent IV was Pope from 1243 to 1254. Certainly, the Inquisition represents the darkest of Roman Church history, and it was Innocent IV who approved the use of torture to extract confessions of heresy. He aggressively applied the principle that “the end justifies the means.” It is shocking to learn about the deranged instruments of torture that were used on so many innocent people. One of the most famous people to suffer at the hands of Roman inquisitors was Galileo. The church condemned Galileo for claiming that the earth revolved around the sun.
Urban VI was Pope from 1378 to 1389. He was the first Pope of the Western Schism (which ultimately lead to three people claiming the Papal throne at the same time). Once elected, he was prone to outbursts of rage. The cardinals who elected him decided that they had made the wrong decision and they elected a new Pope in his place, so he took the name of Clement VII and started a second Papal court in Avignon, France. Later he would launch a program of violence against those he thought to have been conspiring against him, imprisoning people at will and mistreating them brutally. Later historians have considered seriously that he might have been insane.
The second election threw the Church into turmoil. There had been antipopes, rival claimants to the papacy, before, but most of them had been appointed by various rival factions; in this case, the legitimate leaders of the Church themselves had created both popes. The conflict quickly escalated from a church problem to a diplomatic crisis that divided Europe. Secular leaders had to choose which pope they would recognize. The schism was repaired forty years later when all three of the (then) reigning Popes abdicated together and a successor elected in the person of Pope Martin V.
John XV was Pope from 985 to 996. The Pope’s venality and nepotism had made him very unpopular with the citizens, as he split the church’s finances among his relatives and was described as “covetous of filthy lucre and corrupt in all his acts.”
Clement VII was Pope from 1523 to 1534. A member of the powerful Medici family, Clement VII possessed great political and diplomatic skills – but he lacked the understanding of the age necessary to cope with the political and religious changes he faced. His relationship with Emperor Charles V was so bad that, in May 1527, Charles invaded Italy and sacked Rome.
Imprisoned, Clement was forced into a humiliating compromise, which forced him to give up a great deal of secular and religious power. Eventually, Clement became ill and never recovered. He died on September 25, 1534, hated by the people of Rome, who never forgave him for the destruction of 1527.
These wicked men are supposed to be the supreme leader of God’s kingdom here on earth, having the authority to forgive sins, are supposedly infallible, unable to err or make mistakes when issuing decrees on faith and morals. When we examine the facts, it becomes all too clear that the claim of infallibility for the Pope is a complete falsehood intended to deceive trusting people. The Bible has the following to say of religious leaders, who deceive, “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.” (2 Cor. 11:13) Jesus warned what would happen if anyone were to blindly follow such men as this, “If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”–Matthew 15:14.
Marie Bernarde “Bernadette” Soubirous (Occitan: Bernadeta Sobirós; 1844 –1879) was the firstborn daughter of a miller from Lourdes, France, and is venerated as a Christian mystic and Saint in the Catholic Church.
Soubirous is best known for the Marian apparitions of a “small young lady” who asked for a chapel to be built at the nearby garbage dump of the cave-grotto at Massabielle where apparitions are said to have occurred between 11 February and 16 July 1858. She would later receive recognition when the lady who appeared to her identified herself as the Immaculate Conception.
Despite initial skepticism from the Catholic Church, Soubirous’s claims were eventually declared “worthy of belief” after a canonical investigation, and the Marian apparition is now known as Our Lady of Lourdes. Since her death, Soubirous’s body has apparently remained internally incorrupt, but it is not without blemish; during her third exhumation in 1925, the firm of Pierre Imans made light wax coverings for her face and her hands due to the discoloration that her skin had undergone. These masks were placed on her face and hands before she was moved to her crystal reliquary in June 1925.
The Immaculate Conception, according to the teaching of the Catholic Church, was the conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary in her mother’s womb free from original sin by virtue of the foreseen merits of her son Jesus Christ.
The Immaculate Conception is commonly confused with the doctrine of the Incarnation and the virgin birth of Jesus, though the two deal with separate subjects. The Catholic Church teaches that Mary was conceived by normal biological means, but her soul was acted upon by God (kept “immaculate”) at the time of her conception.
What are we to make of the “Immaculate Conception” of which Bernadette spoke? This is a blatant contradiction of what the Bible teaches. The Bible is quite clear that all of Adam’s descendants, except Jesus Christ himself, was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin was conceived, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.’ (Ps. 51:5; Rom. 3:23) If Mary was conceived free from original sin, why did she present a sin offering after Jesus was born. (Lev. 12:6; Lu 2:22-24) Moreover, there is not one Scripture, which states that Mary in her mother’s womb was free from original sin, to support Catholic doctrine.
The New Catholic Encyclopedia (1967, Vol. VII, pp. 378-381) acknowledges regarding the origin of the belief: “ . . . the Immaculate Conception is not taught explicitly in Scripture . . . The earliest Church Fathers regarded Mary as holy but not as absolutely sinless. . . . It is impossible to give a precise date when the belief was held as a matter of faith, but by the 8th or 9th century it seems to have been generally admitted. . . . [In 1854 Pope Pius IX defined the dogma] ‘which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary was preserved from all stain of original sin in the first instant of her Conception.’” This belief was confirmed by Vatican II (1962-1965).—The Documents of Vatican II (New York, 1966), edited by W. M. Abbott, S.J., p. 88.
The Bible itself says, “Well then, sin entered the world through one man [Adam], and through sin death, and thus death has spread through the whole human race because everyone has sinned.” (Rom. 5:12, Jerusalem Bible) Clearly, the worship of Mary is not biblical; therefore, the apparitions are not from God.
If the apparitions took place, they could be from another source. Jesus said, “For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.” (Matt. 24:24) Jesus performed many miracles in his three and a half years of ministry. He changed water into wine, provided food for crowds numbering into the thousands, healed the sick, raised the dead, and expelled demons. Why did he perform so many miracles? How can we better understand today’s miracles?
Within Jesus’ life, more than forty Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled, coupled with his teachings, resulted in many believing that he was the long awaited Messiah. For others, I was the miracles, as they reasoned, “When the Christ appears, will he do more signs than this man has done?”–John 7:31.
What was the purpose behind Jesus’ miracles? Deuteronomy 18:15, 18 say that the Messiah would ‘be a prophet like Moses.’ God goes on to say, “I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.” In order for Moses to be accepted as God’s spokesperson, he initially performed many miracles. (Ex. 4:1-9, 30-31) Just as Moses performed many miracles to establish his purpose, Jesus actually performed far more, even raising people from the dead and casting out demons.–Acts 3:22.
We know that Jesus was more than Moses and his authority and power demonstrate such. What Jesus did on a small scale during his three and a half year ministry, will be exceeded in the extreme upon his return. If Jesus was able to feed thousands miraculously with a few loaves and fishes, he will certainly restore this earth to how God had intended it in the beginning of creating it for perfect humanity. (Lu 9:12-17) Therefore, none will ever hunger again. (Ps. 72:16) Moreover, he will not only heal and cure humans but will also restore them to perfection, so that they will be able to live forever. (Rev. 21:4) Lastly, like with his friend Lazarus and others, Jesus will resurrect millions from the dead. (Lu 7:11-17; 8:40-56; John 5:28, 29; 11:11-44)
The one reason that Jesus was rejected by Jews like Saul (i.e., Paul), was because he did not carry out on a grand scale, the things listed in the Old Testament. For example, it was prophesied of Jesus’ coming kingdom, “In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever.” (Dan 2:44) What those Jews though was going to take place on a larger scale on Jesus’ first coming, will be far grandeur at his second coming, for the first time was simply a preview of the things to come.
The miracles of the Hebrew Scriptures, especially those performed by Moses, served as evidence that the Jews, descendants of faithful Abraham, were God’s chose people. (Ex. 19:16-19) A major change was in the offing. The Jews had followed the lead of their religious leaders in the last act of rebellion, resulting in their rejection as his people. The Mosaic Law was being replaced with the law of Christ. This does not mean that no Jew could be received into the newly founded Christian congregation. To the contrary, the next three and half years would be only the Jewish people, who would make up this new way to God. As was the case with Moses, there was to be a sign, miraculous events, this served as evidence to those, whose heart was receptive to the truth that the Son of God had come, had given his life for them, and ascended back to heaven.
This served as evidence that there was a new way to God, i.e., Christ and Christianity. (Matt. 21:43; 27:51; Rom. 9:6; 11:7) The many miracles by the apostles that followed Jesus’ miracles served as evidence that the Christian congregation was the Truth and the Way, not fleshly Israel. (Acts 2:22, 43; 4:29-30; Heb. 2:3-4) Moreover, think of the account where people bring their sick ones in places where Peter’s shadow might fall on them as he walked by. On this the Bible states, “They were all healed.” (Acts 5:15-16) This begs the question, why are not all the faithful ones healed when they go to these religious shrines.
What was the purpose again? The miracles and signs served to establish Jesus as the Son of God, to evidence on a small scale what he will do upon his return on a grandeur scale, and to establish that Christianity was now the Truth and the Way to God, not fleshly Israel. The miraculous gifs served their purpose, so they would “cease.” (1 Cor. 13:8-13) There will be more on this later. Miracles do not evidence true Christianity, it is doing the will of the Father that evidence, whether one is a true Christian or a denomination, is true Christianity. Jesus foretold,
Matthew 7:21-23 English Standard Version (ESV)
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
Jesus told us how we can identify his true disciples, when he said, ‘by their fruit you will recognize them.’ Jesus gives us the gist of his point, “A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit.” (Matt. 7:16-20) One identifying fruit is the teachings upon which the denomination is based. Are the teachings based on God’s Word or the traditions of men? (2 Tim. 3:16; Mark 7:7) Another identifying fruit would be whether they are evidencing truth faith in Christ. (John 3:36; Ps. 2:6-8; Jam. 2:26) Is it ritualistic or a formality, or is it a way of life. (Isa. 1:15-17; 1 Cor. 5:9-13; Eph. 5:3-5; Gal. 5:22-23) Jesus mentioned yet another fruit when he said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35) Is it and its members a part of the world? (John 15:19; Jam 1:27; 4:4; 1 John 2:15-17) Are the true Christians carrying out the witnessing and evangelism work that Jesus assigned? (Matt 24:14; 28:19-20; Ac 1:8) Thus, it follows that miracles are no longer need as evidence that Christianity is the Truth and the Way, but rather other markers are needed to identify which of the more than 41,000 denominations are the Truth and the Way.
Thus, miracles were not to serve as an identifying marker forever. Therefore, our faith should not be based on a plethora of miracles taking place today. Rather, it should be grounded on the truths found in the Word of God. The focus needs to be on the sharing of God’s Word in our communities and living in harmony with that Word. Our complete trust must be placed in the Father, the Son and the provision of the Holy Spirit. Peter tells us, “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”–Acts 4:12
 Michael Freze, 1993, Voices, Visions, and Apparitions, OSV Publishing