Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Lying Miracles (Acts 19:23–41)

"The city clerk quieted the crowd and said: “Men of Ephesus, doesn’t all the world know that the city of Ephesus is the guardian of the temple of the great Artemis and of her image, which fell from heaven?” (Acts 19:35).

One day a meteorite fell from the sky and became the sacred stone of Artemis in the city of Ephesus. This event was regarded as a miracle and as proof of the truth of the idolatrous religion of Ephesus.

Miracles, whether real, fake, or delusive, always attest some doctrine or belief system. Shamans and witch doctors have used tricks for centuries to fool people into trusting them. At the time of the Protestant Reformation, the Roman Catholic Church argued against the Reformers, in part, that the Reformers did not have any miracles. The papal theology claimed many miracles that supposedly proved its theology. In the twentieth century, there have been several “appearances” of the Virgin Mary, but in each case the message supposedly given by the Virgin has been clearly out of line with biblical and historical orthodoxy.

Satan is the father of lies, and while fallen angels cannot do actual miracles, they can and do inspire false doctrine. They can arrange false miracles to confirm their false doctrines. They can lure impressionable people into thinking that they see the Virgin Mary, as has happened repeatedly. They use such pseudo-miracles to confirm their lies.

Regrettably we cannot shrink from the fact that the same sorts of thing happen throughout the Protestant expression of the visible church. All too often those who claim to work miracles are men and women who have little or no formal theological training. This can easily lead to elements of heresy in their theology and practice. Many of the same heresies found in the early church are rampant in these circles. It is sad to say, but those who emphasize the miraculous to the exclusion of other more primary biblical teaching are those with the most clearly errant theology.

When it comes to the spectacular “sign gifts” of healing and tongues, too often believers pursue these practices as an emotional response, allowing feelings and preference to win out over a desire for biblical truth. Much of what happens today in the name of faith and holiness simply can not be defended from the Scriptures. Such faith focuses on miracles and entertainment instead of truth and righteousness.

When God does an “extraordinary providence” and surprises us with a “miracle” in that sense, we should be in awe. Modern “miracle workers,” however, claim to do the same miracles as the apostles. If this were true, then their teachings should be added to the New Testament. Be discerning in who you follow.