It is well documented in the New Testament that Jesus and His apostles performed many “signs and wonders.” Similar mighty works are found in Old Testament times also. In addition to others, Moses convinced Pharaoh of Jehovah’s authority over him and defeated his army, and also parted the waters of the Red Sea. Jesus is recorded as performing over thirty miracles in His three years of preaching, and John records, “….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,” John 20:30-31.
When Jesus gave His disciples the Great Commission, He promised that some would possess certain gifts. Mark, writing about thirty years later, said that those signs did accompany them, and they “went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following,” Mark 16:15-20. Our intent here is to discover the purpose of the gifts, and their results.
It is not hard to see why miracles and signs were needed at that time. The controversy over Jesus’ deity and His crucifixion placed doubt in the minds of many. While many witnessed His resurrection, the disciples’ claims needed a means of confirmation before men could truly possess faith in Christ. Until the scriptures were complete, those signs and wonders served the purpose of “confirming” the truth of what they were preaching. Of course, when “that which is perfect” came [the complete revelation of God’s will] the miracles were no longer needed, 1 Corinthians 13:8-10. Just as the scaffolding and concrete forms are removed from newly constructed buildings, miraculous gifts eventually ceased. Now we are “throughly furnished unto every good work” through the scripture, 2 Timothy 3:16-17.
MAIN PURPOSE OF MIRACLES
As stated previously, their main purpose was to establish the truth of that which was preached by inspired men. Since men seek proof for that which they hear, it was and is natural and reasonable for truth to be established, tried and tested. The Bible had not been completed in those early years following the church’s establishment. Therefore, they could not, as we can, determine the credibility of claims and doctrine that were proposed. Just as Jesus proved His authority to forgive sins by His healing of the lame man, Mark 2:10-12, others did the same to establish the truth of what they preached, “confirming their word with signs following.”