The Reality of Miracles

2 Kings

The Reality of Miracles

June 28th, 1964 @ 10:50 AM

2 Kings 7:2

Then a lord on whose hand the king leaned answered the man of God, and said, Behold, if the LORD would make windows in heaven, might this thing be? And he said, Behold, thou shalt see it with thine eyes, but shalt not eat thereof.
Related Topics: Authority, Miracles, Power, Signs, 1964, 2 Kings
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THE REALITY OF MIRACLES

Dr. W. A. Criswell

2 Kings 7:2

6-28-64    10:50 a.m.

 

 

On radio and on television you are sharing the 11:00 o’clock morning service of the First Baptist Church in Dallas.  This is the pastor bringing the message entitled The Reality of Miracles.  Not in anywise as a text or a passage to exegete, but just as a background, an illustration, I turn to a passage, a story in the Second Book of Kings, chapter 6 and chapter 7.  Chapter 6 describes in Samaria a horrible famine; so much so that "an ass’s head was sold for four score pieces of silver, and a fourth part of a cab of dove’s dung for five pieces of silver" [2 Kings 6: 25].  Then follows the story of two women who made a covenant that one would boil her baby, and after that child was eaten, the other one would boil her son [2 Kings 6:26-29].  It was a horrible famine.  Now, chapter 7:

 

Then Elisha –

the man of God, the prophet of the Lord –

then Elisha said, Hear ye the word of the Lord; Thus saith the Lord, Tomorrow about this time shall a measure of fine flour –

shall about five gallons of fine flour –

be sold for a shekel, for a few cents, and two measures of barley –

about ten gallons of barley –

for a few cents, here in the gate of Samaria. 

Then a lord –

the prime minister –

on whose hand the king leaned answered the man of God, and said, Look, behold, if the Lord would make windows in heaven, might such a thing be?

[2 Kings 7:1, 2]

 

Now that is just the background.  I am to speak of these marvelous miracles that are described here in the Bible.  Could such a thing be?

First, we shall define miracles.  Miracles are the works of God.  Anything that God does is a miracle.  All of the works of God are miraculous.  For example, to make something out of nothing, anything that God does is miraculous.  The works of God, all of them, are miracles.  Name any of them; they are all miraculous.  To define it more in our category, miracles are those phenomena that accompanied the revelation of God in the Bible; those marvelous accompaniments, accouterments, embellishments of the works of God, the revelation of God that we find in the Bible; works of a divine power for a divine purpose by means beyond the reach, the capability of a man.

Now, I want to say a word first about the works of God – miraculous – that we are not going to discuss, but I want to say a word about it.  Supernaturalism, the supernatural, is inherent in nature.  It’s in the existence of it.  It’s in the life of it.  It’s in the movement of it.  You cannot extricate it from it.  And not as an outside power interfering with its action, but as an inward principle by which it moves, and exists, and has being.  Anything in nature is miraculous.  Name it; it is miraculous.

We marvel that Jesus turned water into wine [John 2:11], but at this very minute on ten thousand hillsides; God is turning water into the juice of the grape, right now; just as miraculous.  All the works of God are miraculous, all of them.  We marvel, for example, that Jesus could take five loaves and feed five thousand people [John 6:1-14], and yet at this very minute on ten thousand fields God is turning carbon into the wheat of the grain; just as miraculous, just as inexplicable, and just as glorious.

Augustine said that to him, a birth – and this minute all over this world there are births, and births, and births in the animal kingdom, in the vegetable kingdom, in the human family – Augustine said to him a birth was far more miraculous than a resurrection.  "For," said Augustine, "to me it is far more miraculous that something that never was should come into existence, far more miraculous than that something that was should die and start to be again."  These miracles are everywhere, and whatever God does is miraculous, all of it, all of it.

But we are not going to speak of that.  Nor are we to speak of that shepherdly care by which God watches over His people today.  As the Spirit of the Lord brooded over the deep in the beginning of the creation [Genesis 1:2], bringing order, and symmetry, and beauty, and form out of chaos, so the Holy Spirit of God broods over His people today in shepherdly, loving care, and anything is possible with God [Matthew 19:26].  Any miracle that God ever did He can do again.  Anything that God every promised He can faithfully keep, but we are not to speak of these marvelous works of God in the human heart and in the human family today.

I am to speak of those phenomena that accompanied the self-disclosure of God in the Bible – miracles that have ceased, that are never repeated.  I am talking about things such as that the dead should be raised after the dead had been in the tomb for four days – as Lazarus [John 11:39-44].  I am talking about the miracle of the sun standing still at the voice and the prayer of a man [Joshua 10:12-14].  I am talking about a miracle such as Mt. Sinai that flamed and burned as God came down to speak to Moses face-to-face [Exodus 19:18-22].  Those miracles have ceased. They are an accompaniment; they are phenomena of the Bible in the self-disclosure of God.  They are no more.

Now, what of those miracles?  That’s what I am discussing this morning. 

When the Bible was completed, when the revelation was perfected and preserved and given to us, then the miracles ceased, those phenomena ceased, they were no longer needed.  They were the scaffolding, and when the building is complete, the scaffolding is torn down.  They are the swaddling clothes of an infant church and the infant people of God, and in the maturity of a man, he casts aside his baby clothes for other garments.  They are the pedagogy – they are the schoolmasters, the school teachers that lead us to Christ, to the revelation full and complete in the Bible.  They are the lights of heaven saying, "Look!"  They are the bells of heaven that say, "Hear!"  And God uses them for that holy purpose, that we might be drawn to and look at this revelation in Word of God. 

I am talking about such a thing as the burning bush in the back side of the wilderness when, as Moses shepherded his sheep, he saw a bush that burned and was not consumed.  That was the voice and sign of God: "Look, look, look at this!"  And Moses turned aside to see the marvel [Exodus 3:1-4].  Such a thing as what Nicodemus said to Jesus when he came to Him by night and said, "Master, we know that Thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these semeia, these miracles, that Thou doest, except God be with him" [John 3:2].  That’s what I am talking about – those signs, those powers, those wonders that accompanied the self-disclosure of God, the revelation of the truth of God in the Bible that are never repeated again.  You see them just in the Book.

Now there are three words in the Bible that describe those miracles of God – three of them, three words, and I have already spoken of them.  You see those three words in Acts 2:22:

 

Ye men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man approved of God among you by miracles, dunameis, miracles, and wonders,terata, wonders and signs, semeia, which God did by Him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves know.

 

Now those same three words are used in 2 Corinthians 12:12, "Truly the signs of an apostle were done among you, were wrought among you, in signs, and in wonders, and in mighty deeds."  Dunameis there is translated "mighty deeds."  In Acts, it was translated "miracles."  Now you find the three same words in Hebrews, second chapter and the fourth verse: "God also bearing them witness, both with signs, semeia, and wonders, terata, and divers miracles, dunameis" [Hebrews 2:4].  Those are the three words that are used to describe this phenomenon that accompanied the revelation of God.  Now let’s look at them just for a moment.

First, terata, wonders.  That refers to the amazement that it wrought in the minds and in the eyes of those that beheld Him.  Isaiah 9:6 said, "And His name shall be called Wonderful" – Wonderful because of the wonderful works that He should do.

The second word is semeia, signs [Hebrews 2:4].  That refers to the ethical, moral, godly purpose for which this wonder was done, the mighty work was wrought.  It pointed to something else.  In the Book of John, the Fourth Gospel, the Gospel of John, the word "miracle" is semeion, sign.  John never uses the word "miracle."  He uses the word "sign" altogether.  In the King James Version, the word semeion is translated "miracle" [John 4:54], but the word is "sign."  What Jesus did, He did for a purpose.  It was an ethical teaching; it had a moral end.  If He opened the eyes of the blind [Matthew 9:27-30], that meant He was presenting Himself as the light of the world.  If He opened the ears of the deaf [Mark 7:31-35], that meant that He was the Word of God.  If He cleansed the leper [Mark 1:40-42], that meant that He was also able to cleanse our sins.  If He made the lame to walk [Matthew 9:1-7] and the sick to be well [Matthew 8:14-17], that meant He was the soundness and the wholeness of our lives.  If He raised the dead [John 11:43-44], that meant He was the resurrection and the life.  They were signs.  If He fed the multitudes [John 6:5-13], He is the manna sent down from heaven.  Signs – they pointed to something.  They had an end; they had a purpose.  And these great miracles of God are signs. They have an end; they have a purpose. 

Do you remember when God called Moses to go down into Egypt?  He gave him three signs, three signs [Exodus 4:1-9].  When God told Samuel to anoint Saul by virtue that he was chosen, Samuel gave Saul three signs that were to be done in order, which came to pass [1 Samuel 10:1-9].  When the unnamed prophet from Judah cried against the altar at Bethel before that golden calf, the prophet said, "And I will give you a sign; this altar shall be rent in twain, and its ashes poured out on the ground" [1 Kings 13:3].  And the altar split in the middle, and its ashes poured out on the ground.  It was a sign [1 Kings 13:5].  When Ahaz refused to ask God for a sign [Isaiah 7:10-13] Isaiah said, "Then God will give you one," and He gave the sign of the virgin birth [Isaiah 7:14].  In the thirty-eighth chapter of the Book of Isaiah, when Isaiah under God’s prophetic power told Hezekiah he’d have fifteen years to live [Isaiah 38:5], Isaiah said, "And this shall be a sign . . . the shadow on the dial of Ahaz, the sundial, would go back ten degrees" [Isaiah 38:7-8]. Signs; in the twelfth chapter of the second Corinthian letter, and in the twelfth verse that I just read, Paul said that he had the signs of an apostle [2 Corinthians 12:11-12], and that he had wrought the signs of an apostle.  I am just saying to you that these great phenomena of God were not done for fun or for pleasure, as a magician would entertain an audience, but they had a great moral, godly, ethical purpose and end in view.

Now the other word, the word dunameis, "powers," translated "miracles" [Hebrews 2:4]; powers – this is a demonstration of the presence and the power of God.  The powers; for example, when Herod heard of the great works, the great dunameis, the great powers of Jesus, he said, "Why, this is none other than John the Baptist raised from the dead [Matthew 14:2], [John whom I beheaded]" [Matthew 14:10-11].

You see all three of those words in a story of the healing of the paralytic [Matthew 9:2-8].  It was a teras, plural terata, it was a wonder.  When Jesus healed the paralytic, they were all amazed.  And it was a mighty work, for the paralytic arose, and took up his bed, and walked.  It was a power – it was a miracle.  And it also was a sign, for Jesus said, "That ye may know that the Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then said He to the paralytic,) I say, rise, take up your bed, and walk" [Matthew 9:6].  Now we have discussed the meaning of that word miracle.  We now discuss why God did it.

The purpose of miracles, these phenomena that we read in the Bible, these marvelous, unduplicated works that we find in the Word of God; the purpose of the miracle was to authenticate the divine revelation, and whenever God inaugurated a new dispensation, or a new era, or a new and greater divine truth, He always and inevitably authenticated it with these marvelous, amazing, wonderful works.  Now you think you have the impression, just casually looking through the Bible, that God just wrought miracles just for the fun of it.  And all the days He is working miracles, all the time.  Ah, there is no such thing like that in the Word of God.  You have not looked at it closely.  Those miracles are grouped according to the introduction of great epochs in the self-disclosure of God.  And I can pick out five of them that are very plain.

One: there was miracle, the wonders of God, in creation.  One.

Two: there were miracles, the wonders of God, in the institution of the Mosaic legislation – those glorious, miraculous things in the life of Moses and as the children of Israel, through the wilderness, entered into the land of Canaan.  That was the second period.

The third great epoch of miracles was when God introduced the order, and the might, and the glory of the prophet, beginning with Elijah and Elisha.  No other religion in the world has the prophet; no other religion in the world has prophets simply because no man can know the future.  It is but God; and the prophet with his ableness to foretell and to foreview was a miracle from God.

The fourth great epoch was the introduction of the dispensation in which we now live, the era of grace, the ministry of Christ, and the launching in the world of His church.

And the fifth great epoch is the one that is yet to come.  It also shall be characterized with marvelous wonders above, wonders around, wonders below, and we read of that in the Apocalypse and in these apocalyptic chapters written by the apostle Paul. 

Now out of those five epochs – remember what I said, each one of those epochs is introduced with marvelous wonders from God; the miracles of the Lord authenticated them.  This is a work of God: in creation; in the legislation of Moses; in the prophetic ministries; in the life of Christ and the launching of the church under His apostles; and finally in the great consummation of the age.

Now I am going to take one and discuss just one of them.  We are going to take the life of Christ.  The authentication, the authentication of a new epoch, a new dispensation, a new truth by these glorious wonders from above; we shall take the life of our Lord.

Our Lord based the authentication of His ministry – that He was a true emissary of heaven, that He was the Son of God, that what He spake was true and was the truth of God and the revelation of God – and the Lord Jesus Christ based the authority and the authentication of His ministry upon the mighty miracles and the mighty works that He did.  For example, when John sent to Him and said – John in prison, John the Baptist – and said, "Are you the Christ, or are we looking for somebody else?"  The Lord said to John’s disciples, "You go back and tell John what your eyes have seen and what your ears have heard.  You go back and tell him.  For," said our Lord, "you tell John the blind see, their eyes are open; the deaf hear, their ears are unstopped; and the dumb speak; and the lame and the halt walk; and the lepers are cleansed; and the sick are healed, and the dead are raised" [Matthew 11:2 – 5].  These are the signs and the authentication that He was the Servant and the Son of God, the Christ, the Savior that was to come into the world. 

In the fourteenth chapter of the Gospel of John, eleventh verse, the Lord says to His disciples, "Believe that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father: or else believe Me for the works’ sake" [John 14:11], for the miracles’ sake.

The great authentication of Christ – that He is the Son of God, that He is what He said He was, that He is what He is proposed to be – lies in the miracles that He did.  And the great, surmounting, all-encompassing miracle that declares Christ to be the Son of God is the miracle of His resurrection [Matthew 28:1-10].

The miracle of the resurrection carries with it irresistibly all of the other miracles that Christ did.  The cradle of the church is in the empty tomb, and if there’s no empty tomb, then the church must needs lie down by the mortal remains of her dead and corrupted Lord and give up any hope, any vision for any eternity or any salvation that is yet to come, now or forever.

The miracle of the resurrection of Christ is the authentication and the reality of the whole truth of what Jesus spake and what Jesus was.  He Himself based His authority and His deity on the resurrection, the sign of the resurrection from the dead.  He started His ministry that way when He cleansed the temple in the Gospel of John.  As He began His public ministry, why, they crowded around Him on every side and said, "By what authority doest Thou of these things?  What signs showest Thou?  And He said, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." For, said John, "He spake of the temple of His body" [John 2:18 – 19, 21].

The great sign of the authority and mission of Christ was His resurrection from the dead.  In the Gospel of Luke and in the synoptic Gospels, the unbelievers crowded around Him on every side and said, "What signs showest Thou?"  And He said, "Just the sign of the prophet Jonah, as Jonah was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights" [Matthew 12:38 – 40], that’s the New Testament word.  The old Hebrew word and the Greek word too, says, "as Jonah was in the belly of the big fish prepared by the Lord."

He could have put in the inside of that fish a television set, an antenna on the topside, all kind of lounges and chairs, a bedroom, a living room, a den, all kinds of things.  The Book says it was prepared of the Lord!  Just telling you what the Book says.  "As Jonah was in the belly of that big fish three days and three nights; so shall the Son of Man be in the heart of earth three days and three nights [and the third day shall rise again from the dead]" [Matthew 12:40].  That is the great sign of the authentication of the ministry of Christ.  It rests upon a miracle.

In the fourth verse of the first chapter of the Book of Romans, Paul says that Christ was declared to be the Son of God by the resurrection from the dead [Romans 1:4].  No twelve men who ever lived could launch the church if Christ had remained in the tomb.  The church has resurrection written all over it.  The church has miracle written all over it.  And when a man denies miracles, he denies the very existence of spiritual reality and his own existence if he is a Christian.  We came out of the marvelous, incomparable miracle of the resurrection of the Lord Christ from the dead.

Now I want to illustrate to you how marvelous a miracle that is.  I had heard this story all my life.  I can’t remember when I didn’t hear it.  And I heard it ascribed to this great man and that great man, and this ruler and that kingdom, and on and on.  But this week in my study, I found the thing as it actually happened, and I copied it out of the book.  Now I want you to listen to it.

The theophilanthropist La Révelliére-Lépeaux – now brother, I really studied up to get that Frenchman’s name.  And just to show you that I am actually saying it, I will do it again: his name was La Révelliére-Lépeaux.  Wasn’t that exactly as I said before?  Can you imagine naming little babies that?  Well, Tom Jones, let’s say.  The theophilanthropist Lépeaux once confided to Talleyrand – now, Talleyrand was a bishop in the church, and he resigned his office as a bishop in the church in order to be a statesman and a politician representing the French government at court in the days of the French Revolution, and he was a politician beyond anybody that ever lived, the shrewdest that ever was, the smartest, this fellow Talleyrand.  Well, this theophilanthropist Lépeaux once confided to Talleyrand his disappointment at the ill success of his attempt to bring into vote a new religion, a benevolent rationalism which he had invented to meet the needs of the age.  Wouldn’t Lépeaux fit today, trying to invent a new religion to fit our age of rationalism?  Well, that is what he is doing back in the days of the infidel French Revolution.

Then Lépeaux confided to Talleyrand.  He said, "My propaganda makes no way.  What shall I do?" he asks Talleyrand.

Now, the ex-bishop Talleyrand politely consoled him and said he feared it was a difficult task to found a new religion, more difficult than he imagined, so difficult that he hardly knew what to advise.  "Still" – now, you can just see Talleyrand – "Still," Talleyrand went on – "Still," Talleyrand said after a moment’s reflection, "there is one plan which you might at least try.  I should recommend you to be crucified and to rise again the third day."  That would do it.  That would do it. 

The miracle of the resurrection of Christ: the miracle of the resurrection of Christ is the great authentication of the deity of the Son of God [Romans 1:4].  The authenticity and the authority of the words that He spake and the atonement that He made in the earth – this is the purpose of that marvelous phenomena that we read in the Word of God.  It is to authenticate divine truth.  It is semeia, it is signs that point toward the self-disclosure of God.

Now, in the little time that remains I want to speak on the rational possibility of such phenomena; miracles, miracles.  While we live in an age when universally, not only the atheist over there who preaches in his communist, tyrannical world, in his godlessness; not only over there, but the general attitude of the seminary, of the university, of the modern pulpit, of the whole religious world, that these are accretions, like an avalanche will gain, roll up as it goes down the mountainside, getting bigger and bigger – so these marvelous things you read in the Bible, they are myths and legends that grew and grew as they were told and retold.  Now that is the modern, skeptical idea about these great miracles in the Word of God, that they never happened.  They don’t happen; they haven’t seen them. 

I told a story this morning at the 8:15 service, and I don’t think anybody caught the point.  Did you?  Did you?  Did you?  I’ve got three prevaricators up here on the platform.  No, they did.  Well, I want to tell the story to you.  I didn’t intend to tell it because I thought, man, they don’t know what I’m talking about.

An Irishman was in the court, charged with murder.  And the prosecutor brought in a witness who said, "I saw him do it.  I saw him kill that man."  And the Irishman replied, "Your Honor, Your Honor, I can bring fifty men into this court who will swear they never saw me do it."

Do you get the point?  You see, that’s what the skeptic and the pseudoscientist, the infidel and the atheist say today.  "Well, I never saw that, therefore it never happened!"  Now that’s the reasoning that they use, and that’s what I’m going to talk about.  I’m going to talk about the reasoning of the pseudoscientist, and the skeptic, and the rationalist, and the infidel, and the atheist who denies that there was such a thing as these marvelous miracles in the Bible.  That’s what I’m going to talk about for a minute until we go up there.

Why their skepticism?  And why their rejection?  And why their unbelief?  First, because they worship, they make an idol of the natural processes of life – what they see around them.  They bow at the shrine of pantheism.  They worship nature and the laws of nature.  This is what we see – this is what we can verify.  I never saw that, therefore, I don’t believe it.  But I can see this, therefore, I believe this.  And they worship at the shrine of natural law.

First they suppose, "I suppose that God doesn’t exist, or if He does exist, that He has exhausted Himself.  He couldn’t do anything else except just follow the dull monotonous pattern of the sunrise, or the earth turning over and the sun appearing and disappearing in the evening; those dumb, anonymous things."  They shut all God and all reality up to those inexorable, impersonal laws, and there is never any deviation from it.

Well, you could just talk a whole lot about that.  My first observation is, listen, there is not a law, there is not a law you can name or that has ever been discovered that isn’t, without being destroyed or suspended, that isn’t contradicted or being interdicted a thousand times, all the time.  Ah, let me illustrate.  You go out there and look at that Southland Building.  Or, better still, you go up to the dining hall on the top of that Southland Building and you can stand way out.  Those little old things, you know, those bulbous outreaches on either side of that Southland Building, well, they extend feet and feet and feet – I don’t know how many feet – way out in the air, and you are five hundred feet above the ground.  Well, why don’t you fall?  Well, why don’t those little bulbous things fall up there?  They’re sticking way out and nothing to support them underneath, simply because the law of gravity is contravened and contradicted by the law of cohesion, and they stick together, those things that they glued on the side of the Southland Building up there.  There they are, way up there, way up there, defying the law of gravity.  Just go out there and look at them.  I am not stringing you along; just go out there and look.

I was in Houston one time, and they were loading scrap iron on a big ship, shipping it to Japan – they sent it back to us in the form of bullets – just before World War II.  Now all the iron I have ever seen in my life falls to the ground, just like that.  Just like metal, it just falls to the ground, all the iron I ever saw in my life.  So I just judge, you know, iron falls to the ground.  That is what I would think, iron falls to the ground.  That’s my observation, iron falls to the ground.  But those fellows there in that Houston bay had a big crane with an arm stuck out like that, and it went over there on the land side, on the port side, and a fellow punched a button up there in the booth, in the cab, and that iron jumped straight up, jumped straight up, and clung to the end of that crane.  And he pulled – which way am I going? – and he pulled that crane around and dropped it in the bed of the ship.  Well, it was an amazing thing to me!  And what had happened, of course, was he pushed an electric current, and that created a magnet out there on the end of that crane, and that iron jumped straight up, in defiance of – didn’t destroy it, didn’t suspend – in defiance of the law of gravity.  Isn’t that something?  Well, that is just an illustration of how mechanical forces break these laws and interdict these laws.

Now think of what the human will can do.  Why, there is not a day that you live that you don’t break a thousand laws of nature.  You!  You are able to do it.  The human mind and the human will is able to take these laws and just do anything with them.  Ah, I was walking along on the beach after a hurricane had passed, walking along on the beach.  And way up here on the beach, way up here on the beach, was a little pebble, was a little pebble that the tide of the sea, and the roar of the hurricane, and the force of the storm – all of them violent elements of nature – in a roar combined to take that pebble out there and pull it way up here high on the beach.  And you know, I am just walking along, just little me.  I am just walking along, and I saw that pebble, and I kicked it with my foot at least forty inches higher than all the tides, and all the hurricanes, and all the storm, and all the ferocity of nature was able to put it.  I did it with my little – with my big foot.  Yes, sir.  I just kicked it.  And there it went, beyond what all the powers of nature could do it.  And if I had taken a notion I could have picked it up and put it in my pocket and carried it a thousand miles on top of Pike’s Peak if I had wanted to do it.  And I defy you to find any hurricane or any tide or any sea that in all of life put together could put that pebble up there.  You see?  You just, when you bind yourself down to these laws of nature and you worship there, fellow, you’ve just lost all sense of the reality of life itself.

Now, let’s take it one higher.  I’m saying that the laws can be turned and interdicted and changed by mechanical forces, just blind mechanical forces.  I’m saying that they can be changed and interdicted by a man’s will, by a human will.

Now, I haven’t time to preach what God could do, what the divine will could do with the world that He made.  I hasten to this last, for this is the most important of all.  The reason – I’m saying, the reason for the rejection of the marvelous phenomena that we read in the Word of God, the miracles of God; the first reason was because men in their blindness worship an idol of natural law. All right, the second is, because they have in them, they have in them a resistance that avows, "I will not believe."  They avow it: "I am not going to believe.  I am not going to accept the gospel.  I am not going to open my heart to the presence and the power and the truth of God.  I will not believe."  That is the second reason and the ultimate reason.

Now, I want to show you that in the Bible in just the moment that remains.  When an angel spake to the Lord in the twelfth chapter of the Book of John, when an angel spake to the Lord, there were some who heard and said, "An angel spoke to Him" [John 12:29].  But there were others who stood there and heard the same voice and were standing by the same Lord who said, "It thundered!"  No angel, no voice from heaven; it thundered.  The heart of rejection and unbelief; "I will not, I will not."

All right, let’s take another instance of it.  When the Lord, when the Lord raised Lazarus from the dead, and he had been dead four days [John 11:39], and in a hot, tropical Oriental country, in four days the body decomposes and decays.  And after he had been dead four days, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, and when they saw Lazarus come out of the grave, there were those who believed and glorified God [John 11:45].  There were others who went away in their rejection and plotted His death, just to get rid of Him [John 11:46-53].  Think of it: "I will not believe." 

Or, take a third one.  When the Lord did those marvelous things in the presence of the Pharisees, they couldn’t, they could not say He doesn’t open the eyes of the blind, and He doesn’t heal the sick, and He doesn’t cleanse the leper.  They couldn’t say that, so this is what they said: "You know what, He does those miracles by Beelzebub the prince of hell; that is how He does it" [Matthew 12:22-24].  I’m just saying that if you are of a heart and of a turn to reject, there is no proof that God could give you that would make you believe.  You won’t believe.

Now, a final proof of that.  In the story that Jesus told of Dives, who fell into the torment of fire and of damnation, Dives said to Abraham, "Abraham, send Lazarus to my father’s house that he may speak to my five brethren, lest they come into this place of torment."  And what did Abraham say?  "If they do not accept the witness of the word of God, neither will they believe though one rose from the dead" [Luke 16:22 – 31].  If a man says in his heart, "I will not, I won’t accept, I won’t believe," neither would he believe if God wrought before his eyes the most marvelous miracle that mind could conceive of.  

I am just preaching to you this morning the great truth that the purpose of miracles is to authenticate to those who will accept it, to authenticate the divine self-disclosure of God.  And to those who will receive it, and to those whose hearts will accept it, all around you, all around you are the works of God, the miracles of God that I haven’t time to mention this morning, authentications of the hands of God, the firmaments declaring His glory, and in the Bible the great authentications of the self-disclosure of God, and in your own heart, and in your own life, and in the world we live today.  This is God’s world.  This life is a gift of God, and to that holy purpose of love, and avowal, and faith, and commitment, Lord, I dedicate myself.  O blessed Jesus, give to me and to us the heart of faith, and acceptance, and belief!

Now, while we sing our hymn of appeal, somebody to give his heart to Jesus this morning; a couple to put their lives in the fellowship of the church; a family with their children to come; however God shall say the word and lead in the way, make it now, make it now.  In the balcony round, on this lower floor, down here to the front, "Pastor, today I give my heart to God.  I accept Jesus as my Savior.  For all that He said He was, I do trust and believe Him, and here I come.  I give you my hand."  Or to put your life into the fellowship of this dear church where the gospel is preached, and the Bible is read, and the people pray, and we love Jesus, come, come, make it now.  Come, while we stand and while we sing.