THE SEVEN MIGHTIEST MIRACLES
Dr. W. A. Criswell
5-04-88 7:30 p.m.
Tonight is one of the most interesting studies, to me, that I could ever prepare. It is entitled The Seven Mightiest Miracles of All Time. And if you have your Bible, we will begin.
The first mighty miracle of the hand of God is in Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” This is the beginning of all existence. Anything that is, began in the creative work of our omnipotent God. Now, what you do not realize is that until practically now all of the atheists and the evolutionists and the secular scientists believed that matter was eternal—that it had been here forever, would be here forever, and that it had no creative existence. All of the scientists, except those that were the humble believers in the creation of God, all of the scientists and all of the evolutionists were persuaded of that. There was not any time when there was not this world around us and above us. Yet God had said differently. In 2 Peter 3:4, the apostle referred to scoffers who said that all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation; nothing eternal, nothing but that had an eternal existence.
Today, this day in which we live, the secular scientist has been thrown into turmoil. It has been effectively demonstrated that there was a time and a place when the universe began. One of the great professors of our modern generation, his name, Steven Weinberg, he is the professor of physics in Harvard University. He has written a just-published book entitled The First Three Minutes: A Modern View of the Origin of the Universe. He was recently awarded the Nobel Prize in physics. He avows three things in that book. Number one: the universe had a beginning, a point of origin both in time and in space. A second avowal in that book: the universe is governed by a cosmological principle. He means by that, that there are definite and observable laws throughout the universe which are uniform and universal. The same laws that obtain here, obtain on the moon, obtain on Mars, obtain on Jupiter, obtain in this galaxy, obtain in all of the galaxies of the whole universe. It is one: quote, “The universe is isotropic and homogenous. By saying it is isotropic; we mean that it appears the same in all directions. By saying that it is homogenous, we mean that it appears the same to all observers.” No matter where you are or who you are, it is the same universe governed by the same laws, made of the same stuff. The cosmological principle is the foundation for all scientific research. When we sent a man to the moon, we did so believing that on the moon, the same laws prevail that we find here on earth. When Armstrong spoke into his microphone on the moon, we could hear his words as we could see his lips move. The laws throughout the universe are uniform and universal. All of God’s creation is alike. All right, the third avowal in the book: the universe is a unity. It is more than a huge conglomeration of atoms and molecules wildly gyrating and randomly colliding with each other; it has cohesion, and that means it has meaning.
Now concerning the latest discoveries as they affect the secular atheistic scientist; Dr. Robert Jastrow, a professed atheist, whose textbook on astronomy is so widely used, wrote in the New York Times, and I quote him: “For the scientist who has lived by his faith and the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance. He is about to conquer its highest peak, but as he pulls himself over the highest rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries,” the man that believed that God did it. And the scientist is just now coming to affirm what the preacher has been preaching for all the generations. Now, God made this world for the man to have dominion over it [Genesis 1:28]. Isn’t that right; Rufus? God said so in the passage that you just read. All of this creation is for the sake of the man—all of it. And when we possess it for our Lord, we are honoring the great holy purpose for which God created this universe and created us to be in it. Now that is the first mighty miracle [Hebrews 11:3].
The second mighty miracle is the creation of life. In Genesis 1:11, 20, 21, 24, 25, 26, 27, we have the recounting of the creation of life. Now here again, we bump into the atheist and the secular scientist. There are so many innumerable factors that have to obtain if life is to exist that it is unthinkable and impossible that life could have come into existence of itself. The evolutionist says it created itself, it started out, he would say, with an amoeba or a paramecium and then grew into a blob; then grew into some kind of a scum; then grew into some kind of a fish; then grew into some kind of an animal; finally, through the chimpanzee and the marsupial and the ape, finally evolved into us. Now for that to have happened there would have been a multitude of factors that would have come together in a miraculous succession for such a thing to come to pass. Now I want to show you something about things just happening to be. I have in my pocket a penny. I have in my pocket a penny. I’ve got more money than that, I can tell you, but I have got here a penny. Now I want you to look at this. We are talking about how a thing is impossible when the factors that make it be are just advantageous, they just happen so. Like the evolutionist and the atheistic scientist says, “Life just happened. It just created itself.” There are so many factors, I say, that enter into that for life to exist.
Now I want you to look at the factors—how impossible it is even to think about it. I take that penny there. See that penny? And I put that penny in my pocket, having marked it. I mark it. “This is “1”; I put a “1″ on that penny. And I get me another penny, and I put “2″ on it. And I take a third penny and I put a “3″ on it. And I take a fourth penny and I put a “4″ on it. And a “5,” and a “6,” and a “7,” and an “8,” and a “9”—ten pennies I have in this pocket here. So I just put them in my pocket. I just put the pennies in my pocket. And I reach down in my pocket and take them out. All right, we begin. When I put my hand in my pocket the first time, there is a possibility of 1 in 10 that I get out number 1. All right, let’s go. In the second drawing, when I put my hand in my pocket, that I could have two in succession, 1 and 2, is a possibility of one in one hundred that I could put my hand in my pocket and bring out penny 1 and 2 in succession. All right, the third time, there is a possibility of one in one thousand that I could pull out those pennies and they be 1, 2, 3—one in one thousand. That continues until the chance of pulling out of my pocket those ten pennies in succession is one in ten billion! Now I am talking about just ten, ten, ten. I’m not talking about a thousand factors or ten thousand factors that would have to cohere in order to create life. I am talking about ten pennies. That I could put my hand in my pocket and draw out ten pennies in succession 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 is a possibility of one in ten billion!
Do you know the difference in a million and a billion? Let me tell you. If you had a billion dollars—let’s start with a million. If you had a million dollars in thousand dollar bills, it would be six inches high. A stack of bills, one thousand dollar bills, that would make a million dollars would be six inches high. If you had a billion dollars in one thousand dollar bills, it would be a stack 127 feet higher than the Washington monument. Now that is the difference in a million and a billion. To us, it is just a “m” and a “b.” So when I tell you that if you could pull out ten pennies in succession 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, the possibility of your doing that is 1 in 10 billion! And when you say that these things just gradually came together, thousands and thousands of factors, you get into such astronomical numbers that the mind cannot conceive of it.
Let me point out just two of them: the earth moves, rotates, about 1,000 miles an hour. Twenty-four hours and you go all the way around the world. If you were to change that just a little bit, and say you slowed it down, the day would be so hot nothing could live in it. And the night would be so cold everything would freeze in it. The rotation of the earth has to be just right for life to exist. All right, let’s take just one other factor: if the moon were just a little closer, the tides of the sea would be so big they would cover the continents. The United States from one side of the Pacific to the Atlantic would be covered by the rushing tides of water. That is just two of them. There are thousands of factors that enter into the creation of life! It couldn’t come to pass. Somebody had to do it. And that Somebody is named God.
All right, the third mightiest miracle is the creation of the Bible. Of the seven mightiest miracles of God, the third one is the creation of the Bible. Second Peter 1:20-21: “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” Now when you read that, you don’t have any idea of what the apostle is really saying and what he means. The reason is because of the translation of these words: private, idias, private. That means the man’s own personal doing. It didn’t come out of his personal choosing, out of his personal thinking, out of his personal life; idias, now that is the first word. All right, the next one: “interpretation,” here—epilusis. That means “disclosure.” The actual Greek word means unloosing, releasing; there is no private disclosure. All right, ginetai, translated here “is,” came into being. There is no Scripture that came into being by a man’s own personal thinking, volition, disclosure. He didn’t invent it himself. It does not come out of himself. But, the prophecy came in old time when holy men of God—pherō—were borne along by the Holy Spirit. Now this is, I say, the third mightiest miracle of all time. Men did not set out to write a Bible. Moses didn’t know Samuel. Samuel didn’t know Jeremiah. Jeremiah didn’t know Matthew. Yet, over a period of 1600 years, this Book came into being. There are events foretold in this Book that happened thousands and thousands of years after the prophecy was made.
There are three words used in the Bible that characterize the Holy Scripture. One is apokalupsis, which means “revelation.” God opened the vision, and we could see. The other was theopneustos, “inspired”; it is transmitted by the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. And the other is terasis, which means “the preservation of the Word of God.” All of you have heard me speak of John Wycliffe, who translated the Bible into English. John Wycliffe died before the persecuting hunters could get a hold of him to burn him at the stake. So what they did was they dug up his body. John Wycliffe, we have got a Wycliffe Translating Center right out here on the edge of our town—the Wycliffe missionaries. What they did was they dug up his body after he had died. They couldn’t get him in time to burn him up, so they dug up his body, and they burned his body, and they threw the ashes in the River Swift. And the River Swift runs into the Avon. And the Avon runs into the Severn. And the Severn runs into the sea. And the sea laves the shores of the world. I say that is a picture of what God has done with regard to His Bible, touching the ends of the earth, the shores of the seven continents. It’s a miracle of God, the creation of the Bible and the spreading abroad of its marvelous message [Romans 10:18].
All right, the fourth mightiest miracle of all time is the creation of the body of Jesus; the incarnation of the Son of God. In the first chapter of the Book of Luke, the angel comes to the Virgin Mary, a virgin [Luke 1:26-35]. And in the thirtieth verse, why, he speaks to her, and then he says she is going to be the mother of a great mighty Son:
You are to call His name lesous—Joshua, Savior
He shall be great, and He shall be the Son of the Highest . . .
And He shall reign for ever; and of His kingdom, there will be no end.
And Mary said unto the angel—what would you say if you were an unmarried virgin girl, and an angel came and said, “You are going to be the mother of this foretold, foreordained Child?” What would you say? Exactly what she says:
I do not see how this can come to pass, for I know not a man
—I do not have a husband—
And the angel answered and said,
The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee:
And the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee:
And that holy thing that shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God
This is the great mighty miracle, the fourth one, in God’s creative omnipotent hand [Luke 1:26-35].
And I want to show you something marvelous and unbelievable about that. Every great man whose life is ever recounted, whose biography is ever written, without exception, from the beginning to the end of the world, all of them speak of their lives. The glory is found in their lives. Take any of them. Washington, as he crossed the Delaware and helped build the foundations of America; or Lincoln as he tried to preserve the Union. It goes on world without end. There is one exception to that, and that is in the life of Jesus. His glory is in His death—in His death. Of the first three Gospels, one-third of all of it speaks of the last week of His life. And in the Gospel of John, one-half of all the Gospel of John is in the last week of our Savior’s life. And what did Paul say? “God forbid that I should glory, save in the death of Christ my Lord” [Galatians 6:14]. Isn’t that an unbelievable thing? Oh dear, it is a remarkable thing, the testimony to the Lord Jesus.
The great German literary genius Jean Paul Richter, said, “Jesus, the holiest among the mighty and the mightiest among the holy, has lifted up with His pierced hands empires off their hinges, has turned the stream of centuries out of its channel and still governs the ages.” And Mark Hopkins, an American educator and college president, said, “Christ was placed mid-most in the world’s history. And in that central position, He towers like some vast mountain to heaven, the farther slope stretching backward toward the creation, the hither slope toward the consummation of all things. The ages before looked to Him with prophetic gaze, the ages since behold Him by historic faith; by both He is seen in common as the brightness of the Father’s glory and the unspeakable gift of God to the human race.” Isn’t that eloquent? And so true. I majored in English and have an affinity for Robert Browning. In his great poem, “The Death in the Desert,” it is written, describing, you know, in his poetic imagination, the death of the apostle John, who was about a hundred years of age. Here he says, “I say,” quoting John, “the acknowledgment of God in Christ accepted by thy reason, solves for thee all questions in the earth and out of it, and has so far advanced thee to be wise.” That is the Lord Jesus.
Now the fifth greatest miracle of all time is the creation of the church. In the [second] chapter of the Book of Acts, it starts off with the coming of the Holy Spirit [Acts 2:1-4]. And then it ends in that same [second] chapter—I am talking about the second chapter—it ends with the word, “And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved” [Acts 2:47]. This is a marvelous, marvelous, marvelous account of the change in the disciples. They were afraid. They were hiding. They were discouraged. They had lost hope and faith. And now they are challenging the whole Roman Empire—these same men; these same men. There is not anything more thrilling to read about those men. Polycarp was the pastor of the church at Smyrna. Smyrna is the city right up the Aegean coast from Ephesus; and they tried him, and they said to Polycarp, “You say kurios Kaisar, and you will live.” And Polycarp answered, “kurios Kaisar? No, it is kurios Iesous!” Kurios is the word for “Lord”; Kaisar, “Caesar.” Caesar is Lord? No, Jesus is Lord. And they burned him at the stake. Now, they subverted the whole Roman Empire [Acts 17:6]. They did it. That is a miracle of God.
All right, the sixth miracle is in 2 Corinthians 5:17: “If anyone be in Christ, that one is a new creation: old things are passed away; all things are become new.” The re-creation of the soul is the sixth greatest miracle of all time. It is the miracle of Paul’s conversion [Acts 9:1-18]. It is the miracle of your own coming to the Lord Jesus. I once stood in St. Paul’s Cathedral where Sir Christopher Wren is buried. St. Paul’s Cathedral is the realization of the architectural dream of that incomparable Christian architect. And there on that tomb are these words: Lector, si monumentum requires, circumspice, “Reader, if you seek a monument, look around you.” And that glorious cathedral in London is a monument to the life and genius of Sir Christopher Wren. I say the same thing about the Lord Jesus today. Lector, si monumentum requires, circumspice, “Look around you.” Look at him. Look at him. Look at her. Look at her. Look at them. It is a miracle of God—the power of Christ to regenerate us [Titus 3:4-7]. God is not in the business of painting up and dressing up cadavers. God is in the business of bringing us to life, and we share that in the Lord.
All right, the last one—the seventh great miracle of all time is the one you would expect me to name. It is the re-creation of this world. Revelation 21:1: “I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the old first heaven and the old first earth were passed away.” This is the ultimate intervention of God in human history. It begins with the open, visible, personal return of Christ [Revelation 1:7]. Not for ever—it just says it here—will sin and suffering and wrong reign in this world. There shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain, for these things are all passed away [Revelation 21:4]. There will be a new day, and a new world, and a new creation, and a new heaven, and a new earth, and we will be new people in His kingdom [Revelation 21:1-5].
Lo! He comes, on clouds descending,
Once for favored sinners slain;
Thousand thousand saints attending,
Swell the triumph of His train.
God comes down to earth to reign.
[Charles Wesley, “Lo! He Comes with Clouds Descending”]
That’s the seventh great miracle of all time, when God comes down in visible form to reign over a re-created heaven and a re-created earth [Revelation 11:15]. There will be no more burned out planets. There will be no more deserts. It will be beautiful and verdant as it was in the beginning. And God made it for us, and He will give it back to us in that new and wonderful day when Jesus comes for His own [John 14:3]; the seven mighty miracles of God.
Now let’s sing us a song and while we sing the hymn, somebody you to give your heart to the Lord Jesus; a family you, coming into the fellowship of our dear church, anyone answering the call of the Spirit of God in his heart, in her heart, you come and stand by me. We are going to sing us a song, and while we sing it, out of the balcony, there is timing and to spare; down one of these aisles, “Pastor, this is God’s moment in time for me, and here I stand.” While we all stand and while we sing our hymn of appeal.