A miracle is a supernatural phenomenon; something that cannot be explained purely on the basis of natural processes. God's miraculous intervention was necessary in the New Testament era to communicate and to confirm His message during a time when the Bible was still incomplete (cf. Mark 16:20). However, upon its completion near the end of the first century AD these miracles had served their purpose and were no longer needed to aid in revealing truth and producing faith (cf. Romans 10:17; 2 Timothy 3:16,17).
Today the ability to work miracles is claimed by many ardent religionists, including highranking clerics, charismatic evangelists, psychic healers, tribal witch doctors, and Eastern spiritualists. But when compared to the authentic miracles recorded in the Bible, modern day miraculous claims simply do not measure up.
There are at least five identifying characteristics of true miracles which may serve as a basis of comparison.
First of all, Bible miracles were immediate. Two Greek words translated "immediately" (eutheos, parachrema) occur in the New Testament no less than twenty-nine times in conjunction with miracles. Gradual progression or extended waiting periods do not characterize the instantaneous miracles of the Bible (cf. Matthew 8:3; 20;34; Mark 1:31,42; etc.)
Secondly, Bible miracles were verifiable. The person on the receiving end of a supernatural experience was often well known to those who witnessed it, and the reality of the miracle could therefore not legitimately be denied (cf. Mark 2:12; Acts 3:10; 4:14,16; etc.) Moreover, no one on earth today can reproduce an indisputable miracle, like raising the dead (Acts 9:36-42), walking on water (Matthew 14:24-29), restoring a severed body part (Luke 22:50,51), or calming a storm (Mark 4:39).
Thirdly, when a miraculous healing occurred it was always complete. Even when the Lord healed a blind man in two stages (Mark 8:22-25), apparently as an object lesson to show the difference between limited and full understanding (vs. 17-21), the healing was still complete. There are no instances of partial or imperfect healings in the Bible (cf. Mark 5:29,42; 7:35; Acts 3:7-10; etc.)
Fourthly, when group healings were performed, they were comprehensive. No one was left untreated, irrespective of the severity of the ailments (cf. Matt. 8:16; 9:35; 12:15; Luke 4:40; 6:17-19; Acts 5:16).
Finally, a number of miracles were performed on unsuspecting recipients who had no discernible faith at the time. Jesus healed a blind man who did not even realize who Jesus was until after the miracle had occurred (John 9:1-7,25,35-38). The lame man at the temple's gate was merely expecting a monetary gift, so the "faith" that enabled his healing was not his but that of Peter and John (Acts 3:2-5,16; cf. Matthew 17:20). When individuals were raised from the dead, obviously their faith was not a prerequisite (Luke 7:15; 8:54,55; John 11:43,44; Acts 9:40; 20:10).
If any miraculous claim does not demonstrate features of Bible miracles, it cannot be regarded as genuinely from God. "Test all things; hold fast what is good" (1 Thessalonians 5:21). If a person needs to see a miracle today in order to develop faith, that person's faith is misplaced. The miracles already recorded in the Bible "are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name" (John 20:31).