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an event in the external world brought about by the immediate agency or the
simple volition of God, operating without the use of means capable of being
discerned by the senses, and designed to authenticate the divine commission of
a religious teacher and the truth of his message (John 2:18; Matt. 12:38). It
is an occurrence at once above nature and above man. It shows the intervention
of a power that is not limited by the laws either of matter or of mind, a power
interrupting the fixed laws which govern their movements, a supernatural power.
"The suspension or violation of the laws of nature involved in miracles is
nothing more than is constantly taking place around us. One force counteracts
another: vital force keeps the chemical laws of matter in abeyance; and
muscular force can control the action of physical force. When a man raises a
weight from the ground, the law of gravity is neither suspended nor violated,
but counteracted by a stronger force. The same is true as to the walking of
Christ on the water and the swimming of iron at the command of the prophet. The
simple and grand truth that the universe is not under the exclusive control of
physical forces, but that everywhere and always there is above, separate from
and superior to all else, an infinite personal will, not superseding, but
directing and controlling all physical causes, acting with or without them."
God ordinarily effects his purpose through the agency of second causes; but he
has the power also of effecting his purpose immediately and without the
intervention of second causes, i.e., of invading the fixed order, and thus of
working miracles. Thus we affirm the possibility of miracles, the possibility
of a higher hand intervening to control or reverse nature's ordinary movements.
In the New Testament these four Greek words are principally used to designate
miracles: (1.) Semeion, a "sign", i.e., an evidence of a divine commission; an
attestation of a divine message (Matt. 12:38, 39; 16:1, 4; Mark 8:11; Luke
11:16; 23:8; John 2:11, 18, 23; Acts 6:8, etc.); a token of the presence and
working of God; the seal of a higher power.