There is a big difference between testing God and testing people. The Lord commands us: “Test all things; hold fast what is good” (1 Thess. 5:21); “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). Pharaoh’s magicians were put to the test, and they failed (Ex. 8:18-19); Baal’s prophets were put to the test, and they failed (1 Kings 18:20-40); Elymas was put to the test, and he failed (Acts 13:6-11); Sceva’s sons were put to the test, and they failed (Acts 19:13-17).
We are warned of false teachers who will appear to be something they’re not, a number of whom claiming to work miracles in the Lord’s name (Matt. 7:15-23; 24:24). Of course the crucial point is the message they are espousing -- truth or error? Sadly, many who accept the reality of these “miracles” do not know enough about the Bible to discern the message. But if there are those who claim the ability to perform Bible miracles, surely it is right to expect equivalency between what they can actually do and what the Bible says. Can they work a miracle that skeptics are unable to deny? (Acts 4:14-16). Can they, by their miracles, cause unbelievers to turn to the Lord? (Acts 9:33-35). Are the results of their miracles immediate, obvious and verifiable? (Luke 4:39; 5:13, 24-25; Acts 3:1-10). Can they perform a miracle even when there is no faith on the part of the recipient? (John 9:1-7, 25, 35-38).
Instead of limiting these alleged miraculous works to those who already believe, why not use them to convince an unbelieving world? The fact is, no one on earth today can reproduce and confirm an authentic Bible miracle, like raise the dead (Acts 9:36-42), instantaneously cure leprosy (Matt. 8:2-3), heal every sick person in a crowd (Matt. 8:16; 9:35; 12:15; Luke 4:40; 6:17-19; Acts 5:16), walk on water (Matt. 14:24-29), restore severed body parts (Luke 22:50-51), et al. If God has warned us of religious frauds, admonished us to be wise and discerning, commanded us to test all things, and given us His all-sufficient word, then it would be a big mistake not to put these self-proclaimed miracle workers to the test (cf. Rev. 2:2).
-- Kevin L. Moore
*Originally appearing in The Exhorter (April-June 1998).
Related Posts: Duration of Miraculous Gifts (1 Cor 13:8-13), Questions Part 1: Mark 16:17-18, Questions Part 2: Heb. 13:8, Questions Part 3: Jn 14:12
Image credit: Adapted from https://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcthree/article/12fb29da-567c-488b-8523-d1f11a79e40c