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Do Miracle Workers Still Exist?

by Stephen Davey Scripture Reference: Acts 3

Miracles had a unique role in the apostles’ ministry, but the apostles were quick to use those miracles to point people to the one whose power produced them. We are not called to do miracles, but we should use every opportunity we are given to direct people to Jesus.


With the birth of the universal church and the establishment of the first local church in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost, the new dispensation of the church age had begun.

In Acts 2:43, we read that “many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles.” Now in chapter 3, we are about to encounter a rather public miracle with the healing of a lame man at the temple gate—and by the way, this miracle is going to bring the church into conflict with the religious leaders in Jerusalem.[1]

Before we dive into this account, we need to clear up some misunderstandings. Many people today have tried to make these miracles in the book of Acts a normative pattern for us today. Frankly, they have created a lot of confusion and left a lot of people discouraged and disillusioned when they did not receive their miracle.

What does the Bible teach about divine healers and miracle workers? Well, let me offer some perhaps surprising observations found in the New Testament.

First, miracle healing power was demonstrated by the apostles only. Many people are under the impression that the early church was a miracle-making church—that every pastor or church leader was performing miracles. The truth is, only the apostles had miracle-working power.

Again, Acts 2:43 says, “Wonders and signs were being done through the apostles.” Acts 5:12 says, “Now many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles.” Acts 14 is talking about the apostles when it says in verse 3, “The Lord . . . bore witness to the word of his grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands.”

Paul writes in Romans 15:19 that he preached the gospel as the apostle to the Gentiles with “signs and wonders.” He also writes in 2 Corinthians 12:12, “The signs of a true apostle were performed among you . . . with signs and wonders and mighty works.” In other words, God uniquely equipped the apostles with power that only God could provide.

The last verse of Mark’s Gospel clearly connects these dots:

They [the apostles] went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord . . . confirmed the message by accompanying signs. (Mark 16:20)

Think about it: the world was turned upside down as it transitioned from centuries of Judaism and its sacrificial system to Christianity. God graciously offered these signs and wonders during this transition period to show He was behind this new work—He was bringing to life a new covenant. So, this miraculous, miracle-working power was demonstrated only through the apostles.

Here’s another observation to keep in mind: Miraculous healing was never performed simply because people were sick. There was a deeper meaning behind the healing miracles. Even the rabbis were teaching that only God could heal blindness and lameness and leprosy. That was the point.

Indeed, if Jesus and His apostles healed sick people because God does not want anybody to be sick, then they were actually very cruel men. Why? Because they left a lot of sick and disabled people behind. For instance, if Jesus wanted to cure leprosy because God does not want anybody to have leprosy, then why did He heal only a few of them? Historical sources indicate there was a leper colony near the village of Bethany. Why didn’t Jesus go there whenever he stayed in Bethany with Mary and Martha and Lazarus and just heal every one of them?

I’ll tell you why. Because divine healing had a greater purpose—to validate the Lord and His apostles as true messengers of heaven. Let me tell you, there will come a day when disease and sickness and pain and suffering will be gone, but it is not now, beloved; it will be when we see Jesus face to face.

Let me give you one more perhaps surprising observation to keep in mind: As the church developed, the miracle ministry of the apostles diminished.

Just keep reading past the book of Acts, and what do you see? The apostle Paul writes in 2 Timothy 4:20, “I left Trophimus, who was ill, at Miletus.” Well, why not heal him? The apostle also writes that a man by the name of Epaphroditus nearly died while working with him—Paul did not heal him (Philippians 2:27). Timothy had stomach problems, but instead of saying, “Timothy, be healed,” Paul gave him medical advice (1 Timothy 5:23).

Beloved, we need to understand that the apostles were laying the foundation of the church age (Ephesians 2:20). Miracles were mixed in with the mortar, so to speak, to prove the church was divinely designed. But we are not laying the foundation anymore. We are now 2,000 years past that stage, and, God alone knows, we might be putting the last few shingles on the roof; the Lord’s return might be moments away.

Does God perform miracles today? Absolutely. Can God bring divine healing, according to His will, today? Absolutely. We can pray for it and trust the Lord to heal us if He wants to do so. But let me tell you, there is a vast difference between divine healing and divine healers. Apostles were divine healers, and that stage is now over.

Now here in chapter 3, we have the first miracle healing at the hands of the apostles specifically recorded in the book of Acts:

Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple. (verses 1-2)

We are told over in Acts 4:22 that this man is more than forty years old. He’s being brought every morning to the most likely place where people will have compassion on him.

Josephus, the first-century Jewish historian, describes the gate called Beautiful. He says it was made of Corinthian bronze and overlaid with gold and silver; in the sunlight it shone with spectacular beauty.

Now when this disabled man sees Peter and John entering the temple, he is not expecting healing and does not ask for it; he asks them for money:

Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. (verses 4-7)

His healing is immediate and complete. It does not depend on the faith of this man, but on the power of the apostles. Today, so-called divine healers demand faith from those who are ill. That is a convenient little escape hatch if the people are not healed—well, they just did not have enough faith.

Verse 8 records that this man immediately gets up on his feet, “and leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.” This is quite a commotion here in the temple courtyard! Peter then steps forward and begins to speak, connecting this miracle to the power of the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ (verses 11-26).

Let me make one more observation here, beloved: this lame beggar is a wonderful illustration of you and me. Crippled since birth by sin, we are destitute, unable to cure our disease. Only the power of the risen Savior can intersect our hopeless lives.

And when God saves us, let’s imitate this man, praising God and standing with the apostles. Look at him. As someone has put it, now that he can stand, there is no question where he stood.

[1] See Homer A. Kent Jr., Jerusalem to Rome: Studies in Acts (BMH Books, 1972), 37.

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