What is a miracle? Miracle is a word we use for many things. There are miracle formulas, drugs, and detergents; we call a beautiful flower a miracle, and a new born baby a miracle. But really, all these things are made and produced through natural and physical laws. In and of themselves they’re not miracles.
“But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills” (1 Corinthians 12:7–11; emphasis mine).
We’ll define a miracle as a supernatural intervention in the ordinary course of nature (an act in the natural realm) by the Spirit of God.
For instance: Having a baby is in God’s design when He created everything. Through the ordinary course of nature we have children. On-the-other-hand, if a couple are incapable of having a child, but by a supernatural intervention by the Spirit of God that same couple have a baby, that is a miracle.
In a general sense all the gifts of the Spirit are miracles, but not all are “the working of miracles,” which is a specific gift. Just as faith is used in all the gifts of the Spirit in a general sense, not all gifts are the gift of wonder-working faith.
Previously we looked at the gift of wonder-working faith. The gift of faith produces miracles as does the gift of working of miracles. The difference is one receives a miracle (the gift of faith), and the other works, or does, a miracle (the gift of working of miracles). The one is passive, and the other is active.
Both gifts are worked through a believer as the Spirit wills. All of the gifts are manifestations of the Spirit as He wills. With all the gifts a measure of personal faith must be used before the Spirit manifests. For instance, the believer must make himself available and act to the prompting of the Spirit. That’s not to say that God never does anything in His own sovereignty. He does. But the gifts are worked through a believer.
We read in Second Kings that Elisha struck the Jordan with Elijah’s mantle and the Jordan split so Elisha could walk across. This is a working of miracles because Elisha struck the waters. In the ordinary course of nature striking a river with a coat would not change the flow of the river. Elisha did something to receive a miracle.
“Then he took the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and struck the water, and said, “Where is the LORD God of Elijah?” And when he also had struck the water, it was divided this way and that; and Elisha crossed over” (2 Kings 2:14).
Striking the dust of the earth with a stick will not produce lice, but it did with Moses and Aaron.
“So the LORD said to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Stretch out your rod, and strike the dust of the land, so that it may become lice throughout all the land of Egypt.'” And they did so. For Aaron stretched out his hand with his rod and struck the dust of the earth, and it became lice on man and beast. All the dust of the land became lice throughout all the land of Egypt” (Exodus 8:16, 17).
We can see a contrast with the gift of faith if we read the next plague that Moses did in Egypt: the plague of flies. With this plague, Moses didn’t do anything except receive a miracle (Exodus 8:20–32).
Aaron’s rod becoming a serpent when he threw it on the ground is working of miracles (Exodus 7:8–13)
Dividing the Red Sea and drying up the sea bed by stretching out his hands was the working of miracles. That the sea stayed open for a sustained amount of time as a couple of million people crossed over all night was the gift of faith. As I said before, sometimes the gifts work together and can be hard to distinguish between them. (Exodus 14:13–31).
If the gift of faith is in operation, it will carry a person through the danger with a great peace and the person wouldn’t be harmed at all. The working of miracles is different.
We see this difference between Samson and Daniel. They both faced death by lion. But Daniel, in perfect peace and calmness, received deliverance without doing anything. He went through the danger without any harm. On-the-other-hand, Sampson tore a lion apart with his bare hands (Judges 14:5, 6).
In fact, Sampson operated in the gift of working of miracles. It was the gift given him for his ministry. You’ll notice as you read of Samson’s life, the manifestation of God’s Spirit happened as the Spirit willed, not as Samson willed, as all the gifts operate.
David Mighty Men
We see this gift working in some of David’s mighty men by the great exploits they did in war (2 Samuel 23:8–39).
Turning water into wine by just speaking it into existence is an intervention in the ordinary course of nature (John 2:7–9).
When Jesus fed the five thousand (John 6:5–14) it was by the working of miracles.
Of course there are many others miracles, but our objective is to get familiar with the different gifts that we may have a better idea of what they are.
*Correction: I mentioned in the blog “The Gift of Wonder-Working Faith” that it was the gift of faith that was in operation in Elijah’s ministry with the oil and the flour (1 Kings 17:8–16). This should have been listed as a “working of miracles” just like the multiplying of the fish and bread that Jesus did.
The gift of the working of miracles always seems spectacular (at least from what I can see); whereas, the gift of faith may work within the natural realm — creating, changing, and developing nature to do the will of God — as we see with Paul’s journey through the storm on his way to roam. Both gifts produce miracles, but they come about differently.
Stay strong and prepared!