Monday, February 23, 2009

Do You Believe In Miracles?

A few years ago while I was teaching a Seminary class I made the ultimate blunder and asked the kids if they wanted to share a miracle that they had seen in their life. One of the boys proceeded to tell me about a really incredible catch that some baseball player on a major league team made that was an “impossible feat” and as the sports announcer called it “a miracle”, he was sure that is exactly what it was. This answer totally caught me off guard. What ensued from there was a personal study of what exactly miracles are.

I decided to look at what our church leaders would term “a miracle” and found a really great talk by Elder Dallin H. Oaks, simply titled “Miracles”. I would recommend this reading for anyone who has questions about miracles.

Some of my observations from my study of miracles are as follows:

The first thing I learned that one definition of a miracle is “a beneficial event brought about through divine power that mortals do not understand and of themselves cannot duplicate.”

Do miracles exist today?

“To deny the reality of miracles on the ground that the results and manifestations must be fictitious simply because we cannot comprehend the means by which they have happened is arrogant on the face of it.” Howard W. Hunter

Elder Neal A. Maxwell termed those who deny miracles as “the anti-miracle mind set”, a group that Nephi prophesied would be present in the last days.

The word “miracle” is used in many different ways:

1) Some say any happening they cannot explain is a miracle. For example some would call a computer a miracle. The “catch” that my friend in seminary referred to might fit this category as well.

2) Tricks that some magicians and religious practitioners stage may be termed “miracles.” I loved a statement that Elder Oaks made when he cautioned “When we exaggerate a happening in order to dazzle an audience into thinking we have experienced a miracle or to enhance our stature in other ways” we are similar to those who perform at a religious revival. I believe this is referred to as teaching with sensationalism instead of allowing the spirit to reveal truth.

3) Many without authority will use the name of Jesus Christ to work what seem to be miracles, but pretenders are rejected of the Lord. (Matt. 7:22-23) This is a wonderful way to understand where the miracle comes from.

4) Not every miracle comes from God or mortal deception, some come from the adversary. Elder Oaks refers to Satan when he explained, “He will use these great powers to deceive, to give his corrupted copy of genuine miracles worked by the power of God.”

So does that mean that the priesthood must be used for any miracle to happen?

Genuine miracles can happen in two types of ways, both requiring faith:

1) Miracles worked by the power of the priesthood. God has provided the “means” through FAITH. (The means is the priesthood power.)

2) Genuine miracles worked through the power of faith, without specifically invoking the power of the priesthood also happen. These occur inside the church as well as outside. These miracles happen because of the prayers of the faithful.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie made this statement about faith, “Faith requires ‘assurance’ that God will hear our prayers and answer them. No person can have this assurance when he knows he is not living the way the Lord wants him to live. This is another key element in bringing about miracles. Faith requires repentance. Miracles require faith. So miracles require repentance. Therefore, faith and repentance (which result in righteous living) are the means by which miracles come into our lives.”

This illustration is so beautifully given when the prophet Joseph Smith, as a boy, exercised the power of repentance and expected a miracle as he prayed to know his standing before the Lord. What happened next was the miraculous visit from the angel Moroni, as recorded in the Joseph Smith History.

With this pattern set before us we can conclude, that what is needed in our lives to receive the miracles the Lord has in store for us, is simply given by the restoration of the Aaronic priesthood. The keys inherit in the restoration of that priesthood are stated in Section 13 of the Doctrine and Covenants. These keys have been turned to provide the doctrine of repentance, and of baptism, and the ministering of angels to be upon the earth again. Because of these keys it is by faith we can expect miracles in our lives everyday.

Do you believe in miracles?


LdsNana said...

Great post. One of my very favorite definitions of what a miracle actually is, comes from the LDS Bible Dictionary...

"An important element in the work of Jesus Christ, being not only divine acts, but forming also a part of the divine teaching. Christianity is founded on the greatest of all miracles, the resurrection of our Lord. If that be admitted, other miracles cease to be improbable. Miracles should not be regarded as deviations from the ordinary course of nature so much as manifestations of divine or spiritual power. Some lower law was in each case superseded by the action of the higher. They were intended to be a proof to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ (Matt. 11: 4-5; John 2: 11; John 10: 25; John 20: 30-31)."

BTW, I remember that day at Seminary. Weren't the kids referring some very popular movie that impressed them? I could be wrong:-)

Kathryn Skaggs

In The Doghouse said...

Thanks for adding that additional definition to this post. This particular incident was not about a movie but about a spectacular catch that some baseball player made. Remember my student insisted that it was a miracle. I then promptly started to ask everyone more about miracles and started searching about it myself.
I have a little more to post on miracles from my research...but have saved the best for last! lol

Janis said...

Nice post and great definition from the LDS Bible Dictionary. I love that definition because it motivates me to recognize miracles everyday! Life itself is a blessed miracle and the Gospel is the catalyst. Miracles really ARE around us everyday Thanks for posting this.

In The Doghouse said...

Hi Janis,
Welcome to the Doghouse...
Elder Oaks terms the Atonement as a "Macro-miracle" because it affects many people at the same time. The full benefit is felt by applying that miracle in your daily life. The miracle of the resurrection is one that gives hope to all and can be felt by everyone.