Are Miracles Real?
During the first half or so of the 1st century, there were a lot of miracles. First Jesus, and then the apostles were healing people, and doing things that are impossible... such as walking on water. Did these really happen? Or were they made up?
As a foundation, let's lay out the timeline using rough numbers. Jesus' ministry started when he was about 30 years old, around the year 27. He was crucified in about the year 30. It is believed Matthew wrote his gospel before the year 42. Luke was written before the year 60. Mark was written in about the year 66. And the gospel of John was written before the year 72, less than 40 years after Jesus was crucified.
This means that many of the people who where alive during the time of Jesus' ministry were still alive when the last of the gospels, the Gospel of John, was circulated. Thousands of people saw Jesus' miracles and could testify as to whether they were real. The Bible gives us an example in Matthew 14:
Now when Jesus heard about John, He withdrew from there in a boat to a secluded place by Himself; and when the people heard about this, they followed Him on foot from the cities. When He came ashore, He saw a large crowd, and felt compassion for them and healed their sick.
Now when it was evening, the disciples came to Him and said, “This place is secluded and the hour is already past to eat; send the crowds away, so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go; you give them something to eat!” They said to Him, “We have nothing here except five loaves and two fish.” And He said, “Bring them here to Me.” And ordering the crowds to sit down on the grass, He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looked up toward heaven. He blessed the food and breaking the loaves, He gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And they all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up what was left over of the broken pieces: twelve full baskets. There were about five thousand men who ate, besides women and children. - Matthew 14:15-21
In the first century they only counted the men. The total number of people present, including women and children, is estimated to be in the range of 15,000 to 20,000. Yes, Jesus drew large crowds. Some of them would have been old, but many were young and would live another 40 or 50 years. And this was just one instance during a three year ministry.
Notice that Jesus began by healing their sick. That is the major reason He drew such huge crowds... because of His miracles and particularly His healing the sick. This was a time in which medical knowledge was limited and for most people no medical help was available. Jesus was their only hope. As a result of His healing, many people lived much longer than they otherwise would have. On the day described above, Jesus started by healing people. Then He taught them about the Kingdom. When He was done teaching, there was another supernatural miracle... He fed all of them using just five loaves and two fish. The large crowd witnessed the healing and the feeding two major miracles.
When the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) began circulating, with their descriptions of Jesus' miracles, there were plenty of people still living who had witnessed, in person, the miracles the gospels described. The Jewish leadership was not friendly toward Christianity. If they could find witnesses who could prove Christianity was false, by showing reports of supernatural miracles were lies, they would have paid the informers a high price. However, no one disputed Jesus' miracles. Even the Jewish leaders had witnessed them and knew they were real. If the history recorded in the four gospels was in any way fabricated or in error, the enemies of Christianity would have pounced. However, the miracles were real, and what Matthew, Mark, Luke and John recorded is accurate, true history.
The answer is yes, there are. However, God is the only source of those miracles. God is not giving people the power to do miracles today.
The major supernatural miracles described in the Bible had a purpose over and above what they physically accomplished. For example, why did Jesus heal people? Yes, out of compassion. However, the greater purpose was to demonstrate He is God, as well as to authenticate His message. Only God could do the things Jesus did.
Why were the apostles able to heal people? ...and in Paul's case, people who simply touched his apron were healed. Yet, as we get into the second half of the book of Acts the healings stop. Instead of healing Timothy, Paul tells him, "Do not go on drinking only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments." (1 Timothy 5:23)
The Answer: the main purpose of miracles was to authenticate the message Paul and the apostles brought.
The primary purpose of supernatural miracles was to authenticate the message and the messenger. Now that we have the complete scripture, authentication is no longer needed. If we need to find out if someone is proclaiming truth, we compare what they say with scripture. Supernatural miracles are no longer needed.
Yes, God is still doing miracles. However, these are almost universally providential miracles in which God uses "natural" means to accomplish a miracle. In addition, God no longer gives individuals the power to perform miracles. Because we have scripture, there is no need for those types of miracles. Things will change when Jesus is about to return. Scripture says there will be two prophets (Revelation 11:3-11) who have the power to shut up heaven (no rain), as well as do other miraculous signs that will authenticate them (and their message) as being from God. Again we see, the miracles are to authenticate the message and the messenger(s).
Why were there supernatural miracles? The answer is ALWAYS JESUS. Miracles demonstrated Jesus is God, and that those who brought His message were truly from Him.
...that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith. - Philippians 3:8b-9
There is nothing we can do to save ourselves.
What this means is that we have nothing good in us that warrants God saving us. In other words, we have NO RIGHTEOUSNESS of our own. Righteousness comes through faith in Christ Jesus.
Where does that faith come from?
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not a result of works, so that no one may boast. - Ephesians 2:8-9
We do not have, and cannot have (on our own) faith in Jesus Christ.
Our faith comes from God. What does this mean? Salvation is of God, and God alone. He does it and He gets ALL the credit.
Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to Your name give glory because of Your lovingkindness, because of Your truth. - Psalm 115:1
There is no other God. There is nothing you can do. Your ONLY option is to trust your creator God of the Bible. He will give you the faith to believe and save you from the consequences of your sin.