The God of Miracles (Bavinck)

This is a wonderful description of God’s sovereignty and providence applied to the topic of miracles:

…The Scriptures teach that God and the world, although they are different from each other, are never separated. God has indeed a unique, perfect, independent existence in Himself, but He is not segregated from the world; on the contrary, we live and move and have our being in Him (Acts 17:28). He is of course the Creator who at the beginning called all things into being; but He is and remains also the owner, the possessor, the King and Lord who by His omnipotent and omnipresent power sustains and rules all things. He is the first cause of all things, not only in their beginning but also continuously thereafter. The secondary causes through which He works differ from each other, but the first cause of all creatures is and remains God and God alone.

If in these basic concepts we agree with Holy Scripture and so take our stand on the solid ground of theism, we have no basis at all from which to cast doubt upon the possibility of miracles or to attack that possibility. For, on that basis, every phenomenon of nature and history is a deed and a work of God, and is in that sense a miracle. The so-called miracles are nothing but a special manifestation of that same divine power which works in all things. This power is operative in various ways, makes use of different means (secondary causes) according to different laws, and therefore with varying results. It has been said, and that not unjustly, that for the stone it is a wonder that the plant can grow, for the plant it is a wonder that the animal can move about, for the animal it is a wonder that man can think, and for man it is a wonder that God can raise up the dead. If it be true that God, by His omnipresent and omnipotent power works through all creatures as His means, why should He not be able to work in a different way with that same power—a different way, that is, from that which is familiar to us in the normal course of nature and history. Miracles are not a violation of natural laws. For these laws are fully acknowledged in Scripture, even though they are not classified and formulated there. Thus, for example, according to Scripture, the laws of all nature are firmly fixed by the covenant of nature which God made with Noah (Gen. 8:22). But, just as man subdues the earth by his reason and will, and governs and controls nature by means of his culture, so God has the power to make this created world serviceable to the carrying out of His counsel. What the miracles prove is that it is not the world but the Lord that is God.

Herman Bavinck, Our Reasonable Faith, p. 52.

Shane Lems
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI, 54015

%d bloggers like this: