Friday, June 24, 2011

If I Saw It I Would Believe It

Raphael, 'The Healing of the Lame Man'
     I cannot tell how many times I have heard skeptics say that if they had lived at the time of Jesus and witnessed His miracles they would believe in Him.  They want a sign or some dramatic event to capture their imagination.  However,  people called for signs at the time of the Lord's visitation and they still did not believe.  In Matthew 12:38-39, the passage reads:  "Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered Him saying, 'Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.'  But He answered them, 'An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.'"  Here the Lord is referring to His death, burial and resurrection as it pertains to the miracle of Jonah being swallowed by a fish for three days and nights and coming out again to fulfill the mission that God sent him on.  Jesus knew that a sign would not impress or move the hearts of the Pharisees.  They did not really want to believe in Him.
     Another passage in Scripture deals with the same issue.  In the book of Acts, Luke writes about Peter and John going to the Temple and walking by a lame man who was begging outside (Acts 3 and 4).  Peter speaks to the man:  "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! (Acts 3:6).  Instantly, the man was able to walk, and he began to leap and praise God.  This created quite a stir in the temple, and people gathered around.  Peter used this opportunity to address the crowd and preach the Gospel message.  However, as he was speaking, the priests, temple guards and Sadducees came and took both Peter and John to jail.  The next day they were brought before the high priest and elders who asked them:  "By what power or by what name did you do this? (Acts 4:7b).  Peter boldly proclaimed the power of Christ and made it clear to the rulers:  "And there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).
     These assembled rulers were surprised that men who were not educated could speak so clearly and they realized that they had been with Jesus.   In fact, the man they had healed was standing next to them, and scripture tells us:  "But seeing the man who was healed standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition" (Acts 4:14).  Don't you just love it?  Here they had clear evidence by this healed man that a miracle had taken place.  What could they say?  They knew that those in the temple in Jerusalem had witnessed this as well.  However, they did not want this belief in Christ to spread so they charged Peter and John not to speak or teach about Jesus.  Naturally, Peter told these leaders that he was only telling of what he had witnessed.  He would not nor could not stop preaching about what he had seen.
     Within this passage of scripture, we see once again that even when reasonable, intelligent people are presented with something which they cannot explain (a miracle) and they are even told the story of Jesus Christ, yet they still resisted believing in Him.  Signs and wonders do not lead people to Christ.  Rather, it is the power of the Holy Spirit that quickens the soul breathing life into the dead heart.  Then, the person can hear and believe the message of God.  We call this act regeneration.
     When we are dead in our sins, we cannot respond to the call of Christ because we have no ability to do so.  Just as someone who is physically dead cannot speak, move, or hear; so a person who is spiritually dead cannot respond to God.  It takes an action by the Holy Spirit to awaken us from the death like slumber so we can hear and respond to the Gospel.
     Notice in this passage too, Peter preached the Gospel to all who would listen.  He did not know whom God would call.  Whether we are confronted by a skeptic or a group of willing listeners, we are called to share the news about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and leave the results to God.  He has chosen those who will believe before the foundation of the world to be His own.  What is amazing is that He uses us to carry the news of salvation in Christ.  We do not know those whom He has called; therefore, we must continue to declare the news no matter what the results.
     We must remember that signs and wonders do not make a person believe - even Jesus knew that.  Belief comes when the Gospel is preached and shared in faith to a heart already prepared by the Holy Spirit to receive it.  May we follow Peter's example and preach in season and out of season to any and all that the Lord will receive all the glory.  Selah!

How did you come to know Christ as your Lord and Savior?   Please share your thoughts here.  I welcome them.


Wayne said...

I can't point to a time...but I know a dead woman rose out of the blackness of sin, taken as it were, very lovingly from death to life, by the saving grace of One who had chosen her from the beginning of time, and is daily sanctified, renewed and quickened in her walk.

Thanks for the post!

Barbara Thayer said...

Amen Wayne....such was my story. It is the story of all who are called by His name. Thank you for stopping by. I hope you will come again.