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Sunday, November 8, 2015

Do you have to see to believe?

Jesus died, then rose from the dead. His resurrection is proof that He is the Son of God.

[Jesus] was declared to be the Son of God with the resurrection from the dead (Romans 1:4)

I believe this. And I hope you do too. But if you don't, I understand. We all start out as unbelievers. Someday you'll believe.



The Doubter

One of Jesus' closest followers didn't initially believe He had come back from the dead. His name was Thomas. And he's been given the infamous nickname "Doubting Thomas" for his refusal to believe in the resurrection without hard, tangible proof.

"Stop doubting and believe."
So the other followers told [Thomas], “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in His hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” (John 20:25)

But Doubting Thomas soon became Believing Thomas. What made the most famous skeptic of all time become a believer in Jesus? Evidence.

The evidence Thomas saw was Jesus. The story continues:

26 A week later His followers were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see My hands. Reach out your hand and put it into My side. Stop doubting and believe.” 28 Thomas said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20)

From that moment on he was no longer Doubting Thomas. He saw the evidence and believed.



You don't have to see Jesus to believe and be blessed 

Jesus' first followers saw Him live, die, and live again. We don't get to actually see Jesus (not yet, anyway). But that doesn't mean we can't believe. There is enough evidence available for all people to believe right now.

Then Jesus told [Thomas], “Because you have seen Me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)

Jesus said that believing without seeing Him in person is possible. Millions have come to believe in and know Jesus without seeing Him. And they have been blessed by God for doing so.



Justifying unbelief

There were times when people asked Jesus for a sign and He refused to give it to them. So why did He give Thomas one when he said he would only believe with a sign - actually seeing and touching the One who supposedly came back to life? This was a bold request/demand from Thomas. 

I believe Jesus knew Thomas' heart and revealed Himself to Thomas for these reasons:

  • Thomas was sincere and really wanted to know the truth
  • Thomas was willing to go where the evidence led him, even if it meant that he had to change his mind

Those who asked Jesus for signs and didn't get them often asked with insincere motives. They had no intention of following Him, regardless of what He did. They just wanted a show. They wanted to ride the bandwagon of the popular guy at the time.

Some unbelieving people asked for signs so that when Jesus failed to perform, they could scoff at Him with a mocking attitude. To them, His lack of performance justified their unbelief. In many cases, they were ignoring what He had already done.

You can ask God for a sign if you want to. I don't know if He'll give you one or not. But if you do ask for one, make sure your motives are sincere. 

But I will tell you that you don't need a sign. God has already provided us with enough evidence to believe. We just need to pay attention to what God's already done.

3 solid pieces of evidence you may be missing 

Following are three big questions about God and Jesus, and the evidence He has already supplied for all people to see and believe. 

1. Does God exist? 
You don't have to look very far to clearly see evidence that God exists.
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. (Romans 1:20)

The creation that you wake up to every day is tangible, solid evidence that God exists. When you look in the mirror, you are staring at evidence. People, plants, animals, the earth, stars, water, fire, trees, rocks, and everything that has ever been created screams that there is a God. It's like the wind. You don't actually see the wind, but you see and hear the leaves move in the trees.

And it's not just the fact that these things exist, but that they work so precisely. God's creation moves, lives and breathes in amazing and mysterious ways. Romans 1:20 tells us that we have no excuse to deny the reality of our Creator based on this.

2. Does Jesus exist? 
Jesus' first followers told about their experiences with Jesus. John, Matthew, Paul, and Peter all wrote in detail about the life of Jesus.

The Bible reveals to us the truth of God and His Son. The Bible has never been proven wrong, even though countless people have tried to discredit it over the centuries. Many of those who set out to discredit it became believers due to the power of God and the power of the truth. 

This is why you need to read the Bible yourself and get the truth about Jesus straight from God's book. If your understanding of God, Jesus and other spiritual things is only from sources other than the Bible, you will be missing out on the ultimate written source of spiritual truth.

3. Did Jesus rise from the dead? 
His followers said He did. Over 500 of them saw Him after His resurrection. Many of them were persecuted for what they believed and said. Some were killed. People don't say something that they know to be a lie when faced with persecution and death because of it. Paul says in the Bible,

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, He appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all He appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. (1 Corinthians 15)

It's as if Paul was saying, "There's a boatload of people who saw the resurrected Jesus. Don't just take my word for it. Ask them."

Eyewitness testimony has always been the most valuable evidence used in court.

Imagine being on a jury and hearing consistent eyewitness testimony from over 500 people about seeing Jesus alive after He was dead and buried. And the opposing side has no good argument against all these eyewitnesses. Their testimony would convince you. You'd probably believe after just a handful told their story. You can't ignore these ancient eyewitnesses.

One of THE most powerful forms of evidence 

From personal experience, when God changed my heart and opened my eyes to the truth of Jesus, that became the most powerful personal evidence that I could get. And no one can refute that. God made me a new man. I was transformed by the power of God from doubter to believer. From rejecter of Jesus to follower of Jesus. From a man drowning in sin to a man saved by my Lifeguard. Ask my wife. She saw the transformation firsthand. Besides me, she was benefited the most by God's supernatural work in my life. God made a better person. 

A changed life is one of the most powerful forms of evidence God can show us. Do you know someone that God has dramatically changed in this way. Maybe He changed you like this. This is real live proof of God accomplishing His will - changing people to become like Jesus.

For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. (Romans 8:29)


What will you do with the evidence?

Jesus was not mad at Thomas for wanting evidence, because He knew Thomas would believe if given evidence. But some will not believe, even with clear evidence right in their face. 

You might think, "Sure, if I personally saw Jesus I would believe too." Maybe, maybe not.  

Let's see how Jesus feels about those who see evidence and reject it:

20 Then Jesus began to denounce the towns in which most of His miracles had been performed, because they did not repent. 21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. 23 And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades. For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. 24 But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.” (Matthew 11)

When people see cold, hard evidence that should spur them to believe in God, and they refuse to do it, God is not happy.

Are you looking for evidence of God? What kind of evidence are you looking for? Are you currently ignoring solid evidence? Are you asking God to open your eyes to see evidence? If so, are you asking from a sincere heart that will believe if given evidence, even if it means drastically changing your mind? Or are you asking from an insincere heart that will not believe, even if the evidence cracks you right in the nose?



Blind faith?

Anyone who lives by blind faith is a fool. And God never asks us to live by blind faith. He asks us to live by solid faith. Solid faith will be based on something He has already done. He has proven Himself in the past, so we can have faith in Him now and in the future.

God has always supplied humans with evidence on which to base our beliefs and actions. The creation is one of God's greatest pieces of evidence. And it has been here longer than humans. So there has always been evidence that points us to God.

The story of David killing Goliath shows how to live life with solid faith, not blind faith. 

32 David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.” 33 Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.” 34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, 35 I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. 36 Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. 37 The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.” Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you.” (1 Samuel 17)

Young David killed the giant Goliath with Goliath's own sword. Then he cut off Goliath's big fat head.

David didn't go against Goliath in blind faith. He and God had history together. And God had previously proven Himself to be strong by giving David victory over the lion and the bear. David's faith was based on personal evidence. He rightfully reasoned that if God could give him victory over the lion and bear, He could surely give him victory over Goliath. And He did.

If you don't have history with God, you can look at what He's done in other people's lives to strengthen your faith. Then when He proves Himself in your life your faith can then also be strengthened by your personal history with God. Never forget what God has done in your life. It's powerful evidence.

Chillax and open your eyes

My hope is that you seriously look at the evidence that God has already set before you. Slow down. Put away your cell phone. Go to a quiet place outdoors where you can see God's amazing creation. Chill. Relax. Think. Talk with God. Listen. If you come humbly to God, He'll show Himself to you.

God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble. (James 4:6)

If you are not yet a believer and follower of Jesus, read and heed Jesus' words to Thomas,

"Stop doubting and believe."


P.S. God's answer to my prayers is sometimes "No." But He has never let me down. He's always faithful. But I need to have a proper understanding of His will. If I'm asking Him to do things that contradict His will, I have no right to be disappointed when He doesn't do it. Knowing as much about God as I can is key. This will guide my expectations, my prayers and my life. That's why seeking to grow in the knowledge of God through Bible study and prayer is so important. 

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