Evidences of Faith
In the tenth chapter of the gospel of John, Jesus teaches the sacrificial nature of His work, and likens Himself to a good shepherd caring for his sheep. Then, in 17-18, He makes the assertion that He not only has the power to lay His life down, but also to take it back up again! This claim, not surprisingly, caused some discussion among His hearers: "Therefore there was a division among the Jews because of these sayings. And many of them said, 'He has a demon and is mad. Why do you listen to Him?'" (vs. 19).
Because they were uncomfortable with His teaching, they assumed that there must be something wrong with Him. Many of us do the same thing even today. If we hear something taught that doesn't set well with us or that is different from what we've "always been taught", we assume this new teaching is wrong, and perhaps even find fault with the teacher. But not all those who heard Him had the same reaction: "Others said, 'These are not the words of one who has a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?'" (vs. 20).
Although Jesus was teaching some things that were foreign to them, these individuals recognized that His teachings were rational, and not the babblings of someone demon-posssed. Moreover, they also recognized that He had provided them with some evidence of His authority by performing miracles. Just prior to this account, in chapter nine, Jesus gave sight to a man who was known to have been born blind. So, these folks recognized that they had some reason to believe Jesus. They were not listening to Him because they "felt in their heart" that He was the Son of God; on the contrary, the difference between His teaching and what they had "always been taught" would have more naturally inclined them to disregard Him as in the case of those who thought He had a demon. Rather, they were reasoning things out - looking at the evidence before them, and developing conclusions based on that. And this is the approach to faith which Jesus Himself endorsed.
A little further on in the tenth chapter of John, Jesus claims to be one with God, and so His listeners prepare to stone Him to death. Jesus turns their attention to His miracles, and points to these as evidence of His authority: "If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him" (vs. 37-38). Jesus freely admits that if He had not done anything to prove His claim to be the Son of God, then His listeners would have no reason to believe Him, and in fact they should not believe. However, since He indeed has performed many good deeds which no mere man could ever perform, they do have reason to believe He is the Son of God, and therefore ought to heed Him. So we see Jesus Himself teaching that we should look at the evidence and come to a rational conclusion as to whether He is the Savior, and that our faith is to be based on that, not on our inner feelings or our life experiences or any other subjective thing. And, in fact, the scripture is an appeal to our reason; as John wrote: "And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name" (John 20:30-31). Again, we see that scripture is offering us evidence of its claims and inviting us to use our reason to evaluate that evidence. We are not required to accept without question that scripture is from God, but to look at the facts and draw some rational conclusions as to its origin. Only then, after we come to the conclusion that scripture is God's word, do we follow it faithfully - even when its instructions are contrary to what we would have thought to be right.
So then, our God does not expect us to believe in Him just because our parents did, nor are we forced to wait for some overwhelming experience to open our eyes and make us see. On the contrary, He has provided abundant evidence that He exists, and that the Bible is His book. He has, in other words, provided us with a rational basis for faith. In fact, there is an overabundance of evidence to believe Him. For this reason, Watchman Magazine will feature these articles on Evidences of Faith in each issue. Every month we will present at least one more reason to believe in God and His word. And, while no one of these reasons by itself may convince you, over time you will see them add up, and the evidence will mount in God's favor.
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