Tag Archives: evidence

What can stop us from reaching out to the sick

How much faith is enough faith for the Lord to use you to set the oppressed free?

You may be tempted to wait or hold back action until you are free of any sickness or medical dependence before stepping out or until you think you have enough faith.

Or you may not feel like doing the stuff. Or you haven’t had a “special word” from the Lord to do it.

The devil will try every trick learned over 1000s of years to stop disciples being obedient and prevent the sharing of the good news of the kingdom.

But nothing must stop our obedience to the words of Jesus. The extraordinary English healing evangelist Smith Wigglesworth—whose miracle accounts and sermons make wonderful encouraging reading—kept up his healing ministry while in severe pain and even haemorrhaging (he visited Australia twice in the 1930’s accompanied by his deaf daughter).

Jesus was often recorded as being moved with compassion in deliverance and healing. Love for neighbour is paramount: “you shall love your neighbour as yourself”. So it is not about us and our success, our testimony, our stories, but it’s about the lost, the poor, the suffering.

How much faith is enough faith? Jesus said effective faith could be “as small as a grain of mustard seed”! That’s how intent is the Lord about showing mercy, even though He well knows that many who experience His mercy do not choose to follow Him. Fabulous love! Wonderful mercy! Amazing grace.

Does the Lord hold back from us His wonderful power and authority which He longs to show to the lost, the fallen and the sick? The good news of the kingdom and the works of Jesus are all about his mercy and his love. Such great love that He is pleased to use us imperfect people—He looks for willingness, for humans whom He may use to show His glory. In fact the biblical evidence available to us seems to show that He does nothing without the readiness, even the permission, of His human, clay pots—you and me. Wow.

“The harvest is huge but labourers are few”.

Go for it, and in the only name that counts.

Doubt doubt

The writers of the New Testament speak from a position of certainty otherwise they would not have written what they did, or faced death and suffering for what they believed and fearlessly proclaimed. O.K. They did not have all the answers. They faced dilemmas and paradoxes. But look at the certainty of the writer at the end of John’s gospel account and also the opening words of his first letter (1 John).

Perhaps we need to clarify what we mean by “certainty” or rather “the need (quest) for certainty”. The unbelieving world must be challenged, head on, with certainty—uncertainty will silence us—challenged, with hope, as the biblical texts mean hope, that is certainty: a sure and certain hope rather than a mere desire or wish.

The “new atheists” appear certain that there is no God, certain that science explains everything, certain that people who believe are ignorant or unintelligent. Richard Dawkins and his ilk make absurd leaps of faith. Never mind that many eminent scientists are believers. Do the unbelievers look for the evidence? Or are they like the marketers of harmful and toxic products –cigarettes is only one example—who live in constant denial of evidence, like flat earthers, like Holocaust deniers, shouting down all other voices. Fundamentalists of the highest order.

The “enlightenment and its sister, western modernity” have removed certainty and replaced it with doubt about the Biblical world view! About everything. Enlightenment philosophers are responsible for so much cynicism and doubt in the West today, seen in the media, in film, art, philosophy, etc.

So what do the scripture writers say is the opposite of faith? Unbelief!  Of course there are many matters which are uncertain. There are paradoxes for us to wonder about and ponder. And if we rush to be dogmatic about some things we too become rabid fundamentalists. There are notable examples of mystery and we must live with these like the Hebrews did, follow their good example and stop trying to have all the answers. There is sometimes no one right answer.

The secret things belong to the Lord our God but the things that are revealed belong to us and out children forever. Deut 29:29.

We people of faith have so much more than mere probability! We have boundless possibility! By faith. Faith in the God who is really there. It has been wisely said that probability breeds uncertainty while possibility gives birth to faith, hearing the promises, the plans, the purposes of the Almighty Lord of Hosts for us, the objects of his eternal love. Certainty.

Tread sensitively everywhere? Tiptoe around sensitive, politicly correct issues? No. No. Shout! Rather tread boldly. Boldly proclaim the mighty salvation through the gospel of Jesus, boldly ask and receive, boldly keep on asking, keep on seeking, keep on knocking, boldly believe even against all the odds.

In the Gospel story, Peter wants to walk on water like Jesus. At Jesus’ word “come on Peter”, over the side of the boat he goes, boldly. Until he suddenly takes his eyes of the object and source of his faith, and sinks! Doubt rather than mere uncertainty. Maybe, what I, and many of my brothers and sisters in Jesus have to turn against, is doubt rather than uncertainty.

We all have our times of doubt. This is borne out time and time again in the testimony of countless believers and also the biblical stories of real men and women, stories which never attempt to white-out their failures.

In the real world, you are indeed certain, not doubting, of many matters. You know without a shadow of doubt, your birth date, the names of your family members and friends, children. And many of you, and me, have decided to depend on Him that we shall remain faithful unto Him till the end.

As the apostle Paul wrote to his rep, Titus,

We are filled with hope, as we wait for the glorious return of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ. He gave himself to rescue us from everything that is evil and to make our hearts pure. (Titus 2:12-13)

And he wrote in his second letter to Timothy

Because of this, I suffer also these things: yet I am not ashamed; for I know him whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that he is able to guard that which I have committed unto him against that day.” (2 Timothy 1:12)

And in his letter to the Romans

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.” (Romans 1:16)

We could go on … and on.  This kind of faith sounds like ‘certainty’ to me. Like he said to Thomas (here feel my hands and side!) and the two travellers to Emmaus (O you slow of heart to believe all the prophets!) –doubt is the opposite of certainty. We, like them, are called to believe based on good evidence. As for unessential matters, we can’t be certain, but one day we will find out. We have the good news! We have the advantage!

If we are going to doubt anything, let’s doubt the efficacy of unbelief, let’s doubt the crippling undermining of faith. We do not have time for uncertainty about the essentials, about what is revealed, it would cripple us, it would silence us.

Let us not be silenced. Go tell it on the mountain! Good news.


Last time we looked at the first of five stanzas we find in this most significant prophetic passage. Let’s now look at Isa 53:1-3 which forms the second stanza, beginning at Isaiah 53.

·         53:1  Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?

Our history as human beings is a litany of unbelief in the One who is there. More. Unbelief that he has spoken. Unbelief in His wondrous creation and unending provision. Unbelief in His intent to bless us and give freely to us of His abundance.

This unbelief began in the Garden even as the gracious arm of the Lord was revealed to them–us. Though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize Him. The Lord spoke and everything we see, hear, taste, smell, feel and touch sprang into existence. And remains, despite our exploiting and wasteful ways! Still intact, day after day. Yet we took no notice of His voice and turned away from Love and Value and Truth and listened to the speech of the liar and believed, yes believed, a lie! We trusted, not in Him, who loved His creation, who fathered us after His own character, who spoke lifegiving  words to us, but we trusted in the words of the liar, the deceiver, the accuser, the spoiler, the harbinger of death.

How could we have been so stupid? How can we go on believing the Liar instead of the Lover?

He did not give up on us. He pursued us, revealing His mighty arm again and again. But how few of us believed His words! At last, He sent His Son in person, out of Himself, but in human form, in perfect man-ness to His own ancient people. Again the arm of the Lord was revealed in word, in deed, in love. Clearly, demonstrably. 

·         53:2a   He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground.

He arrived, the best kept secret. Experienced refugee status in Egypt. Then grew up in Nazareth his home –what a surprise. Can anything good come out of Nazareth, we asked. He did not grow up before the world, before the media, before the crowds. He grew up before Him, his Father. A tender shoot. Vulnerable, like us. Needed Mum. Needed protection. Needed an education. No flamboyance. No displays of power. No regal ideas, no pomp and circumstance, no triumphalism. Utter humility. A mere root out of dry ground—a desert, in a famine of the word of the Lord, Israel’s lowest ebb.

Could this really be the root, the stump of Jesse? The Messiah? we all asked.

Just couldn’t be. His own did not even receive Him! He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him!  Impossible.

Even after Jesus had performed so many signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. This was to fulfil the word of Isaiah the prophet:“Lord, who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed.”  (John 12:37-38)

Signs aplenty. Unbelief. Evidence. Unbelief.

·         Isa 53:2b   He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

He came, not like David, as we expected! Not aggressive, not king-like, not conquering. Not like a loud politician or slick televangelist. So convincingly a human like all of us. And we were blind to his glory and perfectness. Because of our assumptions. We looked for a white swan but Yahweh sent a black one. Nothing in our experience prepared us for this one. Nothing, not even the earlier Hebrew prophecies, foreshadowed for us this surprising appearance on to the world’s stage. Nothing like this was expected as a possibility. His impact was epoch-making but visible only to those with eyes to see, with ears to hear, prepared to abandon assumptions.

·           Isa 53:3   He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

The creativity, the genius of Yahweh was so great, so unexpected, so different from our unholy assumptions, that we despised him. We did not want a man of suffering and familiar with pain. We did not want or think that God would make him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that only in him we might become the righteousness of God.

No ,we wanted our own righteousness. We would do it my way, our way. We saw no need that someone should suffer to be the Messiah.

Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilledHe will be delivered over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him and spit on him;they will flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again.” Luke 18:31-33

Yes ,we listened to madness, to hell. We wanted anything but this man. Even Caesar! Even Barabbas! Three cheers for Judas. We all fled, hopes dashed, visions shattered. Alone he faced his despisers, his judges, his deriders, his torturers. We hid our faces. We closed our eyes.

We still do, maybe. Hide our faces, think about other, nice, things. What?

True Faith or Blind faith

“I have no need of redemption.” someone bluntly told me recently.

Well, that’s exactly what I used to say. Now I can say it with some conviction because my redemption is a fact, though I cannot prove this to anyone. But there is some evidence.

My angry correspondent remarked “Unlike your god, there is a wealth of evidence from a variety of sources that you exist. Even in the absence of thought about you, you continue to be.”

I am flattered.

However denial of our Creator’s existence is common, yet he continues to exist and to sustain us all and the whole universe despite my correspondent’s affirmation of blind faith in his absence. Dismissal of belief in God won’t make him go away. You may not believe in him but he believes in you.

My trust in God is based on evidence. And I think there is a wealth of evidence from a variety of sources that God exists.

You want evidence? Writers like Richard Dawkins (are you one of his disciples?) consistently refuse to examine the available evidence which is freely available to anyone who wants it. I think there is also ample evidence that followers of Dawkins and the so-called ‘new atheists’ put their faith in their remarks without properly examining their arguments, a sort of religious faith which like a lot of other religious faith is not based on demonstrable evidence. It is “blind faith”.

The whole point of my post I made about a month ago was to reject “blind faith” and call for faith based on evidence and I gave several examples of this in everyday life. More. I believe the sun will “set” tonight and “rise” in the morning. Now this is not proof, note, but it is evidence. I cannot prove the sun will “move” in this way. I cannot prove that my wife truly loves me but I have really good evidence that she does.

There is no point in going to my dentist if there is no good evidence that he is competent. There is no point in setting out on a journey to a certain place if I don’t have evidence that it exists.

So my point is belief in the absence of evidence is not the sort of faith demanded by the Hebrew prophets and sages. True faith cannot ‘allow me to adopt a set of beliefs that make absolutely no sense.’ Neither does any ‘level of piety that I might exhibit in believing something, count for anything.’ I cannot pull myself up with my bootstraps (that’s why I needed redemption) yet that’s what at least some atheists think how the universe began! Blind faith. Come on.

Let’s think about this. You may judge me of denying reality. But do you know all there is to know about everything that is reality? If you think you do then you are claiming omniscience. Blind faith again. If you don’t then you should not be so sure of your presuppositions. Is it not possible that you are mistaken and I have discovered something that has changed my world view radically?

When we cannot face up to reality we take a leap of faith in the dark into some metaphysical idea. Blind faith. Now that is ‘an abdication from reality, an act of self hypnosis, a cowardly cop-out.’ But reality presents us with many questions.

Can one believe in love without evidence? Is love among human beings provable? Where does ‘love’ come from? Is it real, or just some chemical reaction in our brains? Why is there anything at all and not just nothing? Why do we exist? Why is there this particular set of natural laws and not some other? What is the nature of reality and how can it be measured? Why does our world provide just the right sets of conditions (numbering dozens of fine-tuning conditions) for life? Where did all this come from? Where did the minute bacterial flagellum come from –with millions of these tiny machines in every cell in your body?

Can my reader answer these questions? Well I think I can. And it’s called reality with the evidence that is available. Exciting stuff.