It has been said
that "Seeing is believing." Another common attitude is: "Don't believe
anything you hear, and only half of what you see." Long before modern
computer enhanced imaging, sorcerers, wizards and magicians were proving
that your eyes are easily deceived.
In The Meaning of Faith,
we saw that faith - true faith - is in the faithful God alone, and in
His Son Jesus Christ. All other religions, with their false gods and
false doctrines, are inherently faithless: empty belief systems with no
What, then, is the source of the faith that
is in God through Christ Jesus? Is it sight? Certainly, there are many
people who saw the Lord during the course of His brief ministry. In
addition to the disciples who followed Him faithfully, multitudes beheld
Him, and were healed, fed, and liberated from demonic bondage. Even
after His death, we are given eye-witness accounts of many who saw the
resurrected Lord; the twelve apostles, Saul of Tarsus, hundreds of other
men and women all testified that they saw Him with their own two eyes.
many times have you heard (or possibly even said), "If only I had lived
in the days of Jesus! I know I would have believed on Him. How
wonderful would that have been!"? Would you have believed? There were
many who did not. Why did some believe, while others rejected Him? The
miracles of Jesus were seen by all. Jesus said, "As long as I am in the
world, I am the light of the world" (John 9:5). He told His disciples,
"Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be
hid. ... Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good
works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven" (Mt 5:14-16). Jesus,
our great example, did not merely give instructions to proclaim the
Lord and His goodness openly, He lived it. As with Paul, "These things
were not done in a corner."
Yet, many did not
believe. How is it possible that they would see the great things done by
God, through our Lord, and deny Him? Apparently, seeing does NOT equal
Have some believed because they
saw? Certainly, but sight is not the source of faith. Thomas gets all of
the bad press for his failure to believe prior to seeing the risen
Lord. The term "Doubting Thomas" has become a byword. But what of the
other apostles? The Scripture says, that when the women returned from
the empty tomb and told the apostles what had happened, "their words
seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not. Then arose
Peter, and ran unto the sepulcher; and stooping down, he beheld the
linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed wondering in himself at
that which was come to pass" (Luke 24:10-12). Even when Jesus appeared
unto the eleven, "they were affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a
spirit" (vss. 36-37). He showed them His nail-scarred hands and feet,
and "they yet believed not for joy, and wondered" (vss. 40-41). Finally
He ate before them, "and he said unto them, These are the words which I
spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be
fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets,
and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding,
that they might understand the scriptures" (Luke 24:44-45).
was not only Thomas, but all of the followers of Jesus that had trouble
believing that day. Even when they saw with their own eyes, they could
not believe. What caused them to believe? When did their faith appear?
It was at the word of the Lord! When they heard the words of Jesus, and
the Scriptures, then, and only then, was their faith established.
asked the disciples, "Whom say ye that I am?" Peter declared his faith,
saying, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus
answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh
and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in
heaven" (Matt. 16:13-17). Where did Peter and the other believers
acquire this faith? Surely they saw many signs and wonders performed
before their eyes. Was that enough to sustain them? Was that enough to
prove that Jesus was truly Christ?
Peter refers to
that which his eyes beheld in 1 Peter 1:16-18. Speaking particularly
about the transfiguration of the Lord, Peter said, "For we have not
followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power
and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his
majesty. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when
there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my
beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from
heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount" (2 Pet.
1:16-18). Peter, James and John saw this wonderful event with their own
natural eyes, but Peter did not end there. He went on to say, "We have
also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take
heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn,
and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no
prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the
prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God
spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost" (2 Pet. 1:19-21).
written word of God is more sure than any experience, any feeling, any
dream, any thought. The word of God is more sure, because those men who
penned it did so under the guidance of the Holy Ghost, writing what the
Lord said, not what they thought He meant. Because of its infallibility,
the Scriptures engender faith in the hearer. As Paul said in Romans
10:17, "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of
God." Therefore, we walk by faith, not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7).
modern translations have gone beyond simply rendering the text into the
more contemporary vernacular. They have altered the text, omitting some
phrases and completely changing the intended meaning of others. One in
particular has the alternate context of various verses at the bottom of
nearly every printed page. This effort in fact causes doubt rather
than faith, because if it could say this, or possibly that, then it is
unreliable. The Lord our God is one Lord! He does not change, for He is
the same yesterday, and today, and forever.
Paul found no evidence of any discrepancy in the Scriptures. Like its Author, it has not even the shadow of
turning! He said, "Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest,
lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. For the word of
God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword,
piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the
joints and marrow, andis a discerner of the thoughts and intents
of the heart" (Heb. 4:11-12). There should be no place for unbelief, for
the word of God is sure!
All throughout the
Scriptures are examples of the faithfulness of Jehovah. When Solomon
blessed the congregation of Israel at the dedication of the Temple, he
said, "Blessed be the Lord, that hath given rest unto his people Israel,
according to all that he promised: there hath not failed one word of
all his good promise, which he promised by the hand of Moses his
servant" (1 Kings 8:56).
Thus it is with all
Scripture. Jesus said confidently, "Heaven and earth shall pass away,
but my words shall not pass away" (Matt. 24:35). And again, "For verily I
say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall
in no wise pass from the law [the Old Testament], till all be fulfilled"
In Hebrews 11, we read of the great
faith of the people of God throughout history. God inspired the writers
to record their faith, that we, too, might have faith in God. As Paul
said to the Romans, "For whatsoever things were written aforetime were
written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the
scriptures might have hope" (Rom. 15:4).
commended the saints at Colosse, and referred to the moment they
received their faith. "We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord
Jesus Christ, praying always for you, Since we heard of your faith in
Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, For the
hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the
word of the truth of the gospel; Which is come unto you, as it is in all
the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the
day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth" (Col 1:3-6).
word of God is the only source of faith. God entrusted His word to the
children of Israel, because He knew that they would preserve it
faithfully throughout their generations. Even today, the scribes
meticulously copy the scrolls, checking and re-checking that every word,
every letter, even every jot and tittle are accounted for. This trait
was one reason God chose Abraham. "For I know him, that he will command
his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of
the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon
Abraham that which he hath spoken of him" (Gen. 18:19).
word of the Lord is THE source of faith, and the source of salvation.
As James said, "Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of
naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able
to save your souls" (James 1:21). For this reason, the Lord does not
tolerate its alteration. Severe punishment is proclaimed in Rev.
22:18-19, "For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the
prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall
add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man
shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall
take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city,
and from the things which are written in this book."
such dire consequences? It is because God's word is the unique
instrument by which God has chosen to instill faith in the heart of all
them that will believe the report of the Lord.
us, therefore, hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering;
(for He is faithful that promised;) being born again by the word of God
which liveth and abideth for ever, and having the hope of eternal life,
which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began. Amen.