Do you agree or do you believe?

“Now faith is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things we hope for, being the proof of things we do not see and the conviction of their reality, faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses.”  Hebrews 11:1  Amplified Bible

I discussed prayer from the first blog, Please, Pass the Salt, (January 4, 2015) to extensive details of prayer in six subsequent blogs starting with January 11, 2015, how a godly life should be Marked by Prayer.  We went on to discuss the conversational nature of prayer (March 1, 2015), different types of prayer (March 8, 2015),  prerequisites for prayer (March 15, 2015), God’s triune nature (March 22, 2015), and ended up with Where Do You Pray? (March 29, 2015). Though not part of the Marked by Prayer series, this blog is important to understand for a foundation of prayer.

James tells us, You believe that there is one God. Good,” but then goes on to qualify the reader’s “faith” with this: “Even the demons believe that—and shudder.” James 2:19.  So there must be more to faith than mere mental agreement!

tornado pre1Growing up in eastern Kansas, every spring was an adventure as storms would come through what was know as “Tornado Alley.”  It starts in central Texas and draws a straight line through Oklahoma for Kansas City, Kansas.  Now tornadoes are strange natural phenomena that can seem to come out of nowhere.  The sky can be warm and clear blue overhead and in minutes turn dark and be filled with the gray-green wind clouds spitting tongues of violently circulating dust and debris in the tornado.

tornado approachSo if I was to approach you on such a calm clear day with only some mild clouds on the horizon, what would you think if I told you to gather your children home, buckle down anything loose in your yard, and take shelter quickly?  You may look at the sky and think, “Aw, C.A. is just a worry-wart,” and though you “believe” me that a tornado could come, you might go about your daily activities with little change.

Jim CantoretornadoNow suppose a man approached you with a Weather Channel hat and jacket on and said, “I’m Jim Cantore, and you need to gather your children, buckle down anything loose in your yard, and take shelter quickly!,” you would probably instantly spring into action, call for your children to come to safety, and act according to what you “believe” because you trust Jim Cantore and the Weather Channel.  And you would be wise to do so.  The Weather Channel has resources of radar, jets flying above the storm clouds, detection devices, computer algorithms and a host of experts to predict weather patterns!

Well, this is what “faith” in the Bible is: trust that what you cannot see is true, convinced of a reality even though your five senses do not see it yet; “the assurance of what you hope for, the proof of things you do not see.”  Faith results in acting on what you believe, much more than just mental agreement!

Now suppose I tell you that you can pray to Jesus, the Messiah or the Christ, and find Him to be the Son of God, eternally existing with Father and the Holy Spirit as the One True God.  He can provide your life with meaning, give you peace in times of trouble, supply joy when there is no earthly reason for it, change your heart from hatred to love, and empower you with eternal life when you leave this world.  Perhaps I am not “expert” enough for you to extend faith in Him, but the evidence is there if you are willing to examine it.

Frank Morison, a British lawyer, tried to use the evidence for Jesus’ resurrection to show it could not stand in a British court of law.  He assumed the evidence would get the case thrown out for its lack of merit.  Instead he wound up following Jesus and writing Who Moved The Stone?, validating that even a court must admit that Jesus had risen from the dead.  Lee Strobel was an investigative crime reporter for the Chicago Tribune newspaper when his wife started attending Bible studies.  He thought he would show how silly the belief that Jesus arose from the dead was by investigating it as an “unbiased’ reporter (though he was actually very biased against the resurrection).  But as he investigated he was forced to the honest conclusion that Jesus had risen from the dead and he became a Christ-follower, eventually writing The Case for Christ.  Josh McDowell was a law student who criticized any religious beliefs until he was challenged to make a rigorous intellectual examination of the claims of Jesus: that He is God’s Son, that he inhabited a human body, died on a cross for the sins of humanity, was buried and resurrected three days later.  Thinking the challenge was a joke because it would be so easy to refute these preposterous claims, he set out to prove that Jesus could not have risen from the dead.  He wound up writing Evidence That Demands a Verdict and challenging others all across the world to examine the evidence for themselves.

And this list could go on and on, with Augustine, Lew Wallace, Peter Stoner, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, and C.S.Lewis, among many others who went on intellectual missions to disprove the resurrection or at least to dismiss it, and wound up becoming devoted followers of the One they at first ignored.

So where do we get our information on which to base our faith?  Next week, April 26, 2015, we will begin to examine the Bible to see if it is reliable as a resource.

“The Bible is the autobiography of God.  If you want to know Him, read the Books.”  Steve Elliott

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