Gospel Paradigms – #4


Walk in Wisdom - Gleanings from the Scripture patterns3.jpg 

Heb. 1.1 - "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped  for, the conviction of things not seen."
 
Last time we saw that this verse has both an internal aspect to it, and an external one. 

Internally, or for the one who possesses saving
faith, faith is an inward, settled assurance that
what God has promised - and thus what we hope for
most - has the firm foundation of: God's promise.
That is what makes it sure to us. And why is it not
sure and solid to those who do not know Christ? One
has little (if any) faith in those we do not know.
How can we? Faith (according to Gal. 5.6) works BY
love. Knowing the Father's love for us in Christ, we
trust Him. The more our understanding of His love for
us grows, the more we love Him, and the more we love
Him, the more we trust Him. It is the closest thing
to perpetual motion we can ever experience. Love
produces love which trusts which increases love which
increases trust. 

But faith also has an external application. One which
directly relates to our witness of the Gospel. Faith,
is both "the assurance of things hoped for" in the
Believer, and, it is the "conviction of things not
seen." Now we could apply this "conviction" to the
Believer, in saying that WE have convictions of
things not seen. It is a typical and acceptable way
of interpreting the text. But I would like to suggest
to you that another way of understanding it is to see
it in terms of evidence to unbelievers. In fact, the
Greek word here (at least a form of it) is used in
Matt. 18.15 where if a brother sins against us, we
need to go to them and prove our case - bring out the
evidence so as to convince them.

I would argue then that the very existence of true
faith in the people of God throughout the ages is
itself a powerful proof or evidence of the unseen
reality we cling to. That others confronted by the
faith of the Believer, and presented with this proof,
can find no other reasonable explanation for it.
Something must really be there. 

So powerful is this evidence, that self-proclaimed
atheists like Richard Dawkins have gone to extreme
lengths to try and postulate some other reason for
it. His entire theory proposing "memes" as some kind
of universal genetic defect - virtually a virus -
that deposits the "god idea" in people's brains is
the way to explain it. A theory so utterly without
scientific basis as to be laughable. See Alistair
McGrath's: Genes, Memes and the Meaning of Life. 

What is evident, is that in spite of his rabid
denials - the force of the presence of faith in the
Believer is so compelling, he MUST search for an
explanation. He cannot let it alone. 

In terms of evangelism then, I am arguing that God
has deposited within the Believer the single most
powerful apologetic known: The presence of our very
own faith. The reality that we order our lives
according to things unseen. Things which nevertheless
we do not simply hope are true, but cannot shake off
and deny no matter how pressed, stressed or
distressed. As Steve Brown puts it, once you see
something, you can't unsee it. 

Faith, is indeed the very foundation of the things we
hope for in Christ. And, it is the evidence to all
who will observe it - of the things unseen, they try
so very hard to deny. It is tough to deny Christ, in
face of 2000 years of Christians. 

Some will say: "Yeah, but just because people
believe in the Abominable Snowman doesn't mean he
actually exists." Fair enough. But when it comes to
the reality of God, this knowledge is so pervasive,
that there is no language on earth without a word for
God, and no culture without a concept of God. Man is
incurably God-oriented. It is part of the very fabric
of our being. Romans 1 is right - all men
instinctively know God is, and are doing their best
to either repress that knowledge entirely, or to
make God into something they can reckon with on their
own terms. But we ALL know He is here. And when you
couple that with the living faith of those who have
known Him throughout the ages, you have a universal,
undeniable reality: The evidence of things not seen.
No less evidence for the unseen force of gravity than
its universal effects, is the unseen reality of God
by His. Especially in the hearts, minds and lives of
His own people.
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