Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Responding to Supernatural Phenomena With Opennness and Integrity

It ought to be our aim to build a culture of integrity, as well as a culture that embraces whatever God is doing, in our churches. The two ought to be able to exist side-by-side.

The Apostles never expected anyone to believe anything which they couldn't verify - yet that attitude of integrity didn't dilute the level of the power of God which they saw manifested in their midst. It helped.

Embracing the move of God with childlike faith
does not mean that we should be intolerant of people who like to check something out before they embrace it.

In fact, when we are sure of our facts, we ought to wish for people to ask us for the evidence - we ought to welcome critical investigation of any miracles we have experienced - so God gets the glory after the infallible proofs have been presented.

Paul said, "...provide things honest in the sight of all men..."

Luke mentioned "...many infallible proofs..." which formed the basis of his Gospel.

When Peter and John heard a rumour that Jesus was risen from the dead, they ran to the tomb, and saw, and believed, and thereby qualified as Apostles of the Lamb - because they became eyewitnesses of His resurrection.

Our faith is based on the reliable witness of faithful men who saw, heard, handled, they ran to the tomb, they believed, their proofs were infallible. Even hundreds of non-disciples were able to verify the supernatural nature of the very same events that were being reported by the disciples in the four gospels.

Even the Pharisees said of Jesus, "...this man has done many miracles..."; and they said of the Apostles, " cannot be denied that a notable miracle has occurred..."

The Gospels were written as apologetics - to provide intelligent proofs for their testimony. So when somebody today asks for that type of evidence for an alleged miracle, it doesn't automatically mean he is cynical - it can show a willingness to embrace, to believe. If anyone is sure of a miracle, instead of criticizing such people, why not just present them with the evidence! That's what the Apostles did - otherwise we wouldn't have the four gospels.

In a court of law, someone does not qualify to give testimony about things concerning which he is not an eyewitness. The Apostles' testimony is reliable not only because they believed the women, but because they SAW for themselves. Seeing for themselves was a prerequisite for inclusion as one of the Twelve Apostles of the Lamb. The Twelve Apostles were unique from modern-day apostles in that they were eyewitnesses of His resurrection. Jesus admonished Thomas for his doubts, yet He knew it was necessary that Thomas also should see Him after His resurrection so that he also could qualify as one of the uniquely chosen Twelve who should become eyewitnesses of His resurrection.

It's a matter of crossing our t's and dotting our i's - integrity is necessary in a faithful witness. Paul said, "I will not dare to speak about the things which God has not wrought by me".

Biblical manifestations such as healings and tongues are relatively easy to verify.

If someone was born blind, it's easy to find people who can testify to the truth that he was once blind. And it's as obvious as the nose on the faces of all his relatives and friends that he can now see - whether they are believers or not.

And it's relatively easy for people to admit something unexplainable is occurring when they hear someone speaking their language even though they know the person had never learned their language. That kind of thing is pretty easy to verify.

When it comes to phenomena such as feathers, oil, gold, gemstones and oil, the same criteria for authenticity that can be applied to healings, or to the reliability of the Four Gospels, ought to be tolerated, and more than tolerated - it ought to be sought and employed.

Certainly there is a danger that modern churches can fail to embrace the Holy Spirit. But one way we can help them is to provide credible evidence for phenomena that we are asking them to embrace.

That's what the Apostles did for us: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. They manifested the power of God - and they didn't shy away from presenting credible evidence for the stories and miracles they were claiming.

It's not hard, when you know it's real.

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