True Faith, Blind faith or Spiritual blindness.

by | Apr 27, 2010

The wrong ass-umptions and a stubborn disposition can lead to Spiritual Blindness

Two of the most common scriptures quoted to advance the cause of an anti supernatural gospel are Jesus’ words to those who demanded a sign of him in Luke 11:29  “This is a wicked generation. It asks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it” quoted like this it appears to support the idea that it is wicked to expect supernatural signs to accompany the preaching of the gospel and then of course there is Jesus’ rebuke to Thomas “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” This scripture is taken to mean that we are expected to believe without ever seeing anything. This, we are assured is the highest level of faith, blind faith that believes without ever seeing, or expecting to see, anything supernatural. The result has been a church stripped of power, unable to deliver the fruit of the kingdom to a world desperate for tangible evidence of God’s goodness. Instead, unlike Paul, our gospel has largely everywhere been reduced to “wisdom of speech” and “persuasive words of human wisdom” but without the demonstration of the Spirit and of power.   

However on closer examination of the two passages in question we see that Jesus was making precisely the opposite point that we have been taught to believe. In the first passage Jesus is responding to some people in the crowd who have just seen the miraculous healing and deliverance of a mute. There are three responses amongst those watching; some are amazed, others affirm the supernatural nature of what transpired but claim that it is demonic in origin and others ask for another sign to prove the veracity of the first. Today those who argue against a supernatural faith often advance the same line of reasoning. On confronted with the supernatural a knee jerk reaction in large portions of the church is the assumption that it must be evil or demonic in origin. Time and again the same tired old arguments are trotted out by those with an anti supernatural theology, who like the deists of old, seem to believe that God no longer supernaturally intervenes in our lives and therefore if anything supernatural occurs it has to be the devil. The biblical picture is however far more balanced. It is true that there is a demonic supernatural however God is the “stronger one” who is raising up a supernatural church to overpower the enemy, plunder his house and divide up the spoils. Jesus’ answer to the second objection is even more interesting.   

What sign would satisfy the crowd? After all they have just seen a miraculous healing/deliverance right in front of their eyes. A mute was healed and spoke. A sign from heaven had occurred right in front of their eyes but still they would not believe. I often am amazed at how cherished and protected out unbelief actually is. Many a time I encounter people who sit through meetings and see healings, signs and wonders but persist in stubborn unbelief. Not necessarily unbelief in Jesus’ existence or his salvation but more often an unbelief that he is still the same today as he was then. It is an unbelief that denies the essential nature of who he is. In Hebrews 11:6 we are told that those who please God believe two things – that he IS, and that he is a rewarder. One speaks of existence the other of his essence-what he is like. Right the way through scripture God reveals himself as a wonder-working God. Jesus showed us over and again that God is supernatural and that he is good. He has not changed. Instead of serving up another sign to those persistent unbelievers Jesus tells them  

“This is a wicked generation. It asks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.For as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so also will the Son of Man be to this generation.  The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here.  The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here.  

The men of that generation that Jesus was rebuking persisted in unbelief even in the face of the profusion of signs and wonders that he did, in spite of the wisdom that laced his every word. As Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites so Jesus was a sign to those who chose to disbelieve. Nineveh repented for they recognised that a prophet stood in their midst, the Queen of Sheba recognised the greatness of Solomon but that generation could not see who was amongst them. They did not recognise the presence of God. In the same way today, many who preach a powerless gospel and harshly decry every miracle as being either fraudulent or demonic do so due to a blindness that comes from not being able to recognise the presence of God.    

If we are to have a biblical faith we need to have the kind of faith that we see in the bible a faith in the unseen rhelm in which God abides, a rhelm from which he still performs signs wonders and miracles. This is what Jesus was trying to teach Thomas. Jesus did not have a problem with Thomas wanting to touch him and see him, he did not have a problem with signs. In fact in the very next verse we are told   

 Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book.  But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”  

Jesus did unrecorded signs for the benefit of his disciples, and John recorded some of those signs for us so that we may believe. Jesus loves to give us signs of his presence and his nature. So what was Jesus correcting Thomas for? It was that when his brothers told him that the miracle of the resurrection had occurred Thomas would not believe! He had a non supernatural faith which inclined him to disbelieve in the miraculous unless tangible proof could be produced. In fact Thomas was so locked into this realm he could not see nor believe in the power of the unseen realm. Jesus had and has no problem verifying his words with power, signs, wonders and miracles. Throughout the Bible and history biblical faith has always been miraculous in nature because this world that we can touch, see, taste and handle is not the end of reality there is a higher and more powerful reality which surrounds us but is most often hidden.  Faith, in a sense, enables us to pierce the veil separating the two and see into that unseen rhelm, to live from that place and to access the realities and resources of the kingdom of God and bring it into the seen. That is when miracles, signs and wonders occur.  

There are many today within the church and without it who have the same anti supernatural bias or naturalistic worldview that causes them to default to an unbelieving response when they hear reports of supernatural events or miracles. Like Thomas before them, without scientific proof they refuse to believe in any miraculous event. However when we embrace a biblical world view we “understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible” and thus we should expect the supernatural! Not that we become credulous, nor that we believe every miracle claimed, however we should be quick to believe for we are expectant that God will continue to be who he has always shown himself to be. A God of wonders, signs and power.    

   
 

 

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