2 September 2008

Believing without seeing

During a cloudless summer’s day I direct my daughter’s gaze to the clear blue sky: “There’s a billion stars and planets up there,” I say. “But, Dad, I can’t see them. How do I know they are there?” “Wait till its dark tonight. In the dark, they become visible, and then you will see them.”

The word used in the Bible for the stars becoming visible is “epiphany“ (Acts 27 v 20). They were always there. They just couldn’t be seen by human eyes until they became visible at night.

The same point is made about God. He has always been there. We just couldn’t see him with our eyes until he became visible. This he did when he sent his son Jesus Christ into the world. So John says, “The (invisible) Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1 v 14).

A man called Paul, who also saw the Son of God later said, “The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all people” (Titus 2 v 11). The word “appeared” is that Bible word “epiphany”. In other words, in Christ Jesus, God made himself visible for anyone to see and we have a written record of what these men saw. And based on their eyewitness records, we can not only know for certain that God exists, we can also know what God is like, and what he requires of us.

Have you ever watched the dawn rise? As it does, the brilliant array of stars disappears. And they do not appear again until there’s a clear sky and on dark night.

In the same way, Christ Jesus returned out of sight to where he came from, after he had accomplished what he was sent to do in the world. But he will appear again – and this time for good – at a time of God’s choosing. The Bible tells us to “wait for the blessed hope – the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2 v 13). Everyone will see him then: to the great joy of those who believed without seeing; but to the everlasting shame of those who stubbornly refused to believe the facts.

Tony Anthony, several times World Kung Fu champion is no sentimental fool. He speaks about two great loves in his life. One was his fiancée Aiya. She was born blind. She could not see Tony but they were passionately in love based on their knowledge of each other through words. The same is true for Tony with Jesus Christ. Although he cannot see Jesus, he loves Jesus and knows the love of Jesus for him based on the words of God in the Bible.

Without seeing God now, we can believe in God now, know his love for us now, and love him in return now – by hearing him speak to us through the living words of the Bible. Then, one day, he will appear, at a time of his choosing, and we will see for ourselves the One we have loved and entrusted our eternity to.

Come to St George’s. Hear the Bible preached.

See for yourself.

Simon Smallwood
Vicar of St George’s