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Seeing is Believing

Hebrews 11:1-3

 

“Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen. [2] For by it our ancestors were approved. [3] By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen has been made from things that are not visible.” (HCSB)

 This morning, I want to begin with a pop quiz.  I have four questions for you to answer.  Each of them involves a picture I’m going to flash on the screen.  Take out a piece of paper and write 1. 2. 3. and 4 on it down the left column, leaving room to write in your answers.

 Question 1:  Which square is larger, A or B?  Question 2:  Which line is longer, A or B?  Question 3:  Which line is longer, A or B? and finally, Question 4:  How many triangles do you see? 

 Before I give you the answers, compare what you wrote down with your neighbor.

 OK, let’s see how you did.  The answer to question 1 is, “neither.”  They are both the same size.  The right square looks larger because it is rotated 90 degrees, but it is in fact the same size as the one on the left. 

 The answer to question 2 is also “neither.”  This is the “vertical-horizontal illusion.”  The vertical line looks longer, but it is the same length as the horizontal one. 

 As with the first two questions, the answer to question 3 is “neither.”  This is the parallelogram illusion.  Line A looks longer because of its relationship to the parallelogram, but it is the same size as line B. 

 Now for question 4.  The only triangle in this picture is the name of this illusion, “Kanizsa’s triangle.”  There is an illusion of a nonexistent white triangle because our eyes draw lines where none exists. (http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html)

 Perhaps after this exercise you join me in questioning the truth of the widely accepted Latin phrase, Videre est credere, “Seeing is believing.”

 If our eyes can deceive us, and we can’t believe everything we see, then what can we trust?  Can we trust the unseen realities of life?  What about the things you can’t see, are they real?

 There are spectrums of light that the human eye cannot see and sound frequencies that the ear cannot hear, yet they exist.  Without the aid of night vision goggles, soldiers would be less effective in fighting at night.  The normal human eye can only detect “white light.”  But with special equipment, our soldiers can “detect a person standing over 200 yards away on a pitch-black night.”  It would be foolish for a person without night vision goggles to argue with a person with the equipment about the existence of an enemy combatant approaching their position.  The wise soldier would believe the person looking through the goggles and take appropriate measures.  Seeing is not always believing.

 A normal person can hear between 20 and 20,000 Hertz, while dogs can hear pitches higher than 20,000 Hertz level, that’s why they can hear dog whistles and we can’t.  Just because we can’t hear a sound doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

 The writer of Hebrews said, “Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen.”  Faith is spiritual night vision equipment.  It lets us see the invisible. 

 You certainly would never be able to convince 41-year old pilot, Steve Cunningham that “Seeing is believing.”  He said, "You don't fly an aircraft on what you can see, you fly an aircraft on the information that you are getting back from the control panel."  I mentioned that Cunningham is a pilot, but I didn’t mention that he is blind, did I? (http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html)

 According to Cunningham, acting on information received, not the act of “seeing” is the key to flying an aircraft.   When it comes to spiritual things, the ability to ignore what we see, and focus on what we know through faith is the key to walking by faith.  2 Corinthians 5:7 says, “for we walk by faith, not by sight.”  (NASB) 

 Moffatt says that Christian hope goes in 3 directions:

 First, it is a belief that goes against the world.  It says no to conventional wisdom to embrace God’s will. 

 Second, It is a belief in the spirit over the senses.  In his poem, “To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time,” Robert Herrick wrote: “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, / Old Time is still a-flying; / And this same flower that smiles today / Tomorrow will be dying.” The senses tell us to grasp what we can while we can, but the spirit places value in spiritual things, not the sensorial world.

 Third, it is a belief in a future, not just a present.  The great fallacy of youth is living today like there is no tomorrow.  That was the mistake the rich fool made in Luke 12:19-21 

“'And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.’ [20] ‘But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?' [21] ‘So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.’” (NASB) 

 Don’t think for a minute that the writer of Hebrews is equating faith to wishful thinking. He is calling us to mature contemplation.  Listen as I read the Amplified version’s translation of Hebrews 11:1.  “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].”

 Faith is the “title deed” for unseen realities.

 Next week, we will study more of chapter 11 and see the hereoes of the faith that verse 2 refers to when it says, “For by it our ancestors were approved.” But for now, let’s finish our time together with a quick look at verse 3.  “By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen has been made from things that are not visible.”

 Today the debate that began with the Scopes Monkey trial is hotter than ever as theologians, educators, politicians, philosophers and parents are debating whether creationism and/or evolution should be taught in our school systems.  Some of you have devoted your lives to the sciences and are well prepared to argue that the theory of evolution is not only bad theology, but is also bad science.  You might even be able to show evolutionists that they are wrong and point out their scientific errors, but even if you get them to recant their scientific beliefs, that doesn’t mean they will come to believe in God.  Lack of faith in science doesn’t necessarily lead to faith in God—it could just lead to hopelessness. 

 In an editorial for tyee.ca, Stan Persky , a philosophy teacher at Capilano College in North Vancouver, B.C. writes, “Rather than snootily saying that there’s no controversy because there’s no evidence for intelligent design, or that science teachers should stick to science and not discuss theology or philosophy, I think that we teachers (both philosophers and scientists) ought to recognize that it’s completely reasonable for people to ask, ‘If evolution is true, then what does it mean for our belief in a God and for everything else?’ It’s reasonable for students, once they get their minds around the notion that ‘evolution’ is not an agent and does not have teleological purposes, to ask, ‘Are we living in a purposeless universe? And if we are, then what’s the meaning of our lives?’ Since we teachers believe evolution is true, I think it’s our responsibility to answer that question.” (http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html)

 Without faith, there is no hope.  The Secularists need to do more than doubt their science; they need to trust in their God.  It is only through faith that anyone can believe that God is and that God created the world.  Faith is the night vision goggle that allows us to see into the unseen world and find God.

 Have you exercised your faith in God.  Please don’t make the fooling mistake of only believing what you see.  Seeing isn’t believing.  The opposite is true, Believing is seeing.

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