May 17, 2003
A. The Evidence
1. April, 1999, Dwight Nelson, senior pastor of the Pioneer Memorial Church in Berrien Springs, Michigan, joined the “Faith for Today” team as host of the newest production, The Evidence. The Evidence is a half-hour news magazine/docudrama television show that investigates the possibility of God in all its expressions. Through interviews with world-renown scientists who de-mystify the technologies of nature and artists who illuminate the wonder of life, The Evidence bridges the gap between science and theology, between ritual and the human heart.
2. Why the need for evidence?
a. Are we not supposed to accept everything in faith?
b. 1 Peter 3:15-16 “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.”
From the recent show of The Evidence, here’s two wonderful stories: 1) Forgiving the Dead Man Walking; 2) To God’s Ear.
A. The Evidence: Forgiving the Dead Man Walking
1. This is based on the true story of sixteen year old Debbie Morris, who, on Spring of 1980, was on a date with her boyfriend, Mark Brewster.
2. As the two were in sitting in Mark’s car drinking their milkshake, two armed men by the name of Robert Willie and Joseph Vicarro, forced them to drive out of town. It was the beginning of what would be a thirty hour ordeal. After 15 minutes of driving, they pistol whipped Mark and forced him at gunpoint into the trunk of his car. Then Robert Willie shoved Debbie into the back seat raped her several times.
3. Later, they slashed Mark’s throat, hanged him on a tree, shot him twice at the back, and left him for dead.
4. They took Debbie to a nearby cave and raped her repeatedly. Finally, 30 hours later, they released her.
5. Convicted of their crime, Robert and Joseph were sentenced and put to death. Justice was finally served.
6. The story, however, does not end here. Debbie wrote a book entitled Forgiving the Dead Man Walking. In her book, she tells her ordeal at the hands of these two men, but most of all, she tells about her decision to offer her forgiveness to Robert and Joseph. Why forgave?
7. In Debbie’s words, “Forgiveness for me was very personal. It’s what allowed me to be able to move on and experience God’s love and grace and the peace that he would have me have.”
B. The Evidence: To God’s Ear
1. Interview with different persons regarding prayer.
2. One of those who were interviewed was Dr. Dossey, an internationally respected physician, author and lecturer. Among the books he wrote are: Reinventing Medicine, Be Careful what you Pray for…you just might get it, Prayer is Good Medicine, Healing Words: The Power of Prayer and the Practice of Medicine, etc.
3. Dr. Dossey believes that prayer can heal. But how can he prove it in the laboratory?
4. He concentrated his study on AIDS patients. He divided them into two groups. Without the knowledge of the patients, one group was prayed for and the other was not.
5. In his own words, Dr. Dossey concluded, “So in the AIDS study the people who receive the distant healing also known as prayer.....died less frequently. They had fewer what we call AIDS related illnesses that kill people with AIDS such as meningitis and pneumonia. They had to go to the doctor less. They had to go to the hospital…into the hospital less. And if they were hospitalized they got out sooner than the people not receiving the prayer. Their mental state was healthier and better during the treatment period. And I will assure you that if what was being evaluated had not been prayer or distant healing but a drug, this would have been called a therapeutic miracle.”
C. What’s the point in all of these evidences?
1. Peter’s point is undeniable: to give reason for what we believe.
2. If we believe that God is forgiving, then it must be demonstrated somehow.
3. If we believe that God hears and answers our prayer, then it must be demonstrated somehow.
4. If we believe that God created the whole world, then we must be able to see his fingerprints in all of his creation.
5. If we believe that God is coming again, then we must be able to see signs of his coming.
6. If we believe that God is giving his Holy Spirit to the faithful, then we must see the fruits of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
7. If we say that we are born again, then it must show in our lives.
8. Based on various studies, stories, testimonies, etc., we can confidently conclude that there is evidence for a Master Designer, who is forgiving, who listens to our prayer, and who is coming again.
D. Crucial question: What evidence do I have to show that I have been with God?
1. Billy Graham was asked how certain he was that God is alive. He answered, “I’ve just spoken to Him this morning!”
2. What evidence do we have that we have been with the Lord?
a. We spent all Saturday in the church
b. We preached in the church
c. We prayed in the church
d. We sang songs of praise to God
e. We gave our tithe and offerings in the church
f. We gave stories to our children
3. Greatest contempt about the Christian faith: It is not seen in our lives
a. 2 Corinthians 3:18, “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
b. We cannot say that we have been with Christ and at the same time remain unchanged.
c. I cannot stay under the sun and not smell the ray of the sun
5. What evidence do we have?
a. Acts 4:13, “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.”
b. The story here in Acts starts with Peter and John going to the temple at three in the afternoon.
c. A man crippled from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every to beg from those going into the temple courts.
d. Acts 3:6, “Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.”
e. When Peter and John went into the temple, the man followed them, jumping and dancing for joy. A large crowd was following them. Peter started talking to the crowd.
f. Consequently, they were put to prison for the night. The following day, they appeared before the rulers, elders, and teachers of the law: Annas, Caiaphas, John, Alexander, and others.
g. From unlearned to wise men: Growth
1) One of the important evidence of one’s communion with God is growth.
2) Growth can also be referred to as one’s transformation
a) A good example for this is John, the Son of Thunder.
b) John and James were called the sons of Thunder for a good reason.
c) Luke 9:51-54, “And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem, and sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him. And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?”
d) John was transformed from being the Son of Thunder to become the beloved disciple.
3) Other transformation:
a) High temper are calm
b) Drunkards become sober
c) Liars are now without deceit in their mouths
d) Drug addicts are now clean
h. Boldness to proclaim
1) Acts 4:18-20, “And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said unto them, whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”
2) Peter’s philosophy: We cannot help but tell!
3) Whether in high places of the courts and the palaces, in the seashore of Galilee, in prison walls, among Jews and Gentiles, Pharisees and Sadducees, men and women, the disciples cannot help but tell.
4) In peace time and danger, Peter proclaimed the good news.
5) We most of the time talk. But we talk about the whether, the war, etc.
6) Why not talk about God?
i. Unity in purpose and mission
1) Acts 4:32-37, “And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, and laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need. And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.”
2) John 17:20-21, “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.”
3) Another contempt about the Christian faith: So many denominations
4) We are not united in our doctrine, in our mission, in our purpose.
5) One of the evidences that we have been Jesus is our unity.
6) Jesus example: He was united with the Father and the Holy Spirit.