Summary: If we believe that God hears and answers our prayer, then it must be demonstrated somehow. If we believe that God is forgiving, then it must be demonstrated somehow.
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.