Evidence for Faith

Skeptics of Christianity delight in ridiculing “blind” faith.  They claim that truth is only knowable when it can be tested and proven, thereby eliminating faith – in their minds – as reliable.  Faith certainly carries an element of trust beyond our five senses, but it is by no means limited to blind trust.  Consider, for instance, what I saw in Mata de Cana, Nicaragua this year: Evidence for Faith.

First, the Evidence of New Creation.  Paul wrote, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17).  Sharing the gospel from house to house, I personally observed evidence of new creation.

Sharing the gospel with this dear woman soon resulted in her new birth

Two elderly women epitomized the change.  Both – in separate encounters – countered my gospel presentation by saying, “How can anyone know what you’re saying is true.  No one has died and returned to earth to confirm the existence of God, heaven, and hell.”

Unleashing the power of the cross, I soon witnessed the marvelous surrender of their wills to that of Christ.  Their new births were accompanied by a noticeable change in their countenances.  Whereas their eyes, smiles, and body language were initially influenced by common courtesy, now they were driven by “new creation.”  The change was very apparent.  Those of us present could feel the difference in atmosphere in their homes.

What are we to make of this almost instantaneous, noticeable change in people’s demeanor?  We draw the only conclusion possible: God supernaturally fashioned new creations.  The old did indeed pass away; the new did come!

Second, the Evidence of Changed Lives.  Making a verbal profession of faith in Christ is easy.  If faith is limited to cheap statements, perhaps the skeptics’ doubts are accurate.  But how should doubters respond to changed lives?

Missionary Darrel Johnson introduced me to a 100-year old lady who had received Jesus as her Savior a few years before.  My eyes took in the remnants of her once-thriving bar.  The pool table now serves as a mere table, much of it covered with beans waiting to be shelled.  The shelves, once stocked with liquor for an exciting evening of partying, now hold the simple products of a village store.

Still vibrant at 100 years of age, she is a new creation whose changed life matches her profession of faith!

Prior to salvation, she was part and parcel of the culture of sin: drinking, carousing, cheating, fighting, family breakup, etc.  Following salvation, she refused to propagate the sin which sends people to hell, so she closed her bar.  Sacrificing income, she embraced a lifestyle of holiness and public witness.  Caring for her fellow villagers – their souls, families, children – she changed her life.

How, I ask, can skeptics respond to this?  How do they explain such a radical change, not only in this woman’s demeanor and lifestyle, but in her firm decision to forego income so that her profession of faith would be consistent with her actions?  The only reasonable explanation is that Christ changed her.

Third, the Evidence of Christian Presence.  Frequently, I found evidence of manmade religion, often in the form of paganism blended with Roman Catholic beliefs.  Lostness abounded.  Tucked here and there, however, in Mata de Cana are genuine Christians.

A young father whose family lives far from the beaten path serves as a wonderful example.  He welcomed us and settled into conversation, as his young sons watched from a cautious distance.  As I spoke of the one true God and His plan to reconcile sinners to Himself, the man’s face brightened instantly.  He proudly told me that he too is a believer.

He peppered me with a list of questions that had troubled him, most of which were driven by confusion surrounding Catholicism.  He was thrilled to learn from Scripture why these doctrines are false.

As we prepared to leave, he voiced a beautiful, solemn promise.  He said that our visit to his faraway home brought him great encouragement, because he had felt alone as a Christian.  Seeing brothers and sisters from the U.S. deepened his faith and belief in the worldwide family of God.  He pledged to take his family every Sunday to the Baptist church in Mata de Cana and to teach his boys to know and love the Lord Jesus.

Mata de Cana's Baptist church

I offer this evidence to Christianity’s skeptics.  How do they explain the presence of genuine followers of Christ in a land largely sheltered from the gospel?  What explanation can they give for the immediate, heartfelt connection this father felt with those of us from the U.S.?  The only explanation is that the family of God is genuine; it knows neither geographical nor ethnic boundaries.

Finally, the Evidence of Personal Sacrifice.  Day after day, I saw a Nicaraguan woman sweep and mop the floor in our mission’s kitchen.  I learned later that she walked a solid half hour each morning in the pre-dawn darkness – traversing a slippery, treacherous path – to reach the village.  After dark, she followed the same trail home.  Why?  As a Christian, she values her service to the mission more so than her personal comfort.  Christians are willing to sacrifice much for the mission.

Ronnie, a member of our dental team, struggled to find a comfortable position from which to work on children.  The dental chairs placed the kids at a height which forced him to contort his body variously to relieve the pressure on his aching back.

Ronnie - "stooping low" for Jesus Christ!

Before arriving in Nicaragua, however, he had asked himself, “How low will you stoop for Christ?”  And even as he worked – bending for a while at the waste, then kneeling, and at times with his feet spread far apart – he asked himself, “Will you go this far?  Will you go this low?”  Thoughts of Christ’s suffering, thoughts of Christ pouring Himself out for the littlest and least, drove Ronnie to endure momentary discomfort to be Christ’s hands and feet.

How do we explain Ronnie’s personal sacrifice, that of the Nicaraguan woman, and of so many others?  The only explanation is one that defies every world religion other than Christianity: believers sacrifice and serve out of heartfelt gratitude for Christ’s death in their stead.  They don’t sacrifice as part of their religion’s mandate that good works are required to appease their God.  They don’t do so to earn a better, more enlightened position in the afterlife.  They sacrifice and serve for none of these self-driven motivators.  Christians sacrifice to meet the needs of the littlest and least, because it’s the least they can do to express their thanks for redemption and rescue from hell.

People from other religions sacrifice much in order to gain much – for themselves.  Christians sacrifice much, because Christ has already given them everything.  They sacrifice, not for personal gain, but that others might find forgiveness in Christ.  This is a very poignant example of evidence for faith, one among many that I saw in Nicaragua.

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