Author Topic: How unbelievers or seekers often came to God/Christ in the Scriptures.  (Read 77 times)

Offline Xavier

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This is for Quare and others. Didn't want to divert the thread in Natural Sciences. This is basic for now and will be developed subsequently.

In the Bible, we see unbelievers or seekers often came to believe in the God of Israel/Our Lord Jesus Christ after witnessing demonstrations of His Power, or effects of His Mercy. These include but are not limited to, healing of lepers like Naaman the Syrian, the Lord Jesus turning water into wine, the great one worked by Almighty God to deliver Israel from almost certain destruction at the hands of Pharoah, etc.

2 Kings 5:14 "Then he went down, and washed in the Jordan seven times: according to the word of the man of God, and his flesh was restored, like the flesh of a little child, and he was made clean. And returning to the man of God with all his train, he came, and stood before him, and said: In truth, I know there is no other God in all the earth, but only in Israel"

Jn 2:[11] "This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee; and manifested his glory, and his disciples believed in him."

John 3:1 "AND there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2This man came to Jesus by night, and said to him: Rabbi, we know that thou art come a teacher from God; for no man can do these signs which thou dost, unless God be with him."

Our Lord Jesus asks all to believe His Testimony because He is Truth and does not lie, nor could any of His contemporaries ever convict Him of any sin, for He lived a Holy and Perfect Life, and His Life bore witness to the Truth He spoke and the Truth He was. But if not, the Saviour says, believe His Testimony at least for the sake of the miracles He worked, and would work through the lives of His Apostles and Saints, and through His Church and Her Saints in all future ages, John 14:11 "Believe you not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? 12 Otherwise believe for the very works' sake."

Deut 4:32 "Ask of the days of old, that have been before thy time from the day that God created man upon the earth, from one end of heaven to the other end thereof, if ever there was done the like thing, or it hath been known at any time [33] That a people should hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of fire, as thou hast heard, and lived: ... [35] That thou mightest know that the Lord he is God, and there is no other besides him."

Now, all those in Israel, by the unanimous witness of their fathers in faith, and by the fact that Pharoah was defeated and their nation founded, believed that God had, for all ages, left His Testimony by His Works of Great Power, showing He was the One True God. Thus King David says,

Psa 44:1 ...We have heard, O God, with our ears : our fathers have declared to us, The work, thou hast wrought in their days, and in the days of old.

And that which happened physically to the cruel Pharaohs who oppressed the people of God happens in the New Testament in a spiritual sense when Jesus, after going to hell, triumphs over Satan, and liberates the captive just in limbo. St. Paul says by working the miracle of the Resurrection, of which the Apostles are witnesses, God has given sufficient grace and the opportunity of faith to all people.

Acts 17:31 Because he hath appointed a day wherein he will judge the world in equity, by the man whom he hath appointed; giving faith to all, by raising him up from the dead.

For those of later generations, the fact that so many believed and accepted the Apostolic Testimony, when it could easily have been answered and would have surely failed (just like a few Israelites would certainly have been defeated by Pharoah's might army had they not been assisted by Supernatural Power) if it had been false or only a human initiative, as the wise Gamaliel observed (who later became a Christian, as we independently know; the conversion of men like him and St. Paul itself shows, to all, that something wonderful must have happened after Jesus died and His tomb found empty), should be a strong motive of credibility in coming to saving faith in Christ.

St. Thomas says, "This wonderful conversion of the world to the Christian faith is the clearest witness of the signs given in the past; so that it is not necessary that they should be further repeated, since they appear most clearly in their effects ... Yet it is also a fact that, even in our own time, God does not cease to work miracles through His saints for the confirmation of the Faith." Lest it be objected that "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence" the real principle is, "extraordinary effects require extraordinary events for their explanation". In more recent times, historian N.T. Wright has said, "As a historian, I cannot explain the rise of Christianity [in Jerusalem after the crucifixion - the effects we observe] unless Jesus really rose from the dead, leaving an empty tomb behind Him [the inferred Cause of those extraordinary effects].

Eta: Elsewhere, St. Thomas explains more on what Nicodemus said; the fittingness of such signs, like the sign of Jonah which the Lord promised the Pharisees to give - His Resurrection: "signs produced in a supernatural way ... alone fittingly gives witness to divine inspiration; for a visible action that can be only divine reveals an invisibly inspired Teacher of Truth." [Summa Contra Gentiles, I, 6.4 (trans. Anton C. Pegis)]

Now, the effects we observe in the lives of the Apostles are indeed extraordinary and eminently consistent with what we would expect of men who, all alone in history, have known, seen and experienced for more than 3 years the One True God become Incarnate as Jesus Christ, the Promised Messiah, and also die publicly for their sins under Pontius Pilate; then gloriously rise from the dead, and have experienced His Power and Love as the Risen Christ. Only the truth of this fact would make sense of their testimony and their whole lives, labors in different nations, sufferings and martyrdoms for Christ. Those effects that define all subsequent history are what need explaining, and competing theories (the Apostles "stole" the body, then "lied" and said He was Risen etc) fare rather poorly if not fail completely (just like denials of the First Cause in Creation) and therefore can be reasonably excluded. And the likely Cause of the Effects we observe can reasonably be inferred to be the Risen Christ. And therefore, unbelievers can quite rightly and reasonably come to faith in Christ as the Lord Who showed His Power by rising from the dead.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2019, 06:13:42 AM by Xavier »
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