Have you ever heard someone say, If I could just see a real miracle with my own eyes, then Id surely believe in God? Or maybe youve thought to yourself, If my family member or co-worker could just see a real healing then Im sure theyd repent and follow Jesus. And that line of thought sounds reasonable, doesnt it? Its based on the assumption that people dont walk with God because they dont have enough information. A little more proof and they would gladly run into His arms. But Jesus says thats not true. He says people reject God because following Him stands in the way of getting what they really want: money, pleasure, influence and the respect of others. And because He requires us to humble ourselves, and some are so proud they refuse to do that, Jesus says people who cant see God have chosen not to see, those who cant hear His voice have chosen to deafen their own ears (Mt 13:9-17).
Today, we as a church are celebrating the most amazing miracle in human history: the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Weve gathered to worship a man that was brutally executed, who was genuinely dead for three days, and whom God raised back to life in a glorious, eternal body. And were here to give thanks that we too will escape death and live forever. And as we do some will believe and some will not. Lets look more deeply at why, and also remember that no one is beyond Gods power to save (Mt 19:23-26).
Listen to what Jesus says: (Lk 16:19-31)
He says, until we believe Gods Word we wont believe our ears (reports from others) or our eyes (miracles from God). This is because Scripture is a divinely-empowered instrument that exposes the true motives of a persons heart (He 4:12).
Apparently, if a person has decided they dont want to follow God, even the resurrected Jesus standing in front of them wont change their minds.
Decisions the heart makes
Those who reject Scripture will not believe even when confronted with undeniable miracles because people dont come to God because of rational analysis of facts, but by yielding to an intuitive process thats been going on since they were born. The Holy Spirit reaches out to every person in the world. Heres how I think the process works:
1) Each of us has been responding to God since the day we were conceived (Ps 139:13-16).
2) By early adulthood we already have a longstanding pattern of choices that are hardening into character traits (even people who live in cultures where Christianity is not taught).
3) The way a person responds to a little light shows how they would respond to more light (Jn 3:19-21).
4) Here are some of the ways all humans encounter Gods light. Who among us has not:
Recognized providential care (protection, provision, guidance, awareness of someone there)
Sensed an inner leading (unexplainable impartation of knowledge)
Heard God speak through another person (heard more than just the person talking)
Realized the Creator behind creation (stars, sunset)
Felt the promptings of conscience (feeling grieved or ashamed, encouraged to be merciful)
5) But the fact is weve also had encounters with evil and our character is molded by these as well:
Knew it was wrong but it felt so good to do it
Deliberately chose to be cruel or dishonest to punish someone
Defiantly decided: no one can tell me what to do
Does God love some people and not others?
John 6:37, 44, 45, 65
No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him
Who does God draw?
Matthew 11:25-27; Luke 10:21-24
revealed them to infants
There is a great argument among Christians over the subject of election. Some say God wants some people to come to Him, but not others. But Jesus tells us Gods plan is to draw to Himself those who are not mentally proud, but will humbly respond to what their heart tells them is true.
Theres something about the cross and the resurrection that exposes our true attitudes toward God.
Acts 17:32 Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead some began to sneer, but others said, We shall hear you again concerning this.
1 Corinthians 1:18-30 The word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing
Why? Is it because smart people know better? No, its because smart people often have mental pride and have stopped listening to their heart.
Lets listen to Paul once more
The Lord is saying: You know Im here, youve know it all your life. If you admit today that I raised My Son from the dead then you know youll have to submit to Him and serve Him the rest of your life. Are you ready to humble yourself and acknowledge Me today?
1) Whats your earliest recollection of knowing God was there?
2) Was coming to Jesus an issue of believing He was real or being willing to submit to Him as Lord?
3) Whats the most incredible miracle youve ever seen? How did that experience affect you?