Have you ever thought, “If only God would perform this miracle, I know these would believe!”? I know I have entertained that kind of thinking in the past. There is a passage in Luke the Lord Jesus Christ used to teach me about what inspires saving faith. I will quote that passage and then look at other passages throughout the Scriptures to verify the main point of this passage from Luke.
“There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’ “But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your life time you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.’ “Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’ “Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ “And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ “But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’” Luke 16:19-31
Of course, it would be a miracle for the dead to arise and warn others about the terrors of hell, but the final point of this parable completely annihilates this cherished belief. Jesus quotes Abraham’s response to the rich man suffering in Hades, “But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’” Luke 16:31 It is the written Word of God that is used by the Holy Spirit in the sinner’s heart to engender faith in the Living Word, Jesus Christ. Until and unless one is willing to believe the written testimony that God has preserved for us in the Bible, we simply will not believe, even if we see amazing miraculous signs. Conversely, Jesus Christ condemned those who sought a sign from Him to verify His claim that He is the Messiah.
But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here. The queen of the South will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and indeed a greater than Solomon is here.” Matthew 12:39-42
In His mercy and grace, Jesus points them to His resurrection as the authentication of His God given credentials. However, if the Pharisees and scribes had believed what God said in the Old Testament, they would have resonated with the words of Jesus Christ and received Him as the Messiah promised throughout the Old Testament. Jesus Christ’s preaching would have satisfied them proving that He is the Messiah had they believed the Scriptures.
“But you do not have His word abiding in you, because whom He sent, Him you do not believe. You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life. John 5:38-39
As He spoke these words, many believed in Him. Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are my disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:30-32
It is the abiding of the Word of God in the heart of the child of God that draws us to Christ. Evidence of genuine faith in Christ is a continuance of belief in His Word and commitment to obey the Bible. Jesus Christ Himself opens our hearts and minds to understand Scripture.
Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things. Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.” Luke 24:44-49
Even His very acts performed in the presence of the disciples were foretold in the Scripture and had to be fulfilled by Him. It was this prophesied work that He accomplished on our behalf that is the pivot for our repentance and remission of our sins.
Jesus Christ, Lord of glory and God of our salvation, warned His disciples that He would be leaving them. He promised them that the Spirit of truth would be with them, would be in them, and would guide them into all truth.
“And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever-the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.” John 14:16-18
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” John 14:26
“However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore, I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.” John 16:13-15
So the apostles wrote the very words that were given them by the Holy Spirit, who reminded them of the very words that Christ spoke. We have this sure testimony found in the gospels and epistles of the New Testament to lead us to Christ and bring us to faith as the Holy Spirit applies the truth of the Scriptures to our hearts. This same testimony about Jesus Christ which He said would be given to them by the Holy Spirit, was also given to the apostle Paul by Jesus Christ Himself. For Paul witnessed to the Galatians about the message he received from Christ in Galatians chapter one.
But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ. Galatians 1:11-12
Praise God that He has left us this sure word so we can know His Son Jesus Christ and be saved from our sins and the wrath of God which we deserve by Christ’s sacrifice upon the cross for our sins and His resurrection from the dead. Peter points to the sufficiency of the Scriptures in 2 Peter chapter one.
For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. 2 Peter 1:16-21
The miracle of faith is wrought in our hearts when we believe what the Bible tells us about Christ and we place our repentant faith in Him. To God be the glory for the wonderful gift of His Son and the work of faith which He accomplishes in our hearts through His Word by His Holy Spirit. To God be the glory!