22 November 2010

Evidential Christianity: We cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard…

Yesterday, Phyllis and I were at New Covenant Church in Valdosta GA.  My good friend Randy Stephen spoke briefly from the following passage chronicling the growth of the early Church.

I was reminded of the power of Evidential Christianity – faith that demands an explanation.  It is this kind of faith – and God’s gracious response – that makes following Jesus so irresistible.

This is the follow-up story to Peter and John bringing healing in Jesus’ Name to a lame beggar after citing physical poverty but freely giving what they had – a deep and genuine faith in the resurrected Christ.

(Acts 4:7-22) They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: "By what power or what name did you do this?"

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: "Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. He is "'the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone. ' Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."

When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.

But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say. So they ordered them to withdraw from the Sanhedrin and then conferred together. "What are we going to do with these men?" they asked. "Everybody living in Jerusalem knows they have done an outstanding miracle, and we cannot deny it. But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn these men to speak no longer to anyone in this name."

Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.

But Peter and John replied, "Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God's sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard."

After further threats they let them go. They could not decide how to punish them, because all the people were praising God for what had happened. For the man who was miraculously healed was over forty years old.  (NIV)

Of course, when Christianity becomes mere religion – observing rituals devoid of meaning – and/or mere morality – doing right things just for the sake of being right – then we might not have much to talk about.  Having not seen anything or heard any Good News, we might just have to be silent.

Evidential Christianity cries out for explanation! 

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