When I was a Christian, one of the things we were often called to do was a thing called 'witnessing'. Another word for that is 'testifying'. It boils down to talking to others about your 'real' experiences as a believer, one does it in order to convert or encourage others in the Christian faith. (Pastor's love this as it amounts to recruiting done by one's own congregation for more members and more members equals more tithes and more tithes equals more personal income for that pastor, but let's move on...)
On this forum there seem to be some very confident and committed sounding Christians. There must be a reason for that commitment, and I think many will honestly tell you that God has 'changed my life', and that they have a daily, living, relationship with a 'living God'. This is an opportunity for you to share those experiences in detail. Of course, instead of walking around the suburbs, or knocking down doors, or peering into cars to share your testimony, you have a chance to do it here.
It takes real chops to stand up and testify to what God has done in your life. It requires something more than just courage, but something we'll call conviction. Yes, we tend to think of conviction, in the sense of one's belief as a good thing, but in the legal sense, it's usually the opposite. If you succeed in getting a conviction, you find that someone is guilty of committing a crime. The opposite of conviction is an acquittal, which means that someone is NOT guilty of some kind of dishonesty. Be that as it may, this is about looking at the religious conviction you have, and seeing whether it has any real substance. In other words, is it honest? Is it true? Do you have the courage to do that?
Before we get to that, as a heads up I'm going to be a little generous and let Christians know that this - has God performed a miracle in your life - is something of a trick question. So if you feel dodgy about answering it, here's your excuse ("I don't feel like participating in atheist tricks..." or something along those lines). If that is how you want to play it, you have a valid excuse, and you are excused, but then please also don't come back and claim you stand for the Christian faith, or that you can speak on behalf of either God or yourself, or other Christians in matters of faith. We'll make a note of who is serious (and so presumably will God), and more importantly, we will make a note of those who until now have spoken a big game, but who ultimately do not have the balls to back themselves in their so-called beliefs.
The Devil trying to trick you
If you think this 'Call' (challenge may be a better word) is not biblical, perhaps you're thinking this is Satan testing you the way he tested Jesus etc, let me point out a few Bible verses that say that Christians are supposed to both acknowledge God, and do great things in his name, and that these acts (miracles) are evidence of God and that's why you should testify to them (in other words, it is required of you, it is a divine commission):
John 10:38 "But if I do it, even though you do not believe me, believe the miracles, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father."
Proverbs 3:6 in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
Mat 7:19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
Mat 7:20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
Mat 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
Remember: By your works, ye are known. Christians, the bible says that you'll be known by your works. How would I know that you are a Christian without you telling me? Is the answer: When you see the works of God, which take place through the faith of his followers. How do we know which works are God's works or perhaps an atheists or the works of someone of another faith? One answer is: "He who works miracles among you, and ministers the Spirit, he does this by listening to the word and being moved by it." Fine. But what exactly does that mean. In the real world.
The Question Again
So the question is, what fruits are you bringing forth, which fruits have you produced? What miracles have you witnessed? What can you testify to?
Christians try to convince atheists that all they need are beliefs, that faith alone is sufficient. By your grace you are saved, yes, but is faith without works really what it's about? Sadly no:
James 2:14-26: New King James Version (NKJV)
Faith Without Works Is Dead: What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him...Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
If Christians are saying that their beliefs are entirely based on the invisible, that there is no evidence, because Christianity is all about faith, you are sadly mistaken. Because in John Jesus himself says, "hey, believe the miracles, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me." The evidence for God is thus miracles.
Righteo, so what are they? Please don't make the argument that we should only believe in Jesus' miracles, allegedly produced 2000 years ago, because
Phil 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. NKJV
Luke 1:37 For with God nothing will be impossible. NKJV
John 14:14 If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. NKJV
I presume all these verses are still applicable? They did not become obsolete 2000 years ago, correct? If faith alone is sufficient then what do the above verses refer to other than results? And the implication seems to be supernatural/miraculous results. Not "I can do a few things, or some things..." But "I can do all
But again, surely one's word is sufficient? Don't put us to the test, our word ought to be good enough. Really. I've covered that above, but let's be anal about it. If words are good enough, I can claim to be the Son of God, or so could anyone walking down the street, just because what one says ought he to be believed? No, clearly not. Jesus performed miracles as a matter of course, and clearly this helped people to believe in him. Surely the same is true today? Agreed. Then let's hear it.
Talk Is Cheap
Surely one's word is sufficient. Sorry to belabour the point, but we all know that this isn't true. If it were true, talk would be very cheap (and sometimes, for some people, it is). We would enter into lifelong relationships with perfect (often not so perfect) strangers at the drop of a hat (and many do). We would have children at the drop of a hat (and many do). We would commit our entire lives to a belief system based on a paragraph or two, which sounds very compelling (and millions do). That something out there loves us, and if we open ourselves up to it, all can be forgiven and we can go on to live forever, and be where we belong (sounds good, sign me up).
But in the bible talk is cheap. And so the trick is this - if you believe in God, miracles ought not to be necessary
, anywhere. This article makes that very point:
In fact, it's been demonstrated that the failure of end of the world events doesn't make believers doubt their beliefs, but quite the opposite. Thus, even when prognostications prove to be false (as they are time and time again, including those provided in John and Revelations), believers feel their faith is more urgent and important in the face of them (whether or not they are true) and people become more convicted not only when evidence is lacking, but especially so.
Miracles are very similar. It doesn't really matter whether they are true or not, but the power they have (real or imagined) makes believers see their faith as both real, relevant and urgent. What is also interesting is that a scientific cure for a disease (a new cure) that make save millions of lives, will tend to be greeted as a miracle in the beginning. Only much later is it recognised as science buy the community. Of course the scientists who develop their techniques are absolutely clear that it is science. Good example is Dr. Chris Barnard performing the first open heart surgery. http://virtualmentor.ama-assn.org/2012/03/mhst1-1203.html Is open heart surgery today considered a miracle, or is it a well established medical technique?
This site claims to have the 'miracle' cure for AIDS, cancer etc and guess what it only costs $7 to find out what it is (what a bargain): http://miraclecuresexposed.com/
Such cynicism is obviously misplaced when it comes to the real deal, which are Christian miracles.
Which is why here is an opportunity for Christians to strut their stuff. What extraordinary, inexplicable event has happened in your life, which you have testified to your fellow believers as a miracle? Or which, if you haven't, you have been meaning to? It's an opportunity to say 'I believe...and my faith is real...because X,Y,Z...'
Atheists should be advised, before they respond, that whether these experiences are real or not, they may be real in the same way the impact of a placebo nevertheless has a 'real' impact based on a physiological expectation, and in this sense the believer deserves a little credit.
Noddy badges will be provided for the truly inexplicable, cases where healings have been long term, confirmed by doctors and otherwise documented. 5 stars will be provided where scientists concede that the term miracle is appropriate. Let's hear it!
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