****** This is a reprint of an article I wrote in 2005********
Believing Is Seeing
By Mike Mattice
“I’ll believe it when I see it!” The young man emphasized. Our topic was the existence of God. As He so often does, my God taught me several things through this casual conversation with an unbelieving teenager. As I frequently do, I am endeavoring to share what I’ve learned, through writing.
In just sixteen years of experience, this young man had settled into his ideas. I’m not so naïve as to not see that some of his comments were intended to invoke a shocked reaction from me; however, he addressed some issues that deserve investigation. Once again, some of the most unshakable logic and profound truth came to me after the conversation ended.
Early in the discussion, he revealed his belief, based on some unusual experiences, in ghosts. Yet, he admitted to not believing in God. My first query is: “Why is it easier to believe in the spirits of dead people wandering, haunting, and causing general havoc, than to believe in an all-powerful loving God?”
Perhaps I should expound on each question individually. My young friend said he had witnessed proof of “ghosts”. I accept that his experiences could have been supernatural in origin, but suggested that things may not be what they seem, and the spooky answer might not be the true explanation. Moreover, he insisted that he has never seen proof of God’s existence. Herein lies the core of this message.
I shared my testimony about a life-altering dream that brought me to salvation and healing. I had been unable to walk, until Jesus saved me and healed me. My present ability to walk is proof that God exists. The boy insisted that there could have been any number of causes for my healing.
Before going on, I want to address this specific point: If you, a believer, are sharing Scripture with someone who does not accept the authority of God’s Word, are you perhaps “casting pearls before swine”? I don’t mean to demean unbelievers. I’m just wondering, how effective can that be? But if you are sharing your personal experience, your testimony, how can that be logically disputed (assuming the hearer trusts the witness)? Anyone who is familiar with me or my writing knows that I understand the “gospel IS the power of God unto salvation”. But the CORE of the gospel is the testimony of our new life in Christ. You can quote the Scriptures until you’re blue in the face, if the hearer does not believe the Bible. However, the most powerful witness is the evidence of a personal relationship with the living God.
This is the point when people tend to start thinking I may have some mental illness, when I start sharing how my Lord walks and talks with me all the time. He never leaves me, nor forsakes me. It’s not some surreal or imagined thing. He is REALLY and LITERALLY with me.
I may be shifting the subject here a bit, but query number two: “Why would even believers think it odd to experience the literal presence and hear the voice of the Lord?” My God is not a figment of my imagination. He is completely real and alive. He is ever-present in my life because I am His child, and that’s why He created me. He talks to me because He wants to teach me, and fellowship with me. Again, that’s why I was created and redeemed. There is nothing special about me. In fact, Jesus talks to me, likely a lot more than I listen, not at all because of who I am; rather, because of who He is. I believe that every Christian can and should have that kind of relationship with the Lord. What stops them? Maybe He is there, and speaks to them, but because they have relegated the presence of God to “a feeling” or “spiritual sense”, they don’t see Him or hear Him. I don’t always see Him, but I always know He is there (whether I see Him or not). I don’t always hear Him. Usually that’s because He says something I don’t expect or want to hear. To all Christians I pose this: “Do you believe God is REAL?” If so, why is it inconceivable that His presence would be tangible?
Maybe I didn’t really jump the subject ship. In John chapter three, Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (Jn. 3:3 NKJV) Now, if someone claims to be Christian, yet they shun the phrase “born again”, according to Jesus, would they be able to “see the kingdom of God”? I suppose it might be good to discuss “the kingdom”. Simply, a kingdom is where a sovereign reigns. It’s not rocket science! The kingdom of God is not only heaven, but in the hearts and lives of His servants (where He is LORD). His kingdom has a different set of standards and laws than this world. Most of these principles of God’s kingdom make no sense to those who are outside of the kingdom. When someone is born again, they become a citizen of God’s kingdom, and receive not only a new nature that is reflective of their King, but are now submitted to the standards, laws, and principles of the kingdom of God. Until one is born again, they will not be able to comprehend (see) the things of His kingdom.
My young friend may have been trying the old adage, thinking I could not dispute the conventional “wisdom” of “When I see it, I’ll believe it!” However, the truth is, regarding the existence, presence, or other aspects of God, “Believing is seeing”.
Of course the young man has not “seen proof of God”! First of all, when seeing with “natural eyes”, you will not recognize it, regardless of how blatant it may be (for example, my testimony of healing). Secondly, believing is a prerequisite for seeing. If you do not first believe, you will find another explanation for occurrences.
I pray for my young friend and for many others like him, standing on the premise of believing only in what they see. I hope they will recognize the most important thing they could ever see will remain invisible to them, until they believe. The eyes can play tricks on you. The imagination can devise some inaccurate explanations for observations. For example, the issue of ghosts. If a person does not believe in God, it is unlikely they will accept the existence of the devil or demonic forces. For some, there is comfort in the belief that loved ones who have died may still be around in some supernatural way. Others believe that people die and become angels (although that’s almost believing in God!). A person may accept the “ghostly” explanation for apparent other-than-natural events. But, for those who KNOW the Lord and believe and trust in Him, whatever the source of the supernatural manifestations, there is absolutely nothing to fear. Furthermore, Christians have the biblical understanding that Satan and his demonic horde often appear as ghosts of the dead, angels, or whatever it takes to turn a person’s attention away from God. Are these occurrences “supernatural”? Sure. Are they the spirits of the dead? Not likely. Could they possibly be demonic activity to attempt to inspire fear, worship, or occultist practices? Absolutely!
Could my experience of the literal presence and conversation with Jesus be of the same origin? Wow… that could be an entire article in itself perhaps. In a nutshell, not likely. But, of course I am just a man, and could be deceived. However, I say it is unlikely because of the direction, comfort, instruction, and correction I receive from Him. It has always been completely consistent with His written Word (I know because I check!). It always exalts the Lord Jesus, and not me. In fact, it commonly contradicts my sensibility, logic, and human nature. I could go on, but I hope you see that these are certainly not the product of my imagination, nor the influence of the devil, nor of the world. That proves to me that my Lord walks and talks with me. If you don’t believe it’s possible, then you cannot experience it. If you are intrigued, want to believe it could be, then I challenge you to first believe the Lord wants to be with you, not just forever in heaven, but every day of your life here and now. Then, let Him!