Personal faith rarely depends on one item of “evidence.” Rather our faith is like a planet in a solar system, held in orbit by the gravitational pull of a sun and other planets. It balances between several things that we find compelling. Each supports our faith to a different degree. Scripture is vitally important. One giant “planet” is our (personal and corporate) experience of His risen presence. We see Him working in verifiable ways: healings, revelations that only He can give, and tangible action in a friend’s life or our own. The evidence ranges from the objective, to a subjective sense of the voice of Jesus and His presence. Even the subjective is valuable to the individual and is a valid piece of the evidence undergirding our faith. Anchoring all those interacting forces and greater than them all, is one central “sun” – the historical bodily resurrection of Jesus.
The New Testament documents the response of witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection. Nervous and cowardly disciples became confident spokesmen for a world-changing movement. They were not just putting a brave face on a tragedy. They had witnessed a crucifixion victim walking, eating, and talking with them. It was life changing.
One of the most dramatic transformations was the Pharisee, Saul’s. The voice of Jesus confronted Saul with his actions and called him to His own cause. Later, He renamed him Paul.
Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting, but get up and enter the city, and it will be told you what you must do.” The men who traveled with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; and leading him by the hand, they brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank. (Acts 9:1-9)
Although people rarely see visions of Jesus or hear an audible voice, hearing His voice in our hearts is a vital part of the Christian experience. It is not a random, weird mind-chatter but a lucid communication that bears practical fruit. The voice of Jesus is distinct because it interrupts the relentless flow of our thoughts. His words are always consistent with Scripture. He speaks for various purposes – comfort, direction, insight into other people’s lives, counsel, and correction – always the result is greater wellbeing. There are seasons when we don’t hear Him, but the reality of His voice remains part of the evidence that He is alive.
Occasionally, God’s voice drowns out our frenzied and misguided activity as it did Saul’s. However, God spoke the details of His message to Paul during days of blinding darkness, silence, and isolation. Typically, it is easiest to hear His voice when distractions are minimal and we are attentive. Always we should hunger for His voice because it refuels our faith and gives it direction.
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