THE JOHN 3:5 PROJECT
in the things that have been made...so they are without excuse!
And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. ~ Mark 16:17-18
Posted: Sunday, May 8, 2022
There is a quote from English clergyman Thomas Fuller that states: "Seeing is believing…", and there is a great deal of truth in that statement. While "seeing" does not always give us an accurate or complete assessment of "what" we see, much of what we confirm as "truth" is the result of what is before our eyes. Nevertheless, how would we apply that statement to God? We cannot "look" at God in the way we look at an object or another person. John 1:18 states that "No man has seen God at "any" time…" in addition to being unable to see God, he is also undetectable through any of our other senses. So, what is the basis for believing there is a God; a being we cannot see or detect?
There is no denying the hurdles involved in relating to something we cannot see or readily detect. However, if we as human beings realize these hurdles, then clearly, they are apparent to God as well. Since we cannot observe God independently, we are therefore completely reliant on him to make his existence and presence known. Evidence or the perception of evidence is the basis of any belief. Belief is predicated on some foundation by which confidence in something is justified or explained. That foundation, whatever it is, is always sourced to something external. The book of Romans states:
Romans 1:19For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; "Because that which may be known of God" is manifest in them; "for God hath "showed" it unto them.
Romans 1:20"For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been "clearly perceived", ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So, they are without excuse. "
The bible states that God has equipped us to interpret the reality of his existence through the things that surround us. By the variety, complexity, and the relationship between his creations, we can perceive that these are the result of "something" that is much greater than we are; even if one refuses to identify the God of the bible as the creator; we instinctively know by what we see, there is something greater in power and intelligence. God’s power and ability are the basis for worshiping him (Psalms 8: 4, Psalms 149:1-4, Psalms 150:1-6); he is greater than we are. Having an initial basis for accepting God’s existence through his offerings of proof, we have grounds to trust him.
if God is capable of creating a system of unimaginable complexity, that is intricately interconnected,
beyond what we can explain through mathematics and every branch of science, what isn’t he capable of. Note that
trust in God as the result of his offerings of proof
does not necessitate an "understanding " of his motives or
If we are simply confident that what he says about himself is "true ", then we can trust everything else
he says. The fact is, confidence in God, or anything else, is the result of those things demonstrated to be true; this is the basis of faith.
We put our trust in things that are reliable and are generally skeptical of things not easily conceived or are beyond what we are able to understand, or willing to accept; particularly if they defy the obvious; I.E. the structure, order and grouping of creation as the result of completely "random" events. God has given us a foundation for perceiving his existence from the things that surround us. The entities of this world form the premise that: " Anything "REAL " CAN and DOES manifest evidence of Its existence and its presence. " If it does not, then it is not real.
Genesis 2:7"And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.".
Genesis 2:7 illustrates that God created man a non-physical being into a physical reality. The body into which God breathed life is how Adam and we, his descendants, experience this world. Our senses, sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch are the input mechanisms that enable us to interpret and navigate our current conditions. We stated the premise that ANYTHING that is "real" will manifest some "evidence" of its existence or presence; if it is physical, it will manifest its existence and presence physically. It would be very difficult, if not impossible, to imagine something in our world that does not communicate or translate evidence of its existence or presence physically.
Even those things we cannot detect through our senses make their presence known through some physical aspect. For example, Carbon monoxide (CO) is completely undetectable through the human senses, but evidence of its presence becomes apparent during exposure. The denial of oxygen in the blood can cause unconsciousness and ultimately death. The evidence of its presence manifests in its effect on the human body. Similarly, we cannot detect the earth’s magnetic field that continuously passes through our bodies. While the earth’s magnetic field does not impose any damage to us, evidence of its existence and presence is realized in something as simple as the needle of a compass, or in something much more dramatic as the Northern lights (aurora borealis).
One notable exception would be the tricky case of shadows. A shadow is not a "physical" entity at all; yet
it describes the result of something that is real. A shadow is the product of two "real" entities, light and
an opaque object, the shadow itself has no physical properties; the shadow manifests nothing. Although we can
"perceive" shadows in relationship to light, whether the signals of the brain used in perception is considered
a direct "influential impact" (manifestation) of shadows or simply the brain’s "interpretation" of
stagnant data; I’ll leave that debate for the experts.
Our premise for the natural world also applies to the supernatural realm as well. God is real, he is also supernatural. As such, the evidence of God’s existence and presence manifests supernaturally. We read in:
Mark 16:17-18"And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.".
Mark 16:17-18 illustrates that the spirit of God will manifest in those who have believed to the level of the new birth. These manifestations are only the result of the spirit of God.
The characteristics mentioned in Mark 16:17-18 are not an intrinsic attribute of man, nor the result of "affirmative declarations" shrouded in ideas of belief (Acts 8:9-22, Acts 19:11-17); they are the result of a "miraculous" characteristic alien to man. Fallen man has no innate abilities that are "supernatural" or attributes that are "holy." These characteristics are the unique traits of God and God alone. If one possesses these qualities, they are clearly the endowment of God to the born again (John 3:5, Acts 2:4, Acts 2:38); they are a part of us through the Holy Spirit.
The Son of God testifies that the same spirit that enabled him to perform miraculous acts, is the “same” spirit that enables the born again to manifest the power of God. Jesus said in:
John 14:12"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall “he” do; because I go unto my Father.".
It is only through the birth of the Holy Spirit that we become children of God endowed with the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8). Jesus outlines the criteria of salvation in John 3:5 which states:
John 3:5"Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water "and" of the Spirit, he "cannot" enter into the kingdom of God.".
Throughout the new testament, the spirit of God empowered the disciples to perform supernatural acts. We read in:
Acts 2:1-4"And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. "
We began with the premise that "Anything real will manifest evidence of its existence and presence", so it is only fitting to end with that premise. God is real, he is also supernatural. As with the Son of God, our power only comes through the spirit of God. Jesus affirms this:
John 5:30"I can of mine own self “do nothing”: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me."
We also read in:
John 14:10"Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, "he" doeth the works. "
Finally, we read in
Romans 8:11"But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies, by his Spirit that dwelleth in you."
Addressing the scriptures, in reverse order, the spirit of God is literal. One must "receive" the spirit of God. The initial sign of the new birth (infilling of the Holy Spirit – John 3:5, Acts 2:38, Act 10:44-48, Act 11:14-18, Acts 19:1-6) is speaking in tongues as the spirit of God gives the utterance. This manifestation of God in the individual is a declaration of divine acceptance (Acts 11:15-18) and a sign that an individual has been born into the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13). The new birth is an "experience" with God through his spirit and ours (Romans 8:16); it is "literal", not a state of mind, a "pattern of behavior", or a "decision"for Christ; one must "receive" the spirit of God (Matthew 3:11, John 3:5, Acts 2:38, 1 Corinthians 12:13). While it is important to note that a "state of mind" and a "pattern of behavior" is "symptomatic" of the Holy Spirit , man has no supernatural or holy aspect apart from the spirit of God.
All throughout the bible, God has demonstrated evidence of his power and presence in the affairs of man. Whether it was Samson killing a thousand men with the jawbone of an ass (Judges 15:14-16) or Peter’s shadow healing (Acts 5:15-16), the same God in their respective times still manifests his power in our time. The bible expresses the manifestation of God in his people in the Book of Corinthians which states:
1 Corinthians 12:4-13"4Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. 6And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. 7But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man [spirit filled man v13] to profit withal. 8For to one is given "by the Spirit" the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge "by the same Spirit" To another "faith" by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; 9To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy;
10 to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: 11But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. 12For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. 13For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many."
Once more, anything real will manifest evidence of its existence and presence. God is real and he is also supernatural, as such, the evidence of his existence and his presence will manifest supernaturally, if God does not manifest his power in some supernatural form in the "believer" then the question must be asked "is he present?"