Phil Cox

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Have you considered the evidence?

21st June 2007

The start of Acts Chapter 2 describes the first time the Holy Spirit was poured out on the church:

Acts 2v1-4
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

This was God inaugurating the church as His new temple.

To see that the church is now the temple of God, see:

1 Cor 3v16
Donít you know that you yourselves are Godís temple and that Godís Spirit lives in you?

2 Cor 6v16
...For we are the temple of the living God...

Ephesians 2v19-22
...you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow-citizens with Godís people and members of Godís household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.

1 Peter 2v4-5
As you come to him, the living Stone ó rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him ó you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

To see that both the tabernacle and the Old Testament temple were also inaugurated by the manifestation of the Holy Spirit, see Exodus 40, especially verses 34-35:

Exodus 40v34-35
Then the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. Moses could not enter the Tent of Meeting because the cloud had settled upon it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.

And 2 Chronicles chapters 5 to 7, especially verses 5v13-14 and 7v1-3:

2 Chronicles 5v13-14
The trumpeters and singers joined in unison, as with one voice, to give praise and thanks to the LORD. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, they raised their voices in praise to the LORD and sang: "He is good; his love endures for ever." Then the temple of the LORD was filled with a cloud, and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the temple of God.

2 Chronicles 7v1-3
When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. The priests could not enter the temple of the LORD because the glory of the LORD filled it. When all the Israelites saw the fire coming down and the glory of the LORD above the temple, they knelt on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshipped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying, "He is good; his love endures for ever."

The church is now God's temple on Earth! He demonstrated it by this powerful manifestation of His power and glory. And He continues to dwell in His church by His Spirit. It's time we started to believe it and act accordingly.

And when the Spirit comes on the church, the people around get to notice:

Acts 2v5-13
Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language.
Utterly amazed, they asked: "Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs ó we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!" Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, "What does this mean?"
Some, however, made fun of them and said, "They have had too much wine."

It's interesting that there were two very different reponses to what was happening. Some - the more open-minded observers - were "amazed and perplexed". Well, it was amazing and perplexing. People from all sorts of places were hearing these Galileans speaking in their own languages! And when we see the power of God at work in Christian people, it is both amazing and perplexing, especially if we're not used to the idea that God is powerful and actually gets involved with His people.

But other people just laughed at the church, and said they were drunk. The interesting thing about this response is that it doesn't take any account of the evidence. It's not based on rational thinking. Being drunk doesn't help you to speak in foreign languages - it just makes you worse at speaking your own.

Why did they react like that? It was either because they didn't want to believe in the power of God or because they couldn't believe in the power of God, even when it was demonstrated in front of their faces.

It's easy to dismiss the idea that God cares and acts to bring His help to His people, and to demonstrate His majesty and goodness to mankind. These people certainly managed it. But you have to ignore a huge amount of evidence. Christian people are, on average, as intelligent as other people, and they're less prone to lying (although not as much less as we would like to think). On average, they're considerably less drunk than the population as well. And they've been telling us about what God's done for them for 2000 years! There are miracles happening all over this country every day, but they don't get reported. This isn't because they're not real, it's because the news media refuse to believe the evidence.

You can ignore the evidence if you like, but please don't pretend that there isn't any. Please don't make up an excuse as lame as the one those onlookers used back in a.d. 30. Please, look at the evidence. Do you know Christian people whose lives have been transformed by God's power and love? I've met many. If you haven't, find a local church that's prepared to trust in the power of the Living God (not all churches are like this, but many are) and ask them for some evidence. They've got plenty.

Finally, this doubting the power of God isn't just a phenomenon found outside the church. There's an awful lot if it inside, as well. All of us doubt God's power and His love to some extent. But shouldn't Christians know better?

God's alive and well, and He's changing lives all over the world. Why not consider the evidence? He's able to change your life, too!