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Greg Laurie - Believing Is Seeing

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    Greg Laurie - Believing Is Seeing

You know, eventually we all get around to asking the big questions about life. And one of the questions that's often asked is, why does God allow suffering? Why does the Lord allow evil in the world? Why do bad things happen to good people? And we could even ask why do good things happen to bad people? These are big questions, and we also have other questions like, why do I only lose one sock? And where does the other one go? Now I, that's not really a big question. But this is not a new question. You might think it's new because it's occurred to you, but this is a question that has been asked pretty much for all human time. Even back in the days of Jesus, this question was asked.

This is a story before us of a blind man that was healed by Jesus, and this man not only had his eyes opened physically, he also had his eyes opened spiritually. We have all heard it said, "seeing is believing". But in this case, believing was seeing. I mean, imagine for a moment if you did not have the gift of sight. This man was born blind. He never was able to see. To be able to see for the first time the faces of your loved ones, the beauty of God's creation, and best of all to see the face of Jesus himself. How amazing that was, and this man saw what really mattered. He saw what life was all about because of his encounter with Christ. So let's read together John chapter 9. I'll read verses 1 to 7. By the way, I'm reading from the New Living Translation.

"As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been born blind from birth. 'Rabbi,' his disciples asked him, 'why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents' sins?' Jesus answered, 'It was not because of the sins of his parents or his sins. This happened so the power of God could be seen in him. We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned to us by the one who sent us. The night is coming when no one can work. But while I'm here in the world, I am the light of the world.' Then Jesus spit on the ground, made mud with the saliva, and spread the mud over the blind man's eyes and told him, 'Go wash yourself in the Pool of Siloam.'" Siloam means sent. "So the man went and washed and came back seeing"! Great story, isn't it? So we're looking at the signs of Jesus as given to us in the gospel of John.

So let's come to question number one, point number one, why does God allow suffering? The disciples asked in verse 2, "Why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents' sins"? So we ask the same question today. Why? Why would a little beautiful baby be born with a disability? Why would God allow that act of terrorism? Why would God allow this war? Why would God allow this other thing that is happening, this tragedy to happen in my life? I'm talking to someone I know who feels like they were dealt a bad hand in the game of life, and it doesn't seem fair because you know other people that never experienced the trauma you've experienced. Why did that have to happen to me, we ask. Why did that loved one die unexpectedly? Why do I have to have this disability? Why this? Why that? They're valid questions. So these are things that don't always make sense, and there's not an easy answer.

That brings us to point number 2: Bad things happen because we live in a fallen world. Bad things happen because we live in a fallen world. In a broad sense, sickness, disabilities, even death are all the result of sin. Not personal sin, 'cause that was the question the disciples asked. Was it his own sin that brought this on him? Or was it the sin of his parents? Jesus is saying neither. Okay, so we don't need to blame it on someone. It's just sin in general cast onto us by our first parents, Adam and Eve, thank you very much. Adam and Eve were given the ability to choose, and God gives all of us this ability to choose.

Romans 5:12 says, "As sin came into the world through one man, death came through sin and spread to all men because all have sinned". So, God's not responsible for our sin. We're responsible for our sin. But we ask, well why didn't God make us so we could not sin? Because he's given you a free will. He doesn't want a bunch of little robots preprogrammed, doing it exactly what he wants them to do. He gives us a choice. And we can choose good, and we can choose evil. We can choose right, or we can choose wrong. And then we make our choices, and our choices make us. There's a verse I love in scripture where God says, "Behold I set before you death and life, blessings and curses. Now choose life that you may live".

It's almost like a teacher's in front of a classroom and she says to the class, "Okay now, you need to pass this next exam. And there's one question on the exam, and I'm gonna give you the answer. Here's the answer". God says okay, you are gonna go through life, and I give you choices for life, death, blessings, curses, then God gives us the answer: Choose life. I'm telling you, choose life, but you don't have to choose life. You can choose death. You can choose sin. You can choose a lot of things, and then you face the consequences. I know it doesn't seem fair at times, but God gives us the ability to exercise our free will. So what did we learn from this story?

Number 3: Though life can be bad, God is good. Though life can be bad, God is good. Now, I wanna read verses 3 to 4 again, but there's no break in the original chapter. So when we read in our Bibles, there'll be verse 3, there'll be verse 4, there'll be chapter this, chapter that. But Jesus was just speaking in a continuous statement. So, let's read it that way. "Jesus said, 'It's not because of his sins or the sins of his parents. This happened so the power of God could be seen in him. We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned to us by the one who sent us. The night is coming when no man can work.'" So, instead of dealing with how this man ended up blind, Jesus said, "I'll glorify myself through it," How? "By healing this man".

And by the way, God still heals people today. And it's a good thing to ask God to heal you. The Bible does say if you have not, because you ask not. So if you're sick, if you have some problem, by all means, go to the Lord and ask for his healing touch. Having said that, God does not heal everybody. Why? I don't know. But I'm gonna make sure that I ask him for that healing, and it's okay to keep asking him for that healing again and again. So Jesus chose to do a miracle in this man's life. The question was not who caused the misery. The question is, God speaking, "Will you allow me to use it"? And how Jesus touches this guy is really interesting. Jesus spits on the ground. He never did this any other time.

Can you imagine coming for prayer. "Pastor would you pray for me"? "Sure". "Would you lay hands on me and pray God heals me"? "I was thinking of something else". "What's that? Wait, what"? 'Cause it's kinda weird, let's be honest. He spits on the ground, then wipes it in the dirt, puts it in the guy's eye sockets. Here's mud in your eyes, buddy. "Now go to the pool of Siloam and be washed". Incredible. Jesus buries his methodology so we will not trust in the methodology but rather trust in him. God has no limitations as to what or who he will use for his glory.

We always want everyone to be perfect and flawless and they never make a mistake. But God goes out of his way to choose really broken, flawed people to get glory from. And why does he do this? The answer is found in 1 Corinthians 1:27 where Paul writes, "God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. And as a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God". So God works through a certain person, we say, "Pfft, I know that person. They could never do that. That has to be God". Exactly. See, what that means is God can use you. And God can use me.

Point number 5: There is God's part, and there is our part. There is God's part and there is our part. Look at verse 7 again: Jesus told him, "'Go wash yourself in the Pool of Siloam.' And the man went and washed and came back seeing". That must have been a weird sight. "Isn't that that blind guy? Why is he running down the street? What's in his eyes? Where is he going? What's happening"? And this guy goes and does what Jesus said. I want you to notice there was no promise attached to this command. Jesus did not say, "Go wash in the Pool of Siloam, and your eyes will be healed". I'd run too. He just said, "Go wash in the Pool of Siloam".

Didn't say what would happen next. This guy's faith is activated, and he can't get to the Pool of Siloam quickly enough. He's sprinting there to do what Jesus said. We need to follow his example. Listen, when opportunity knocks, don't sit there complaining about the noise. When opportunity knocks, you need to open the door. So, has the Lord shown you to do something? Sometimes it's just a little nudge from the Holy Spirit. "Go do this". "Go pray for that person". "Go share the gospel with this other person". "Go take this little step of faith in some other area of your life". Jesus said, "You are my friends if you do whatsoever I command you". Whatsoever. He didn't say you are my friends if you do whatsoever you agree with. Or, you are my friends if you do whatsoever you find easy. No, "You are my friends if you do whatsoever I commanded you". That meant acted on faith.

Now, was everybody excited that he was healed? Some were. Others weren't. He got in trouble with the religious authorities. Go back to John 9, look at verse 10. "They asked him, 'Who healed you? What happened?' He told them, 'The man they call Jesus made mud, spread it over my eyes, and he told me go wash in the Pool of Siloam. Okay, I went and washed, and now I can see.' They asked, 'Where is he now?' He says, 'I don't know.'" This is kinda funny to me. They're cross-examining him. "I don't know. I was blind and, he put mud in my eye and told me to go wash, and that's what I did and now I can see".

Point number 6: Jesus changes everything. Jesus changes everything. I love what the man says in verse 11: "I met the man named Jesus". When you meet the man named Jesus, everything in your life will change. He could've dropped that detail, because you see, back in this day for the Jewish person, the synagogue was the center of their life and these religious leaders ruled the synagogue. If you got on their bad side, they could expel you from the synagogue.

And the synagogue was the place where you worshipped. It was the place where you had friends to meet with. It was the place where you would even get business deals set up. It was, it was the center of all activity. So he could've just omitted the fact that Jesus did it because Jesus was already a controversial figure. But he gave glory to God, and I think it's so important when someone asks us how our life has changed, that we are not embarrassed to say, "the man called Jesus touched me". Paul said, "I'm not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God and his salvation to everyone who believes".

'Cause sometimes God will change a person's life. They were strung out on drugs, they were an alcoholic, they were in some criminal lifestyle, they were having other issues, they were in deep depression, then Christ came into their life and changed them. And someone says, "Man, your life is so much different! You seem so much happier! What happened? What did you do"? "Well, it's just clean living". And we even use that weird voice, and no one knows why. "Clean living". "Is that really all it is"? No, tell 'em. "Well, I'll tell you what, it's the man called Jesus. Jesus did this for me. And he can do it for you". This guy owns it. He speaks up for his faith.

Point number 7: Following Jesus will cost you. Following Jesus will cost you. He got in trouble with these religious authorities. When I became a Christian, I realized I need a new set of friends. These old friends are draggin' me down, 'cause you can accept Christ and go hang out with your old friends and they're living in a way that is not the way God wants them or you to live, and you can get pulled down so quickly. Sometimes you need new friends. But it costs to follow Jesus. But lemme say this, while it's true that it costs to follow Jesus, it costs a lot more not to follow Jesus. And it's worth it, right? It's worth it. You can applaud now. Go. I know you wanted to in your heart, I'm just helping you.

So, that brings me to point number 8: We need to tell others about what Jesus has done for us. This guy's only seconds sold in this faith, and he's already talking about Jesus. And I love that. You know, we will tend to talk about what we're passionate about, right? So, and that's true of tweeting and posting too. You know, a lot of employers will, they're gonna look at your social media before they hire you, 'cause they wanna see what does this person really care about? And so, you can say, "Oh, I love Jesus. Jesus is everything". "Well, okay, I'm gonna look at your Instagram account now. Will that reflect that as well"? That doesn't mean every post has to be a Bible verse, but the Christian should be primarily passionate about Jesus Christ. That's our main passion.

Point number 9: If you walk with Jesus Christ, you need to find new friends. You need to find new friends because it comes down to this you're either gonna have harmony with God and friction with people, or you're gonna have harmony with people and friction with God. What do you want? "Well, I want everyone to like me". Oh, really? Jesus said beware when all men speak well of you. No, if you're a real follower of Christ, you can be the nicest, most considerate, loving person. You're gonna have some enemies. And it's not really so much about you. It's about who you're following. But those enemies can be turned into friends as you seek to engage them with the gospel, and that brings me to this next movement of the story.

Let's go to John 9 verse 24: "For the second time they call in this man who had been born blind and told him, 'Give God the glory, because we know this man Jesus is a sinner.' The man replies, 'Look, I don't know whether or not he's a sinner,'" but I love this verse, "'but this I know. Once I was blind, but now I see.'" Please underline that verse. That's one of the greatest statements in all of the Bible. Once I was blind, but now I see. I love the zeal of the new believer.

Listen to this. Did you know that 80% of people that hear the gospel hear it from someone who has been a Christian for less than two years? Isn't that interesting? Most people who hear the gospel hear it from someone who's a new Christian! Why doesn't that stat say most people who hear the gospel hear it from someone who has been a Christian for ten years? I'll tell you the answer. New believers are filled with zeal for the Lord. Here's another question: Why is it that those that know the most do the least? And those that know the least do the most?

Example, I'll have someone come up and say, "I wanna serve here at Harvest. Like, what, what can I do? I'll do anything. I'll set up chairs. I'll help people find parking spaces. I'll counsel people. I'll work in children's ministry". "Well, thank you for offering. How long have you been coming to Harvest? One week? Oh. One week. Wow. Where did you go to church before"? "I didn't. I got saved last week. But I wanna serve the Lord". I love that. But we'll say, "Well, you know, we think you need to attend for a while and get grounded in your faith before we give you these responsibilities".

But then there are people that have been coming here ten years, twenty years, longer, and they've never volunteered for anything. The church needs new believers. New believers are the life blood of the church. New believers need older believers to stabilize them. Older believers need younger believers to energize them. You get around a younger Christian with all their questions, and you find yourself getting fired up even talking to them, the zeal of the young believer. And that brings me to point number ten. I have ten more points, I'm almost done. No, I have twelve in total. We're close.

Number 10: Your personal testimony is one of the most powerful tools you have. It's a great way to start a conversation. Here's this guy's testimony. "Once I was blind, but now I see". And we already see spiritual growth in the life of this man. Verse 32, he says to the religious leaders, "Hey, ever since the world began, no one has been able to open the eyes of someone born blind. If this man were not from God, he couldn't have done it". So already, he's evangelizing them. He's taking them to task. So, it's fascinating to notice the progression of his understanding. First he called Jesus a prophet. Then he says he's from God. And now he, he realizes he is the Lord.

Bringing me to point number 11: Your faith grown stronger when you share it. Don't miss this point, your faith grows stronger when you share it. You say, "But Greg, I don't, I don't know that much. I'm not a theologian". You may not be a theologian, but you are the world's expert on you. You know your story, and a great way to start a conversation is by beginning with your story. Example, the apostle Paul, formerly Saul of Tarsus, Christian killer, persecutor of the church, but he was a great orator. He was a brilliant intellect. Yet on almost every occasion when Paul stood before nonbelievers, he began with his testimony.

"Guys, lemme tell you what happened to me. I'm on the Damascus road hunting down Christians. All of a sudden Jesus appears to me". Always started with that. 'Cause everyone can relate to that. People can argue with your theology. They can't argue with your story. It's a great way to begin. That's exactly what this guy is doing. And there's something energizing about making a stand for your faith. There will be times when you're feeling down. Maybe you're even depressed. Maybe you're feeling sorry for yourself. And then you encounter someone and somehow you get into a conversation about Jesus, and as you tell them about what Jesus has done for you, you're gettin' all excited. Your mood changes. Why? 'Cause you're remembering how faithful God has been, and you leave that conversation refueled.

You see how it works? This is why Satan hates evangelism. First of all, he doesn't wanna lose any more of his people to the kingdom of light, and he doesn't want you to experience the rejuvenating, reviving effects of sharing your faith with others. So he says to you, "You're not qualified. You won't have the answers. You're a loser. You're a failure". And to that, we can say, "Um, go to hell". And that's the one time you can say go to hell and it's okay. Satan, go to hell. Get outta here. I reject this. I know God wants to use me.

Final point, number 12: If you stand up for Jesus, he will stand up for you. If you stand up for Jesus, he will stand up for you. Look at verse 35: "Jesus heard they had thrown him out, and when he found him he said, 'Do you believe in the Son of Man?' The man asked, 'Who is he? Tell me and I'll believe in him.' Jesus said, 'You have now seen him. In fact, he is the one speaking with you.' And the man said, 'Lord, I believe.' And he worshipped him". I love that. "Do you believe in the name of the Son of Man"? "Uh, who is he? Where is he"? "You're talkin' to him, buddy". "I believe. I believe. You're the one that healed me. I believe".

Right there on the spot. Religion turned this man away. Jesus took him in. The religious leader said, "Get outta here. You're trouble. We don't like you here. You're a living miracle". But Jesus was ready. Have you been disillusioned with religion? You've tried to keep all the rules and regulations and do you still come up empty? I love how this man started out by calling Jesus a prophet, and now is worshipping him. And I close with this question of Christ. Do you believe in the name of the Son of God? We had a crusade a number of years ago down in San Diego, and there was a 90-year-old woman in a wheelchair that attended with her granddaughter.

The lady's name was Henny. And I happened to be speaking on what happens beyond the grave that particular night. And when we gave the invitation for people to come to Christ and walk forward, Henny's granddaughter, at her request, wheeled her grandmother down to the front and Henny prayed and asked Jesus to come into her life. And then Henny turned to the counselor that greeted her and was so thankful what God had done for her, and I left out one important detail. Henny was also blind, and she said to the counselor she was looking forward to being able to see forever in eternity. Changing a life. You might say, "All right, Greg, show me and I'll believe. Prove it". And God effectively says believe and I'll show you. That's why I called this message "Believing is Seeing".
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