Luke 16.19-31 – Belief & Unbelief
Posted: 2 September 2010 in Luke

There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham…… I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him [Lazarus] to my father’s house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.

The final verse in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus reminds me of the verse in John 6.45. The rich man’s words correspond exactly to what I hear from the new atheists today: “If God wants me to believe in him, why doesn’t he materialise if front of me, and raise somebody from the dead?” or words to that effect. Always it is one more piece of evidence, and then they will believe.

The New Testament bears witness to the fact of it always being the other way around. Those receptive to new revelation are always those who have been receptive to what God has had to say for himself in the past. Conversely, those who have not been receptive to existing revelation are also those who will continue to find excuses for not believing in the future. In the final analysis it all hinges upon what is in the heart, and not upon the amount of evidence available. For those who do not want to believe, no amount of evidence will ever be sufficient. For those who are prepared to believe, because they have been blessed by divine grace, and are God’s children, all the evidence they need is available to them in the Bible.

I do not want those last couple of sentences to sound too harsh. There doubtless are people, growing in faith, for whom the Bible may not seem to be sufficient evidence. I used to be one of them. There are others for whom the biblical evidence, though important, needs to be supplemented. But the key difference is that they are not looking for reasons not to believe.

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