” . . . NOT BY SIGHT”

“Seeing is believing” is an age-old saying that may have its origin in the statement by ‘Thomas, “If I do not see. . .

I will not believe” (Jn. 20:25). To this the Lord replied, “Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”

This contrast between faith and sight is frequent in the Scrip­tures. By faith Noah was warned by God “concerning events as yet unseen.” Abraham believed God and was reckoned righteous (Gen.15: 6) many years before he ever saw God working to ful­fill the promise. Moses forsook the throne and the treasures of Egypt, as “seeing Him who is invisible,” long before he saw the burning bush. Peter (1 Pet. 1:8) speaks of our faith in Christ, “in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing.” The classic description of faith in Heb. 11:1 makes it clear that faith works in the realm of the unseen. This should not surprise us, “for the things which are seen are temporal but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:18). We live in the world of time and sense, the world that is perishing; through faith we can reach across to the enduring world of spiritual reality. Faith gives substance to things not seen. Here is where the Christian life is lived, for “we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7).


Some, following this line of thought to ‘the extreme, have be­come so “spiritual” that they have done away with baptism and the Lord’s supper as “carnal ordinances.” (I notice, though, that they still find place for a cash offering!) More numerous are those at the opposite extreme whose frequent expression is, “God did so-and ­so” or “God told me so-and-so”. They look everywhere for a visible manifestation of God, such as a miracle.

Now it should be obvious that God does intervene in every­day events, and sometimes His interventions are miraculous in form. Among the gifts given to the body of Christ we find miracles and gifts of healing (1 Cor. 12). As the other gifts, these were given for the edification of the body; exactly how each was intended to edify, we are not told. We find miracles in profusion during the brief earthly ministry of our Lord and in some (apparently) special occasions in the book of Acts. Yet I don’t remember a single verse of scripture that explains the purpose of miracles. ..


The Jews connected miracles with faith: “What sign showest thou, then, that we may see and believe thee?” (Jn. 6:30). This corresponds to Paul’s, “the Jews require a sign….” (1 Cor.1:22). The Lord Jesus provided an abundance of signs (miracles), but these did not produce faith. “But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him” (Jn. 12:37). It appears that no miracle was ever worked for the sole purpose of producing faith; demands for such a miracle were always turned aside. It would even seem that the Lord used His many miracles as proof that they would not believe, even with the testimony of His works.

Several times the Jews demanded a sign (that they might be­lieve). Each time the demand was rejected, and the hearers were pointed to a greater work, a sign that would create faith, the sign of His crucifixion and resurrection (Matt. 12:38; Jn. 2:18; 6:30; 8:28. Read the context in each case.) Paul draws the same contrast: “For the Jews require a sign…but we preach Christ crucified.” Christ crucified is the “word of Christ” where faith originates (Rom. 10:17). Although the word “faith” may be used in various ways, saving faith has no other basis than the crucified Son of God. The rich man in torment was told that his brothers would not believe the testimony of a resurrected Lazarus if they would not believe God’s word to Moses. All of this put together should tell us that the message of the cross is the only hope for lost sinners. It is here that faith must rest.


Yes, God still works miracles, in the time and place of His own choosing, but if God hasn’t given you a miraculous gift, you don’t need to feel that you are a step-child, a second-rate Christian. “The gospel of Christ. . . is the power of God unto salvation. . .” (Rom. 1:16). A simple spoken testimony to the power of Jesus to save bears the potential of eternal life to the hearer. Not a replaced ear or a withered hand restored, but LIFE FROM THE DEAD! A new creation! And God’s fellow-worker in this supernatural event is required to be only a witness-nothing more. Or perhaps an intercessor.

This is not intended to play down the vital role of spiritual gifts in the body of Christ. Rather, it is hopefully to assure every believer that he (or she) can share in the most spectacular of the works that the Lord is doing on earth today. You may never wit­ness a miracle, much less perform one, but that doesn’t mean that you cannot experience the greatest thrill that can come to any Chris­tian. There’s no miracle that can match the wonder that comes from seeing lives transformed by the word of the cross. This is “the foolishness of God” that is wiser than men and the power of God that is stronger than men (1 Cor. 1:25).

– Gordon Linscott was  Editor of Word & Work (1962-1976)