Some people think that man has the power to believe Christ, whenever he chooses, if he so chooses. They think it is only a matter of logic or will. "If I see enough evidence I will just choose to believe." This way of thinking, however, completely bypasses the spiritual side of things! We don't have the power to believe, on our own. It is not a matter of simply seeing the evidence and making a logical, willing, choice. We must be spiritually enabled to believe! If God does not give us life in the Spirit; if he doesn't open our eyes to see what mere logic does not see; if he does not replace our hard heart of stone with a heart of flesh - we will never believe.
One example of this is in Acts 4. The Sanhedrin council who have recently condemned Jesus to death (talk about being spiritually blind! They missed God in the flesh!) now have Peter and John in their custody. Peter has given them a bold, Holy Spirit - inspired answer. He has declared to them that Jesus is the cornerstone they rejected; that God has raised him from the dead and there is salvation only in his name. Take a moment and ponder the glorious mercy of God here. These are the men responsible for Jesus' death (they literally shouted for him to be crucified). And now God has sent his apostles to them with the gospel message in their mouths. Here is yet another opportunity for the rulers of Israel to receive Christ as their Messiah from God.
Not only have they heard the truth, but they have seen the power! Standing before them is a man who, until yesterday, had never stood in his life! A lame beggar who was miraculously healed by Jesus through the apostles! The 71 men on the Sanhedrin council have been astonished at Peter's boldness and use of the Scriptures in his answer, since he and John are clearly uneducated men. In fact, they have not seen this kind of teaching with authority backed up with miracle-working, God-glorifying power since...Jesus Christ! They make a mental connection between the apostles and Jesus (v13).
Here is the evidence! Here is the proof! The truth that Peter is declaring is backed up with Holy Spirit power as he teaches with a strange authority that is from God. And here before them is a man Peter touched in Jesus' name - who can now walk! The Sanhedrin should fall on their faces in repentance, and confess that they were wrong to crucify Jesus. They should admit their sin to the nation and join Peter and John in declaring that Jesus is Messiah.
But they don't.
Believing Christ is not a matter of examining evidence and making a mental choice.
It must be granted. It must come from God.
Why is Peter on the other side of the issue? Why does he believe while the Sanhedrin reject clear evidence and refuse Christ? "He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 16:16-17, ESV). It was not that Peter was smarter, or made a better decision. IT WAS REVEALED TO HIM!!! The glory is God's, not Peter's.
The Sanhedrin is hardhearted and spiritually blind. And God has not opened their eyes. He leaves them to reject Christ. But he reveals truth to Peter. Glory to God!
Those who think they just need to see some clear evidence before they will believe Christ are wrong. The evidence could be staring them in the face, but a hard heart will not come to Jesus; a blind spiritual eye will not see his glory...UNLESS...it is revealed from above.
Think about the story of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16. The rich man was in torment in hell. He asked Abraham to send Lazarus to touch his tongue with water. He was denied. So he then thought of his brothers who were still alive. He begged that it be granted that Lazarus rise from the dead to warn them of the suffering that awaited them in hell. Consider the answer he received: "They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them" (v29). In other words, "They have the Bible. Let them respond to the word of God."
The rich man cries out, "No! But if someone goes from the dead they will repent." He is saying that more evidence will be enough to make them turn to God; a miracle will make them repent. But Abraham gave this amazing reply: "If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead" (v31).
Evidence is not what we need. Miracles are not enough. What we need is God opening our blind eyes and replacing our hardened hearts. We need God's mercy! We need him to reveal himself to us! We need him in grace to take the preached word of God and pierce our soul - we need him to give us life. We must be born again.
If you SEE - take a moment and thank God.
Blessed are you! Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but the Father who is in heaven.