Reasoning from the Visible to the Invisible
How does one know that God exists? We have not seen him or heard an audible word from his mouth. We cannot prove “scientifically” that he is real. We cannot weigh him, measure him, or photograph him. Is, then, our “faith” utterly without evidence?
No, it is not. There are data that we can see, hear, measure, weigh, and test in a variety of ways. And when we do accumulate these facts, we reason from the “visible” to the “invisible.”
Christ himself employed this method in his teaching ministry. Once Jesus was teaching in the city of Capernaum (cf. Mark 2:1ff). As the crowds pressed around him, the Lord encountered a sinful man who was crippled. This gentleman, together with four companions, had come to believe in the power of the Savior, hence, they approached him — even under most difficult circumstances. Christ, seeing their faith demonstrated in action, said to the invalid man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
The Lord’s declaration created a storm of controversy, since it was commonly recognized that only deity possesses the inherent authority to pardon sins. But the question was this: how could anyone know that this man’s sins actually had been forgiven? There was no way to “measure” such physically, was there? No, there was not; but here is how the Son of God dealt with the situation.
Jesus said: “That you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins,. . . I say to you, ‘arise, take up your bed, and walk’” (Mark 2:11). The man immediately arose, took his pallet, and walked. Those who were watching were stunned. Christ performed a miracle (an act the people could see) to prove the matter of forgiveness (a concept they could not see).
In Romans 1, Paul employed this type of reasoning to contend for the Creator’s existence. “For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world, are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and deity; that they may be without excuse” (v. 20). By observing the intricacies of the visible creation (the obvious design, orchestration, etc.), one is expected to reason to the invisible, i.e., an ultimate, intelligent Cause exists. The logic is so transparent that to fail to reason in this fashion, Paul says, is inexcusable!
How can we know when we have been forgiven our sins? To simply say, “I feel that I have been pardoned,” is quite insufficient. We must reason from the visible to the invisible.
The Scriptures promise pardon when one submits to God’s saving plan — whether for sinner (Acts 2:38; 22:16), or saint (Acts 8:22; 1 John 1:9). But how does one know that these promises are valid? There are many ways to empirically check the Bible to determine if it passes the test of a divine document.
Is it consistent? Does it contain material (e.g., prophecy) that no human being could possibly contrive? Is it accurate in the minutest of details? Is it elevating in tone?
When the sacred writings are checked, crossed-checked, and examined in every conceivable way, they pass the credibility test superbly. These visible phenomena drive the honest student to the irresistible conclusion that promises of God’s book are true.
About the Author
Wayne Jackson has written for and edited the Christian Courier since its inception in 1965. He has also written several books on a variety of biblical topics including The Bible and Science, Creation, Evolution, and the Age of the Earth, The Bible on Trial, and a number of commentaries. He lives in Stockton, California with his dear wife, and life-long partner, Betty.