I think most people are familiar with the concept of an experiment. Think back to your days in chemistry class. There are the beakers and test tubes neatly arranged on your experiment table. Maybe you have a bunsen burner fired up, some goggles donned and notebook ready for copious notes (which you never took because you were too busy trying to just get through the experiment before the bell rang). I wasn’t a chemistry wiz but I did like to “see” what happened when you mixed liquid A with compound B and solution C. It was fun to see the “theory” match the results. We read about and learned about what to expect…then voila there it was aluminum falling out of solution at the bottom of the beaker just waiting for you inspection. OK, maybe a little too geeky for the audience but you get the idea.
You know God understands this about us. He knows we like to discover things. He knows we like to “see” to believe. He knows that even more than “seeing to believe” we like to believe then see. That is really what an experiment is. You have a hypothesis which you believe will be proved to be true and can be determined to be true by the results of the experiment. From the chemistry class example, you know that just randomly mixing a bunch of stuff together will likely get your eyebrows burned off and your clothes smelling like you ran into a skunk having a bad day. Instead you approach the experiment with an expected outcome based on your previous observations or someone else’s. If you trust the other person (the text-book) then you will proceed with caution but confident expectation that the results will align with the assumed hypothesis.
If I change the words a bit and say we can expect a certain outcome to a situation based on faith then you would say we have crossed over from “practical” to “spiritual.” The truth is those are inseparable but that is for another post. Point is God knows we like confirmation but He made us for the suspense of the expectation. Our excitement is in the expectation of the outcome. Once we “see” it we are often ready for the next great “experiment.” In our union with Him were are in a continuously expanding “experiment” of sorts where we are growing from faith to faith in our walk with Him. Check this out:
Rom 1:17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” (ESV)
This word “righteousness” has sadly been distorted by fear-based religion. It is nothing more than a relational term that says God’s right relationship with us and towards us is being revealed in faith. We live by faith in Him which He actually gives us as a measure:
Rom 12:3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. (ESV)
Faith is just trust in a person. In this case it is God we trust in. His faithfulness towards us is our source of faith in Him. We know He is of a certain nature (awesome!) and we can trust His nature. We know He has a certain value in us (His life) and we trust in His expression towards us based on that value. We trust in His promises (all good things come from God) and we expect these promises to be fulfilled because it is His nature to keep His promises. It goes on and on. This is our relationship with Him. Even the revelation of His Grace to save us from all our junk and broken perspective of Him comes from a faith He gives us:
Eph 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, (ESV)
Still God loves to prove what He has said. It begins with our “hypothesis.” If we assume God is angry, mean, full of wrath and all that pagan understanding then guess what we will find? We will look for an angry God based on an ancient relationship with a fallen people who had no revelation of Jesus and was founded in the law of sin and death. That is why we have Jesus. He reveals the true nature of God. We needed Him to show us God as a man so we would know God as our Father. From the revelation of Jesus we form a new “hypothesis” that God is good. No, way more than that, God is awesome! Jesus on a cross being killed by mankind declares forgiveness for all of us. He doesn’t raise a finger to protect Himself. Instead He takes all of mankind into the grave and brings a new creation out of the tomb. That is a new hypothesis. We begin with trusting in a God who would die as us and for us to join us for all eternity. That is a good God.
From that starting point we move from faith to faith. We see that God doesn’t just heal, He is healing. God doesn’t just provide, He is provision. God doesn’t just save, He is salvation. Get the idea? If we started from another hypothesis we get nowhere. If we start from angry God we never get proved otherwise because our hypothesis is all jacked up. Actually Jesus says it is a dead assumption that leads to death and is found in death. His revelation of the Father brings us from death to life:
John 5:24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. (ESV)
You know that this has always been God’s MO with us? Go all the way back to Abraham and you see God doing this with him. God gives Abraham a promise (many actually) and Abraham agrees and then God delivers and then Abraham gets another promise and so on. Each time Abraham gets the opportunity to agree with what God has said before God “proves it out.” The greatest example of this is with Isaac.
Gen 22:1 After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” (ESV)
Don’t be confused by our misunderstanding of words like this one “tested.” In the original language it could mean “experiment.” The “hypothesis” of Abraham was God made him a promise to make him the father of many nations. He had a son through a miracle (faith proof number one) then God created this opportunity to show Abraham more (faith proof number two). God set this whole thing up to move Abraham from faith to faith. Before this “experiment” Abraham was sure God would keep His promises. After this “experiment” Abraham was sure that God was more than a provider but was provision Himself.
God asks Abraham to sacrifice his son. Listen, this is something we don’t understand now because it would be horrific to ask such a thing now. For Abraham, he is in a world where sacrificing children, especially first-born children, was normal to receive a blessing from a pagan god. So Abraham takes it in stride. He doesn’t lose sight of God’s promise however. Twice on the trip he alludes to the fact that both will return. He says to Isaac that God will provide the sacrifice. He is operating in faith. He knows that God provides. When the moment comes, God stops Abraham from doing such a horrific thing to show Abraham that He is not like the pagan gods. He does not require a sacrifice. Instead God provides the sacrifice. Abraham has a glory filled moment where God not only keeps His previous promise in Isaac but now goes above and beyond to provide. Abraham is so overwhelmed in the whole “experiment” and “results” that his “conclusion” is God is provision itself. He gives God a new name Jehovah Jireh. God is provision.
It begins with our hypothesis. Do we believe God is good? Do we believe that God doesn’t just “do good” but is actually the substance of good. This is what Jesus reveals on the cross. He is a servant to man and is killed by man. He uses that moment to include all of mankind in His death as our death so we can be “born again” into our original created self. We are free from sin and death and evil and all that fallen nature junk. By his “stripes” we know His faithfulness in us. He never gave up on us but instead reconciled Himself to us. Now we can know by looking at His stripes that He not only heals but is healing itself.
You get the idea. Are you willing to make the right hypothesis of faith? He is ready to show you results in this great experiment of life.