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Seeing the Invisible

Hebrews 11:1 (KJV)
1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Hebrews 11:24-27 (KJV)
24 By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter;
25 Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;
26 Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.
27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.

Since the beginning of time, we have always known—or at least suspected—that there are phenomena in the physical world that exist all around us that cannot be seen.  Scientists found ways of proving their existence, even though they remained unseen.

A number of years ago, however, a Penn State mechanical engineer Gary Settles set up a 40-inch-diameter mirror and started seeing – and catching on film – such invisibilities as breath, heat, a cough, a bullet’s wake, propane leaking from a hose, music. He’s since expanded his horizons to a nine-by-seven-foot frame, making visible the cascade of cold air falling from an open refrigerator, the eruption of heat above a barbeque grill or, a set of daintier plumes, a candlelit dinner. He can see why the ventilator over a restaurant’s range is inefficient – or worse, why it suffocates the cook. He can see the turbulent air above a propane torch and the volatiles leaking out of a storage drum.

On the monitor, the image of a recently vacated seat looks real as life, yet surrounded by tendrils and plumes that twist and mingle as he turns around. The empty seat seems to smoke.” “Seeing the Invisible” by : Nancy Marie Brown (Research/Penn State, Vol. 18, no. 2 (May 1997))

In more primitive times, that which could not be seen was judged not to exist.  As science improved, however, things began to show up that were always there, but previously unseen because there was no way to detect their presence.  Those who insisted that such things didn’t exist were embarrassed.  Those who knew they were real, but endured ridicule and scorn because they couldn’t prove them were exonerated. 

What is it about seeing that makes us feel so comfortable?  Why do we feel so confident in our sight, as though seeing really is believing?  Even knowing that something is out there that does not register on the sensory perception, many of us will not believe it’s there because we can’t see it.  This tendency often has disastrous consequences.

John F. Kennedy, Jr. piloted his plane into a fatal nosedive because he depended on what he could see visually rather than what the plane’s instruments were telling him.  At night or in a heavy fog, no pilot with unaided eyesight can see direction.  He cannot see altitude, attitude, or speed without reading his instruments.  God did not create the human eye to collect this kind of information.  According to the ensuing investigation, Kennedy must have piloted his plane at a near perpendicular angle directly into the ocean, costing him his life along with that of his wife and her sister.

All of these facts have an impact on the spiritual realm, especially in understanding something called faith.  “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” 

God is very insistent that we gravitate from the seen to the unseen.  Why?  Because what you see affects a whole range of perceptions in the human body.  For example, the balance system works with the visual and skeletal systems to maintain orientation or balance. All of us, as kids, have spun around—or been spun around—and then tried to walk.  Usually, we got dizzy and fell down.  Our inner ear is affected, but also our sight. 

According to scientists, “The visual system in humans allows us to assimilate information from the environment. We can associate images with another sense: taste (i.e. strawberry fruit with a red color and a sweet taste), then vision is in connection/perception with all senses.  “Vision is a complement of taste. Taste and appreciation of foods is influenced by the sense of smell, the temperature and texture of foods, and what the food looks like.”

My little granddaughter, MaKinzie, went through a stage when she screamed whenever she saw a clown or puppets.  On the other hand, when she sees me, she comes laughing and running with her arms open wide, saying, “Papa!”  What she sees has a direct bearing on her emotional response. 

This is the point, and it is huge.  What we see determines what we think.  This effect is so strong, so powerful, so predictable that it becomes the default position of the human soul.  When we are asked to believe something, to commit ourselves to something that requires us to abandon this sense of sight, it takes us to the edge of our understanding.  It is like asking us to walk on water or fly through the air. 

I am here to tell you today that God exists out there on that very edge.  It’s the crossover point.  It’s point of transformation.  It’s the point where you have to leave the constraints of the human condition and undergo the shock of faith.  God is always out there on that edge, beckoning us onward.

He stands out there as a glimmering, shimmering figure on the waves, bidding us to climb out of our boat and come to him.  There He is, making radical declarations like “You must eat my flesh and drink my blood,” words that make your flesh recoil, and then he wants you to trust that He is telling you the truth.  He stands there saying, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of heaven.”

When you demand evidence that you can see, you disqualify yourself from the mighty acts of God.  God is saying to you, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  You find God outside of things visible.

I’m challenging someone today.  Are you going there?  Getting there means walking by faith, not by sight.  It requires a whole new protocol, a new vocabulary, a new set of reference points.  If you are going to go where God is, you have to become a new creature.  God is at the point where your human perception ends and your faith begins.  That’s why some people never have an encounter with God.  They never stray far from their rut, their carnal station in life.  God is at the point where you surrender the control over your life to Him.

Enoch went there never went back home.  Jacob went there and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not.  And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”

Moses went there and saw a bush that burned with fire but was not consumed.   Isaiah went there and saw the Lord high and lifted up and His train filled the temple.  Then he said, “Woe is me for I am undone!”  Paul went there and saw things not lawful to be uttered.  The difference between Enoch, Jacob, Moses, Paul and the rest, is they were willing to say “I will let go of my narrow slice of life that I call reality and break into the realm that God calls reality.”

Faith is the evidence of the unseen.

Now, let’s look at the way this unfolds in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews.

Hebrews 11:1-3 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  2 For by it the elders obtained a good report.  3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

First, faith is the evidence of things not seen.  He starts by illustrating this principle is that the worlds which were framed by the word of God were not made of things you could see.  In other words, the things you can see were created from things you cannot see.

Second, The things you can see can become your enemy if they prevent you from seeing the things you cannot see.  This chapter on faith gives the testimonies of people who did not allow this to happen.  Noah disregarded the things he could see—that is the fact that there had never been a rainstorm—and acted with absolute certainty. 

 Hebrews 11:7 By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.

Next, Abraham acted by obedience, not knowing—or not seeing—where he was going. 

Hebrews 11:8 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.

What makes this even more remarkable is that Abraham was looking for something. 

Hebrews 11:10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

Do you know what that means?  He didn’t see what he was looking for!  There are a lot of people who would stop right there.  They think they know exactly what God should do, when He should do it and how He should do it.  If there is anything that will kill faith it is when you think you’ve been disappointed, deceived or destroyed by the very God you think should be working on your behalf.

None of us are exempt from this failure, including ministers.  I spent three hours with a former pastor a few weeks ago who has recently become a tragic figure.  He said, “Do you know what made me feel like God had just dealt me the final blow?  It was when I was struggling with my church, the finances were just not there, and I saw another assembly that had just added a brand new addition to their building.  ‘I thought, God why are you destroying me and yet blessing an assembly that is not proclaiming this Apostolic truth?’”  His desire for the visible trumped his belief in the invisible.

When what you can see does not match your expectations, you’ve reached the point that faith must take over.  Some people try their best to hang on to their vision and force God into accepting something that He will not bless. 

Finally, Moses had the real secret of faith.

Hebrews 11:27  By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.

Sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it?  Moses saw him who is invisible?  Yes!  Moses knew that just because you can’t see something or someone doesn’t mean you are hallucinating!   

I tried my best to convince a man who attended our church many years ago that there was something called love.  The scriptures were not enough for him.  My arguments were not enough for him.  The stories of other people were not enough.  Whenever I pressed him too much, he would always revert back to his relationship with his father.  His father—according to him—was insensitive, hateful, uncaring and totally materialistic.  He produced a son whose entire understanding of life grew out of this tense relationship.  As a result, this man had no concept of anything that went beyond precisely what he could see, hear, understand and feel.  It was as if he was saying, “If it doesn’t fit within my pathetic, anemic definition, I won’t believe it.” 

The fact is that the only thing of God you will ever see inside that pitiful definition is a whiff, a taste, a glimpse, a fragrance, a vapor and a whisper.  Your real relationship with God must be pursued beyond the limits of your sight.  That’s called faith and God demands it.  “Without faith, it is impossible to please God.”  That’s why we keep reading in Hebrews eleven, “by faith, by faith, by faith, by faith, by faith!”  Yet, we seem to keep insisting, “by sight, by sight, by sight!” 

Moses forsook the Egypt he could see for the freedom he could not see.  He disdained the wrath of the king that he could see in order to please the King he could not see.

Dr. Vance Havner said, “Moses chose the imperishable, saw the invisible, and did the impossible.” Moses’ faith enabled him to face Pharaoh unafraid, and to trust God to deal with the enemy. The endurance of Moses was not a natural gift, for by nature Moses was hesitant and retiring. This endurance and courage came as the reward of his faith.  Bible Exposition Commentary - New Testament - The Bible Exposition Commentary – New Testament, Volume 2.

Believing makes the invisible a reality.

Acts 12:5-11 Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.
6 And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison.
7 And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands.
8 And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me.
9 And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision.
10 When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him.
11 And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews.

Peter endured prison as seeing him who is invisible.

Daniel endured the lion’s den as seeing him who is invisible.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego endured the fiery furnace as seeing him who is invisible.  Paul endured persecution and hardship as seeing him who is invisible.  

You may say, Well, Pastor, I’m not looking for some fantastic, mind-blowing experience.  I just want forgiveness.  I just want remission of sins.  I just want to know that the Spirit of God is real.

I’m here to tell somebody here today that forgiveness is real.  If you come to this altar, and ask for it, you will get it.  You may not be able to see forgiveness, but the Invisible God went into action when you repented.

Remission of sins is real.  You can see that baptistry up there, but just because you cannot see what happens there, doesn’t mean it isn’t real.  You may not be able to see sins being remitted, but when you went down into the waters of baptism, the Invisible God inhabited the waters and cleansed you with His blood!

What about the Holy Spirit?  The Holy Spirit infilling means the Invisible God took up residence within you. “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” John 3:8 (NIV)

Have you been delivered?  The Invisible God was working in ways you could not see, causing things to happen in your favor that you could not control.

Have you been healed?  The Invisible God went where the doctors could not go.  He traveled down the long chains of your DNA, flipping switches and making changes that no one else had the power or the authority to adjust.

Have you had a miraculous moment of your needs being supplied?  The Invisible God caused things to happen outside of your personal reality.  Luke 6:38 “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom.”

Someone is sitting out there today clinging to your fears as though they are going to lead you to deliverance, healing and salvation.  You’re saying, “But I just can’t do that.  I can’t believe without the proof that it’s going to work.

God knew how stubborn you would be!  That’s why Hebrews 11:1 is followed by Hebrews 12:1. 

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2

Where seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses…”  If you can’t have faith as the substance of things hoped for or the evidence of things not seen, then just look at all the witnesses who surround you. 

If you have been delivered form alcohol, stand up.

If you have been delivered from drugs, stand up.

If you have been delivered from fear, stand up.

If you have been delivered from a sinful lifestyle, stand up.

If you have been filled with the Holy Ghost, stand up.

If you have been healed, stand up.

If God has given you a miracle, stand up.

God has given you all the evidence you need to step into His realm and start believing in Him!  Today, you can start seeing the invisible.

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