Do Miracles Create Faith?

In his 1986 book, Power Evangelism, John Wimber suggested that when people see miracles, they are more inclined to believe in Jesus and embrace the gospel.

But is that true? Is that actually what we see in the Bible?

There are verses like John 2:11, where it says that Jesus’ disciples, having seen the first of his signs by which he manifested his glory, believed in him. Furthermore, at the end of the Gospel of John, John says that he has told us about these particular signs that Jesus performed, so that we may believe in him.

However, another common theme in the Gospel of John is that many people in Jesus’ time saw him perform miracles, and although they were fascinated with and captivated by seeing miracles, it did not translate into genuine faith and devotion to Jesus.

Regarding the disciples and the verse in John 2:11 that they believed in Him after they saw the sign he performed, it should be remembered that at this point they were already his disciples – which means they already believed in him. What this miracle did was cause them to believe in a deeper way. It solidified their belief, in other words.

Something that always strikes me, is the fact that Jesus fed over 5000 people (on two occasions!), thousands of others saw him perform miracles, yet on the Day of Pentecost, there were only 120 committed followers in the upper room.

The question that must be asked is: WHY did Jesus perform miracles? Was it an evangelistic strategy (as Wimber supposes), or was it because those miracles were signs, pointing to something beyond themselves (as John tells us in his gospel)?

It would seem that if miracles were Jesus’ evangelistic strategy, they weren’t very effective in producing lasting, genuine faith. A good example is found in John 4, where there is a contrast made between the Samaritans, who believed in Jesus because of his word (John 4:41) – even though they never saw a miracle, and the Galileans, whom Jesus chastised because they were only willing to believe if they saw signs and wonders (John 4:48).

The message is that faith, rather than coming from seeing miracles, comes from hearing the Word of God and believing. This same message is repeated at the end of John’s Gospel in John 20:29, where Jesus tells Thomas: “Have you believed because you have seen? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

In a recent Sermon Extra, Michael and I discussed signs and wonders, whether miracles produce genuine faith:

My Book Is Now Available for Purchase + Book Signing This Sunday

My first book, The God I Won’t Believe In: Facing Nine Common Barriers to Embracing Christianity, is now available for purchase in paperback and Kindle formats. 

We have paperback copies of the book for sale in our church’s bookstore, and it will be available in other churches and through book distributors soon.

If you would like to get copies for your church or group at bulk discount, contact us here.

Click here for more information and to purchase online.

Here’s a List of the Chapters

Each chapter begins with the phrase: “I Could Never Believe in a God Who…”

  1. A God Who Hasn’t Proven His Existence
  2. A God Who Gave Us a Faulty Bible
  3. A God Who Condoned Genocide in the Old Testament
  4. A God Who Creates Hateful, Hypocritical Followers
  5. A God Who Suppresses Women and Minorities
  6. A God Who Sends People to Hell 
  7. A God Who Says Some Love is Wrong
  8. A God Who Lets Bad Things Happen to Good People
  9. A God Who Doesn’t Answer My Prayers

Book Signing This Sunday

For those who are within driving distance of Longmont, Colorado, this Sunday I will be signing copies of the book after each of our 3 services at White Fields Church. We will have copies for sale on site. If you can make it out, I’d love to see you there!

Big Announcement: I Wrote a Book! Here’s the Story Behind It and What It’s About

In this week’s episode of the Theology for the People podcast, I sit down with Michael Payne and Curt Fuller to discuss my forthcoming book, The God I Won’t Believe In: Facing Nine Common Barriers to Embracing Christianity. The book is scheduled to be released on March 6, 2022, and will be available for purchase online, as well as in our church’s bookstore. We are currently working on distribution, and getting it into other bookstores and book distributers as well.

In this episode, Michael interviews me and Curt, who edited the book, as we discuss the backstory behind how it came about, as well as the content of the chapters, and who this book is for.

I hope this book will be a great resource to help both those who are wrestling through facing these barriers to embracing Christianity, as well as those who seek to be equipped to help their family and friends move from doubt to belief.

I’d love it if you’d consider buying a copy of the book, and if you’d help spread the word about it online!

Click here to listen to this episode, or listen in the embedded player below.

Book Release Announcement & Preview – The God I Won't Believe In: Facing Nine Common Barriers to Embracing Christianity Theology for the People

Nick wrote a book! It's coming out March 6, 2022 and is available for pre-order on Amazon here. The book is titled, The God I Won't Believe In: Facing Nine Common Barriers to Embracing Christianity.  In this episode, Nick sits down with Michael Payne and Curt Fuller, who edited the book, the discuss how the book came about, who it's for, and what it's about. Make sure to visit the Theology for the People blog at nickcady.org for more articles and content.

Thanksgiving Shapes Us in More than One Way

Today is the day in the United States when we set aside to give thanks and reflect on all the Lord has done in our lives over this past year.

Other countries, like Canada and Ukraine also have national holidays dedicated to giving thanks, but days of thanksgiving have a rich history in Christian groups all over the world, going back before the pilgrims held their famous thanksgiving feast in Plymouth.

In the Old Testament, God instructed his people to hold several days of thanksgiving every year: Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread in early Spring, thanking God for delivering them from slavery and for the beginning of the barley harvest; the Feast of Weeks in early Summer, thanking God for the beginning of the wheat harvest; and the Feast of Tabernacles in the Fall, thanking God for the end of the harvest season. God told them to “Be joyful at your festival…because the Lord your God will bless you” (Deuteronomy 16:14-15).

For us as Christians, Thanksgiving is not only a day we celebrate, but a way of life. Colossians 2:6-7 says: : “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.”

Thanksgiving Shapes Us

Spending time reflecting on what God has done for us and giving thanks not only honors Him, it also shapes us. The Thanksgiving meal obviously shapes us into certain kinds of people: slightly rounded than we were before! But the practice of giving thanks also shapes us: the more we give thanks, the more our eyes are opened to see the things God is doing and has done – which builds our faith and trust in Him!

Wishing you a blessed Thanksgiving!

Dominic Done Coming to White Fields Church: November 14, 2021

Pastor and author Dominic Done will be joining us at White Fields Community Church on Sunday, November 14, at all three services: 8:00, 9:30 & 11:00 AM.

Dominic is the author of When Faith Fails: Finding God in the Shadow of Doubt (Zondervan, 2019), and the host of the Finding Faith podcast, where he discusses issues related to doubt, deconstruction, and faith.

I was given a copy of Dominic’s book when it first came out, and it sat on my shelf until I picked it up one Saturday to thumb through it, and next thing I knew I had read every word and used up an entire highlighter. I read the whole thing in one sitting because it was so fascinating, well-written, and applicable.

More recently, in September of 2021, I got to spend some time with Dominic in Colorado Springs at an Expositors Collective training weekend where he was one of our guest speakers.

We are excited for Dominic to come and speak at our church on November 14, and I encourage you: if you are within driving distance of Longmont, make sure to join us and bring someone with you who needs to here this important, helpful, and relevant message!

If you have ever struggled with doubts, or if you are curious about deconstruction: what it means, if it is a good thing or a dangerous thing – join us for this special Sunday!

A Theology of Music: Discussion with Jon Markey and Michael Payne

Jon Markey and Michael Payne are accomplished musicians, songwriters, and producers, and in the latest episode of the Theology for the People podcast, I sat down with them to talk about the theology of music.

Michael is the Worship Pastor at White Fields Community Church in Longmont, Colorado. Prior to coming to Longmont, he spent 21 years as a worship leader and missionary in Hungary, and prior to that he served in the US Marine Corps.

Jon is a pastor and missionary in Ternopil, Ukraine. He moved to Kiev, Ukraine with his family in the 1990’s, when he was 5 years old, and earned a masters degree from the Ukrainian National Tchaikovsky Academy of Music.

Jon has been a guest on the podcast before, in fact his episode is the most-listened to episode on the podcast to date: If “It’s All Gonna Burn” Then What’s the Point? – How the Resurrection Gives Meaning to Work & Art

We recently had the pleasure of having Jon and his family visit Longmont and lead worship at our church, and while he was here, I got to sit down with him and Mike to discuss what the Bible has to say about music: its purpose, uses, and significance – including the “song of creation,” and how it serves to counteract pagan origin narratives, as well as Jubal: the first human musician, mentioned in Genesis 4, as well as other practical discussions which have modern application.

Check out Jon’s ministry: Room for More music on YouTube and his church: Calvary Chapel Ternopil (Ukraine)

Check out Michael on Spotify: Michael Payne and you can watch him on the White Fields Community Church YouTube page.

The book mentioned in this episode is Scribbling in the Sand: Christ and Creativity by Michael Card

A Theology of Music: with Jon Markey & Michael Payne Theology for the People

Michael Payne and Jon Markey are accomplished musicians, songwriters, and producers, and in this episode they talk with Nick about the theology of music. Listen in to this discussion of what the Bible has to say about music: its purpose, uses, and significance – including the "song of creation," Jubal, and practical discussions for today. Check out Jon's ministry: Room for More music on YouTube and his church: Calvary Chapel Ternopil (Ukraine) Check out Michael on Spotify: Michael Payne and you can watch him on the White Fields Community Church YouTube page. The book mentioned in this episode is Scribbling in the Sand: Christ and Creativity by Michael Card Visit the Theology for the People blog.

Theological Method: Sources of Theology and Why People Arrive at Different Conclusions About Matters of Faith & the Bible

In the latest episode of the Theology for the People podcast, Mike and I discuss the topic of “theological method,” which was a big part of my Masters study in Integrative Theology.

Integrative theology weaves together historical, biblical, systematic, and other approaches to doing theology in order to take a holistic approach, and the result is an integrated theological method.

Here’s the thing: everyone uses a method for doing theology, whether they recognize it or not. Furthermore, the reason why different people and groups arrive at different conclusions is because they are using different theological methods.

In this episode, I explain the 5 commonly recognized “sources of theology,” and answer the question of how to examine your own theological method.

Listen in the embedded player below, or by clicking this link: Theological Method: Sources of Theology and Why People Arrive at Different Conclusions About Matters of Faith and the Bible

Theological Method: Sources of Theology and Why People Arrive at Different Conclusions About Matters of Faith and the Bible Theology for the People

In this episode, Nick and Mike discuss the topic of "theological method", which involves the study of how people arrive at theological conclusions based on how they use the "sources of theology" in relation to each other. We discuss the 5 commonly recognized sources of theology, explain different theological methods that exist, and how they relate to interpreting the Bible in light of our ever-changing world. Check out the Theology for the People blog site at nickcady.org

Atheists Have Doubts Too

Doubt is an inherent part of having faith. Faith, the Bible tells us, is having convictions about things which you cannot see (Hebrews 11:1). This extends to things which cannot be empirically proven through scientific method. If you can see something and prove it, there is no need for faith. Doubt therefore, is not how faith ends, but is the occasion where faith and trust begin.

But it is not only “believers” who have doubts. Studies have shown that professing atheists also have doubts about whether they are right.

CS Lewis, in his book Mere Christianity said, “When I was an atheist, I had moods in which Christianity looked terribly probable.”

A recent poll from Newman University and YouGov found that one in five British atheists and over a third of Canadian atheists agreed with the statement: “Evolutionary processes cannot explain the existence of human consciousness.” [1]

In his book The Reason for God, Timothy Keller challenges those who doubt to “doubt their doubts,” i.e. to consider to the faith and beliefs (the assumptions which cannot be empirically proven) that underly their doubts, and to honestly question whether they actually stand on firm ground. His conclusion is that faith is God is actually more plausible than the alternative.

This week in our Sermon Extra, Pastor Mike and I discussed the role of doubt in faith, the fact that atheists have doubts too, and what we should do with our doubts. Check it out here:

In this week's sermon extra, Pastors Nick Cady and Michael Payne discuss reasons why people doubt Christianity and what the Bible says about it.   I Could Never Believe in a God Who… https://whitefieldschurch.com/media/series/i-could-never-believe-in-a-god-who/  The Trouble Is… https://whitefieldschurch.com/media/series/the-trouble-is/  To listen to Sunday's sermon: https://whitefieldschurch.com/sermon/from-doubt-to-belief/ — Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/whitefieldschurch/support

What Does It Mean That “Whatever Does Not Proceed From Faith Is Sin”?

This question was recently submitted via the page on this site where you can Ask a Question or Suggest a Topic:

Hi, a question coming from your recent sermon on May 2 about belief and doubt. You were talking about how doubt is held in a sort of middle ground, not to be vilified or esteemed too highly. Today I came across these verses in Romans regarding eating by conscience:

The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves. But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin. (Romans 14:22‭-‬23 ESV)

That last sentence feels very strong in that ANYTHING not from faith is sin. How does this relate to the topic on Sunday?

Additionally, where do we draw a line to keep from absurd conclusions about this? When I go on a bike ride for health, I’m not doing it in faith – I just want to keep fit. What about choosing the right date for traveling on vacation? This verse could easily cause a person to stop making decisions due to fear of sin.

The sermon mentioned in this question is from the series The Risen Life, in which we looked at the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus in the Gospels for the season of Eastertide. The sermon was from John 20:19-30 and was called “From Doubt to Belief.”

In John 20:24-29, in the story of "doubting Thomas," we see that moving from doubt to belief involves hearing testimony, seeing the evidence, and responding in faith. — Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/whitefieldschurch/support

Doubt and Faith in Romans 14:23

In Romans 14:23, Paul is talking about “gray areas” or “disputable matters” in the Christian life. At that time, some people said that it was acceptable for Christians to eat meat which had been sacrificed to idols, whereas others said that it was not acceptable. Each side had their reasons.

Similar discussions exist today: Is it acceptable for Christians to drink alcohol? To participate in Halloween festivities? To do yoga or martial arts?

In some of these cases, it may be that something may not be categorically wrong, but it may be wrong for a particular person because of their particular propensities. Furthermore, that person may have a strong conviction that they ought not to do something, even if it wouldn’t necessarily be a sin for anyone to do that thing.

Paul is saying that if you have a sincere conviction before God that you should not do something, then you should act on that conviction in faith, and do so as unto the Lord. This, Paul says, honors God. However, if you do something in contradiction to your conviction that you should not do it; i.e. if you have doubts about whether that thing is acceptable or permissible for you to do – then for you to do it anyway would be sin.

Thus, the way doubt and faith is used here is different than in the sense in which we talked about doubt and faith in the above mentioned sermon, where our focus was rather on doubting versus believing in God’s existence, God’s goodness, the validity of God’s Word, or the reliability of God’s promises.

Is Everything that Does Not Proceed from Faith Really Sin?

I believe the answer is: Yes. Let me explain, and I’ll explain how this applies to situations such riding your bike and choosing dates for vacation:

In Hebrews 11:6 we are told that “without faith it is impossible to please God.” In Romans 4:20, faith is correlated with giving glory to God. In 1 Corinthians 10:31 we are told, “whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

The point therefore, is that acting in faith is all about giving glory to God in our actions. If you doubt whether a particular action brings glory to God, then for you to do it anyway would be a sin. It is in this way that anything that does not proceed from faith is sin.

The Question We Often Ask, & the Question We Ought to Ask

I find that too often, we tend to ask the question: “Is it permissible to _________” or “Am I allowed to _________.” What this passage (and others) teach us is that the question we ought to be asking instead is: “Will this action glorify God?” or “Will God be honored, pleased, and glorified through this action?”

If you can do that action in faith so that your motive is to glorify God, then good. If you have doubts about that, then to do it anyway would be sin – at least for you.

This is why Augustine argues that for those who act apart from faith in God, even their virtues can be sinful: because if you do something good – apart from faith in God – your motive in doing so is not to glorify God, but must be either to glorify yourself, or to justify yourself. Thus, even virtuous actions, apart from faith in God, can be sinful. Tim Keller often speaks, quoting the Puritans, of how it is important therefore that we repent not only of our evil actions, but of our good actions done for self-justifying or self-glorifying motives.

May we be those who endeavor to do everything for the glory of God!

Why Does God Judge Some People More Harshly Than Others?

My desk in my office at church

Why is it that in the Bible, sometimes God punishes certain people severely for their sins, but other people receive no punishment for similar actions?

This question was submitted via this form: Ask a Question or Suggest a Topic:

Why does God bring judgment upon some sinful people, yet others who do much worse things remain healthy, prosperous, and well? In some cases they even seem to be getting God’s approval or at least not His punishment for the same sins as those who receive judgment. Examples of this would be Michal (David’s wife) and Uzzah in 2 Samuel 6, and the story of the two prophets in 1 Kings 13.

This is a good question, and is related to a question that David asked in the Psalms about why God allows wicked people to prosper and righteous people to suffer. This question, from David, was not an abstract query, but one that was deeply person to his lived experience.

We can see this dynamic at work in the world today as well, where some people do evil things and seem to suffer no consequences, and in some cases succeed as a result, whereas many who endeavor to lead a godly life don’t succeed or even suffer.

I responded to this question with a podcast episode which is embedded and linked below. In this episode, I give three important considerations which help us to understand this dynamic.

Podcast Episode: Why Does God Judge Some People More Harshly Than Others?