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The Infallibility of Proof
In Acts 1:1-3, the inspired writer Luke said this: The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, 2 Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: 3 To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.
Problem: Sometimes in the church we have a tendency to make assertions and judgments about people, and create notions of what is true that are not based on facts. When we do so, we can create problems in the church and our relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Purpose: To emphasize the indispensable requirement for proving the things that we say, the thoughts that we adhere to, and the influence that we seek to have on others.
Definition of proof: The evidence or argument that compels the mind to accept an assertion as true (American Heritage Dictionary).
Let’s examine 3 points in exploration of this topic:
1. First, it should be noted God used the principle of proof (or law of evidence) to establish the truth about the sin of the nations of Sodom and Gomorrah.
20 And the Lord said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know. Gen 18:20, 21.
2. As fallible men and women, we must recognize that God has mandated (requires) us to prove things in matters of judgment among ourselves – it’s not optional.
This principle was first clearly enunciated in the O.T.: Deut. 19:15 - One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.
Deut. 17:6 - 6 At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death. [Heb.10:28 He that despised Moses law died without mercy under two or three Witnesses]
The importance of the principle of proof was extended to the N.T. as evidenced first by the Lord Jesus himself.
Mt. 18:15,16 - 15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. 16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
2 Cor. 13:1 - This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established. [Paul had already to them in at the end of chapter 12: 20 For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: lest there be debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults]
Finally, Paul says: in 1 Tim. 5:19 - Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses.
3. Saying something is so, doesn’t make it so. Jesus laid down this principal when he said “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen.” Paul tells us to prove all things; hold fast that which is good. 1 Thessalonians 5:21. Produce your cause, saith the LORD; bring forth your strong reasons, saith the King of Jacob. Isaiah 41:21.
In support of this point consider the case of Paul in Acts 24:1-13:
And after five days Ananias the high priest descended with the elders, and with a certain orator named Tertullus [lawyer], who informed the governor against Paul.
2 And when he was called forth, Tertullus began to accuse him, saying, Seeing that by thee we enjoy great quietness, and that very worthy deeds are done unto this nation by thy providence,
3 We accept it always, and in all places, most noble Felix, with all thankfulness.
4 Notwithstanding, that I be not further tedious unto thee, I pray thee that thou wouldest hear us of thy clemency a few words.
5 For we have found this man a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes:
6 Who also hath gone about to profane the temple: whom we took, and would have judged according to our law.
7 But the chief captain Lysias came upon us, and with great violence took him away out of our hands,
8 Commanding his accusers to come unto thee: by examining of whom thyself mayest take knowledge of all these things, whereof we accuse him.
9 And the Jews also assented, saying that these things were so.
10 Then Paul, after that the governor had beckoned unto him to speak, answered, Forasmuch as I know that thou hast been of many years a judge unto this nation, I do the more cheerfully answer for myself:
11 Because that thou mayest understand, that there are yet but twelve days since I went up to Jerusalem for to worship.
12 And they neither found me in the temple disputing with any man, neither raising up the people, neither in the synagogues, nor in the city:
13 Neither can they prove the things whereof they now accuse me
Paul was again accused in Acts 25:1-7 (before Festus) And when he was come, the Jews which came down from Jerusalem stood round about, and laid many and grievous complaints against Paul, which they could not prove. 7
So what shall our response be?
Paul says “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves [stop disproving others]. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” 2 Corinthians 13:5
Let’s divert our minds from faulty conclusions, and turn our attention to Jesus: Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know. Acts 2:22
Instead of making judgments without proof, let accuse Jesus, the only one approved of God. Let us accuse him:
· Of being the entire catalyst for creation of all things
· Of being the hope of the patriarchs
· Of being the inspiration of the prophets
· Of being the sacrifice our sins
· Of being the son of God
· Of being our path to salvation