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   FAITH AND THE SHROUD OF TURIN : INTRO BY THE WORDWEAVER



Copyright 1994 - 2011 Endtime Prophecy Net

Published On : December 22, 2000

Last Updated : February 21, 2009

Scriptural Basis, Genuine Faith And Signs, Jesus' Dealings
With Unbelievers, Doubting Thomas, Just Because God Says So
Faith Built Upon The Word, Endtime Lack Of Faith, Our Pride,
Question Signs And Manifestations, Ancient Israel's Idolatry
Nehushtan The Brass Serpent And The Modern Pill Gods, Modern
Manifestations A Sign Of God's Mercy, Questioning God's Ways
According To Your Faith, Satan The Deceiver, Our Future




As you may already know, there is a considerable amount of
controversy surrounding the authenticity of the well-known
Shroud of Turin, which is alleged by some people to be the
actual burial cloth of Jesus Christ, and the Sudarium, or
face cloth / napkin, which is recorded in the Gospel of John
as having been found folded, and placed separately from the
burial cloth in Jesus' tomb. Consider the following verses:

"Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and
came to the sepulchre. So they ran both together: and the
other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the
sepulchre. And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the
linen clothes lying; yet went he not in. Then cometh Simon
Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth
the linen clothes lie, And the napkin, that was about his
head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together
in a place by itself. Then went in also that other disciple,
which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed.
For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise
again from the dead."
John 20:3-9, KJV

As I point out in such articles as "Are Personal Tragedies
Due To Sin?", "A Biblical Cafeteria, Or The Whole Course?"
and "Lying Wonders Of The Endtime", it is my personal view
that faith which requires physical signs, miracles or other
evidence before a person will choose to believe, isn't true
faith at all. Even Jesus Himself seemed to be perturbed on
occasion by the need for physical signs and miracles before
some people would be willing to accept Him as the promised
Redeemer and Messiah. This was particularly so when it came
to those who dwelt in Galilee, where He had not only been
raised to adulthood, but where He also performed His first
public miracles. This is why Jesus said of the Galileans
during the early part of His ministry:

". . . A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country,
and among his own kin, and in his own house."
Mark 6:4b, KJV

In the fourth chapter of the Gospel of John, following the
encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well, we find the
Lord saying to the nobleman from Galilee, whose son He was
about to heal:

". . . Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe."
John 4:48b, KJV

Two chapters later, shortly after the incident in which
Jesus had walked on the water of the Sea of Galilee, the
people took ship to Capernaum in order to meet up with Him
and His Disciples. Once they had arrived, we again find some
of them saying to the Lord:

". . . What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and
believe thee? what dost thou work?"
John 6:30, KJV

If Jesus' own countrymen from Galilee found it difficult to
accept His claims of being the Messiah, the hardened, self-
righteous, and so-called 'law-abiding' Scribes and Pharisees
were even more skeptical of His claims; and they repeatedly
tested Him regarding His knowledge of the Law, and tempted
Him to prove Himself through signs and miracles. On one
particular occasion, He was so fed up with their unbelief
that He responded to them in the following manner:

"But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous
generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be
given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas
was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so
shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the
heart of the earth."
Matthew 12:39-40, KJV

"And he sighed deeply in his spirit, and saith, Why doth
this generation seek after a sign? verily I say unto you,
There shall no sign be given unto this generation."
Mark 8:12, KJV

"And when the people were gathered thick together, he began
to say, This is an evil generation: they seek a sign; and
there shall no sign be given it, but the sign of Jonas the
prophet. For as Jonas was a sign unto the Ninevites, so
shall also the Son of man be to this generation."
Luke 11:29-30, KJV

This need for confirmatory signs was not just limited to the
common people, or even to the unbelieving Jewish leadership.
We know that Jesus' own Disciples were also weak in faith on
occasions; and more than anyone else, it was expedient that
they be fully convinced of His Messiahship, due to the great
job which lay ahead of them in the future. The incident with
which most people, Christian and non-Christian alike, are
familiar, occurred following the Lord's Resurrection, during
the second time that He appeared to His Disciples. As most
Christians know, Thomas was quite skeptical of the Lord's
Resurrection; so much so, that he is recorded by John as
having said:

". . . Except I shall see in his hands the print of the
nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and
thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe."
John 20:25b, KJV

It is then that Jesus appears the second time, and lovingly
rebukes Thomas by saying to him:

". . . Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed:
blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed."
John 20:29b, KJV

With these words, Jesus eternalizes one of the main messages
He has tried to convey throughout the Gospels; and that is
this: that we must believe simply because He says so, and
simply because His Father says so. Nothing else should be
necessary or required. His word should suffice. It should be
final. It should stand on its own merit. If His word is not
sufficient, then it reflects upon our own lack of faith, and
our own slowness to obey, and nothing more.

Over and over again throughout the Gospels, Jesus tells us
that our faith should be built upon the sure, solid Word of
God, and not upon physical manifestations or evidence of any
kind; and that includes the Shroud of Turin, the Sudarium or
any kind of modern miracle. While miracles may result as a
by-product of our faith, they should not be necessary to
create faith within us to begin with. Faith is a Gift which
comes from God alone; and as Paul tells us in his Epistle to
the Roman brethren, it is born through the careful study of
His Word. Whether it is spoken, or written, the Word of God
plants the seed of faith in our hearts:

"So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of
God."
Romans 10:17, KJV

In his Epistle to the Hebrews, Paul also tells us that faith
is a kind of inner hope for things which cannot yet be seen.
He also tells us that without such faith, we cannot please
God:

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the
evidence of things not seen . . . But without faith it is
impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must
believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that
diligently seek him."
Hebrews 11:1, 6, KJV

Sadly, in the skeptical, science-oriented society of our
modern day, many of us have become like Thomas of old. We
require physical evidence, signs and miracles before we will
choose to believe. Jesus apparently foresaw this day coming,
as is evidenced by the following revealing verse found in
the Gospel of Luke:

". . . Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find
faith on the earth?"
Luke 18:8b, KJV

The Lord's words are like a hot iron which sears our very
conscience. They force each of us to ask ourselves, 'Do I
have faith? Do I truly believe? Will I abandon my faith in a
moment of personal crisis as Peter did?'. It is so easy for
our pride to get in the way, and to even deceive us to the
point that we may be tempted to think, 'Well, if I had been
Peter, or any of the others, I would have NEVER abandoned
the Lord. I would NEVER have denied knowing Him'. But if we
require physical evidence and signs, such as the Shroud of
Turin, the Sudarium, so-called Marian apparitions, etc.,
then our faith is truly no better, and possibly even less,
than that of the First Century Disciples.

As I point out in the aforementioned articles, there is a
real danger when people require evidence and signs before
they will believe. Such people who are weak in faith can
easily become victims of human or Satanic deception; and I
have no doubt that to varying degrees, this is precisely
what is now happening within the Roman Catholic faith, as
well as within certain Protestant denominations, where quite
an assortment of odd occurrences have been happening for a
number of years. People want signs in order to increase
their faith; so that is exactly what they are getting; but
do these miracles and manifestations really originate from
God? Would their faith falter if such signs were to suddenly
stop? Would they think that God had abandoned them?

Aside from potential deception, be it of human design, or of
Satan, as I point out in the 'Lying Wonders Of The Endtime'
series and elsewhere, another danger which presents itself
when we place our faith in physical objects, is idolatry; or
idol worship. Even objects which are esteemed as being holy,
and which indeed are, can eventually evolve into a misguided
worship of the physical, instead of worship in the Eternal
God. The ancient Israelites did this many times. Do we think
that we are immune to such things today; or is Satan simply
more cunning than we realize?

One of the prime examples from the Old Testament involves
the Serpent of Brass which the Lord commanded Moses to make
in the Book of Exodus. As you may know, because of their
constant murmuring in the wilderness, we are told that God
sent fiery serpents into the camp of the Israelites. When
Moses pleaded for mercy, the Lord told him to make a serpent
of brass, and to place it upon a pole. Whoever looked upon
the Serpent of Brass was healed and allowed to live:

"And the people spake against God, and against Moses,
Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the
wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any
water; and our soul loatheth this light bread. And the LORD
sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the
people; and much people of Israel died. Therefore the people
came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken
against the LORD, and against thee; pray unto the LORD, that
he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the
people. And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery
serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass,
that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it,
shall live. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it
upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had
bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he
lived."
Numbers 21:5-9, KJV

Sadly, hundreds of years later, during the reign of obedient
King Hezekiah, we discover that their descendants had taken
that very same serpent, which the Lord Himself had ordered
to be made, and turned it into another idol, just like the
other false idols which filled their places of worship on
the hilltops of Israel. That which was once holy, became an
abomination to the Lord; and so God told Hezekiah to destroy
it:

"He removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut
down the groves, and brake in pieces the brasen serpent that
Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel
did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan."
2 Kings 18:4, KJV

If the ancient Israelites were not immune to such things,
should we not be equally concerned with objects which have
become associated with our modern Christian faith, such as
the Shroud of Turin, the Sudarium, countless statues created
in the honour of Mary and other Roman Catholic saints, etc.?

I also find it a bit ironic that the very idol which King
Hezekiah destroyed, Nehushtan, 'the brass thing' as it is
literally translated, has become the symbol of the modern
medical profession. Like the ancient Israelites, have we too
placed our faith more in the modern false gods of science
and medicine, than in the one true God of Heaven? Have our
sins become so great, that we no longer have the faith to
approach the Holy One and expect healing from His Divine
Hand, but instead must call upon the chemical gods of the
Earth which we faithfully store in the medicine cabinet?

To reiterate my main point, our faith should stand solely
upon the Word of God. If it is a perfect faith, it shouldn't
require any kind of artificial props, physical evidence or
miracles. In my own life, I have never seen a sign or real
miracle as far as I know; and I honestly do not believe that
I need to see one now. I've believed for many years without
such things. Concerning the Shroud of Turin and the Sudarium
I have not seen either one of them. If they are authentic,
it should be a great inspiration to our faith; but even if
they are not, it should make absolutely no difference to us
whatsoever.

Now, one question which some people may sincerely ask is,
'Is it possible that in His mercy, knowing that we are but
dust, in these Last Days, God may be allowing some of these
Biblical relics to come to light, in order to increase our
faith?'. I honestly do not know. Besides the Shroud of Turin
and the Sudarium, some of you reading this will also know
that certain Biblical archeologists, such as the deceased
Ron Wyatt, have made claims of discovering the real Noah's
Ark in Turkey, the Ark of the Covenant buried below the
Crucifixion site outside of the perimeter of Jerusalem, the
collapsed walls of Jericho, etc. In answering this question,
I am reminded of the words of the Prophet Isaiah, who over
2,500 years ago, was inspired to write:

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your
ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher
than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my
thoughts than your thoughts."
Isaiah 55:8-9, KJV

While discussing God's Plan of Salvation for Israel and the
rest of the world, the Apostle Paul was also inspired to
write the following lines:

"O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge
of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways
past finding out!"
Romans 11:33, KJV

So who am I to say what God can or cannot do or allow to
happen? All I know how to do is to study His Word, and draw
my conclusions from that. Upon doing so, I personally feel
that I am confronted with the question of whether or not I
believe God's Word simply because He says so, without the
need for any signs or physical evidence. Perhaps you the
reader feel differently. As I have stated quite a few times
before, we must each operate according to our own faith, but
we must make certain that our faith is aligned with God's
Word. As the Apostle Paul wrote while dealing with the issue
of meat eaters and vegetarians in his Epistle to the Romans:

". . . Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind."
Romans 14:5b, KJV

So my primary word of advice regarding the Shroud of Turin,
the Sudarium, and the many unusual signs and manifestations
which are said to be occurring in various parts of the
world, is CAUTION. I urge everyone to exercise a great deal
of Spiritual Discernment when they hear of or encounter such
things. Let us not forget Paul's other words of advice as
well:

"Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not
ignorant of his devices."
2 Corinthians 2:11, KJV

"And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an
angel of light."
2 Corinthians 11:14, KJV

One thing is for certain; if we do believe; if we do have
genuine faith; then Paul also tells us that we indeed have
wonderful things to look forward to in the coming glorious
Kingdom of God:

"But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard,
neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which
God hath prepared for them that love him."
1 Corinthians 2:9, KJV

So you see, this verse compliments a verse I shared with you
earlier, where Paul tells us that 'faith is the substance of
things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen'. Paul is
telling us in Corinthians that those things which we cannot
see, but which we only hope for now by faith, will be much
more wonderful than we could possibly ever have imagined;
and that will be the reward of our faith! So is your faith
built upon the sure Word of God? I certainly hope so! I pray
that this short introductory article has been a blessing to
many.

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