If a person does not want to believe, all the evidence in the world will not convince them to believe. 

If a person wants to believe, there is a wealth of evidence to support their belief.

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What IS faith?     The dictionary says it is a confident belief or trust in the truth or trustworthiness of a person, concept or thing.    The Bible says it is "being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see."  (Hebrews 11:1)

      I’ll come right out and say it—I have faith in God.  An agnostic friend calls it “faith over intellect”.  But does one really have to put one’s intellect on the shelf to embrace faith?
       Christian educator W. Bingham Hunter doesn’t believe so.  “Faith is a rational response to the evidence of God’s self-revelation in nature, human history, the Scriptures and His resurrected Son.”
     I have thought long and hard about my faith.  I need a faith that is consistent with reason and want a good solid foundation for anything I believe.  I am not prepared to believe a lie!

       If I only belong to a church because my parents brought me up in it, there is something seriously wrong.  The ONLY reason I should want to belong to a church is that it teaches the truth.  We are not prepared to hold back in any other ways (try doing without your computer or iPod for a day...or even without running water, as some of our forbears did!) so why should we hold back from learning more truth?  Jesus disciples left the religion of their parents gladly, to follow the Christ.  Being a Christian means to be a follower of Christ, and if Christ leads me away from the religion of my parents, I must follow.

         There are serious questions raised by many against the existence of God.  Why have faith at all?  It’s an age of reason, of science, of people who just don’t feel that they need God.  And there are questions, some of which I have no answer for.

     IF there is a God, why is there so much human and animal suffering?
     IF God is the overseer of the church, why has it so often been embroiled in evil and hypocrisy?
     IF God created the world then why does evolution say it came about by other means?
     IF Jesus is the only way to heaven, then what about the millions of people who have never heard of Him?
     IF God cares for people why would He apparently consign so many to hell to burn forever?
     IS there any way to prove to myself that there is a God and that He cares for me?
     For God to explain everything to me beyond all reasonable doubt would no doubt be like trying to explain electrical current to an ant.  But I’ve come to accept that there IS a God and that He cares for me very much, and He wants to be deeply involved in my life.  Why?
     The platform that gives me the basis for my faith has four legs: 
                       1. THE WONDERS OF NATURE. 
                       2. JESUS' LIFE ON EARTH.
                       3. THE BIBLE, especially its fulfilled prophecy.
                        4. PERSONAL EXPERIENCE.  
1.  THE WONDERS OF NATURE.  I have studied biology, biochemistry and physiology at tertiary levels and continue to do so.  The complexity of our environment and of the life within it never ceases to amaze me.  
     I cannot and will not accept that chance had any part to play in the development of our world, and I share this belief with a growing number of scientists.  (Please see my discussion of evolution in another essay.)  The evidence compels me to believe in a Higher Power, Who made the huge variety of plants and animals on the earth, and also the beauty that we see around us.  In spite of the ugliness which is also present, it is still a beautiful world.
2.  JESUS has been the object of many studies through the millennia.  Many intelligent scholars have begun their investigation of him as atheists and ended up accepting Him as their Lord.  One of these is lawyer and journalist Lee Strobel, who has written such books as “A Case for Christ,” and, “A Case for Faith”.  These are investigative journals into his search for truth and are well worth reading for anyone, regardless of their persuasion.
     The fact that Jesus really existed, claimed to have been God Himself, and began the Christian movement which has changed the lives of millions, has had a huge impact on me.  Writers of the Bible as well as other writers of His time made comment about Him as a real and influential teacher.  The first Christians, Jesus’ apostles, were on fire after His resurrection and began to preach the gospel with such certainty as was astounding for mere fishermen.  
     Their conviction of Jesus’ divinity carried over to their martyrdom.  Why would anybody die for a lie?  And yet most of these men were martyred, in seriously painful ways.  Why would you face being boiled alive in oil, being cut in half or crucified upside down if you did not fully believe in Jesus and His promises?  Something happened to that small band of men which changed them from the fearful wimps that they were on the eve of Jesus’ crucifixion to invincible preachers in the face of severe persecution.  They were so convinced of Jesus’ resurrection that they set the world on fire.
3.  THE BIBLE is a very controversial book.  Many books, papers and internet forums claim that it is untrue, contradictory and misleading.  Many say the character of God, as represented in particularly the Old Testament, is cruel and vindictive.  
     In “the Case for Faith,” Lee Strobel records a conversation with Norman Geisler.  Lee asked him for explanation of the passage that speaks of King David.  The Bible says David was a man after God’s own heart, and yet it also says David tortured his enemies.  “He put them under saws and under axes or iron and made them pass through the brick kiln.”  
     Geisler’s response: “People often confuse two things: what the Bible records and what the Bible approves... You’re quoting from the King James version and it’s open to misinterpretation. The New International Version clarifies the original Hebrew language and says David, “brought out the people who were there, consigning them to labor with saws and with iron picks and axes and he made them work at brick making.”  That’s labor, not torture and it’s quite humane when compared with the cruelties his enemies had unleashed.  Besides, this is another case where the Bible records something but doesn’t necessarily condone it.”
      Geisler goes on to say that “mercy” and “love” are equally emphasized in both Testaments.  God says “I, the Lord, do not change”.  
     Geisler also challenges apparent contradictions in the Scriptures.  “There’s more evidence that the Bible is a reliable source than for any other book from the ancient world.”  In the Bible we have sixty-six books written in different literary styles by about forty different authors with different backgrounds over about fifteen hundred years.  And yet the Bible amazingly unfolds one continuous drama and one central message.  The writers claimed that one divine mind inspired them.

     Geisler has studied all the supposed contradictions in the Bible.  “I have a list of about eight hundred of them,” he says.  “Of the eight hundred allegations I haven’t found one error in the Bible, but I’ve found a lot of errors by the critics.”  The “contradictions” are frequently minor discrepancies such as might be made by eye-witnesses reporting on the same event.  
     There are two main categories of evidence for the reliability of the Bible.  The first is ARCHAEOLOGY.  There have been thousands of finds in the Middle East that have corroborated the Bible’s accuracy.  As time goes on, one after another of the disputed claims in the Bible have been verified.  Historical events have also been verified.  
     The whole history of Jesus was written by his contemporaries within a short period after his death, while there were many eye-witnesses living.  If there had been any discrepancies they would have surely been disputed at the time.
     And not only is the Bible unerringly accurate, it is miraculously confirmed by its PROPHECIES.  The Bible is the only book in the world that has specific, precise predictions which were made hundreds of years in advance and were literally fulfilled.

     For example, there are a hundred and ninety-one predictions in the Old Testament about the coming of Christ, including His ancestry, the city where He’d be born, that He’d be born of a virgin, precisely the time that He’d be born and so on.  Even the method of His death was predicted.  That was all written before crucifixion was even devised as a method of execution.  The Jews stoned people to death at the time those predictions were made.
     Other supposed prophets have made predictions too: Nostradamus, Jeane Dixon and other psychics have made detailed predictions.  However a study of their prophecies shows that they are only right six percent of the time!  The Bible’s record of accuracy so far is a hundred percent and most prophecies have already been fulfilled.

     The second means of verifying the truth of the Bible is its MIRACLES.  Jesus used miracles.  Nicodemus said, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God.  For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.”
     So, why does it seem that God makes it so hard to believe in Him?  Why doesn’t He come straight out with it and write it across the sky?  In fact He has actually done something just like that.  Psalm 19:1 says, “The heavens are telling the glory of God and the firmament proclaims His handiwork.”  Geisler says, “It’s written so vividly across the skies that more and more scientists who search the stars are becoming Christians.”
     Muhammed claimed to be a prophet, and Islam was first spread by the sword.  Confucius claimed wisdom.  Buddha claimed enlightenment.  I am going to cast my lot in with the One who said He was God, and proved it.
4.  PERSONAL EXPERIENCE.  Someone has said, “If a person does not want to believe, all the evidence in the world will not convince them to believe.  If a person wants to believe, God will provide the evidence to support their belief.”
     There are countless stories of people who have been utterly transformed by taking Christ into their lives.  I was brought up in a Christian home and instilled with Christian principles such as treating my neighbor as myself.  But for many years church was just something I “did”. Reading the Bible was a little dry and uninteresting, but I did it because it had to be done, because I was a Christian!

     However I got tired of living on the edge of Christianity, of wading in the shallows.  The Bible talks of those “who have a form of religion but deny the power of it.”  It also challenges us to “taste and see that the Lord is good.”  God says “you will seek Me and you will find Me, when you shall seek for Me with all your heart.”  
     I decided to seek God with all my heart, to jump in at the deep end.  It is a scary thing, when you are used to managing your own affairs, to throw it all onto God and ask Him to take over!  And yet it is the most satisfying thing in the whole world.  God runs my ship, He directs my life and gives me peace.  After all, He knows more about me and what makes me tick than I do.  
     God still performs miracles.  He has performed some for me (see "God Moved the Boat" and "The White Hen"), and when things don’t seem to be going well I look back on these incidents and realize that even though God doesn’t always step in to help me out, He is still there, supporting me, giving me purpose and hope.  I am not uncertain of the future, because God has revealed what is going to happen to the earth in time to come.
     God also requires obedience of those who follow Him.  “If you love Me, keep my commandments,” He says.  It is very freeing to want to do what God wants.  The difficulty is in keeping in touch with His will.  He directs on a moment-by-moment basis.  In “Escape to God,” Jim Hohnberger brings the relationship with God into clear focus and explains how to really know God and hear His voice, how to put yourself in God's hands every moment of the day.

     And so we come back to the questions I wondered about, at the beginning of this essay.  And here are the answers I have.  They are not the only answers, and they may not be complete answers, but they are all I have.  And for the moment, it is enough to satisfy me.  When I meet God face to face one day, I expect He will give me more answers.  I am prepared to wait.
    IF there is a God, why is there so much human and animal suffering?
     If there is a God and if He is all powerful, why doesn’t He stop evil from happening at all?  But if He eliminated all evil at midnight tonight, in the morning who or what would be left standing?  None of us can reach God's perfect standard, and it is only His longsuffering that enables any of us to survive.  God keeps His hands back, hoping that we will choose good instead of evil, and follow Him instead of our own willful ways.  He never forces.

     There has been a cosmic battle going on, since before this world began, which is coming to its conclusion soon.  Only God knows the date but we are told in Scripture that evil will be done away with forever, and there is not much time left.  God will win the battle.  The devil knows that his time is short and fiercely pursues those who have not yielded to his wiles.  He causes the suffering we see around us.  Although God does not usually intervene, He does not CAUSE suffering.

     The Bible says that as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the last days.  God finally sent the flood when it was obvious that all had made their decisions.  In the last days, God urges all to “come out” and be saved.  He will only step in when His message has reached the whole world and everyone has had a chance to escape destruction.
     A Christian man was agonizing over his young son, who had a terrible disease.  The father pleaded with God to heal the boy.  Finally he got a clear message.  If God were to fix every problem on earth, it would only postpone the time when the fullness of evil is revealed to the universe, and the end of it all could come.
     God has so much love to give us.  He already gave us Himself, in the person of Jesus, to take away our filthiness and substitute His beautiful purity.  If He could sacrifice so much, why should we doubt His love?  How can we blame Him for the evil that happens?  To choose God and life instead of our own way which leads to death, is the only way out.  God will not take away our power of choice.
     IF God is the overseer of the church, why has it so often been embroiled in evil and hypocrisy?
     We all are sinful by birth.  Anybody is capable of doing anything in certain circumstances.  We somehow expect Christians to do better, and when they don’t, we criticize them.  They are no different from anybody else really.  It is only when we fully place ourselves under God’s direction that we can accomplish anything outstanding.  And so few really do place themselves unconditionally under God’s leadership.  
     Unfortunately “the church” has done and does some horrific things and God gets blamed.  God does not force His people to do His will, any more than He forces anybody to accept Him in the first place.

     Our forgiveness and sealing as God’s people comes by individual acceptance of God, not by groups.  Just belonging to a church does not qualify us for salvation.  Only by accepting Jesus and developing a personal relationship with Him can we be assured of eternal life.
     IF God created the world then why does Evolution say it came about by other means?
     Evolution requires just as much if not more faith than Creation does.  To look at the facts and then the theory of evolution is to say, “The Emperor of Evolution has no clothes!”

     Mathematically, logically, biologically and geologically, the theory of Evolution does not explain the evidence.  That is why so many are leaving the evolution camp.  They do not all embrace Creation, but they are accepting that there is intelligent design.

     The ability to see into the cell using the electron microscope, which was developed after the Second World War, has brought the realization that the cell is far more complex than anybody had ever realized.  There is no way it could have come about by chance.
     There are many more reasons why I don’t believe in evolution.  Please read my essay “Why I Don’t Believe in Evolution”.  Evolution is science fiction.
     IF Jesus is the only way to heaven, then what about the millions of people who have never heard of Him?
     God knows everything about everyone who has ever lived.  He has cautioned us not to judge anybody, because we don’t know everything that He knows.  He says that in the judgment He will take into account where each person was born, so all are treated fairly.  Some will be “as though they never were”.  I trust Him to make the right decisions.  
     IF God cares for people why would He apparently consign so many to hell to burn forever?
     The short, truthful answer is that He doesn’t.  The doctrine of the immortality of the soul came from Greek mythology.  It was expounded by Socrates and Plato.  When multitudes of Greeks and other pagans came into the early church, they brought their beliefs with them and gradually these strange doctrines became absorbed into the church.  
Search as you might, there is nothing in the BIble to support such a doctrine.  See my Bible studies on Death and Hell. 

     When Jesus paid the penalty for our sins, He suffered for a night and part of a day.  It was the intense suffering of the second death, but it was limited to a short period of time and then He said, "It is finished".  And He suffered the MAXIMUM penalty for sin, to pay the price for EVERYBODY who ever lived, if they would accept that payment!

     There is no reason to believe that those who bear only their OWN sin will suffer for any longer than Jesus did for EVERYONE'S sin.  That does not make sense, it is not Biblical and I do not believe it.  Please see my Bible studies, on death and hell.

IS there any way to prove to myself that there is a God and that He cares for me?
     God says “Taste and see that the Lord is good!”  I have tasted, and I can testify that He is good.  He is the most wonderful Friend I could ever have.  

     I have no doubt that He exists, made the world and the universe, and loves me.  He loves each one of us as though he or she is the only one on earth.  I find it amazing, humbling and very compelling.  He is my reason for living.  
           

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