I was reading a short article recently by pastor Karl Faase in his Daily Nudge series, and he wrote something that made me stop and reflect for a moment. He said that there is a general belief amongst Australians that there is a God. In fact, 79% of people say so but only 24% believe they need to go to church. It’s a fascinating insight into what so many think. The vast majority of people in this country do believe in God. In 2011, a poll in the United States revealed that 92% of Americans believed in God. A very high score indeed!
Generally, we don’t mind talking about God. When asked if you believe in God, one young lady said: “I admit, sometimes I have my doubts, but it’s very important for people to believe in a God of some kind. Having faith helps us get through life’s struggles. When life gets difficult, it really helps to have faith to turn to.”
But what does that phrase mean, ‘believe in God’? I’ve most often heard it framed in terms of existence: People have said to me, “I don’t believe God exists”, or “I have seen no evidence for God”, or “I often question whether there is a God”. Others will say they believe in a higher power, but won’t commit any further—or you say something like “Well, I do believe in some spirit out there, or something bigger than ourselves, or that there is some larger purpose to our lives.”
Maybe you call that God, maybe you don’t. There are a multitude of questions, and probably the most common one is, “If you can’t see God, why do you believe he exists?” But here’s the thing: either God exists, or God doesn’t. And we have absolutely no control over that fact. And so because there’s nothing we can do about whether there is a God, there are really only three answers people can give:
- “Yes, I do,”
- “No, I don’t”
- “I’m not sure.”
Every culture on earth has some conception of a Supreme Being, however flawed it might be. Man was made to look for answers outside of himself. He is incurably religious in that sense. The French philosopher Pascal said that inside the heart of every man there is a ‘God-shaped vacuum’. And Augustine said, “Lord, you have made us for yourself. Our hearts are restless until they find rest in you.”
In the Bible, Ecclesiastes 3:11 says that God has put “eternity in the hearts of men,” meaning that the longing for ultimate answers comes from God himself. God put that longing (the ‘God-shaped vacuum’) inside the human heart to cause men to look to him. Psalm 8:3 says, “When I consider the heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place.” God has left his fingerprints on the universe. Every rock, every tree, every river, every ocean, every star in the sky—they all bear the divine DNA that points back to the God who created all things.
This world is God’s house. He’s left clues everywhere about what kind of God he is. When all is said and done, I believe the best argument for the Christian view of God is found in the person of Jesus Christ. God has revealed himself to us in the Person of his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. The Father sent the Son to the earth in the form of a little baby, conceived through a miracle of the Holy Spirit, born in Bethlehem, born to Mary and Joseph, born in an out-of-the-way corner of the Roman Empire, raised in a carpenter’s home, misunderstood by his own family, rejected by his own people, convicted by the religious leaders, put to death for blasphemy (!), and on the third day God’s Son rose from the dead.
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Now we know what God is like: Jesus has made him known to us. Ever since the “…Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14), Jesus has been the great issue between believers and unbelievers. The debate no longer centres around arid scholastic arguments. It’s all about Jesus now.
John Piper puts the matter this way: “If someone says, Why do you believe in God? you can say, I believe in God because Jesus believed in God, and all that I know of Jesus makes me trust him more than I trust any philosopher or any scientist or any theologian or any friend I have ever known or read about. Then you can ask them, Do you know anyone more trustworthy or better qualified to teach us about the existence of God than Jesus?” Piper is right. No one is more qualified than Jesus to teach us who God is.