What evidence is there for the person of Jesus? Who did He claim to be? This article is the final piece in my 3-part series on the existence of God.
I chose to write this series in response to a recent CP article covering the American Worldview Inventory 2021, a survey of the philosophy of life of four generations. CP Reporter Leah MarieAnn Klett reports, “Researchers found that among other recent generations, millennials have gone farther in cutting ties with traditional Christian views and normative biblical teaching.” The article includes a hopeful response by Jacob Bland, the new president and CEO of Youth for Christ, where he told The Christian Post that:
“despite the challenges facing today’s young people, he looks toward the future with optimism. ‘Teens today are facing crises like never before, but it’s often in the darkness that light shines the brightest,’ he said. ‘To enter into a disciple-making relationship where you’re introducing a kid to an unconditional love that maybe they’ve never even considered, showing them the goodness and love modeled in Jesus — there’s a lot of hope in that.’”
I agree with Bland. In the person of Christ, God has chosen not to overwhelm us or enslave us by His awesome power. If we were forced to love Him, it would not be love.
At the end of the day, the big question remains: Was Jesus God incarnate?
The Bible indicates in John 1:14 that God became flesh and dwelt among us and we were able to behold His glory. In Hebrews 1:3 we learn:
“He is the radiance of God’s glory, the exact representation of God’s nature.”
While being tried for blasphemy, Jesus stood before the High Priest and was asked, “Are you the Christ? Are you the son of the most blessed one?” He replied, matter-of-factly, in Mark 14:62:
“I am; and you shall see THE SON OF MAN SITTING AT THE RIGHT HAND OF POWER, and COMING WITH THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN.”
As incredible as it may sound, that statement is either true, or it’s false. There’s really no other position you can take when somebody makes a claim like that.
If it’s not true, if Jesus is not God in the flesh, then what are we to make of Him? What are we to make of this historical person who led such an extraordinary life? History clearly indicates He was not a mythological figure. Was He just a great moral teacher? Was He a magician? Was He an illusionist?
On the other hand, if He was the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God, what would that mean? It would mean quite literally everything. It would mean His entrance into the world would be the turning point in history. It would mean His teaching about life, death, and eternity would be true.
French journalist Michka Assayas had a series of fascinating interviews with rock superstar Bono of the rock group U2. Bono is quite a popular figure and frequently is in the news. Furthermore, he is a Christian, which seems to baffle the media. In this interview, Assayas asks Bono this question:
“Christ has His rank among the world’s great thinkers. But ‘Son of God’—isn’t that a little far-fetched?”
“No, it’s not far-fetched to me. Look, the secular response to the Christ story always goes like this. He was a prophet, obviously a very interesting guy, had a lot to say along the lines of other great prophets, be they Elijah, Mohammed, Buddha, or Confucius, but actually Christ doesn’t allow you that. He doesn’t let you off the hook.”
Christ says, ‘No, I’m not saying I’m a prophet. I’m saying I am the Messiah. I am saying I am God incarnate.’
And people say, ‘No, no, please just be a prophet. A prophet we can take. You’re a bit eccentric. We’ve had John the Baptist eating locusts and wild honey; we can handle that. Please don’t admit to the ‘M’ word, the Messiah. Because, you know, we’re going to have to crucify you.’
And he goes, ‘No, no, I know you’re expecting Me to come back with an army and set you free from these creeps, but actually, I am the Messiah.’
At this point, everyone starts staring at their shoes and says, ‘Oh My God, he’s going to keep saying this.’
So, what you’re left with in this is Christ was either Who He said He was, the Messiah, or a complete nutcase on the level of Charles Manson. I’m not joking here.
The idea that the entire course of civilization for over half of the globe could have its fate changed and turned upside down by a nutcase…”
And then Bono looked at the interviewer, and said,
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman, or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
“We may note in passing that He was never regarded as a mere moral teacher. He did not produce that effect on any people who actually met Him.”
In other words, no one in Jesus’ time would have thought to themselves, “Wow, what a wonderful teacher.”
“He produced mainly three effects. Hatred, terror, or adoration. There was no trace of people expressing mild approval.”
Either they hated him, they were terrorized by Him because of the unbelievable things He did, or they adored Him. They recognized Him to be God.
And then Lewis says, in conclusion, you have two choices.
“You either have to accept or reject the story.”
In making decisions in life, a wise person will look at all the factors and evidence that relates to the issue and will then make a decision. Often, it is a faith decision, particularly if there is no scientific certainty to back up the choice you make.
To make a decision about Jesus and His message, one must consider the historical evidence and make a determination based on the strength of the evidence. If I were to go into a court of law, I would lay out four vital points to make the case that Christ is the Son of God.
To learn more about the evidence for Christ that I’m referring to, I invite you to read my book Reflections on the Existence of God. The book lays out, in short essays, much of the evidence for the existence of God that is available. We should seek to take the evidence offered and use it to make reasonable conclusions. What you will find is, as the evidence accumulates, it enables us to come to confident conclusions about God. Who He is. And, that He truly is.
As hard as this might be to believe, there are some people convinced that Jesus was not a man of history but some type of mythical figure. They claim the Resurrection story was based on ancient myths of religious figures who rose from the dead. These mythological stories were written many years before the Christian myth was written.
However, there are no credible historical scholars who make this claim.
In the wonderful bookThe Story of Reality, Greg Koukl confronts this issue head on. He has read extensively from the trained historians who have gone back to the earliest records of these ancient accounts. Here is what those historians have discovered.
A close look at the primary sources shows two things that are startling given the popularity of this view. First, the myths that actually pre-date Jesus’ time bear virtually no resemblance to the particular details of Jesus’ life. A host of alleged similarities turn out to be nonexistent. Whatever parallels remain are usually far too general to be significant.
According to historian Tryggve Mettinger, the scholar who has done the most recent exhaustive study of this question, there simply is “no prima facie” evidence that the death and Resurrection of Jesus is a mythological construct, drawing on the myths and rites of the dying and rising gods of the surrounding world.
Second, mythical accounts of the mystery-religion gods that actually do bear some resemblance to Jesus’ life unfortunately (for the theory) show up after his time. This fact creates a problem for the recycled redeemer view since it looks very much like those stories were copied from the Gospels, not the other way around. Clearly, the child cannot come before the parent. The “recycled” version must appear in the historical record after the one it allegedly came from, not before it.
It is also important to recognize the number of ancient historians, who lived during the time of Christ, and wrote of Him.
Historian Gary Habermas details a total of thirty-nine ancient sources documenting the life of Christ. Some of these were Christian historians, but many of them were not. To put this into perspective, there are only nine ancient sources that mention Tiberius Caesar. Only nine. Here we find an emperor of Rome who ruled for twenty-two years, yet there are only nine ancient sources that mention him while there are thirty-nine sources that speak of Jesus. Of these thirty-nine, several mention Jesus in just a paragraph or two while others write of him extensively.
These include Cornelius Tacitus, considered the greatest historian of the Roman Empire who was born in 57 A.D., and Justin Martyr, who lived from 65 A.D. to 110 A.D. and wrote extensively of Jesus. Then you have Flavius Josephus, touted as the greatest Jewish historian of antiquity and who wrote about the life of Christ. He was born in 37 A.D., just after Jesus’ death.
So abundant is the testimony pointing to Christ’s historical existence that Dr. F.F. Bruce, professor of biblical criticism at the University of Manchester in England, suggests that reputable historians could not possibly propagate this theory.
“Some writers may toy with the fancy of a ‘Christ myth,’ but they do not do so on the ground of historical evidence. The historicity of Christ is as axiomatic for an unbiased historian as the historicity of Julius Caesar.”
Scott Appleby, a professor of Church History at Notre Dame, concurs:
“There’s no ‘real doubt’ that Jesus existed,” he said. “What Jesus of Nazareth did and what he means is a different question. But on the question of the existence, there is more evidence of the existence of Jesus of Nazareth than there would be for many other historical people who actually existed.
Not only did Jesus actually exist, but he actually had some kind of prominence to be mentioned in two or three chronicles.”
What I also find interesting is the number of religious skeptics who clearly are convinced that Jesus was a legitimate historical figure.
Will Durant, the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian who wrote the most successful work of history, the eleven-volume The Story of Civilization, concludes his material on Christ this way:
“No one reading these scenes can doubt the reality of the figure behind them…”
The skeptic and famed Irish historian W.E.H. Lecky says this:
“The character of Jesus has not only been the highest pattern of virtue, but the strongest incentive in its practice, and has exerted so deep an influence, that it may be truly said that the simple record of three short years of active life has done more to regenerate and to soften mankind than all the disquisitions of philosophers and all the exhortations of moralists.”
Most significantly, from Mark Clark’s The Problem of God: Answering a Skeptic’s Challenges to Christianity listen to the words of the great historian H.G. Wells:
“I am a historian, I am not a believer, but I must confess as a historian that this penniless preacher from Nazareth is irrevocably the very center of history. Jesus Christ is easily the most dominant figure in all history.”
Finally, this last point needs to be given strong consideration. Today the world’s calendars are built around the birth of Christ. History is divided into events that took place before His birth and those that took place after His birth. This is clearly an indication of the extent to which Western culture was shaped by this man Jesus. It is quite obvious that something of universal importance began with the historical figure of Jesus. Truly, no one could have possibly invented the person of Christ.
I close with this question posed by Jesus himself in Matthew 16:15, “But who do you say that I am?”
This article, Part 2 of my 3-part series, is an essay from my newest book Reflections on the Existence of God. The book lays out, in short essays, much of the evidence for the existence of God that is available. We should seek to take the evidence offered and use it to make reasonable conclusions. What you will find is, as the evidence accumulates, it enables us to come to confident conclusions about God. Who He is. And, that He truly is.
Is what I believe true? I cannot think of anything more tragic than to live my life with a false view of reality. A false view of the existence of God.
But if God does exist, does He have a name? If the evidence points to the existence of a transcendent infinite spiritual force in the universe, this force will remain unknown to us unless it appears and reveals its identity. The human search for God will always be an effort in futility, unless God chooses to reveal Himself in a convincing manner.
CP Reporter Leah MarieAnn Klett reported in her recent article, that “…43% of millennials stated they either don’t know, don’t care or don’t believe God exists compared to 28% of boomers, and 44% of millennials believe Satan is a real and influential, compared to 64% of boomers.” Then Klett goes on to say that, “On spiritual matters, Americans younger than 55 are far more likely to distrust the Bible and to believe God is uninvolved in people’s lives.”
For those who are searching if God exists, I am convinced there is only one place to start and that is with the historical figure Jesus Christ.
Jesus is the only credible figure in history who made the claim to be God. In his bookThe Everlasting Man, G.K. Chesterton pointed out that no great moral teacher ever claimed to be God—not Mohammed, not Micah, not Malachi, or Confucius or Plato or Moses or Buddha:
“Not one of them ever made that claim…and the greater the man is, the less likely he is to make the very greatest claim.”
“If you had gone to Buddha and asked him, ‘Are you the son of Brahman?’ he would have said, ‘My son, you are still in the vale of illusion.’ If you had gone to Socrates and asked, ‘Are you Zeus?’ he would have laughed at you. If you had gone to Mohammed and asked, ‘Are you Allah?’ he would first have rent his clothes and then cut your head off…The idea of a great moral teacher saying what Christ said is out of the question.”
For many years, the brilliant British scholar Malcolm Muggeridge was an outspoken atheist. One of the reasons he eventually changed his mind was because of the man Jesus. In his book, Conversion: The Spiritual Journey of a Twentieth Century Pilgrim, Muggeridge said that plenty of great teachers, mystics, martyrs, and saints have made their appearance at different times in the world, having lived lives and spoken words full of grace and truth for which we have reason to be grateful. Nevertheless, Muggeridge continues, man needs God’s special revelation on which he can build a religious belief and from which he can find wisdom and understanding. Muggeridge goes on to say that the only solution is for God to become man, which He did through the Incarnation in the person of Jesus Christ. God thereby:
“…set a window in the dark dungeons of our soul, that He might let in a light which would provide a view, and offer a way to be released from the misery of our self-centeredness and pride.In Jesus, “eternity steps into time, and time loses itself in eternity.”
So, Jesus must be the place to start in a search for God, because of His incredible claim to be God. It seems only logical to seek to determine if His claims were true. The articles in this three-part series will provide compelling evidence that Jesus is Who He claims to be.
However, I need to mention a second reason that Jesus and Christianity are where a person should start in their search for spiritual truth. Christianity is the only falsifiable religion in the world. The reason I say this is because Christianity depends on certain historical facts to be true. (This, of course, would include Christ’s Resurrection.) Prove they never happened and Christianity is fraudulent.
Probably one of the most respected books on man’s diverse spiritual longings is The World’s Religions by Huston Smith. Written in 1958, it is still used regularly in many college curriculums. Commentator Bill Moyers suggests it is one of the best books on comparative religion because of its objectivity and its sensitivity to all religious beliefs and practices. Smith, who was very well educated, didn’t have any particular religious leaning. He was unbiased. And in the book, in the section on Christianity, Smith begins with these words:
“Christianity is basically a historical religion. That is to say, it is founded not on abstract principles but on concrete events, actual historical happenings.”
Out of all the religions that Smith covers, he doesn’t say this about any of the other world religions. The Bible, he suggests, unlike most of the world’s great religious literature and traditions, is not centered on a series of moral, spiritual, and liturgical teachings but rather on what God did in history and what He revealed in history.
The historical record does not seem to be of as much importance in other world religions. For instance, a number of years ago, theologian Paul Tillich hosted a conference in Asia with various Buddhist thinkers. During the conference he asked a simple question: What if by some fluke Siddhārtha Gautama, the Buddha, had never lived and turned out to be some sort of fabrication? What would be the implications for Buddhism? The scholars all agreed that if Buddha had not existed, it would not matter. The reason, they concluded, is because Buddhism should be judged as an abstract philosophy, a system for living. They said it did not matter where the teaching originated.
Christianity, on the other hand, requires an origination, a set of hard facts on which to stand. To make the point more explicitly, Peter Moore, the founder of Trinity School for Ministry, emphasizes that Christianity is the only world religion to make spiritual truth depend on historical events. And English historian and author Paul Johnson bolsters this truth by stating the following:
“Christianity is essentially a historical religion. It bases its claims on the historical facts it asserts. If these are demolished it is nothing.”
Therefore, Christians clearly believe that as wonderful as Jesus’ life and teachings were, they are meaningless if they are not historically true.
One of my favorite stories is of a man who believed he could debunk the Christian story by diligent study of the historical and archeological record.
Sir William Mitchell Ramsay is considered to be one of the greatest archeologists in history. He performed most of his work across Asia Minor and the Middle East. An Englishman, he was raised an atheist, the son of atheists of great wealth. Receiving his doctorate in archeology from Oxford, he committed his entire life to archeology and set out for the Holy Land with the intention of undermining the validity of the Bible. His hope was completely to discredit the book of Acts. He was confident he could do so because there was simply so much historical information he believed he could draw upon. He shares:
“I began with a mind unfavorable to it [Acts]…It did not lie then in my line of life to investigate the subject matter minutely; but more recently I found myself often brought into contact with the book of Acts as an authority for the topography, antiquities, and society of Asia Minor.”
Over time, Ramsay was forced to completely reverse his beliefs as a result of the overwhelming evidence uncovered in his research. After thirty years of vigorous and comprehensive study and analysis, this is what he had to say about Luke’s ability as a historian:
“Luke is a historian of the first rank; not merely are his statements as facts trustworthy…this author should be placed along with the greatest of historians…Luke’s history is unsurpassed in respect to its trustworthiness.”
These are strong words and are of vital importance. Remember the foundational principle we started with at the beginning of this chapter? Christianity is the only world religion where spiritual truth depends on the veracity of clearly defined and discoverable historical events.
Eventually, after uncovering many hundreds of artifacts confirming the historicity of the New Testament record, Sir William Mitchell Ramsay would shock the archaeological community when he revealed to the world that he had become a Christian.
This article is an essay from my newest book Reflections on the Existence of God. The book lays out, in short essays, much of the evidence for the existence of God that is available. We should seek to take the evidence offered and use it to make reasonable conclusions. What you will find is, as the evidence accumulates, it enables us to come to confident conclusions about God. Who He is. And, that He truly is.
Blessed is the man that doeth this, and the son of man that layeth hold on it; that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and keepeth his hand from doing any evil. Isaiah 56:2
Keeping the Sabbath means WE SHOULD BE PEOPLE ALWAYS FOUND IN REST — God’s Rest. If not, we are people polluting the Sabbath. Jesus says, Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28.
When we are in Jesus, no burden should rule our lives. Burdens have the power to take away the rest from our souls. Moreover, the children of Israel could not enter into the Promised land nor enjoy God’s rest in their lives because of unbelief. Hebrews 3:19.
Hence, living a life of unrest is referred to polluting Sabbath. When there is unrest in our soul, there is a gradual loss of the Joy of Salvation. It is a step-by-step process. On the other hand, when we once again give ourselves back to God again step-by-step He reloads His rest in us and enter His Righteousness.
So first, He grants rest to our soul. Next, He gives rest to our body. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. Psalms 16:9. This rest is given when we obey God in water baptism. The Old Man is crucified and completely destroyed. In this way, the nature of sin is destroyed and rest is found in the body. Through the Anointing of the Holy Spirit we get rest in our soul.
God has created and ordained us for good works. He wants our good works to shine forth like lights. We need to keep our hands from doing evil — working out our own Salvation with fear and trembling. That’s what Noah did during his time when everything around him was evil. May God help us to preserve the Sabbath and thereby become blessed.
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:10)
Man’s righteousness is but filthy rags before God. It is the righteousness of God that matters. All those who are born again are created in righteousness and true holiness. Abraham believed (in obedience), and he was counted righteous by God (Genesis 15:6).
And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the Lord our God, as he hath commanded us. (Deuteronomy 7:25)
When we begin to obey the Word of God, opposition is bound to rise. Jesus made it clear that when we live for Him, we will be hated.
Job was persecuted by Satan. Job was a righteous man, God vouched for him. What a testimony! Even though he lost all to prove Gods work in his life, he never went against God. Job was proved righteous before God and man, despite the persecution in his life.
Daniel was thrown into the den of lions because he prayed to God.
The trio, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, were thrown into the lake of fire for not serving the gods of Nebuchadnezzar, nor the golden image he had setup.
The scripture is full of testimonies of men and women persecuted for righteousness sake.
In the New Testament period, Peter, Paul and the apostles were persecuted and jailed for preaching the Word of God in love. People across the world are persecuted for Christ daily.
Every week, Christians in fellowship are privy to mighty testimonies for the glory of God. Testimonies that reveal the love of Jesus in the midst of great suffering and persecution.
The Word is clear, no one can enter heaven without facing tribulations.
How is the life of a Christian?
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. (2 Corinthians 4:7-10)
What is the Christian’s attitude in the midst of much persecution?
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35-39)
Jesus stands tall as the greatest testimony for the sake of all believers. When we love God and walk in His righteousness, the power of His resurrection will manifest Christ in our life daily.
Does God exist? Here are six straightforward reasons to believe that God is really there.
By Marilyn Adamson
Just once wouldn’t you love for someone to simply show you the evidence for God’s existence? No arm-twisting. No statements of, “You just have to believe.” Well, here is an attempt to candidly offer some of the reasons which suggest that God exists.
But first consider this. When it comes to the possibility of God’s existence, the Bible says that there are people who have seen sufficient evidence, but they have suppressed the truth about God.1 On the other hand, for those who want to know God if he is there, he says, “You will seek me and find me; when you seek me with all your heart, I will be found by you.”2 Before you look at the facts surrounding his existence, ask yourself, If God does exist, would I want to know him? Here then, are some reasons to consider…
1. The complexity of our planet points to a deliberate Designer who not only created our universe, but sustains it today.
Many examples showing God’s design could be given, possibly with no end. But here are a few:
The Earth…its size is perfect. The Earth’s size and corresponding gravity holds a thin layer of mostly nitrogen and oxygen gases, only extending about 50 miles above the Earth’s surface. If Earth were smaller, an atmosphere would be impossible, like the planet Mercury. If Earth were larger, its atmosphere would contain free hydrogen, like Jupiter.3 Earth is the only known planet equipped with an atmosphere of the right mixture of gases to sustain plant, animal and human life.
The Earth is located the right distance from the sun. Consider the temperature swings we encounter, roughly -30 degrees to +120 degrees. If the Earth were any further away from the sun, we would all freeze. Any closer and we would burn up. Even a fractional variance in the Earth’s position to the sun would make life on Earth impossible. The Earth remains this perfect distance from the sun while it rotates around the sun at a speed of nearly 67,000 mph. It is also rotating on its axis, allowing the entire surface of the Earth to be properly warmed and cooled every day.
And our moon is the perfect size and distance from the Earth for its gravitational pull. The moon creates important ocean tides and movement so ocean waters do not stagnate, and yet our massive oceans are restrained from spilling over across the continents.4
Water…colorless, odorless and without taste, and yet no living thing can survive without it. Plants, animals and human beings consist mostly of water (about two-thirds of the human body is water). You’ll see why the characteristics of water are uniquely suited to life:
It has wide margin between its boiling point and freezing point. Water allows us to live in an environment of fluctuating temperature changes, while keeping our bodies a steady 98.6 degrees.
Water is a universal solvent. This property of water means that various chemicals, minerals and nutrients can be carried throughout our bodies and into the smallest blood vessels.5
Water is also chemically neutral. Without affecting the makeup of the substances it carries, water enables food, medicines and minerals to be absorbed and used by the body.
Water has a unique surface tension. Water in plants can therefore flow upward against gravity, bringing life-giving water and nutrients to the top of even the tallest trees.
Water freezes from the top down and floats, so fish can live in the winter.
Ninety-seven percent of the Earth’s water is in the oceans. But on our Earth, there is a system designed which removes salt from the water and then distributes that water throughout the globe. Evaporation takes the ocean waters, leaving the salt, and forms clouds which are easily moved by the wind to disperse water over the land, for vegetation, animals and people. It is a system of purification and supply that sustains life on this planet, a system of recycled and reused water.6
The human brain…simultaneously processes an amazing amount of information. Your brain takes in all the colors and objects you see, the temperature around you, the pressure of your feet against the floor, the sounds around you, the dryness of your mouth, even the texture of your keyboard. Your brain holds and processes all your emotions, thoughts and memories. At the same time your brain keeps track of the ongoing functions of your body like your breathing pattern, eyelid movement, hunger and movement of the muscles in your hands.
The human brain processes more than a million messages a second.7 Your brain weighs the importance of all this data, filtering out the relatively unimportant. This screening function is what allows you to focus and operate effectively in your world. The brain functions differently than other organs. There is an intelligence to it, the ability to reason, to produce feelings, to dream and plan, to take action, and relate to other people.
The eye…can distinguish among seven million colors. It has automatic focusing and handles an astounding 1.5 million messages — simultaneously.8 Evolution focuses on mutations and changes from and within existing organisms. Yet evolution alone does not fully explain the initial source of the eye or the brain — the start of living organisms from nonliving matter.
2. The universe had a start – what caused it?
Scientists are convinced that our universe began with one enormous explosion of energy and light, which we now call the Big Bang. This was the singular start to everything that exists: the beginning of the universe, the start of space, and even the initial start of time itself.
Astrophysicist Robert Jastrow, a self-described agnostic, stated, “The seed of everything that has happened in the Universe was planted in that first instant; every star, every planet and every living creature in the Universe came into being as a result of events that were set in motion in the moment of the cosmic explosion…The Universe flashed into being, and we cannot find out what caused that to happen.”9
Steven Weinberg, a Nobel laureate in Physics, said at the moment of this explosion, “the universe was about a hundred thousands million degrees Centigrade…and the universe was filled with light.”10
The universe has not always existed. It had a start…what caused that? Scientists have no explanation for the sudden explosion of light and matter.
3. The universe operates by uniform laws of nature. Why does it?
Much of life may seem uncertain, but look at what we can count on day after day: gravity remains consistent, a hot cup of coffee left on a counter will get cold, the earth rotates in the same 24 hours, and the speed of light doesn’t change — on earth or in galaxies far from us.
How is it that we can identify laws of nature that never change? Why is the universe so orderly, so reliable?
“The greatest scientists have been struck by how strange this is. There is no logical necessity for a universe that obeys rules, let alone one that abides by the rules of mathematics. This astonishment springs from the recognition that the universe doesn’t have to behave this way. It is easy to imagine a universe in which conditions change unpredictably from instant to instant, or even a universe in which things pop in and out of existence.”11
Richard Feynman, a Nobel Prize winner for quantum electrodynamics, said, “Why nature is mathematical is a mystery…The fact that there are rules at all is a kind of miracle.”12
4. The DNA code informs, programs a cell’s behavior.
All instruction, all teaching, all training comes with intent. Someone who writes an instruction manual does so with purpose. Did you know that in every cell of our bodies there exists a very detailed instruction code, much like a miniature computer program? As you may know, a computer program is made up of ones and zeros, like this: 110010101011000. The way they are arranged tell the computer program what to do. The DNA code in each of our cells is very similar. It’s made up of four chemicals that scientists abbreviate as A, T, G, and C. These are arranged in the human cell like this: CGTGTGACTCGCTCCTGAT and so on. There are three billion of these letters in every human cell!!
Well, just like you can program your phone to beep for specific reasons, DNA instructs the cell. DNA is a three-billion-lettered program telling the cell to act in a certain way. It is a full instruction manual.13
Why is this so amazing? One has to ask….how did this information program wind up in each human cell? These are not just chemicals. These are chemicals that instruct, that code in a very detailed way exactly how the person’s body should develop.
Natural, biological causes are completely lacking as an explanation when programmed information is involved. You cannot find instruction, precise information like this, without someone intentionally constructing it.
5. We know God exists because he pursues us. He is constantly initiating and seeking for us to come to him.
I was an atheist at one time. And like many atheists, the issue of people believing in God bothered me greatly. What is it about atheists that we would spend so much time, attention, and energy refuting something that we don’t believe even exists?! What causes us to do that? When I was an atheist, I attributed my intentions as caring for those poor, delusional people…to help them realize their hope was completely ill-founded. To be honest, I also had another motive. As I challenged those who believed in God, I was deeply curious to see if they could convince me otherwise. Part of my quest was to become free from the question of God. If I could conclusively prove to believers that they were wrong, then the issue is off the table, and I would be free to go about my life.
I didn’t realize that the reason the topic of God weighed so heavily on my mind, was because God was pressing the issue. I have come to find out that God wants to be known. He created us with the intention that we would know him. He has surrounded us with evidence of himself and he keeps the question of his existence squarely before us. It was as if I couldn’t escape thinking about the possibility of God. In fact, the day I chose to acknowledge God’s existence, my prayer began with, “Ok, you win…” It might be that the underlying reason atheists are bothered by people believing in God is because God is actively pursuing them.
I am not the only one who has experienced this. Malcolm Muggeridge, socialist and philosophical author, wrote, “I had a notion that somehow, besides questing, I was being pursued.” C.S. Lewis said he remembered, “…night after night, feeling whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all of England.”
Lewis went on to write a book titled, “Surprised by Joy” as a result of knowing God. I too had no expectations other than rightfully admitting God’s existence. Yet over the following several months, I became amazed by his love for me.
6. Unlike any other revelation of God, Jesus Christ is the clearest, most specific picture of God revealing himself to us.
Why Jesus? Look throughout the major world religions and you’ll find that Buddha, Muhammad, Confucius and Moses all identified themselves as teachers or prophets. None of them ever claimed to be equal to God. Surprisingly, Jesus did. That is what sets Jesus apart from all the others. He said God exists and you’re looking at him. Though he talked about his Father in heaven, it was not from the position of separation, but of very close union, unique to all humankind. Jesus said that anyone who had seen Him had seen the Father, anyone who believed in him, believed in the Father.
He said, “I am the light of the world, he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”14 He claimed attributes belonging only to God: to be able to forgive people of their sin, free them from habits of sin, give people a more abundant life and give them eternal life in heaven. Unlike other teachers who focused people on their words, Jesus pointed people to himself. He did not say, “follow my words and you will find truth.” He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father but through me.”15
What proof did Jesus give for claiming to be divine? He did what people can’t do. Jesus performed miracles. He healed people…blind, crippled, deaf, even raised a couple of people from the dead. He had power over objects…created food out of thin air, enough to feed crowds of several thousand people. He performed miracles over nature…walked on top of a lake, commanding a raging storm to stop for some friends. People everywhere followed Jesus, because he constantly met their needs, doing the miraculous. He said if you do not want to believe what I’m telling you, you should at least believe in me based on the miracles you’re seeing.16
Jesus Christ showed God to be gentle, loving, aware of our self-centeredness and shortcomings, yet deeply wanting a relationship with us. Jesus revealed that although he views us as sinners, worthy of his punishment, his love for us ruled and he came up with a different plan. God himself took on the form of man and accepted the punishment for our sin on our behalf. Sounds ludicrous? Perhaps, but many loving fathers would gladly trade places with their child in a cancer ward if they could. The Bible says that the reason we would love God is because he first loved us.
Jesus died in our place so we could be forgiven. Of all the religions known to humanity, only through Jesus will you see God reaching toward humanity, providing a way for us to have a relationship with him. Jesus proves a divine heart of love, meeting our needs, drawing us to himself. Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, he offers us a new life today. We can be forgiven, fully accepted by God and genuinely loved by God. He says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love, therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.”17 This is God, in action.
Does God exist? If you want to know, investigate Jesus Christ. We’re told that “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”18
God does not force us to believe in him, though he could. Instead, he has provided sufficient proof of his existence for us to willingly respond to him. The earth’s perfect distance from the sun, the unique chemical properties of water, the human brain, DNA, the number of people who attest to knowing God, the gnawing in our hearts and minds to determine if God is there, the willingness for God to be known through Jesus Christ. If you need to know more about Jesus and reasons to believe in him, please see: Beyond Blind Faith.
If you want to begin a relationship with God now, you can.
This is your decision, no coercion here. But if you want to be forgiven by God and come into a relationship with him, you can do so right now by asking him to forgive you and come into your life. Jesus said, “Behold, I stand at the door [of your heart] and knock. He who hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him [or her].”19 If you want to do this, but aren’t sure how to put it into words, this may help: “Jesus, thank you for dying for my sins. You know my life and that I need to be forgiven. I ask you to forgive me right now and come into my life. I want to know you in a real way. Come into my life now. Thank you that you wanted a relationship with me. Amen.”
God views your relationship with him as permanent. Referring to all those who believe in him, Jesus Christ said of us, “I know them, and they follow me; and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand.”20
Looking at all these facts, one can conclude that a loving God does exist and can be known in an intimate, personal way.
Footnotes: (1) Romans 1:19-21 (2) Jeremiah 29:13-14 (3) R.E.D. Clark, Creation (London: Tyndale Press, 1946), p. 20 (4) The Wonders of God’s Creation, Moody Institute of Science (Chicago, IL) (5) Ibid. (6) Ibid. (7) Ibid. (8) Hugh Davson, Physiology of the Eye, 5th ed (New York: McGraw Hill, 1991) (9) Robert Jastrow; “Message from Professor Robert Jastrow”; LeaderU.com; 2002. (10) Steven Weinberg; The First Three Minutes: A Modern View of the Origin of the Universe; (Basic Books,1988); p 5. (11) Dinesh D’Souza, What’s So Great about Christianity; (Regnery Publishing, Inc, 2007, chapter 11). (12) Richard Feynman, The Meaning of It All: Thoughts of a Citizen-Scientist (New York: BasicBooks, 1998), 43. (13) Francis S. Collins, director of the Human Genome Project, and author of The Language of God, (Free Press, New York, NY), 2006 (14) John 8:12 (15) John 14:6 (16) John 14:11 (17) Jeremiah 31:3 (18) John 3:16 (19) Revelation 3:20 (20) John 10:27-29