Why Should You Believe The Bible? Page 5
From the Message of
Bread Upon The Waters Ministry
Bible Home Page | The Validity of the New Testament
Return to Home Page | Other Important Topics
If you are not a Christian, you may have found yourself at some time and place approached by a Christian who tried to talk you into becoming a Christian too. If you were at all willing to talk to the Christian, you may have asked him a question that he had difficulty in answering relevant to the Christian Faith. Some of the Christians who do this kind of thing are relatively new to the Faith, what we call Baby Christians. They often really don't know much about it themselves. Such persons might not be able to answer some questions a non-Christian might pose to them. However, mature Christians like this writer would be able to answer your questions, and quote Scripture to back up our answers.
Those of us who have done the kind of thing mentioned above, which we call "witnessing", for any length of time, have observed that there are seven basic questions, with, of course, a number of variations, that regularly get thrown at us by unbelievers. The odd thing is that all of these questions deal with issues that the Bible doesn't directly address. Yet the people who ask them again and again usually know nothing about the Bible. How do they know the questions that Christians have trouble answering? This causes one to wonder if the questions aren't inspired by someone else. Namely the devil; Satan. He is just as real as Jesus, and he's busily working against the Christian Faith.
For all that the Bible doesn't directly deal with these questions, there are Scripture-based answers for them, but one needs a better knowledge of the Bible and a better grasp of Christian theology than most new Christians have to be able to know the answers. There is just one particular question among the seven mentioned above that has been almost the nemesis of Christianity, but a mature understanding of the Christian Faith answers it. This is the question that will be dealt with here. The question is this:
If God exists, and is a God of love, why is there so much evil and suffering in the world?
A corollary to this question is:
If God exists, why doesn't He step into history and stop the evil and suffering?
As stated, there are Biblical answers to these questions, but they aren't something that are likely to be fully answered in a casual conversation.
To answer the corollary question first, most true Christians believe that God will do this, soon. That's what this Web site is about. But if you aren't a Christian, and you want God to do this, you better ask yourself this:
What will happen to you and everything you hold dear when He does?
As the great Christian writer and thinker, C.S. Lewis, author of "The Chronicles of Narnia", said in his famous book, "Mere Christianity" (If you aren't a Christian, you should get a copy and read it - look in the "Religion" section of any large bookstore.):
"I wonder whether people who ask God to interfere openly and directly in our world quite realize what it will be like when He does. When that happens, it is the end of the world. When the playwright walks on the stage, the play is over".
If the end comes in anything resembling general Christian expectations, and you aren't a Christian, it will also be the end of you!
The Main Answer
Adam and Eve
The story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2 & 3) tells us something that is one of the most fundamental beliefs of Christianity: God created mankind with a free will. Our free will, as shown in the Bible, basically takes the form of humans being free to make moral choices, that is, choices between good and evil. The story of Adam and Eve tells us that when they were first clearly confronted with such a choice, they chose evil. Because of that, humans have inherited an innate tendency to make evil choices, both in what they do and what they believe, ever since. This innate tendency is what Christians call "original sin". (Note: some Christians might have a problem with my choice of words. Be patient. I am talking to unbelievers, not you.)
Another basic doctrine of Christianity is that we are all sinners. As the Bible shows, and has been testified to even by people who weren't Christian at all, but who had closely observed human behavior, most of the sorrow and suffering in the world is the result of sin. There was a best selling book some years ago, "Whatever Became of Sin?" by the late famous psychotherapist Dr. Karl Menninger, that supported this position. Dr. Menninger was not a Christian, but he believed in the reality of sin.
So the next question is:
Why does God allow sin?
It follows logically that God had to allow it to give man a free will. This means that God knowingly created man with the potential to sin. It follows that God had a dual purpose for allowing both sin and a free will. What is it?
Before we answer that, understand one thing. God did not cause sin and suffering. God allows sin and suffering. And to what extent He could said to be indirectly responsible for it, He took the consequences upon Himself through the death of Christ on the Cross. No one, in the eternal sense, has to take the consequences of his sin. If you go to hell, it will be because you rejected the salvation that God offers through Jesus Christ. Furthermore, if you are a really obedient Christian, you will receive God's help in overcoming sin and suffering in the here and now.
Understand, also, one serious warning: To charge God with wrongdoing is what the Bible calls blasphemy. It is one of the most dangerous sins a person can commit in terms of potentially incurring the wrath of God, in the present and in eternity. Be warned!
And a sidelight to this: from what the Bible says, the period of time in which sin exists on earth is a blink of an eye in the long run of eternity. This is consistent with the scientific view that the human race has only existed for a tiny percentage of the age of the universe. Furthermore, it appears to only be happening on earth, a mote of dust in the vastness of the universe. The sin and suffering are limited. Last but not least, many Christians, including this writer, seriously expect it to end soon.
So what is God's purpose?
The answer to this is related to the Biblical belief that we are created in God's image. As stated in "BABEL RISING", it appears that we are created in His image collectively, if anything, more than individually. As shown in that section, this truth manifests itself in the way our creativity multiplies when we act in unity with unlimited communication.
The Bible speaks of Christians as being the "Body of Christ", a "temple" in which God will dwell. These ideas may be over the heads of unbelievers, but they suggest a purpose in our being created in God's image collectively. In the human race, God is in the process of doing something of the nature of reproducing, or we might say, expanding Himself. The redeemed human race (i.e. the Christians) will become, and to a limited extent already is, a spiritual organism which God will, and does, inhabit.
Which brings us back to why God allows sin. The closest thing to Himself that God ever created was Satan. (By the way, that isn't his original name. "Satan" means "adversary". His original name [or title], as far as we know, was something like "Son of the Morning".) As far as Christians know from the Bible, Satan was the most beautiful, and probably the most powerful being that God ever created. And what did Satan do? He rebelled against God and fell from glory.
So here we come to an interesting idea. Christians often talk about trusting God. But in order to be able to complete His purpose, God needs to be able to trust Christians! He needs a race of beings He can be sure will not rebel against Him. Sin is another word for rebellion against God. So He is allowing sin, and the suffering and decay it causes, so that the new spiritual organism that He is creating will understand sin and will want nothing to do with it.
There is a parallel to what God is doing through sin and suffering in the medical practice of vaccination. Vaccination consists of deliberately infecting patients with mild forms of diseases so that their bodies will develop natural immunity to the diseases. God is allowing sin and suffering in this world for a similar reason. What is going on in the world is the vaccination of human beings against the disease of sin!
Furthermore, God promises an eternity which will do far more than compensate Christians for any suffering they experience in the process. A Scriptural testimony to this is Romans 8:18: "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which will be revealed in us (Christians)." Note that the glory will be revealed in us! Not to us!
Again, God doesn't mean for anyone to ever go to hell. The Bible says that hell was created for Satan and his angels (Matthew 25:41). But many people will go to hell, because they chose not to accept the salvation that God offers. That will be their fault, not God's.
Have you ever read Arthur C. Clarke's science fiction novel, "Childhood's End"? The idea of what finally happens to the human race that he presents in that novel is the closest thing to what the Bible prophesies that this writer has ever heard outside of Christianity. In the novel, humans go through a glorious spiritual transformation, enter an exalted state of existence, and are joined to a god-like universal intelligence called the "Overmind". The transformation is supervised by the intervention of aliens from space.
The Second Coming of Christ, for the true Christians, will be their "Childhood's End", the beginning of a new and far higher level of existence. But it will be the Lord Jesus Christ who brings it about. Not aliens from space. And they will not serve the imaginary "Overmind". It will be the Lord God of Israel, the "I Am That I Am" that the Christians will serve, and, in fact, with whom they will reign as kings and priests in the eternal Kingdom of God.
People who reject the Christian Faith are going to miss out
on the true, glorious destiny of the human race.
For all that is said above, it is impossible to prove the existence of God, or the truth of the Gospel, by argument. As the Christian writer and thinker C.S. Lewis also said, it would just be words being marched out to war against other words. Neither can anyone by argument disprove the existence of God. No one can know enough to say from imperical knowledge that God does not exist. On the other hand, although it can be said that testimonies do not constitute proof of the existence of God, they certainly do constitute evidence. And there are, and have been, tens and tens of millions of people who can sincerely testify to knowing Jesus. More than you would expect can honestly claim to have actually seen Him. Others, including yours truly, can honestly claim visions and/or prophetic dreams, miraculous healings, and all kinds of miracles, major and minor, otherwise. Beyond that, many can simply claim inner peace, strength and joy that defies explanation. By all honest standards of argument, the weight of the evidence is on the side of the Christian Faith.
I believe that I should end this page with a first person testimony. I can't prove the existence of God or the Truth of the Bible to you, but as stated above, God intends to eventually prove His existence to everyone. And if you seriously want to know, God will prove Himself to you. He has certainly done that for me, or I wouldn't be writing this. As you can see, I am not stupid. I question everything. I can answer all of the seven questions referred to above. But I have come up with questions of my own that are tougher than anything that I have ever heard come out of the mouth of an unbeliever. You have to really know a subject to question it intelligently. I sincerely believe that if I played "devil's advocate" and threw those questions at a "Baby Christian" they would destroy his faith. But I can answer even those questions in favor of the Christian Faith.
What I know, beyond all arguments and questions, is that in the 36+ years that I have been a Christian, I have observed the presence of a guiding and helping power in my life that I know isn't me. Furthermore, this power has worked in a way that is consistent with what is said in the Bible. There have been too many "coincidences" for them to be coincidences. There were two minor miracles that happened while I was obtaining the computer with which I created this Web site, and the other Web pages that preceded it. One miracle had to do with obtaining the computer desk on which it sits, and the other with obtaining the computer itself. There would have been at the very least serious difficulty involved, or I might not have been able to get the computer at all, if the miracles had not happened. And those weren't the only miracles that have happened in connection with this ministry.
For my life as a whole, I can even look back to the years before I became Born Again and see the presence of the Lord's guiding, protecting hand in my life before I knew Him. Therefore, even if I couldn't answer an intellectual argument brought against the Christian Faith, all such arguments would be, to me, so many empty words. (See also "Why I Believe")
Christians are often falsely accused of having "blind faith". For anyone who really knows the Lord, nothing could be further from the truth. Blind faith belongs to atheists who believe against evidence, and liberal, apostate Christians who have no real presence of God in their lives. But to anyone who really is Born Again and who lives a life of real obedient faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, it isn't long after he or she becomes Born Again that believing begins to give way to knowing. True Christians know from experience that they have the presence of God within themselves. That's why the question is frequently asked:
"Do you know Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Saviour?"
By the way,
If you don't, see the following page,
How to Become a Christian
Bible Home Page | The Validity of the New Testament
Return To Home Page | Other Important Topics
Online News | Links Page
Contact Author, William D. Brehm