“Four Reasons to Believe”
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
Some have defined faith as “belief in something you know can’t be true” or “the illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable.” But Biblical faith is not unthinking, irrational or gullible. It's not a "blind" leap as we often say. Instead faith is a measured step we take based on evidence provided by God himself. There is confidence in that step of faith because there is a sure foundation of trust beneath it. The word translated "assurance" can mean "substance" or "confidence," indicating that which provides the foundation for trust. "Conviction" is sometimes translated as "evidence," indicating the proof or reality of something. So faith is not belief despite the evidence but trust because of the evidence. This does not mean faith is always based on scientific demonstration. We sometimes forget, still living in the glow of the Enlightenment, that there are other forms of evidence.
Though the Bible makes some extraordinary claims, we have strong reasons for believing in the existence of God and the truthfulness of his promises. We can see four of those reasons by looking back, looking up, looking down and looking in.
Look back to the beginning of the universe. Just in the last 100 years, the majority of scientists have come to believe that the universe had a beginning. We are able to detect the expansion of the universe in size in all directions indicating a fixed starting point in time and space. In other words, as Stephen Hawking said, “the universe has not existed forever… it had a beginning.”
The opening verses of the Bible give a reason for that beginning: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). If God did not create the universe then what is the alternative? Criticism without alternative is empty. One popular alternative is that it simply came into existence for no apparent reason. But can something come from nothing? If the universe has a beginning, there must be a reason for its existence.
Look up to see a universe finely tuned for life. Imagine playing poker with someone who draws twelve straight royal flushes, the odds of which are about the same as winning the lottery twelve times in a row. Something similar could be said with respect to the universe. There are many features of creation that need to be precisely as they are for life to be possible, not just life on Earth or life as we know it, but any form of life anywhere.
How are we to explain these amazing “coincidences”? The rational conclusion is that the universe is not a result of random forces but of a purposeful mind. Paul says, “Since the creation of the world God’s invisible attributes - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse” (Rom. 1:20).
Look down into the empty tomb. The historical evidence of Jesus’ bodily resurrection agrees with what the Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, that he was raised from the dead and appeared before many people. Christians proclaimed this resurrection even under threat of death. Pliny the Younger, a Roman governor in the first century wrote, “I ask them if they are Christians, and if they admit it, I repeat the question a second and a third time, with a warning of the punishment awaiting them. If they persist, I order them to be led away for execution.”
What alternatives are there to Jesus’ resurrection? Was it a legend? History shows that it takes about three generations for a legend to develop and Christians were proclaiming his resurrection immediately after it took place. A hallucination? Could hundreds of people have seen the same hallucination? Not likely. Was it all an elaborate lie? What would these Christians have to gain from lying? Poverty, prison and persecution awaited them! Or could it be that God “has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead” (Acts 17:31)?
Look in the pages of the Bible. For me, more than all the philosophical and scientific arguments for the existence of God, there is the Bible itself. And I don’t mean the many convincing proofs for the inspiration of Scripture. An even greater proof to me is the Bible’s message, the gospel. The beautiful story that unfolds in its pages reveal God’s unconquerable love toward flawed and sinful people like you and me. It tells of his power and wisdom to bring his eternal plan to fruition in Jesus. It tells of his amazing grace toward all those who trust in him. That’s reason enough for me.