I grew up in the church ... basically spent my entire elementary and teen years there. I had a good foundation of Biblical knowledge. I was a Bible "quizzer" and actually won awards for Bible quizzing against others (couldn't tell ya, though, what's happened to those awards). I was spoon fed from the Bible and could regurgitate info from it pretty well. But, when I started my first year of college at Penn State University, a state school that is ANYTHING but Christian, for the first time my faith was challenged. What I believed about God and the Bible was truly put to the test by many of my professors and many other students. My belief in Creation, my belief in Jesus, my very belief in God were all tested by very intelligent (and many whom were well meaning, charming people who I liked) and, I have to admit, my faith was shaken a bit at that time. And, honestly, that was a good thing for me. It forced me to examine my faith, look at what I believe, and actually make it MY own.
Many teenagers will be in the same situation when they leave for college. My desire is to try my best to equip our students to be ready for these tests and to help them make their faith their own ... not their parent's faith, not their friend's faith, not their church's faith ... but THEIR faith.
So, we started a new series at axis called Seek Truth. In this series we'll be looking at some of the really hard questions that many Christians are afraid they will be asked. We started off with the question "How Can WE Know That God Exists?" I'm no "debater". I don't think I've ever been called an "intellectual." I'm not sure I've even won an argument in my marriage. :) And, I readily admit that having "faith" means there are some things we simply will not be able to understand or explain. Faith, by very definition, is "confidence or turst in a person or thing ... a belief that is not based on proof." Some things we just will not have "proof" for, and that's why it's called faith. But, having faith doesn't mean you're an idiot. It doesn't mean you've suspended all reason or logic. It doesn't mean there aren't strong evidences that point to WHY we believe something to be true. So, here is a very brief synopsis of the reasons given for why I believe God exists ... and I intentionally didn't use the Bible in this case. I believe the Bible to be true, but for one who does not, me ONLY talking from the Bible trying to give the case for God would not be completely effective. Is there evidence outside of the Bible that points to God?
1. The Existence of the Universe. If the Universe began to exist, it must have had a cause ... a cause outside of itself and therefore beyond time, space, matter, and physical energy. A "cause" that, to me, sounds a lot like the God of the Bible.
2. An Intelligent Design. The complexity of a single human cell is just astounding. Combine that with single human cell needing to work together with billions of other cells to form a human body. But, then combine that with the idea that, for that human body to survive, countless acts of precision need to happen in the laws of physics, making life possible. Life simply requires too much information to occur randomly. The more complex something is, the less likely it is to have occurred by chance. An intelligent design points to a Designer, who to me sounds like the God of the Bible.
3. A Moral Standard. We can't really define good or evil without some type of standard. I can't complain that a stick is bent unless I first have a concept of what is straight. In the same way there can be evil only if there is first good. But, if there is no God, what defines the standard of good? Without God, we are left to create our own standard of morality. But, we have a sense of right and wrong. We can choose to ignore that sense if we so desire, but inside there is an innate standard of morality that, I believe, comes from God.
4. The Power of Your Story. When a follower of Jesus lives their life in such a way that it points to God, that it points to the difference He has made ... when embracing Jesus' way of life provides a tangible difference in the way we live compared to the way someone who has NOT embraced Jesus' way of life ... that is probably the strongest evidence for God. As I said earlier, I am NOT a great debater in any way, shape, or form. But, IF I were and IF I could win every debate ALWAYS proving the existence of God ... but if I were a jerk in the process ... would a person want to follow the God I just proved existed? Probably not. If following Jesus makes one a jerk, who would want to follow Him?But, if we know God personally and allow Him to be on display powerfully in our lives, our story can be powerful evidence that God is truly alive and active.
Next Week: Why Should We Trust the Bible?