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In PART I of "Does GOD Exist?", we learned why theories such as the big bang and evolution don't explain the existence of matter in the universe, nor resolve riddles about how man came to be. We discovered how common sense leads us to the need for an unchanging First Cause of all else that exists. You read what reason alone proves about God, such as the Maker's immaterial nature. Since nothing can give itself what it doesn't already have, we know that any positive quality in man, such as: love, truth, intelligence, discernment, beauty, seeing/perception, goodness and unity of being, must be abundantly possessed by Man's Designer. We learned that evil is best understood as the absence of good, and the Creator could end worldly evil only by crushing our free will. We found that worldwide, history and archeology prove man's religious impulses. Science and the mind can also lead us to admit that the Bible demonstrates signs of a superhuman origin.
Wow! That's a lot of ground we've already covered, let's see what's around the bend...
Before moving on, let's check out an opposing theory of God's existence.
A relatively new theory asserts the earth was visited by a superior life from other planets. According to that theory, there may be evidence to support such an event. That hypothetical interplanetary visitor may have come to earth millions of years ago, and 'planted' or aided humanity in its development.
Common sense alone tells us this unproven theory, even if true, doesn't eliminate the need for a First Cause for the universe! Nor does this concept explain the many problem areas with the 'big bang,' or the theory of evolution. For instance, how does man's body (or any organic life-form) 'know:' How to develop? Where each growing cell must go? What type of cell it is to be? The wonders of nature and the 'mysteries' of science indicate a Design, and the need for constant attention to trillions of such natural details each second! So even if there is intelligent life on other planets, there is still a Designer, because a "Star Trek" style intelligence from other solar systems would need a Maker too!
Having proven that God exists, let's focus our interest to man's relationship to 'the Designer', the Bible and other questions about faith.
|Oaktrees come from acorns. Acorns come from oaktrees. Which came first, since one needs the other? Such riddles can be applied to the question of where people, plants, insects or animals came from. The only honest answer is that we have a Creator that made all things in the beginning. God could use events like the 'big bang' or phase in his creation in a way some may describe as 'evolution', if He chose to do so. Still, God is the necessary Designer and Maker of the cosmos, and the answer to all the riddles of life!|
THE DESIGNER has allowed us to know about 'His' existence from common sense alone. Many ancient Greek philosophers and medieval scholars, such as Aristotle or Thomas Aquinas, used similar (though more detailed) logic to prove God's existence. Some readers may want to dig deeper into such proofs later by reading such authors. But let's move on now, and see how our Creator has communicated with us 'mortals' in a more much more direct way. Medicine, history, science and archeology all demonstrate remarkable facts about the Old and New Testaments of the Bible that can't easily be explained away. Besides the facts mentioned in Part I, we could point out that many ancient documents have been lost forever, or that very few copies of other timeworn texts exist! Yet amazingly, hundreds of copies and thousands of ancient fragments of the Bible exists!
Think for a moment about a time when you turned the brittle pages of a 75 or 100 year old book. Have you ever had such an old page tear or even crumble in your hands? Then you can imagine how amazing it is that ancient copies of the Scriptures exist, since the decay of the fragile writing materials used then was sometimes far worse than many more modern papers! Centuries old papyri and parchments exist, that scholars use as a basis for checking the accuracy of the Biblical texts that we have today. Many of these venerable old scrolls are becoming available to even the general public in books or even on CD-ROM for computers. These items all give the fair-minded person reason to believe that the Bible has been protected and preserved by an unseen Power, a Power that we usually call "God."
We should note that the Bible wasn't written all at once, or as a completed work. It's a library of different writings, spanning centuries and using many literary styles (see Heb. 1:1). The Bible's authors were people, who at various times were moved by God to deliver orally, and later in writing, His Word to mankind. But some naturally wonder, why would an all-powerful God communicate with mankind in such a seemingly slow or clumsy way? Why didn't He speak to us directly; as individuals, or as a group?
The Bible and reason both answer such questions. Imagine, for a moment, some ancient woman or man. Suddenly the person is aware of the Presence of God, their Creator and the Maker of everything. It could be quite a frightening experience! Even though God manifest Himself indirectly, through burning bushes or by other means, people were awestruck.
Signs and wonders, that we call miracles, demonstrated to them the reality of their Creator, as well as His power and goodness. If God made Himself known to us personally today, instantly revealing all His glory and power, it would be overwhelming, and probably fatal (the mind would over-load at such an event: since how can one mind comprehend everything in the universe, including God, all at once?).
Like a wise parent teaching children, God makes Himself known to mankind (and to us personally) in stages, so we can accept and deal with His reality. God's way respects our free will, and allows us to believe (or not), and are the basis for the rewards He promises.
SO THE BIBLE PROVIDES certain 'proofs' that it has been given to us by God through inspired people. While respecting the free will of other believers, we must admit that these proofs are unique among the world's religions, and supports the faith of 1.7 billion believers.
The Dead Sea Scrolls, and hundreds of other ancient Biblical segments and thousands of fragments, allows us to double check the accuracy of modern translations.
Positive aspects of other faiths, such as Buddhism or Hinduism, could be called 'natural' religion. Religions arose before and after the advent of Christianity. Christian faith is itself a sort of 'religious offspring' of Judaism, as both share 'Old Testament' Scriptures. The world's second largest faith, Islam, reflects influence from Judaism and Christianity. Moslems respect the Bible (though they've sadly been led to think that the Bible's been 'corrupted'), and view Abraham, Moses and Jesus as prophets of the One God they call "Allah." Which brings us to the person of Jesus.
Who Is Jesus?
Today, there are a handful of writers and teachers who claim to use a historic/form critical approach to the Bible and the study of Jesus. Some of them express the notion that the Bible is unreliable, the New Testament is contradictory, and that we can't believe that Jesus was anything more than a man who was executed for political reasons. Some deny Jesus' resurrection, saying it was a story made up by the Christ's followers. Let's check these allegations out!
Besides Biblical accounts, we know from secular (non-religious) histories of the Jews, Romans and others that Jesus was a historic person. An early second century author, quoted by the respected fourth century historian Eusebius, stated that people were still alive then that had received miracles at the hands of Jesus, including healings, and being raised from the dead!
But some reject the Gospel, and Jesus warned the faithful that false prophets would try to steal the salvation offered to us, by false preaching (cf. Mt. 24:4-14). Briefly consider Jesus' warning: "Do not give what is holy to dogs, or throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them underfoot, and turn and tear you to pieces." (Mt. 7:6). Today, we have such false prophets who might confuse would-be believers. The so-called "Jesus Seminar," related books and articles, allege the Gospels aren't reliable, they wrongly claim Jesus didn't say or do most of what the New Testament teaches. Such false teachers try to 'tear' Christian faith, the "pearl of great value," to pieces; they blasphemously deny Jesus' Resurrection which is celebrated at Easter. (False teachers need our prayers, and should be shown the truth in a kind, persuasive way.)
How do intelligent Christians and would-be believers respond to such attacks? First, we should know these and many other attacks on faith were encountered centuries ago; such false ideas were long ago disproved!
For instance, consider one of the arguments used by these perhaps well meaning, but sadly misled, scholars: the fact that there are differences in the four Gospel accounts. Should that bother us? Not at all! Each eye witness can emphasize something different, viewed from their unique perspective, yet each one can be correct! God confirmed the Gospel through miracles, past and present. 'We trust God, rather than men' (see Acts 5:29).
The Holy Spirit has inspired all of Scripture (cf. 2 Tim. 3:16), and Jesus promised us the Spirit would "guide you into all truth." (Jn. 16:13). Jesus IS risen! Alleluia!
Unlike most rabbis in his day, Jesus didn't gather sophisticated disciples. Rather, His witnesses were mostly common working men; like fisherman.
We learned in chapter one that Jesus fulfilled literally hundreds of Old Testament prophecies. Some of these have only come to light in more recent times; so a fair minded person should ask: 'Now how would a group of uneducated men pull of such a fraud? Could they predict the future? And what would the disciples of Jesus gain from such a hoax?' Death, persecution and imprisonment were the consequences of their preaching; not big bucks, fancy homes or fame. So the only sound reason for Jesus' disciples' preaching and writing was true BELIEF. Knowing the Gospel's real Jesus can benefit anyone, as you'll see!
What About Unanswered Prayers?
Some people have lost their faith due to 'unanswered prayers.' Let's briefly consider this, using for an example, a child asking a parent for lots of candy.
The wise parent may offer a treat or two, but for the child's sake (to avoid a stomach ache, cavities, etc.), the parent won't give their youth exactly what they wanted. The request is answered, but not in the way that it was asked (the answer may be 'no,' 'some' or 'later' instead of 'yes,' depending on the situation).
A similar principle is at work for those who pray to God. We may think something we pray for is 'good,' but God knows EVERYTHING. He knows all the future possibilities that answering our prayers result in; for us and for others too. He answers prayers ('yes,' 'some,' 'later' and 'no') to our ultimate benefit. When we accept that: "God is love" (1 John 4:8), that "all good...things come from above" (Jas. 1:17) and He treats us as a loving Father, we should trust in His answers to our prayers. God can still do anything! Even in modern times, we know of scientifically documented miracles, such as the numerous medical miracles in Lourdes, France and so many others around the world. Our prayers are always answered, in the best possible way for us. God "will not abandon or forsake you" (Dt. 4:31)! God brings us into existence, sustains us by His will (cf. Acts 17:24-28) and gives us the hope for eternal joy in heaven, described in the Bible. All problems can be aided by faith and prayer. The gift of faith helps us in life!
Why Did God Create Us?
Stop and think. God didn't 'need' us. He existed before the universe began. His 'ego' doesn't 'require' worship, nor does He need anything.
Then, HEY? Why did He create? The simple reason is: "GOD IS LOVE." (1 Jn. 4:8) and He wanted to share that love with us! We can see His Creation is still "very good." (Gen. 1:31). God has a Plan for each of us personally, and for His world too! There is a way to know His Plan with certainty! True Christian faith explains the meaning and purpose of life. You can know the truth, avoid religious confusion, and be practically benefited now and in the hereafter, as you'll see in the pages ahead!
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The entire ABC's of Faith web site and its contents, as well as all original graphics, are copyrighted by L.A.K., FSC & BTNA Consulting. © 1998 by BTNA Consulting, FSC & L.A.K. All Rights Reserved. Contact us for any requests! This page built on 6/14/98 A.D. Last updated on 03/31/06 A.D.