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WHY DO I BELIEVE IN GOD

Introduction
Ps 53:1…… “The fool says in his heart, "There is no God."
According to a 2011 survey by the Huffington Post, 92% of Americans believe in a God of some kind. This figure is down from 98% in 1967. A 2012 Rasmussen poll shows that only 64% of Americans believe in the God of the Bible. It amazes me that as many as 36% of people believe in some god other than the God of the Bible.

Why do you believe in the God of the Bible? Until you understand the answer to this question, it is hard to have a strong faith and harder yet to share your faith with others. In this lesson you will explore why we believe in Christ.

The Lesson
We should first ask ourselves some serious questions. The class should now do some soul searching and share their answers to the following questions:
1. Why do you believe in God? Do you believe in Christ because of parents, friends, church, the Bible, nature, or miracles in your own life?
2. Did you search out God on your own or did God find you?
3. Do you really believe, or are you not sure you believe?

Many people first believed as children when their parents taught them about Christ. Is that a good reason to believe? That reason is a good start, but where do we go from there? Hearing the Word of God as Children is not enough. Many atheists believe that all Christians still have a shallow blind faith that they were taught as Children. In fact, I have had an atheist compare my belief in the Christ to the belief in Santa Clause. In fact, according to Rasmussen’s poll, 42% of non-believers think those who do believe in God are foolish. God does not want us to have a foolish faith. An important step in believing is self-assurance. In other words, we must prove to ourselves that what we have heard is actually true! There are several ways we do this:

Testimony from others
Many times, as we grow into adulthood, we hear testimony from others such as friends, relatives, or members of the clergy. The scriptures give us examples:
Acts 5:42…... Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.
Rom 10:15…... And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!"

Science and observance of nature
We notice the beauty, complexity, and organization of nature. Most atheists believe that one can place the stupid illogical Christians on one side and the scientists on the other side. That idea could not be farther from the truth. Many scientists believe in God because they observe firsthand how well the laws of nature are organized. Rice University sociologist Elaine Howard Ecklund and his coauthors studied the responses of scientists at 21 elite U.S. universities, finding that only 15% thought that science and religion were always in conflict. About half expressed some form of religious affiliation. Have you heard that Albert Einstein was an atheist? He was a self-proclaimed pantheist. Pantheism is complex but in the religious context, it means a universal unknown God or force that is present in everything. Einstein said the following statements. “Everyone who is seriously interested in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the universe—a spirit vastly superior to that of man, and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble.” When asked about his belief in the existence of Jesus, he said: "Unquestionably! No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life."7 Furthermore, Robert Jastrow, former director of NASA’S Goddard Institute for Space Sciences once said: “I am fascinated by some strange developments going on in astronomy… The astronomical evidence leads to a Biblical view of the origin of the world.” You see, science is not always at odds with the existence of God. Finally, since science accepts the principle that matter can neither be created nor destroyed, science cannot explain infinity past any better than we can explain how God always existed.

Even the scriptures point to nature as a source of belief:
Col 1:16….. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.
Heb 1:10….. He also says, In the beginning, O Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands.

The Bible
Recent discoveries such as the Dead Sea Scrolls show an uncanny proof of Biblical accuracy. Many archeological discoveries have made a mockery of doubters. For example, unbelievers said for centuries that there was never a tribe called the Hittites. Then, an archeological discovery proved the existence of this tribe right where the Bible said it existed. The Bible consists of sixty-six books written by over twenty-eight authors spanning a period of about 3,000 years. Despite the many different authors, God’s revealed word has no major contradictions in theology. Sure, there are people who claim the Bible does have contradictions, but there are many Biblical scholars who disagree. You will learn more about Biblical inerrancy in a future lesson.

Study of history
Two major non-Christian historians write about the existence of Jesus. Josephus, a cynical Jew and member of the Roman civil service wrote about Jesus in his work entitled The Antiquities of the Jews. He tells of a wise and good man called Jesus. He had many disciples, was crucified by Pilate, and was reported to have been raised from the dead. Tacticus, another Roman historian tells of “Christus” who was executed by Pilate. So, we see independent confirmation of Jesus as a real person, not a mythical figure like Zeus or Thor.

Personal Experience
Personal experience is perhaps the most compelling means of acquiring a strong belief. Many people experience miracles in their own lives. Not necessarily miracles as dramatic as those of the Bible, but answers to prayers, miraculous healings that science cannot explain, and moments when you are sure you hear God talking to you. These are the personal experiences that only you can fully appreciate. Jesus criticized the people of Capernaum for seeing miracles and still not believing. Mat 11:23-24 NIV...... And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades. For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day.  But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you."

Fear
I have found that a frequent claim of agnostics and atheists is that Christians believe in God only because they fear God. This accusation is not true. It is impossible to fear something you don’t believe in. We only fear Christ because we already believe in him to one degree or another.

For example, If I told you that the Penguin of Batman fame was going to kill you, you would not be afraid. Those who fear ghosts actually believe they may exist. Other people only laugh at the idea. We only fear that which we at least partially believe exists. Agreeably, there are some fears that are illogical, but those are considered abnormal behavior.

We should only fear God when we do not acknowledge him and choose to follow him. I have heard some people claim that we should love and revere God but never fear him. These people claim that the word “fear” in the Bible primarily means a true piety and devotion. This statement may be true in some cases, but in other cases this belief is completely incorrect. Try to explain this scripture without using the primary definition of fear:
1. Luke 12:5…... But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. If we try to obey him, we have no need to fear
a. According to Strong’s Interlinear the Greek word used here is “phobeo.” Although it can mean to “revere”, it is used in this verse to mean to be “frightened”.
b. If we substitute the word revere instead of the word fear, this scripture tells us that if we obey God, we have no need to revere him. That interpretation of course makes no sense.

Summary
We have studied what separates the believer from the atheist. We have covered 5 ways that people are brought to belief in Christ. The important issue is that you believe because of a real conviction and not for some superficial reason that will breakdown when your faith is tested.

Hopefully you realize that faith is logical and not a fantasy as some atheists might assert. Faith is also not based on fear. An atheist relies on the laws of nature, but nature cannot explain eternity past. Therefore it is only logical to believe in a force greater than nature. However, we believe in Jesus Christ not just because of logic. We also believe in Christ because of faith and the personal relationship we have with him that reveals him to us.

Review
1. When was the first time you remember learning about Christ?
2. Was there a particular person who helped you strengthen your belief?
3. Talk about the ways your belief is made stronger.
4. Discuss the things that cause you to question whether there really is a God.
5. In what ways does science point towards God?
6. Is unbelief worse than sin?
7. What do you do to help others believe in Christ?