What makes you believe that God exists?

What makes you believe that God exists? We have been thinking about questions folk might ask us about our Christian faith and here is one of the most important. What makes us believe there is a God, or that we can get to know that God?
Many people question whether there is a God or not. Not so many are actually convinced that there is no God although some do think that way. In the Bible Psalm 14:1 and Psalm 53:1 both say, “The fool says, in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” Nowadays people who say that write books about it and even get their own television shows. But the truth is that anybody who confidently declares “there is no God” as if that was a proven fact is indeed foolish. They are making a fundamental mistake. It makes no sense to categorically deny the existence of God who is generally unseen even by those who do believe He exists. It is not meaningful to say that something could not possibly exist. All anyone can reliably say is, “if there is a God I haven’t seen evidence of his existence yet.” People who say “God does not exist” are only expressing their own personal belief. Someone who declares that God cannot possibly exist is making the same mistake as someone who insists that Australia cannot possibly exist, just because they haven’t personally been there (yet). Or somebody who says “the Queen doesn’t exist” because he has never met Her Majesty, and refuses to believe the pictures or the people who claim they have met her!
Isaac Asimov made the same mistake as very many people – “I am an atheist, out and out. I don’t have the evidence to prove that God doesn’t exist, but I so strongly suspect he does not that I don’t want to waste my time.” Asimov had closed his mind to the evidence for God’s existence – so in the end he could not see what many others can! But Christians HAVE seen that evidence. We have experienced the power of God and seen him at work! As a teenager I used to argue vigorously that God couldn’t exist. Then God proved me wrong.
The way we all see the world, our “world view”, depends on where we are standing, where we are coming from. Two people were walking along a river bank one day when they saw a man across the river. “How can we get across?” They shouted. “Why would you be wanting to do that then?” The man asked. “We want to get to the other side” they explained patiently. “Don’t be daft,” the man replied. “You’re already on the other side!”
What we see depends on where we are standing, on our frames of reference and our world view. And we don’t always interpret what we see correctly. Our interpretations can be distorted by our presuppositions, our preconceived ideas, the things we assume and take for granted. A mind which is closed to God may not see God. But a mind which is open to spiritual things can recognise evidence for the existence of God.
Hebrews 11:6 tells us, “Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”
So when Christians and seekers look around the world with the eye of faith, evidence for God’s existence is everywhere. Let me offer you four areas which we can point to as evidence for the existence of God, in order of increasing importance. We might begin by pointing to
The BIBLE and the CHURCH
Some people are struck by the impact and the uniqueness of the Bible. Most people who say “the Bible isn’t true” actually haven’t read the Bible. So we can encourage our friends to open Scripture and rely on God speaking to them through His word. I’ve quoted Spurgeon before. “Defend the Bible? I would as soon defend a lion! Unchain it and it will defend itself.” We need to unchain the lion and encourage our friends to read the Bible.
We can also talk about the historical impact of the church on the world, and the influence of Christianity on society today. We can talk about all the good things Christians have done and are doing in caring for the poor and working for justice and peace, from William Booth and Lord Shaftsbury to Mother Teresa and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, from Food Banks and CHESS to Christian Aid and Operation Christmas Child. These things point beyond the individuals to the living God working through them.
Then we can point to the many ways God has revealed Himself in
CREATION
Psalm 19 1 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. 2Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.
3There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.
4 Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.
God has revealed Himself to the world in all He has created.
Romans 1 18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
So the Bible tells us that God’s eternal power and His divine nature can clearly be seen. There are many different aspects of the created world which reveal God if we look at creation with the eye of faith. We can point to beauty and majesty in Creation. Sunsets and starry skies, waterfalls and flowers. It was the inventor of the process we use to preserve milk, the French biologist Louis Pasteur who said, “Posterity will someday laugh at the foolishness of our modern materialistic philosophy. The more I study nature the more I am amazed at the Creator.”
Those of a more scientific mind may appreciate the beauty inherent in mathematics and physics. The way creation works is marvellous to unravel! The 20th century British physicist Paul Dirac once said, “it is more important to have beauty in one’s equations that to have them fit experiment.” We can point to evidence of design in Creation. Biologists can point to the way eyes work, and memory and thinking in the human brain, and the complex interactions of DNA and RNA and proteins in the process of inheritance, which doesn’t happen if even one ingredient in the process is absent. Physicists talk about the “fine tuning of the universe”, the way that the laws of physics, the rate of expansion of the universe and the values of the fundamental constants all fit together in exactly the right balance to make life possible. If any of those were slightly different, no life could exist. All this is evidence of design in the natural world, and design points beyond itself to the Designer.
We can point to the universal spiritual experience of human beings. We are the only animals that pray or worship. When we answered the question, “What is the point of life?” we spoke about the “God shaped gap” in our lives. As Augustine said, back in the fifth century “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”
Another common experience of all human beings is conscience. Morality is a consequence of us all being created in the image of the holy and righteous God.
Romans 2 14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, 15 since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.)
Our human conscience is evidence for the existence of God.
Finally from creation one of the classic “proofs” of the existence of God is the “cosmological argument.” Once there was nothing, no space, no time, no matter, nothing. Then there was something. The universe came from nothing – life came from not life and that requires a first cause, a first mover, something which started the whole thing off. And that first cause was God. None of these pieces of evidence for the existence of God are irrefutable knock-down proof that God does exist. But together they do give us grounds to claim that believing in God is reasonable and rational.
“God is not discoverable or demonstrable by purely scientific means, unfortunately for the scientifically-minded. But that really proves nothing. It simply means that the wrong instruments are being used for the job.” J. B. Phillips (1906–1982)
“Science without religion is blind. Religion without science is lame.” ALBERT EINSTEIN
God has revealed Himself in the Bible, in the church and in creation. But we can also point to evidence for God’s existence in human experience.
CHANGED LIVES
We can point to the changed lives of the first disciples. One day they were hiding away terrified that they would be next to be crucified. The next day these ordinary men and women were preaching a message which would turn the world upside down. We can point to countless inspirational Christians through the ages. We can talk about Christians we have read about but even better we can talk about the differences we have seen that Jesus makes in other people’s lives. Best of all we can talk about our own personal experiences of the difference Jesus makes in my own life. Answers to prayer. Miracles of grace and of healing. Experiences of peace and joy and forgiveness. We know God exists because we have experienced Jesus in our own lives. And then finally we know God exists because of
JESUS
Michael Green wrote, “One of the greatest tragedies in the ossifying Western church is that people do not, by and large, talk about Jesus. That is extremely foolish. Jesus is the supremely attractive one. If we exclude from our conversations the only really winning card that we have, we are of all people most to be pitied.” He also said, “It is not until church members have the enthusiasm to speak to their friends and acquaintances about Jesus that anybody will really believe we have got good news to share.”
We can point to the uniqueness of Jesus. We thought about this two weeks ago. Jesus’s birth, his teaching, his ministry and to his death on the cross all set him apart from all the other leaders of all the other religions. Then we can point our friends to the love Jesus showed and to his perfect character. We know God exists because we have met God in Jesus.
John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”
9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.
Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. We believe in God because we have met God in His Son Jesus Christ. And in all of this the most important evidence for God’s existence is found in one historical event. The historical event of the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
1 Corinthians 15 3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.
Everything rests on the resurrection of Jesus. That was the heart of the gospel the first Christians preached and it is the heart of our gospel today. Jesus is not dead. Jesus is alive. The resurrection is God’s proof that everything that Jesus claimed about Himself is true. It is God’s proof that Jesus is the Son of God and that Jesus is indeed King of Kings and Lord of Lords. And the historical fact of the resurrection is the ultimate proof that God exists. The resurrection is that important!
As Paul says to the Corinthians, (1 Corinthians 5:17) if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. 20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
So God has revealed Himself in the Bible and in the church, and in Creation. God has revealed Himself in human experience, the experiences of other people and our own personal experiences. But ultimately we believe in God because of Jesus and supremely because of the resurrection. Jesus is alive! That is the good news we have to share!

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