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Why I Believe

 

Why do I believe?  In case it's of interest I've jotted down some of the main reasons:

Because, looking at the historical evidence, it is clear to me that Jesus existed, and that he died (so far so uncontroversial), and (this is the surprising bit) rose again.  I've looked at the evidence for that third claim, and it seems to me very strong.  Frank Morison sets it out well in his book 'Who Moved the Stone?'  (When writing his book he set out to disprove the resurrection and while researching it became convinced that it was true.)

Because, if he rose from the dead and didn't die again, it marks him out as unique.  It makes me pay attention and take a closer look.  That, together with all the evidence of Jesus' life and character and teaching, brings me to believe his claim to be the God who created us, come to earth.  A pretty shocking conclusion I know, but I think that on close inspection it stacks up.  And one or two billion other people seem to think the same.

Because Jesus’ teaching rings true, and more and more so as life goes on.  It has stood the test of time, both in the sense of the past 2000 years and in the sense of during my lifetime as a believer.

Because, having been invited to put my faith in Jesus as a young person, I have found that he has been as good as his word.  By which I mean that the Bible’s promises have been fulfilled over and over again in my experience.  For example:

  • Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)
  • I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10)
  • You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. (Isaiah 26:3)
  • If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
  • Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
  • Ask and you will receive (Luke 11:9)
  • Be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18)
  • And lots of others

Of course for this to work I have to let God be in charge, and actively follow him.  When I don’t, I miss out on many of the blessings promised in the verses above.  Or only receive them partially – for example the ‘perfect’ peace tends to be somewhat imperfect because I often don’t trust fully in God.  But I’ve found that there has been enormous peace even so, including during difficult situations in wartime.

Because as a believer in Jesus I’ve experienced more love, joy, peace, glory, wonder, encouragement, fellowship, help in trouble, wisdom, comfort, guidance, forgiveness, reassurance than I could ever have imagined.  God’s resources seem limitless.  (Which I oughtn’t to be surprised at.)

Because the beauty of nature and the universe do seem to me to have been created by someone rather than happened by chance.  And that’s when we’re just thinking about what we can see.  What we can’t see also requires an explanation.  For example it is possible, but quite hard in my view, to argue that love, or poetry, or the joy of music, came about by evolutionary chemical processes.  Combined with the evidence of Jesus and the Bible, I find the visible and invisible world pretty compelling evidence of a good Designer of it all.

Because love of God and love of neighbour (the two greatest commandments, according to Jesus) seem so wonderfully right.  The one feeds the other.

Because I find the example of many Christians inspiring and convincing.  They are imperfect, but they show evidence of the reflected glory of God in their lives.  Many of them are impressive people: at random as I’m writing now I think of a wise fireman; an Indian Army officer; many teachers; farmers; mothers and fathers; academics; soldiers; students; journalists; businesspeople; politicians; nurses and doctors; and many friends from the Balkans, the Caucasus, across Europe, in Africa, and in North America.  Young, old, female, male, from every nation, poor, rich, educated, uneducated.  And I think of heroes of mine such as C.S.Lewis, George MacDonald (whom C.S.Lewis regarded as his “master”), and G.K.Chesterton.  And Michael Green.  All of their books on faith that I’ve read are brilliant in my view.

Because the best arguments I’ve read and heard from atheists, much though I like and respect them as people, don’t seem at all strong.  It is impossible to prove the existence of God; equally it’s impossible to prove that God doesn’t exist, because you cannot prove a negative.  What you’re left with is the weight of evidence.  The weight of evidence, it seems to me, is greatly in favour of there being a God – as I’ve tried to outline above.

It seems right at this point to acknowledge that one of the most powerful arguments against there being a God is that huge suffering exists in the world, and that because God (if he’s there) doesn’t stop it, he can’t be there.  I offer a few thoughts on this here.  It’s a difficult question, and can’t be neatly or fully answered.  For me, somehow, the fact that parts of life are tough does not mean that there isn’t also love and goodness, and also therefore the Creator of that love and goodness. 

God loves us.  There’s evidence all around.  That’s why I believe.  I’ve tried it out by putting my trust in him.  Over about forty years, I’ve been richly rewarded – and that’s despite my many failings which have dimmed and clouded and no doubt removed big chunks of the marvellousness of God’s plans for me and for others around me.  But it's been great even so, and getting steadily better as God works on me and my family and friends and neighbours.  It’s the biggest friendship of my life.

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