Life’s Big Questions
How can I know that God exists?
There are many reasons for believing that God exists. Here are a few:
- Scientists know that the universe has not always existed. Since the universe is not eternal it must have been created.
- The natural world is very complex and reveals an intelligent designer. For example, one DNA molecule contains the same amount of information as a large encyclopedia. The DNA molecule was intentionally programmed for life.
- The fossil record demonstrates that life started on earth rapidly, not over millennia through multiple random reactions as theorized. This parallels the Bible account that God created life.
The entire natural world seems supernaturally to “work” together to support and sustain life, and was created for a purpose. To be created for a purpose indicates a mastermind behind the entire natural world. This Creator is God.
Why should I trust the Bible?
The Bible is the best – selling book of all time. It was written over a period of about 1500 years and contains 66 smaller books written by over 40 different people. The Bible is the most translated book in history and currently exists in about 2100 languages. Why is this book so respected? There are many reasons to trust the Bible. Here are a couple:
- The Bible is recognized as one of the most accurate records of ancient history ever written. The Department of Anthropology at the Smithsonian Institute states, “Much of the Bible, in particular the historical books of the Old Testament, are as accurate historical documents as any that we have from antiquity, and are in fact more accurate than many Egyptian, Mesopotamian, or Greek histories. These biblical records can be and are used, as are other ancient documents, in archeological work.” None of the artifacts found in biblical regions or locations have ever contradicted history.
- The Bible contains over 300 fulfilled prophecies. This is one of the strongest arguments that the Bible is trustworthy. For example, the Bible predicted the time of Jesus’ presentation to Israel (Daniel 9), the village where He would be born (Micah 5:2), and a detailed description of His death (Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53). The Bible made incredible predictions about Jesus, who had yet to be born. Mathematically, the chance of even four prophecies being fulfilled in one person is 1 in 1040. That’s 1 with 40 zeros after it! Therefore, the only way over 300 prophecies can be fulfilled in one person is because those prophecies are true!
Combine these two examples with the many other reasons (see below) and the end result is that the Bible is a book that can be trusted!
Did Jesus really come back to life?
The central claim of Christianity is that Jesus died and then three days later came back to life. Is there evidence that this event really happened? The entire Christian belief system is built on the resurrection. If Jesus came back to life, then Christianity is true. If He did not, then Christianity is false. Here is some of the evidence that Jesus came back to life.
- Those that were closest to Him (disciples) had seen Him on multiple occasions after the resurrection and were convinced He had returned to life. The most popular alternative explanation to the resurrection is that the disciples experienced grief hallucinations. However, this explanation comes up short. It cannot explain the appearances of Jesus to groups, since psychologists agree that people cannot participate in other’s hallucinations.
- According to the Bible, over 500 people at one time saw Jesus after He had been executed by the Romans.
- The changed life of Paul, who hated Jesus and was killing Christians, is further proof of a risen Jesus. The resurrection perfectly explains why, after Jesus’ death, Paul was convinced that Jesus had appeared to him.
- Three days after the burial of Jesus, His tomb was discovered empty. If Jesus’ followers had taken the body, surely someone would have confessed to it during their severe torture and pending executions. Why would they die for a lie? If the Romans had taken the body, they would have simply had to produce it to end the fast growth of Christianity which was threatening their control. Yet no one ever confessed and no dead body was ever produced.
- Jesus’ disciples suffered because of their belief and continued teaching that Jesus came back to life. Most were imprisoned and at least some were executed for this belief.
Who is Jesus?
Since all of Christianity is built around the person of Jesus, we need to know something about him. Many claimed He was a prophet, healer, spiritual teacher, revolutionary, and lunatic, but what do we really know about Jesus? Let’s look at the verifiable facts we know about Jesus.
Facts about the person named Jesus
- He was an actual man who lived in Israel during the first century AD.
- He was known in the area as a great teacher and spiritual leader.
- His teachings caused great controversy in this heavily Jewish area.
- He claimed to be God! Some would argue these claims were invented by the Christian church. Although historical evidence can never provide absolute certainty, the evidence is strong that Jesus actually made these claims. The earliest Christians who were Jews worshipped Jesus. Since they were well aware that worship was reserved only for God, what would lead committed Jews to worship Jesus? The only reasonable answer is that Jesus claimed to be divine and they understood and believed those claims when He rose from the dead and appeared to them.
- He was executed by the Romans because of His teachings and came back to life three days after His death.
How would Jesus add value to my life?
Jesus gives life—Only Jesus can provide real life in the present, and in the future eternal life in heaven! In fact He said, “My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life” (John 10:10, New Living Translation). The life Jesus gives begins with a meaningful life now; the Bible says, “I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.” (Jer. 29:11, The Message). Here is the best part – the life just described gets better in eternity!
Jesus provides peace– Peace is a term that most commonly refers to an absence of aggression, violence or hostility. Also, it represents healthy or newly-healed relationships with others. Finally, peace can describe an individual’s sense of himself or herself, such as being “at peace”. Interestingly, the Bible refers to Jesus as the Prince of Peace. Through Christ one can find forgiveness. “He was handed over to die because of our sins, and he was raised to life to make us right with God. Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.” (Romans 4:25-5:1, New Living Translation). Forgiveness provides peace with God, peace with others, and ourselves.
Jesus provides purpose– Purpose in the most general sense is the anticipated result which guides action. It is often used as a synonym for goal or objective. When most people long for “purpose in life”, they are looking for something that will bring meaning and deep, long – term satisfaction to their lives. Jesus is described this way in scripture, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in Him all things in heaven and on earth were created…all things have been created through Him and for Him” (Colossians 1:15-16, New Revised Standard). You were part of His purposeful creation. True meaning and purpose comes as you do what He created you to do. Jesus lived with the same purpose. He said at the end of His life, “I glorified you on earth by completing down to the last detail what you assigned me to do” (John 17:4, The Message).
Jesus produces hope– Hope is defined as expecting with confidence, or being optimistic. Most people tie hopefulness to security about the future. Jesus produces hope through providing true security. Real security is not in knowing the future. It comes through placing your life in the hands of Jesus, who holds the future. He is described in scripture as our “blessed hope”! The hope produced by Christ begins in this life and continues forever, “What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have Him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now!” (1 Peter 1:3-5, The Message).
Aren’t there many ways to Heaven?
“All spiritual paths lead to heaven.” This echoes the belief of many people today. We would all like to think that, no matter which spiritual path we travel, at the end we will go to heaven. However, since the Bible can be trusted, the answer to this question has to be “No.”
In the Bible, Jesus clearly taught that the only path to God (heaven) was through Him. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
Christianity is unique among all world religions since it is the only one that deals with forgiveness of sin. God is holy, or perfect and without sin. Heaven also will be perfect and without sin. Heaven will be what God originally intended for us here on earth. Our choice to sin has separated us from God and His original plan. The Bible says, “Work hard for sin your whole life and your pension is death. But God’s gift is real life, eternal life, delivered by Jesus, our Master” (Romans 6:23 – The Message). We can have what we deserve because of our sin–separation from God–or we can have forgiveness through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Despite the popular belief that all spiritual paths lead to heaven, the Bible clearly teaches that there is only one way to heaven, and that is through a faithful trust in Jesus.
What is a Christian?
“Of course I’m a Christian! I go to church. I try to live a good life and obey the Ten Commandments. I never intentionally hurt anyone. Doesn’t that make me a Christian?”
Good question; however, the Bible’s answer would have to be, “No.” Though it is commendable for someone to go to church, seek to do good, and be kind to other people, that is not how the Bible defines a true Christian. Granted, the word “Christian” is often used in very broad terms to describe anyone who believes in God, goes to church, and tries to be good. Nonetheless, according to the New Testament, none of those things makes a person authentically a Christian.
Actually, the term “Christian” first appeared in the ancient city of Antioch, which is in modern day Turkey. It was used to describe the followers of Jesus Christ. Antioch accepted this new religious group and the city became their safe haven. Because the teachings and worship of this group were centered totally on Jesus, also known as the Christ, they became affectionately known locally as “Christians” or “little Christs.” This is mentioned in the Bible in Acts 11:26.
Today, according to researcher George Barna, 84% of the population claims to be “Christian” in their beliefs. However, as mentioned above, most base this solely on their belief in God and their attempts to live a good life. But according to the historical usage of the word, a Christian is a person who has turned from their sin and placed their faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
What value would church add to my life?
There is an old story of a man who was out in a field and discovered a very valuable hidden treasure. In joy he went and sold all he had, and with the money bought the field. Because it was his, he now owned the treasure buried in it. This made the man very happy. The value of attending church can be compared to the man finding valuable treasure in a field. The man bought the field, but what he really wanted was the treasure hidden “in the field.” The field became valuable to him because he valued what it contained.
For you, attending church may be like a field with hidden treasure.You don’t see the value of attending church until you discover the hidden treasure. Here are a few “hidden treasures” you may find by attending church regularly. This treasure will bring joy in at least two areas of your life.
In your personal life:
- Church is a place where you can turn for emotional and spiritual support. Many people are helped by turning to a community of faith.
- You will hear positive and informative messages from the Bible.
- You will make new friends who will add value to your life.
- Statistically, people who regularly attend church live three years longer than those who don’t (University of Pittsburg Medical Center Study, 2006).
- It will give you an opportunity to enrich others through your service to them. This adds more purpose to your life.
In your family life:
- Married couples who attend church regularly are happier and more likely to succeed in their marriages.
- Church can reduce the risk of your children abusing drugs and alcohol.
- Church may dramatically reduce your children’s risk of suicide.
- Church reinforces values of respect, love, service, forgiveness, discipline, and family.
- Church provides a life-long moral compass.
These family life findings are supported by research from Duke University, Indiana University, The University of Michigan, The Centers for Disease Control, Barna Research Group, and the National Institute for Healthcare Research.
As a result of regularly attending church, you could even find the most important thing – your own personal relationship with God. Why not start this week? The Grove Church meets Sundays at 10:30 a.m. at 6855 Lincoln Road Extension, Hattiesburg, MS. We hope to see you there!