Ridiculous advice, right? But why? Why wouldn’t you decide to go through chemotherapy treatment without first being thoroughly convinced that you have cancer? The obvious reason is because chemo is dangerous and heavily impacts your life. It is not something that you should commit to without any solid evidence of having cancer.
So what about other decisions that you make that heavily impact your life? Might there be things in your life that guide much of what you do but are not necessarily based on an objective conclusion that they are true?
Think about your core beliefs about God. why do you hold to these beliefs? Were you raised to believe what you believe? Does it just feel like it is true? Is it the most comfortable for you because of friends and family that believe the same? Do you believe what you believe so you can live your life how you prefer? Or, did you arrive at your beliefs based on a life journey of asking questions and seeking answers?
Simply put, do you commit to particular belief about God because of objective evidence or in spite of objective evidence? And if your belief about God heavily impacts your life, shouldn’t you dedicate some time and energy into researching the objective evidence for its truth, or lack thereof, before committing to such beliefs?
If you wouldn’t commit to something like chemotherapy without first being convinced of having cancer, why would you commit to a particular belief about God without first being convinced of its truth?
Because unlike chemotherapy, most people love their particular religion or opinion about God. It is what gives them comfort, gives them answers, gives them a sense of purpose and belonging in this world. Because of this, most people do not want to question or challenge their own beliefs. They genuinely like their personal conclusions and don’t like the idea of potentially being wrong.
It is a dangerous practice to hold to a belief about God apart from any objective evidence at all and at the same time being unwilling to change your mind about such a belief. Sadly, though, in many religious organizations this practice is what is praised as having great “faith.”
Many Convincing Proofs
One thing that separates Christianity from all other beliefs about God is that Jesus taught that it is a good thing to critically evaluate information. One of his common sayings was “ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened.”
For whatever reason, I always think of a proverb to go along with this teaching, “It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way.” God does not want us to jump to conclusions without first having some sort of knowledge of its truth.
This is why it is written that Jesus spent 40 days with his disciples after rising from the dead and gave them “many convincing proofs he was alive.” I can only imagine how difficult it was for the disciples to go through what they experienced with Jesus for three years and then witnessing his arrest, trial, and execution. All their hopes and expectations dashed to pieces; their lives and understanding about God seemingly torn apart. Jesus wanted to make sure they knew without a shadow of a doubt that he was in fact raised back to life, never to die again.
What about for us, though? Are there “many convincing proofs” that Jesus is in fact who he claims to be? Are there “many convincing proofs” that Jesus rose from the dead, actually conquering death itself ?
I am convinced there are “many convincing proofs” even for us today. It is because of this strong objective conviction based on the evidence I have found that gives me assurance of my faith in Jesus Christ. Do I have subjective evidence as well? Absolutely, I experience God in a very personal way and can testify to God’s hand at work in my life and interactions with others. But it is the objective evidence that backs up and confirms the subjective evidence, and I think that is the formula of “faith” that is found in the Bible.
What is the evidence?
I will dedicate another post to explaining this further but the general idea is that God gave us evidence for the genuineness of Jesus in his preparatory writings about Jesus. What I mean is that before Jesus was even born, his entire life, purpose, death, burial, and resurrection were completely written down in advance.
It is as though God wrote a movie script about Jesus before he was born and then Jesus lived out the movie in real life. For me, when I began to see the overwhelming evidence of this divine orchestration of everything about Jesus, it blew me away. The more evidence I came across, the more convinced I was that Jesus is the real deal and he truly was sent to this earth to be the single authority on revealing to the world who God is.
This was the evidence that Jesus pointed to as well after his resurrection. On multiple occasions, Jesus told his disciples that “everything written down in the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms” was actually a testimony about himself.
This is bold, to say the least! Imagine a person from Greece today declaring to the world that he was sent by God and that everything written down in Homer’s Iliad and the Odyssey was a preplanned script about his life. Crazy, right? But this is basically what Jesus declared, that everything in the Hebrew Scriptures (aka the Old Testament) was written down and preserved for the primary purpose of one day directing people to himself.
I will flesh this out in the next blog post.