Chapter 1 - Believe in God?

Believe in God

Believe in the Lord Jesus CHRIST,
and you will be saved
Acts 16:31

Let’s face it. If God is really there, why can’t we see Him? Is there really some huge invisible God out there who never speaks and never makes Himself known? How can this God, who is said to have created us, not be able to communicate? Why should anyone believe that? And why should anyone believe some ancient Jewish religious writings that talk about Him?

Isn’t it true that people believe in God because they need an invisible friend, or because they need a psychological crutch? Where is this God? If there is such a God, He must be hiding.

Let’s see what those ancient Jewish religious writings (the Bible) really do say about God. Then you can form your own opinion.

So, does the Bible say that God is hiding Himself?

Yes, it does.

Does that mean that He makes Himself known to some but not others?

Yes, it does.

God does not make Himself known to everyone,1 only to those who seek Him with all their heart.2

It is certainly not unusual for people who do not know God to ask the question, “If God is real, why can’t we see him?” Or, “Why is he silent?” This booklet tells you when and how God discloses Himself in no uncertain terms so you can know for yourself.

Let’s start from where Jesus says that God hides Himself. Jesus was conversing with a man named Nicodemus who asked Him the very same question. This is what Jesus said:

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God.3

Jesus is saying that not everyone can see the Kingdom of God because the Kingdom of God is hidden from everyone who is not born again. So, we can give up trying to perceive or experience the existence of God by any means other than being born again.

Then Nicodemus asks another question.

How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb can he?4

Jesus answers:

…Unless one is born of water [his mother’s womb] and of the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.5

So, in order to see and enter the Kingdom of God, we must be “born of the Spirit.” Jesus is saying that it is a spiritual thing. There is a spiritual reality that we can’t see unless we are born again. It is, perhaps, like another dimension. How can there be a spiritual dimension that we cannot perceive?

Nicodemus wonders about this too, and Jesus answers:

Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.6

Jesus is saying that being born again is like someone who feels the wind blowing. You know the wind is there because you can feel it, but it is invisible. Jesus is telling us that we can experience the Kingdom of God just as surely as one can feel the wind. We can see it spiritually but we can’t see it physically. It’s a spiritual thing.

But it is hidden to all who are not born again.

The next question is, of course, how can we experience it for ourselves? Jesus answers this question with an analogy.

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so the Son of Man must be lifted up; that whoever believes may in Him have eternal life.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.7

The account of Moses lifting up the serpent in the wilderness is found in the Book of Numbers, Chapter 21 in the Old Testament:8

And Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on the standard; and it came about, that if a serpent bit any man, when he looked to the bronze serpent, he lived.9

Jesus was saying that He will be like the bronze serpent lifted up on a standard (a standard is like a flagpole with something on top). He will be lifted up on the cross just like the serpent was lifted up in the wilderness.10How so?

When we sin it is as if we are bitten by the serpent of sin and we die spiritually because sin causes spiritual death.11 When we are spiritually dead we cannot experience the reality of the Kingdom of God or experience eternal life because it is hidden from us. And we have all been bitten by the serpent of sin.12

The only cure is Jesus Christ.

We were spiritually dead because of sin13 because the wages of sin is death.14† And we all sin.15 So, no one is “good enough” to be right with God.

But Jesus Christ took our faults upon Himself and died for us anyway.16 He bought us back for God (redeemed us) by making us good enough. He did this by paying the death-penalty and obtaining forgiveness for us.17This is a free gift. It has to be free because if we had paid it ourselves, we would be eternally dead.

Since the penalty for our sin has been paid, we are not guilty of sin and we can never be judged.18 Since we are no longer are under the sentence of spiritual death, we have spiritual life.19† That is what being born again is. It is a second birth. Just like being physically born is to obtain physical life, being born again is to obtain spiritual life.20 And spiritual life, not being physical, is eternal.

God gives us eternal spiritual life at the moment when we cease to be spiritually dead. At that moment we pass from spiritual death to spiritual life,21 and we can experience it. The experience of eternal life is knowing God.22 And knowing God is to see (experience) the kingdom of God in this life.

That’s why Jesus is so important. He makes us good enough. We cannot see the kingdom of God or experience eternal life without Christ.

Just like the statue of the serpent that was lifted up on a standard, anyone who looks to Jesus Christ for spiritual life will live because God has given us eternal life in Jesus Christ.23 We have all been bitten by the serpent,24so everyone who does not look to Jesus Christ for forgiveness will remain spiritually dead.25 It is as simple and as dreadful as that.

But why did Jesus compare himself to a serpent when the serpent represents sin? Because in order to save us, Jesus became sin for us.26

But how can we believe in Jesus Christ when He is not here? How can we believe in someone or something that we have neither seen nor experienced?

The key is in the meaning of the word “believe.”

Believing in Christ just means to trust in Him. It does not mean to know Him. Knowing Him comes later, And it does not come from us; it comes from Him. To trust in Christ is the same type of trust that we place in a doctor that we have never met to perform an operation. Except when we trust in Jesus Christ, we have absolutely nothing to lose.27

But trust Him for what? Trust that through Him all of our sins have been totally forgiven. Like the serpent in the wilderness, all we have to do is look to Him and we will live.

This is a leap of faith, not a leap of certainty. That is, it is not a leap from the point of certainty; it is a leap from the point of trust. Trust is what faith is and it is impossible to please God without it.28 Faith is trust, not certainty.

God resolves our doubts after we trust in Christ because if God resolved these doubts before we come to Christ, there would be no faith. And we would always wonder if we had just talked ourselves into believing. The awareness of God has to come from outside of ourselves or we will always be doubting.

So how does it work?

Seeing the Kingdom of God is a two-step process. The first step is to obtain forgiveness for all of our sins because it is sin that causes spiritual death and we can’t see the Kingdom of God when we are spiritually dead. We can get forgiven for all of our sins by trusting in Christ.

Trusting in Christ is simple. It may be done through prayer. For instance, one may pray “God, I come to You and I am trusting in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of all my sin.” You can pray this prayer even though you are not certain that anything at all will happen. That is what faith is. It is trusting even though you are not certain. Is it really that easy? Yes. He made it easy on purpose.

How much real faith does one need? Just enough to trust sincerely in Christ. The invitation is open to all.29

Jesus explained it pretty well in Matthew 13:31-32. He said the kingdom of God is like a mustard seed, which is a seed that is the size of a pinhead. But when the mustard seed is planted, it grows up and becomes the largest plant in the garden.

The mustard seed is a picture of the faith necessary to come to Christ. Coming to Christ is just a pinhead of faith that grows into something wonderful. It grows into the most wonderful thing that one can ever imagine. It grows into a life without emptiness,30 a life filled with God’s peace and assurance,31 a life of spiritual equanimity and it grows into a life where one actually knows Christ, a life that is eternal.32 And when a husband and a wife both come to Christ and sincerely follow Him it grows into a family that is bound firmly together by cords of love-cords that are as soft as a kiss but as strong as iron.

And it starts with a leap of faith that is little more than a hop just to see if it all is really real. When one comes to Christ, the faith that one needs is small but afterwards one arrives in an entirely different world. This different world is a spiritual world called the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of God is not of this world.33 It is spiritual dimension that is superimposed upon mortal life.

We are spiritually dead before coming to Christ34 and spiritual death often presents itself as an internal void or an emptiness that can never be filled. When someone who is spiritually dead trusts in Christ and makes a heart-felt, sincere surrender to God’s will (a complete yielding), then he or she (like the author) will experience a salvation that is quite unexpected. The void disappears and in its place there is an inner peace that is beyond comprehension.35 That peace never leaves.36 Salvation is what happens when we trust in Christ. It means that we have been saved from spiritual death.

Sound inviting? It is indeed and it is real.

The beauty of it all is that God does it; we don’t. If He didn’t make it clear to us that it is actually He that does it, we would always wonder whether we had imagined the entire experience. At the back of our mind, we would never really know whether our faith was a result of our own effort. So, its good to question. It’s good to call upon God to actually reveal Himself as He promised in John 14:21. God is either there or He is not. If He is there and He is God, He is fully capable of making Himself known.

The lifelong experience of knowing God can be neither faked nor imagined. When He does it, He leaves no doubt that it is indeed Him and not us.

Awake you that sleep, and arise from the dead, and Christ [Christ, not us] shall give you light.37

Trusting in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of all sin is all that is needed for eternal salvation. However, it is not all that is needed to really experience the presence of God. Indeed, some people who have trusted in Christ experience nothing as a result of it. Some people don’t feel any different as a result of trusting in Christ and many believe that one can never really experience the presence and peace of God. Others simply pretend. Why do some people who have trusted in Him never really know Him? Why?

The answer to that is the second step.

1. Second Corinthians 4:3 “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing,”

2. Jeremiah 29:13 “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” Searching for Him with your whole heart means that you will yield yourself to His commandments not to sin.”

3. John 3:3 † Christians have been preaching and singing about knowing God in this life for centuries. For instance, see Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee, a hymn by Bernard de Clairvaux, 1091-1153 A.D., Worship and Service Hymnal (Hope Publishing Co., Carol Stream IL, 2001), verse 4, “But what of those who find [find Christ]? Ah! This nor tongue nor pen can show, The love of Jesus, what it is. None but His loved ones know”

4. John 3:4

5. John 3:5. Here, Jesus specifies that one must be born of water because the right to be born again extends only to humans and not any other created being, such as angels.

6. John 3:7,8

7. John 3:14-16

8. The Old Testament is the Jewish Scriptures. Both the Old Testament and the New Testament are inspired by God, ie. they are Truth. Second Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is inspired by God…”

9. Numbers 21:9

10. John 12:32 “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.”

11. Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned…”; Romans 6:23 “The wages of sin is death.”

12. Romans 3:23 “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

13. Ephesians 2:1,2 “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince and power of the air [Satan]…”

14. Romans 6:23 “The wages of sin is death.” † The wages of sin is spiritual death in this life and eternal death after the end of physical life.

15. Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”

16. Romans 5:8 “…while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

17. Ephesians 1:7 “In Whom we have redemption through His blood [His death], the forgiveness of sins…”

18. John 3:18 “He who believes in Him is not judged…”

19. Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ…” † Although our body will die (Hebrews 9:27) it will later be resurrected (Acts 24:15; Revelation 20:4-6). The reference to eternal life refers to eternal spiritual life and eternal physical life.

20. John 3:3 “Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

21. John 5:24 “Truly, truly I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.”

22. John 17:3 “And this is eternal life, that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent.”

23. First John 5:11 “God has given us eternal life and that life is in His Son.”

24. Romans 3:23 “all have sinned”

25. First John 5:12 “He who has the Son has the life; and he who does not have the Son does not have the life.” Romans 3:23 “all have sinned”

26. Second Corinthians 5:21 “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

27. The original Greek word means to trust. See A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, by Bauer, Arndt and Gingrich (Second Ed. 1958, Univ. Of Chicago Press), s.v. πιστεύω, “believe (in), trust.”

28. Hebrews 11:6 “And without faith it is impossible to please God…”

29. Revelation 22:17 “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.”

30. The internal void described by many who are lost is spiritual death. It is cured by the forgiveness of sin and a true commitment to obey God’s word.

31. Philippians 4:7 “And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts…”

32. John 17: 3 “This is eternal life that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”

33. John 18:36 “My kingdom is not of this world…”

34. Ephesians 2:1 “…you were dead in trespasses and sins”

35. Philippians 4:7 “And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

36. This occurred to the author in 1974.

37. Ephesians 5:14