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BELIEVE IN GOD

Chapter 1 - Believe in God?

Born Again

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. 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 is asking Him the very same question. This is what Jesus says:

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

So, 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.” So, it is a spiritual thing. Jesus is saying that there is a spiritual reality that we can’t see unless we are born again. That is radical statement. How can there be a spiritual reality around us 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 know the Kingdom of God is there 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.n

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

Jesus is saying that those of us who believe (trust) in Him will receive the gift of eternal life and that we can experience it. With the analogy of Moses lifting up the serpent in the wilderness Jesus is speaking of the cross.8

The narrative of Moses lifting up the serpent in the wilderness is found in the Book of Numbers, Chapter 21 in the Old Testament.9 It says

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.10

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). How so?

When we sin it is as if we are bitten by the serpent of sin and we die 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.

The only cure is Jesus 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 receive it. That’s why Jesus is so important. We cannot experience eternal life without Christ.

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.12 But we are getting ahead of ourselves.

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 word “believe.”

Believing in Christ means to trust in Him in the same way that we trust a doctor that we don’t know when we need an operation. Except when we trust in Jesus Christ, we have absolutely nothing to lose.13

But trust Him for what? Trust that through Him all of our sins have been totally forgiven. He said that He would be like the serpent lifted up in the wilderness. All they had to do was look and they were healed.

This is a leap of faith, but it is not a leap from the point of certainty; it is a leap from the point of trust. This is what faith is.14 And faith is 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 simply 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 come to obtain forgiveness for all of our sins because it is sin that separates us from God. We can get forgiven for all of our sins by “coming to the cross.” Christ died on the cross to pay for our sins so that we can be forgiven, 15 and all we have to do is to trust in Jesus Christ alone for the forgiveness of all sin.

Trusting in Christ is simple. It may be done through prayer. For instance, one may pray “God, I will trust in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of all my sin even though I am not certain that you even there.” That is what faith is. It is trusting even though you are not certain.

How much real faith does one need? Just enough to trust sincerely in Christ. Some people trust in Him and some do not, but the invitation is open to all.16

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,17 a life filled with God’s peace and assurance,18 a life of spiritual equanimity and it grows into a life where one actually knows Christ, a life that is eternal.19 And when a husband and a wife both come to Christ and follow Him sincerely it grows into a family that is bound firmly together by cords of love-cords of love that are 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.20

Although the mustard seed grows during the remainder of our lives, the effect of it (God’s presence and peace) is not determined by time and effort and human will, but by the extent of our yieldedness to Him.

Before coming to Christ, we are spiritually dead.21 Spiritual death often presents itself as an internal void, an emptiness that can never be filled. When such a person 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 may be quite unexpected. The void disappears and in its place there is an inner peace that is beyond comprehension.22 That peace never leaves.23 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.

Although salvation is experienced, salvation is spiritual and not material. Before trusting in Christ we are spiritually dead24 and we know it. But afterwards we become spiritually alive25 and we know that as well. One has to experience it to understand itor to believe it.

The beauty of it all is that God does it. We don’t. If we did it we would always know that it was us and not God who did it. At the back of our mind, we would always know that we had created or imagined a made-to-order god, like the idols of ancient peoples. That’s why He does it and not us. And because we can’t do it. Only Christ can pay for our sins.

When He does it, He leaves no doubt in one’s mind that it is Him and not us who does it.

Awake you that sleep, and arise from the dead, and Christ [Christ, not us] shall give you light.26

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. Romans 4:25 “He [Jesus] who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.”

9. 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

10. Numbers 21:9

11. Romans 6:23 “The wages of sin is death.”

12. 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.”

13. 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.”

14. Hebrews 11:6 “And without faith it is impossible to please God

15. Romans 5:8 “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were sinners, Christ died for us.”

16. 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.”

17. The internal void is spiritual death. It is cured by the forgiveness of sin and a true commitment to obey God’s word.

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

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

20. John 18:36 “My kingdom is not of this world

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

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

23. This occurred to the author in 1974.

24. Ephesians 2:1 “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins

25. Ephesians 2:4,5 “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ.”

26. Ephesians 5:14