Seven Good Reasons Why People Believe in God (A Response to Seven Common False Reasons for why People Believe in God)
I recently read a Hub by Philanthropy2012 entitled "7 Common False Reasons for why People Believe in a God." I liked the idea of examining people's reasons for believing. I suggested that Philanthropy2012 write a second Hub to complement the first one, but with a focus on the other side of the issue: seven good reasons why people believe in God. Philanthropy2012 suggested that I write the Hub, so here it is!
As I thought about a way to categorize this Hub on "seven good reasons why people believe in God," the song "Amazing Grace" came to mind. Many people, whether they believe in God or not, have heard this song. I believe there are more than seven good reasons to believe in God. I am also aware that these may not be the seven BEST reasons for one to believe in God. But alas, here stands, in my opinion, seven good reasons to believe in God. Be sure to check out the videos at the end!
1. "Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound…"
Some have cited their primary reason for believing in God is due to grace. One way to think about grace is that it is the manner in which a skillful and elegant dancer moves. I don't think people believe in God because of fine dancing (although I guess it's possible!) Let's dig a little deeper. The Greek word for grace is charis, from chairein, which means "to rejoice," and denotes "loveliness," "agreeableness," "acceptableness," "favor" and "good-will." The way the word is used in several instances of the New Testament means the kindness of God's good gifts, blessings, or favor bestowed upon one. The word also expresses that of an emotion of gratitude or thanksgiving. Another way to look at grace is the relational aspect of God's character. Jesus is described as being "full of grace and truth." Truth refers to what is real and true, while grace refers to the relationship or unbroken fellowship with the one who is real and true. The world in which we live today, seems to experience the extreme ends of a truth and grace that have been torn apart. Truth, or one's understanding of what he/she believe is truth, when presented without grace, becomes judgment. Those that put their trust in or focus on the rules, or the "law of God" alone, experience judgment, condemnation, guilt, shame, and a host of other negative emotions. The law without grace destroys. On the other side, grace without truth leads to confusion, false unity, and disorder, just to name a few. Before sin, Adam had an unbroken connection (grace) to the One who is reality (truth). The one who receives God's grace is given and experiences an undeserved gift. Some people recognize and experience God's grace in their own lives. Others receive God's grace through the means of another human being.
While there are countless examples out there of such grace, I'll share an example from a well-known book and movie, Les Miserables. A man by the name of Jean Valjean is released from prison after having served a 19-year sentence. He is repeatedly refused shelter for the night, until he is warmly welcomed by a bishop, Monseigneur Myriel. Jean Valjean has done nothing to earn the bishop's favor—it is simply due to the bishop's kindness that Valjean finds a place to stay. Valjean, however, repays his host's hospitality by stealing his silverware and running away. Valjean is later caught by the police and brought back to the bishop. The police assume that the bishop will press charges, but the bishop declares that the silverware was a gift and that Jean Valjean has promised to reform, which he later does, and goes on to start a factory that brings prosperity to the town. Jean Valjean does not promise to mend his ways if given a gift. Instead, he is touched by the undeserved kindness, mercy, and favor that the bishop "graces" upon him and it is because of this act of kindness, that Valjean changes. This is a great example of the verse in the Bible that says God's kindness leads to repentance. I like the Message translation which states it this way: "God is kind, but he's not soft. In kindness he takes us firmly by the hand and leads us into a radical life-change" (Romans 2:4). God's hand is outstretched to all by an act of His mercy and grace, but only some choose to grab a hold of it and let Him lead.
2. "I once was lost but now am found…"
Some people credit their reason for coming to belief in God is due to their intellectual quest to discover the truth about God's existence. There are different motives that push people down this path. Some go down this road in an attempt to disprove God, and along the way find evidence that convinces them of His existence. Others have a sense that "there is more than meets the eye" and so they dig beneath the surface-level "answers" that various members of society and institutions have offered as "good enough" explanations. A great example of the former would be the life of Lee Strobel. He graduated from Yale with a Master of Studies in Law degree and was a professional journalist for 14 years at several newspapers, including The Chicago Tribune. Strobel's wife became a Christian and this was a highly unpleasant experience for Strobel, the happy atheist. The former award-winning journalist went on a journey to disprove Christianity once and for all. After a nearly two-year investigation of the evidence for Jesus, Lee became a Christian. Using his investigative journaling skills, he has researched the topic of Christianity from many angles—including addressing some of the most popular reasons people cite for not believing in God. Since his journey first began, he has gone on to publish over twenty books that share the findings of his research. For more information about his journey and discoveries, you can check out his website at: http://www.leestrobel.com/
3. "Was blind, but now I see…"
Some people come to the belief in the existence of God because of unexplainable, supernatural experiences and either receiving or witnessing miracles. This is especially a common experience in the non-western world, where there is more of an openness to the possibility of the supernatural realm. Cultures that live with an openness to the spirit realm tend to experience this realm as a part of their normal, everyday lives, but this is another Hub so I shall move on. There are countless stories that I could share to illustrate supernatural experiences and miracles, but in an attempt at brevity, I will choose three examples: One historical, one modern, and one personal.
Miracles, signs, and wonders were a primary method that was used in the day of Jesus amongst Himself and His followers. One of the reasons for such miracles was that the proclamations of Christ and His disciples were validated with demonstrations of God's power. It was not just the teachings of Jesus that attracted followers, but the authority with which He spoke. In other words, He didn't just say empty words—but what He said happened. When He said people were healed, they were healed. When He told demons to leave, they left. He always knew just what to say and what He said was confirmed by what He did and how He lived. In John 10:10-11 Jesus said:
10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.
Today, there are those who have taken Jesus at His word and believe and act in accordance to what He spoke. Let's go back to John 10 again. After Jesus speaks about His own works, He speaks about the works that others will be able to do:
12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
A modern-day example of a woman who lives by these words on a day-to-day basis is Heidi Baker. Besides feeding, living with, and carrying for many, many orphans, she goes to various African villages and asks for all of the deaf people to come forward. She does some tests to verify that the people are deaf and gets the testimony of many villagers to ensure that these people truly cannot hear. Then she and the many orphans for whom she cares, pray for the deaf people. A very high percentage of the people that were once deaf, after having received prayer, are able to hear. She then goes on to ask if they would like to know more about the Jesus who healed them. They believe not just because of somebody's clever argument or compelling evidence, but because they were once deaf, and now they can hear.
I've had similar experiences in my own life. Here is an abbreviated version of one case. There was a man that I once met in a bowling alley. I felt very led by God to talk to this man. As I spoke to him, I found that I had a certain "intuition" or "discernment" and I was able to know things about his life that he did not tell me. I told him that there was somebody in his life that had been praying for him and that I was there as an answer to that prayer. I also told him that the name he gave me was not his real name. He asked me if his mom put me up to this, to which I answered, "Nope!" I'd never met him before but I knew that it was indeed in answer to his mom's prayers that I was there. He did not believe in the God of Christianity and had a history of bad experiences with Christians. We became friends and I showed him God's unconditional love for two years, all the while praying for him. One day he told me about an illness that plagued him for which he had to constantly take medication. I felt a strong sense that God wanted me to pray for him to be healed, so I prayed! He went to the doctor a few days later and was amazed at what the doctor said: No more life-threatening illness—no more pills! All of the hundreds of hours we spent discussing philosophy and theology did not change his mind. But the experience of God's unconditional love through our friendship and the miracle of being healed convinced him that Jesus was who He says He is. It was encounter with God, not knowledge, facts, or theories about God, that changed this man's heart and mind.
4. "Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come…"
There are countless stories of people giving their lives to God because they decided to "give Him a chance" when their attempts at living life on their own terms didn't work. Some get caught up in various vices—drugs, alcohol, burglary, gangs, prostitution, etc. Others attain their goals and live the "good life" and experience the fruits of wealth, fame, power, and influence. In both cases, I have head of many, whom in the midst of these lifestyles say, "This way of living is empty," or "Is this all there is?" Many are broken, lonely, bored, fearful, or unfulfilled. They hit what is often called "rock bottom" and become desperate to know if there is something deeper—something that can give them purpose—something that can rescue them. It is in this state of desperation that many reach out for God—and find Him. There are other times, when God reaches out and finds them. In either case, it is those who are willing to say "yes" to God whose lives are forever changed. There are many stories I could share of such testimonies, but since I am writing a Hub and not a book, I will share just one.
This is the story about the former boss of a youth gang in New York by the name of Nicky Cruz. Cruz grew up with sorcery and the occult. In fact, at the early age of six, he was dedicated to the devil. His mother, who called him "devil son" sent him away and Cruz left Puerto Rico and ended up on the streets of New York. Cruz describes his life at that time as follows:
"Satan had taken me by the scruff of the neck and had control over me. I was one of his string puppets which he could play with. Everything was so low! – He had given me what I wanted; but I stood there with a bag full of loneliness, insecurity and fear! I bounced around with an empty heart, a guilty conscience and a hand full of blood in a fearful city without anywhere to go apart from straight to hell!"
People feared Cruz and did whatever he told them to do. He was the gang leader of hundreds of youth. They had no respect for human life and murder was a regular part of their every-day lives. If you're not convinced that Cruz's life was dark, consider these words spoken to him by his psychologist:
"Nicky, there is no hope for you anymore. You’re right for the electric stool and straight to hell. You are so ill because you are made of hate. You are completely torn up inside because of hate and bitterness. Yes, I believe that. You hate the whole world and everyone who shows you love and probably yourself as well."
But one day, a man by the name of David Wilkerson heard God say to him: "Go and fetch Nicky Cruz!" Against the advice of the police who told Wilkerson that he would be killed if he approached Cruz, the skinny preacher from a small village in Pennsylvania already had his mind made up.
When approached by Wilkerson later that night, Cruz became very angry and responded by attacking him, punching him until he bled, spitting on him, and calling him and God every bad name he could think of. Wilkerson responded with the words, "Nicky…Jesus loves you!" Cruz explained the power of those words being like a knife that penetrated through his thick skin. The words kept repeating in Cruz's head and everywhere he went, he thought about this preacher man. Cruz decided to go and listen to the preacher man and walked into the church, accompanied by 75 of his youth gang members, complete with guns and all. Cruz listened to Wilkerson talk about this "human version" of God called Jesus. He talked about how though Jesus did miracles, he also suffered greatly. Cruz could relate to suffering. There was something very powerful about this Jesus and Cruz wanted to know more. As Wilkerson ended his message that night, Cruz pondered the words, "Jesus died for me." Cruz wanted to know this Jesus. Then something happened that he'd never experienced before. He describes it as "This bad atmosphere had left me," and all at once, the presence of God filled the room. People cried and prayed and something like a wave washed across the entire room. As Cruz looked around, he saw that all of his gang members were crying, too. Cruz stood before Wilkerson and said, "Well pray, do something! Give it a go, if God wants to change me then give it a try!" So Wilkerson prayed. After a tug-of-war with dualistic thoughts of wanting to stay and say "yes" and thinking this whole thing was crazy and wanting to run, the tears began to flow, and the tough, strong, impenetrable Cruz fell to the ground and shrieked as un unbelievable pain arose in his heart. "Please help me! I need help!" he yelled through his sobs. Cruz felt a deep remorse for his sins. Following this experience, three miracles occurred: First, Cruz felt he could receive and give love and for the first time, he could respect himself and God. Second, there was no more drug addiction—no more desire to do crimes. And third, for the first time, Cruz experienced peace and joy. As the story goes, not only was the life of Nicky Cruz changed dramatically, but the lives of many that knew him. As for David Wilkerson, he went on to found the organization that is known today as "Teen Challenge," which is a program that helps teens overcome their addictions and come out of life on the street.
For more information on Nicky Cruz, check out this website:
5. "'Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far…"
Well, since the previous section was quite long, I'll try to make this one a little briefer. There are so many great things to share—it is quite a challenge for me to narrow it down. The focus of this section is "Divine Protection." Sometimes people are inspired to believe in the realness of God because they can't explain the occurrences of supernatural protection any other way! I've been in contact with quite a few missionaries who have told story after story of instances in which they were in grave danger and were protected in ways that could only be described as miraculous.
Debbie and Keith were missionaries in an African village where it was very unpopular, to say the least, to be a Christian or an American: Debbie and Keith were both. There was a group of men who would walk around their home and put voodoo curses on them. Odd things began to happen. One time, Keith was fixing a screen door when a nail flew out of the door and nearly hit his eye. The same day, a heavy shelf that was firmly secured to the wall gave way and hit Debbie in the head, causing her to need stitches. When they went to bed that night, they awoke to the sound of their watchman screaming and saw that he was getting beat by men in hoods. Debbie tried to call the police, but the phone was dead. Keith and Debbie knew that apart from a miracle, they would soon be dead, too. They began to pray and declare God's protection on themselves and their property. Keith and Debbie ran into the bathroom and hid in the shower stall. One of the attackers came into the bathroom and said, "They are in here!" Just before this happened, Debbie was reminded of Psalm 91, a promise of supernatural protection, and began to pray it. The Lord assured her, "You have been with Me in that secret place. Now you just stand in My shadow." The attacker ordered Keith and Debbie to step into the hallway and when they did, it felt as if they stepped into the very presence of God. The power of God was so strong, that the walls began to rattle and Debbie could barely stand up. The men were panicked, and demanded money. As Keith began to hand over his money, he said, "In the name of Jesus…" and before he even finished his sentence, the attackers simultaneously began to back away from Keith and Debbie. Soon after, Keith and Debbie heard the sound of the men driving off in their car and the men never returned.
I can also say that I have had many of my own stories of God's protection. I haven't written them all yet, but I've written one brief account on how I was protected from death before I was even born! Click here to read this story.
6. "The Lord has promised good to me, His word my hope secures…"
There are many who believe in God simply due to His faithful character. They see God's faithfulness in the Bible and that every word that He has spoken, has so far come to pass. They hear the testimonies of others who had nothing but a promise from God and over time, those promises came to fruition. They have their own stories of God's faithfulness. For these people, it would take more faith to NOT believe in God than to believe in Him, because of their understanding and experiences of His faithfulness. Once again, I could tell many, many stories to illustrate this facet of believing, but shall once again narrow it down to one example. This time I will use an example from my own life to demonstrate the principle of God's faithfulness.
When I met the man who would later become my husband, I knew that God's hand was at work in our lives. The story of how we met is a miracle in of itself, but that story will be for another day. When my husband and I knew that we were to be married, we had many obstacles to face. Neither of us had a job at the time, we had no place to live, and no money for a wedding. But God had promised us that He would provide. Now this doesn't mean that the two of us sat on our butts and just waited for a treasure from heaven to fall into our laps—we had to partner with God to be active receivers. So we asked God to show us the steps we needed to take.
First, the ring. Ian had only a small amount of money for a ring—an amount that would just NOT buy an engagement ring—yet with this amount—he was able to purchase both the engagement and wedding ring. I had a dream in which I knew God was giving me important information about how he would provide for the rings. The next day we went to Subway for lunch (and by the way, we haven't gone to Subway before then or since then!) I ordered the kid's meal just because I felt like I was supposed to. The meal came in a little, blue canvass bag with a picture of a big diamond on it. The words on the bag read, "The Hope Diamond." We smiled as we looked at the bag. Then Ian said, "Look across the street!" Across from us was "Jehovah Jireh" library which means, "The Lord Provides." We were deciding which store to go to for something and then I remembered my dream about walking down "Diamond Lane" and knew that we were supposed to go to the store Ian wanted to go to, not the one I wanted to go to. While there, the lady at the jewelry desk called us over and said, "If you buy today, you get 50% off your purchase. If you buy more than one ring, you get an even higher percentage discounted off your purchase." Let's just say that by the time the store closed that night, my soon-to-be husband had purchased two rings and paid less than half of what they were worth! Next, we found the perfect apartment and applied for it, though we had no money or source of income. Somehow, we were approved. Then, in an economy where it is increasingly difficult to find a job, we knew that we would need God's help. We stood upon the promises God had given us through His Word and through the prayers and encouragement of others and we felt we knew which jobs for which to apply. We had favor from the moment we walked through the door. The job that I got, for example, paid higher than other similar jobs in the area and the boss automatically seemed to just really like me. She gave me the exact hours I was looking for, and in fact, she gave me a raise before I even started! And as for the wedding? One person bought my dress. Another wanted to donate money towards the reception. And still more approached me and asked if they could help in various ways. I didn't ask any of these people for help. It was as if God knew exactly what we needed and placed it on people's hearts to approach us and offer to help with the very things we needed! By the time all was said and done, I had a beautiful dress and we had a lovely wedding and romantic honeymoon on a budget of $1500 (which was the amount given to me by my parents—so again—there was no out-of-pocket expenses!) Now of course you could probably come up with reasons to explain what happened based on this and that and leave God out of it. But let me remind you that every good fortune that came our way started with a very specific prayer and us stepping out in faith BEFORE we had the answer presented. I will also remind you, dear reader, that this story is only one among many. God has a very, very good track record in my life. In fact, His track record is perfect. Things haven't always turned out the way that I thought they should and of course I've gone through pain and disappointments—but in every situation I've ever been through—I've seen how God's strength has been made perfect in my weakness and even the things that Satan or people intended for evil, God turned into good. I sought the Lord for every need—and found that I never walked away empty-handed (thus my screen name: Seek-n-Find).
7. "And mortal life shall cease, I shall possess within the veil, a life of joy and peace."
Ahh—we finally arrive at reason number seven! The final reason I shall cite as to why people choose to believe in God is because they've died OR they've traveled to heaven or hell, while still alive, and have come back to tell their story! There are actually a very large number of stories of people of all walks of life, from around the globe, who have died and come back from the grave or who have traveled in the spirit realm in other manners. Some of these people describe an out-of-body experience. Some tell of their journey to heaven. Others tell of a harrowing experience of their time in hell. Up until now, I can say that I've had personal experience with the first six reasons I've written about for believing in God. This is where my experience ends, but this is also the common experience that we shall, all of us, someday know of for ourselves. I'm wondering about the best way to share these stories. There are so many accounts, that volumes of books have been written on the subject. I think it best to let them tell you themselves! I'll provide some links to some videos and let the ones who have had these experiences, tell you for themselves! Here are just a few stories:
Bill Wiese claims to have gone to hell. He writes about his experience in great detail in his book entitled, 23 Minutes in Hell. Here's a video that gives a snapshot of his experience.
Or maybe you would prefer to hear about the man who had a plane crash and had a visit to hell, followed by a visit to heaven, and back to earth again! He describes his experience of the spirit realm in a way that will definitely get your attention!
This man grew up a violent life and died an atheist—went to hell—and came back to tell about it!
And of course there is the story of four-year-old Colton, who during emergency surgery, slipped from consciousness to heaven, where he met his miscarried sister, whom no one had ever mentioned, and ran into his grandfather and returned to tell his family details about this man that would be impossible for him to know.
Here's the story of a man who died and spent 90 minutes in heaven and came back to tell about it.
The Today Show interviews a doctor and a woman who had a near-death experience. This one is pretty interesting!
I can't forget about 12-year old Aldo McPherson who emerged from a coma after an accident, with stories of his visits to heaven and encounters with Jesus, the angels, Moses, and Abraham. Quite intriguing!
But perhaps I should tell you about the four-year Akiane who came from an atheist family who began painting realistic pictures of Jesus and other heavenly concepts after she began taking trips to heaven. She is known as one of the top 20 most amazing artists in the entire world today! Her art is among some of the most skilled I have ever seen.
Where Do You Stand?
I wrote something called, "The Agnostics Prayer" for the one who does not pray and is unsure about what to believe regarding the concept of God. If you are still undecided about your beliefs, perhaps this is the right prayer for you!
What are YOUR good reasons for believing or not believing?
Perhaps you believe in God--perhaps you don't. I'd love to hear if you believe or not and the main reasons why. While I invite your honest and authentic opinion, I ask that you please remain respectful in the way that you craft your comments, as the purpose of this question is for you to share and for us to learn from one another, not to attack those who hold beliefs that are different from our own. We can agree to disagree without beating each other up! Thanks.