The God discussion – Why do I believe (Part 2)

Posted: 29/05/2011 in God
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Photo of the Book of Isaiah page of the Bible

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I believe in God, I am a follower of Jesus and I discussed briefly how I came to that decision in my last post, but exactly what do I believe? At some stage in everyone’s life I’m certain they question, at least once, the purpose or the meaning of their existence. Why are we here, what’s the point? Is there anything after death? I have previously talked about that deep down sense of incompleteness or emptiness or of something being off kilter when we don’t know Jesus and it is often that questioning that leads to a searching of God (whether or not you choose to call it God at the time). For me I realised that the God I grew up hearing about was real, that He desperately loves me and wanted a relationship with me but that my sin cut me off from Him and would even after death. Jesus (God’s son) died for me so that I might be able to have a relationship with God forever, even after death. By faith I made a decision to put my trust in Jesus and give my life over completely to Him. It is by faith not by anything that I could ever do that has saved me. That sounds nice and simple if you have some understanding of God and the bible but what about if you don’t? It can sound a little like mumbo jumbo! I’m not saying that me explaining the basics of the Christian faith will convince you, I’m just not that clever, it’s totally up to God. My hope is that it will get you thinking about Him, that it will speak into that part of you that wonders…what if? That this and the next post will explain a little bit about what Christians believe and how we have come to believe it. I don’t have all the answers or have it all right, I’m still learning myself. If you’re reading this and you have questions feel free to ask and if you already know the Lord but are unsure or concerned about the accuracy of what I’m writing let me know!

So then, what do I believe? I believe the bible and that it contains the very words and inspired words of God, over a period of around 1500 years, delivered by people of all kinds, in a multitude of forms. The bible itself does not make me believe in God – many people have read the bible and don’t believe. Nor does it make me a Christian, there’s more to it than that. What the bible does is teach me about who God is and what He has done. Unfortunately dilemmas arise when discussing the bible, with both people who believe in God and those who don’t, that cause all sorts of conflict and confusion. This occurs, I think, for two main reasons.  Firstly, there are differing opinions on what God actually meant in certain passages and secondly that it doesn’t answer every question we have about God, life and the Christian faith. Four of the main reasons for this are:

  1. Translation from the original Hebrew and Greek texts into English.
  2. Incomplete or limited exegesis (the task of understanding the historical and literary context) resulting in poor or incorrect teaching.
  3. Failure to apply Hermeneutics (seeking contemporary relevance).
  4. We are not God!

I am wary of people who choose a few random verses from the bible and use that as a basis of their argument against God, because they have usually not considered the above four points. They argue that the bible constantly contradicts itself and to a degree they are right. Without understanding the original language, undertaking exegesis or applying hermeneutics it will indeed make no sense and sound contradictory. I certainly don’t understand it all and there are some things that either baffle me or that I wrestle with. In those cases I remember the fourth point above. There is a verse that says “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9). This is not a cop-out as some would say; God is simply saying that we are just not going to understand everything. If He says that then I accept it as true and rather than try to rationalise or argue every aspect of the bible, there are times where I simply have to say “I don’t know, I don’t have the answer”. I guess if I did know I would be God! I appreciate that for some that won’t be good enough and in that case we will have to agree to disagree. The reason I bring all this up is that some may argue with the summary in the next post. This disagreement on some of the theology of Christianity is where multiple denominations, doctrines and strange religions have come from. I urge you, if you don’t know God read the next post with an open mind. Go so far as to ask God to help you to understand. I still have much to learn but I hope that with the teaching I’ve had and from my own study of the bible I can explain a little of what the Christian faith is all about. This I will do in my next post.

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