Many people feel that the world lacks strong evidence for the existence of God. Part of their feeling is that if God were truly there, why doesn't He come and show His face? Why don't we see Him... if we could only see Him, we could believe. So let's think; if God were to do that, what would it look like? Do you suppose it might look like a man walking around the cities of first century Palestine, turning water into wine, healing the sick and raising the dead? Or perhaps it might look like a sea parting down the middle, or a pillar of fire in the wilderness, or water pouring out of a rock? Of course, all of these things have happened, and the people who saw them wrote about them. But even at the time when people saw them, many did not believe as a result. What is it exactly that you would need to see in order to believe? Each day I see a sun rise over my head to keep me warm. I see plants grow up out of the ground for me to eat. I see my pets and marvel at how they are wondrously made. All of these things are gifts from God, and they are evidence of His handiwork, and of His love for us.
In the book of Luke we read a parable of a man who dies and goes to hell. As well, another man which he knew dies and goes to be where Abraham is, and we know that Abraham was not condemned to hell. But from hell he is able to speak to Abraham, and he says to him...
“Then I beg you, father, to send him [the righteous man who also died] to my father's house— for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.” But Abraham said, “They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.” And he said, “No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.” He said to him, “If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.” (Luke 16:19-31)
Abraham's comment is very astute, (or rather, Jesus' comment, as He was telling the parable). Jesus Himself was someone who did rise from the dead; yet even many of those who saw it with their own eyes at the time did not all believe. Abraham says “They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.” The Bible, which is really what Abraham is referring to, ought to be sufficient for anyone to believe. In this day and age, people would rather believe the story that they think dead bones are telling than the story that living witnesses of Christ wrote down. But the Bible documents more than just historical events in which God has manifest Himself to mankind... the Bible is the Word of God Himself. If you wanted God to convince you Himself, then you would want God to speak directly to you. That is precisely what reading the Bible is like, because God speaks to us through the Bible. The Bible is God's Word, written to each of us personally so that we might know Him.
Many will say, “It is impossible for you to convince me of that.” Well, I probably can’t. You need to be convinced by God Himself, and God speaks through His Word. So how will you be convinced if you don't read the Bible for yourself? I have told you how I came to be a Christian in an earlier blog post. It was solely through reading the Bible and discovering for myself that this is a message from God. The preaching of God's Word is how people come to faith because they are hearing God's own Word. Preachers need to be very careful that they are indeed preaching God's Word, and not some distortion of it, or their own ideas about the world we live in and who God is. If their message is not grounded in Scripture it will not produce genuine faith in anybody. Paul wrote:
And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. [That is, he wasn't just going to say things that sounded good and convincing but weren't true or relevant.] For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. (1 Corinthians 2:1-2)
Now, I know that unbelievers have read the entire Bible. I know of one man who tells me he's “read parts”... and I asked him, “What did you think of it?” He said, “I don't know... it's about a nation trying to establish itself.” I don't know whether he's read any of the New Testament, but all he saw was a nation trying to establish itself. The fact that God Himself was intimately involved in the affairs of Israel didn't seem to leave any significant impression on him. Paul writes about many of those in his day who read the Old Testament Scriptures...
But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. (2 Corinthians 3:14)
We've spoken before about how “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (John 3:6). And that the Bible is Spiritual (Romans 7:14). The Bible says that “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14). How can what is flesh understand what is Spiritual? As the passage above says, “only through Christ is [“the veil”] taken away.” In previous posts I have written that if we would seek God, He will reveal Himself to us. When you go to read the Bible you possibly won't find God unless, in your heart, you are seeking Him. If you do, in fact, want God to reveal Himself to you personally, then pray and ask Jesus to “remove the veil” as you read the Bible, and you will begin to see Him in the pages of Scripture.
So until tomorrow, I urge you to start reading. Even Christians, before they read their Bibles, ought to pray for Christ to give us understanding of them; that we not read through our “fleshly eyes” but through our Spiritual ones. I leave you with this...
Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. (1 Corinthians 2:12)