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Knowing God through faith

“Do you believe in God?” Most Americans still say “yes,” but studies have shown that the question is quite complicated and the answers pollers get depend on two things: how they ask it and how people interpret the word  “believe.” Some interpret it as absolute certainty, others as having some doubt, and others still as simply having the propensity to believe. More people have the propensity to believe in God than have absolute certainty about him.

The findings are intriguing for many reasons, but what interests me most is the difference between absolute certainty and doubt. What do humans need to be absolutely certain that God exists? Extraordinary miracles and divine appearances are clearly insufficient as seen in the story of the Israelites’ deliverance from Egypt. And for many contemporary Christians, all the biblical teaching in the world, the testimonies of believers past and present, and the finest arguments Christian apologetics can offer are similarly insufficient. Yet the Faith remains full of stories of those who not only died for their faith but also died in faith. The Bible describes these heroes of faith as those who “saw” and believed in something beyond what the world offered (Heb. 11:14-16).

Abraham, who had neither the benefit of a Bible to inform his beliefs nor a church family to encourage his budding faith, somehow found a way to believe in a God he could not see. He followed this “God thing” blindly, not really knowing what it (or he) was. By the end of his 100-year journey with God, through missteps, triumphs and all, he was called “a friend of God” (Js. 2:23). He would know God well enough to leave future believers with a solid sketch of his character. Because of Abraham’s step of faith, future generations would know that God is faithful, that he wants to bless his people, that he wants to be known, that he tests his people, and that he never breaks a promise. But most of all, they would know that he exists and wants to have a relationship with people if they would only dare to believe in him.

Believing is, without doubt, a tall order for sensuous humans whose weaknesses, biases and experiences have trained them to not only be suspicious but to also value skepticism. The fear of being duped or living in delusion keeps doubts about God alive in the recesses of many a Christian heart. Sometimes those doubts propel us to seek him more, but other times they keep us from him. But as he did with Abraham, God continues to stand at the door and knock. Whether we allow him in is a choice of faith we each must make at one point or another and sometimes many times over a lifetime.

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Heb. 11:6

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