I hope this story/explanation will be about belief in the unique God presented in the Bible. Believing in the God of the Christian Bible is distinctively different than believing in the god of Islam or the god of Judaism. It is also quite different than believing in the multiplicity of the gods of Hinduism or in the philosophy of Buddha. While most religions have some truth, Christianity is the Truth and its message is both distinctive and also exclusive. In other words, according to orthodox Christian teaching, it is incorrect to say that all religions lead to God. The Bible teaches that Jesus is the only way to God. My purpose is to explain why this exclusive view of Christianity is both reasonable and also correct.
Please do not misunderstand me, I have no desire to alienate my many friends who are not Christians. I am not writing to condemn, but to offer hope, and the hope I offer is much more than a teaching. This hope is the hope of a perfectly fulfilling relationship with the Triune God, Creator of the universe. His desire is you, and He is ever reaching out to you. My desire is to show you how you can know Him personally.
At the same time, the hope I am describing, while more than a teaching, certainly is a teaching. The life that Christianity offers is not a shallow existence, using the vocabulary of religious platitudes, a kind of Christianity that is not able to offer satisfying answers to the difficult questions of life. Rather, authentic Christianity and the relationship available in the Christian God is based upon the solid, intricate, surprising and *orthodox teaching of Scripture. True Christianity is able to answer those deep questions of life. In fact, I believe Christianity is the only faith that is really able to explain life as we observe it. Satisfying our deepest questions is at least one way in which God draws some to Himself. In His love and mercy, He allows us to have eyes to see the logic of the life that is all around us. He makes sense of that which seems chaotic, pathetic, dangerous, and deadly, but also beautiful, meaningful, and lovely. He helps us understand why such a wonderful world, full of promise, is also so full of death and corruption. *I am not referring to the Orthodox Church . I mean orthodox as in correct theology.
So, what is coming is both a story and a teaching. It is the story about why I am secure in the teaching of the Bible. It is a story in that belief in the God of the Bible came to me as I lived my life. It was because of life that I could understand God’s message to me. God showed me little by little who He is and why things are the way they are, in both the physical universe and the world of men, but also within me. God revealed to me who I am and why I need Him. Simultaneously, this presentation is also a teaching, actually the teaching found in the Bible. The story and the teaching intersect in that the teaching of the Bible helped me understand the experience of life. I hope you will see that these answers satisfactorily answer the deep questions of life and the questions of your soul.
I have been a Christian for around 46 of my 66 years of life. I grew up in a family of six, two younger brothers and an older sister. Our family spent many weekends and vacations camping. It was on one of these adventures that my story of belief began. I must have been 12 or 13 years old, and my family was camping in the Grand Teton National Park of Wyoming, USA. My sister and I were sleeping outside of the family tent, and that’s where an awareness of my relationship with God came to life. My sister had fallen asleep, the night was chilly and quiet. I remember two things: the howl of the coyotes and the beauty of the Wyoming starlit sky. Although it was many years before I became a Christian, my journey to Him began that night. While transfixed by the awesome but bewildering Wyoming sky, I began to wonder about the deep questions of life. It started innocently enough. I wondered how far away was the closet star and the furthest star, what was beyond all the stars, and then how big everything was and how small I was. From there, I wondered who was I, and what was life all about. Suddenly, I was alone in a vast universe. I was lonely.
These were the kinds of questions and feelings that entered my soul that evening, and they continued to trouble my heart, until answers finally came years later. Actually, to place the answers to my questions at a point in time is inaccurate. God was busy during the intervening years, showing me more of Himself and of myself and of life—all of which led me ultimately to Him.
On that Wyoming night long ago, I was both confronted as well as blessed with God’s creation. Part of who He is entered my soul that night, and the Bible, Genesis, chapter 1, explains why.
Before the Wyoming trip, I don’t remember ever thinking about God or religious things. But beholding God’s handywork that night, I was forced to wonder who I am in the midst of the vast universe. As I mentioned before, I felt pretty small staring up at that sky, and my smallness made me feel lonely. I remained lonely until I became a Christian, which was at least seven years later.
There are two portions of Scripture which have helped me to understand my loneliness. The Bible explains how all things came to be, and all things begin with God creating all things. In Genesis one we read,
1In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. (Genesis 1:1-2) New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Ge 1:1–2). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.
It may seem simplistic, but that God created the universe satisfies my curiosity and my longing. I know the monolithic view of the West scoffs at what it views as a naïve, uninformed and ignorant view of origins. This doesn’t bother me. In fact, I think it’s foolish to think all things came into being from nothing, apart from intelligence, and that by chance the complexity of the universe arose. It seems much more rational to accept the explanation given in Genesis one—God created all things. It seems obvious to me that a study of our physical world demands an explanation which includes an intelligent creator. By studying the creative activity of that Creator, we can learn many things about Him; 1) He is all powerful (omnipotent). He created all things. 2) He is all-knowing (omniscient). He had the intelligence needed to make that material universe. 3) He is everywhere present (omnipresent). The Spirit of God was hovering over His creation. The Bible explains that it is ultimately by God’s power that all things hold together.
The thing is, when you stop and consider carefully God’s created universe, you intuitively know these things to be true. This is why I was so taken when looking up at the stars in Wyoming. Something deep down inside of me responded to what I saw. Someone had to put those stars there, and that someone was beyond me in every way. I was dwarfed by His hugeness, humbled by His awesomeness, and scared by His utter otherness.
Yet God is more than the creator; He is also our Father, Savior, and Comforter, and understanding how He is all these things makes all the difference. Let’s look further into Genesis 1 to verses 26 and 27
Genesis 1 26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Ge 1:26-27). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.
After recording the creation of all things (Genesis 1:1-25), the author of Genesis comes to the crown jewel of God’s Creation, Adam and Eve, the progenitors of the human race. Verse 26 begins with the most fascinating detail concerning what it means to be made like God. We are created in the image of relationship, the relationship found in the triune God. Notice again “Let Us make man in Our image according to Our likeness…” The plural personal pronouns are used to describe God three times. This repetition surely has a purpose, which I believe is to help us understand that God created us as relational beings, just as He is a relational being. God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, three in one. All through eternity God has been in perfect relationship within the Trinity. Genesis 1 explains that God also created us to have perfect relationships both with Him and with one another. In fact, Genesis chapters 1, 2 and 3 put on display both the relationship between Adam and Eve (they are together without clothes or shame), and Adam and Eve with God, as He walks with Adam and Eve in the garden in the cool of the day. If you pause for a moment to ponder this, it is a beautiful picture of what should be, peace with one another and peace with God in a creation unmarred by death.
These are the first chapters of the Bible, and they record the story of our omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God creating all things in the universe, including those stars that captured my soul and those coyotes who sounded so utterly, hauntingly lonely. He also created my soul which responded in bewilderment to His creation call.
Here is the main point for this post. My soul responded to God’s creation because my soul was made by Him, to respond to Him. But why, then, was I still lonely? This is a subject for the next post. But for now, let me ask you these questions: Have you ever wondered about your relationship with God or with others? Have you wondered why relationships even seem to be so important? Can you think of a better explanation then that God made us to live within relationships, that we are made by Him as relational beings? Do those other explanations really explain our personal need to be personable with others? I don’t think so. Anything less than a Trinity is not able to form a rational, logical foundation for the human need for fulfilling relationships. One more question:
If this is not the explanation, where does love come from?
In my next post I hope to answer the question of why I remained lonely even after beholding God’s creative wonder in the stars of Wyoming. I also hope to present the biblical explanation for the myriad of broken relationships which make up both the world of men, but also all the created universe. These explanations are the answers that satisfied my soul. These answers are why I trust the Bible, why I am a Christian.