Thursday, August 6, 2015

Personal Evidence for Faith

The last in my series on faith and evidence for the local paper, the Oakland Independent.

Over the last couple of weeks I have written about faith and evidence. Last week’s article pointed to physical and historical evidence that can help us trust God and His message of salvation. But, while this type of evidence is good for helping secure our faith in the face of doubt or challenges, few of us actually come to believe in Jesus by reading a textbook and then constructing a logical argument for faith.

 Many of us came to faith in Jesus because we felt His love and heard the truth about Jesus from our parents who believed in Him. Likewise, pastors, teachers, church leaders, neighbors and friends with authentic faith often play a major role in a person deciding to follow Jesus. Their changed lives are real evidences of the truth of the message, because Jesus promised that we would be changed if we follow Him (Matthew 4:19).

On the other hand, if others' testimonies remains the primary evidence for your faith, then it is susceptible to challenge, because many other belief systems claim the same thing. I have had friends from other religions who live moral lives and sincerely believe something different. They claim that you should believe what they believe based upon their lives. Furthermore, if our faith in Jesus is based primarily on the faith of others, then it can be shaken when they mess up or fall away. Therefore, while this evidence is often very important in leading us to Jesus, we should not believe simply because others do.

We each need a personal experience with God. Each one of us has to decide if Jesus is really God and if He has really died for our sins. The Apostle Paul  says, "If you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved" (Romans 10:9).

So the last gap to overcome for faith in Jesus is a personal decision to trust Him. This can be hard because if Jesus is really is God, then this is no mere intellectual exercise. He does not just want a place in our mind, rather He wants all of us. When we really trust Him as our Lord and Savior, He radically changes us into the people He created us to be. The barrier to faith for many people is not intellectual, but rather the fear of losing the “good life." The famous Christian author C. S. Lewis wrote that he was the most "reluctant convert” (he was an atheist), because even after his doubts had been answered he still resisted, because he understood that belief in Jesus meant a change in His life.

Fortunately, Jesus tells us He wants to give us an "abundant life,” and I can testify that trusting Jesus has been worth it both intellectually and personally. Don’t just take my word for it though, examine the evidence and have faith in Him.