Summary: Spiritual struggles like Nathan’s are common. Therefore, before we talk to people about being in right relationship with God, we may need to address their core beliefs about His existence and offer reassurance about the reasonableness of belief. Indeed,
After his grandmother’s funeral, 15 year-old Nathan really started thinking about God. Because his grandmother had been a faithful Christian, the minister spoke about her eternal rewards. But talk of heaven and the afterlife caused Nathan to wonder, “How do we really know there’s a God and an afterlife?” In nightmares Nathan saw his own forgotten grave covered over with weeds. Thoughts of death troubled him deeply. Not fear of judgment or hell, but the nothing of “ceasing to be.” This led to questions about God’s existence and, soon after, the call I received from Nathan’s mother, who was desperate to bring peace to her son’s doubtful heart.
Spiritual struggles like Nathan’s are common. Therefore, before we talk to people about being in right relationship with God, we may need to address their core beliefs about His existence and offer reassurance about the reasonableness of belief. Indeed, we can learn about and even know God because He has revealed Himself. I encourage students to remember four letters: C.C.S.S. These stand for creation, conscience, Scripture and Savior, all of which point to an eternal God who can be known.
Doubter’s Prison: Atheism and Agnosticism
Skepticism about the reality of God may take the form of atheism or agnosticism. Atheism asserts, “There is no God.” Atheists rule out God entirely, while an agnostic (perhaps trying to be a bit more polite) only rules out that we can know about Him.
From the standpoints of both reason and evidence, each viewpoint has problems. The atheist is actually saying that nothing exists outside of the known physical universe. However, one would have to be omniscient (all knowing) in order to legitimately say this, making atheism a shaky faith position. Interestingly, the Bible itself does not try to prove God’s existence. As Genesis opens, the presence of God is a given. In fact, Psalm 14:1 gives a very clear and honest opinion of those who might claim to be atheists: “The fool has said in his heart, there is no God.” Scripture doesn’t even address the atheist’s flawed ideas, except to call them foolish.
Agnosticism, on the other hand, is built on the self-contradictory assertion that definite knowledge about God is unattainable. But the one who says, “No man can really know anything for sure about God” has just made a definitive statement regarding what he knows about God. It’s a self-defeating position.
The God You Can Know
Fortunately, the loving, revelatory God of the Bible has disclosed much about Himself that is conclusively knowable. That was the Apostle Paul’s premise in Acts 17:16-34. Remember C.C.S.S? Creation cries out for a Creator. The moral law written on our conscience bespeaks a Lawgiver. The content of Scripture and the life of our Savior can be explained only in terms of divine origin. In other words, the evidence for God is there. While God invites us to come to Him in faith, Christian belief is a completely rational position to embrace.
I’ve engaged many searchers, skeptics, and critics over the years and believe that for some people the issue isn’t whether God can be known. Rather, they don’t want such truth to interfere with their lives. The issue isn’t having an intellectual awareness of God, but a life-changing relationship with Him. That’s where God has revealed Himself most vividly of all—in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ.
The Nathans of the world just need a little reassurance. Still, dogmatic naysayers exist, and their skepticism about God is defining their character and shaping their destiny. Are you ready to reach them with the truth? In vivid ways, internal reason, and external evidence testify to the existence of a loving God who wants to get up-close and personal with each of us.