I am sitting here doing one of things I enjoy much: watching an old movie. The one I am watching as I write this is “Jason and the Argonauts” from the early 60's.
Set in ancient Greece the movie is adapted from a Greek myth. There is a scene where the hero, Jason, has a discussion with a prophet while standing in the ruins of a temple and beside a fallen statue of the god Hermes. Jason is quick to declare his lack of belief in the gods. In response the prophet proceeds to take Jason to a place in the derelict temple by saying he would help Jason believe. After Jason heeds the prophet to stand in a certain place the prophet then stands before Jason, immediately the prophet transforms in to Hermes himself and takes Jason to Mount Olympus, the residence of the gods Jason does not believe in.
I have seen this movie more times than I could count and yet when I did this time a thought occurred to me: What a weak god to do such a thing to make a man believe in him by taking that man to see the gods.
I have never seen God or Jesus. I have no idea what Jesus looks like, and yet I believe, not only in His existence but in also what kind of God He is. I can turn to you and give you evidence as to why I believe though I have never once been to heaven. Here are the sources of what helped me to believe:
1. Conviction without Gods presence (John 16:7-9): I was convicted inwardly without human effort of my state of sin, the evil me made me see that evil could be personified in a being that seeks for my demise. I was eventually made to see apart from human intervention that the Gospel of Christ was true, not only in principle but also historically. All this happened even though I have not enjoyed the physical presence of the Lord.
2. Historical Evidence: I was soon to see that the evidence of Jesus' resurrection is a historical fact. Four of the most reliable historical documents are the Gospels. In fact, they are so reliable they past the tests developed by secular historians for reliability with flying colors. If one only examines the details of all the accounts of Jesus' resurrection deductively one can see the evidence is compelling beyond a reasonable doubt.
3. The Testimony of Paul: How is it that a man, once an enemy of the church, seeking to destroy it by having Christians jailed one day change overnight to an advocate and defender of the Christian faith? What happened? Paul saw the resurrected Christ.
4. The Testimonies of the Original Apostles: Why would eleven men be willing to face hardship, persecution, ostracism and even death in saying Jesus is God and had proved it by rising from the dead, when all they had to do was say it was not true? Again, they had seen Jesus alive from the dead.
5. Prophecy: What if I had your phone number and called you, even though we never talked. I proceed to call and tell you that I am a prophet. You would scoff at me, right? But suppose I tell you what is about to happen to you, then in a few minutes those things actually occur. You might decide to listen to me because I just verified my claim. I then tell you that I am able to be in the past, present and future at the same time. Maybe you might wonder if I was a god. Then what if I tell you I am going to come to earth by being born in a certain town to a certain family at a certain time in history as a baby, and later die on a cross as a man to rise from the dead in three days? Maybe you would decide to continue to listen to me if those things came to pass and I am apparently alive again.
6. God's Biblical Promises: I can look at me and see a person who is where he is at now because of what God has promised to people who believe in Him. While these promises are recorded in that Bible I have more than that. I have a living record of those promises coming to fruition over and over again. It is becoming more of a certainty to me that this will be God's pattern from now on.
7. My Own Life: How I think and feel about things has radically changed compared to two decades ago. When I look at the past version of myself it is as if I am looking at a stranger. I am totally aware that I do not think like I used to. The passions I once had have almost died and have been replaced by new passions. When I tell people who know me about the kind of person I used to be I am met with amazement because that person is not standing in front of them. All of this has happened by doing a few simple things: go to church, read my Bible, pray and do what that Bible says. My past involvements have been replaced by totally different ones. I still sin, but when I do my reaction is one of sorrow and discomfort where one time I used to enjoy it. Sin is no longer fun to me.
All of this happened even though Jesus never came back to earth to show Himself to me. I do not need God to come and take me to heaven to prove He exists. It should be mentioned that when Jesus revealed that the Holy Spirit's job was to convict He said that would only be experienced by believers when Jesus went away. God or Jesus never forced me to believe, but it seems they did help me to believe as I have indicated above and often without human involvement.
One of the most comforting things about knowing one has a home to go to is the fact that it is there. That comfort does not need to be maintained by going home. Just act of recollection or being reminded is comforting. That is true along with the fact that I will be home one day soon.