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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: Does the God of the Bible Exist?

Don Stewart :: Can an Intelligent Person in the 21st Century Really Believe in the God of the Bible?

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Can an Intelligent Person in the 21st Century Really Believe in the God of the Bible?

Does the God of the Bible Exist? – Question 21

Can an intelligent person in our modern age actually believe in the God who is revealed in Scripture? Can we really believe in this unseen God and hold our intellectual integrity? The answer is a resounding, “Yes.” The Bible encourages people to put their faith in the God of Scripture. In fact, the Bible says that without faith it is impossible to please Him. The writer to the Hebrews said,

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (Hebrews 11:6 ESV)

Unfortunately, many people equate faith with some sort of blind leap in the dark, or wishful thinking. But the faith that the Bible requires is intelligent faith. Indeed, it is sensible Christianity which is in view. It is neither blind faith nor irrational belief.

Biblical faith consists of trusting in an actual personal being, God, who is worthy of our faith. No person is asked to sacrifice their intellect when they put their faith in the God of the Bible. Yes, the Christian exercises faith, but this faith is not blind. There are a number of points that need to be made.

1. The Christian Faith Is Based upon Fact

The Christian faith is factual. It matches up with the known evidence. Jesus emphasized that we are to do the following.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. (Matthew 22:37 CEV)

We are to use our minds in loving God. Nowhere are we encouraged to stop thinking or accept things on “blind faith.”

On the Day of Pentecost, some fifty days after Jesus’ death and resurrection, Simon Peter stood up and declared the following to a crowd that had gathered.

“Men of Israel, listen to what I say: Jesus from Nazareth was a man whom God brought to your attention. You know that through this man God worked miracles, did amazing things, and gave signs. By using men who don’t acknowledge Moses’ Teachings, you crucified Jesus, who was given over to death by a plan that God had determined in advance. But God raised him from death to life and destroyed the pains of death, because death had no power to hold him.” (Acts 2:22-24 God’s Word)

Notice that Peter listed a number of facts about Jesus. Jesus of Nazareth was a miracle worker, He was crucified, and that God raised Him from the dead. In doing so, he appealed to the knowledge of those to whom he spoke. Indeed, they knew certain things about Jesus were true. Peter declared that they knew Jesus had performed miracles. In other words, the fact of Jesus’ miracles was beyond dispute. They all knew this. Now he is telling them of the greatest miracle of all of which they were witnesses. Jesus, the Man from Nazareth, has risen from the dead!

Here, as in many places in Scripture, we find the appeal to actual events to verify the truth of the message. We are dealing with fact, not fiction.

2. The Claims Should Be Intelligently Investigated

Since the Christian faith claims to be based upon actual fact, any claims that it makes should be carefully investigated. Again, we find the New Testament writers encouraging the people to look into the facts about Jesus.

The Apostle Paul told people to inspect the claims of Christianity to see if they were true. He wrote to the Thessalonians,

But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good. (1 Thessalonians 5:21 NASB)

The Message translates this verse as follows.

On the other hand, don’t be gullible. Check out everything, and keep only what’s good. (1 Thessalonians 5:21 MsgB)

The biblical writers encouraged people to investigate the Christian faith because they knew the events they wrote about actually occurred.

3. The Spirits Should Be Tested

The Apostle John would later write to the believers and tell them to test the different spirits which were out in the world. He said,

Dear friends, don’t believe all people who say that they have the Spirit. Instead, test them. See whether the spirit they have is from God, because there are many false prophets in the world. (1 John 4:1 God’s Word)

They were to test all of the spirits. They were not to believe whatever they were taught by mere blind faith.

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians with this same charge. He told the people to examine or test themselves to see if they were living true to the faith. He put it this way.

Test yourselves and find out if you really are true to your faith. If you pass the test, you will discover that Christ is living in you. But if Christ isn’t living in you, you have failed. (2 Corinthians 13:5 CEV)

He told the people to test or examine themselves to see if they were true to the faith. This involved thinking and reflecting upon the truth of God. They were to use their minds to determine if they were faithful to the message of Christ.

4. They Knew the Difference between Myth and Reality

In another example, Simon Peter showed that the New Testament writers were aware of the difference between mythology and fact. He testified that the message they were proclaiming about the Lord Jesus was based upon facts which they were personally acquainted with. He put it this way.

For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when that voice was conveyed to him by the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, my Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven, while we were with him on the holy mountain. (2 Peter 1:16-18 NRSV)

Peter had the utmost confidence in the message he was proclaiming because he had seen the risen Christ with his own eyes. He was also there on the Mount of Transfiguration when God the Father spoke approvingly of Jesus.

Since the New Testament writers were eyewitnesses to the events they recorded, they welcomed an honest investigation of the facts. They knew what they wrote and taught about Jesus was true. Therefore, they challenged others to investigate the evidence. Blind faith never was encouraged.

5. Intelligence Is Equated with Knowing the Biblical God

When Jesus had a conversation with one of the teachers of the religious law, He equated intelligence with knowing God. Mark wrote,

Now when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” But after that no one dared question Him. (Mark 12:34 NKJV)

An intelligent or wise response from this teacher of the law caused Jesus to say that the man was close to the kingdom of God. This is another indication that the Bible encourages people to use their minds when examining the evidence.

6. Only a Foolish Person Rejects the God of the Bible

Since the evidence is everywhere for all to see, it is only the fool that rejects the existence of the God of Scripture. The psalmist wrote,

Only fools say in their hearts, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, and their actions are evil; no one does good! (Psalm 14:1 NLT)

Consequently, we do not find any anti-intellectual attitudes in Scripture. On the contrary, the writers welcomed an open and honest investigation of all the facts. The same holds true today. Intelligent men and women can still consider the claims of the God of the Bible, and can believe these claims without committing intellectual suicide. The Christian faith is indeed an intelligent faith.

Summary – Question 21
Can an Intelligent Person in the 21st Century Really Believe in the God of the Bible?

The God of the Bible does not expect people to act in faith toward Him unless that faith is an intelligent or reasonable faith. It must be built upon the solid foundation of what He has done in history, and what He has recorded in His Word. He urges us to think as well as to investigate His claims. Scripture is not afraid of an honest investigation of the facts.

Indeed, in the Bible, we find intelligence equated with knowing the biblical God. There are a number of examples of this.

On the Day of Pentecost, some fifty days after the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Simon Peter stood up in the very same city of Jerusalem and told the crowd that Jesus had risen from the dead. Part of his argument was appealing to the knowledge of his listeners. They knew that Jesus was a miracle worker.

Most likely, there were some in that crowd who had been healed by Jesus. Peter then went on to argue that Jesus performed the greatest miracle of all; He had risen from the dead. Peter and the others testified that they had seen the risen Christ. They were witnesses! Consequently these people could make an intelligent step of faith by believing in Jesus.

The Apostle Paul told the church at Thessalonica to use their minds and to test all things. They were only to accept the things which passed the test. They were not to accept anything and everything which they heard. Again, there is the appeal to think.

The Apostle John told the Christians something similar. They were to test all the spirits. They were not to believe everything which was told to them. In evaluating the evidence, they were to use their minds.

Indeed, Jesus Himself said we are to love the Lord our God with our entire being. This includes our mind. This means we are to think. We are to look at the evidence, to weigh it and evaluate it. In one instance, He said a certain religious leader was close to the kingdom of God because he had answered Jesus’ question wisely or intelligently.

This illustrates the fact that biblical faith does not consist of believing something which is contrary to the evidence. In fact, we find that foolishness is attributed to those who reject the idea of the existence of the God of the Bible.

Scripture can make this statement because the evidence is everywhere. Indeed, it is overwhelming. The problem is not with the evidence. The problem is that many people will not take the time to look at the evidence. They do not want to know the truth.

Therefore, an intelligent person can, and should, believe in the God of the Bible. Their honest questions will receive honest answers. There does not have to be any blind faith when one trusts the God of Scripture. He is the God of truth and His claims always prove to be true.

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