Wow thank you so much everyone for such well thought out responses. Each one of these replies helped me to understand the truth. These responses served to strengthen my faith and I am also going to send them to my Dad. I truly am so thankful for you all taking the time to help me with this.
@Chelsea_Casali Praying for you and your Dad - may Christ open His eyes to His love and truth and open doors for you to speak into his heart and life.
Thank you so much @SeanO! I actually just sent my Dad a word doc with all of these responses. I really believe he is so close to believing- he wants to believe, he is just working through some of these tough questions. I will post more topics about his other questions soon, I’m so thankful to be able to get such great input from this community! I have been praying for my Dad for so long and it is amazing to see how God is working.
@Chelsea_Casali Super cool! So glad to hear that the Lord is working on his heart and excited that we are able to be a small part of that journey.
Hi Chelsea! I am happy you have brought this question. I think it is common to us all in some degree and so important. I think the others have covered this well but I have a slightly different take on this. First I like to suggest we look at our lives to see the many inexplicable turns in our life that when we look closely were Gods gentle presence orchestrating people and situations into our life. Serendipitous encounters may go unnoticed which were so much Gods hand at work. I am in my sixties and about 35 years ago I offered my Life to the Lord. It took over 30 years for me to reach a place of rebirth in Jesus but looking back I can see so much of his presence working with me. Have you ever tried to find something that was right in front of you and though you were looking right at it could not see it? I do this often as do many of us. Its right there before us but we look yet don’t see. I think we do that with God as well. We miss so many things in our daily lives that when noticed reveal his presence.Also to have a relationship with anyone it must include trust. I have found as I trust God more deeply and pray he can also be seen in his answers to prayers. The main condition is in our trust and faith that he hears and responds to us. Maybe God is not as hidden as we think? This a great discussion! Thanks for presenting this! May God Bless you in all your efforts!
I agree, so many good points mentioned here. God was very “obvious” in Heaven before the implementation of creation, but it did not stop the 1/3rd of the beings there with Lucifer from choosing a grossly inferior path. Discovery of the divine little by little lets us absorb and prove to us His many attributes at a level we can perhaps understand and experience. One major part of our placement here is the opportunity to choose His ways daily, known often as “agency”. What an undeserved honor to us for the Creator to share increasingly all He is and treat us as intelligent divine-becoming beings to determine our future. This great gift was intended to be embraced, not ignored. Thus for us the universal environment we live in is one big school with constant feedback of what “works” best in His Kingdom, and what is not worthy of us. May He Who Is that uses the gentle approach, meek and lowly of heart, reach to your Father in a convincing way.
You’ve gotten so many replies to your question! I think that means you struck a cord.
I think you struck a cord because there are many tough areas (like genocide in the Old Testament, the problem of evil, and why God isn’t more obvious) where there are many helpful arguments, but, at least for me, they aren’t quite good enough–couldn’t God have done just a little bit more? Couldn’t He have stopped just a little bit more senseless pain? Couldn’t He have made Himself just a bit more obvious? I get it, there might be good reasons for not making Himself a ton more obvious, but why can’t He make Himself just a little more obvious?
I don’t have anything to add to the various arguments people have given. When it comes to these “couldn’t God have done a little bit more” questions, the thing that is most helpful for me is to remember that God doesn’t expect us to be able to understand Him and what He does. I think what God fundamentally requires of us, the fundamental requirement of the Christian faith, is that we trust God.
So, for me, the question is: Even if it seems like God could have done a little bit more, can I still trust Him? At least in human relationships, trust is always built on evidence–we trust people who we think are good, whose actions have demonstrated that they care about us and others.
So then the question becomes: Has God given us that evidence? And I think He has. God died to stop pain. He died to make Himself known; He died so that we could be know Him. If someone, say Susan, died so that we could know her, we would have every reason to believe Susan wanted us to know her (she probably cared a lot more about knowing us that we cared about knowing her :P). Because God died to make Himself known to us, I think we have good evidence that He is only hidden (to the extent that He is hidden) for a good reason.
I don’t know why God doesn’t make Himself just a little bit more obvious. But I think I can trust Him anyhow. And Christianity doesn’t require us to know. It requires us to trust.
I don’t know if that will be helpful to you, or your dad, but that’s how I’ve made a sort of peace with this type of question.
P.S. My trust in God is, of course, grounded in my belief that Jesus actually did die (and then rise again). If that is an issue for your dad, RZIM has a bunch of really good resources. A philosopher named Gary Habermas also has a lot of good books on evidence for the resurrection.
I appreciate all of these responses so much! What excellent points! I’m literally copying and pasting all of these points to my Dad in an email. @chabguy my Dad definitely struggles with the resurrection of Jesus, it’s the thing that is hardest for him to get past. But it’s funny, he doesn’t necessarily struggle with the miracle of it or believing it could have happened. He’s read tons of apologetics books and says that the Apostle’s dramatic change in character is the most compelling evidence to him. But his question seems to be more, why. He doesn’t get why God didn’t do it another way and why Jesus had to be the “vessel” for our sins. I think I’ll post this question into another topic next to see if you all have any thoughts on this. Thanks so much again, I really really appreciate it!
It is encouraging to see, you are seeking a deeper relationship with God by asking the right questions. Continue in your journey and God will reveal Himself in an unexpected way. Also be mindful of the truth as laid out in Scripture, “… For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” Romans 1:20
If not for Jesus, I would most probably have become a deist, who believe in the existence of a creator God but had somehow, withdrawn himself from the affairs of this world. Every religion claims to be the purveyor of ultimate truth. Yet none can offer incontrovertible direct empirical evidence of the presence of the real God. There is a mystery, something withheld in secret, something missing in the whole jigsaw of life, such that true purpose and fulfillment seems to be obscure and ambiguous. God’s apparent lack of intervention and enforcement of his moral will and law as well as his lack of direct disclosure seems to leave a resounding silence in response to the human cry for ultimacy and intimacy.
In the gospels, there appears to be a theme of messianic secret where Jesus told his disciples not to reveal his identity. Also, he speak in parables such that the intent to reveal is matched by a desire to obscure. When he died, he appeared only to his 500 disciples and not to the Jewish leaders that persecuted him and had demanded evidence. Also, for a bold claim of Godhood, he merely appeared to the public for a short 3 years before being dying and being caught back up to heaven. It appears to me that God isn’t very keen in making visible his existence. After all, the arrival of an omni-present, omni-scient and omni-potent God overwhelms the possibility of any choice and freewill.
I believe that God is looking for a unique heart posture known as faith. It is not defined as a cognitive acknowledgement in the existence of God, else demons would have been saved (James 2:19). Rather, I believe it is a choice, a pledge of covenantal allegiance and a trust borne out of a regular and intimate communion with the living God. All these being invisible to the naked eye, are deep felt in the heart. Faith is also spiritual perceptivity. Romans 10:17 reads " So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ." Our ability to hear or perceive spiritual truth is through living word of God - Jesus Christ.
God is choosing a people for himself (1 Peter 2:9), a spiritual virgin bride that is holy and consecrated for matrimonial union (Rev 21:9-11). Because there is such beautiful intimacy, this special relationship is for those who desire after God and His ways. It would have been vulgar to cheapen and include every wicked person in the union; you just don’t simply marry anyone. Hence in a way, the world’s a stage where God’s seeming hiddenness allow the drama of life and choice to play out one’s real character and ways. We are also destined to be co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17), a position of glory and authority so high, that he deem it worthy for us to mirror his ministry on earth by carrying the cross and enduring its suffering on earth. Just think of it - 11 out of 12 of his Apostles were martyred in horrific manner. Amongst all the religions of the world, Jesus is the only God who died and followed on by his disciples. Which charlatan or deluded spiritual guru will go through such bravado if there is no reality of God in their hearts?
Finally, the Holy Spirit was poured out into all believers when Jesus ascended. Alongside scripture, the Holy Spirit is a witness to us about Jesus. It completely transformed the Apostles and the early disciples to an entirely new plane and can do so to all of us such that we can (i) experience the love and power of God in our lives. (ii) Lee Strobel in his book - The case for miracles, provides evidence on the supernatural moves of God; God is real and moving in very active ways. What is obscure and hidden to one person, becomes revealed and personal to the one that God chooses to reveal. (iii) Speaking in tongues (angelic language), casting out demons (Mark 16:16-17**), prophesying are supernatural spiritual gifts that testify that God is real and active for those who have faith. (iv) Also, the spirit of God testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children (Romans 8:16). You will be made aware of your own spirit and that of God. You can have assurance of salvation as children of God. When Jesus was on earth, he constantly witness to us through his teaching and his miraculous works. If you take the bible seriously and apply faith, the Holy Spirit will also do this in our lives and more (John 14:12). While there may be excesses and counterfeit experiences, I would like to suggest that pneumatology, or our tangible experience of the Holy Spirit as encountered and experienced by the Charismatics and Pentecostals, can be a vital complement to our biblical discipleship and apologetics on the questions of life.
** Mark 16:16-17
Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
For me this question has an answer in the The Rich Man and Lazarus story in Luke 16:19-31, especially in the last 5 verses:
27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’
29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’
30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’
31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”
I think if God made Himself more obvious and all things in eternity then there is no more scope of Faith in God beacuse according to Hebrews 11:1: “faith (pi’stis) is the assurance of things hoped forthe conviction of things not seen.” Abraham and other old testament prophets had faith in God but this was nothing when compared to a new testament beliver because God spoke evidently with Abraham and other prophets
2 things to mention here is that
- God wants us to believe on his word without doubting. Hence, you see most of the old testament commandments are seemingly illogical to a rational thinker, however God demands a implicit obedience on all his laws and statues. There could be a big mystery behind this which we are unable to comprehend as a physical human being
- When Cain sinned against God, he says "I will be hidden from Your (Gods) face. I think this refers to the immediate presence of God. Cain may not have enjoyed any relationship with God after slaying Abel. Our forefathers enjoyed the immediate presence of God, hence we see there large number of signs and wonders in old testament in comparison to the new testament dispensation. In new testament a believer is expected to belive on God through his spiritual experiences (not physical) in Christ- a carnal mind may not be able to understand this. Rember what Jesus said to his disciple Thomas after His resurrection
Hi Chelsea hey I’m late to this discussion re the ‘hiddeness of God ‘but your father would appreciate I’m sure Professor Hugh Ross who is a christian astrophysicist and cosmologist who explains how now more than ever before the evidence is pilling up tremendously high from a scientific view that God is indeed very real and desires a personal relationship with us. Please take a look . It’s absolutely amazing . As we discover more and more about our universe It is becoming more and more compelling .
Let me know if you do !
Thanks @Bronie! I’m going to check it out. I found his website…is there a specific article you like of his? Or just his argument in general? I’m excited to learn more!
Even more great points, thank you everyone!
@Chelsea_Casali your question reminds me of Heb 11:6 that tells us that without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He is and he is the rewarder of those who seek Him. What this tells me is that it is His design that He remains hidden. The reason I see is that if we saw obvious proof of His existence then following Him would not be a walk of faith. Then we would then be walking in what we know to be true.
Once we come to know Him by faith we will want to please Him. How can we do that if our walk is not by faith? We need to pray that God will reveal Himself to your father in the manner of His choosing that your dad will have faith to accept Him, and begin to please God.
Great Point Timothy! I would like to share this perspective as it makes sense to me. I think there are no simple answers to this question yet you have done it quite well and with a few words! Well done! Thanks Terry!
I heard an interview with Andy Bannister that addresses this topic. I thought it was an interesting response.
Atheists says; if God did a miracle for me I would believe in him.
Andy Bannister: God is not interested in your beliefs… Demons believe in God. God wants your trust and submission.
( I would add relationship)
Atheist: What right does God have to ask anything like that?
- He is God.
- God has given you everything in Jesus. God has made the first move. While we do things against God he still died and suffered for all of us.
Hi Chelsea great to hear from you. Sorry for the delay. There is a time difference as I’m in Australia .
I would start with his discussions on the universe and how it points to Christ and a loving Creator below are two clips to start . There are a lot of others . It may be a matter of just listening for a couple of weeks before you decide your approach re your dad . His books look great. . It’s so exciting to see how the evidence is so profound now that now the Argument has shifted from no creator to which creator. Amazing !!!
Sorry Chelsea look up reasons to believe in Christ Hugh Ross you will find lots of clips to support how creation is pointing to Christ even more as we search the galaxies for answers in the 21st century. We have over 180 characteristics that point to a loving creator.