Questions about Faith
How can I know God?
Perhaps when you hear the word God, you think of all sorts of things that you have heard from people, friends or read in books about God. Maybe you have had previous experience in church as a child or young adult and know a little about God and the bible. But there is a difference between hearing about God or reading about God and knowing God. We believe that knowing God is really important and is central to what it means to be a human being.
So how can we know God? Well, Christianity teaches that we can come to know God in two ways. First, through what we see and experience around us. From the intricacies of biology or the beauty of a sunset, to the emotions we feel or the amazing human brain. One of the authors in the Bible, David, talks about this when he says, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands” (Psalm 19:1-2 NIV) Another way that we can knowGod is through the Bible itself. From beginning to end, the Bible is the Word of God and tells us a lot about God culminating in the person of Jesus. Jesus is the clearest picture of God because is God. The apostle Paul talks about this when he says, “He is the image of God, the firstborn over all creation” (Colossians 1:15 NIV). Jesus shows us how much God loves His people and how far He will go make a way for us to be with him by dying on the cross for us (see Learn the Gospel for more on this).
We can know God because God has showed Himself to us through the world all around us and the Bible that tells us the story of God saving us through Jesus Christ.
How do I know if I am a Christian? (Next Steps?)
Often times we associate a Christian with someone who attends church regularly or reads their Bible everyday and doesn’t swear. And while a lot of Christians try to do or not to do these things, trying hard to be a good person doesn’t get at the heart of what it means to be a Christian. The word Christian really means follower of Christ, or belonging to Christ. This word was actually first used in the Bible in the book called Acts to refer to people who had heard the good news that Jesus Christ was God who made a way for broken and lost people to find God and have a relationship with him. So how do you know if you are a Christian? Or how do you become a Christian? There are three things that lead a person into an eternal life long relationship with God.
Repent. First, we all have to admit that we have been living as our own masters, worshipping the wrong things and going against the way God lovingly created us to live. The word “Repentance” means to think differently about the way we have been living.
Picture someone walking in one direction, figuring out that the direction is actually the wrong way and turning around, repenting, and then begin to walk in the right direction. This person saw the way that they were traveling wasn’t getting them closer to where they wanted to go, so they thought differently, turned around, and began walking in the right direction. This is what it means to repent.
Jesus calls us to think differently about the ways that we have been living and how we try to find happiness, decide how to live, or earn the acceptance of God or other based upon our own actions or abilities.
Believe. Faith is shifting your trust from your own effort to the effort of Christ. Before anyone becomes a Christian, they were relying on other things to make them acceptable, but a Christian consciously starts relying on what Jesus has done for them and their acceptance with God. All we need is nothing. Jesus saves us all by grace alone, not by trying harder or earning favour from God by doing good things or being a nice person.
Pray. Repentance and Believing leads us to pray after this fashion: “God, I have come to know that I am more broken and sinful than I ever want believe, but I also see that you love me and accept me more than I could ever hope. I am done with my old way of living for myself. Although I have done nothing on my own to earn your acceptance, I now trust in what Jesus has done for me and ask to be accepted into God’s family through Him. Amen.”
When you pray this, two things happen at once: 1) God forgives you for good. The moment we ask for God’s forgiveness, He does it. 2) the Holy Spirit invades your heart and begins to change you and make you more and more like Jesus everyday.
Keep Going. Now, tell a Christian friend or family member about your commitment. Continue to learn and discover more about God and how He has called us to live as His people. One way to do this is by getting connected to a church community. Other ways to grow in your faith is through prayer, reading the Bible, being with other Christians, and so much more! You have now entered into a lifelong journey of being a follower of Jesus.
What is the Bible?
The Bible one of the most influential books of all time and many people in our present day and in our history have been heavily influenced by it. I bet you have either read it before and probably have one on a shelf in your living space somewhere. Often we think of the Bible as one big book but actually it is almost like a mini library, being made up of many different books all combined into one. Inside the pages of the bible, through different authors, time periods, and genres of literature, we read a story. Both the Old and New Testaments tell the same great story of God saving our world and His people.
Christians believe that the Bible is God’s Holy Word. In a statement called the Belgic Confession, Christians in Europe summed up what they believe about the Bible, saying, “
We confess that this Word of God
was not sent or delivered “by human will,”
but that “men and women moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God,”
as Peter says.
Afterward our God—
with special care
for us and our salvation—
commanded his servants, the prophets and apostles, to commit this revealed Word to writing.
God, with his own finger,
wrote the two tables of the law.
Therefore we call such writings holy and divine Scriptures.
(Belgic Confession, Article 3)
Christians read the Bible and follow what it says because we believe that “it is for us and our salvation”, meaning that it teaches us how God has designed us to live and how the good news transforms our lives and our world.
How do I read the Bible?
If you are new to the Bible and want to begin reading it, the best way to do that is to find someone that you know who is a Christian and ask them to read it with you. This is helpful because the Bible can be a hard book to read because of the many authors, genres and time periods that it was written in. A Christian friend or co-worker will be able to help you learn how to read it.
On your own, a good place to start is to read the books called John and Ephesians. The book of John is all about the life of Jesus and who He is. This is a good place to start because Jesus is the most important person in the Bible because He is God Himself! Ephesians is a letter that a church leader wrote and tells us all about the good news for our world.