How do you know?

How do you know?

John A. Braun

Who is God? What, if anything, does he expect of us? What does he think about us?

The questions have a variety of answers: “I think that . . .” or “I feel that . . .” or even “A lot of people say . . .” or “My pastor says . . .”. But does anyone actually know, or are they just as much in the dark as everyone else?

I would like someone to ask, “Well, how do you know that what you think and feel or what others say is true?” The answers can’t be based on personal experience. The people we talk to have never met God face-to-face. I’m pretty sure that they haven’t discussed their opinion with God the way we discuss the best grass seed to buy or what car to drive.

Of course, one way to answer those questions is to say that no one knows the answers so everyone’s opinion is just as valid as everyone else’s. But what if we are all in the dark and we’re just speculating about what we can’t know by science, research, or even meditation? Where is the standard for us to determine which opinion is right or if they are all wrong or all right?

Another way to respond to the questions is simply to ignore them. The job, the family, the lawn, the football game or soccer match, and then the vacation all need attention; there’s just no time to think about these things. The paycheck matters; questions about God don’t rise to importance. Is that okay? Who says so? Is that approach all there is to life? Maybe that person is just as much in the dark as everyone else.

When life comes to an end, we’re left with the same dilemma: What happens when we die? We all go to heaven, right? Says who? How do they know? Is there some standard to know what we’re getting after this life is over? Is there some way even to know that we get something after this life? Where’s the research? The proof? And can we measure those things with technologies, probes, and observations that only measure atoms, molecules, and physical forces? How do we know if any opinion about these things is true?

Has God given us answers? If he has, where will you go to learn them? Will you climb the mountaintop to talk to the hermit that lives there? Is there anyone closer to consult and listen to? We believe there is. Someone who is God himself and came to tell us what we need to know—Jesus. God asserts quite boldly that “he has spoken to us by his Son” (Hebrews 1:2). When the disciples were a little confused about God, death, and all the things they could not know, they asked Jesus. Jesus reminded them that his words were not just his own but his Father’s and that if they saw him they saw the Father (John 14:8-14).

Of course, not everyone believes that Jesus is the standard for truth. But how do they know he is not? It’s a big gamble at the moment of death—or anytime for that matter—to say, “I think that . . .” or “I feel . . .” or “everyone says . . .”, and then ignore what Jesus says. “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Knowing Jesus is knowing that God cares for us, loves us deeply, and wants us to live with him eternally. God’s directions and standards are intended for our good. Jesus knows. We listen.

 

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Author: John A. Braun
Volume 102, Number 10
Issue: October 2015

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