When people see the enormous variety of different faiths and religions, some feel paralysed by choice – surely if there really were a God he would make it clear which one he was – on that basis people reject the notion of God or gods altogether.
Others are more accepting – there are so many faiths they probably all have elements of the truth or are just different ways to the same God and so are all equally valid.
These questions remain:
If God were to step forward, it would make sense for him to do it in a very clear and verifiable way – I reckon he would favour the writing his name in the sky approach (where hundreds or thousands of people could see and confirm it) rather than the appearing in a dream to just one person…It is important for God to give us the opportunity to check out other people's claims about him.
What would you think if I told you I had a dream last night and God revealed himself to me and told me that we can only get to paradise if we start eating parsnip and treacle sandwiches. You might listen to me in a concerned manner – but I am not convinced you would put your trust in those foul sounding sarnies! It just seems so unlikely that God would reveal himself in such an un-testable, unverifiable way.
Many religions just aren't verifiable – that doesn't mean they are definitely not true, in fact they enjoy a certain invulnerability, as they can never be proved wrong. But other religions raise their heads above the parapet and make claims that can be checked out.
When we turn to John's gospel and the passage we looked at last Sunday we see an incredible claim. Talking about Jesus, John opens his gospel with these words:
In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God
Later he writes:
No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he [Jesus] has made him known.
That is, no one has seen God – but the ultimate revelation of God was to be found in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Or we could turn to Hebrews 1:1-3a:
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.
If we want to know if there is a God and what he is like, the Bible tells us to look no further than Jesus!
If I was God and was going to step down into history I would make sure the event was well recorded and people could find out about it many years after, which is exactly what the Bible tells us has happened.
Despite what fiction like the “The Da Vinci Code” and many so called Bible scholars say about the historicity of the Bible there is actually phenomenal evidence that the Bible is as it was originally written and that the events written in it really did happen.
But how can we verify the claim that Jesus reveals God to us?
We need to look into the claims and see if they make sense. Just like Judaism the claims of Christianity are based on historical events which either happened or didn't. Jesus either was who he said he was or he wasn't. Jesus either did the things that are claimed about him or he didn't. And ultimately Jesus either rose from the dead or he didn't.
Some people who have set out to show the inaccuracies in Scripture have ended up convinced of their reliability! Frank Morison the English journalist set out to prove that the resurrection was a myth but was instead convinced that it had really happened and ended up writing a book about it!
If you have never looked into the resurrection, don't take other people's word for it, check it out yourself.
If the real God has stepped into time and space as a man and revealed himself to us so that we can know what he is like, then it would be foolish to reject the one he has revealed himself to be.
Jesus either is God or he isn't. If he is God then his words “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father (to God) except through me.” (John 14:6) make it very clear that the other world faiths have not got it right. If Jesus is who he said he was then it is clear that whilst other faiths may have important and insightful things to say about the nature of man and how we should live, they do not show us the truth about God.
So when people say “If I were God I would make myself clearer” the answer needs to be “how much clearer?” He has stepped into time and revealed himself in a way we can understand.
The more difficult question perhaps is “if God has revealed himself why don't all people believe?” But the real question I want to leave you with is not why don't other people believe but “why don't I believe?”