A few days ago Bill LaBarre was wondering why there isn’t more compelling evidence for God:
God could have left the resurrected Jesus on the Earth to continue to perform miracles or simply be a unique UN-aging individual that lives throughout time. Or he could have Jesus reappear to people every hundred years or so where he would perform a series of miracles.
You are probably thinking this is unrealistic or expecting too much. But I would have to ask if this kind of evidence was fine for Biblical times, why not now? Why the inconsistency? Why the desire to have people believe for not very convincing reasons when giving such reasons would be child’s play? If eternal damnation is on the line, any God that did not give sufficient evidence to convince reasonable people would be a moral monster.
My answer here will be brief and preliminary. I think the key is in what God wants people to believe. It’s not just about believing that he is God.
It’s about believing in who he is as God.
Hebrews 11:6 says, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, for the one who would come to him must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him.”
It’s about knowing God.
Jesus said in John 17:3, “And this is eternal life: that they might know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”
It’s about knowing who we are in relation to God.
Repeatedly throughout the Bible, but especially in Genesis 1:26-28, the extended passage of Romans 1:18-3:28, and Romans 5:8 we discover that we are loved by God, honored by God, but flawed and fallen into the death of alienation from God, and we need him to pick us up out of it. To come to God requires agreeing with him that this is the case, and recognizing that he has supplied the solution through Jesus Christ.
it’s about loving who he is as God.
From Matthew 22:35-40:
And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him [Jesus]. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
Now the question is…
Has God supplied sufficient evidence for us to do that? Millions upon millions say yes. Some say no, but so far what I hear from them is one-dimensional: that God could provide more evidence of his existence if he chose to do so. I’m sure he could have done that. But would evidences that compelled belief in his existence also produce belief in his good character, awareness of our death apart from him, and love for God?
There were many in Jesus’ day who saw his miracles and yet rejected him. They had plenty of evidence. It wasn’t lack of reasons that kept them from accepting him, it was something else.
There is more to knowing God in Jesus Christ than mere intellectual assent, like agreeing that the universe is vast, or some such thing. There is also the joyful yielding of the will. God gave enough light so that those who would willingly submit to him would have reasons for confidence in him. For my part, I find reasons everywhere I look!
He gave enough light for those who would receive it, but not so much that others couldn’t find ways to disbelieve. The difference is in the heart attitude toward self and God.
And it seems to me that this amounts to a morally justifiable reason for God to have done as he has. Recall that he said the greatest commandment was to love him with all our heart, soul, and mind. The world he created is delicately balanced so that we can—and must—accept him with all that we are.
(I’ve chosen to deal with this from the perspective of human experience rather than divine election, because I think the question really is one of human experience and decision-making. If an answer can be supplied on that level, it will be the answer that’s relevant to Bill’s question. I want to affirm, though, that the willingness to submit to God is a gift given by God, through grace. It’s not a mark of special merit for those who receive it, for we are all equally in need of God’s work in our lives to return us to true life.)