Chapter 1 - Believe in God?

Click on a red footnote number to see the footnote. Then click on the footnote number in the footnote to return to where you were.

Believe in God

Believe in the Lord Jesus CHRIST,
and you will be saved
Acts 16:31

Let’s face it. If God is really there, why can’t we see Him? Is there really an invisible God out there who never speaks and never makes Himself known? How can this God, who is said to have created us, not be able to communicate? Why should anyone believe that? And why should anyone believe some ancient Jewish religious writings that talk about Him? Where is this God? If there is such a God, He must be hiding.

Let’s see what those ancient Jewish religious writings (the Bible) really do say about God. Then you can form your own opinion.

So, does the Bible say that God is hiding Himself?

Yes, it does.

Does that mean that He makes Himself known to some but not others?


Where does the Bible say that?

Let’s start from where Jesus says that God hides Himself. Jesus was conversing with a man named Nicodemus about this. This is what Jesus said:

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God.1

Jesus is saying that not everyone can see the Kingdom of God because the Kingdom of God is hidden from everyone who is not born again.

What did Jesus mean by that? Nicodemus asks Him.

How can a man be born when he is old?”2

Jesus answers:

Unless one is born of water [his mother’s womb] and of the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.3

At this point, Jesus has referred to seeing the Kingdom of God and entering the Kingdom of God. And He is saying that in order to see and enter the Kingdom of God we must be born again; we must be “born of the spirit.” So there are two births. One is physical and the other is spiritual. So, there is a spiritual reality that we can’t see unless we are born again. But how there be a spiritual reality that is invisible?

Jesus answers:

Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.4

Jesus is saying that being born again is like feeling the wind blowing. You know the wind is there because you can feel it, but you can’t see it. Jesus is telling us that we can experience the Kingdom of God just as certainly as we can feel the wind. We can see it spiritually but we can’t see it physically. It’s a spiritual reality that is hidden from everyone who is not born again.

Of course, the next question is “How can we experience it for ourselves?” Jesus anticipates this question and answers it with an analogy:

As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so the Son of Man must be lifted up; that whoever believes may in Him have eternal life.5

What did Jesus mean by that? The Bible tells us that after the Jews left Egypt, they complained to Moses about taking them out of slavery and bringing them to a wilderness where they could die. Because of this dissatisfaction and mistrust, God sent poisonous snakes into the Jewish camp and many people were bitten and did die.6 But the people repented and God sent a cure for everyone who had been bitten. The cure was simple. Moses was to put a statute of a serpent on a pole and raise it high so that everyone in the camp could see it. All they had to do was to look at the serpent in order to be healed.7

Jesus was saying that He is like the serpent in the wilderness. All we have to do is to look to Him and we will be healed.

But healed of what?

Jesus was making an analogy about sin. Anyone who has been bitten by the serpent of sin will die spiritually because the wages of sin is death.8 And we have all been bitten.9 But the cure is to look to Christ.

Why does looking to Jesus Christ make such a difference? Because sin can be forgiven through Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ took our sins upon Himself10 and died in our place.11 So Jesus paid the death-penalty of our sin and obtained forgiveness for us.12 This is what salvation is. It is being healed of sin.13

And it is free.14 It has to be free because if we had paid it ourselves, we would be dead because death is the wage of sin.15 But why did Jesus compare himself to a serpent when the serpent represents sin? Because in order to save us, Jesus became sin for us so that we could be righteous in God’s sight.16

Since the penalty for our sin has been paid, we are no longer spiritually dead and we have spiritual (eternal) life in Christ.17 This why Jesus said that experiencing the Kingdom of God is being born again. It is being born to spiritual life. Just like being physically born is to experience physical life, being born again is to experience spiritual life.18

When we pass from spiritual death to spiritual life,19 we can feel it and experience it. Eternal life is knowing God now, in this life.20 So we are talking about a spiritual reality that we can experience. We are talking about knowing God. We are talking about feeling the wind.

So, specifically, how does one become born again? It’s simple:

“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved”21

Believing in Christ does not mean knowing Him. It means to trust in Him. Knowing Him comes later. And knowing Him does not come from us; it comes from Him. Trusting in Christ is the same type of trust that we place in a doctor that we have never met to perform an operation.22

Trusting in Christ is simple. It may be done through prayer. For instance, one may pray “God, I come to You and I am trusting in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of all my sin.” You can pray this prayer even though you are not certain that anything at all will happen. That is what faith is. It is trusting even though you are not certain. Is it really that easy? Yes. He made it easy on purpose. And it free for the asking.23 That means that it cannot be earned or deserved. And it is not dispensed by a pope or a priest. They have no control over God.

How much real faith does one need? Just enough to trust sincerely in Christ. The invitation is open to all.24

Trusting in Christ is a leap of faith, not a leap of certainty. That is, it is not a leap from the point of certainty; it is a leap from the point of trust. Trust is what faith is and it is impossible to please God without it.25

God resolves our doubts about Him when we experience the Kingdom of God. And experiencing the Kingdom of God is the result of faith; not vice versa. Faith is not the result of knowing God; knowing God is the result of faith. Faith is just the first step. After faith comes the knowledge of God-knowing God.

So we are talking concrete reality here. Spiritual reality, to be sure, but reality that we can experience.

Trusting in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of all sin is all that is needed for eternal salvation. But it is not all that is needed in order to experience the presence of God. Indeed, some people who have trusted in Christ experience nothing as a result of it. Some Christians don’t feel any different and many just don’t believe that anyone really experiences the presence and peace of God. Others simply pretend. Why do some people who have trusted in Him never really know Him?

The answer to that is the second step.

1. John 3:3

2. John 3:4

3. John 3:5. Here, Jesus specifies that one must be born of water because the right to be born again extends only to humans and not any other created being, such as angels.

4. John 3:7,8

5. John 3:14-16

6. Numbers 21:5,6

7. Numbers 21:8 ““Make a poisonous serpent out of brass and fasten it to a pole. Anyone who has been bitten and who looks at it will live.”

8. Sin kills. Romans 6:23 “The wages of sin is death.” Ezekiel 18:4 Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth shall die...” Romans 6:21 “What benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death.”

9. Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned”; Romans 6:23 “The wages of sin is death.”

10. First Peter 2:24 “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.”

11. Romans 5:8 “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

12. Ephesians 1:7 “In Whom we have redemption through His blood [His death], the forgiveness of sins

13. The original Greek word means saving, delivering, preserving.

14. Ephesians 2:8 “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.”

15. Romans 6:23 “The wages of sin is death.”

16. Second Corinthians 5:21 “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

17. Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Although our body will die (Hebrews 9:27) it will later be resurrected (Acts 24:15; Revelation 20:4-6).

18. John 3:3 “Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

19. John 5:24 “Truly, truly I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.”

20. John 17:3 “And this is eternal life, that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent.” Eternal life is not simply living forever. It is a spiritual life and entirely different from our physical life.

21. Acts 16:31. This passage refers to the “Lord” Jesus Christ because Jesus is God’s son and one with the Father. John 10:30 “I and the Father are one.” The Bible teaches that God is a Trinity. He is one God but three Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The family is a mirror of who God is: all equal and all one but with different functions.

22. The original Greek word means to trust. See A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, by Bauer, Arndt and Gingrich (Second Ed. 1958, Univ. Of Chicago Press), s.v. πιστεύω, “believe (in), trust.”

23. Ephesians 2:8 “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.”

24. Revelation 22:17 “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.”

25. Hebrews 11:6 “And without faith it is impossible to please God