Just before Easter, I wrote an article indicating that I am an unbeliever because of my limitation to know beyond my human situation; and that one has to learn how to accept the things of God by faith, not by proof. I'm sure that most of my readers understood what I was saying, but a dear friend expressed concern about my being an unbeliever. Because I may have misled some people, I want to clarify what I was saying.
First of all, let me assert that I am a conservative Christian, and that I do indeed believe in the Bible and the things that are taught there. I believe in God, His son, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit; and affirm my belief that salvation is through one's faith in Jesus as the "way, the truth, and the life." I also believe in the church and the great work Christians are doing to help people all over the world. However, as a chaplain, I suspect I would be considered a liberal, since I am committed to working and helping people no matter what they happen to believe or not believe. Thus, sometimes in my articles I do address some of the concerns non-Christians have.
Having made this confession of faith, let me also continue to address this issue of believing. Christianity and our hope for eternal life turns squarely upon the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. The Bible affirms that many individuals, small groups, and at least one large group of over 500 all saw and heard the resurrected Jesus. It took Thomas a little longer, but he did not hesitate in the least to confess his faith in Jesus when he saw him personally. One might argue that all of the examples about the resurrected Jesus are only found in the Bible, but that is not quite true. The Bible is simply the repository of these firsthand experiences with the resurrected Jesus; it is not someone's personal collection to prove a point.
Belief is not quite as easy as one might assume. At first thought, one might assume that it is possible to believe something if it is backed up with logical facts; or, if it is something one sees for himself or herself. But facts are deceptive and so is what we think we saw. We in law enforcement know how easy it is for someone to claim emphatically that something is true because he or she saw it only to discover later that what they saw actually came out of the emotions of the moment fueled by the accumulated feelings hidden deeply within their brains.
Facts are not much better. One simply has to observe all of the facts that have been presented about covid to know how confusing they might be. Astrophysicists have changed their minds about the universe so many times it is mindboggling. There is simply too much to know and not enough ability to comprehend. Our world is constantly expanding in regard to our own capabilities and actually as a universe. If you are like I am, I really appreciate the facts of any situation, but am hesitate to accept them at face value until I check a few other things.
So, what about this "belief" in God? If you remember, the apostle Paul was very clear that a person is not saved by his works but by his or her faith. James also made that famous statement that even the demons believe in God (though they tremble). So salvation is not just about believing. It's possible Paul was primarily concerned about the Jews bragging about keeping all of the Jewish law and claiming to have redemption from their sins, but considering all of the Jewish law, no one was really able to keep it all. Paul knew that the law pointed out sin; it did not remove it. Only Jesus could do that. It's very possible Paul also was talking about any of the works a person does such as helping others. The clear teaching here is that a person cannot work his or her way into heaven; it is a gift from God focused in Jesus.
As a human being, miracles are beyond my understanding, and yet I have observed several of them myself. Personally, I cannot walk on water, heal people, or forgive sins; but Jesus did and he was witnessed by others. It is not by accident that we refer to our religion as the Christian "Faith." We not only have the witness of the firsthand observers of what Jesus did, but we also have the testimony of countless thousands of others throughout the centuries who have experienced what Jesus is able to do through the power of His Holy Spirit. It is impossible to ignore this powerful testimony, but we accept it, not by proof, but by faith. We accept it because we have invited Jesus into our lives and have also felt the power of the Holy Spirit. Faith is at the center of our belief system, and it is the beginning of the transformation of our lives.
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Robert Box has been a law enforcement chaplain for 29 years. He is a master-level chaplain with the International Conference of Police Chaplains and is an endorsed chaplain with the American Baptist Churches USA. He also currently serves as a deputy sheriff chaplain for the Benton County Sheriff's Office. Opinions expressed in the article are the opinions of the author and not the agencies he serves.