How Can We Know?
How Can We Know?
A friend asked me this honest question: “So how does your experience tell you that God is Triune, or that salvation comes from belief in Jesus, not through works, or a host of other fundamental Christian doctrines, that, if you don’t believe, do not make you a Christian?”
Those questions are certainly valid ones, and deserve answers beyond , “Because the Bible says so.” I’ll try to answer as best I can, which will probably require another essay. Let me title it “How Can We Know?”
In my learning as a Born Again Christian, the old adage about putting the cart before the horse applies. As a child, I learned all the basic Bible stories — from the Creation with Adam and Eve to the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem; from the Exodus with Moses to the Resurrection of Jesus. In early adolescence, I became a member of my parents’ Denominational Church simply by learning its basic doctrines, the Ten Commandments, Church governmental structure, and the meaning of the architecture in the sanctuary.
However, Membership didn’t hold me through adolescence. Faith by rote had no gravity to hold me, and Church doctrine had no inner revelatory application and added nothing of purpose to my life. Yet, later on in my journey, it nudged me into a hope that God did exist, that He, if nothing else, was a God who I could complain to and about and a Higher Power I could challenge.
As my life began its downward spiral — not that everything was bad around me, for I really didn’t know how deep it was taking me — I persisted in questioning the wisdom of God and His seemingly distant apathy toward Humanity, especially toward me, myself, and I — although I did like to think my challenges were much broader aspects of world situations.
When my life finally came to an awareness of the brink of a bottomless pit, in desperation I called out to God and to my great surprise, He dramatically pulled me from the brink of falling into that deep dark hole and into a mysterious new kind of light. After wandering for a few more months and meeting some intriguing people, I was introduced to a small ranch with fellow hippie types and a much older semi-retired missionary who had turned the place into a kind of rescue mission for wayward youth.
I felt welcome and strangely at home with them. Little work was required of me, but every day we would join into a circle and pray (which no longer felt odd to me), sing gospel songs, and something quite different than I was used to: They would share the testimonies of their life experiences and their encounters with God-Jesus in particular.
After a time, I realized that my challenges to God were simply my useless attempts to circumvent the reality of my inner pain, that that pain was the result of my own doing. I had made a mess out of my life. It was the choices I had made. Noone else was to blame — not Mom and Dad, not the VietNam War, not the world, and certainly not God. It was all mine to own up to. I wept and asked God to forgive me and for Jesus to come into my life. He did. I was cleansed, given a new beginning. Later, I would recognize that I had been born again.
I was encouraged to read the Bible and talk to God often and listen for the Spirit of God for understanding, insight, and direction in living.
Through that entire continuing experience I learned God truly exists and eventually realized the Triune existence, that is, God the Father, God the Word, and God the Spirit who work in unison. Note that the Word was not called the Son until His earthly birth by Mary, the wife of Joseph.
Now, that totally cooperative existence is very hard for us Humans to understand. It is a hard mystery. We cannot hardly believe two people can be in total agreement about any one thing let alone everything in the whole Universe.
“The Romans attempted a Triumvirate once. “The First Triumvirate of ancient Rome was an uneasy alliance between the three titans Julius Caesar, Pompey, and Crassus which, from 60 BCE until 53 BCE, dominated the politics of the Roman Republic.” — https://www.worldhistory.org/First_Triumvirate/
It apparently didn’t last very long — egos, power trips, and all the rest. Our two party system doesn’t work very well, either. Now does it? So how can we understand the Triune existence of God? That is why it is called a mystery. Mankind has very much trouble picturing how it could possibly work. The keys are experiencing God’s tremendous love and learning “…that in all things God works for the good…” (Romans 8:28)
I hope that these paragraphs help unwind the mystery. Still, unless one is born again by the Spirit of God they cannot begin to see the heavenly realm. The starting point is getting a hold of God — that coming to Jesus moment that is so heavily mocked, scorned, derided, and made a joke. But let me assure people that it is no laughing matter since we all come to the brink of deep darkness eventually.
Finally, let me conclude with this: It is my experience on my life’s journey that gives rise to my beliefs. Jesus is the “ox” that pulls my cart. He does the heavy lifting. He has joined me in the yoke of the cart that pulls me along the path of life. Doctrines have been left behind in their piles of confusion. Experience fills up my cart now, no longer filled with junk.
Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” — Matthew 11:28–30