“One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!” John 9:25 NIV
What do you as a believer say to an unbeliever who is adept at poking holes in any case you present as evidence for the existence of God? How do you counter their rejection of your appeal to a standard of absolute truth (the Bible)? What do you say to their demand for scientific proof in dismissing your claims to the reality of a spiritual dimension to this life and beyond?
Thankfully, there are Biblical precedents and strategies for answering such objections. One line of approach which I’ve found to be very helpful can be summed up in one word – “history.” The power behind this approach in countering atheistic opposition to truth is in sharing the “HisStory” aspect of history. Emphasizing God’s role, both prophetically and instrumentally, in the writing of His story presents factual evidence that is difficult to dispute. In this vein of reasoning, I share here three appeals to history as undeniable facts that are associated with some form of Divine foreknowledge and supernatural intervention.
1. PERSONAL HISTORY – Our personal testimony, the sharing of HisStory in our lives, is one of the most convincing arguments we can put forward for the existence of God. The testimony of a changed life is incredibly powerful because no one can effectively argue against the reality and impact of a personal experience. For this reason, it seems wise to make the sharing of some aspect of one’s testimony as a default response whenever stiff opposition to Biblical truth is encountered. We see the scriptural paradigm for this throughout the New Testament. When the blind man whom Jesus healed was grilled by the Pharisees in their attempt to dismiss reasons to believe, they were confounded by the healed man’s simple testimony. “One thing I do know, I was blind but now I see” (John 9:25 NIV)! When the apostle Paul met with vociferous opposition, sometimes accompanied with threats to his very life, he repeatedly defaulted to the sharing of his dramatic conversion testimony (Acts 22, 26, Galatians 1, 1 Corinthians 15, Philippians 3, 1 Timothy 1).
Christian testimonies are rooted in the redeeming grace and overcoming power of Jesus’ victory over sin and Satan at the cross. We dare not underestimate the spiritual impact of our testimony. Since the very word “testimony” begins with the word “test” it can rightly be said that there can be no testimony without first encountering and overcoming a test. Our testimony exalts God’s supernatural power enabling us to conquer the various “tests” in our lives. Giving our testimony affirms afresh both the all sufficiency of Christ’s triumph and the refutation of every foe of truth. Not surprisingly it is one of just three weapons that the church has been given to overcome the Devil. “And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.” (Revelation 12:11 Emphasis added ESV).
2. JEWISH HISTORY – The HisStory of the Jewish people, encapsulated in the fulfillment of numerous promises concerning them and the land of Israel, is a uniquely compelling case for the existence of God. Considering the sheer volume and variety of prophecies spanning thousands of years that have come to fruition before our very eyes within the past 70 years, it is in a word – miraculous. Apart from the supernatural intervention of God, there is little or no ground for a dismissal as mere coincidence, or a rational explanation of such specific predictions coming to pass. The restoration of the nation of Israel in 1947, after 2500 years of occupation and the ongoing return of the Jewish people, stand out as a stunning fulfillment to over fifty Old Testament prophecies (Jeremiah 30:3, Ezekiel 11:17, Amos 9:15, Jeremiah 16:14-16, Isaiah 43:5-5). It is so remarkable that God invites us to marvel at the thought of it. “Who has ever heard of such things? Who has ever seen things like this? Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment” (Isaiah 66:8 NIV)?
The history of the Jewish people up to and beyond the birth of Christ is well documented. Every critical turn of events in their ongoing saga was accurately foretold in the Old Testament – including their growth as a people descending from Abraham, their slavery and eventual deliverance from Egypt, their conquest of the land of Canaan and the establishment of throne of David, the Babylonian captivity and restoration of the temple (Genesis 15:5, 13, 18; 2 Kings, 7:16, Leviticus 26:32-33, Jeremiah 29:10). Even the New Testament prediction of Jesus regarding the destruction of Herod’s temple came to pass in 70 AD (Mark 13:1-4). The scattering and hatred of the Jewish people among the nations since that time, was also foretold, finding its culmination in the horrors of the Holocaust that God used to restore them to the Land of Promise (Deuteronomy 28:37, Jeremiah 29:18, Daniel 7). Even since then, HisStory continues to unfold according prophecies of Scripture. As promised, God has blessed the land as never before with economic prosperity (Ezekiel 36:11). Among other things Israel abounds in natural resources and is a world leader in technological innovation. Trees are growing in the desert and wastelands have become like a ”well-watered” “Garden of Eden” with its fruit exported to the world (Isaiah 41:18-20, 51:3 & 58:11, 27:8). Just rehearsing HisStory of the Jewish people should fill us with praise and quicken faith in our hearts in sharing that God not only exists but is the sovereign Lord of history.
3. CHRISTIAN HISTORY – HisStory of Christianity, in and of itself, provides several great arguments for the existence of God. This is especially true when we consider Jesus’ own predictions regarding its growth, influence, and rejection by the world, all of which have come to pass. In this article, for simplicity’s sake, I will focus on just one, the history of world’s rejection of Christianity. Amongst all the religions and isms of the world, the singular and persistent hatred of Christianity has always been most striking. Providentially the persecution and martyrdom of Christians were clearly foretold by Jesus. “Don’t be surprised, dear brothers and sisters, if the world hates you” (1 John 3:13 NLT). “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first” (John 15:18 NLT). “You will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers” (Matthew 24:9 NLT).
Over the past two millennia beginning with the early church, the degree to which we have seen fulfillment of these predictions of Jesus is both startling and mind numbing. Foxes Book of Martyrs first published in 1563, offers an early historical record of the persecution of believers from Roman times up through the Reformation. We live in an age where there is now an unprecedented escalation of the persecution of Christians. Statisticians of such things report that half of all the Christians who have died for their faith did so within the last century. Open Doors USA reports that over 100 million Christians in more than 60 countries are presently suffering some form of persecution for their faith. Each month, on average, 322 Christians are killed for their faith, 214 churches and Christian properties are destroyed, and 772 forms of violence are committed against Christians (such as beatings, abductions, rapes, arrest and forced marriages).
It is also noteworthy that the end time predictions in the Book of Revelation tell us that the Devil, knowing that his time is short will in his anger seek to wreak havoc upon the church (Revelation 12). This fact, coupled with the sheer numbers stated above, and the fact that no other religion is so persecuted, all testify to the reality of a God whose eternal purposes are being unfolded in a world that will eventually see the return and rule of His Son Jesus Christ.
These three indisputable reasons to believe are by no means exhaustive. What reasons to believe have you relied upon to further the reception of the Gospel with those unbelievers you encounter?