To truly believe in God is to have faith. To follow God requires faith. In order to pick up our crosses and follow Christ, we must have faith in God to direct our paths. As the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews states, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,” and “without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:1 and 11:6). Take special notice in the second verse, that he who comes to God must believe that He is—how can we please God if we cannot even acknowledge His existence? How can someone begin a relationship with something they do not believe is real?
1. Evidence supports Jesus Christ’s existence.
For starters, there is a monumental amount of evidence supporting the reality of Jesus Christ. At the base and foundation of all evidence, the Bible directly proclaims the truth about Jesus. The four primary sources directly supporting Jesus’s existence—the four gospels by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John—all provide first-hand accounts of the reality of Christ by people who were in direct contact with Him. Each gospel writes on Christ’s death and resurrection, but each one also delves into the person of Jesus and what He was like. There are also a myriad of secular sources that mention Jesus. An example of this can be found in Flavius Josephus’s writings—who lived around 47-100 AD—in Antiquities, which makes reference to Jesus in Book XX, writing: “and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews – Book XX, 93 AD).
Tacitus also makes mention of Christians and Christ in his writings of “Annals,” a history of the Roman Empire from the reign of Tiberius to Nero during the years 14-68 AD. In his writings, Tacitus accounts of the crucifixion of Christ by Pontius Pilate (Pilatus):
"Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind."
Moreover, Pliny the Younger faced a dilemma in the year 112 AD as governor of the Roman province of Bithynia when Christians were brought to his court. Not entirely sure what to do with these new and quickly spreading “Christians,” Pliny writes to Emperor Trajan asking for guidance and whether he is correct in executing them based on their faith. Some of the letter acknowledging early Christian practices is as follows:
"They asserted, however, that the sum and substance of their fault or error had been that they were accustomed to meet on a fixed day before dawn and sing responsively a hymn to Christ as to a god, and to bind themselves by oath, not to some crime, but not to commit fraud, theft, or adultery, not falsify their trust, nor to refuse to return a trust when called upon to do so. When this was over, it was their custom to depart and to assemble again to partake of food--but ordinary and innocent food. Even this, they affirmed, they had ceased to do after my edict by which, in accordance with your instructions, I had forbidden political associations. Accordingly, I judged it all the more necessary to find out what the truth was by torturing two female slaves who were called deaconesses. But I discovered nothing else but depraved, excessive superstition."
With recent findings of the Dead Sea Scrolls, numerous new primary sources have also been added to the credibility of the Bible and to the existence of Jesus Christ. One piece of evidence—the Isaiah Scroll—contains the entire Book of Isaiah from beginning to end (Old Testament), aside from slightly damaged portions, and dates older than the previous oldest Hebrew manuscript found by 1000 years. This goldmine of evidence is just a testament to the unfailing truth of God, and despite the rust of time or the tamper of man, the word of truth will remain, despite everything.
Alongside the vast amounts of written evidence (especially for an ancient source—and the accuracy thereof) like the Dead Sea Scrolls and the accurately translated and ancient manuscripts; the archaeological find of James’s Ossuary (Jesus’s brother) is a groundbreaking find that provides tangible evidence of Jesus aside from written primary sources. Through numerous tests of the ossuary, eventual findings in 2013 affirmed its authenticity—despite the voracious efforts of numerous scholars to say otherwise—and thus provides archaeological evidence of Jesus Christ and his brothers as written in the gospels. The inscription on the ossuary is as reads: “Yaakov bar Yoseph achui de Yeshua” or: “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus”. To have mention of the dead’s name, the patronym, and the brother’s name all in one inscription is extremely rare. Including the brother of the deceased onto the ossuary means that person is especially noteworthy—something that is also rare. This piece of evidence dates back to the correct time period that would have correlated with Jesus, and the inscription is authentic and rare enough to allow the assumption that it is Jesus’s brother James’s ossuary.
Nabeel Qureshi on evidence outside the Bible:
The conclusion that Jesus Christ existed is a consensus amongst scholars of antiquity, aside from a handful of fringe scholars who think Jesus Christ was a purely mythical figure—assertions that are not taken very seriously in academia. There are a multitude of other sources and connections that can be researched that establish the truth of Jesus and the New Testament. I challenge you to find out more on your own and look into the evidence with a sincere heart.
Once again, the overwhelming and irrefutable reality of Jesus proves the unfailing truth of God, and that no matter what people may do or say, the truth is in God’s hands—and there is no power that exists that can change that. So the question is not if Jesus existed, but whether He is who He says He is. And that answer is yes, but can only be reached through faith. So how does one find faith? How does someone begin a relationship with Jesus Christ?
2. Faith can come by revelation.
With some, it will come by revelation. In Paul’s case, God totally struck him when he was least expecting it—especially since it was during Paul’s efforts to persecute Christians. In Acts chapter 9, we see Saul (Paul before he is changed) walking to Damascus with an objective to arrest Christians in the synagogues, but is stopped on the way by Jesus Himself. This, understandably, throws Saul’s entire life upside down and creates one of the—if not the most—revered Christian leaders to ever walk the path of Christ. This incredible transformation is a testament to the power of God and the redemptive grace found in the name of Jesus; that no person is too far gone or too hard to reach for our God.
A former Hezbollah soldier having a revelation of Christ:
Of course, the mystery and beauty of these kind of encounters are beyond the understanding of our own limited minds. Why does God fully appear like He did for Paul, but not for others? To put it short and simple: God is God, and His ways are higher than our own and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts (Isaiah 55:9).
Although not all of us may experience an intervention phenomenon like Paul’s (it’s probably safe to say most of us don’t), that does not mean God is speaking to us or reaching out to us any less. If we would have ears to hear, then we would realize that God is constantly vying for our attention (Matthew 11:15). My previous article on prayer touches upon this latter concept a bit more, but the focus of this article is on having the ears to hear God. Without faith, we will have deaf ears to God’s words and blind eyes to the workings of His hand.
3. Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
To take action in finding faith, we have to listen. As Romans 10:17 puts it, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” What is the word of Christ? The word is the Bible, the inspired word of God. As we continue to invest ourselves in the Word, we are drawn closer to the quiet whisper of the Almighty—and like the verse in Romans says, we are just meant to listen.
The Bible is so powerful not because of the words we read written down on the pages, but because of the Power that is behind those words. When we slow down and meditate on the scripture with a genuine heart, God finds us there and speaks through His word. In this sense, then all we have to do is listen to what He is saying. And when we begin to listen, we begin to grow in faith. And the more that we care and nurture our faith, the more it begins to grow. Jesus said it best: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field; and this is smaller than all other seeds, but when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches” (Matthew 13:31-32).
4. Faith means saying Yes to God.
Once our little mustard seed of faith begins to grow, God will continually call us to do just that: grow. The main concept of what Jesus is talking about when He speaks on the mustard seed is the inevitable nature of the tree to grow into what it was meant to be: something that is meant to harbor and support life in its branches.
And like the mustard tree, we too must also undergo the changes of seasons. There will be times when our leaves fall and we feel as though we are in a period of desolation and winter. Even in these times, God has not left us; on the contrary, it is usually in these periods of severe difficulty that Jesus makes Himself the most known. Jesus is enough, and He makes this clear in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
God's grace can reach us wherever we are; faith can be found at any moment:
Is there a part of your life requiring God’s grace that you have not wanted to relinquish control? Does your faith feel dry, desolate, or distant? Has your walk of faith made you weary, as if it’s a chore to follow God? Do you fear the existence of God—as if He is a God that is oppressive and unjust? Or maybe you’re not even sure you believe in God or Jesus, and you’re just tired from so much pain, worry, anxiety, depression… And even to those who are in a secure place in Christ, how is God calling you to grow? We all endure difficulties in this life, and following Christ won’t make everything sunshine and rainbows. But there is salvation in the name of Jesus, and I can assure you that your problems are very small compared to our God.
But just because your problems are nothing compared to Him, that doesn’t mean your pain means nothing as well. The very hairs on your head are all numbered (Luke 12:7), and God collects every tear you cry (Psalm 56:8). God listens to each sigh we breathe; He is with us in every moment of pain. There is nothing more important to Him than His children. God is waiting for us to call on Him. He is wanting to give us the gifts of His heart—His perfect love—more than anything.
With all the questions and obstacles that life throws our way, God provides a simple answer: say YES to Him. Say yes to Jesus and accept Him into your life. Say yes to Jesus when He is asking to take your sin, your pain, your anxieties, your worries. Say yes to the prods of God when He asks you to pray or when He asks you to be prayed over. Say yes when He asks you to go to church or to read the Bible. Say yes when He asks you to pray for someone who wronged you. Say yes when He asks you to give and not expect anything in return. Say yes when He asks you to forgive and to ask for forgiveness. Say yes when He asks you to love Him.
The topic of faith can be written about forever, and I probably will be writing about it again in the not-so-distant future. But I write so much about it because it is so important to understand. We have done nothing to deserve what God has done for us, and the change that happens within us is no credit of our own; save for the simple act of saying yes (which is not a work, so that none can boast; Ephesians 2:8-9).
So, now I ask you… how is God wanting you to say yes today?