One of the most difficult parts of the Christian life is knowing for certain that God exists.
Faith, of course, is the answer, but how does one prove faith? And, what happens when we make faith the object of our religious lives, as opposed to the good news of the living God’s love for us?
Martin Luther addressed the second part of this question in his famous argument with Erasmus of Rotterdam, “The Bondage of the Will.” In one section, Erasmus had suggested that all one needed to do was preach Christ crucified.
This is pretty similar to saying that all I need is faith. While both preaching Christ crucified and faith are essential, they miss the larger point.
Luther wanted us to know that Christ crucified was not only preached, but that God was indeed part of our lives; one might say part of our day-to-day existence. Luther said that not only does he preach Christ crucified, but Christ brings all these things with him.
You could say that faith is all you need, but the reality of God present in your life might be lacking. You would be focused on your work of faith, and not God working in your life.
But, how do we know God is present? This brings us back to the opening line of the article. How do we know? The answer is, we don’t. We never can know for certain, nor prove God beyond a doubt.
Instead, we are left to keep returning to church to hear the “words that bring eternal life” again and again. We can have no other answer than this.
It won’t prove anything, nor overtly convince anyone, but “Christ brings all these things with him, including faith among the perfect.” We might imagine that we are perfect and have no need of God, but Christ brings us back down to earth so that God’s good news is actually good for us.
The next time someone asks you why you believe in God, tell them that the only way that they could understand is by coming to church with you. The Holy Spirit will convince where no one else can.