Our spirit hungers for God. We can ask God to reveal himself in a personal way.

MOVE TO NEW FRONTIER OF SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCE

Man is a trinity – body, soul and spirit – and the spirit is the part that connects with God. It’s possible for God’s spirit to enter man’s spirit. The result is an intimate relationship and a new and better nature.

But – since we’re dealing in dimensions that transcend all vocabularies, measurements and procedures for evaluation of (physical) phenomena – how can we know this for sure? Answer: We know about our spirit by AUTHORITY and by EXPERIENCE. One way is objective, the other is subjective.

First, we know about our spirit because God’s book, the Bible, tells us about it. Topics 18-26 show why the Bible is trustworthy spiritual authority.

Second, we know about our spirit from personal experience. This is empirical rather than scientific, and it’s very powerful. It’s like how a person knows he’s in love. He just knows! No amount of external argument can prevail against one’s own repeated experience.

We can learn more about ourselves by venturing into a new frontier of spiritual experience, moving from academic to practical, along this route:

CONSIDER THE POSSIBILITY THAT GOD IS PERSONAL

Nearly all religions say there’s a God – a powerful Supreme Being – but most do not regard him as a personal God. Instead they think of him as a ‘force’ or ‘principle’ rather than as a ‘person.’ (See Topics 10-15.)

The Bible says, however, that God is a person. He has a body (at least part of him, some of the time, known to us as Jesus Christ), soul (mind, will and emotion) and spirit (Holy Spirit). He loves us and cares for us, individually!

This is the major distinction between Christianity and the religions of the world.

But even among people who call themselves Christians, many think of God as being like the president of a giant corporation who’s too busy and far removed to get involved in the personal lives of all the people under him.

It’s fundamental to our understanding of God to determine for ourselves the degree to which we believe God is either impersonal or personal.

Logical reasoning goes like this:

IF he’s an impersonal God – remote and unknowable – we can only stand in awe of his mighty works but can never expect to understand his purposes or have any kind of personal relationship with him.

BUT

IF he’s a personal God – knowing and caring about us individually – he doesn’t see us as a mass of humanity but as individual people with whom he can have personal and simultaneous relationships.

WE GET ANSWER BY ASKING GOD DIRECTLY

Who’s right? The religions that say God is a force or principle? Or Christianity (Bible) that says he’s a person who desires personal relationships with us?

Since the beginning of human history, there’s been endless speculation about the nature of God. We could spend a lifetime learning what others think about God... and evaluating philosophies about him... and die still not knowing him.

With our limited means and abilities, there’s only one practical thing to do: Ask him if he’s a personal God. Here’s the reasoning:

IF he’s an impersonal God and beyond knowing, we’ll get no response – which answers our question – and we’ll have lost nothing.

BUT

IF he’s a personal God, surely he’ll be pleased that we care enough to want to know him and will understand that we’re merely doing the most logical and sincere thing we know to do. (Asking him is so bold and simple that it never occurs to most people to take such a direct approach.) If he responds to our direct inquiry in ways that convince us beyond reasonable doubt that he’s personal – which answers our question – we can then proceed to develop a relationship with him.

Speaking to God, and listening to God, is called prayer. An honest and direct inquiry to God about his interest in us should be our first kind of prayer. When a person prays for God to reveal himself in a personal way, this is a way of saying he wants a confirmation of God so powerful and so convincing that he’ll never again wonder if God really cares about him as an individual.

For some people, this revelation comes as an emotional encounter alone with God, often at a point of desperation. For others, it comes as logical comprehension from reading the Bible, or a resource like this, or from conversations with a friend. Sometimes it comes all at once and sometimes in pieces over time.

But however and whenever it comes, the personal revelation which God gives in response to our sincere prayer brings an unmistakable certainty that God can and will relate to us on an individual basis and that, through our spirit, there’s a whole new kind of life waiting to be discovered.

GOD REVEALS HIMSELF TO THOSE WHO CALL ON HIM

There are four kinds of people:

  • Those who know God personally and now have an intimate relationship with him,
  • Those who think they know God but really know only a religion,
  • Those who don’t think it’s possible or important to know God, and
  • Those who want to know God but don’t know how.

It’s for the fourth group that the information in this resource will be most helpful. They will appreciate the plain language, comprehensive coverage and Bible references. In the Bible, God has promised to make himself known to everyone who genuinely seeks him.

With the mind, a person can know about God. But with the spirit a person can know God. People, books and digital resources can impart information, but to know God personally there’s no other way than to call on him in prayer.

A beginning prayer can be as simple as this: ‘God, if it’s possible for me to really know you, please reveal yourself to me in some positive and unmistakable ways.’ Then wait for God to answer. He will, in the circumstances of life and in the quietness of an awakening spirit. Try it and see!

Here's a sampling of what the Bible says on this subject.

Matthew 10:30
God knows every detail of our life

Jeremiah 29:13
Will find God when seek with whole heart

Hebrews 11:6
God rewards those who earnestly seek him

Matthew 6:33
Seek God first and good things follow

For help, see Topic 29.

Our spirit is our connection with God and the key to our happiness.

THREE ACTIVITIES OCCUR IN OUR SPIRIT

We learn from the Bible and personal experience that three powerful activities occur in the spirit part of us:

  • First, there’s CONSCIENCE. It instinctively discerns the difference between right and wrong and nags us when we violate it.
  • Second, there’s PRAYER. It’s real communication, or attempted communication, with God. It’s a recognition of our weakness and vulnerability and is a crying out for union with God.
  • Third, there’s POWER. It’s a God-given inner drive that makes it easier for us to do things that are right. We don’t have to try so hard, and we have deep inner peace and confidence.

We discover our spirit in the above order. First, we become sensitive to right and wrong, and sin becomes distasteful to us. Second, we become increasingly convinced that there’s a God – but that we’re estranged from him – and through prayer we begin to establish a personal relationship with him. Third, after we turn our life over to him, our spirit and his spirit are joined and we experience a better quality of life than we ever thought was possible.

When these changes occur within our spirit, we have new life (see Topics 60 and 62). It’s new because all our sins are lifted from us (rather than weighing us down), because God is now within us (rather than just around us), and because our eternal destiny is heaven (rather than hell). These are dramatic changes which transform us into a new and better person, with a wonderful eternal destiny!

GOD GETS INTO US THROUGH OUR SPIRIT

Down deep, nearly everyone knows there’s more to human life than just body (physical) and soul (mind, will and emotion), more than animal life. Most people instinctively know there’s also a spirit (God-connection) within us.

The spirit is the part of us where human nature and divine nature meet. It’s the doorway to our life at the highest plane of existence. There’s no physical door there, but it’s like an opening that’s either blocked or opened by our will. Individually we choose whether or not we will let God (Holy Spirit) into our life. Without God’s entry, life is essentially empty and meaningless.

The basic cause of unhappiness is the personal decision, made consciously or unconsciously, to shut God out of one’s life.

Most people give considerable attention to caring for the body (eat, sleep, exercise, clothes, medicine) and to cultivating the soul (education, career, friends, entertainment) but give little attention to the spirit. As a result, the spirit in most people is essentially latent (yet to be discovered) rather than actualized (being used), and thus life for most people is incomplete.

Man is not a higher animal but instead is a unique creation made in the image of God. Man was designed with a spirit so that God can enter him and affect every part of him, from the inside out.

Knowing about our spirit – and opening it to God – is not an irrelevant matter for everyday living. It is, in fact, the secret for a happy and fulfilled life.

Medical science can give longer life but cannot give reason for living. Even with health and prosperity, and even with psychological help, millions of frustrated, unhappy people are living lives of quiet desperation. Only God can help, by coming in and satisfying the hunger of an impoverished spirit.

ILLUSTRATION:

We can’t define light. We can only experience it.

Words are inadequate to define our SPIRIT, but that doesn’t lessen its reality or importance. There are other things in life, too – like LIGHT – which are very real and very important but which can’t be explained apart from personal experience. For example, even though light is one of the most common elements of our daily existence, the Encyclopedia Britannica can give no better definition than this:

‘Light, a basic aspect of the human environment, cannot be defined in terms of anything simpler or more directly appreciated by the senses than itself.’

When we try to define ‘spirit’ we have the same problem as when we try to define ‘light.’ We enter a dimension where language fails us, so all we can do is describe certain attributes we observe. To illustrate, consider these observations:

  • Light dispels darkness
  • Light itself cannot be seen, but it reveals everything in its presence
  • Light cannot be grasped or held
  • Light fills all space made available to it, but it will not invade space closed to it
  • Light can be everywhere at once
  • Light is never consumed or exhausted by anything in its presence
  • Light is illumination, enabling us to find our way
  • Light is communication, sending signals to our mind
  • Light is color, revealing incredible beauty around us
  • Light is energy, producing power
  • Light is warmth, giving comfort
  • Light fades the farther we move from its source

The Bible refers to God as light. God is to our spirit what light is to our body. The above physical attributes all have spiritual counterparts (think about it!). When we observe what light does in the physical sense, it helps us understand what God (Holy Spirit) does in the spiritual sense.

Words are inadequate to explain light to a person born blind. Similarly, words are inadequate to explain the spirit to a person who has never experienced God’s presence in it.

When we open our spirit to God, he fills us with himself (Holy Spirit) just as light fills a room. God offers a wonderful new, bright life – spiritual life – which millions of people are discovering by personal experience.

Here's a sampling of what the Bible says on this subject.

John 4:24
God relationship is via spirit

Ezekiel 36:26-27
Holy spirit comes into human spirit

Romans 8:16
Holy Spirit communicates with human spirit

I Corinthians 5:5
Body destroyed, spirit survives

Revelation 3:20
God is knocking at doorway of our life

I John 1:5-6, John 8:12
God is light

For help, see Topic 29.

God designed us as a trinity (three parts). We have body, soul and spirit.

THREE PARTS OF MAN: BODY, SOUL AND SPIRIT

Human beings are the only things in the universe we can know from the inside out. Everything else we know only by external observation. We do not merely observe human beings; we ARE human beings.

Were it not for this inside information, we would see only what we DO and not what we ARE. With our inside information, however, we can distinguish three distinct parts of our being: BODY, SOUL and SPIRIT.

  • BODY = Physical shell
  • SOUL = Mind, will and emotion
  • SPIRIT = Connection with God

OUR TRINITY ALLOWS US TO CONNECT WITH GOD

PLANTS have a body, but not as complex as the body of an animal or man. Plants don’t have a soul or a spirit.

ANIMALS have a body and a soul (mind, will and emotion) – which can be verified just by kicking a dog! – but not as complex as man, and prompted by little more than instinct to survive and reproduce. For animals, body and soul are temporal (last only for a while). Animals don’t have a spirit.

MAN alone has body, soul and spirit. Our body is temporal, but our soul and spirit are eternal. Our spirit provides a connection with God. We’re the most complex creature on earth, possessing the ability to join with God in wonderful spiritual adventure that continues beyond physical death.

TRINITY IS WHAT MAKES MAN UNIQUE

All other creatures on earth function only within God’s physical design plan. But man functions also within his spiritual design plan, a whole exciting realm of life unknown by people who refuse to regard themselves as more than a higher animal.

It’s man’s trinity – a small version of God’s trinity – that sets man on a plane higher than the normal live-and-die patterns of physical life.

As a human being, we live simultaneously on three different planes of existence – (1) physical, (2) rational/emotional, and (3) spiritual – yet each of us is a single being. God is not through with his design and creation of us; he’s just pausing now for our response (see Topics 3 and 32). If our decision is to have a relationship with him, after death he’ll give us a better body, stronger mind, and heightened spiritual consciousness, and we’ll live in new (to us) dimensions of time and space.

OUR SPIRIT IS THE LEAST UNDERSTOOD PART OF US

Our BODY is the easiest part of human life to understand because it’s physical. It can be seen, touched and measured. The amount of available knowledge about every aspect of biology and medical science is overwhelming.

Our SOUL (mind, will and emotion) is more difficult to comprehend because we can’t see it, touch it or easily quantify it. Even so, the mind, will and emotion have been subjects of exhaustive research. The libraries of the world contain countless volumes about how we process and retain information, how we make decisions and pursue goals, and how we love and hate.

Our SPIRIT is the most difficult to comprehend because it’s not subject to formal research or measurement. We can’t talk about it easily because we don’t even have an adequate vocabulary for it. Relatively little is said about our spirit, other than superficial aspects we know as attitude, commitment or zeal. For most people, our spirit is a very deep mystery.

In God’s design plan, everything has a purpose, and that raises an important question every thoughtful person will want to consider: Why did God design us with a spirit?

The next Discovery tells how our spirit can be infused (filled, permeated) by God’s spirit, and why this is the key to our happiness.

Here's a sampling of what the Bible says on this subject.

The word ‘spirit’ in the Bible with small ‘s’ means human spirit, with capital ‘S’ means Holy Spirit.

I Thessalonians 5:23
We have body, soul and spirit

Matthew 10:28
Can kill body but not soul

Luke 23:46
Even Jesus committed his spirit to God (Father)

John 4:24
Relationship with God is via spirit

Ezekiel 36:26-27
Human spirit is connection with Holy Spirit

Romans 8:16
Holy Spirit communicates with human spirit

Matthew 26:41
Spirit willing, body weak

I Corinthians 5:5
Body destroyed, spirit saved

For help, see Topic 29.

God designed us with a free will. We make our own choices between right and wrong.

LIFE IS DECISIONS AND CONSEQUENCES

Life is a perpetual process of decision-making, from the moment we awake in the morning until we fall asleep at night. Mostly, that’s what life is all about. We benefit from our good choices and suffer from our bad choices.

WE ‘SIN’ WHEN WE MAKE A WRONG MORAL CHOICE

In a sense, all of our choices have an element of right and wrong, as choosing the ‘right’ tie to wear with a certain suit or taking the ‘right’ route to work. But in a deeper sense, most of our choices are morally neutral. Only some choices have moral significance.

‘Moral’ means making the distinction between right and wrong with respect to God’s standard. A wrong moral choice is called a ‘sin’ (offense against God).

The definition raises this question: How we can distinguish between what’s really right or wrong from what’s morally neutral or what’s merely cultural? In other words, how do we know for sure what is sin?

Because this is God’s world, we must defer to his definitions, even though people are constantly telling us to either limit, expand or modify what he says.

The primary way to recognize sin is to read God’s book, the Bible, because in it he specifically identifies attitudes and behaviors he calls sin.

Another way to recognize sin is to listen to our conscience, which is his Holy Spirit speaking personally to us.

To help us understand God’s point of view, the Bible identifies hundreds of sins. But they are only examples; every sin is a personal offense against God shaped by individual circumstances, knowledge and motives.

No attempt is made in this handbook to list, categorize or summarize sins. The fact is that every one of us knows we’re guilty of committing sins, and each of us can name our own sins. There are some gray areas where we’re not sure, but the point IS NOT that we must identify every sin we commit but rather the point IS that we must acknowledge that we’re sinners.

Salvation (rescue from the eternal consequences of our sins) is not a matter of uprooting each and every sin but instead is the result of accepting God’s remedy (Jesus Christ) for our sin nature.

EVERYONE IS BORN WITH A SIN NATURE

The Bible says our earliest ancestors – Adam and Eve, the first man and woman – lived briefly in a wonderful environment not scarred by sin (the ‘Garden of Eden,’ an actual place between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in present day Iraq). When they disobeyed God, they were driven out into a hostile world of both good and evil. Sin had entered the human race, and because they are our progenitors, their sin nature has been passed on to all subsequent generations, even to us today.

It’s really a moot issue that their sin nature was passed on to us, because even if they hadn’t sinned, we would have sinned ourselves. There’s no escaping it, everyone does things which displease God.

FREE WILL (TO SIN) IS ESSENTIAL FOR REAL LOVE

God is LOVE (see Topic 48) and it’s essential that we have free will to decide how we will respond to him. True love can exist only when the object of love can choose whether or not to return love.

Example: A person could program his computer to print ‘I love you,’ but this wouldn’t be real love because the computer can’t do anything except to obey the command. God couldn’t really love and enjoy us if we were merely programmed to love and obey in return.

The stronger and freer we are, the better we’ll be when we go right, but the worse we’ll be when we go wrong. That’s a necessary risk of free will. (For more about free will, see Topics 48 and 60.)

SIN IS OUR BIGGEST PROBLEM

The basic problem of mankind is SIN. What do we do with our sin? How can we limit it? How will we pay the consequences for it?

Sin plagues us. It weighs us down like a heavy burden. We try to shake it off, but it won’t go. It saps our energy and robs our dignity. Often our sin pains others, and their sin pains us. Ultimately, everyone has to stand judgment before God for all unpardoned sin. It’s a very serious matter.

Most people have been carrying the heavy weight of sin for so long that they can’t even imagine what it would be like to have it lifted off. In fact, most people are unable to recognize that sin is such a serious problem because they’ve never experienced the wonderful clean, light feeling of God’s total forgiveness.

In the Topics ahead – particularly Topics 53-66 – this site explains how, and under what conditions, God gives immediate and total forgiveness of all our sins (even future sins!), without any cost on our part. When we experience this forgiveness, it’s so good and so radical that we’re virtually a new person! That’s why the Bible says this gift of forgiveness is new life. (See Topics 56-62.)

WORST SIN OF ALL IS CHOOSING TO IGNORE GOD

All sin is bad, but one sin is worse than all others, and it’s the only sin that’s absolutely fatal. It’s the sin of ignoring God, of living as though he doesn’t matter.

The Bible says, and common sense affirms, that the worst sin of all is telling God, by word or action, that we don’t want to have a relationship with him or that we will have a relationship only on our terms.

Refusing to listen to what God wants to say, and refusing to take the new life he wants to give, is the ultimate and catastrophic sin. Theologians sometimes call this the ‘unpardonable sin.’ Actually, a better term is the ‘unpardoned sin.’

God gives blanket forgiveness for every sin a person has ever committed – and ever will commit – when that person understands and accepts what Jesus Christ did for him by substitutionary death (see Topics 54 and 55). BUT if that person has adequate knowledge of what Christ did but never responds to it by personally identifying with it and giving God recognition for it, that person has committed the one sin that is not automatically pardoned.

In other words, one sin – continuing to live without regard to what God (Holy Spirit) is saying to us – can block automatic forgiveness of all other sins, and thus it’s the one sin that’s absolutely fatal. Conversely, listening to God and accepting the new life he offers through personal faith in Jesus Christ gives automatic forgiveness of all other sins!

At first thought, it seems impossible that one simple act of faith can overcome the whole sin problem, but that’s exactly what the Bible says. This website sets this wonderful offer in full theological perspective and explains how a person can get this forgiveness and new life by one all-important act of faith.

Here's a sampling of what the Bible says on this subject.

I John 5:17
All wrongdoing is sin

Genesis 2:8-3:24
First man and woman, first sin

Romans 5:12-21
Everyone is born into sin

Romans 3:23
Everyone sins

Mark 3:28-29
The unpardoned sin

For help, see Topic 29.

This is more than a material world. It has both physical and spiritual design.

RIGHT-AND-WRONG IS PART OF SPIRITUAL DESIGN

Something becomes obvious as we move beyond SCIENCE (how does it work?) and begin to study THEOLOGY (who made it, and why?).

We see that the world is more than just material phenomenon. In it we also find the concept of RIGHT AND WRONG, springing from an intuitive and universal sense of good and evil. Thus, we observe SPIRITUAL DESIGN in the world as well as physical design.

God wants us – but has not forced us – to act in certain ways to enhance our relationships with him and with each other. This recognition of choice between RIGHT AND WRONG, according to a built-in standard, is the foundation for all clear thinking about the spiritual design of our world.

CONSCIENCE HAS BEEN DESIGNED INTO US

All people know that there’s some instinctive standard – RIGHT AND WRONG – that constantly presses upon us. It's a moral law, operating by spiritual design as surely as gravity operates by physical design.

For example, if A pushes B from the curb into traffic, B will immediately want to know whether A's action was intentional or accidental. If A pushes B intentionally, there would be something WRONG with A's behavior. Not physically wrong, but morally wrong. Virtually everyone would agree, not only in our culture, but in all cultures of the world. It's not wrong if A pushes B by accident, even though B gets hurt. But it's wrong if A pushes B on purpose, even though B doesn't get hurt. This kind of right-and-wrong thinking is built right into us.

We instinctively know that deliberately pushing someone off the curb – like lying, stealing, murder and scores of other unacceptable behaviors – is WRONG because it violates our conscience. Not only does our conscience tell us what wrong things not to do, but it also tells us what right things to do.

GOOD VS. EVIL IS THE MAJOR HUMAN DILEMMA

If we were animals or machines, it would be meaningless to speak of good and evil, or to be concerned with spiritual accountability. For example, we don’t accuse animals for attacking one another or computers for criminal behavior. But for us, the problem of good and evil is the major human dilemma.

We're physically and socially less than perfect. Neither good nor evil dominates us completely. Our motives, judgments and actions are rarely all good and never all evil but are usually a mixture of both. Our conscience tells us the degree to which we are leaning one way or the other.

Evil is not a quality. It's lack or privation of a quality. It's like rot, rust and wounds. Nothing is totally evil because evil is a moral cancer which cannot exist alone. If you take all the bad out of something, it becomes better. If you take all the good out, nothing is left. For example, if you take all the rot out of a tree, it's a better tree. If you take all the good out, there's no tree.

We instinctively know and appreciate the good qualities of human character, but often we don't practice them, and consequently we hurt others, and they hurt us. There's no escaping from the evil within and around us; and it causes considerable human pain.

GOD TOLERATES EVIL FOR A WHILE

Critics see a problem with any view that affirms the following three propositions: (1) God is almighty, (2) God is good, and (3) evil exists.

The problem, they say, is that if evil exists, either God wants to eliminate evil and is unable to do it – and thus he’s not almighty – or that God is able to eliminate evil but doesn’t want to do it – and thus he's not good.

However, these critics overlook a third possibility: God has power to eliminate evil, but he has chosen not to eliminate it YET. That’s what the Bible says about it. Even though God hates evil, he's tolerating it while he waits for an important personal decision from each of us. There's a time aspect to his plan.

It'll become clear from the remaining topics that God's primary desire is not for us to be good but for us to have a relationship with him. (The relationship will help make us good, but that's a by-product.) He's giving each of us time to decide whether or not we want the relationship.

Evil gives definition to the relationship issue and helps us see distinctions and consequences. Evil shows the bad quality of life without God.

BEING ‘GOOD’ IS NOT THE PRIMARY ISSUE

Most people know they were designed with a spiritual side that's just as real as their physical side, and they know that life is a struggle between good and evil.

Knowing this, they usually conclude that what God wants most is for us to do right things rather than wrong things. In other words, they think, God wants us to be GOOD.

That conclusion is as superficial as saying that, by creating gravity, what God wants most is for everything to fall down. His physical design plan is much more elaborate than that, and so is his spiritual design plan much more than just wanting us to be good.

Of course, God wants us to be good. But that’s not the primary issue. The primary issue is that God is pleased when we want to have a personal relationship with him, and he’s offended when we ignore him and think we can manage life without him. He understands evil and our frail humanity and, if we ask, he’ll forgive all our offenses against him. With his forgiveness, we become as ‘good’ as if we had been perfect all along! (See Topics 54 and 59.)

What God wants most is for us to have a personal relationship with him so intimate and so radical that it's literally a new life; a new spiritual life transcending our physical life. Incredible as it may sound, we don’t have to do anything to get this new life but to take it as a free gift. (This is explained fully in Topics 53-70.)

When we accept this new life, we're not only totally forgiven (and thus made acceptable for heaven) but as this new life is lived out now, there’s more good and less evil than in our old life. This is not because of increased self-effort but because of God's power flowing through us.

The important point is not what we do for God, but what God does for us.

Here's a sampling of what the Bible says on this subject.

Genesis 3:22
Man made to know good from evil

Ephesians 2:1-10
Struggle between good and evil; trust in God comes first, goodness follows naturally

For help, see Topic 29.

Science and theology complement each other.

SCIENCE IS STUDY OF PHYSICAL WORLD

SCIENCE is the systematized knowledge of nature and the world. It’s based on observation and experimentation.

THEOLOGY IS STUDY OF GOD AND HIS PLAN FOR US

THEOLOGY is the accumulated knowledge about God and his plan for our lives. It focuses on God, not on religion.

Religion, in contrast, is a system of belief in a divine power, mode of worship, or code of conduct designed by man. Even though well-meaning and usually good, religion is man's effort to please God, often by emotional and sacrificial means. Religion creates many notions that are not true and, unfortunately, repel many objective thinkers from spiritual inquiry.

Theology is not a study to determine whether one system of belief and practice is superior to another, but it’s the gathering, study and organization of facts about God's nature, his purposes and his plan for us. This resource is about theology, not about science or religion.

SCIENCE AND THEOLOGY MAKE DIFFERENT INQUIRIES

Science stops short of theology because science limits itself only to time and space and to experimentation which can be physically measured, observed and repeated. Theology moves beyond science into the eternal/spiritual realm which has no time/space limitations.

Science asks HOW the physical world works. Theology asks WHO designed it and WHY. There's no contradiction between science and theology. They make different inquiries in different ways.

THE BIBLE WAS AHEAD OF ITS TIME

The Bible is a book about theology, not about science. However, references in the Bible to physical phenomenon are accurate and have sometimes even preceded the discoveries of the scientists of the day. For example:

  • The Bible says the earth is a sphere (Isaiah 40:22), but when that part of the Bible was written (about 630 B.C.) people thought the earth was flat.
  • The Bible says there are billions of stars (Jeremiah 2:20), but when that was written (about 630 B.C.), people thought there were less than 2,000 stars. The Bible says every star is different (I Corinthians 15:41) but when that was written (about 55 A.D.) people thought every star was the same.
  • The Bible expresses the fundamentals of science in accord with our modern-day understanding, such as gravity (Job 26:7), molecular structure (Hebrews 11:3), the conservation of mass and energy (Ecclesiastes 3:14-15), the water cycle (Isaiah 55:10), the importance of sanitation to health (Deuteronomy 23:12-13), and the effect of emotions on physical health (Proverbs 17:22).

THIS IS EXCITING TIME FOR DISCOVERY

We're living in an unprecedented age of discovery. Knowledge about our world and ourselves is accumulating at an exhilarating rate. There were as many important new scientific discoveries made in the last decade as were made in all other years of human history combined! Historical knowledge and operational knowhow are also growing rapidly, accelerated by more and better research and by excellent analysis, cataloging and communication.

Although generally not discussed as much, spiritual knowledge is also increasing due to better understanding of the Bible and open sharing and comparing of personal experiences. There’s increased interest in the spiritual side of life. More people are making exciting discoveries about God and about how to have a personal relationship with him.

In many respects, spiritual discovery is like scientific discovery. Both result from a sudden comprehension of the inter-relationship of certain facts which have always existed. Man is just discovering things that God has always known.

God allows, and seems to enjoy, a progressive revelation of his design plan in the spiritual realm as well as in the physical realm. One discovery leads to another, and as people share what they’ve found in their search for God, there’s a growing body of spiritual knowledge available to us. This knowledge is the foundation for personal faith, and the more knowledge we have, the easier it is to believe.

Faith is not a matter of believing what we do not know, but rather believing the evidence of what we do know. The 66 Topics within this website provide all the knowledge a person needs for a well-grounded theology and a strong personal faith.

OLD MISUNDERSTANDINGS ARE FADING AWAY

In earlier times, science and faith were often regarded as enemies. Religious people were intimidated by science and feared that it would challenge cherished beliefs. Scientists refused to deal with aspects of life which fell beyond the scope of time and space and which could not be physically measured, observed or repeated, and thus they operated only within a limited, closed system.

Increasingly, the modern world is being explained in terms of mathematical formulas, and the computer is accelerating scientific discovery by its ability to make extremely fast and complex computations. More and more, scientists who formerly dismissed the possibility of a God are now regarding him at least as the great cosmic mathematician. All around the world, especially since the collapse of communism, it's becoming increasingly untenable to say there's no God.

Scientists are realizing that design necessarily comes from intelligence, not chance. Religious people are realizing that science is just the discovery and application of God's physical laws. Today’s best educated people are students of both science and theology.

Here's a sampling of what the Bible says on this subject.

I Chronicles 28:9

Proverbs 8:17

Jeremiah 29:13

Hebrews 11:6
Everyone who truly seeks God will find him

For help, see Topic 29.

The most reasonable explanation for origin of the world is that God made it.

SCIENCE IS SILENT ON THE REAL ISSUE

Scientists do not address the real issue when they explain merely that the world started with a gigantic cosmic explosion. What fueled the explosion?

Science only explains how certain laws (where did the laws come from?) operate on physical matter (where did the matter come from?) to produce repeatable and verifiable results.

Even though there is change and development within species, everyone knows that stones never become plants and that plants never become animals. And if man is just an evolved animal as some claim, why doesn't archaeology reveal substantial evidence for a line of creatures (‘missing links’) in the evolutionary path between ape and man? To merely say that we evolved by natural process out of nothing for no reason is not a plausible explanation for our existence and purpose.

The Bible gives a comprehensive explanation. It says the world was created by God as part of a broad plan that’s still unfolding. It says God created the world in six distinct time periods, climaxed by creation of his supreme creature (human being), made in his own likeness. The Bible explains that at this present time (seventh period), God is now ‘resting’ – waiting for every human being to give a personal response – before commencing with the eighth and subsequent periods. Each individual's response now will determine how he will participate in the events of the coming periods.

Incidentally, this explanation answers one of the questions perplexing those who believe in natural evolution without God. These people cannot document the production of a single new animal species in nature, yet they’re documenting the extinction of hundreds of species. They’re experiencing what the Bible says: For six periods (as seen in the fossil record) God created, in the seventh period (present time) God is pausing, and in future periods God will resume his creative activity. In the future periods, God will involve human beings (with new and better bodies) in his new creations, provided that we decide in this lifetime that we want to participate with him, but he will completely abandon those who don't now choose to participate. The participation is called heaven; the abandonment is called hell.

NO ONE KNOWS WHEN THE WORLD BEGAN

Hundreds of year ago some well-meaning people – including Archbishop Ussher, who wrote margin notes in the King James translation of the Bible – attempted to use family genealogies in the Bible to estimate the age of the world. Their understanding at that time was very flawed, and they calculated an age of 4,000 to 6,000 years. Because of their comments printed in the margins, many people have been led to believe that the Bible states an unbelievably low number for age of the world, but in fact the Bible does not give any dates, or any method of calculating dates, for any of God's creative acts.

It’s not necessary to have answers to all the questions of origin in order to continue our inquiry about God and his plan. It would be interesting to know what method and timing he used in making the world – if indeed anyone were intelligent enough to comprehend it – but the only important thing to understand is that GOD DID IT!

WITH ANY VIEW, IT’S A MATTER OF FAITH

‘Faith’ is trust and confidence in someone or something when unequivocal proof is not possible. Faith does not mean subjectively deciding that something is true, but rather seeing a reality which can hardly be denied.

Everyone knows that a considerable amount of faith is needed in life, even for simple matters like planning tomorrow's schedule (will tomorrow come?), reading a map (is it drawn correctly?), or sitting in a chair (will it hold me?). On important issues, where the risk is high, we usually try to get as much evidence as possible so our ‘leap of faith’ can be shortened.

In some matters – like what we believe about origin of the universe – we need considerable faith, whatever our conclusion, because our understanding is so limited.

One person says, ‘You cannot prove that God made the universe.’ Another says, ‘You cannot prove that God didn't make the universe.’ Both are right. It's not a matter of proof, but of faith.

A more meaningful question is: Does it take more faith to believe that the universe ‘just happened’ from nothing or to believe that it bears the marks of intelligent design?

CONSIDERATION:

Creation ‘day’ could be a long period of time!

The Bible says that God created the world in six ‘days.’ What he created on each of the days is specifically stated in the first book of the Bible and is summarized in Discovery 33.

Some people interpret the word ‘day’ to mean a literal 24-hour period. Others interpret it to mean an indefinite period of time, an age. From the word itself in the original manuscript (Hebrew, ‘yowm’) it’s impossible to tell which meaning is intended, since the word is used both ways in the Bible, just as it is used both ways in common usage today.

If God is capable of creating a universe at all, it’s not difficult to believe that he could create it in six 24-hour periods. Even though scientific carbon dating methods show geological ages to be millions of years, that is irrelevant because God could have created the world with built-in ‘apparent age’ (as the first man an adult rather than a baby, a tree rather than a seed, etc.), thus confounding all attempts to put the world in our time frame.

Most scholars believe that ‘day’ in the creation account is more than 24 hours. Here are some reasons for their conclusion:

  • An interval of time greater than 24 hours must have occurred between the creation of Adam and the creation of Eve. The Bible says that, before Eve, God gave man the assignment of viewing and naming every living creature that God had made. It’s not likely that all of Adam's experiences and loneliness in Genesis 2:15-22 could have been crowded into the daylight portion of 24 hours.
  • Genesis 2:4 says that this is the record of the day (yowm) when God created the heavens and the earth. Since the previous chapter said there were six days involved in creating the heavens and earth, usage of the word must necessarily mean more than 24 hours.
  • The concept of a calendar day (24 hour period) did not even originate until the fourth day (yowm).
  • The description of each of God's first six days ends with a poetic formula – ‘And there was evening, and there was morning’ (a distinct ending after a distinct beginning) – except for the seventh day (yowm), which implies that the seventh period has not yet come to an end.
  • The Bible refers to the next major time period in God's plan as the ‘day of the Lord.’ It’s clear from II Thessalonians 2:1-3 that this day (yowm) is longer than 24 hours.

Here's a sampling of what the Bible says on this subject.

Genesis 1:1-2:3
God created the universe

Psalms 19:1
Skies proclaim God's work

John 1:1-3
God made everything

Hebrews 11:3
Universe was formed at God's command

Acts 14:16-17
We all witness what God has made

Romans 1:17-20
By faith, but considerable evidence

For help, see Topic 29.

The universe could not ‘just happened.’ There must be a designer (God).

TWO BASIC VIEWS OF HOW THE UNIVERSE BEGAN

We live in a universe of mind-boggling intricacy and complexity. There are two basic views on how it all began:

  • The universe ‘just happened’
  • The universe is the result of super-human design

Many people say we just can’t know how it began, and therefore a “just happened’ view of origin is sufficient. However, that puts an end to inquiry and seems as foolish as a person refusing to acknowledge the electronic engineering in his television set unless he knows how and when it was made.

A person can recognize, appreciate and benefit from design without fully understanding it. The mere existence of the universe is evidence enough of its amazing design.

BECAUSE THERE’S DESIGN, THERE MUST BE A DESIGNER

The universe bears ample evidence of design. This conclusion does NOT come from faith, but from reason.

For most people, it takes too much faith to believe that everything, including all life forms, could be the result of mere chance. It’s by common sense – not by faith – that most people conclude that there’s a master design plan.

From the conclusion that there is design in the universe, it logically follows that there must be a designer. Obviously, a designer greater than any human being.

Who? Generally people use the broad and universal name ‘GOD’ (Almighty Being).

PEOPLE INSTINCTIVELY KNOW THERE’S A GOD

It gives some assurance to know that most people have arrived at the conclusion that there's an Almighty Being. While majority opinion does not guarantee truth, it does lend support.

Believing in God is not only a logical thing to do; it’s also a natural thing to do. Most people, at all times and in all cultures, instinctively know there’s a God. This knowledge seems to be built right into us.

WHO DESIGNED GOD? WHAT’S HIS BEGINNING?

To our human way of thinking, everything must have a beginning. To say that God designed the universe begs the following question: Who designed him? And that begs yet another question: Is our God a creation of – and subordinate to – a greater deity or deities. We could push these questions to infinite regress.

The fact is that we don’t know the answers and we don’t have the capacity to comprehend at that level even if we were told. What's important – and what we can comprehend now – is that there’s a single God directly over us and he's told us everything we need to know at this point in time. What he's told us – recorded in the Bible – is explained and referenced in this website.

Every person must decide for himself whether to follow a humanistic way of life or a theistic way of life. It’s like a fork in the road. A person who chooses the humanistic way doesn't make room for God in his life and sees the universe as a quirk of chance. A person who chooses the theistic way desires to know God and sees the universe as part of a marvelous unfolding plan that has dimensions which exceed our present ability to understand.

We’re now limited to living and thinking in only three and a half dimensions – length, width, height and (forward only) time – but actually there are many more dimensions of reality. Eventually, in heaven, we'll have the privilege and capacity to understand these more complex dimensions and get answers to all our questions.

LIMITATIONS OF LINEAR THOUGHT PROCESS

This resource is written in the format of western analytical thought. It’s important to recognize that not everyone receives and processes information – especially spiritual information – in this way.

Most people, particularly in other parts of the world, do not think and report in a linear thought pattern (logically and systematically from A to Z, using the shortest route and fewest words). An analytical approach is efficient for conveying information to the mind but leaves much to be desired for communicating emotion to the heart.

Most people, even in the United States, think and report instead in a circular thought pattern (hovering around key ideas, expressing and re-expressing them in different ways for emphasis and retention). Most spiritual expression – including the Bible – is in circular rather than linear style.

However, this site is written in linear style because it’s the way most managerial and professional people have been trained to think.

The reader should be careful not to allow the style to filter emotion from the content. For example, it should be more than just a dispassionate observation that God designed a universe! The very thought of such wisdom and power should send shivers through us. It should arouse an intense curiosity about what God had in mind for us in this design!

Here's a sample of what the Bible says on this subject.

Romans 1:18-32
All people have knowledge of God by observing his creation

For help, see Topic 29.

I shall always be convinced that a watch proves a watchmaker, and that a universe proves a God.

– Voltaire

Nothing is more important than understanding the reason for our existence.

THE MOST IMPORTANT QUESTIONS IN LIFE

Philosophers throughout the ages have not been able to pose any questions more discerning than these three:

  • Who am I?
  • Why am I here?
  • Where am I going?

We can never rise higher than what we believe. Our beliefs shape our attitudes, motivations and behaviors.

Our existence is essentially empty and meaningless without clear beliefs arising from a careful personal investigation into the meaning and purpose of life.

SINCERITY IS GOOD, BUT NOT GOOD ENOUGH

Everyone’s betting his life on the accuracy of what he believes. Belief alone, no matter how sincere, is not enough. A person can be very sincere, yet be sincerely wrong. We need to be right, not just sincere.

WE NEED TO THINK FOR OURSELVES

Most people are not well informed or objective in spiritual matters. Their beliefs are usually little more than blind acceptance of limited, and often erroneous, information provided by family, friends and clergymen. They usually quote each other without personal investigation or critical thought, often mistaking opinion for fact.

The big issues in life – Who am I? Why am I here? Where am I going? – are too crucial to ignore or to defer to the thinking and conclusions of others.

Everyone should pause at least once in a lifetime to carefully examine, independently, what life is all about and to develop reasoned personal beliefs about these issues.

A wise person will be willing to alter what he has been taught to believe – or what he is expected to believe – if the evidence from his own search leads to new and more accurate understanding.

TODAY'S RESPONSE TO GOD AFFECTS US FOREVER

A measure of a person's wisdom and maturity is how far out in time he can plan and work. Here's a question that puts things in perspective:

Will what I do today make any difference to me 100 years from now?

Nothing we can think about today could possibly be more important than thinking about what's going to happen to us after we die. Over the long run, most thoughts really don't matter very much, but how we think about God – and how we respond to him – affects us forever.

The worst tragedy of all is when a person spends his life thinking and working on things that have no lasting significance, never discovering the reason for his existence and never preparing for life beyond the grave. Then accident or illness suddenly claims his life, sealing his eternal destiny, and forever he will regret never having listened to God while there was still time.

It's dangerous to let another day slip by without accepting God’s offer of new life. It's a one-time decision that will be the difference between heaven and hell. Nothing is more important.

LOOKING GOOD ON THE OUTSIDE, BUT EMPTY INSIDE

We may be able to fool others into thinking that all is going well, but we can't fool ourselves. Even when things look good on the outside, life can be empty on the inside, as illustrated by these comments:

‘I am president of the company, but I do not know who I am.’

‘I have a PhD, but I do not know what I believe.’

‘I am famous, but I am lonely.’

‘I am a millionaire, but I am not happy.’

It’s part of the human experience to be engulfed at times with feelings of restlessness and futility. This happens when we discover, sooner or later, that power, esteem and affluence cannot satisfy the real craving of the soul.

These feelings – sometimes described as spiritual hunger – can actually be good for us if they prompt spiritual inquiry, because the inquiry can lead to new life.

IT'S TIME FOR PERSONAL INQUIRY

Nearly everyone determines that at some time he’ll make a careful investigation into spiritual matters – about the purpose of life, about God, about the Bible, about the here-after – and that he will develop a solid personal theology to be the underpinning for his life.

But for most people, this never happens because such a comprehensive inquiry is pushed forward from day to day, month to month, year to year. Usually, people die without ever doing it.

The reason most people never get to the big issue is because they don’t know where to begin. Without some help and organization, swirling spiritual thoughts can become mind-boggling and inconclusive.

That’s why this resource was written. It gives an inquirer a framework for identifying and working through the issues one-by-one, and it shows the conclusions of others who have gone through the same investigation process; plus it gives citations to the Bible as an aid for personal research.

Anyone who reads and understands the 66 Topics presented within this website will, in the process, develop a strong personal theology. He’ll know who he is in relationship to God and others, and he’ll know his eternal destiny. Everything about life will become much clearer, accompanied by a heightened sense of self worth and purpose.

SPIRITUAL DISCOVERY IS EXCITING

Some people regard the spiritual dimension of life as mysterious and even frightening, something to avoid if possible. Others regard it as an exhilarating new frontier to be explored.

Actually, there are two sides of it: the dark side and the light side. This site shows both sides, including, on the dark side, the grip of sin and the horror of hell. But emphasis here is on the light side – the good news that God will forgive our sin, empower us from within, and give us heaven rather than hell… all at no cost, right now. There’s no dark side if we truly understand and accept God's gift. It’s downright exciting!

The reader should view this website as discoveries along the way on a wonderful spiritual adventure.

Here's a sampling of what the Bible says on this subject.

Romans 6:25-34
Food, clothes and such are not the biggest issues in life

Matthew 16:24-28
Nothing is more important than the eternal destiny of our soul

For help, see Topic 29.