Rev. Hong Shunqiang
Some have asked, “God doesn’t give me faith, yet He commands me to believe in Him, isn’t He being unreasonable?” Or, “God should not judge me even when I die one day without believing in Him because He doesn’t give me faith.” And some said, “I think Christianity is good, and I want to believe, but I can’t because God doesn’t give me faith.” So is it God’s responsibility that people do not believe because He does not give them faith?
Man has an instinct of faith.
Firstly, let us talk about the origins of human spiritual beliefs. Indeed, faith is an instinct of man. What is instinct? Simply put, it is an inherent way of behaving, thinking, and feeling. For example, a child already could walk even before he begins to learn to walk. Babies know how to get up and walk not because their parents teach them to. Babies know how to turn around naturally a few months after birth, sit up and crawl soon after, and then stand and walk later on. Man is born with many other instincts, and faith is among them. We know how to exercise the instinct of faith to believe or not to believe from a young age. For instance, a little child instinctively trusts his parents to let them hug him. He also depends on and trusts that his parents will catch him even when he throws up in the air. But, when a stranger approaches and tries to hug the child, he immediately refuses to let the stranger hug him because he does not trust strangers. Again, this is an exercise of the instinct of faith.
People naturally use the instinct of faith to believe or not in everyday life. For example, when a person takes a bus, he will not ask the driver whether he knows how to drive that bus or whether he will get lost first. Instead, he just gets on the bus and looks for a seat. Because he has already exercised his instinct of faith, together with what he learned or knew in the past, when seeing the bus with the correct route number, he will take it. Who gives man this instinct of faith, though? As Christians, we know God created man; therefore, God provided the instinct of trust. God has also given man the instinct to believe in Him.
You may argue and say, “Well, as whether one believes or not is based on his response to what he knows and even what he experienced before, does God give man the knowledge to get to know Him?” But, dear friends, It is good that you ask! The Bible has already got answers for us! Romans1:19-20 says, “since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”
Man’s knowledge about God is seen everywhere in our daily lives. People often say, “There are gods only three feet above our heads.” Or “Somewhere, there is a master of fate.” Or, “He who is in desperation will call upon heaven.” Or ” What goes around comes around, evil or good.” Or even what Confucius said, “He who has sinned against heaven would have no one to whom he can pray.” All these clearly state that man has the knowledge to know God; the question is whether one is willing to believe.
Interesting examples of three atheists
Once, Nikita Khrushchev (1894-1971), former premier of the Soviet Union, went to the United Nations, and his flight landed at the airport in New York. When he exited the plane, an American reporter asked, ” Mr. Khrushchev, are you an atheist?” He responded, “Yes, I am an atheist .” The report remarked, “Who knows your heart? Maybe you said this only because you are a Communist Party member. On the other hand, maybe deep in your heart, you believe God exists.” Guess how did Khrushchev answer? He said, “God knows I am an atheist.” How did he know God knows his heart? It seems he even knew that God is omniscient.
Another example: everybody knows that Mao Zedong was an atheist. At the last moment before he died, he admitted twice to Edgar Snow, a pro-communist American reporter, “I am going to see God soon ” Did he not have the knowledge and belief of God?
The last example: you may also know that Lenin, the Father of the Nation of Soviet Russia, came to the end of his life when he was only in his 50s. This Father of the Nation took sick and admitted to the hospital. In the last stage of his life, he ordered to have all books removed from his ward except one – the Bible. When Lenin walked toward the end moment of his life, “Capital Theory” could not bring him peace. He did not even want to read his writings, the thick volumes of “ Selected Works of Lenin.” But once again, he picked up the Bible that he had thrown away when he was young and vibrant
Reasons for not believe
Why doesn’t man believe in God? There are many reasons, of course. Yet, the Bible points out the fundamental problem of man. Romans 1:21-23 says, ” For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.”
According to the general revelation, God has revealed through the great creation of nature and told the man a truth – God does exist. This universe has a Creator. And according to the specific revelation, God, through the God-breathed Bible and the incarnated Christ Jesus, let the man know that the truth of God’s existence is undeniable. As long as we are willing to get to know Jesus, we will discover He is not just a man. Didn’t He tell His disciples who knew Him most, “…I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves.” (John 14:6-11)
Dear friends, in John 17:3, the Bible says, “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” And Ephesians 2:8-9, it also says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God not by works, so that no one may boast.” Lord Jesus is the Savior who came to the world to fulfill the salvation for man. All you need is to willingly humble yourself and receive Jesus as your personal Saviour through the faith God has given you. Do not misuse this God-given faith not to believe and reject Him.
Writer: Rev. Hong Shunqiang, former Director-General of VCCSTM; present Director-General (duty) of IFSTM