The Link between Knowing and Believing
Being an engineering student, I have to face this problem all the time. We work with all these equations that theoretically must be true; some I would've even derived myself... I know these are true.
But then I have to ask the question: Do I believe in these equations? I mean, it is one thing to know that they have come from a reliable source, but in the end, if they are slightly wrong, I will be placing many lives at stake. In essence, do I really believe that in a matter of life and death that these equations will hold true? And for the most of cases I can say that I do.
Sometimes I ask this question about the other things in life. Being a Christian I can look throughout the world at the plants and life and everything else, and confidently say that there is enough evidence to say that I know only God could've made all this. Sometimes at night I like to look into space and fall in awe of the sheer scale of things; like the distances between stars and planets. It is amazing. And at the end of this I can also testify in my heart that I do believe, deep down; not just only in my mind that God created the heavens and the earth.
For other things, I don't find this situation quite fits the scenario at question, and more "frightfully" so too. Sometimes I pose the same question about a key part of my faith: I know that Jesus died on the cross to save me; I do believe deep down with all confidence in the scriptures when it tells us that this extraordinary act of love does lead to our forgiveness if we ask him into our life. However, when I ask deep down that if I died right now, would I go to heaven, sometimes I'm not so sure.
I suppose that it comes down me trying to believe that I can earn my way into heaven. I often feel like for forgiveness I need to ask the Lord to forgive me for each of my individual sins. I suppose that this situation is kind of a paradox: I know that this isn't quite how things work, but even still with this knowledge I try to produce acts that would lead to my justification. I have found that the required amount of these acts is unlimited; as in I can never justify myself through good deeds alone.
Death Being a Key Test
For me, a key test for whether or not salvation is mine lies in the scripture: Do I believe that 'to die is gain'? I mean, if we truly believe in salvation: our entering into heaven after death, we shouldn't really mind the concept of death since it means we go to a much better place.
Now it is very natural for humans to fear death, and I suppose that this is a primary factor that must be accounted for when answering this question. We are brought up being taught to try and make the most of life: to be successful and to gain prosperity in all its forms. As a result of this type of upbringing I can imagine why the thought of losing all we have accomplished can be a very daunting thing. And I suppose that the fear of pain and the mystery of things to follow alongside this is enough to make most people scepticalof this idea of death being a good thing.
For most people I suppose the real problem is they find it hard to comprehend that an invisible world out there exists. For me though, I have been blessed that I have seen a myriad of miracles in my life, so I think that my main issue isn't about the existence of some alternate, invisible world, but more having to compensate God for what he has given me.
Sometimes I feel that the only way that I could compensate for the wrongs that I have committed is to lay down my life teaching the word of God or on account of my faith. I suppose it is a good thing that I try to serve the Lord through this ideology, but once again I know that this isn't quite how things work.
So the question lies: Have I missed the whole point of Christianity or am I just temporarily deluded, still having attained salvation though these doubts still linger inside.
I don't know, but perhaps it is a question more of us need to think about. For me, I already know that I will experience troubled times of all sorts in my life...
It is written "Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." (Philippians 1 verse 6) So when it comes down to the chopping block, I put my faith in God's promise: not my own beliefs, because in the end, I know that whatever reservations I may have aren't warranted.
Tim Robertson is from Sydney and is studying engineering at UNSW
Tim Robertson's previous articles may be found at www.pressserviceinternational.org/tim-robertson.html