WHY DO I BELIEVE ...
A SKEPTIC'S GUIDE TO CHRISTIANITY
This essay is going to change your life -- One way or another!
After you have read it, you will have been exposed to God's plan of
Salvation. You will be accountable to God, and and you will have to
make a decision. The answer will either be YES, NO, or NO DECISION.
(Realize, though, that failure to make a decision is the same as
The purpose of this essay is to provide a guide to the worldly
skeptic to show that it is possible for a skeptic to accept the Word
of God, and to put his trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. In preparing
this essay, the following guidelines have been observed:
1. There will be as few DIRECT scripture quotes from the Bible as
possible, since the skeptic non-believer will probably not believe
that the Bible is the true word of God.
2. Other than right now, I will not tell you that your soul is in
mortal danger if you are not saved by the precious blood of Jesus,
because the worldly skeptic will not believe it. The skeptic believes
that Heaven and Hell do not exist, or that if they do exist, a God of
Love will certainly not condemn "good" people to eternal damnation.
(Please refer to the "warning message above to determine if you wish
3. The author WILL use the Bible, and ask God's direction in the
preparation of this effort.
QUALIFICATIONS OF THE AUTHOR
Simply a Born-Again Christian who was, and still is, a skeptic.
One who, although he has absolute faith in the Lord Jesus Christ,
still feels obligated to question and investigate claims made by
church leaders and Biblical interpreters. One who had to deal
intellectually with many of these issues prior to putting faith in the
teachings of Christianity, and accepting Jesus as his personal savior.
The author is expressing his views alone, based upon his own
religious experience and his interpretation of the Bible, and not
necessarily the views of any other group of Christians or church
First let me start by saying that I have been a "cynic" and a
"skeptic" for most of my adult life. I have chosen to accept the
cynics' view of the world, in that, prior to becoming a Christian, I
had to be shown the logic, and the proof of whatever I chose to
believe. I took pride in looking for the "real motive" behind what
people said and did. Now that I am a Christian, I find that I am
still a skeptic. The main difference is that I now accept the Bible
on faith alone, and have accepted the Lord as my personal savior. The
skeptic portion in me "pops-up" when I hear an interpretation of the
Bible that doesn't sound right, when I hear Christian accounts that go
against the Word of God, and when I see Evangelical Christians -- the
ones who should know better -- behaving in a way that hurts the body
of Christ. Jesus must be heart-broken at times when he watches His
people behaving in ways that go against His Spirit!
HOW CAN A LOVING GOD COMMIT PEOPLE TO ETERNAL DAMNATION?
It is important to realize that God is not only a Loving God, but
also a Jealous and a Righteous God. As such, he is NOT WILLING to
exist in the presence of Sin. What this means is that He has
established absolute laws regarding sin and unrighteousness. Thus,
anyone who does not meet the standards of righteousness cannot come to
be in His presence. This is an important concept -- perhaps one of the
most important to understand. Under the old laws (Old Testament),
some sort of sacrifice was required -- generally the shedding of blood
through an animal sacrifice -- as a means of forgiving sin. Every
time a sin was committed, the person would have to sacrifice another
animal. (This is a practice that is still present in many of the
other religions of the world today). The shedding of blood is
necessary because, in God's realm, the only reward of sin is death.
This in itself, however, was insufficient because very few people were
able to follow the law to the letter, and were therefore not
acceptable to be in the presence of God. In addition, it seems that
whenever God tried to send a prophet to tell the people of the time
how to behave, the "powers-that-be" of those times usually found some
reason to stone, torture, ridicule, exile, and/or kill the messenger.
This seems to have been the pattern throughout the Old Testament, up
to AND INCLUDING Jesus Christ. Because God loves us, and He knows
that we are unrighteous, He sent, as a last resort, His Son - Jesus
Christ - to be a final sacrifice for the sins of mankind. In other
words, animal sacrifices would no longer be necessary. All that would
now be necessary would be to ACCEPT the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus,
based on faith, and we would be cleansed, (given a "pardon", as it
were), thus making us acceptable to God.
An example of this in everyday life is the "hot potato." If a
child goes to take a bite of a hot potato, his mother will try to warn
him that it is hot! If the child persists in taking a full bite,
he'll burn his tongue. God's law is similar. He says that He will
not permit the unrighteous to be in His presence. Knowing that we are
incapable of being righteous, He sent the Lord. Our choice is not
unlike the hot potato. If we ignore his warning, we will get burned!
SUMMARY: Although our God is a loving God, he is also a righteous
God. As such, He WILL NOT TOLERATE being in the presence of sin.
WHAT IS SIN?
Since sin is the basis of this whole problem (ie: if there
weren't sin, we wouldn't need salvation), we should probably devote a
little space to the subject. The following is a list of some of the
activities God has stated that he views as sinful. Without Salvation,
any one of them will cause us to go to Hell:
Although most of us don't go around murdering people, how many of
the other sins noted above do you regularly indulge in -- (Often
without even thinking of it as a sin?). In todays liberal age, many
of these sins occur so frequently, that people tend to not even
notice. But God DOES, and He finds it displeasing!
WHAT IS HELL?
In view of the previous section, this question is appropriate at
There have been many interpretations and suggestions regarding
Hell and "eternal damnation". I would offer the following
I feel that Hell is a spiritual, rather than a physical
phenomenon. There have been references to the "Lake of Fire", and
other references to "heat" and "burning". However, one of the most
frequent quotes pertaining to the non-believer's punishment is
"weeping" and "gnashing of teeth." Therefore, I humbly suggest that
the final punishment is eternal remorse, anguish, and helplessness due
to the spirit (soul) being separated from God. I base this on the
belief that everyone's spirit LONGS to be in the presence of God.
(Even the spirit belonging to the sinner. Unfortunately, the sinner
just doesn't know it). The ultimate punishment for non-repentant sin
is the eternal separation of the person's soul from the presence of
ANGUISH -- is an excellent adjective to describe what I have
attempted to point out above. We have all had instances in our lives
when we have felt true anguish. For instance, talk about "weeping"
and "gnashing of teeth":
- A loved one is killed in a car accident. "WHAT IF.... he had only
left home several minutes later, he would still be alive!"
- "I knew I had too much to drink last night. WHY DID..... I have to
prove that I could drink and still drive safely. Now I have to live
with the memory of that child I killed for the rest of my life!"
- A front door to the house is left open, and a loved pet runs out
into the street and is hit by a car. "IF ONLY..... I had closed the
- Possibly the most common example: A loved one is suddenly dead.
"IF ONLY.... I had told her how much I loved her -- Now I will never
have the chance!"
I'm sure you have your own examples to draw from. Now imagine
that anguish being carried for ETERNITY with no chance of relieving
it, and nothing else to think about to get your mind off of it, even
temporarily. This brings us to the truly ultimate "If Only.....":
- "IF ONLY..... I had accepted the Lord as my Personal Savior when I
had the chance! Now it's too late!!!"
Mr. Skeptic, please excuse me for a moment while I speak to any
Believing Christians who may be reading this:
Fellow Christian, may I add a special message to you at this
point: The ultimate "WHAT-IF...." for a Christian must be:
At the final judgment, while you are heading toward heaven, you
pass several of your un-saved former friends and acquaintances who are
heading toward their final area. They say to you: "Why didn't you
tell us? We knew you were a Christian, but you never tried to
seriously warn us of the consequences. Sure, we teased and made fun
of you, but all you ever did was quote Bible Scripture. You never
REALLY explained! NEVER........WHY????? IF ONLY.... YOU HAD TRIED
IS SATAN ALIVE AND WELL AND EARNING HIS KEEP?
This is probably the easiest question to answer. All I have to
say to you is: LOOK AROUND! I won't even talk about the increasing
popularity of Satanism, the magical arts, and Witchcraft. Look at the
overall human condition:
- Have you noticed how many burglar alarm companies are doing business
- There are actually organizations which openly encourage "Man-Boy"
- The Police are almost universally unable to keep up with crime in
- When was the last time that you felt comfortable leaving the door to
your home unlocked.?
- When was the last time you felt comfortable walking down a lonely
street at night?
- When was the last time that you left a package in your car while
shopping in a shopping center, and didn't lock your door?
- Have you noticed the resurgence of racism and militancy?
- Have you noticed the statistics on how many Americans feel they must
own a handgun for protection?
- Casual (recreational) drug use is now acceptable, and seems to be
becoming the norm.
- The family is the center of Christian life, as well as society as we
know it. Have you noticed the divorce rate, as well as the number of
- etc., etc., etc., etc., etc., etc., etc., etc., etc.
Whether you call him Satan, the Devil, Evil, -- WHATEVER -- you
cannot deny that there is an extremely unsavory factor becoming
prominent in our lives.
WILL JEWS AND OTHER NON-CHRISTIANS GO TO HEAVEN
WHAT MAKES YOU THINK THAT YOU HAVE THE ONLY ANSWERS?
This is the question that will most often be asked by the
skeptic, and it is a valid one. To answer this, one must take several
factors into consideration:
A Christian is NOT permitted to be the "judge and jury" of
others. That is God's role, not ours. The only answer to the
question of who will go to heaven is "I don't know!" That is also the
only valid answer to the question, even if answered by a skeptic.
This is one of those areas in which you must refer to the Bible for
JEWS: They are God's chosen people. I believe that they have the
option of following the "Old Laws" (which is VERY difficult), or
turning to Christ.
Members of Eastern (Pagan) Religions: The Bible (Both New and Old
Testament) specifically prohibits the worshipping of idols, as well as
such activities as sorcery and witchcraft. You can make your own
assumptions based on that.
Those who have NEVER been exposed to Christianity: Unfortunately, the
only honest answer to this is "I don't know!" This is between God and
that individual. The New Testament is very clear, though, in that
"The only way to the Father is through the Son".
The only categories of people in which a Christian can give a
definite answer are:
- Unrepentant sinners who have heard the Message of Salvation: They
are going to Hell! No question about it. (This covers the vast
majority of the western population, as well as anyone who has read
- Sinners who have accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as their Personal
Savior will go to Heaven.
This is a difficult topic to discuss, because no one wants to
hear bad news. I hope, however, that this explanation has helped to
some degree, or will at least spark some serious thought.
At this point, I would like to add a special note to Teachers and
Ministers of the Christian Faith: Remember, according to the Bible,
you will be held accountable to a higher standard than the rest of us.
I pray you will conduct yourselves accordingly.
CAN HOMOSEXUALS BE SAVED?
"God loves the sinner, but hates the sin." On that basis, yes
indeed a homosexual can be Saved. As with all of us, in order to be
saved, the person must acknowledge that he is a sinner (not just in
his homosexual behavior, but in all aspects of his life), ask the Lord
for forgiveness, and accept Jesus Christ as his personal Savior. The
question of homosexuality will then become one that the individual
must deal with directly with God through his belief in Jesus Christ.
The Bible states very clearly throughout the Old and New Testaments
that Homosexuality is abnormal and is sinful behavior. As such, the
individual may feel compelled to change his activity. The most
important part is for the Homosexual to accept Christ. Once that is
done, it is up to the homosexual to seek The Lords' help and guidance.
As in the previous question, no one, especially a Christian, is
in a position to judge whether or not a SAVED Homosexual is going to
Heaven or Hell. We only know that an UN-SAVED Homosexual WILL go
directly to Hell!
EVOLUTION -- FACT OR FICTION
Many skeptics point to the theory of Evolution as being proof
positive that the Biblical version of Creation is "hogwash." Some
Christians, in turn, point to Genesis and the Biblical version of
Creation, and state that, therefore, Evolution is "hogwash", and that
anyone who believes in Evolution is "going to Hell".
My thoughts on the subject are rather simple and straight to the
point. I am a Born-Again Christian, I believe that the Bible is the
True and un-faltering Word of God, I believe in the Saving Grace of
the Lord Jesus Christ, I believe in the evolutionary process, and I
know I am going to Heaven. Now, how can I say all that and still
maintain any kind of credibility? Easy!
For a long time, this was a stumbling block to my acceptance of
Christianity. There are MANY convincing scientific arguments in favor
of portions of the evolutionary process. Who is to say that God did
not utilize what we describe as evolution in his ultimate plan of
creation. Genesis does NOT go into great detail as to the mechanics
of creation. All it says, basically, is that God created the universe
in six days, and rested on the seventh. In Genesis, it states:
"...Let the land produce living creatures...", and then "...The
Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground..."
It is possible, then, that these passages indicate a common
originality of men and other living creatures. (A quick note to any
Christians who may be reading this: I realize these are partial
quotations, and that there are many other interpretations of these
passages. My point is that certain portions of evolution could
certainly have been a factor). In addition, there is no reference as
to how much time one day actually was. It could very possibly have
been eons, and enough time to support the evolutionary process.
My belief, therefore, is that Evolution -- UNDER GOD'S DIRECTION
-- is a viable explanation.
The important point is that this issue is, essentially,
UNIMPORTANT! What is important is the personal relationship with
Jesus that comes after you have accepted Him as your personal Lord and
Savior. Unfortunately, too many non-believers base their non-belief
on their assumption that The Bible and the Evolutionary Theory are
incompatible, and too many Christians over-react and support that
viewpoint. This then becomes a needless stumbling block to accepting
AIDS -- IS IT THE WRATH OF GOD?
DISTRIBUTION OF CLEAN NEEDLESS -- SHOULD WE OR SHOULDN'T WE?
The question of Aids is one that cuts to the core of Human
Sexuality, Morals, Compassion, and Religious Beliefs. What I am about
to say is MY OPINION, and other Christians may or may not agree with
First, I do not believe that God has purposely inflicted any
specific individuals with the Aids virus. I do feel, however, that
certain actions were set into place since the time of Adam and Eve.
Could this be a sign of the end-times? I don't know -- but it is a
The role of the Christian in these matters is NOT TO JUDGE! Our
role is to provide compassion to the victims, and to continue to
spread the Good News of the Lord Jesus Christ to them, while they are
still in a position to hear and accept the Word.
Regarding the question of the distribution of clean needles to
drug addicts, I definitely agree. Let me state clearly that I
certainly do not condone drug abuse, and I certainly have no desire to
make their illicit activity any easier to pursue. Unfortunately, the
reality of the situation is that a drug addict is going to continue
shooting up drugs - either with clean, or with dirty, needles. Since
IV drug abuse is one of the leading causes of the spread of Aids, I
sincerely feel that we must do whatever we can to control the spread.
The role of the Christian, again, is, DO NOT JUDGE! There have
been arguments raised that Jesus is the only answer, and that the
distribution of needles goes against the teachings of Christ. The
fact that Jesus is the only answer is a valid argument. However,
unless a drug addict accepts Christ, he is probably going to keep on
shooting drugs, and spreading the disease. Therefore, our obligation
is to try to limit the spread of the disease while we also try to
salvage the junkie's soul for Jesus.
EVANGELICAL PREACHERS WHO FALL FROM GRACE
LOVE 'EM OR SHOOT 'EM?
My answer to this is: BOTH! - but more about that later.
I sincerely feel that these "Tele-Evangelists" are, for the most
part, sincere people who are preaching the Word of God accurately.
However, as with all of us, Power Corrupts! It is not surprising to
me that someone who once had a clear vision can become contaminated
with money, greed, power, fame, and all of the other material things
that most of us would find desirable.
Many Christians, (myself included), don't care for the "show-
like" atmosphere of the TV Evangelists. They have, however, brought
many, many people to Christ. Therefore, it is a ministry that must
survive. Perhaps the recent events of "fallen evangelists" was to be
expected, and may even have a positive effect on that ministry. Just
maybe, there will be an increase in accountability, as well as more of
an attempt to include Jesus in the marketing plans!
Now, as for my answer to the original question; as I said, my
answer is BOTH! As human beings with the same weaknesses, frailties,
etc. that we all have, we must offer them our love, compassion and our
prayers to help them get through their personal tragedies. On the
same token, the Human part of my being would like to "shoot 'em" for
what they have done to the recent credibility of the church. But
remember, as I stated earlier, "God loves the Sinner, but hates the
Sin!". So, then, should we!
ARE ATHEISTS "FOOLISH" OR ON THE RIGHT TRACK?
This is a topic that is bound to raise some eyebrows. To answer
the question "are atheists "foolish" or on the right track, my answer
has to be NEITHER!
First, no one's opinion (assuming it is one that has been
reasoned through, and is not presented just to get a "reaction")
should ever be considered foolish. In fact, in the eyes of God, we
are all judged on a relatively black and white basis -- with very few
shades of gray. As such, the atheist is no worse off than any other
non-repentant sinner. Therefore, if one chooses not to accept the
Lord, what is the difference if he is an agnostic, an atheist, a
witch, etc. The atheist, at least, will tend not to be a hypocrite.
However, I must admit that I have difficulty understanding the
beliefs of an atheist. Prior to being saved, I categorized myself as
an agnostic. I felt there was a higher power, but didn't choose to
call it a "God." I felt that there had to be a higher power, because
how else could we explain the overall "order" of the universe. I
simply felt that this "power" was uninvolved, uncaring, and probably
more or less inanimate. My main disagreement with the atheists (prior
to my being Born Again as a Christian), was that I couldn't comprehend
that EVERYTHING was an accident, and that man is the ultimate being.
(If man really is the ultimate being, we are ALL in serious trouble).
MUST YOU BE IN AN "EMOTIONAL" STATE IN ORDER TO ACCEPT CHRIST
CAN YOU OBTAIN SALVATION RATIONALLY AND OBJECTIVELY?
Many Christians come to the Lord during a profound personal
crisis. Such life events as serious illnesses and accidents in the
family, job losses, children in trouble, etc. generally cause people
to look to God for help. At these times, people are very receptive,
and hence the term "foxhole salvations." This can be a true spiritual
experience in which the person truly accepts the Lord as his personal
savior, or it can be a transient decision; one that will be renounced
If a person, on the other hand, chooses to intellectually
investigate the teachings of Christ, read the Bible, compare known
historical events with those recorded in the Bible, he can indeed make
a rational decision to be Saved. All that the Bible teaches that is
required for Salvation is:
1. Acknowledgment that you are a sinner and in need of salvation.
(Please refer back to the list of sins to see if you qualify). Even
if you are a "nice person," if you volunteer your time and money to
the poor, if you never steal, rape, murder, or cheat on your wife, you
are still a sinner in God's eyes.
2. You must believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that He
was was placed on earth by God in order to become the ultimate
sacrifice so that we would than be acceptable to God.
3. You must pray to God, through Jesus Christ, for forgiveness, by
accepting the sacrifice He made. I have included a "sample salvation"
prayer at the end of this text that you may find helpful.
Skeptic, if you feel a "tug", the feeling that "maybe there is a
little something more to this then I thought," I would like to point
out the following:
- The Bible says that all you need is a "mustard seed's" worth of
faith to be saved.
- God PROMISES that all who searches him, in earnest, will find him,
through Jesus Christ.
- If you feel that you have that "mustard seed" worth of faith, but
are afraid of looking "foolish" to your friends, family, or
acquaintances, then don't make a public commitment. In the privacy of
your bedroom, when the rest of the family is out of the house, try to
pray. Tell God that you are taking him at his word, that you have a
mustard seed's worth of faith, that you are a sinner, and that you
want to accept Christ into your life. The worst that will happen is
that you will look foolish to yourself. The best that will happen
will be an overall sense of well-being, as well as eternal protection
for your spirit.
The following prayer, if spoken with SINCERITY and FROM THE HEART
is the first step toward a life-long walk with God, the forgiveness of
Sin, and eternal salvation. (Remember that the exact words aren't as
important as the thoughts and feelings involved):
"Heavenly Father, As I now pray to you in earnest, I confess my
sins before you and acknowledge that I am unworthy of your presence.
I ask your forgiveness in the name of Jesus Christ, your Son who came
to earth to die so that I may live!
I confess my sins with my lips, and accept Jesus as my Savior in
Father, I have only a "mustard seed" worth of faith, but Your
Word assures me that this is all that I need. I ask that you help me
to realize the reality of Jesus Christ, to build this seed of faith
into a small seedling, and to ultimately become a Strong Tree of
I ask this in the Name of the Lord, Jesus Christ, whom I now
accept as my personal Savior!" Amen!
If you do what I have recommended, don't expect a sudden "Surge
of the Spirit." Although it can happen, chances are likely that it
won't. What will happen is that, very likely, you won't feel very
different at all. In fact, you may wonder the next day why you "tried
it." If you are serious, then you must start reading the Bible.
There are many modern day translations (The New International Version
or the New American Standard are two translations that are easy to
read without the traditional "thee's and thou's."), and who's accuracy
has been verified. Read the New Testament (it really isn't that
difficult, given todays easier reading translations). Pray daily --
pray to God, through Jesus Christ (ie: "In the name of Jesus"). Try
to talk with other Christians that you know who have had backgrounds
similar to yours. Don't expect miracles or magic tricks. Just do
this for a while, and, if you are serious, you will begin to sense
subtle changes. God will send His Holy Spirit to comfort you. You
may actually begin to enjoy going to church. (I used to dislike it
immensely, now I truly enjoy it). Choose a church that preaches the
"Full Gospel!" (There are many, many churches listed in the yellow
pages, but not all of them are "alive". Avoid a church that only has
services Sunday Morning. Churches that are "Alive with God's Spirit"
will have spiritual activities going on throughout the week!). Watch
out for Cults! Religions such as Jehovahs Witnesses, The Unification
Church, The Mormon Church, and others ARE NOT Christian. Believe it
or not, you will even begin to enjoy reading the Bible! Remember,
Satan will try to make you renounce what you have done. He will
attempt to make you feel that what you did was indeed foolish. Part
of your daily prayers should be a periodic renouncement of Satan, and
prayer that God will help you to continue to develop a full sense of
the Holy Spirit.
Being a Born-Again Christian is rather like having an intimate
friend who is always with you. Once you develop a relationship with
Jesus, He is someone you can talk to in your car, in the shower,
wherever.... You will develop an inner peace that you didn't think
Once you understand the REAL sacrifice He made, you will begin to
realize how relatively unimportant many of the everyday affairs are
that used to get you angry. Consider that He was in human form, and
DIDN'T REALLY WANT to face the pain, ridicule, and torment of
crucifixion (He even prayed to God to ask Him if He was sure He really
wanted Him to go through with it!). He was so upset about the
upcoming events that HE ACTUALLY SWEAT BLOOD while praying in the
Garden of Gethsemane. When you think about that, as a believer, than
the fact that your boss is giving you a hard time over work becomes
I have spent many hours trying to develop this essay and have
done much self-introspection. I have tried to answer many of the
questions that were stumbling blocks to me prior to being Saved. I
prefaced this effort as a "Skeptics' Guide to Christianity," and said
I would refrain from using direct scripture quotations (although I
guess I really did once or twice). What I have found is that, after
all of the discussions, investigations, and intellectual decisions,
the final answer is faith. That is one area that, as a skeptic, I
cannot argue or prove. After the skeptic has considered all of the
data, he has to make a decision. The decision is to either reject the
Lord, or to acknowledge that "mustard seed of faith."
I hope this effort will be useful in helping others reach the
In The Name of Our Lord, Jesus Christ.
C/O Maranatha BBS
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