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Who is God and who am I? There are so many religions all claiming to be true and saying different things about humans. Which is true?
Thank you for your enquiry - there is much to talk about in your question, but I believe it can be helpfully summarised in two simpler, but incredibly profound questions - 1. Who is God? and 2. Who am I? I will deal with both of these questions briefly in this answer, and hope that what we look at will be of great help to you in your search for the true God, and a real relationship with Him.
Question 1 - Who is God?
The first thing to say is that you are exactly right when you say that there are many different gods mentioned in the world. In fact if you just take the Hindu religion on its own there are well over 3 million different gods, or incarnations of god as they may call them.
There are some who would say that the amazing diversity in the beliefs of humanity regarding the identity of god is there just to showcase the diversity that there is in the human race, and that all of these expressions of god have something in them that points to the reality of god. However, if this was the case, surely all of these different expressions of god would have a unity running right through them, and would even complement and point to each other if they all came from the same source.
What we actually find though is that there is very little compatibility at all - when it comes to the central teachings of all the major world religions (Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism), all of them are fighting for your attention, and tell us that if what they have is the truth, then all the others cannot be so - they contradict each other directly on many of the major teachings associated with religion. Therefore if Hinduism is correct that there are many gods, then there is not much room for god being in everything as the Buddhists would say, and certainly not for there being only one god as the others would state. This would lead us to a place where it is highly likely that we can only pick one of these expressions of god to be the truth, but how do we pick which one?
What this plethora of religions certainly shows us is that there is something in the human heart that knows there is something greater out there beyond our own human race - it's imprinted on the human heart that we are not a mindless accident (as atheism would have us believe) but that we have a purpose and a meaning, and this multiplicity of religions has come about because of the human search for that meaning.
At this point in our answer, I'd like to turn to talking about Christianity. It would be fairly easy to start criticising all of the other religions (as I'm sure they could do to us), but I don't want to do that. As you know, we are Christians, and I believe that the God of the Bible is more than able to reveal Himself to us as the one true God without us having to look down on what others genuinely believe to be the truth. Let me give you then a few ways in which the God of the Bible shows Himself to be real:
1. The record of His existence.
Every religion has its writings - the record of its teaching about life and death, god and man, and its code of conduct for those wishing to follow its teaching. There is a wide variety of religious writing out there, but I believe that the Bible stands head and shoulders above the rest as a miraculous record given to us from the very heart of God.
You see, the Bible isn't just one book, but 66 different books. This library of books was not just written by one person, but by over 40 different writers, from many different backgrounds, and over a period of 1500 years so that many of these writers never even met each other. The Bible is not just a single witness telling us what they think about God, but it is a multitude of different witnesses, and what is most amazing is that they all say the same thing. Given that the Bible is a library as we've stated above, you would expect that numerous errors would have crept in due to the time difference between writers, and the different perspectives that the Bible brings together, but that's not what we see in the Bible.
What we see in the pages of the Scriptures is an incredible unity between these different people - all pointing us towards the climax of the Bible in the person of Jesus Christ.
The Bible is without doubt a miraculous book, and what's more, there is much historical evidence backing up the authenticity of the Bible. When the books of the New Testament were first written, they were written at a time when the teaching about Jesus of Nazareth was spreading very quickly. Many people tried to stop it, but couldn't prevent the Good News of Jesus as the Saviour of the world from going all over the world at that time. As a result, these early books detailing Jesus' life, and the teaching that He passed to His Apostles were copied thousands of times - again, what you'd expect is that copies of these texts would get changed bit by bit, until there were serious errors in some of them, but this is not what you see as you study what remains of these ancient manuscripts.
What other explanation could there be of how the Bible has come to be, than that God Himself was orchestrating everything so that His people could hold in their hands exactly what He wanted them to - all the truth that we would need to come to know God and be brought into a relationship with Him.
2. His revelation of Himself.
The second thing that marks Christianity out from any other religion is the central figure in its teaching - the Lord Jesus Christ. No other religion teaches us that God Himself has come to live with us as a human being, but that's exactly who the Bible claims that Jesus did. He's not just a great prophet or religious teacher as some will claim, but Jesus Himself claimed that He was none other than God in human form. Look at these verses from John’s gospel:
[Jesus said] "I and the Father are one.” The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?” The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.” (John 10:30-33)
The religious teachers of the day knew exactly what Jesus was claiming when He said these words. If they'd misunderstood Jesus would surely have put them straight, because to claim equality with God would have been severely blasphemous, and Jesus would have been rightly put to death for His claims.
As it was, Jesus was telling the truth, and every part of His life backed up that this was the case. If God came down to the earth today and lived amongst us, what would you expect Him to be like? You'd expect Him to speak the truth about God powerfully, and in a way that everyone could understand. You'd expect Him to love and care for the broken and downtrodden of society while not being drawn into their questionable morality. You'd expect Him to have power beyond that of a normal human being, and an insight into the hearts of people that wasn't naturally discerned.
Jesus was all of this and more - His very life showed us who God is, because He was God Himself - and the greatest declaration of this fact didn't come until the very end, when Jesus was raised from the dead, showing His absolute power over death itself.
Other things that Jesus did, some may have been able to imitate down through the years, but power over death is something no-one else has ever demonstrated. The historical evidence and impact of this event shows us that this is more than just some fairy story that Jesus rose from death - it was the final declaration that Jesus really was who He said He was, and that we can truly trust Him to give us eternal life and forgiveness of sins.
3. His work in the hearts of men.
As I noted above, one of the biggest evidences that the resurrection of Jesus really happened was the impact it had on the world. What happened following Jesus resurrection can only be reasonably explained if it truly took place - the ripple effect of Jesus coming back to life literally changed the world, and has continued to this day.
Think for a second about the group of people we call Jesus disciples - they were a pretty random bunch of men, many uneducated, manual workers such as fishermen. They were probably not the sort of people you’d expect to be picked by a famous teacher as the leaders of His movement - and they were probably not the sort of people you’d expect to change the world. They’d already proved pretty hopeless at standing by Jesus when they had fled in His greatest hour of need.
However, what happened after the resurrection was remarkable - this uneducated bunch of men began preaching the Good News of Jesus everywhere they went, and the impact they had so unsettled the religious leaders that they were hauled up in front of the council (you can read the account in Acts 4:1-22). Two things happened - firstly these men who not so long ago had fled for their lives, stood boldly and refused to give in to the council's order to stop preaching in Jesus' name. Secondly, the council stood back in awe at what these uneducated men were saying, and the Bible says they recognized that they had been with Jesus (Acts 4:13).
Would these men really have stood up so boldly and given their lives for something they knew to be a lie? How can the transformation in these men be explained any other way than that God had met with them, and was empowering them to be His witnesses, just as Jesus had said to them (Acts 1:8).
The handful of people who Jesus left on the earth had no power, wealth or position of influence, and yet they went out and literally changed the face of the earth - how could that possibly have happened without the power of God being behind them?
The story doesn’t end there either - in fact it wouldn’t be a great story for us if it had ended in the 1st and 2nd centuries. The truth is that God has continued to work in the hearts of men and women down through the ages, and right now there are millions of people who are claiming to have experienced the same change as those first disciples. Yes, there are some out there who claim to be Christians who give the religion a bad name - but don’t judge the faith by its fakes, but by the many more genuine experiences there are out there.
Whether you chose to believe them or not, these radically changed lives are evidence that the God of the Bible is the one true God, and is still as powerfully at work in the world today as He was in the time of the early church.
So all of this leads us to the second major part of your question:
Question 2 - Who am I?
Thankfully, having established the answer to your first question, the answer to this one is simple - the Bible tells us that we are lovingly created by the God who also created the whole universe, and we were created for two main things:
1. We were created to know God - John tells us in John 17:3:
And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
To be truly alive is to be in relationship with God, and that’s exactly what it was like for Adam and Eve, the very first people to be created - they walked with God in the garden of Eden (as indicated in Genesis 3:8).
2. We were created for relationship with each other - again going back to Genesis we find that God proclaimed everything that He had made to be very good, but then there was one thing that wasn’t - He says in Genesis 2:18:
“It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”
Remarkably, even though Adam had fellowship with God, he was still not complete - he needed another human being to be a ‘helper’ for him - a person he could love, honour and serve just as God does. As human beings we’re created for relationship - we’re created in the image of God as relational beings intended to function in those relationships with God as our model.
However this is where the bad news comes in - sadly, as is evident in the world around us, we don’t live up to that high calling of loving one another as God does. The Bible calls this sin - an ingrained selfishness that is in every human being - and it tells us that our sin separates us, not only from each other which should be evident to us, but it also separates us from God (Isaiah 59:2). To be separated from God is to be separated from everything good, and though we still experience some of the good things God can give in this life, if we remain separated from Him until death then we will be eternally separated from all that is good.
Thankfully at this point we are able to turn to some good news, and the Good News is the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. As we’ve already recognised, Jesus' life and resurrection both pointed to His deity, but what was going on in Jesus' death - how could God die, and why would He allow Himself to be killed?
The answer to this is one of the most important realities we could ever grasp - Jesus was dying on a Roman cross to fix our problem of sin, and to bring us back into relationship with God. How does that work you might ask - what was taking place on the cross was this: Jesus was dying the death we deserved for our sin in our place. He was being separated from God, just as we are and deserve to be for all eternity, so that we could come to know God again. God the Father was punishing His Son for crimes that He hadn’t committed, so that He wouldn’t have to punish us, and we wouldn’t have to be separated from God for all eternity.
This is incredible news - Jesus loved you and me enough to give everything He had for us - to give His life so that we could be forgiven and granted the eternal life which is to know God for ever.
Our final question then must be this - how can we receive this gift of eternal life? The Bible says it like this:
But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. (John 1:12)
All you have to do is to receive the gift that God is offering to you in His Son Jesus. God doesn’t tell us to fix our lives and then come to Him, He just tells us to come to Him as we are, aware that we are sinners who have wrecked our relationships with Him and with people too - aware that we desperately need the forgiveness that only Jesus can give.
The Bible tells us that if we come to Him humbly, He will never turn us away, but will accept us and as our verse says, will adopt us into His family as His children. What this doesn’t mean is that we can simply accept what Jesus has done and then carry on living the same way we always have - far from it. What God begins to do in the heart of a person who puts their faith in Him is to change them back to the way He always intended them to be. He will begin to replace selfishness with love, and will clean up anything that is impure - it isn’t an instant process, but God is committed to working this change in His children.
The reality is, the only way that we can truly become the people we were created to be is to put our faith in Jesus, and to see what God will do with us as we begin to follow Him as Saviour and Lord.
All that remains for me to do then is to ask you - have you put your faith in Jesus Christ and been given the gift of eternal life? If not, I urge you to do so today - it is the only way in which you can truly make sense of the world that we live in, and the person who God has made you to be. If you want to know more about what Jesus has done for you please watch the video on the main part of our site: www.lookingforGod.com
I want to encourage you to get more involved with your local church. It would be good to speak to a Christian leader or another trusted church individual regarding your question. I know they would be delighted to further answer you as well as offer prayer and support as you continue your spiritual journey:
Please use our Interactive Answer Matrix and feel free to ask another question. Our helpful staff are praying for you and waiting to try and answer to you from the Bible, and will be delighted to tell you more about Jesus Christ the Lord, the Saviour of the world.
Here are some more Bible Verses for your further consideration:
- Genesis 2:4-3:24
- John 14:1-7
- John 3:16-21
*All Scripture references are taken From The English Standard Version of the Holy Bible unless stated otherwise
*If anything in this answer affects you directly, then please feel free to call our confidential prayer line in the UK on 0845 4567729, where trained Christian volunteers will take your call and pray both for you and with you. If you are outside of the UK then you may submit your request for prayer on line at www.ucb.co.uk/prayerline
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