Can You Know God Exists through Personally Experiencing Him?
How can you know God exists? This isn’t really an argument for God’s existence. Rather it’s the claim that you can know that God exists wholly apart from arguments, simply by personally experiencing Him. This was the way the people in the Bible knew God. As Professor John Hick has said, for them God was not an idea adopted by the mind, but an experienced reality which gave significance to their lives. Now, if that is the case, then there is a real danger that arguments for God’s existence could actually distract us from God Himself. We mustn’t be so focused on the arguments that we fail to hear the inner voice of God speaking to us in our own hearts. For those who listen, God becomes a personal reality in their lives. The Bible promises, “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.” And so we mustn’t just focus on the arguments, we also need to draw near to God and to seek His face.
I encourage everyone to do what I did as a non-Christian when I first heard this message. First, I would begin to pray. I would encourage them to kneel by their bedside at night alone and talk to God and say, “God, if you’re there, show yourself to me. I want to know you if you’re there,” and to consistently be involved in prayer of that sort. Secondly, I’d encourage them to get a copy of the New Testament and begin to read the life of Jesus in the Gospels. And as you read these Gospel stories of Jesus, ask yourself: Who was this man? Could He really have been who He claimed to be? Could He really have been God incarnate who came to die for my sins so that I could come into a personal relationship with God? And I believe that if people will pursue that path, that it will lead them to God and they will find God in the same way that I did.
Now, for those who have come to the point where they are convinced that God exists and has revealed Himself in Jesus and has raised Jesus from the dead to show who He was, then I’d encourage them to make a commitment of their lives to Christ as their Savior and Lord. They can go to God in prayer and say something like this:
“God, I believe that you exist and that you’ve revealed yourself in Jesus and raised Him from the dead. And right now, in the best way I know how, I want to invite you to come into my life. Forgive my sins, change my life, and make me into the kind of person that you want me to be. I want to be a disciple of Jesus and to follow Him. Change my life. And I’m trusting you to do that right now. Amen.”
And if they’ll pray a prayer like that, God will hear that prayer, come into their life, and begin to transform them from the inside out to make them into the sort of person that God wants them to be.