Few questions are as decisive in a person’s life as that of whether God is real or not.
However, faced with such an important question there is another: How do we know if God is real?
What do I need to do to have that certainty?
I’ve been through that.
The inability to believe, the absence of meaning, the helplessness, the frustration of not being able to find meaning in what others find or of not finding it in existence itself.
The confusion of theological and scientific overinformation.
The discrepancy between the two positions.
Who to believe about whether God is real or not.
But after spending a lot of time there, God reached out to me and showed me the truth.
This is a special topic for me.
If I may, I would like to illustrate to you how you can take an effective path to realize that God is real and believe in Him.
The story of the day is found in the gospels.
I invite you to review it together:
Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
“Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked.
“Come and see,” said Philip.
When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.”
“How do you know me?” Nathanael asked.
Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.”
Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.”
Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree.
You will see greater things than that.”
He then added, “Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
| John 1:45-51
Nathaniel, like you and me, was a person who had a hard time believing in Jesus.
Although this character already believed in God, he did not believe in the reality of God coming in Jesus to earth.
Therefore, it is still relevant to give you the answer you are looking for.
I promised you that I will tell you how to know if God is real.
That is what I will do using this story.
Please continue reading.
On any given day, this man was in a garden under a fig tree, probably thinking.
Maybe He was thinking about matters of life, existence.
About the stories that a messiah would come to change the history of the world, which were widely taught among the Jews.
The character in our history was most likely there thinking about the messiah and the rumors he had heard about having already arrived.
He thought whether it would be true, or not, that this one they talked so much about was the messiah.
He had doubts like most Israelites about it.
He knew, deep in his heart, that his life needed something more.
That something was needed, that something wasn’t right.
That there was something better than what he had experienced until then and longed in his heart for what he so badly needed.
That something was Jesus.
I have my reasons for believing all of the above, which I will set out later so read carefully.
I don’t know what your experience is, but I do know mine; and well, in many things the stories repeat themselves.
I don’t know what you think but maybe your story has some resemblance to this man’s.
If so, it’s because you have an unmet basic need, the need for God.
That’s why you need to know if God is real.
At that moment his brother Philip came excitedly running to tell him that he had found the messiah, the savior of the world.
The one of whom —
Moses wrote in the law, and also the prophets: to Jesus, the son of Joseph, of Nazareth.”
There is a key difference in the attitude of these two brothers, which I would like you to see.
While Nathaniel was far from Jesus, on the sidelines.
Questioning, wondering whether or not it was true that Jesus was the messiah, wondering if perhaps there really would be a messiah.
While he was just reflecting on the subject.
His brother Philip did something different.
Philip went to look for the messiah.
We, too, can take one of those two attitudes.
Just thinking about whether God is real, or going to see if God is real.
There is a big difference.
The one is introspective-passive, the other is proactive.
To know if God is real we need to be proactive about this question and go see if God is real.
Scripture says Philip tells his brother we have “found” the messiah.
Philip was probably with John the Baptist waiting for the opportunity to see the one about whom John spoke so much and to realize for himself whether or not it was true.
The Bible says that when Philip meets Jesus, the Lord says “follow me.”
Presumably, Philip already had knowledge of who Jesus was, because no one goes down the street one day without having anything to do with someone and another person says “follow me” and then the other accepts.
Philip does not refuse that invitation because he was looking for the messiah, so he begins to follow him.
He followed him to see what he was doing.
To make sure for himself of the truth.
Philip spends time with Jesus analyzing him, listening to him, asking him, experimenting.
He spent several hours, days perhaps close to Jesus before reaching his conclusion.
This is wonderful and key to Philip’s story.
This is what at that time sets him apart from his brother.
Either way, we are all different and God loves and accepts us all equally.
But his behavior, Philip’s, also sets him apart from the attitudes that you and I have come to take in our lives.
Maybe we haven’t had the humility to do what Philip did.
Perhaps you have preferred to stay away from God, from Jesus questioning but you have not come close to see and experience.
Maybe you haven’t been looking for him to see with your own eyes, to hear with your own ears, to touch with your own hands, to experiment with your being what you know you need.
That which everyone speaks of and bears witness to.
Not for nothing do so many people believe in God, we do so because what we experience as objective evidence confirms to us that God is real.
Now let’s go back to Nathaniel.
The story goes that his brother Philip came to him with the conviction and certainty of what his personal experience had confirmed to him.
Philip had seen Jesus face to face, spent time with him, talked to him, asked him questions, experienced his glory and felt love, seen his miracles.
He shared all this with his brother with enthusiasm and full confidence.
But remember what was that man’s response?
Nathaniel said to him, “And can anything good come out of Nazareth?”
That is, he questioned his brother’s words and experience.
He was skeptical of them.
You know what?
That’s what I did many times when people came happy to tell me about their experience with God.
Maybe it happens to you too, maybe you’ve been like Nathaniel, skeptical of others’ testimony about God’s reality.
It’s normal, you don’t have to feel guilty about it.
I just want you to notice it in you, if so.
But look at Philip’s wisdom in his answer.
Which, in my opinion, was certainly wonderful.
It is indisputably noticeable that he had been close to Jesus.
(…) Philip said to him, “Come and see.”
Philip knew that he had believed by what he himself had seen, heard, and experienced and that his brother even with all his skepticism would realize the truth as soon as he experienced it.
And I love what Nathaniel does.
At the invitation of his brother Philip, he did what I want to recommend you do.
I recommend it from the heart so that you do not continue wasting time under the fig tree of uncertainty where you are, the fig tree of doubt, of skepticism, of frustration, of the impossibility of believing.
Nathaniel went to see.
As simple as that.
He wasn’t left with doubt.
He wasn’t left arguing with his brother why Jesus wasn’t the messiah, or why what his brother was telling him didn’t make sense.
Nor did he turn his back on the opportunity that lay ahead.
Nathaniel just went to see.
Is it that hard?
Look, the reality is that the easiest and least painful way for you to get to see for yourself if God is real, that Jesus is real.
The easiest and least painful way is for you to come and see.
The most convenient way to know if God is real is to draw near to Him and ask Him to let us experience life with Him.
I’ll give you an example to illustrate it even more.
You and I sat down at the same table to talk and I pulled out an orange.
I split it in half, and I start eating half an orange.
As I eat that half, you crave it, but wonder if it’s sweet or sour.
I ask you, do you want?
But you don’t know if it’s sour or sweet.
What’s easier for you to be sure of the answer?
That you ask me or that you receive me the orange and try it for yourself?
There are no guarantees that I will tell you the truth.
Obviously, you will only be sure if you test it yourself.
It’s the same with the spiritual life.
To know if God is real, we need to experience it for ourselves.
It’s probably that deep down you know you want that orange.
It’s likely that deep down you know you want God, Jesus.
But you don’t know if He’s real or not.
Stop wasting your time asking people, or thinking if the orange is sweet or sour, and try it for yourself.
That is exactly what Nathaniel did and he has my applause and congratulations.
He went to experience God in the person of Jesus.
At the very moment Nathaniel reaches him, the Lord Jesus performs the first miracle in his life.
It shows him that he knows his spiritual need.
Jesus replied, “I saw you before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree.”
Nathaniel did not believe that Jesus was the messiah because the Lord happened to go through a fig tree, saw him there, and then finds him and says “I saw you under the fig tree.
Obviously, it wasn’t the case.
Nathaniel’s response was blunt:
you are the Son of God! you are the King of Israel!”
This man believed in Jesus, on the one hand, because there was no way Jesus would see him under the fig tree, he was far from Jesus.
But also because Nathaniel and Jesus knew what had been going on so many times under that same fig tree.
Nathaniel could understand in the depths of his being that Jesus was giving him the answer to all his questions just by telling him “I saw you under the fig tree”.
This for that man was like saying “I know what you’ve been going through, I know you’ve been wondering whether or not I’m the messiah. I am.”
He needed no further evidence.
He didn’t need more reasons, he didn’t need any more answers.
He didn’t need more sophisticated logical explanations and arguments.
He knew it in the depths of his being.
There, because of this, that man believed immediately, without question.
And he knew it and was sure for the rest of his life.
But there’s more.
The Lord Jesus tells him:
(…) “Do you believe only because I told you I saw you under the fig tree?
Well, things greater than these you will see!”
He also said to him, “Verily, verily I say to you, that from now on you will see heaven open, and the angels of God going up and down upon the Son of Man.”
In other words, the Lord Jesus tells him:
“You know that it is me, that I am the messiah, that I am real.
But from now on you’re going to start seeing the miracles, you’re going to start seeing with different eyes.
You’re going to start noticing what you couldn’t notice before.
It will be as clear as if you saw with your own eyes the angels come down from heaven.”
My recommendation if you want to know if God is real is “come and see”.
You’re going to be surprised by reality.
And once you do, stay alert and trust from the bottom of your heart.
Don’t keep doubting as most do.
You don’t have to.
Stay expectant and believe that it is possible to see things outside of this planet.
Give yourself the opportunity to see the Lord work supernaturally.
Because you will see more and more of God’s works, miracles, his providence, and direction that are totally clear in your life and in the lives of the other people around you.
What has been your experience of believing that God is real? Share it with us in the comments to strengthen us together.