Who is this God who believes in me, whom I believe in, and who helps my unbelief?
How do I know God is real? And what kind of humanity does the man Jesus have?
Two experiences profoundly changed my life, confirming to me that God, the Christian God, is who he says he is and that Jesus is truly a man, one of us, in all ways.
The Clock Tower
On 27 June 1972, at the Anglo-Chinese School Clock Tower, I decided to pray to the Christian God, asking Him to ‘fill’ me with His Spirit. I expected Him to do so, if Jesus was truly His only begotten Son.
As I was uncertain whether the Christian God was truly God, I uttered another prayer. This prayer was to God, if he existed and whoever he might be. I prayed that if the Christian God is not the Supreme Being, and if the Christian confession that Jesus is the Son of God is but a hoax, then nothing would happen.
I felt that I had nothing to lose. I longed for truth. The challenge that I threw to the Christian God, in my mind was quite simple: If he does not deliver, He is not God. If he is truly God, He will deliver.
Two hours passed. Nothing happened. With my patience wearing thin, I delivered my final ultimatum to the Christian God: If he is truly God, He has to ‘fill’ me with his Spirit in the next fifteen minutes. Otherwise, I would go home and have nothing to do with Him from then on.
Ten minutes later, nothing had changed. I wanted to leave, but five minutes still remained. I waited in silence. Three minutes passed when, suddenly, I felt a surge of energy descending on my head. As it coursed its way through my body, my jaw ‘clicked’, and before I knew it, I was crying and jabbering in ‘gibberish’, an unknown tongue for me.
I knew that I had had an encounter with God, the Christian God. He met my challenge and had filled me with His Spirit, as proof and to prove to me that He is God and there is no other. Through filling me with His Spirit, God proclaimed and revealed Himself as Father of Jesus, His only begotten Son. In so doing, God also revealed Himself as Triune, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
This is the God I believe in.
Mary in Aberdeen
It was about two weeks before Christmas 1982. I was at the end of my first semester in the University of Aberdeen, having enrolled for a Master of Divinity degree. I was having difficulty, throughout the semester, agreeing with Professor James Torrance, my Church History and Systematic Theology lecturer.
Professor Torrance had been teaching and advocating that the flesh that the Word took, in becoming man, was ‘fallen flesh’, the flesh of man after the ‘Fall’ in the garden of Eden. I took issue with that. For me, that would mean that Jesus would have been tainted by original sin. If Jesus was tainted by original sin, then how could he have been the spotless sacrifice needed to reconcile man to God?
My belief was that the Word took upon Himself ‘unfallen’ human flesh, just like Adam before Adam ‘fell’ in Eden. That was what made Jesus a ‘new’ man, who then became the spotless sacrifice for the ‘old’ human race.
I met Professor Torrance, one afternoon, during that period, to discuss with him what I believed to be my sound position, with the view that with my legal training, I would be able to convince him of his unsound convictions.
I presented my case. He listened attentively. Then, in his light, loving, gentle voice, he asked me two questions: What flesh did the Word take? Was it Mary’s flesh or not?
I felt as if I had been struck by lightning. I felt God Presence, with us, there, in Professor Torrance’s chamber.
My position vaporized before me. I knew that I had lost my case. Of course, it had to be Mary’s flesh for her to be his natural mother, which was the belief and confession of the Early Church. If not, then Mary would be a surrogate mother and Jesus would be an alien to Adam’s human lineage.
But if Mary’s flesh, then, ‘fallen’ flesh or the flesh of Adam’s lineage after the ‘Fall’. Without taking ‘fallen’ flesh from Mary, it cannot be said of him that he was of the seed(lineage) of David, of Abraham and of the woman in Eden.
That meeting, with Professor Torrance and with God, profoundly affected and changed my understanding of and my answer, up to then, as to Who Jesus was and the God I believed in.
Now, I believe in God, the Word, who took upon Himself our ‘fallen’ flesh, when He became human, Jesus the man.
This is my God and Jesus I believe in.
Who is your God and Jesus you believe in?
Come, Holy Spirit, Come.