Chapter OneHow Does Anyone
Know God Exists?
Is Anybody Out There?
Short Answer: Yes! Not only is God out there, he is personal,
he cares, and he is reaching out to you.
Question 1: Think back to your childhood. What did you
believe about God during those years? Describe some ways
your views have changed since then.
Question 2: What are some factors that have influenced your
current beliefs about God? One of the most significant factors
affecting our view of God is the image of our parents-whether
good or bad. Things they said or didn't say and
did or didn't do probably made an impact on us that lasts
to this day. Another notable influence might be respected
(or otherwise) authority figures. Peer pressure may also
have contributed to our thinking about God, as well as
things we observe in nature, books, and other information
we have gathered from people we hold in high regard. Our
consciences also tell us something about God.
There are at least two reasons why these questions are
included here: the first is to enable you and your group
members to learn more about each other; the second, to
build bridges of trust between the members of the group. It
is important for group members to develop and maintain
respect for each other, regardless of where they are in their
Question 3: Which of the above positions [see guide] about
God represents the most common belief among people you
know? Which view is least popular among your friends and
acquaintances? Give reasons for your answers.
Question 4: How convinced are your friends and acquaintances
that their views and beliefs about God are accurate?
What do you think determines the level of confidence they
Question 5: How do you think people decide what they're
going to believe about God? What do you think they base
their beliefs about God upon? Many people are unintentional
or haphazard in how they arrive at their view about
God. It is important for us to see the reasons behind what
we believe. This question can help people see (maybe for
the first time) that most individuals don't have substantial
reasons to back up what they believe about God.
Question 6: Which of the views of God listed makes the
most sense to you? Why? Make sure to withhold any judgment
or condemnation toward those who may not believe
as you do. It's very important to offer unconditional acceptance
toward everyone in your group.
Question 7: On a scale from one to ten (one represents low
confidence and ten represents high confidence), how certain
are you that your view is based on actual evidence
rather than opinion? In many cases, this will be the very
first time group members will have ever been asked to identify
and describe their confidence level about what they
believe. This may make some uncomfortable. Still, part of
building a good foundation for belief is to recognize the
crumbling concrete of an existing spiritual foundation so
there will eventually be a new readiness to find a way to
build a stronger one. It is important for members to feel the
freedom and safety to share their true thoughts and uncertainties
in the group and not feel judged or put down in any
way for what they do or don't believe. In his book Asking
God Your Hardest Questions, Lloyd Ogilvie, onetime chaplain
of the U.S. Senate, asserts, "Johann Wolfgang von
Goethe once said, 'Give me the benefit of your convictions,
if you have any, but keep your doubts to yourself, for I have
enough of my own.' I don't agree with that. I want to put
it differently: Give me your doubts. Be honest enough to
admit them. Our Lord is pressing us on to new growth. Our
doubt is our human response. He can take our struggle with
doubt and give us the gift of faith to ask for wisdom."
That's exactly what you want to do in your group discussion-invite
people to openly and honestly express their
doubts and uncertainties. The first step in overcoming disbelief
is identifying it.
Question 8: What might help to increase the level of confidence
you have in what you believe about God? Explain.
Question 9: What other specific examples can you give of
"everyday faith"? The point of this question is to help
group members see that they exercise faith all the time, not
just in spiritual matters. Every day people put their trust in
things without taking much time to assess the trustworthiness
of the objects of their confidence. What makes trusting
God difficult is that God is not tangible, whereas these
everyday things are. R. C. Sproul, in his book Now, That's
a Good Question, states, "I don't think there's anything
that makes living the Christian life more difficult than the
fact that the Lord we serve is invisible to us. You know the
expression in our culture 'Out of sight, out of mind.' It's
very, very difficult to live your life dedicated to someone or
something you cannot see. Often you hear people say that
when they can see it, taste it, touch it, or smell it, they'll
believe and embrace it, but not before. This is one of the
most difficult problems of the Christian life: God is rarely
perceived through our physical senses." But God does give
reliable evidence of his existence and trustworthiness, and
this series is about discovering that evidence.
Question 10: During those times when absolute proof is
impossible (there is no guarantee a plane will arrive safely),
what factors help you determine whether you'll place your
trust in something? Possible answers include the reputation
of the person or company you are trusting (i.e., credentials,
training, title, research, appearances, past experiences, recommendations).
Note: Lack of trust is based on these same
Question 11: What factors would help you get to reasonable
certainty concerning God's existence? Many of us
assume that if God were to show up somewhere and speak
to us, then we would believe. Others might want answers
to prayers, and other signs that God is showing them favor.
Intellectual types may ask for historical evidence or scientific
proof. Note: As a leader, be sure not to belittle the
responses you hear, no matter how foolish or inadequate
the answers may seem.
Question 12: Check the statement(s) below [see guide] that
best describes your position at this point. Share your selection
with the rest of the group and give reasons for your
How Can Anyone Be Sure God Exists?
Short Answer: We may not be able to have absolute certainty,
but we may have reasonable certainty.
Question 1: Give an example or two of something you
place your trust in even though you are unable to perceive
it with your five senses.
Question 2: What is one thing you no longer believe today
that you believed when you were younger? What changed
Question 3: Share some of the concrete reasons you have
now for your belief-or disbelief-in the existence of God.
Press your group members to go beyond describing influences
to giving concrete reasons that could persuade someone
else to adopt their point of view. As we pointed out in
the previous session, people tend not to have compelling
reasons for their beliefs-they usually believe the way they
do without stopping to examine why.
Question 4: Do you believe the sun will rise tomorrow?
Why or why not? Can you provide proof for your response?
Question 5: How does this reality [see guide] impact your
ability or inability to believe in God? For those who are
concerned with proving God "scientifically," this question
can help reveal that the realm of science can't conclusively
address the question.
Question 6: What arguments other than those above [see
guide] might people give against the existence of God?
Question 7: To what extent do these arguments and other
factors influence your own thinking that God may not
exist? Explain. Do not feel pressured to address all the
issues raised as a result of this question. At this point just
let group members express their doubts and questions.
Question 8: Select the argument [see guide] that for you is
the strongest support of the existence of God. Which is the
weakest argument? Give reasons for your selections. Don't
get sidetracked or bogged down by this question. Experience
shows that these arguments don't completely make or
break someone's belief or disbelief in God. They are helpful
but often not conclusive.
Question 9: Do you think most people consider the above
arguments (for and against) when drawing a conclusion
about the existence of God? Why or why not? Should they?
For some the identified arguments are helpful, but for
others questions will still remain.
Question 10: Why do you think Jesus said that people who
do not see and yet still believe will be blessed? One possibility
is that such people demonstrate that they have a
healthy balance between weighing the existing evidence and
trusting God, without being plagued by ongoing doubt.
God does not commend gullibility, but placing one's trust in
God can lead to contentment and a secure relationship with
Question 11: There probably isn't a person alive who
hasn't had doubts about the existence of God. When have
you experienced these doubts, and how have you dealt with
Question 12: Does this experiment [see guide] seem reasonable
to you? Is this something you would be open to trying
sometime? Why or why not? This exercise might seem
threatening to some group members. Do not make them
feel obligated to try it. Simply encourage each person to be
open to the possibility.
Question 13: What are your fears about God and what he
might be like? How do you think those fears affect your confidence
in his existence, or your ability to trust him? One of
the main reasons people struggle with God is the terrifying
view they've adopted of him. As the group leader, one of
your tasks is to help people see the God who is really there,
not the God of their fears. The next session will address our
distorted views of God and try to give a clearer picture of
him, which should provide some comfort and hope to your
group members. "Because God has spoken and has revealed
himself, we no longer have the need or the option of conjuring
up ideas and images of God by our own imaginations.
Our personal concept of God-when we pray, for
instance-is worthless unless it coincides with his revelation
of himself" (Paul Little, Know What You Believe).
Question 14: Check the statement(s) below [see guide] that
best describes your position at this point. Share your selection
with the rest of the group and give reasons for your
What Is God Really Like?
Short Answer: God is better than you ever imaged him to
be, and the clearest picture of him is Jesus.
Question 1: Imagine you are taking a survey, asking people
what they think God is like. What are the most common
characteristics they would mention?
Question 2: Which of the three images of God mentioned
in the introduction (grandfather, policeman, mechanic)
most closely resembles your own understanding of God?
What circumstances in your past have contributed to that
image of him? This question, and the one following, can
help you learn more about the people in your group and
where they are coming from, spiritually speaking. This
information can be helpful as you encourage them on their
Question 3: Which of the attributes listed above [see guide]
grab your attention more than the others? Explain why
those characteristics stand out for you.
Question 4: As you examine the above list [see guide], are
there any attributes that surprise or confuse you? Which
ones and why?
Question 5: Given the above list of God's attributes [see
guide], does God seem appealing to you? Why or why not?
To what degree would you like to get to know God better?
The enthusiasm a person feels toward the idea of getting to
know God is dependent on what that person knows or
believes about God's attributes: is he someone the person
would enjoy knowing? Also of concern is what a person
feels God would provide: what needs might he meet or what
benefits will he bring? This may sound selfish but it's probably
an accurate gauge of the primary motivation behind a
person's search for God. A. W. Tozer once said, "What we
believe about God is the most important thing about us."
Question 6: Fill in this blank [see guide] with words you've
heard or said yourself. What's your reaction to the thinking
behind such statements?
Question 7: Do you agree with this statement [see guide]?
Why or why not? The feathers in the analogy represent our
opinions, which are weak (featherweight), while we mistake
them to be strong (solid, reliable). The wind (reality, truth),
not the feathers, has the power. Many people consider their
opinions to determine truth, when in fact truth stays the
same regardless of our opinions.
Question 8: Now, using the spokes of the wheel below [see
guide], explain what your life could be like if you really
accepted God for all that he is and allowed him to demonstrate
that attribute toward you in each area of your life.
Question 9: What do you suppose is missing from the
devil's position about God? How is it possible to believe
intellectually that God exists but then live as though he does
not exist? Honoring God as God means loving and obeying
him. Be sensitive to those who might recognize that they are
not living in a way that honors God. This question is not
meant to be judgmental or make anyone feel bad but to
expose faulty confidences; it is geared toward helping people
discover that believing in God is not enough. Don't try to
artificially ease the tension if your group members recognize
the distance that exists between themselves and God.
Question 10: Expand on what you think is meant by the
following statement: "It's one thing to believe that the God
described in the Bible exists, and quite another to let that
belief impact your life." Do you agree with this statement?
Why or why not? This question is designed to continue the
dialogue started in question 9. It goes a step further, making
it more personal.