The Reason Why (Christian Classics Series)

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9781565700116: The Reason Why (Christian Classics Series)
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Written by the Proprietor of a Business to the Members of His Staff

Suppose that a man should send his young lady a diamond ring costing him five thousand dollars, and place it in a little velvet case which the jeweler threw in for nothing. Would he not think it strange if, on meeting her a few days later, she would say, “Oh, that was a lovely little velvet box you sent me. I am going to take every care of it. I promise to keep it wrapped up in a safe place so that no harm shall come to it.”

Such a thing is too ridiculous to be thought possible, yet is it not just as foolish for men and women to be spending all their time and thought on their bodies, which are but caskets containing the real self, the soul, that the Bible tells us will persist long after our bodies have crumbled to dust?

In Revelation 6:9 we read, “I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne.”

Longfellow puts it thus:

Tell me not in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream,
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real, life is earnest,
And the grave is not its goal,
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Indeed it was not, for in Mark 8:36 our Lord Himself asks, “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?”

So, in Christ’s estimate, man’s soul is some-thing incomparably more valuable than the whole world. My purpose is, therefore, to discuss with you some of the basic things that relate to your most valuable possession, your soul. For instance:

Is there a God?
Is the Bible true?
Is man accountable?
Is there divine forgiveness?

And a number of other problems that seem to perplex many when they turn from the transient things of life to face its eternal truths. So let us consider our first problem—

How may we know there is a God?

As far as I myself am concerned, my most convincing reason for believing there is a God is that I know Him personally. According to 1 Thessalonians 5:23 I, like you, am spirit, soul and body. My spirit makes it possible for me to be God-conscious as stated in Rom. 8:16: “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” That is, when we turn to God through accepting Christ as our Savior, we are born of the Holy Spirit into God’s family, and naturally we come to know God intimately as Father.

My soul makes me self-conscious, as seen in Psalm 13:2 where we read, “How long must I take counsel in my soul,” or, how long shall I talk things over with myself.

This strange capacity, sometimes called “the awareness of the ego,” enables us to stand off from ourselves and talk to ourselves; and, by the way, we sometimes say some pretty straight things to ourselves that we would not take from anyone else.

And lastly, my body through its five senses makes me world-conscious. If all my senses were taken away I would cease to be conscious of the material world about me to any degree, exactly as when I am under an anesthetic. So when a man says to me, “How do you know there is a God?” I say to him, “How do you know there is a you?” “Why,” he says, “I don’t need myself demonstrated mathematically or philosophically; I am a self-conscious being, and therefore I know that I am.” “That, my friend,” I reply, “is exactly how I know there is a God. Being spirit as well as soul, I am God-conscious as well as self-conscious; I know God is as surely as I know I am.”

But to me the problems of unbelief in God are greater than the problems of belief. To believe that dead matter unaided produced life, that living matter produced mind, that mind produced conscience, and that the chaos of chance produced the cosmos of order as we see it in nature, to me would call not for faith, but for credulity.

The President of the New York Scientific Society, as recorded in the Readers’ Digest, gave eight reasons why he believed there was a God. The first reason is as follows. Take ten identical coins and mark them one to ten, place them in your pocket, and take one out. There is one chance in ten that you will get number one. Now replace it, and the chances that number two will follow number one are not one in ten, but one in one hundred, and so on, mounting ten each time, so that the chances of number ten following number nine are one chance in 10,000,000,000 (ten billion). It seemed so unbelievable to me that I immediately took pencil and paper and very quickly discovered he was right. Try it yourself.

That is why George Gallup, the American statistician, said: “I could prove God statistically. Take the human body alone—the chance that all the functions of the individual would just happen is a statistical monstrosity.”

Surely no thoughtful person would wish to base his eternal future on a “statistical monstrosity.” Perhaps that is why the Bible says in Psalm 14:1, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” But let us consider the problem from another viewpoint.

We stand together on the wharf as a big ocean liner draws alongside, and I say to you, “A lot of people think that ship is the result of someone’s carefully designed plans, but I know better. There was really no intelligence at work on it at all; the iron, by some mysterious process, gradually came out of the ground and fashioned itself into plates; slowly holes were formed in the edges of these plates, and rivets appeared, flattened themselves out on either side, and after a great time, by this same evolutionary process, the engines were in place, and one day some men on the seashore found her floating quietly in a sheltered cove.”

You would probably consider me a lunatic and move further into the crowd to escape my senseless chatter. You know that where there is a design there must be a designer. And, having seen other productions of the human mind just like the steamer in question, you would refuse to believe that it was not planned by human intelligence and built by human skill.

Yet, there are men not considered fools who tell us that the solar system evolved from its nebulous state by chance, that in some mysterious way it came into being—that there was really no higher intelligence at work on it; they tell us they know no God but nature. On the other hand, there are many thoughtful men who believe that God is transcendent—that is, while He reveals Himself in nature, in that its laws and principles are expressions of His power and wisdom, He Himself is essentially more than the sum of them all. Atheists offer us the anomaly of design without a designer, of creation without a Creator, of effect without cause, and to escape from this dilemma ask: “If God be considered the ‘first great cause,’ account for Him. Who made God?” Now, such a question contradicts itself, for it is evident no cause could make the first cause, or the first cause would become also the second cause, which is a mathematical absurdity.

Every thoughtful person believes in a series of causes and effects in nature, each effect becoming the cause of some other effect. Now the acceptance of this as fact logically compels one to admit that there must be a beginning to any series—that is, there could never have been a first effect if there had not been a First Cause. This First Cause to me is Deity, and “I cannot tell where God came from” is not a satisfactory reason for denying that He exists, else I might as well deny the existence of the millionth effect which, for the sake of argument, might happen to be this world. You see, if I admit one cause as ever having existed, I am bound eventually by induction to arrive at the First Cause.

Although men have discovered many of the laws that govern it, the greatest scientists cannot really define electricity. Then why do we believe it exists? Because we see the manifestation of its existence in our homes and our factories and our streets. Though I do not know where God came from, I must believe He exists, because I see the manifestations of Him everywhere around me.

Professor Drummond says in The Ascent of Man: “Instead of abolishing a Creative Hand, evolution demands it. Instead of being opposed to Creation, all theories begin by assuming it.”

Lesis Fiske, LL.D., says, “As to some things, we may be in doubt: as to God there can be no uncertainty. He is the Infinite, the Absolute, the Unconditioned, the Eternal, the First Cause. He is not unknowable, yet He is the incomprehensible. We find Him, but we cannot grasp Him. The infinite depth of His being we cannot fathom, but reason declares Him to be the creating life of all dependent reality. And we reach the highest range of thought in conceiving and knowing Him. We do and must hang everything on the will of the infinitely intelligent Creator.”

Being convinced there is a God, we take the next step forward.

I cannot conceive of an intelligent man making anything without a purpose—if he makes shoes, they are to wear or sell; if he bakes bread, it is for himself or someone else to eat. Behind every action there must be a motive. When I thought of this, it seemed to me quite reasonable that God should have a purpose in view when He brought in Creation.

Of all the many books this world contains there is one only that claims to be a direct revelation from God, telling us of Himself and His purposes in us. Being a claim of such moment, it is surely worthy of thoughtful investigation; so with the advice of Francis Bacon neither to accept nor reject, but to weigh and consider, we approach this Book with its strange claims.

But to be just to ourselves and the Bible, we should read it through. As a judge must not make his decision when the case is half heard, neither must we. But, like the judge, we should compare the evidence of the witnesses, and weigh and consider every word, seeking deeply for its hidden significance rather than accepting its surface meaning. Surely the importance of its claims justifies spending the necessary time on its study—66 books written by at least 40 different writers, some educated, some illiterate, some kings, some peasants, over a period of 1,600 years in places separated as far as Babylon in Asia and Rome in Europe. Expecting with such authorship to find a heterogeneous collection of contradictory statements, it strikes one as the more strange that such a Book should have a oneness about it that makes each contribution the complement of the others. Slowly the truth of 2 Peter 1:21 came home to me. There was no other reasonable explanation. “Men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” This belief was confirmed as I read prophecy after prophecy in the Old Testament that found its fulfillment, even to the letter, hundreds of years after, as in Isaiah 53, which foretold the death of Christ with such minute accuracy more than 700 years before His crucifixion. Yes, the difficulties in the way of doubting the Book seemed to me greater than those in the way of believing it. I had to be honest with myself and admit that the hazard was all on the side of unbelief. I even went further and said, “I believe this Book to be the Word of the living God. I can account for it in no other way.”

But such an admission brought me face to face with a grave difficulty, for this Bible set a standard of righteousness that I had not attained, and judged all short of its standard to be sin. Remembering that God knows every secret thought you have ever entertained, just measure yourself alongside the standard: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment” (Matt. 22:37–38).

Confronted with such a standard, can you claim to have lived up to it throughout your life, to have put God first in everything? Just read it again: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” If you can, there is no need for you to read the rest of these pages, for however vital the interest they hold for those of us who have fallen short of God’s standard, they can be of no importance to you.

But think hard—reconsider, for God says in Romans 3:23: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” And in verse 10: “None is righteous, no, not one.” All have failed to reach God’s standard.

After addressing a meeting on one occasion, a young man asked me, “Do you think it fair of God to set the standard of holiness so high that we cannot reach it, and then judge us for falling short?” I replied, “God has not set an arbitrary standard of holiness. He has not really set a standard at all; He is the standard. He is holiness in the absolute—holiness personified—and to preserve His own character, He must maintain that absolute standard in all His dealings with man, irrespective of the tremendous problems it creates for both Him and us.”

My conscience and my common sense compelled me to admit I had fallen short, as far as I was concerned, of God’s standard of absolute holiness and that therefore I was a sinner in His sight.

Quick on my admission of having sinned came God’s condemnation in Ezekiel 18:4: “The soul who sins shall die.”

Thus, as far as God’s standard was concerned, I was lost, and as God’s standard was the only one by which I was to be judged in Eternity, I was hopelessly lost. I began to see that it didn’t matter at all what I thought, or what my friends told me; the judgment would be on what God had said. Moreover, because in His judgment we had all sinned, there was no use in looking to my fellows for help, for they were under the same condemnation as myself.

Is Jesus the Son of God?

But this same Bible told me of One, Jesus Christ, who claimed to be the Son of God.

He, too, saw that men were lost, that they had forfeited their lives to sin; so He said to His Father, “Father, I have not forfeited My life; I am pure, sinless, spotless; My life is My own; let Me give My pure life in place of man’s sinful life, that he may go free.” And God said, “Go.” Christ tells us in John 3:16 that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” If Jesus Christ is the Son of God, then we have indeed the assurance of salvation; but the difficulty faces us: Is Jesus Christ really the Son of God?

He could be only one of three—the Son of God, a deceiver, or an honest man Himself under a hallucination. But when we find Him meeting some of the cleverest men of His day who were purposely sent to catch Him in His words, and so silencing them that they dared not ask Him any more questions (Matthew 22:46), and ourselves considering even from an intellectual standpoint the wisdom of His statements, we may dismiss the last of these suppositions absolutely. Was His wisdom so great that He was using it to deceive the people? Have you ever heard of a young man associating with swindlers and rogues and because of that association becoming ennobled, pure and honest? No! You admit you have not heard of such a case; but I know a young man who, by the reception of Christ into his lif...

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About the Author:

Robert A. Laidlaw was born in Dalry, Scotland in 1885 and moved with his family to New Zealand the following year. There, he became one of that country's most successful and respected businessmen. His fatherly concern for his staff led him to write The Reason Why which, since its publication in 1913, has sold tens of millions of copies and has been translated into over thirty languages.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:


Nearly ten years ago I spent a snowy afternoon reading The Reason Why while Ken and friends were skiing. Perhaps like you, I had both noticed and envied the deep joy I saw in people (like my husband) who had taken the promise of forgiveness of sins and eternal salvation into their hearts by accepting Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. It was a mystery to me. How did a person like me come to this decision and take what sounded like a simple but huge step?

The Reason Why is 37 pages long. It very patiently goes through the intellectual questions you and I have about the existence of God, the Bible and the Word of God and, ultimately, God's offer and plan for our salvation and eternal life with Him.

My beliefs, my faith, and my ego were all challenged by this little book as the case for God's wondrous and loving offer was built and rebuilt. At the end I was asked to leave my doubts behind, to rejoice in the invitation by God to take Jesus Christ into my heart as my personal savior, and to accept that offer period.

As I signed and dated this little book, I realized that faith is simply a choice—yes or no. Yes for me has made all the difference.

Marjorie Blanchard Co-Founder, The Ken Blanchard Companies

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Laidlaw, Robert A.
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