Sooner or later, one ought to be able to narrow down his major theological (i.e., true life) beliefs to just a few. The only way to do this, it appears to me, is to have lived long enough on this sod as to know oneself thoroughly, to have studied enough of the Word to know the Scriptures intimately, and to have interacted with others over decades as to know the alternatives sufficiently.

Here then are my big three, three non-negotiables I believe with everything in me. The discussion is closed on these, my conviction is rock solid.

1. WITHOUT GOD, THERE IS NO MEANING.

As a young adult, I struggled with the concept of deity and tried to satisfy my youthful-but-inquiring mind that God is no figment of my imagination, but a genuine Person in back of the universe and the One whom we read about in the Scriptures. The more I read and contemplated atheism, the clearer I saw how all it had to offer was despair and meaninglessness.

Back from that brink -- and glad to be -- I had to admit that everything inside me resonated with the message of God in Scripture, both Old and New Testaments. It was more than comforting, because much of it is disturbing. It was rock solid, like I was dealing with reality. The teachings of Scripture fit the real world I was living in.

Ravi Zacharias has written, "If life is random, then the inescapable consequence, first and foremost, is that there can be no ultimate meaning and purpose to existence." That fact, he says in "The End of Reason," is the "Achilles' heel of atheistic belief." In spite of the fact that modern writers like Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris like to promote moral values outside of a belief in God, it does not work. If there is no God, there is no ultimate meaning, and the child molester, the serial killer, Dr. Albert Schweitzer and Dr. Billy Graham or Mother Teresa, all come to a common end of nothingness.

Everyone seeks meaning and purpose. Movie script-writer Leonard Mlodinow (Newsweek, May 4, 2009) tells how he found himself at a Hollywood party chatting with a successful model when an attorney came up and usurped her attention. It turned out they were both Trekkies, devotees of the Star Trek saga, and knowledgeable about the most minute of details. He writes, "I stood there with a blank look, obviously over my head. Too much detail for my taste.... I was in awe that he remembered all that arcane stuff. Then, somewhere in the middle of his Vulcan dissertation, I realized something."

What Mlodinow realized was that the stuff the Trekkies were quoting as Bible, the material they were memorizing and spouting as their gospel, he had written.

Mlodinow says, "The situation felt surreal. Not just because I'd forgotten my own dialogue -- you'd be surprised how easy it is to blank on entire scenes -- but that they had remembered it, and in such detail."

It's truly amazing what some people will grab hold of in order to give meaning to their lives.

As I write, an hour ago I sat at lunch with a friend who pastors a little church in New Orleans' French Quarter. As he told of people they have led to Christ and some of the amazing things they have seen in that ministry, I thought, "This, more than any theological argument, is proof to me of the existence of God."

Many a person has testified that only in coming to Jesus Christ and meeting the God of the Bible has their lives found the purpose for which they were created and taken on the meaning that gives them the fullest satisfaction.

2. WITHOUT HELL, THERE IS NO JUSTICE.

It will seem strange to some that given a choice of three statements of belief, "I believe in hell" would be one. I chose this not randomly, however, and not impulsively.

There has to be a hell, otherwise there is no justice in the universe.

Last night, a television program dealing with the personalities of the Second World War (primarily FDR, Churchill, Hitler, and Stalin) told how in the days and hours leading up to his suicide in the Berlin bunker, Adolf Hitler was still ordering the execution of his own people whom he suspected of plots against him or favoring surrendering to the Allies.