Reasons To Believe: Exhibit #1
Vol: 90 Issue: 23 Monday, March 23, 2009
There are any number of reasons for a Christian to believe once he has been saved, apart from tangible and convincing evidences.
There is the personal indwelling Presence of the Holy Spirit. The Bible confirms that His Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God. There is, of course our faith, by which we are saved.
We have the Holy Scriptures, we have the pulpit and we have the assurances of answered prayer. All of these work together to assure us that we are safe and secure in the Master’s Hands.
So why have we made it our mission to explore tangible, hard evidences that prove the truth of Scripture? Because our mission isn’t aimed at the saved Christian who has all those resources at his disposal.
Our mission is to equip you with the evidences and proofs you need when you are out there on the battlefield, earnestly contending for the faith against a desperate enemy.
The effective study of Christian evidences should produce at least three practical results.
1) It will serve to confirm and solidify your faith when you are confronted with rationalistic and (irrationalist) unbelief.
2) It will prepare you as an effective witness to the Truth of Scripture.
3) It will equip you with a clear and uncompromising stand on the full integrity of the Word of God under any circumstances.
In a world of almost universal hostility against Biblical Christianity where unbelief in the Scriptures is exceeded only by ignorance of what they say, the most effective tool we have is that of hard evidences.
We live in a generation that takes an entirely subjective approach to religion in general and the Bible in particular. Believing the Bible is not entirely reliable in its literal and historic sense, ‘truth’ easily becomes what people want to believe is true.
“Whatever works” as they say — rather than, “whatever is true.”
There are many different religious systems whose adherents claim to have found genuine peace and satisfaction through submission to those systems. But that is not the same thing as saying all these contradictory systems are simultaneously true.
You see, that is the problem with Christianity. It demands a clear and concise criteria for what constitutes ‘truth’. Faith in some artificial Christ of one’s own design is not the faith that brings salvation.
It is not POSSIBLE for a Christian to accept the premise that all roads lead to Christ, or that all religions are equally valid for salvation.
Acceptance or rejecting the Gospel would be a matter of convenience, rather than a matter of conviction. Whether or not Scripture was true or false would therefore be irrelevant.
This option is not on the menu for Christians whose salvation is dependent on the truth of God’s Word rather than on how hard they work to earn admission to Heaven.
So over the next five days, we’ll examine five separate proofs — apart from the evidences provided by Bible prophecy, that the Bible is true, and that if Jesus isn’t the ONLY way, then there isn’t any way at all.
Exhibit #1 The Uniqueness of Christianity
Of all the religions of mankind, Christianity is unique in that it stands or falls on its historicity. The various sacred writings of other world religions may be based on the teachings of an individual, but whether or not some historical detail fits is irrelevant. Not so with the Bible. It claims 100% accuracy.
If a single fact, geological, historical, medical or scientific contained within its canon were proved to be conclusively wrong, the Bible’s authority would collapse.
As a consequence, no work of antiquity has been as thoroughly debated and vetted, in every country, in every city and town, in every generation. Yet it stands, uniquely challenged over the centuries, and remains uniquely unbowed.
Christianity is based in objective facts rather than subjective interpretation. There are different interpretations of Scripture but only one historical Christianity. It’s validity stands on the facts of Creation, the Fall of Man, the Redemption at the Cross and the Resurrection on the third day.
All the great religions of the world are rooted in the teachings of their founders. Buddhism is based on the teachings of Buddha, Islam on the teachings of Mohammed, Zoroastriaism on Zoroaster, Confucianism on Confucius, and so on, down the line.
Christianity is unique in that it isn’t based on what Jesus taught, but Who He is and what He did. The Bible doesn’t say, ‘obey the teachings of Jesus and be saved’. It doesn’t say we are saved by His teachings, but rather, we are saved Who He is.
Nobody could have paid for my sins except the One Who entered the blood covenant with Abraham. Since only God signed that agreement, only God could pay the price demanded for breaking it.
Greek and Roman mythology was filled with ‘demi-gods’ — lesser gods who were half human and half divine. But Christianity is unique in that Jesus Christ was all God and all man.
All the great religions have their own version of the Genesis story. All are essentially the same in that they begin with matter in some form or another and then explain how that matter became this present world.
The Babylonians had Enuma Elish, in which the world began as a primeval chaotic mixture of three kinds of waters. The Orphic myth had the world hatched from a giant ‘world-egg’.
Modern evolutionary science is not much different, really. It begins with a primordial ooze containing essential amino acids that combined at random, accidentally creating an amoeba that, over the course of billions of years, grew up to be an evolutionary scientist.
Notice that the ALL start at the beginning. Except the Bible. It begins BEFORE there was matter and explains how that matter came to be. There is no extra-Biblical authority, ancient or modern, that can go beyond the present order of things. Only the Bible begins before the beginning and explains how the beginning came to be.
For all their presumed authority, all the other faith systems, including evolution, end up admitting they don’t know how the universe began.
No other system offers a reasonable explanation for what came before this present universe. An infinite and eternal God is sufficient to explain space and time.
An all-powerful God can account for the vast sources of power and matter that make up the universe. An omniscient, or all-knowing God explains the obvious evidence of order and intelligence in the universe’s design. A personal and loving God accounts for the individual lives and personalities of His creation.
Random chance, primeval chaos and colliding atoms explain none of these things.
Christianity is unique in the nature of its Founder, Jesus Christ. History contains no other Personage even remotely like Him. There is so much to be said on this subject that for the sake of brevity, we’ll reduce it to bullet points:
1) His First and Second Advent were prophesied in detail thousands of years in advance.
2) He was uniquely born of a virgin.
3) His Divine Human Nature — not part god part man, but simultaneously all God and all man.
4) His sinless nature. There is no other being in history of Whom it is claimed a sinless life in thought, word and deed. Jesus’ sinlessness was confirmed by His friends, (1st John 3:5, 1st Peter 2:22 ); by His enemies; Judas Iscariot (Matthew 27:4; Pontius Pilate; John 18:38; and by His own Word: “And He that sent Me is with Me: the Father hath not left Me alone; for I do always those things that please Him.” (John 8:29)
5) His unique Death. On the Cross, the Bible says, “And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, He said, Father, into Thy hands I commend My Spirit: and having said thus, He gave up the ghost.” (John 19:30)
Literally, He ‘dismissed’ His spirit. Nobody dies like this. People can commit suicide, but nobody simply dismisses his spirit. Jesus said of His Death, early in His ministry, “No man taketh it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself.” (John 10:18a) And finally;
(6) His Resurrection on the third day. Christ not only had the power to lay down His life of His own volition, but He also showed He had the power to take it back up again three days later. “I have the power to lay it down, and I have the power to take it up again.” (John 10:18b)
All the great religious leaders of the world’s great religions eventually died and was buried. Many of their tombs are still venerated by their followers today. There are cases in which life was temporarily restored, (like Lazarus) but Lazarus eventually died again. Jesus Christ is alive forevermore.
Lastly, Christianity is unique among the world’s great religions because it teaches that salvation is not a product of human works but rather the product of Divine love. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: ” (Ephesians 2:8)
Salvation is extended to all men as an act of grace (or, a gift of love) by a loving Father. But to claim it, one must first recognize their need and accept the fact they are guilty of sin and deserving of its penalty.
Recognizing the need for forgiveness leads to the only One uniquely qualified to extend it — Jesus Christ, Who paid the penalty for sin in His own Body on our behalf.
There is nothing we can add in our mortal bodies that can augment or improve upon the price paid for our salvation. We can no more save our own souls through our own actions than we can make ourselves younger by exercising. At best we can only make minor, temporary improvements.
Recognition of this reality is unique to Christianity.
In the final analysis, then, there are but two world religions. There is Christianity, unique in its origins, exclusive in its claims, accurate in its precepts, founded by the Creator of the Universe, and counterintuitive in its doctrine; (victory by surrender, life from death, strength in weakness, etc.).
And there are all the others, which essentially share the same doctrine; man is the supreme being, God is the creation, one achieves ‘salvation’ by doing ‘good’ (measured on a sliding scale) and they are based on the teachings of a now-dead founder.
There is no other religion on the face of Creation that offers the hope of the Promise expressed by the Apostle Paul in his 2nd Letter to Timothy:
“For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know Whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.” (2nd Timothy 1:12)
It doesn’t say that I am able. Indeed, the Scriptures make it clear that I am not. Instead it says, “He is able” — and that’s all I need to know to meet Him one day in the air.
Christianity demands nothing of me in return for salvation apart from faith.
“But the Scripture hath concluded ALL under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. (Galatians 3:22)
Tomorrow: Exhibit #2 “The Historical Authenticity of the Scriptures”
Also, Frank has been working on fixing the problem that requires two user accounts — one for the member’s site and the other for the public side of the OL. He fixed it over the weekend. If you’ve already registered separately for the new site, you can continue to use that identity on the new site, but it won’t work in the member’s section.
However, your member’s login information is now the same for both sites, so you don’t need it. Just click on login and use your OL sign-in name and password. If you’ve forgotten your password, click on the “forgot your password” link at http://www.omegaletter.com/member_login.asp and we’ll send it to you by email.
You will still have to login to the member’s site separately, (logging in on the public site doesn’t log you in on the member’s site yet) but you only have to remember one set of credentials. Within a few weeks time, we hope to have the entire site integrated and no further workarounds will be necessary. What a day that will be!