Wednesday, January 18, 2012

With Jesus It Is All Or Nothing

I have heard some people defend their faith by saying that even if it turns out that God is not real they have had the benefit of living a good life. On the surface this looks fine but when you consider a life based on a lie you realize what a sad statement it is. Apparently some people in the Corinthian church were saying something similar which is the reason Paul had reminded them that the gospel message was based on a few simple truths:

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. (1 Corinthians 15:3-5)

None of this is disposable. Our belief is not vague, our faith is does not lack focus. We do not hold on to an idea but the person of Jesus Christ, who had purpose in being born, living and dying and then being raised from that death. We cannot set aside his death and still "believe". We cannot set aside the resurrection and still "believe". In fact Paul but it this way to the Corinthians:

If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. (1 Corinthians 15:19)

We are living in an age when people like to pick and chose what they believe. Some have chosen to leave hell out of the picture. Others have dismissed the miracles. Some have set aside the cross and others the resurrection. Yet, all of these people still call themselves Christian and still claim to be defenders of the faith. They follow a supposed moral code laid down by Jesus but Paul said that if our hope is only for this life we are a pitiful creature.

Paul makes it clear how important the resurrection is to us. Let me give it to you in the points Paul makes:

If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. (v. 13)

- And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. (v. 14)

More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead.  (v. 15)

And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. (v. 17)

Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. (v. 18)

With Jesus it is all or nothing. There is no fence sitting; no selective belief; no excusing away what looks like silliness to the world today. Everything that Jesus taught and revealed and did is interconnected so that if you take one thing away it all falls apart. We can't say that Jesus was a prophet, a good man, a wonderful teacher when he has claimed to be the Son of God. He either is who he says he is and has done what has been reported as doing, or he is a complete madman, a liar and we are fools.

We know that many have rejected Jesus and do consider us fools but we can't set aside our faith to try to make Jesus more believable to an unbelieving world. It is a foolish thing to do because people cannot come to know God by fine sounding arguments. Man's wisdom cannot convince people to believe. Salvation is the work of the Holy Spirit who convicts people of their sin and of the love, mercy and grace of Jesus Christ. Salvation is a spiritual work, not a work of the flesh. What seems impossible to man is possible for God.

My friends, especially you college and university students, do not wander from the path of faith in an attempt to prove God is real. The proof is found in the Holy Spirit who lives in you. The proof is supernatural. If you want your friends to come to know Jesus then continue to live by the Spirit, never compromising in love, making the most of every opportunity, testifying to Jesus' goodness, praying over them continually, and standing firm in the tenets of our faith:

- Jesus died for our sins
- he was buried
- he was raised from the dead
- he was seen by hundreds of people after his resurrection

The fact that Jesus died as the penalty for our sins tells us that reconciliation with God has been made possible. The fact that Jesus was raised from death tells us that death has been defeated and that the promise that we too will be resurrected is true. His burial is proof of his death. The witnesses are proof of his resurrection. Don't let go of what you have been taught.

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Philip said...

Hey Paul,
As always great thoughts and an encouraging reminder that it is the Holy Spirit that convicts.

For a wild and long conversation I had with a "new atheist" you may want to look at the comment thread on my post

I did my best to defend the faith and witness, but at the end of the day I've got to leave the convicting in the Spirits hands.

If you get a chance to look at it, I'd love to get your feedback. Thanks,

Pastor Paul said...

Hi Philip, I have visited your blog often but have yet to discover how to leave a comment for you. I often find it a waste of energy holding any conversation with an atheist. Then again, I am not an Apologist.