9/03/2015

Why You Should Become a Christian:Christianity Gives a Certain Promise of Heaven

I have mentioned before that the ideas Christianity holds make intuitive sense to me. This idea is true of the central message of the Christian faith: what most call “the gospel,” or the good news.

The gospel is intuitive in that, once I was made aware of it; I knew “in my gut” that it explained my experience. Of course, it is not intuitive in that I would never have thought this up without someone telling me about these truths.

The gospel is the fact that God offers eternal life as a free gift. Paul wrote, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” As a gift, eternal life is not earned or deserved. I will return to this idea latter. 

The law requires perfection. Jesus Himself said, “Be ye perfect even as your father in heaven is perfect.” We cannot avoid the knowledge that we have fallen short of this obviously true ideal.  (???)

No one obeys the law perfectly or obeys the law with perfect motives: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

The old prayer of confession in the Anglican Church reads, “We have sinned against [God] in thought, word and deed. By the things we have done and the things we have left undone.”  It’s not just about what we do; it’s also about what we don’t do.

This conflict leaves us inadequately prepared for God’s judgment in and of ourselves. We are not perfect. We do not meet God’s standard.

The gospel comes into sharper focus when we understand what the Bible says about God. God is holy, or separate from sin. God is also just, that is, He is the perfect judge who must punish sin.  

The Old Testament reads, “... yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished.” God also loves: “God is love.” And since He loves His people, He must act.  

In human terms, this tension leaves God with a problem. On the one hand, He loves us and does not want to punish us. One the other hand, He is just and must punish sin. God solved this “problem” for us in the Person of Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ is God who came to earth as a man. As a man, Christ was able to follow the requirements of perfect morality. He was able to live a perfect life, always doing what is moral from perfect motives.

He also was able to take our sins upon Himself. He took credit for the things we have done wrong. 

He suffered a death He did not deserve as a substitute for us. He suffered the wrath of God for our sins.

As Isaiah wrote, “All we like sheep have gone astray, each to his own way, but God has laid on Him the iniquity of us all … it pleased the Lord to bruise him, and he has put him to grief.” As Paul wrote, “For [God] made [Christ] to be sin who knew no sin so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.” 

God has made it possible for Christ to take credit for our sins and suffer infinitely in His soul for them. We take credit for all of this by faith.

Faith does not just understand the good news of what Christ has done for us.  It does not just believe that these facts are true.

Faith is a confident trust that what Christ did He did for us. It trusts what He said about how to live our lives and what He said about having eternal life.

This is what the Bible means when it says, “Believe on [not just in, but on] the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” It is what Christians mean when they say that they accept the free gift of eternal life from Christ.

Why then do we do good works? If eternal life is a free gift, why should we strive to be moral? One answer for this is that we are grateful for the free gift we have received.

The gospel frees us from having to search our motives, which are often impure, and to live for the God who made us. We do not have to agonize over our motives because Christ died for impure motives as well as impure thoughts, words, and deeds. We do not perform good works out of desire to avoid punishment because Christ took our punishment for us.

Christ offers an abundant life to all who would turn to Him in faith. There is nothing outside you that keeps you from accepting His free gift of eternal life today. I pray that all who read this can find the hope of heaven that God has revealed to us in Christ.

Many people find that this simple message leads them directly to belief in God.

We should pray that the faith of Christians will be strengthened by the message of the gospel. Our next post will look at a practical reason to embrace the God of the Bible.


(Note: D. James Kennedy provided the general outline for this article.)

8/20/2015

Why You Should Become a Christian: Christianity Explains the Presence of Evil

A bridge in Minneapolis collapses. Nuclear weapons experimentation makes Kazakhstan home to people with awful disfigurements. A train wreck in Brazil kills eight and injures over 100. Civil war tears apart the hopes and dreams of children in Africa. ISIS continues its reign of terror in the Middle-east.  Seemingly countless murders tear apart families.

Evil, defined for this article as sin or injustice against another human being, is all around us.

I am not about to try to give a comprehensive explanation for how evil came to be. I do not claim to be the kind of person who can do that.  God created men with the ability to sin and the ability not to sin, but I cannot reason beyond that.

I do not know how evil came to be; I just know that evils exists. Evil is present. Evil is real.
What must exist in order for evil and suffering to be truly wrong? Does not the existence of evil itself require a standard of good?

Should we just accept evil as a part of the way the universe works? Should we accept a view of evil based on social convention, or the DNA encoded in our cells?

These things vary from one person to the next, but we do not find a definition of evil that changes greatly from person to person, place to place, or time to time. We always seem to have a notion of the way things ought to be.

I want a view of the world around me that accounts for the reality of evil and suffering. I want it to be called evil, not just the absence of happiness that is a social construct of mere men.

We know that this standard of good and evil must be real. Life makes no intuitive sense without it.
The denial of evil is impossible in view of the pain and suffering we see around us. I want cruelty to be profoundly wrong. For this, I need an absolute standard for what is right.

Christianity allows for this standard. It allows evil to be “evil.” Non-Christian views of the world do not allow for this standard because they provide no standard or right and wrong.

The theologian Greg Bahnsen writes:
… it is crucial to the unbeliever's case against Christianity to be in a position to assert that there is evil in the world -- to point to something and have the right to evaluate it as an instance of evil … the problem of evil turns out to be, therefore, a problem for the unbeliever himself. In order to use the argument from evil against the Christian worldview, he must first be able to show that his judgments about the existence of evil are meaningful -- which is precisely what his unbelieving worldview is unable to do.
Knowing that evil “is,” that it exists, is enough to convince us that there is a God. We cannot define evil without defining good. Evil is a falling short of the good.

Knowing that evil “is” leads us relentlessly to a God who is the definition of good. Without Him, we would not know evil when we saw it.

Of course, Christianity does not stop there. It also offers hope for deliverance from evil. In the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Christ we find ultimate deliverance from “the last enemy,” death. (1 Corinthians 15:25-28).


In Christ, we find deliverance from the power of evil and the forces that bring it about (Colossians 2:8-15). Many have found Christ to be their life and hope in the face of the real, tangible evil we find all around us.  We turn in our next post to one outcome of the teachings of the Bible.

8/13/2015

Why You Should Become a Christian: Christianity Changes the World for the Better

I was very ill as a young child. I had a lung disease that left me breathless after walking a few feet, much more out of breath when trying to run, climb, or jump. I was thirteen before I began to grow out of it, but I had been through a lot before then.

My illness always hit me hard when it came time for PE, physical education, class. That was when we divided up into teams to play sports.

I was never the first one chosen for the team. I was usually chosen last. Everyone knew I would have little to contribute. My best contribution would be just to stay out of the way.

Little League Baseball was and is more than a sport in Obion County, Tennessee, where I grew up. It is more like a religion. Parents had a lot to say about the make-up of the teams, and they organized try-outs.

I tried hard, but I was never picked to be part of the best team. I always wanted to be part of the winning team.

Christianity offered me the chance to be a part of the winning team, to be part of the group that will make a real difference in the world. Christ’s church proves to be a great influence today.

Here are some of the ongoing accomplishments of Christians making a difference in the world:

Operation Christmas Child impacts over 10,000,000 of the world’s impoverished children each year with gift-filled shoeboxes. 

World Vision, a Christian relief, development, and advocacy organization, assists more than 70 million children, with families and communities, to overcome poverty and injustice.

Southern Baptist Disaster Relief serves over 600,000 meals and purifies over 250,000 gallons of water per year for those devastated by disasters.

Mercy Ships has performed more than 1.7 million medical services valued at over $670 million and influencing more than 1.9 million people as direct beneficiaries.

Medi-Share has allowed Christians to give more than $275,000,000 to meet each other’s healthcare needs independent of healthcare insurance.

Prison Fellowship partners with hundreds of local churches and agencies across the country to bring Christ’s love to prisoners, ex-prisoners, and their families.

World Changers uses teams of Southern Baptist youth to rebuild the homes and the lives of thousands of families impacted by poverty and tragedy. 

These facts do not mention the countless daily ministries of local churches all over the world that meet the needs of Christians and Non-Christians alike. What more could you ask of an organization?
Christ said of His church, “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” I am finally part of the winning team.

The church truly advances the gospel in word and deed now, not to mention the many things it has accomplished in the past.  That fact is an important argument for the existence of the God of the Bible in itself.  (For more on the accomplishments of the past, see the books What if the Bible Had Never Been Written and What if Jesus Had Never Been Born, both by D. James Kennedy.)

Our next post will take us back to the world of philosophy to tackle what many call the greatest argument against the God of the Bible: the existence of evil.
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