Belief In Jesus No Matter What?

A critical question every Christian should ask themselves is this: is there anything that would make you not believe in Christianity? For many, the answer is at the ready before the question can fully be asked. “No!” they say, “There is absolutely nothing that can ever make me not believe!” As faithful an answer as this may seem, it’s not a very good one.

Conspicuously before us is one matter that should make any Christian pack it up and never return to a church. If Jesus isn’t raised from the dead, there is absolutely no point to the Christian faith. Sure, you still have the really good teachings and morality of Jesus, but if He isn’t raised from the dead, He’s an out-right liar and should not be trusted. You see, the resurrection from the dead is the linchpin argument upon which Jesus staked His claim! Did He support the claim? If He skipped out on it; if the tomb of Easter wasn’t actually empty; if the disciples or some random gardener did break in and steal the body; if Jesus is still dead and buried somewhere, then the Christian faith is vain and every poor sap who’s ever been taken in by it deserves complete pity.

So did He? Did Jesus actually rise from the dead? We have the four Gospel accounts from Easter morning. We learn that the tomb was sealed up as well as it possibly could be to prevent tampering and theft of the body inside. We also learn that armed guards were stationed at the tomb to keep watch and prevent any kind of tomfoolery that could lead to people thinking Jesus was actually raised. All four Gospels tell the story of a tomb surprisingly open and miraculously empty. What’s more, Jesus body was found later that day! Alive! Jesus – living, breathing Jesus – was seen later that day by most of His disciples, several women, and a couple guys on a walk home to Emmaus. They spoke with Him. They touch Him. They saw Him with their own eyes. Again and again, for forty days, Jesus spent time with them fully alive! At one point He was even seen by 500 people! There is no doubt from the evidence that Jesus is alive!

If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep. (1 Corinthians 15:17-20)

For the one who would doubt Christianity, this is the point with which he must contend. The claims and miracles and teachings all must first be measured against the truthfulness and trustworthiness of the Man. Did He do what He said He would do? Is Christ raised from the dead?

YES!!

Because Christ is raised from the dead, everything that He said is true and all that He did is for you! His death was died in your place. His resurrection is the guarantee of your eternal life. His promises of forgiveness, mercy, peace, and life are trustworthy! Jesus Christ is most certainly raised from the dead! Christianity stands or falls on this point. Christ lives! The church stands! Christ lives . . . for you!

Dear Jesus, you live! Today I come to you thankful for your trustworthiness and for calling me to saving faith by Your Holy Spirit. Keep me in this true faith; bring others in as well. Amen.

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What We’ve Earned

The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

I have taught a “basics in the Christian faith” class several times a year for the past ten years. We meet together weekly over the course of six weeks for about an hour. Romans 6:23 has become the theme verse for what we do together. In this passage, Paul says it all! He tells us what we’ve earned. He tells us what Jesus has mercifully given. He tells us the whole story in a handful of words. He does this by clarifying God’s two words: Law and Gospel.

In lesson one, we explore how we know there is a God and what we know about God based on what He’s revealed of Himself. We then spend a heavy amount of time discussing what expectations the Lord has for us. It goes something like this. Almighty God has created each of us to be His human creatures. As such, He has a number of expectations for how we will act toward Him and one another. These expectations are written into the fabric of who we are as human beings. When we live up to these expectations, we are doing nothing more or less than being human. When we don’t live up to His requirements, we are proving to be something less than human, namely “broken humans”.

To determine whether or not you are fully human, I’d invite you to take this short quiz. Rate yourself (from 0%-100%) based on how well you live up to the expectations of each of the following categories:
1. Parent/Child
2. Spouse
3. Worker
4. Neighbor
5. Christian

If you’re honest, you did not write down five 100%’s here. We may do well in one area, but isn’t it amazing how others fall short. What’s more, this is nowhere near an exhaustive list!

God’s expectation for His human creatures is perfection at all times in all categories. How’s that working out for you? Not well for me!

So what have all my deeds earned me? Paul holds nothing back in his answer: the wages of sin is death. As I turn in my time card to the Lord for all that I’ve done over the course of my life, He hands me the paycheck I’ve duly earned. Stamped in stark crimson, the word that says it all DEATH. My thoughts, words, and deeds have brought about my demise. So have yours.

Thanks be to God, Paul doesn’t leave us hanging here. Rather than leave us with the bad news that death and damnation await us because of our brokenness, we are heralded with the best news that the Lord Himself gifts us instead of death, eternal life through Jesus Christ!

This Good News is for you! The Lord has decided in favor of you. That although you’ve earned death for yourself, He chooses mercy for you. He chooses to love you. Out of His own goodness, He chooses to gift you with His tremendous blessings. The gift of God for you is eternal life through Jesus Christ! You will never hear better news!

Dear Jesus, thank you for the gift of choosing me for eternal life. I am sorry for all my sins and shortcomings. Strengthen me in your love to do better. Keep me in the one true faith. Amen.