Eyes That See

“I Once Was Blind”

My “Case for Christ”

Four convincing pieces evidence for Christianity, in my opionion:  the spread of the early Christian church on the basis of eyewitnesses of Jesus’ resurrection in the face of brutal persecution, the willingness of all twelve of Jesus’ disciples to die for the belief that He was resurrected, the conversion of Saul/Paul, and the change in the life of Jesus’ brother James.
 
The founder and foundation of Christianity, Jesus Christ, was brutally murdered on the cross.  He was beaten to near death, forced to carry the crossbeam of His cross through town, had nails driven through His feet and wrists, the distance between the nails through His wrists would have forced His shoulders to be dislocated by the weight of His body, and His body weight would have eventually caused Him to suffocate when He could no longer push Himself up on the nail through His feet to be able to breathe.  I say that not to necessarily focus on the Cross, but to direct your attention to the people of that time.  This man claimed to be the Messiah of God.  There is historical evidence that He really lived and that He really performed super-natural feats, but this had to look like the end of His claims to be the Son of God.  His disciples were discouraged.
 
Add to that the fact that early Christians were persecuted by the Roman empire and others.  They were hung, crucified both right-side-up and upside-down, beheaded, and burnt at the stake.  And yet Christianity spread like wild fire in those days.  And the simple fact that there are still Christian churches almost 2000 years later, in spite of numerous efforts to nip Christianity in the bud, says a lot.  Early Christians had to simply renounce Christianity to save their lives, but they wouldn’t do it.  People who witnessed the murder of Christians became Christians.  Does that not defy all logic?  The man who was leading one of Jesus’ disciples to his execution professed Christianity and was beheaded with him.
 
All twelve of the disciples were willing to die rather than renounce their belief that Jesus was the Messiah, based on His resurrected appearance to them three days after the Crucifixion.  If it was all a lie or a hoax, would you not expect at least one of them to renounce and tell the executioners what they wanted to hear in order to save his life?
 
Then you have the apostle Paul, who was previously called Saul.  Saul was a Pharisee, on the rise in the Jewish elite.  He had fame, status, and power, and he was on the rise in large part because of his relentless persecution of Christians.  Then on the road to Damascus, the Bible says that Jesus appeared to Saul, blinded him, and told him that he would go by the name Paul from then on.  So Saul/Paul is converted and goes from being the most prominent persecutor of Christians to becoming a Christian himself and suffering all kinds of persecution himself, and he wrote a large portion of the New Testament.
 
Then you have James, the brother of Jesus.  He did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah while Jesus was alive.  Then Jesus is brutally murdered, as I described already.  Then the Bible says that Jesus appeared to James, along with over 500 others including the twelve disciples.  Remember Jesus has just been brutally murdered, and a similar brutal murder is all but promised to anybody who is a follower of Jesus.  James then becomes a ‘pillar’ of the Christian church, and he was writing and teaching in Jerusalem, and he was responsible for the conversion of an enormous number of people. 
 
So the Jews, the Pharisees, and the Scribes who did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah saw James as a problem.  They decided to put him on the top of the temple while there were a multitude of people in Jerusalem for the passover feast one year, so that they could persuade him to renounce Christianity with all those witnesses.  Instead of renouncing, James affirmed that Jesus was the Messiah and said that He ‘sits at the right hand of the Power that is in Heaven.’  They decided to throw him off the temple so that the people would be afraid to believe as he believed.  The fall did not kill him, and he rose to his knees and prayed for the men who had just thrown him off of a temple.  They proceeded to stone him, and he was finally killed when a man struck him over the head with a club.
 
We all have the idea of God, but we have also all sinned and our sin causes a seperation between us and God.  It is not a matter of living as good as we can and hoping that the good outweighs the bad, as other religions propose.  Jesus was and is God, and His death on the cross provides the only path to be reconciled with God.  Jesus taught that we had to be perfect and have perfect righteousness in order to enter the kingdom of heaven.  But none of us can attain perfection or perfect righteousness.  ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’
 
Thats where Jesus comes in.  He lived a perfect life and had perfect righteousness.  He knew no sin, but died the death for our sin.  We know no righteousness, but through His death on the Cross we can have forgiveness for our sins, His perfection, and His righteousness.  Our sin for His righteousness.  His death for our life.  That is the Gospel, and that is Christianity.

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December 7, 2007 Posted by | Atheism, Atheist, Christ crucified, Faith, Jesus, Messiah, Resurrection | 1 Comment

“Without Excuse.”

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” -Romans 1:18-20

Looking back on the time in my life when I rejected God and Christianity, I see things that I didn’t really see then. I had reasons for suppressing the truth of Christianity and rejecting it. I thought that it was better to live as if there was no God and as if Jesus was not the Son of God and is not the King of the universe.

I think back to conversations with my brother, when he made perfect sense and I couldn’t come up with answers for his questions other than simply saying, “I don’t know.”

As I said, “I don’t know,” I had to fight to keep a sly grin from coming across my face, because I was thinking about the reasons I couldn’t buy into what he was saying. I didn’t think that he could provide evidence for what he told me, and even when he did provide evidence, I brushed it off. If he gave me anything from the Bible, my defense was that the Bible wasn’t credible. Those things happened too long ago. How could anybody live their life around something that happened 2000 years ago? But the reason that I rejected everything he said was that I had to reject those things to live the way that I wanted to live.

Then things started to change. God started pursuing me. Certain weird things started happening in my life- I was living farther away from my dad than I had ever been, and I started having this crazy longing to have a son and thinking about what it would take to raise him and all the things that I wanted to teach him. I had this longing for the closeness that I have with my dad, along with the longing to someday build a similar father-son relationship with a son of my own. I was very strangely emotional about father-son relationships in TV shows and movies.

I started thinking more about the Christian life, and decided that it would probably be good to somehow teach my children the values that I learned being brought up in a Christian home. I remember thinking that I would definitely rather live in a neighborhood full of Christians than a neighborhood full of atheists, because I thought Christians were more “virtuous” in general.

I realized that I was being an idiot pursuing the kind of girls that I was pursuing, and I thought about all the “good girls” that I passed over when I was in college because I was looking for girls that “wanted to have fun.”

I decided that I would like to marry a Christian girl, because Christian girls are likely to be more virtuous. And because I thought that would be a good way to arrange for my kids to be brought up with Christian virtues. I decided that if I married a Christian girl, then I would be okay with going to church with her and our kids if/when we had kids for the sake of their virtues.

All of these things came together to elevate the Christian life in my eyes. Then, I “happened” to move to Houston, TX.

My brother gave me the Biblical evidence for the resurrection, and the only think I had to cling to was that the Bible wasn’t credible.

Then I came to realize that there was an enormous difference in the way that I read things. I remembered reading “The Da Vinci Code,” and I couldn’t get enough of it. As ludicrous as the ideas that “The Da Vinci Code” puts forth were, just the idea that it provided an argument against Jesus and Christianity spurred me on and I finished it in 3 or 4 days.

So, when I “happened” to stumble across Lee Strobel’s “The Case for Christ,” I began reading it with a realization that I read things differently depending on whether they supported or rejected Christianity.

So, with an elevated view of the Christin life, with my brother’s arguments, and with Strobel’s evidence for the credibility of the Bible, I was convinced that Jesus really was resurrected from the dead, and that He really is the King of the universe.

I truly believe that if you do not believe, then you are in the same position that I was in. Just as I suppressed the truth so that I could live the way that I wanted to, as if there was no God, I believe that you are suppressing the truth as well.

God has made it evident to you, and you have decided to reject the evidence. The poetry of life screams that there was a Divine Poet who set it all in motion, and we will all come face to face with Him one day.

If you do not repent of your sins, and turn to Jesus and accept and treasure Him as the only way to be reconciled with God, then you will have no excuse on that day.

I hope and pray that God will pursue you in the same way that He pursued me, because I know that I do not deserve it any more than you do.

Whatever explanations or excuses you have cannot account for the perfection and righteousness that God requires of us. Jesus’ death on the cross bought you, whether you accept it or not. The God who created everything in this universe requires absolute perfection and absolute righteousness from us. None of us are anything close to absolutely perfect or absolutely righteous. But our infinitely just and loving Creator provides an absolute perfection and an absolute righteousness in the person of Jesus Christ, who was fully God and fully man. And that perfection and that righteousness are extended to all who will accept it. It is an open invitation to all who are willing to give up the filth of this world for the treasures that God has to offer, lose the life that they want, and find the better life and the satisfaction that are only possible in Jesus Christ, who sits at the right hand of the Power that is in Heaven.

December 1, 2007 Posted by | Atheism, Atheist, children, Christ, Christianity, family, God, grace, Jesus, Life, love, mercy, Religion, Resurrection, righteousness, spouse, testimony, the Bible, virtue | 14 Comments