A life in Christ confidently proclaims the truth of God's Word.

Witness Well

How has Jesus become real to you?

I was teaching a Bible class to a group of Chinese college students who were studying about Christ. One evening a lady who had been studying God’s Word for three years asked me a profound question. She was quite hesitant to place her faith in the risen Christ, yet loved studying the Bible. With an intense, searching look in her eyes she asked, “How has Jesus become real to you?”

I shared with her that the Bible says, “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” To demonstrate what I meant, I asked her to stand up. I carefully tied a blindfold around her eyes. While she was standing, I carefully and quietly placed a chair directly behind her. I told her, “There is a chair directly behind you, the same chair I have been using. You know this chair is sturdy because you saw me sit in it. As a result, you are confident that this same chair will easily hold you when you sit down. In fact, members of this class will be my witnesses in that there is indeed a chair directly behind you despite the fact that you can’t see it or feel it. Furthermore, there is a book that has been around for several thousand years that says, ‘Believe me!’ I am going to ask you to sit down in the chair while blindfolded. Furthermore, I will even hold my hands out in front of you to grasp onto while you sit. Believe me. There is a chair behind you.” She nervously considered my invitation and with great trepidation, she grabbed my hand and sat in the chair.

Taking her blindfold off I asked, “What do you see?” “A chair,” she replied. “That is an example of faith,” I replied. “It is surrendering to what we do not see or feel. Our eyes cannot see Jesus, like you can see me now, but God has given us another pair of eyes that is located in our heart. Only God, through his Word, can open those eyes so we can see Jesus for who He really is; our Savior. In fact, God’s hands are always there leading and guiding us.” One month later, the Chinese lady was baptized along with her young daughter and her life hasn’t been the same since.

How has Jesus become real to me? Friends in college shared the same truths of the Gospel with me. The Lord opened my eyes and I accepted Jesus as my personal Savior. The funny thing is that I never even knew I was spiritually blind in the first place. I can also say my life has not been the same since. Jesus is real to me because I have more peace than anxiety. More hope than hopelessness. I laugh more and even cry more than I did before. I have forgiven rather than cultivate bitterness, because Christ has forgiven me. As my relationship has grown with Jesus, so have my trust, hope and confidence. I know my future is certain. Jesus is real. He is the Savior. He loves us just as we are and desires for all of us to come to Him.  Trust Jesus and believe.

The most reasonable thing to do is believe in Christ

Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain in what we do not see. Scientific facts rest on evidence. Our human senses grasp the evidence and we come to believe that fact. Faith goes a step further.

I think it is safe to say that there is always a “leap” to believe in anything. A risk is involved. There are consequences in being wrong. When presented with God’s Word and the truth regarding salvation only through Jesus Christ, there is a tremendous eternal risk of rejecting God’s invitation. It’s like someone standing outside your house yelling, “Fire!” You can believe the messenger by weighing the evidences around you (i.e. smell smoke, see flames) or choose to ignore the person’s message. You can believe them and run the risk of running outside if its all a joke, or choose not to believe and risk being burned up. If you choose to suspend judgment, you risk the same thing. There is no such thing as a “risk free” position. 

The most reasonable thing to do is believe. The evidence for Christianity is strong and worth consideration. The alternatives are comparably weak. Plus, the risk of not believing is far greater than the risk of believing. If Christianity is false, you’ve lost nothing. If it’s true, you’ve lost all eternity.  

Christianity is relationship-oriented. Jesus Christ wants to introduce himself to you in the Gospels and desires for you to know him. He already knows and loves you and He desires for you to love him. When one becomes a Christian and begins to cultivate a relationship with Jesus Christ, the certainty of faith increases as well. Christ becomes a living reality. A person knows Him not only on the basis of the evidence, but on the basis of an experiential relationship. Christ is living in them. So, the question is ultimately not how can you risk believing in Christ, but how you can risk otherwise.

Why did Jesus have to die for us?

I am not able to adequately explain how Jesus is both God and man to satisfy human reason, nor convince scientifically how His death pardons me. However, in this one act, God redeemed the whole world. God, the perfect Judge, passed out a sentence for all of man’s crimes (sins). Jesus, by being sinless and entirely innocent, satisfied the penalty for our sins and died for all of us. This was not an act of injustice, but an act of incomprehensible love!

Why did Jesus have to die for us? God, who is perfect, is incompatible with imperfection and thereby opposed to sin.Yet, despite our sins, God wants all of us to live eternally with Him. There lies the problem. People must be held accountable because their sins can’t be overlooked. We must be perfect to be compatible with God.

The Bible teaches that we can never be perfect on our own. Our situation is too severe. This is where the life and death of Jesus Christ comes in. Out of love, God satisfied his own standard of perfection by absorbing within Himself the sins of the world and the punishment which those sins deserved. In Jesus’ death on the cross, humanity pays for its sin and the record is wiped clean. When we believe in Christ as our only hope of salvation, God forgives all past, present and future sins.

The main point of the Bible can be easily misunderstood. God’s Word is not meant to inspire great feats of self-effort, but to expose our sinful condition and need for God through Christ. God’s plan of salvation is like a large inheritance sitting in a bank. It will come to nothing if people don’t come and receive this gift as their own. This free gift comes only to those who believe. On the day of judgment, a believer will stand before God with the righteousness of Jesus Christ. With this assurance, we can face God, our Creator and our Savior, with joy, not fear.

How could a loving God torture people in an eternal hell?

The concept of hell is difficult for our human minds to comprehend or understand. Yet, the Bible clearly teaches the existence of a hell as well as the existence of heaven.   

Scriptures contain many metaphors that attempt to describe hell as a place to avoid at all costs. Fire, darkness, weeping and gnashing of teeth are just a few examples. In fact, a term the Bible uses for hell (gehenna) was actually a valley outside of Jerusalem that was used as the city’s major garbage dump. The reality of hell vividly expresses the repulsiveness of sin by depicting it as a place for the refuse of humanity. Hell is the ultimate destiny of people who chose to reject God. They become “garbage” and are “cast out” forever from God’s household. 

We have to remember that it is people who put themselves in hell, not God. The Bible says that God does not want any to perish, but all to repent and come to faith. It becomes apparent that if anyone goes to hell, they go to a place originally not prepared for them. It is against God’s will. God tells us, “I take no delight in the destruction of the wicked.” People willfully rebel by determining that God must be a liar. God’s judgment is simply giving sinners their own way. As a result, the unrepentant sinner misses out on what life was really all about and suffers the eternal torment of their own choosing. 

The most important thing about hell is not to understand or explain it, but to avoid it! The only way for us to avoid the nightmarish reality of hell is to grasp on to the Savior. God’s great love for is revealed by giving us our only hope to avoid hell and that is through His Son, Jesus. We can think of it in this way; if Jesus willingly died for us to avoid hell, then it must be a terrifying experience!

Is it true that all people who do not believe in Jesus are destined for hell?

The issue surrounding hell is a very sensitive and emotional topic. Though the Bible is quite clear in the message of salvation, there are some teachings, like the doctrine of hell, that are difficult for our human minds to resolve.   

Heaven and hell are biblical truths. Even though the comprehension of a hell terrorizes us, it is a fact and a certain reality whether we like it or not. A person may think that the unmistakable proof of the law of gravity is unfair.  Since they don’t agree or understand this truth, the person will determine that they can fly and jump off a skyscraper with disastrous consequences. We may consider this foolishness, but God also considers foolish those who deny the fact of hell and live according to their own understanding. 

Hell is the place of God’s wrath and judgment for those who reject his love in Jesus. God is not only loving, but he is also fair and just. There are only two sides of a coin. There is no middle ground. On the Day of Judgment, a person will either spend eternity in heaven or hell. Jesus says, “the person who believes and is baptized will be saved, but the one who doesn’t believe will be condemned.” If someone deliberately rejects God’s love in Jesus, then they choose the eternal consequences of hell knowingly or unknowingly. If people go to hell even though we don’t think they should be there, it may be because our perspective is much more limited than God’s. 

We have to be mindful of one vitally important truth of the Gospel. God is most decisively revealed in Christ Jesus. There is no salvation outside of Jesus. Nobody can go to God the Father except through the Son. We can be judged righteous and innocent before God by living a perfect life or through the sacrificial death of Christ. The fact is that nobody can come to God on their own. We are all sinners. God will judge people according to their relationship with Jesus and how they have responded to the truth of the Gospel. It is a certainty that all who reject Christ are damned and those with a sincere faith are assured of salvation.   

Since God is fair and just, people will not go to hell “by accident.” In difficult cases, only God knows the true heart of a person. The question you should really be asking is what will happen to you and your family. Your only concern should be that you and your loved ones are not among those who reject Christ. Receive him as your Lord and Savior! Let hell be God’s problem, not your problem. 

 

** This question and answer was inspired from the book, “Letters from a Skeptic” by Dr. Gregory A Boyd and Edward K. Boyd, Chariot Victor Publishing, 1994. 

Why do Christians claim the Bible is the only true holy book?

We currently live in a culture where all truth is relative. Absolute truth is dismissed as being “out of touch.” As a result, there becomes a growing interest in the various assortments of religious thought.   

Many people throughout the world believe that all religions are basically the same. It is true that other religions have written teachings that may contain kernels of truth. Their definitions of a god and the way to find a god attempts to soothe human reasoning. 

The Christian faith is entirely based on the truth found only in Jesus Christ. The truth is founded on the authority of the Bible and its transforming power to bring people to faith and be declared righteous before God. Based on these fundamental points of the Christian faith there becomes an obvious contradiction with other religions. Both cannot be right. Therefore, we must make the conclusion that both writings or holy books cannot be considered the Word of God.

How do we know which holy book is true? The inherent interest of religious thought points to the fact that people are hungry for the truth. Other religions point to what we can do to achieve inner peace, better our future life or how to please God. It is only the Christian faith that boldly proclaims in the Bible what has already been done for us. Through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the promised Son of God, we are declared right or perfect in the eyes of God. Our eternal future of peace and paradise is secured.   

When you test and compare all claims of revelation, along with the historical fact that Christ was resurrected from the dead, the Bible stands alone as the definitive “Word of God.” All other works may have wonderful literary and philosophical insights, but do not communicate the true way to salvation which is found only in Christ Jesus.  

** This question and answer was inspired from the book, “Letters from a Skeptic” by Dr. Gregory A Boyd and Edward K. Boyd, Chariot Victor Publishing, 1994.   

Why are there so many interpretations of the Bible?

Jesus prayed that all believers may be united in the faith. The fact that the body of believers on earth are not united damages the witness to Christ as Savior. The reasons why churches have different interpretations is not the fault of the Bible, but a commentary on the sinfulness of the church.

Christians are sinners. In some cases, pride or desire for control over others has motivated some to manipulate the Holy Scriptures to serve their own purposes. However, in most cases, it’s because we are very weak in understanding spiritual truth that we sincerely differ with each other. The church has a long history of trying to “help” God which typically has led to hindering the work of God. In fact, the Bible contains many stories of how God accomplished his purpose through people (e.g. Abraham, David) who had a way of messing things up. 

The point is that the church today is no different than the churches of the past. The Apostle Paul even reminds us that God has demonstrated to us that we are all under sin so that he may display his mercy. The basic truth is that we are all sinners in need of grace, including church members. Most of the divisions in Christianity concerning what the Scriptures teach are due to human sinfulness.

The Scriptures do clearly teach that it is by grace alone, not works, that we are saved. Sometimes, there are differences of opinion outside this truth of salvation on how certain Scripture texts are interpreted. Such differences lead to separate practices regarding communion, baptism, fellowship and the role of women. These differences are important. However, a person is not saved based on their views concerning secondary teachings of Scripture. They are saved because of their relationship with Jesus Christ. The Bible is perfectly clear on this one essential point. The truth and life found in this relationship stands apart from all other issues. These other issues are important, but are not “saving.” Don’t let the issues and differences of the church keep you from the all-important truth that Jesus died for you.  

** This question and answer was inspired from the book, “Letters from a Skeptic” by Dr. Gregory A Boyd and Edward K. Boyd, Chariot Victor Publishing, 1994. 

If the Bible is inspired by God, why did He allow the church to put it together?

The Bible is God’s Word to us. It is God speaking to us today. It is the same God who spoke to Moses and the same God who directed the gospel writers to record the words of the Bible. The entire Bible centers on God’s promise of salvation and its fulfillment in Jesus Christ, our Savior. Since the message of man’s salvation is so important, it makes sense that God would be in control by inspiring the biblical writers so that the words are without error.   

In the early years of Christianity, several written documents were being circulated and widely recognized as inspired. In the second century, a heretic named Marcion started his own brand of Christianity by cutting and pasting fragments of Scripture. To confront this heretical practice, church leaders very carefully recognized and accepted a list of authentic books which we call the New Testament. 

There is good reason to believe that the Bible is God’s Word.  Please consider the following:

1) If God sent his Son to save us and uses only his Word to proclaim that message, then it is not difficult to believe that he would oversee the process of putting his Word together;

2)  From the Dead Sea Scrolls, we know that the canon of the Old Testament had been established at least 200 years before the birth of Christ. Jesus accepted the Old Testament canon as it was and referred to it as the Word of God;

3) Very stringent criteria were placed on these books which came to be the Old and New Testament. People were dying for their faith at this time. Great care was given to make sure that everything they believed came from the mouth of God;

4) The books of the Bible contain a message that people throughout history have clung to as the transforming power of God’s Word and its message of inspiration. 

The gospel is the instrument by which God works saving faith in our hearts and empowers us to live out his will and preserve our faith until he calls believers home to heaven. Since the Bible is the most precious gift given to God’s crown of creation, then it is safe to say that God will direct and preserve His Word. Hear what God’s Word is saying to you. The thrust of the entire Bible is to bring you into a loving relationship with Jesus. The Bible comes alive to the extent that a person meets Jesus through it.