“The greatest distinction between Christianity and other religions is that the death of its founder did not mark the termination of His life and ministry. . . . . The Resurrection is the hinge on which the truth of our faith turns, and without it nothing else would really matter. . . . The dynamic joy of our faith would turn into speculation, and Christianity would be simply one of many human philosophies and religious theories.”
Nothing But the Truth: Upholding the Gospel in a Doubting Age
by John MacArthur
In a day and age when everything some of us believe in is being challenged, questioned, threatened, and denigrated, we must come to terms with what we truly believe and WHY we believe it to be, in fact, the truth. Now, I have had a running love / hate relationship with the idea that any human being actually possesses Truth (with a capital T), but I have never doubted that it exists. God’s Word is True, God Himself is True, and His Son the Lord Jesus Christ is in fact the God of the universe, come to earth to reside among men as a human man so that He might show us how to walk this earthly life in obedience to Him.
No doubts whatsoever. I’m simply not convinced yet that this teacher or that preacher or this Bible study leader or that world-renowned Christian speaker, author, or musican possesses the totality of Truth (with a capital T).
So, when I read this quote by John MacArthur, it seemed that here was the heart of all Truth . . . . . that we must begin with this foundational presupposition, or we have nothing upon which to build our life, our faith, our trust. And, in light of all that is being challenged around us, here is a way for us to express that which we believe to be God’s Truth (however inadequate we may feel in our expressions of this Truth).
Over the years there have been times when engaged in a conversation with those who are not yet convinced of the reality of God’s existence or the truth of the Lordship of Jesus Christ, I have heard people (rather quickly actually!) make the rather dramatic leap and ask me, “So . . . . then you believe that everyone who does not believe that Jesus is the Son of God is going to Hell?”
Well, there you have it . . . . the human response to a loving God. That is a tricky obstacle when attempting to live out a life of radical Christian love for our fellow human beings! But here is what we know is true and this is what we need to explain to those around us who are questioning: the fundamental, existential reality is not whether or not a person is “going to Hell” or not, but . . . . . what are you going to do with Jesus? Because that answers all the questions.
Let me explain from my own experience: Several years ago I worked with a beautiful woman, about my own age, who (for some reason unknown to me) was quite antagonistic to Christianity. I did not begin my day nor end my day (or anywhere in between) cornering her and telling her that she needed to know Jesus as her Savior or she was going to Hell. I just befriended her, got to know her, and we became good friends. She would tease me occasionally, and sometimes even try to get me to participate in a few of her off-color jokes . . . . . but I certainly had plenty to do to keep me busy and would just make my way to the next task at hand.
After almost two years of just loving her and being kind to her, one day we were sitting at lunch on a rainy, gray and cold Saturday afternoon, and she suddenly said,”So, Nina . . . . tell me about this Jesus thing.” So I did.
And of course, I got “the question.” But in truth (I believe and some may disagree with me) that is still NOT the fundamental question that we, as believers, must answer to those who are seeking and asking about Jesus. What they need to know first of all is that Jesus IS God, that He declared that He is, in fact, “the Way, the Truth, and The Life,” and that no one (no one) can come to God except through a right relationship of grace and forgiveness that is extended to each and every one of us through the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.
That truth makes Christianity completely different from every other religion or philosophy that has ever been presented to mankind through out the history of life on planet Earth. Because we must realize that Jesus cannot be a “good teacher” or a “wise prophet,” or a “holy man,” precisely because He, Himself, declared that He was, in fact, the Son of God . . . . so as C.S. Lewis expresses it so eloquently:
“Either this man (Jesus) was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. – Mere Christianity, pages 40-41.
Let that be the conclusion, and all else will fall into place. It is not MY task to tell the world the outcome of their delusion and rejection of the true and living God of the universe. It is my job to love them and tell them “about this Jesus thing” that has so changed my life and the lives of millions of others through the course of history. Do not listen to or be drawn in to that “patronizing nonsense” that attempts to corner you into mocking our God through distraction and questions that are designed only to deflect the conversation away from the Truth of Who He Is. He is God. He is my Savior.
And He will conclude the life of every human being based on His indescribable goodness, grace, compassion, justice, and righteousness – we need to be telling the world and all those who care to hear, that He offers a life of forgiveness, mercy, and love, and all we need to do is accept that free gift. This conversation has never been about whether or not you or I or anyone else is “going to Hell.” That is for God to determine, it is not my place . . . . but it is my place to tell the Truth to the best of my ability, even though I do not believe I alone know the totality of God’s Truth.
But I do know that He is alive, He is a forgiving gracious God, and Jesus came to earth in bodily form to live among men at that moment in history when God deemed the time was right. And He continues to intervene in human history every moment of every day – I just need to do the job He gave me to do, which is to love those whom God brings across my path every day, and to show them by my actions as well as my words, that He is the True and Living God. He’ll take care of the rest.
If you would like to participate in this week’s In Other Words, please leave your link here to your blog post on this quote so we can stop by and visit you. Then, please visit the other participants and leave a comment for them so they know you stopped by! Have a great week, Nina