Category Archives: a) Come and See – An Essay on Christianity

For my wonderful children – Natalie, Kyle, Dillan, Harrison, and Melissa. I love you all and want only the very best for you.
“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” 3 John 1:4

Evidence of God

There is a God. Though he is not physically with us or speaks audibly to us, there are undeniable, tangible markers in the world that testify to his presence.

The first is that we are here. There is no dispute that the probability of the simplest life forms appearing on a planet, let alone the existence of complex humans, is effectively zero. Yet, despite the logic of science and mathematical probability, here we are. The likelihood that you exist is 100% (because you are reading this), but the probability of you existing is zero. Is it reasonable to believe that the incredibly slim odds were beaten by chance alone?

Also, consider the astounding diversity of living things here on Earth. There are so many different species that no one can count them. The latest educated, authoritative guess is over 8.5 million, give or take a million. Present in these millions of species is a vast spectrum of configuration that seems to speak of influence well beyond the pressure of the environment or adaptation needed to survive over time. For example, the blue whale weighs 400,000 pounds, and the tiny bumblebee bat only 7/100 of an ounce. One lives underwater, and the other flies through the air using the echo of his screams to find and catch bugs. It seems improbable that evolution could account for the dramatic diversity of the animals on the Earth. Instead, I would suggest that the massive inventory of diverse and distinct flora and fauna is credible evidence of God’s work.

Then there is morality, the knowledge of good and evil, and the principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong. In nature, it is correct and acceptable for the strong to prey on the weak and for the cunning to deceive the naive. There is no wrong in nature; there is only the way things are. But in human society, even though the definition and perception of morality may change somewhat over time, we recognize that some actions and behaviors are good, righteous, and noble, while others are immoral, wrong, and unacceptable.

I doubt there would be disagreement that genocide is immoral or that sacrifice for others would be deemed righteous. It is easy to recognize the evil in our world, such as the depraved wretch that murdered his mother and then massacred 20 precious children at Sandy Hook elementary. It is also just as apparent that one who would volunteer his life to save another, or to save everyone, is the pinnacle of virtue. If there is only nature, with no distinction of morality, then what accounts for our fundamental recognition of wrong or right and good or evil? Did we become aware of the difference by upbringing, intellect, and experience? Or do we live in a world created by a God who intends for us to live above the instinct of nature?

The evidence is compelling that there is an architect and creator, but drawing that conclusion, or rejecting it, are both acts of faith. Some will believe that the existence of God is obvious and that to conclude otherwise defies reason. Others will put their trust in the infinitesimal odds that this all has occurred by chance.

Who Needs God?

If God’s existence is evident, then why the aversion by so many to believe in him?

One reason is that many don’t feel that they need God. Adequate prosperity, accomplishment, acceptance, and self-sufficiency often negate the conscious need for God. Another reason is the apprehension of God’s requirements. We fear that if we acknowledge him, he might ask, or worse, demand, something from us. There is trepidation that the acceptance of God means required abstinence from the pleasures of life (particularly for the young); a demand to sacrifice time, energy, and money to him or organized religion; or the pressure to assume weird, socially unacceptable behavior in judging and forcing religion on others. Who would want to sign up for that? No one! But understand that these things are not true. The reality is that we all need a savior, and the burden of obedience is insignificant compared to the astounding magnitude of his blessings – both in this life and the next.

Though our instinct is to live under our own direction and to do as we please, if the conclusion stands that there must be a God, then it seems imperative to understand what that means for us individually. It could be that our instincts are wrong and that it is to our dramatic benefit to understand and to our tragic detriment to dismiss.

On the other hand, if we conclude there is no God of consequence, then what? If all this is a fluke of nature, then we are free to spend our lives chasing pleasure, comfort, and security. We should follow our hearts’ desires, achieve what we can, accumulate more stuff, love our families, crush our enemies, and maybe try to live a good life (though I am not sure why). Then comes death. You are gone, forgotten, and forever perished. What was the point? Maybe there isn’t one.

Do you buy that?

Why Christianity?

Why is Christianity the correct pursuit of God?

Consider that Christianity sprang from the most obscure beginning and blossomed into the predominant religion on Earth over the last two thousand years. Billions of souls believe that Jesus Christ is God. How could it be that the words of a man born in a primitive town 2,000 years ago, who delivered his message for only 36 months and gathered a handful of followers before his brutal murder at the age of 32, were not lost to the ages? How can it be that the message of this guy has persisted?

Two thousand years later, Jesus is everywhere in our society – either worshiped, ignored, mocked, or despised. It seems absurd that a young Jewish carpenter’s words and actions from so long ago would be the most impactful and influential on humanity ever in history. Unless, of course, Jesus Christ is who he claimed to be – God incarnate.

So, what sets Christianity apart from any other set of beliefs or concepts of God? Here are three primary reasons why Christianity, which is faith in Jesus Christ, is superior to everything else:

  • The principal figure in Christianity claims to be God himself. Jesus Christ is not a prophet or a great moral teacher speaking about a distant deity. Instead, he is the true living God who we may come to know personally. In Christianity, we have God telling us about himself, ourselves, how to live, and how to perish.
  • Only in Christianity is our acceptance by God a gift to us from him. Our only responsibility, and the only thing we are capable of in reconciliation with God, is to believe and accept his gift. Every other religion, and even some Christian denominations who have distorted his message, base salvation on things you must do, rituals you must perform, or even money you must pay to earn God’s favor hopefully.
  • Christianity is rooted in a book that claims to be God’s inspired, inerrant, and authoritative word, not just words about God. That book is the Holy Bible. The belief that the Bible is God’s word is the essence of faith, and for those who have put their faith in Jesus, the Bible is an amazing, dynamic connection with God. It contains everything we need to know about him and his direction for us. Through it, he will transform your life. When you get into it, you will find it inexhaustible in its capacity to reveal meaning. The answers to all the questions that matter are in the Bible – if you desire to find them. To those who don’t believe, the Bible is foolish nonsense, an archaic work of implausible, boring fiction embraced by the gullible.

So, what is the message of Christianity? What is in the Bible that makes it so compelling? What did Jesus do that dramatically changed the hope of mankind over the past 20 centuries? 

The answer is salvation.

The Good News of Salvation

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” John 3:16-17 

The good news of Jesus Christ is that he has provided us the means to be reconciled with God and the opportunity to come to know him as our loving father. Because of his sacrifice on the cross, we can enjoy peace with God and reap the benefits of being one of his beloved children. Benefits that we enjoy both in this life and the life to come.

Fallen Man

“for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23

Born spiritually separated from God, we spend our lives pursuing our desires. Things that come to us naturally attest to our adversarial standing with him. Our natural inclination is to sin, transgress against God’s law, and rebel against him. We see this clearly and dramatically in the immorality and depravity in the world. We also see it in our daily lives as we live for our own pleasure and comfort. We prioritize our interests, desires, and love of things in this world ahead of God. Jesus tells us that the most important commandment is: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” Read Matthew 22:37-38 Who of us does that or is even capable of doing that?

God’s Judgement

“For the wages of sin is death; . . . “ The first half of Romans 6:23

God’s holy nature demands justice; he cannot condone sin. He is the essence of righteousness, the foundation and source of right and good. He is the stark contrast to what is wrong and evil in the world. Being a just God, he cannot allow sin to go unpunished or forgive without proper atonement. If God were to let any transgression stand, he would be no better than us. The bad news is that the penalty for sin is death, and we all deserve the wrath of God that is coming when we stand before him and face his judgment.

Man’s Attempt to Reconcile

Some don’t see the need to reconcile anything at all with God. They go through their lives without giving this any serious consideration. Many others, who have a notion of God, feel they are in good standing with him if they try to live a good life and be a good person. The presumption is that if you generally treat others well, think good thoughts, and rely on the good things you have done in life, that should be sufficient. Surely a person who has tried to live a good life does not deserve an eternity in the hell of the Bible, right?

The religious man’s instinct has been to do something to make things right with God. In man’s consistent overestimation of the good in himself, he tries to win God’s favor by doing what he believes, or has been told, pleases him. He tries to appease through self-righteous attempts to follow the rules and rituals of religion, living a pious life, or doing good works. But to God, it is futile nonsense.

The truth is, there is nothing anyone can do to earn God’s forgiveness. We are incapable of measuring up to his standard of righteousness. No matter how good you try to be, how good you think you are, you are not good enough. In the Old Testament, the prophet Isaiah tells us that our very best is no better than filthy rags to God. Read Isaiah 64:6

God’s Incomparable Gift

“ . . . but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” The second half of Romans 6:23

If we are incapable of attaining a righteous standing with God, is our fate then sealed to experience God’s judgment and wrath and suffer eternity in hell?   Thankfully No!    God so loves the people in the world that he provided the means to become righteous in his eyes, be forgiven of our sins, and be reconciled to him. He accomplished this for us by sending his Son, the person Jesus Christ, to live a perfectly obedient, sinless life and then be nailed to the cross to die for our sins. Jesus bore our sin and paid our debt, redeeming (purchasing) us from the penalty and power of sin with his blood on the cross.

“But God demonstrates his own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having been justified by his blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through him.” Romans 5:8-9

Faith in Jesus saves us from God’s wrath and provides us the means to become what we were meant to be, his beloved sons and daughters. The depth of God’s love for us, paying such a costly price for those who are by nature his adversaries, is hard to grasp. But the clearer you understand the essence of your sin, the more you realize how profound and precious this gift is. This understanding, magnified as you come to know the Lord and understand what he did for you, produces deep, humble thankfulness for an underserved pardon. By his grace, unmerited and undeserved favor, God offers this gift to deliver us all from the condemnation we deserve and instead provide redemption, the forgiveness of sins, and an eternity in heaven with him.

Acceptance

“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” Romans 10:9

God’s gift of salvation is available to all who choose to receive it. To accept this gift is easy, but the decision must be rooted in what you believe in your heart. This is to understand you live in sin and ask God to forgive you. Believe that Jesus Christ is his Son, who died on the cross for your sin and was raised from the dead three days later. Change the direction of your life (this is to repent) and trust, follow and obey Jesus Christ for the rest of your days on Earth. Accept his gift of salvation to save your soul and live forever with all the benefits of a beloved child of the God of all creation. Ask him to fill your heart with his presence and guide you, direct you, and sanctify you. Do this in prayer, from conviction in your heart, and you will be saved.

Know that this is not a magic chant or an act of religious emotion; instead, it is an act of faith, believing God’s word. The result of that faith is justification, being made righteous in God’s sight. This is the beginning of a new life for you. God gives you a clean slate, everything is forgiven, and you are now reconciled to God forever. Now seek him in his word, in congregations of true believers, in prayer, and you will find him. Read Matthew 7:7-8

“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Jesus Christ. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” Romans 8:1-2

Transformation

When you become a Christian, you become a new kind of person.

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold all things are become new.2 Corinthians 5:17

As a child, I had been well-schooled in the message of salvation, and in my teens, I declared my faith in Jesus Christ and was “saved.” My father and I were baptized together in a small Texas Southern Baptist church at the same evening service. I think that was around 1974. The foundation of education in God’s word so long ago was instrumental in my preparation, but it wasn’t until 40 years later, in my mid-50s, that I was compelled, or led, or driven, or whatever you might call it, to turn to God. It was then that I was changed, in some ways dramatically so, and finally became a new kind of person.

It was an intersection of challenging circumstances that brought me to this point. My father, with whom I was very close, was terminally ill, and we knew the day of his death was near. The anxious thought of losing him, a figure of stability and security, along with other life pressures, greatly intensified my primary source of anxiety and stress – an exceptionally demanding job. I felt that my knowledge, experience, and confidence were at best the minimum needed to succeed. I worried that I lacked the competency required to handle the role, and the workload was daunting. The stress of performance was crushing to me, and a debilitating fear bloomed inside. A constant undercurrent of failure anxiety impacted every area of my life, not the least of which was my relationship at home. At its worst, I was not able to perform at work. In meetings, fear would grip me, and I would freeze up in a panic. With a pounding heart, sweating palms, and an inability to breathe, think, or speak, I had to endure the embarrassment of excusing myself from meetings. Worry that this might cost me the job magnified stress and anxiety – feeding a terrible cycle of fear. It became clear that I could not effectively manage or cope with it independently; self-reliance no longer carried me through the tough days.

The great benefit of weakness is that God will use it to draw you near, and I am very thankful that he does! Knowing that I had reached the end of self-reliance, I turned to him. To the best of my ability, I gave God the whole thing; that is, I gave him my life along with all the issues and challenges. I trusted him to take care of my job, father, wife, kids, attitude, happiness, and future, and he did not disappoint. I experienced his loving kindness as he comforted us through my father’s passing. I was there when Dad took his last breath, and though the separation was difficult, we were at peace through it all. I felt his support as he established me at work, well beyond what I thought possible. Through him, I attained competence, value, and security. Not so much security in the job, but security and comfort in knowing that his plan for me is the best I could hope for. I felt his loving kindness as he blessed my marriage and relationship. We have never been closer or more complete together.

Most importantly, I have peace knowing that all things now work for my good, and after I am done here, I will spend eternity in heaven. I now strive to be a disciple of Jesus Christ and have true peace with God. I now experience and understand the often-repeated paradox in the Bible: “whoever wishes to keep his life will lose it; and whoever will lose his life for my sake will keep it.” Read Luke 9:24 I am thankful that God gave me the time to get to this point. My 40 years of wandering in the wilderness had come to an end.

As I mature in the faith, I see self-serving attitudes continue to pass away, replaced by a desire to please God. The transformation is not instantaneous but happens over your life as you pursue God, and he works to sanctify you. Sanctification makes you more like Christ in motives, thought, and behavior. For some, this is a refinement, and for others, this transformation is an astounding miracle, as I feel it was with me. As you soak yourself in God’s word and take in the truth from correct teachers and other believers, he opens your eyes to what is right and proper and convicts you about what is wrong and unacceptable. If you pursue Jesus Christ, you will be changed, and without a doubt, you will look back in disbelief at what you had sought in the world, how you lived your life, how you treated others, and what you thought was OK.

A Limited Time Offer

My intent was to present the critically important message of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Here is a beautiful one-verse summary of the point from the book of John:

“He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not on the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” John 3:36

I hope God will use this work to entice you to come and see because there are many more wonderful things to know!

The time we spend on Earth is relatively brief. Read James 4:14 The person we become and the choices we make now will determine the quality of our lives for eternity. Now is the time when we have the opportunity to accept God’s gift. But if you die, or if Christ returns as he has promised, before you come to your senses, it will be too late. Jesus tells us this is the unfortunate path that most will choose:

 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Matthew 7:13-14