First off, I re-read yesterday’s post and discovered that my first-drafts need significant proofing. I had a meeting and sent it out without reading it through. Mind you, my regular posts need significant editing, too, but yesterday’s was rough. My apologies if you had troubles in spots.
I’m not talking about the content, however! All this stuff is troubling, but it only should be so if we have no desire to continue exploring the bible. Mind you, I am comfortable without understanding many of the seeming contradictions of the bible. Why? Because I have found the Word to be true. Plus, several of these “stumpers” have been easily explained away, especially when explained by books like “A Case for Christ” or “Cold Case Christianity”. All will be explained in due time. It is frustrating, however, to be stumped by seemingly easy questions, so I think it is important to dig into these so as to effectively share the gospel and to further solidify the reason for my faith.
This “What about others?” question is a real stumper. Probably the only other question that is tougher concerns the eternity of hell. The severity of judgment may be primary in the motivation of many to seek other gods besides the one true and living God. And, honestly, unless one is willing to seriously consider the doctrine of election, it seems to me impossible to rule out saving faith for someone who has never heard of Jesus. Why? Because even if we accept the idea that God has mercy and grants grace to only whom he so chooses, we are stumped with Romans 10:13. We then call into question other seeming contradictory verses. The end result is confusion and doubt.
Wasn’t that Satan’s strategy in the Garden?
Folks, all of this Christianity stuff is fantastic in the sense that it is remote from reality to many people. Indeed, the bible confirms this.
1 Corinthians 1:18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
2 Corinthians 4:3-4 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
Imagine trying to explain Christianity if you didn’t believe Jesus was resurrected from the dead. Let’s face it, dead men rising is a tough sell. If you didn’t believe it, you wouldn’t be confident in your presentation and would naturally avoid the subject. What’s left then is a faith that simply teaches us how to live. How is that any different than many of the other religions? Indeed, Paul acknowledges as much:
1 Corinthians 15:17-18 And 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 Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.
By that, it seems to me that Paul meant we would be the foolish ones. But, we do have faith in the resurrection and for good reason. It is the most rational explanation of all the reasons that Jesus’ body is gone. We don’t need to be fearful of this objection. However, to answer someone, we need to have thoroughly examined the subject ourselves. Really, none of us has an excuse for being ignorant to the basic tenants of our faith. Please don’t be one of those countless souls who recite the Nicene Creed every week yet have no clue as to what they are saying let alone be able to explain any of it. In fact, polls are beginning to show significant unbelief in the basics even among those who claim to be Evangelic. Ask the typical church-goer, and they don’t believe much of the Creed.
Is it any wonder then that the ones that are most enthusiastic about telling people about Jesus are the ones who had radical transformations in their lives. These are the ones who were hanging over the edge of the abyss looking death right in the eye. These are the ones who come out telling everyone about Jesus. Sure, there are some really powerful witnesses who haven’t experienced a train-wreck life, but you know what I say is true. Those who have been hit by the lightning rod of God go out of their way to tell their story. At least they are far more likely to.
Still, every single one of us is required, no, commanded, to share the gospel. Or was this passage for The Eleven alone?
Matthew 28:16-20 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had directed them. And when they say him they worshipped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Notice, he told this even to those who doubted, those who are uncertain. Are you uncertain? I am. I’m uncertain about many things concerning our faith. That’s our call to learn. The exciting thing is that the more we learn, the more we find our faith is reliable and true. The more we realize this, the easier and easier it is to obey Jesus’ commands. Let’s leave today with this passage:
John 15:1-17 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown in the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.
Folks, think of these things. More to come.
Father, Jesus commanded that I ask whatever I wish. My wish is that all who read these emails will have a hunger for understanding you and an insatiable desire to dig deeper and deeper into your words so that they may become powerhouses in proclaiming Jesus to a lost world. Ignite in us a fire that cannot be quenched and that we simply cannot contain! Let our joy explode so that all will be amazed and glorify you! Father, your word is life. Give us that life – to the full! Amen.
Copyright © 2017 Scott Powers