1 Kings 10:1, 6-9 & John 20:24-29
In the story of the Queen of Sheba, the queen comes to a belief in God because of the mighty works He had performed in Solomon’s life and the immense wealth with which Solomon had been blessed.
In the story about Thomas, first Jesus miraculously appears in a locked room, inviting Thomas to touch his marked body (so he wasn’t a ghost!), The scene concludes with Jesus saying, “blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
I have neither achievements nor great wisdom like Solomon. Neither do I have wealth and all the things it can buy. And, unlike Thomas, I have never been in the presence of the crucified and risen Jesus in the flesh. So I am one of those people who have not seen and yet have believed. So are you. Jesus tells us we are blessed!
Why can we believe this quote of Jesus, spoken 2000 years ago? How do we know anything, much less everything in the Bible is true? How do we know that upon which our faith is based is worth that faith? If we don’t know the answers to these questions, how reliable will others consider our testimony, or our story of our faith walk thus far?
Listen to these quotes from a couple guys with far more wisdom and education than I.
C S Lewis said: “Nearly everyone I know who has embraced Christianity in adult life has been influenced by what seemed to him to be at least a probable argument for theism.”
A W Tozer: “The Bible is not addressed to just anybody. Its message is directed to a chosen few…Some believe and some do not; some are morally receptive and some are not; some have spiritual capacity and some have not. It is to those who do and are and have that the Bible is addressed. Those who do not and are not and have not will read it in vain…As the pillar of fire gave light to Israel but was cloud and darkness to the Egyptians, so our Lord’s words shine in the hearts of His people but leave the self-confident unbeliever in the obscurity of moral night.”
Some come to Jesus through the heart. The heart has two extremes: love and fear. Contrary to popular belief, I do not believe that hate is the opposite of love; fear is. From those 2 opposite ends of the heart, Jesus reaches in. I came to Jesus because I had a desire to know and show love the way I saw in believers I met in a tiny store-front church in 1978; I know of others who came because of fear of judgment and hell.
Others come to Christ through an intellectual experience. Most of those are people who could be called apologists or those who make reasoned arguments or writings in justification of something, typically a theory or religious doctrine. People like C. S. Lewis, the author of The Chronicles of Narnia.
All ultimately come to experience faith in both theirs heads and hearts after saying “yes” to the promptings of the Holy Spirit at which point the spirit within them, dormant to this point, springs to life and they are “born again”.
How does anyone reach the point of accepting Jesus? 1 Thessalonians 1:4 “God chose you”. You may feel like you chose him, either via one end of your heart or the other or through your head, but. . . He chose YOU.
How does this make you feel?
It makes me feel really special, even when I read elsewhere in Scripture that he “chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, (I especially like that one because that pretty much sums up all the others) so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God”
If you’ve ever experienced bullying, chances are it was by someone considered by society to be “smart”, “strong”, “elevated”, or “popular.” But don’t start thinking here is your chance to get revenge. God loves those people, too, yes, even bullies, and should they choose to accept His invitation into His kingdom, they, too, will be considered chosen.
1 Peter 2:9 states that in addition to being a chosen people, “we are a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, so that we may declare the praises of him who called us out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
That all perhaps explains the “how” of why you believe; but what is the why? Have you ever thought about it? How do you know that you know that you know Jesus lived 2000 years ago, died a torturous death, rose from the dead after 3 days, and is alive today just waiting for the Father to give Him permission to come take his believers to the wedding feast?
There are many reasons I know he is real.
- There was the time he stayed in the chair by my bed when I was in the middle of my 2nd hospital stay for colon cancer.
- Another time I was crying to him desperately wanting an answer to the question “what is my purpose in life?” His answer: “Your purpose is to glorify me.” This was about 15 years ago during a time in my life I didn’t see there was any way I could do that. Now, not only do I know it’s possible, I’ve received confirmation of this being my purpose over and over again. Indeed, I’m attempting to do that through the words you are reading.
- Another great example is him allowing me have Rod McDougall in my life as my husband for 6 years. Through that human man, God did a great deal toward restoring me to the person he originally created me to be. Do you think I would’ve been able to speak in front of groups of people of varying sizes at the end of 2008 (10 years ago)? Would I have been brave enough to write this very intimate blog to whomever chooses to read it? Neither was at all likely.
Why is it important you know why you believe?
Our country in the year 2018 is not just a post-Christian country, it is now clearly a divided country as well. The reasons for this are varied, and I doubt anyone could ever begin to explain all of them, but they all boil down to one major fact – we made the choice to take God out of our country, in some cases, even out of our churches!
The pastor at the church my husband and I attended was (and is) driven by a passion for evangelism, both here and abroad. The church takes several missions trips each year. But two of the biggest functions are here in America. Family Fun Day is in July, an event to which the community is invited for free food, games, and entertainment along with some fairly valuable giveaways. The caveat? To win the prizes, individuals must stay for the sermon which is the last event of the day. And in November, just last Sunday in fact, they hosted the community Thanksgiving dinner to which everyone is invited, free of charge, not just the destitute, but everyone because really, everyone, if they don’t know Jesus, is destitute in the worst way.
I raised my children in church. They know who God and Jesus are and it would be impossible for them to ever forget. As my son frequently reminds me, I had them in church Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night. His statement that we were in church for 4 hours on Sunday mornings, though, is a slight exaggeration.
Do you know that there are people, principally millennials (a group into which both my children fall), who don’t have a clue who God or Jesus is and believe that the Bible is akin to Grimm’s Faerie Tales?
Unbelievable. But shockingly true. I’ve heard of missionaries from other countries saying that America is now their mission field and it is one of the most difficult to harvest.
If you were to engage in conversation with one of these 20 to 30 year olds and causally mention God, Jesus, or the Bible in the conversation and they were to respond in a way indicative of their complete lack of knowledge, what would you do? Could you explain, in a way that would make sense to them, why you believe?
The easiest way is by simply sharing your own testimony.
How has God worked in your life?
I’ve given three of my reasons above. There are many more. Your reasons will not be the same as mine. You will have many, too. Many people like to journal. This blog (and the sermon from which it was derived) are simply “cleaned-up” versions of ideas in my journal.
Why don’t you make a list of the reasons you believe? Put it somewhere prominent, where you’ll see it frequently. Memorize it. Yes, it’s your life and you know it well; but can you relate your life story in a way that will be interesting and understandable to others? Practice. Practice. Practice.
What if you’re one of those rare and incredibly blessed individuals whose life has never gone off the rails and you think your story is too dull? If that’s the case—and I doubt it—God can use you to help others who are just like you, except they don’t yet know Him.
What do you do if you feel like your faith isn’t strong enough for you to be able to present a convincing argument? There are several verses that address this. Check out Matthew 17:20 and Mark 9:24.
In the latter we (and Jesus) encounter a man who has both faith and unbelief. Can you relate?
But listen! Jesus didn’t rebuke the man. He healed the child.
Neither does he rebuke or reject us for our unbelief. AND, he will still meet the need regardless of the quantity/quality of our faith.
1 Peter 3:15 “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,”
There are many good books out there on apologetics. Check with Amazon, Good Reads, or CBD and find one you think will best answer your questions.
Of course, your best resource is always going to be the Bible. The other books were written by men and are therefore subject to human interpretation and human error.
Bible Reading Plans
For the past 2 ½ years at the end of each month, I’ve placed a Bible reading plan in the bulletins used by the 3 churches. I know of at least 2 ladies who followed it religiously, even commenting if I was ever delayed getting it to them.
Starting in January I will discontinue this and instead post it to the churches’ website which is centralprairieumc.org. Even if you know you’ve probably read the Bible in its entirety at least once due to sermon and Bible study notes, it is sooo beneficial to read it through from beginning to end
If you really want a challenge, and a great start to 2019, I’m going to suggest something I’ve only managed to accomplish once in my life, in 2014, reading through it in the first 3 months.
Such an endeavor does not allow for much in-depth study, but I believe God supernaturally increases the knowledge of one who commits to this.
If you’d like to join me on this journey (it requires a time commitment of ½ to 1 hour each day, depending on how fast you can read), I’ll post that plan to the website as well. One suggestion I would make: each time you begin to read, before you begin ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the Truth to you and enable the Rhema word to become Logos word for you. I can’t think of a single reason he would say no to such a request.
1. Write out your why. This would be your testimony. Memorize it so you can easily share it whenever the occasion presents itself. Ideally that would be every day.
2. Read your Bible beginning to end.
3. Add to your testimony (your why) as God does new miracles in your life.
Father God, Help me stick to my commitment to figure out my why. I pray You will honor that commitment by making your Word come alive to me in such a way that sharing my faith-walk story with others won’t be something fearsome but rather something joyful, that it will turn from a chore into one of my favorite things to do. In Jesus’ name. Amen.