Thursday, November 15, 2007

. . .And the Truth Shall Make You Free

This one's for Merkur and B and others who lean toward atheism/agnosticism.

I've had doubts, myself, at one time or another. I'm not a mindless God-bot or wild-eyed, frothing zealot. But those doubts have proven fleeting. When I look at the creation around me, and I read the Bible, I can come to no other conclusion save that God is real, and that He reveals Himself through His Word.

I've evaluated other religions. I've studied Islam's teachings and history extensively, and have given lesser degrees of time to studying other belief systems. I blindly accept nothing. From my efforts, I've determined that Christianity makes more sense, is more logical, and corresponds to observable reality better than any other religion. It is a reasonable faith. Hebrews 11:1 defines faith thusly: Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Biblical faith is not an appeal to gullibility.

I humbly ask that each of you maintain or cultivate an open spirit of inquiry. Be a seeker and a lover of truth. This is not a throwaway issue; it's an important topic, regardless your stance on whether or not God exists. If God is real and has expectations for us, we should expect that He would communicate this information. The Holy Bible purports itself to be just such a news bulletin to the world. If He sent His Son Jesus as a willing sacrifice for the sins of men--again, as scripture and history proclaims--His is an offering we cannot ignore. This is the most earth-shattering declaration and revelation in all of history. Nothing trumps the urgency of our decision for or against Him. In Matthew 12:30, Jesus said: He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad. So there is no middle ground for us to dabble in, no neutral position. As the old Rush song, "Free Will" says: "If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice." That's the way salvation works; non-acceptance is rejection, by definition. John 3:16-18 tells us: 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. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Now, on the possibility that the above information is accurate, no one can afford procrastination or the luxury of remaining dubious. We scoff at our own peril. I'm not scare-mongering, here; I'm attempting to impress upon you the significance and gravity of the situation.

Please don't take my word for it. Look into the matter for yourselves. Study the Bible. Examine Christian history and the effects of God's Word on human behavior. I recommend beginning with The Gospel of John. This book was written specifically for unbelievers; you'll see what I mean when you read the first few verses. It's the most powerful description of humanity's flawed relationship with its Creator that I've ever read. And of His grace and love.

The whole Bible is a how-to book on living for God, leading others to Him, and getting into Heaven. It's a simplistic description, I know, but distilled into its essence.

Beyond the Bible, many books make a solid case for God's existence, and Christianity's truth. Examples include: Mere Christianity, by C.S. Lewis; The Case for Christ, The Case for a Creator, and The Case for Faith, all by Lee Strobel. Other great books include: What If Jesus Had Never Been Born?, and What If the Bible Had Never Been Written?, by D. James Kennedy. These offer popular, easy-to-understand treatments of the subject matter, and make a good starting point. I'm sure my readers easily can add to this list.

I want you to understand that I'm not pontificating or talking down to any of you. Once I was lost, and it was only by God's mercy that I was found. He has made this unearned gift available to everyone, if he or she just comes to Him and accepts it. Don't be one of those who misses out on the very purpose for which he was created: fellowship with God.

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.--2 Peter 3:9

And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.--Luke 11:9-10

Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.--John 8:31-32

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