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About this series
Why I Believe
Straight Answers to Honest Questions about God, the Bible, and Christianity
When asked why you believe what you believe, how do you respond? Do you wish you'd paid more attention in Sunday school? Are you able to engage in thoughtful conversation, or do you become defensive? Why I Believe is a series designed to equip you with a simple, winsome approach to explaining why you believe what you believe about issues like: Jesus' resurrection, the authenticity of the Bible, life after death, the reality of heaven and hell, the validity of creation vs. evolution, and the God of the Bible, being the one and only, true God. Chip explains we can actually know the truth, and we can communicate the truth in a way that engages people rather than putting them off. There's solid evidence to satisfy the heart and mind of anyone honestly seeking answers. If you or someone you know has genuine questions about issues at the core of human existence, Why I Believe is an excellent resource. ACSI approvedMore from this series
I have a friend named John. He’s actually an author, quite good one, John Dickerson. And I asked him to do a little bit of research for me. And he is a head down, dig deep. And he had these lists of all the amazing things that Christians have done.
In science: Newton, Kepler, Pascal. And then he gave me reams and reams of amazing material. Let me just read a quick list of: this is the impact of Christians with regard to universities and education and what has happened as a result of it.
They launched the scientific revolution, they launched the industrial revolution, they created the first society which girls were provided equal education. They created and spread Western democracy as we know it. It was Christians that invented eyeglasses and thousands of other life-changing inventions.
The laws of planetary motion were discovered by a Christian scientist. Germ theory. Modern hospitals. Education. Life-saving vaccines. They fought for women’s rights and the abolition of slavery.
All of that occurred because there was a Christian worldview that said the dignity of man and this is who God is and there is only one God and we are compelled to make a difference.
The fifth reason that I believe in the God of the Bible as the one true God is what I call the pragmatic evidence. The teaching of Jesus and the New Testament, are you ready? It works in real life.
It promotes healthy relationships, strong marriages, honest business people, positive parenting, racial reconciliation, cultural kindness, and they champion the value and the dignity of all human beings regardless of creed, race, sex, nationality, or orientation.
Even people that I completely and totally disagree with, I am compelled by the God of the Bible to love them and to serve them and to treat them with dignity. It works. I didn’t grow up as a Christian. And I will tell you, I can’t believe the marriage that I have, but it’s based around Christ.
My wife came from an alcoholic family; I came from an alcoholic family. What I can tell you, the pragmatic reason is when believers come together, Jesus is more important than race.
I was teaching in the Middle East on a series called The Invisible War. And I was doing it to leaders from about twenty-two or twenty-three Arab countries. And there were people from Iran and people from Iraq and they were all believers. And they were going to learn this and take it to their countries.
And as we were teaching it, this guy stood up in the middle, he goes, “I have something to say.” And then he turned and he said, “I was a part of the military in Iran and when we went to war, I killed many of your people. And I feel ashamed.” And the other guy got up and he said, “I have done the same.” And in the middle of this, more than race, more than background, these two men came, hugged one another, forgave each other, and tears streaming down their face, and you know what that is? That’s the power of the gospel.
Jesus changes lives from the inside out. He changes relationships. He restores marriages. He helps parents know how to model the kind of life that raise kids that are productive.
The sixth evidence is the uniqueness of the Christian message and the uniqueness of the Christian messenger. The message of the New Testament is different than any other religion in the world. It’s a message of grace.
Let me give you a picture. Grace is, literally, receiving what you do not deserve and it’s unconditional. I want you to imagine, if you will, that we went to a bowling alley and all across here, they come in and they have all the balls stacked, and you go get your ball and then you go back over to your lane.
And I want you to imagine that there are ten balls, they are all black, and there’s a white one in the middle, then ten more and they are all black. And you get to turn each one. Usually we turn them over to find out is it the right size or how much does it weigh?
And each bowling ball represents, I could do a thousand of them and there would still be one white one in the middle. Each bowling ball represents a religion. And as you would turn it over, it has two letters: DO. Turn it. DO. DO.
It can be Islam, it could be Taoism, it can be pray five times a day. I can come over here. DO. DO. DO. Every, single religion is rooted in: here’s what you need to do to appease the anger of that God or to get on his or her good side.
But religion is based on do, do, do, do, earn, earn, earn. And you never know if you measure up. And then you come to the white ball and you turn it over and there are four letters: D-O-N-E. Done.
It’s mind-boggling. The Christian message is not: this is what you need to do to earn favor with God. This is the God of the Bible that saw your hurt and your sin and knew it was coming and sent His only Son and He lived a perfect life to explain what the Father is like. And after living a perfect life, He would unjustly hang on a cross and pay for your sin and my sin and the sins of all people in the world.
And as the sins came upon Him, the Father would turn away and He would become our sin offering for that split second. And He would take your sin and my sin upon Him and then He would die and He would conquer death and conquer Satan and He would be raised from the dead and then He’ll sit at the right hand of the Father and now He is our elder brother.
And He says, “Whosoever would believe, you can have eternal life. It’s the message of grace. It’s different than every religion, every philosophy, every system.” And not only is the message different, the messenger is different.
Jesus was not just a great teacher. He wasn’t just a good, moral person. He didn’t set just a good example. He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. And we beheld Him.” And it talks about, “In grace and truth. No one has known God at any time, but Jesus explained Him.”
Jesus is God. He is the Word itself. Fully man; fully God. It is a unique message and a unique messenger. And I believe it, He rose from the dead, He proved it’s true, and all of life and all of history is now before and after the solitary life of one Rabbi who came, claiming to be God, and offering freely the forgiveness of sins and that when a person turns from your sin and in the empty hands of faith recognizes that only He and what He has done for you can save you, receive Him by faith, the Spirit of God actually takes up residence inside your mortal body and you have been taken out of the kingdom of darkness, you’re placed in the kingdom of light, and He actually lives within you.
And He walks with you and you walk with Him. And it’s a relationship, not a religion. And this may be the most important reason why I believe in the God of the Bible.
The final reason that I believe in the God of the Bible is, I call it the existential evidence. Millions of lives have changed over the last two thousand years and they experientially will declare that Jesus is alive, that He is who He said He is. I am one of those people.
Every day, eighty-five thousand people worldwide are putting their faith in Christ. People are admitting, “I was blind but now I see! I was lost, but now I am found!”
And their testimony with all the ups and all the downs that we all have in real life is peace, forgiveness, joy, purpose, significance, love, guilt removed, new relationships, new life.
And so, it raises a question, I don’t know about you, but just logically, this is a pretty hard deal to say no to, right? Most of all the gods in antiquity were cruel and mean and most of the religion was trying to figure a way where they wouldn’t come visit you and hurt you.
Actually, a good God, a kind God, a benevolent God was almost an oxymoron. And Jesus blazed the trail through all of that.
I want to close with these top three reasons why people do not receive the gift that God has purchased for them. Number one is ignorance. Some people, they don’t know. Romans chapter 10, verses 14 and 15 is, “How can they know if there’s not a preacher? And how can they preach if no one is sent?” And he goes on to say, “Blessed are the feet of the peacemakers.”
Some people in your life, you know why they haven’t received Christ? They don’t know about Him. Or all they know is like people I talk to.
I literally talked with a man on a plane recently – if it sounds like I’m on planes a lot, it’s true – I talked to a man recently and he kind of sheepishly said, “I don’t really know the difference between Judaism or Christianity, even historically.
Could you help me understand when stuff happened? And even the basic beliefs?”
Do you know there are people in your world, there are people in your coffee shop, there are people where you drop off the dry cleaning, there are people in your neighborhood, there are people in the cubicle next to you, there is someone on the job site where you’re out there doing your plumbing or electrical work – they don’t know.
And that’s why you’re there. You are God’s ambassador. And my prayer is that through this series you’ll have a boldness because you would believe, not just here, but here and have a boldness and a conviction and because you realize you’re not throwing your brains in the trash, you’re being wise and shrewd and doing what really counts.
The second reason why people don’t believe is pride.
Let me ask you to open your Bible and actually read this, because I want you to see it with your own eyes. Or open your phone; that works. I’m in John chapter 12. And Jesus has been preaching and teaching about being the light of the world.
He says, “Nevertheless, many of even the rulers believe in Him, but because of the Pharisees,” the religious leaders, “they were not confessing Him,” In other words, they weren’t believing to the point of going public, “lest they be put out of the synagogue.”
Now, listen to this, “For they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God.” There are people in your network and actually some of you listening right now that you are so afraid of what people would think, “Oh, you became a Jesus freak!” Or, “You got religion.” Or, “What about this? Or what about that?” I’ve got news for you, man. I’ve got news for all of us. There will come a day when you will really care less what anyone else thinks except God the Father and the Judge, Jesus Christ.
So, can I encourage you? Forget what people think. But that pride, boy, that kept me back. All I could think of was, Oh my gosh. What are the guys on the basketball team going to say? Or, My family – what will they think?
I will tell you what they think, they saw a change in my life that led the rest of my family to Christ after my sister, then me, then the rest of the family. And it changed our whole family and the trajectory of our whole future, both now and forever.
The third reason that people do not believe is a moral problem. We often read John chapter 3, verse 16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever would believe in Him shouldn’t perish, but have everlasting life.” But we don’t usually read much farther.
Let me read as it continues in John, because Jesus is going to point out at the heart of why some people don’t believe. He goes on to say, “He who believes in Him isn’t judged. He who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten God, and this is the judgment, listen carefully, that light has come into the world and men loved darkness rather than the light, because their deeds are evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come into the light, lest his deeds be exposed.”
I talk to people sometimes and they have all these apparent intellectual reasons about Christianity or about this or about that. At the heart of a great many people, the reason they don’t believe is they are living in a way that they know is wrong and it’s morally wrong and they are unwilling to confess that that is wrong, turn from their sin, and receive the free gift of God.
Can I ask you, where are you at? Where are you at today? I don’t mean did you pray a prayer or raise your hand somewhere. Does your life and lifestyle demonstrate that the living God, by the person of the Holy Spirit lives inside of you and your values and your love and your capacity and your future and your priorities reflect you are followers of Jesus Christ?
See, I have this great fear, especially for American Christians, I have a fear that people have intellectually agreed with almost everything I have said, but if we looked at your life, it is so dissimilar to Jesus that I would question: are you really in the faith? Because what I can tell you is people that genuinely know Him and genuinely love Him, we have our struggles, but our life changes.
Father, I want to pray right now and I want to ask You, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that Your Spirit would move powerfully, that You would convict of sin and righteousness and justice. Lord, that You would convince people in their heart of hearts, even as they are listening that You love them, that You want them.
And if you’re one of those people that have never received Christ, right now, at this moment, you can cry out to God: Lord Jesus, I believe. I believe You died in my place, rose from the dead. I am asking You, come into my life, be my Savior, and give me the power to follow You. Make me Your son; make me Your daughter.
And, Lord, I pray for those of us that are followers of Jesus, would You give us a holy boldness and a concern for others? Some that haven’t heard and some that haven’t seen a real Christian live out the life so they would ask about the hope that’s in us.
Lord, we know that’s Your will, so we pray it powerfully in Jesus’ name, amen.