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- Christianity, the Bible & Jesus
Reasons why I am a Christian
I grew up in a Christian home and was raised in the church. I accepted Christ into my life at an early age and have walked with Him ever since. That is not to say that I am perfect, actually it is the opposite. I am still a sinner and fall into sin because it has corrupted my flesh. It is a fight each and every day. In this hub, I want to look at the historical evidence for Christianity and at the reasons that I became a Christian. Let us first define what it means to be a Christian because there is some confusion.
What Does it Mean to be a Christian
Many people think that they are Christians because they are not Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, etc. or because they were born in the United States of America. You cannot be born a Christian or be one by default. Becoming a Christian is a conscious choice between you and a Holy God. It means repenting of your sins, acknowledging your need of a savior, and accepting God’s free gift of salvation. This gift is God taking all of your sins and putting them on Christ and then taking Christ’s righteousness and putting it upon you (imputed righteousness). It also means making Christ the Lord of your Life and trusting in Him alone to save you from your sins.
Historical Evidence of Christianity
Jesus and Christianity as a whole have left an undeniable mark on the world. If you look at how we measure time, it is split between B.C. (before Christ) and A.D. (Ano Domini or “The Year of our Lord”). The historical evidence for Christianity is significant. Let us take a brief look at some of it.
The heavens declare the glory of the Lord
Honest Challenge to Darwinian Evolution
Evidence of a Creator
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.” Psalm 19:1-2
One of the many problems that I have with atheistic evolution is that it does not answer the question of how the Universe began because at some point something had to come out of nothing. According to the laws of science that is impossible. It is much more reasonable that an Intelligent Being created the Universe. Also, a Creator more easily explains the complexity of the Universe and the Earth. For example, if the moon were any closer or further away, the earth would be covered by water at high tide. Another example is if the earth were any closer or further from the sun, we would either burn up or freeze to death. Besides, it makes more sense from a logical perspective. Have you ever seen an explosion or tornado create something as simple as a watch? The human eye is thousands of times more complex than a watch and screams design. DNA is probably the greatest evidence for a creator because of its immense complexity. It is more reasonable to me that we were created than a great cosmic accident.
Ravi Zacharias on Why the Bible is Reliable
Reliability of the Bible
The Bible is the Word of God. It has stood the test of time as a reliable document. We do not have the original copies, but we do have copies that were made within a period of a hundred years. How many copies? We have approximately 6,000 copies of the New Testament that are 99.5% agreement. Most of the discrepancies are misspellings, punctuation errors, or minor changes in words. Now let us look at other historical writings and see how they match up. The Iliad by Homer was written in 900 BC, however, we only have around 650 copies with the earliest ones dating back to 400 BC. Sophocles is a distant third with a gap of 1400 years from the time it was written and the earliest copy that is available. Also, there are only around 200 copies of it in existence. All other texts including Aristotle, Caesar, and Plato have less than 100 copies and a gap of at least 750 years between the time it was written and the copies that we have. The Bible is second to none in historical reliability. All of the English translations are translated directly from the Greek texts, not from a different English translation.
Changed Lives of the Disciples
Another great piece of evidence of the truth of Christianity is the changed lives of the disciples. When Jesus was arrested, they all ran away scared. The only disciple at Jesus’ crucifixion that the Bible speaks of is John. All of the rest of them are nowhere to be found. What happens to change that? On Easter Sunday, Jesus rose from the dead. Shortly after that, each of them saw the risen Savior. From that time on, they became bold witnesses for Jesus. All of them except for Judas, who killed himself, and John, were martyred for their faith. Many people will live for a lie, but very few will die for something that they know is a lie.
Persecution of the Church and Israel
Another great evidence of Christianity and the Bible is the persecution of the church and Israel that continue to this day. People routinely use the name of Jesus as a swear word, stop and think about that for a moment. Have you ever heard anyone use Buddha, Muhammad, or any other religious leader’s name as a swear word? I never have. It is because Satan and the world as a whole hate Jesus because they know that he is real. That is the same reason that so many people hate Israel because they are God’s chosen people.
Historical Evidence for Christianity
The Historicity of Jesus Christ
Jesus stands apart from all other religious leaders for several reasons. First, no other religious leader brings such offense to people at the mere mention of His Name. It is okay to pray to God or the head of any other religion, but if you mention Jesus, people take offense, which makes sense because the Bible predicted just this.
“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those who are being saved it is the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:18
Second, Jesus is the only “religious leader” to proclaim Himself to be God. Buddha, Krishna, Muhammad, etc. never proclaimed to be God. The best example of Jesus making this claim is a conversation between him and his disciples.
“’Lord, we do not know where you are going, so how can we know the way?’ Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.’ Philip answered, ‘Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.’ Jesus answered: ‘Do not you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.’” John 14:5-9
The passage above highlights the clear claim that Jesus is making, he is God. He does not stutter or mince words. Many people would describe Jesus as just a “good teacher.” Jesus asked his disciples who people thought he was. They answered a prophet, Moses, Elijah, but Peter answered that He was the Christ, the Son of God. Does a “good teacher” claim to be something that they are knowingly not? No, because they would be lying and therefore, not a “good teacher.” Could a “good teacher” be certifiably crazy and still be a “good teacher”? No, they would not be reliable enough to be considered a “good teacher.” That only leaves one option; Jesus is who he said he was.
Third, how Jesus was to die was prophesized hundreds of years before Jesus was even born. Also, the prophecies took place hundreds of years before the Romans began using crucifixion to kill people. Isaiah 53 tells all about how the Messiah will suffer and die and all of these prophesies were fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Some may be thinking that the prophesies were changed after the fact. However, thanks to the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, which contained entire manuscripts of the book of Isaiah. These scrolls date back to 100 BC or a hundred years before Christ was born.
Fourth, Jesus is alive. The changed lives of the disciples are the greatest evidence. After all, they saw Him after His resurrection. Paul is another great witness to this effect. He was originally known as “Saul” before his conversion on the road to Damascus when he saw the Risen Jesus. Saul was on his way to persecute Christians there, but God had other plans. He became Paul and preached that Jesus died for our sins and was raised again all over the world. One thing that is easy to miss is that Jesus’ enemies admit the tomb was empty. They came up with a story that the disciples took Jesus’ body out of the tomb, but that is not believable based on the fact that the tomb was sealed by Pilot and anyone entering it would have been put to death. Also, the soldiers guarding the tomb would have been subject to execution as well if the seal was broken.
“When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them ‘You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’’” Matthew 28:12-13
Skeptics like to say that the accounts of the disciples were hallucinations. The problem with that is two people do not have the same hallucination. As I discussed above, one of the biggest evidences of the resurrection is that the disciples that fled on Good Friday and saw the resurrected Jesus after he was raised, were persecuted and martyred for their faith. People do not knowingly die for something that they know not to be true, especially in a group of this size.
Changed Lives of Others
The final piece of historical evidence is evident throughout history, the number of lives that have been irreversibly changed because of faith in Jesus Christ. I shared about the changed lives of the disciples above, but there are so many more examples down through history.
- John Newton lived a life of debauchery as a sailor in the mid 1700s. He was filled with lust and anger. When he hit rock bottom, being sold into slavery, he repented and called out for Christ to save him. After his conversion, he wrote many great hymns including “Amazing Grace”, “O for a Closer Walk with God”, and “There is a Fountain Filled with Blood.”
- Chuck Colson is a modern day example of a man going one direction only to have his life dramatically changed by God. Chuck was the hatchet man for Richard Nixon during Watergate. Through his downfall in the scandal, Chuck was sent to prison where he met Jesus Christ and his life was changed forever. He became a staunch defender of Christianity and ran several ministries before he went home to be with the Lord.
- Dwight L. Moody grew up in poverty in the mid-1800s. His dad died when he was four years old and his mother was left with nine kids under the age of thirteen. He was saved when he was 17. After becoming a successful salesman in the shoe business, he spent all of his spare time working for Christ in the poor communities of Chicago. Today, his impact lives on as the Moody Church continues to meet in Chicago and the Moody Bible Institute sends out missionaries around the world.
- One of my friends growing up had a life changing experience with Jesus Christ. He grew up in the church, but was not saved. He got involved with alcohol in high school and it took control of his life. Thankfully, he had a mother that was praying for him and sent him some Christian materials. God got a hold of his heart and changed his life forever. The hold that alcohol had on him soon left him. His testimony is powerful evidence of how Jesus Christ can change a life.
These are four examples of people’s lives that have been changed by Jesus Christ but there are millions more.
Personal Reasons for Becoming a Christian
The historical evidence is strong when it comes to the Christian faith, but nothing is stronger than a personal testimony of what Jesus did in someone’s life. As I said before, I came to Christ when I was young and have followed Him ever since. I have had times when I am closer to Him as well as times when I drift away, but He is the most important person in my life. I want to take you through the things that convince me that Jesus is who he says he is.
We all have an Expiration Date
Life is short and the number one fact that is true of everyone on the planet is that we all have an expiration date. In other words, we are all going to die. We do not know when that is, but we will all die. It cracks me up when politicians and others talk about a certain activity or food that you eat that will increase your chance of death. No, our chance for death is always the same, you live and you die. You can hasten your death, but no matter what we are all going to die and nothing is going to change that except for the return of Christ. The question is where are you going when you die? We only have three options: heaven, hell, or the atheistic view of in the ground. If the third option is true, life cannot have any meaning. Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die. It also means that life has no value because there is no God to give it value. We can do anything that we want in this life and hurt as many people as we want without any consequences. That is insanity! It is more reasonable that God does exist because we have an inherent knowledge of right and wrong written on our hearts. Look at all of the societies around the world and shockingly, almost all agree that it is wrong to torture a child.
I am a Sinner
I readily confess that I am a sinner. I do not need anyone to convince me of that fact. I know that I am guilty. My conscience convicts me of my wrongdoing. As Paul wrote in the book of Romans, I do the things that I do not want to and do not do the things that I want to do. Whether you want to recognize the Ten Commandments as God’s laws or not, we all have to admit that we break some or all of them on a regular basis. Who has not told a lie, had a lustful thought, used God’s name in a way that is less than holy, dishonored their parents at some point, been unjustly angry at someone, etc. The Bible says that if we break just one commandment we are guilty of breaking them all. I knew that if God judged me based on His law, I would be found guilty.
For God so Loved the World
All of the world’s religions, apart from Christianity, are based on what you must do for God. The question that none of them ever answer is how much must be done before you are safe or obtain nirvana. My good works next to Mother Theresa do not even register on a page; however, my good works may be better than my next door neighbor. The real question is what is the standard that we must obtain? How do we know that standard? The Bible is clear that God’s standard is perfection. If that is the case, I know that I am not even close to that even on my best day. Christianity teaches that our good works can never outweigh our sins. The only way that sin can be forgiven is the shedding of blood. The Bible tells us that God loved the world enough to shed his blood to die for the sins of mankind. The Apostle John goes on to tell us that anyone who believes upon Him will be saved. This is the message that saved me. The Creator of the Universe loved me enough to die for me. Think about that. God hung on a cross for your sins and mine, fully knowing how sinful that we are. Yet He did it anyway.
When I was growing up, I realized that I was in need of a savior because I knew I was a sinner. I placed my faith in Christ and am still trusting in Him to save me. I have walked with Him long enough to know that no matter what happens, Jesus will be there to go through it with me, and give me His peace that passes all understanding. This does not mean that trials will be less severe or shortened, but it means that I do not have to go through it alone.
Kirk Cameron and John MacArthur on Salvation
Freedom of Choice
God’s offer of salvation still stands today, but it will not last forever. We are free to choose to follow Him or reject Him. God would not have given us freewill if he was going to force us to follow him. God is a gentleman and will not force Himself on anyone.
“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” Revelation 3:20
Jesus is standing at the door to your heart and knocking. If you let Him in, He will impute His righteousness upon you so that when God looks at you, He sees the perfection of Christ. If you choose to not let Him in, you remain under God’s wrath and face an eternity in hell.
“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.” John 3:36
The good news is that as long as you have breath in your lungs, you change your destination. However, once you die, your eternal destination is locked in place for ever.
Accepting Christ as Your Savior
God wants to spend eternity with you. All that you have to do to be saved is to confess that you are a sinner in need of saving, confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead. If you are interested in doing so, pray a prayer like this:
“Father, please forgive me for my sins. I confess that I need a savior. I repent of my sins and pray for your help to turn away from them. I place my faith in Christ and Christ alone, please save me I pray. Be my Lord and my Savior. Thank you so much for saving me. In Jesus’ Name I pray, amen.”
If you prayed that prayer and meant it with all your heart you will be saved. I urge you to make a decision for Christ today because life is short and death is certain. Know where you are going before you die.
Are you a