Does the Resurrection Even Matter?

“If Jesus rose from the dead, then you have to accept all that he said; if he didn’t rise from the dead, then why worry about any of what he said? The issue on which everything hangs is not whether or not you like his teaching but whether or not he rose from the dead.”

Timothy Keller

What if Jesus just died and never rose from the grave? Would Christianity still be validated? Would our relationship with God change? Historical, factual texts show that there was a man named Jesus who lived and walked this earth around 30 AD. Obviously this man would have died by now… so does his resurrection really mean anything?

Continue reading Does the Resurrection Even Matter?

How Can I Share My Testimony?

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

2 corinthians 5:20

This past summer I had an amazing opportunity to travel across the world and share my faith with those who have never heard the name of Jesus. In doing so, I gradually learned how to effectively share my testimony so that others would see the forgiveness of sins that is in Jesus Christ. I was taught a method that I shared with many believers in remote areas who needed to be discipled.

This method is simply called the 2, 3, 4 method. There are 2 parts to the Gospel: Your story and the story of Jesus. Remember that your story is only a part to the whole, much like a slice out of an apple. Your story is important, but keep it in the context of Christ. Your story includes 3 parts.

  1. Your life before you met/accepted Jesus into your life. When talking to people, tell them about who you were and how you acted before you accepted Jesus into your heart. In Acts 26:4-11 you can see Paul’s life before Christ.
  2. Next you share about how you met Christ and your transformation. Paul talks about his encounter with God on the road to Damascus in Acts 26:12-18. Many of us probably don’t have a story like Paul’s where God appeared to us on a road and blinded us, but some of us do. The fact is, however you met Jesus is just as important for Paul as it is you and I.
  3. Finally, the life you live after you accepted Jesus in your heart is what you share. Compare it to your previous life before Christ. Tell how you were once dead in sin, but now have assurance of eternal life. This part of Paul’s testimony is in Acts 26:19-23.

Sharing your testimony is crucial when you are trying to share the gospel with a neighbor or friend. Your story may be similar to theirs. They may be able to relate to your life before Christ, which may spur them on to learn more about this Jesus you are telling them about. Constantly practice sharing your story with friends and family so that you will be ready when God presents you with an opportunity to share your testimony.

Now, the second part to the Gospel is Jesus’ story. There are 4 parts to the story of Jesus.

  1. Judgement- We all face judgement for the sins in our lives. Romans 3:23 states that “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” We are all born with a sin nature and can do nothing on our own to fix this issue. Hebrews 9:27 says that “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.” We will all be judged.
  2. Repent– Jesus taught us that we must repent- turn away from the sin in our lives. We must realize that we are all sinners and chose to run from that sin. In Matthew 4:17 Jesus said “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Without repentance, their cannot be turning away from sins, and therefore no forgiveness.
  3. Death– Through judgement and the knowledge that we have all sinned, it is then evident that this will lead to death. We all deserve death, both spiritual and physical. Romans 6:23 says that “The wages of sin is death.” The Bible tells us that Christ died for all; in Romans 5:8 it says that “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Christ took death so that we don’t have to, he brings us hope!
  4. Resurrection/ New Life- Christ did not stay dead. He rose from the grave, conquering death and sin, enduring the sin so that we don’t have to. If we chose him, he will stand for us on judgement day, taking our sin and shame so that we can spend eternity in heaven with him. John 3:16 says that “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him will not perish, but have eternal life. We have an inheritance in heaven with Jesus.

It is always important to talk about the story of Jesus when sharing the Gospel and your testimony. Make sure who you are talking knows that your new life is only possible because of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, taking our sin and our shame.

Apply It!

Pray that God would give you 3 people this week that you could share your testimony and the Gospel with. Practice sharing your testimony with your family to figure out what you will say. Take courage and remember that God’s word will never return void! Follow his voice and share your story with those around you. If you don’t tell them, who will?!

Why Materialism Must be False

If my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain, I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true…and hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms.”

– C.S. Lewis

From Ben,

One of the issues with an evolutionary perspective is the idea of materialism. First off, let’s define materialism in these terms. Materialism is the idea that everything can be traced back to physical matter; there is no spiritual aspect to things or even a mind apart from a physical brain. Everything can be explained as a chemical interaction. But how can this be logical?

How can anything be logical if all thoughts are chemical reactions occurring in our brains.

The largest issue with this point of view that often comes to my mind is the conscience found in every person- the moral compass inside of us all that separates right from wrong and produces feelings of guilt. How are human beings born with an idea of what is good and what is bad? Materialism would say that it is all matter, there is no true good or bad because everything is simply chemicals reacting to create a response. Does materialism explain this idea of a conscience in humans? I believe it does not.

Another major issue with the idea that all things are only physical is the idea of truth itself. If every thought is simply chemicals interacting, then how can we trust anything that we say, or others say? The materialist point of view says that you have no control over what you say, think, and do, because it is all simply a physical interaction within your brain that does not involve immaterial feelings or knowledge. Once again, how can we believe in ourselves and those around us to make “good” choices when they actually have no control over their thoughts or actions.

How do beliefs and values play a role in a materialistic evolutionary perspective on the world? They simply don’t make any sense. The thought that unguided evolution would produce beings that hold believes, pursue truth, and have values does not directly align with evolution, nor materialism. Evolution simply cares about behaviors, not beliefs. Materialists have no substantial argument as to how the ability of humans to think and hold personal views on things developed from only physical matter.

This leads us to the incredible complexity of the world and all processes that occur within. As science has progressed and academia has been able to study life on a much more microscopic level, the simple theories of evolution have begun to fall apart. The chances that a random occurrence would cause such complex and incredibly-designed life forms is just not plausible or rational. In this case, there had to be something (or someone) immaterial, that is supernatural, that created and designed such processes. This view completely clashes with the views of a materialist who would believe that random events caused unguided evolution, which produced human beings.

Practical Application:

When talking to someone who you know as an evolutionist, bring up the idea of materialism. Ask them if they truly believe that every thought they have and every belief they hold is simply a chemical reaction occurring in their brain. Bring up the fact that if materialism were true, how could we know anything to be trustworthy or moral. Also, ask your friend about their conscience and if they feel guilt when they do wrong, then ask them to explain how this developed simply through matter. Always be polite and respectful, showing the love of Jesus in every response and interaction.

If you want to educate yourself further on the idea of materialism, I highly suggest researching and reading articles on Thomas Nagel. Nagel is an atheist, but is not afraid to say controversial things on reason and evolution itself.

What is Truth?

The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is. 

-Winston Churchill

From Ben,

Have you ever been asked about truth?

Juan: So you believe in God right?

Lucas: I do.

Juan: But how do you know that is true? How do you know anything is true?

Lucas: Well how do you know something is true? We know certain things that are always true. Like the sun will rise. Whether or not you want it to happen, it still does. The same is with truth. Truth doesn’t care what you think, it is true no matter what. Just like God and who He is.

Today, many people may tell you that truth is in the eye of the beholder, but is that so? The reality is that truth is not up for debate. The truth is true and always will be.

In order to explain this idea practically, I’m going to use an illustration that a good mentor of mine shared with me.

Here’s a picture of a fruit:

If I were to ask you what this is, you would tell me it’s an orange. But why? How do you know? Well, it’s an orange; this is something we know to be true. What if you opened it up, would you expect to find a potato? No, that would be crazy, we know we will find an orange; it’s a truth of nature.

So what if you really didn’t want it to be an orange? Let’s say that you want it to be a banana. Would it change? Absolutely not. The truth is something that we don’t have control over; we can’t change the truth no matter how hard we try. What if you woke up one day and really didn’t want the sun to rise, would that change it? Absolutely not. Gravity doesn’t just work some of the time, it works all the time. That’s God. Here’s the kicker. God will deliver, even when you don’t think He can or you don’t want Him to; even if you don’t believe He can. Ignoring this truth doesn’t make it any less true. 

Here’s the kicker. God will deliver, even when you don’t think He can or you don’t want Him to; even if you don’t believe He can. Ignoring this truth doesn’t make it any less true. 

The truth is always true. We know we can’t change the truth, like gravity or photosynthesis, things that always happen, whether or not we want them to. The same is with God, He is true, even if we don’t want Him to be. He is the ultimate source of truth. If you don’t believe the truth, does that change it? No. The truth is still the truth, even if you don’t support it. 

As you defend and grow in your walk with Christ, don’t forget that truth doesn’t change. When our human minds can’t comprehend something that is always true and constant, remember that God holds it all. The truth is that God is always there and He always will be, despite whether you think its true or not. 

“But who created God?”

“For everything was created by him, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and by him all things hold together.

Colossians 1:16-17

From Ben,

Cindy: “So what do you believe?”

Zach: “Well, I believe that God created the Earth and all the creatures in it.”

Cindy: “Oh, well who created God if He created everything else?”

Zach: “Ummm, welllll, I’m not sure, I don’t think He was created.” 

Have you ever been in this situation when asked this question?! Being caught between defending your faith, yet not knowing what to say can be frightening. I have found that many times we don’t know every answer to every question. However, as believers, we should always be growing in our knowledge of how to defend our faith. Today, you are going to add another defense to your faith. Its always a good time to sharpen your sword!

This is a small example of a situation you or a friend may have encountered while sharing your faith. While Zach was being bold with his faith, he didn’t seem confident in His beliefs about God before the world was created. Zach didn’t know how to answer Cindy’s question. Cindy may be genuinely interested in learning more about who God is, but Zach didn’t have the knowledge to guide her.

The looming question “well if God created everything, who created God?” has an answer. Let’s start with the law of causality:

Everything that has a beginning has a cause.

Simple enough right, the chair you are sitting on had a beginning, so therefore it had a cause. Someone made that chair, and all its little pieces, and someone assembled it. This is true for the universe too, it obviously had a beginning. As things are changing and growing, it all had to start somewhere. No one will refute that.

So as Christians, we believe that God created the universe, the Earth, and all that is in them. What else do we know about God? Well, there is a reason He is God, He’s all-powerful, omniscient, perfect, eternal (He is outside of time), constant, and the list continues.

So the real question is did God have a beginning, because if not, then He was not created. In order for something to create the universe, it could not have been subject to the laws of decay that everything created is subject to. In order for this to happen, there had to be a being that was outside of time, outside of physical laws, never-changing, and all-powerful. This means that the being was not created: it always has been, and always will be.

Wait…. that sounds a lot like the adjectives that the Bible gave for God! That’s because it was God! Because of God’s qualities, His eternity and power, no one created Him. God always has been, is, and always will be.

If God was created, then that would change the meaning of His being. In order to be the one true God, He doesn’t follow our rules. He doesn’t need a creator. He IS the Creator.