WHY DO SOME PEOPLE STRUGGLE TO BELIEVE?

 Remember the disciple Thomas? He was dug in. I will not believe. “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I WILL NEVER BELIEVE!” (John 20:24-25). This guy rubbed elbows with Jesus, had conversations with him, traveled with him, listened to him, ate with him, and saw all the miraculous stuff Jesus did, yet after Jesus died, he categorically refused to believe that anything like the resurrection could really occur. Why the unbelief? Oh, I know the heart is deceitful and desperately incurable, our friend Jeremiah tells us (Jer. 17:9). That explains part of the unbelief struggle. Don’t trust your heart. It is wicked. God alone really knows the heart! But I think there is more that goes on in the unbelief struggle.

Think about this. When you are not sure about someone, then you are reluctant to believe what they say, promise, state, or do. You will recall that Philip asked Jesus to show he and the other disciples the Father and he/they would be at rest…satisfied (John 14:8-11). Jesus answers with an astounding question: ‘Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? In other words, he is saying ‘you still cannot wrap your head around who I am? You cannot see God in me?’ Then He says forthrightly: “Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is is me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.” The struggle to believe is wrapped in the package of being sure of Jesus. If you cannot get Jesus right you have no basis to believe. We must keep that in mind as we share the Gospel with our fellow men. Jesus must always be the starting point on the path of faith. Of course that means going to the record with confidence…ie the Bible… so that we can know about who Jesus is and what He has done.

Perhaps there is another reason for the struggle to believe. Is good news reliable and believable in our skeptical and jaded world of constant turmoil, trouble and wickedness? Every day we are bombarded with bombings, shootings, devastating storms, riots, hunger, cheaters, liars, murderers, etc. and on the list goes. So when we bring up the matter of there being “good news” you can see the disbelief on the faces of those to whom we speak. True good news is rare, seldom seen or experienced, so no wonder there is a struggle to believe in such a “fairy tale.” Yet the transforming power of the Gospel in real life is testimony that there is good news and it is real. Our own stories of redemption from our sins through Christ needs to be shared not as a pipe dream but as an experienced reality. Jesus did save us from our sins. The Gospel does work. We must be ready to show the results of the Gospel in our own lives as we face the daily challenges of life in this fallen world. Paul was right. “If any man is in Christ, he is a new creation” (II Cor. 5:17).
Just because there is a struggle to believe does not mean that many will not come to faith in Christ. That is why Paul went on to say: “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us” (II Cor. 5:20).

Finally, let’s not forget our enemy who sows constant seeds of doubt when it comes to believing the word and promises of God. He has had a lot of experience in this practice (starting in Genesis 3 with our first parents). That is why the man in the Gospels cried out to Jesus with great honesty about the battle raging in his soul (no doubt sowed by the enemy of souls): “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24). The struggle for belief is not a rare or unusual thing in our world. But victory is possible.  Paul says that “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). Face unbelief with the Bible and its claims about Christ. Unbelief cannot stand before an honest reception of God’s Word.

The end of the story for Thomas is recorded in John 20:26-29. Thomas was invited in the presence of the risen Christ to indeed put his fingers into the wounds. But strangely he did not. Unbelief vanished when he got Jesus right. He just said: “My Lord and my God!” The struggle to believe is over. Christ is Lord! Think it thru

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WHAT IS RESURRECTION LIFE?

Everyone dies. Conception brings life into this earthly existence. Because we are born sinners, our end is already fixed- the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23). Yet for the believer, death is the “birth” that takes us into the heavenly existence. Life after death is a reality. The Bible says so. Jesus promised that because He lives (after his death),  we will too who know Him. Which brings up the question: what exactly is the resurrection life mean  for the one who knows Christ?

1- It is the hope that we will literally be in heaven with Christ after we die. (John 14; II Cor. 4-5). Paul said it is a better thing to be with Christ than to “truck on” here. That tells us the resurrection life of the future far surpasses the earthly life of the present (Phil. 1:23).
2- It is the promise of a perfect body with no sickness, sin, or sorrowful experiences to plague its existence. Paul speaks of the transformed bodies we will have after our resurrection (I Cor. 15:35-44). These bodies will never be subject to decay or degeneration (I Cor. 15:53-57). In some way, we will be like Jesus (I John 3:2). Literally, we will never face death (physical) again (John 11:25-26).
3- It is the taste of the future life now by being in Christ. Paul said though he was crucified with Christ, he lives. And the life he lives down here is a new life, a different life, a life that will never really end (Gal. 2:20).
The Resurrection of Jesus Christ opened a door of hope for those who believe that can never be closed! Hey, whatever way the path turns we win! Think it thru

WHAT IS THE GREATEST PROOF OF THE RESURRECTION?

Professor Joad, past professor of philosophy at London University, (who was not a Christian by the way) was asked the following question: “If you could meet any person of the past and ask just one question, whom would you meet and what question would you ask?” Professor Joad answered: “I would meet Jesus Christ and ask him the most important question in all the world – Did you or did you not rise from the dead?”

The resurrection is foundational to everything we believe as Christians. Yet we do not have to prove the resurrection event itself.  There is another truth that settles for me the validity of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

You see the essence of Christianity and the greatest proof of the resurrection for me is found in this one mind-boggling sentence: “JESUS CHRIST IS GOD!” If this statement is true then the resurrection is no problem at all.

When you trace the earthly journey of the Lord Jesus through the Gospels, he says and does things that only God in the flesh can do.  You cannot explain His life in any other way. Even his claims to be God ring true.  Long before you get to the event of the resurrection you have either settled in your minds that Jesus is a liar or He spoke the truth. Either He was a master magician or He actually performed all those miraculous events. Either the Bible is a truth text or a master weaving of legends and unreliable stories. Jesus said he would rise again. The same scripture that recorded those words, recorded as fact his resurrection.

If Jesus Christ is God, not just part of God, or just sent by God, or just related to God… if He was and therefore is God, then the resurrection is no big deal. You would expect it. That is a thing God would do. People who have a problem with the resurrection have a problem with Jesus being God in the flesh. You don’t have to set about to prove the fact of the resurrection if you have already settled in your soul that Jesus Christ is exactly who He said He was (and is): GOD!  C. S. Lewis in his book Mere Christianity put it rather bluntly: “For Christ to have talked as he talked, lived as he lived, died as he died, he was either God or a raving lunatic.” To me that is the choice we have.

If Christ is no more than an inspired prophet and teacher who walked the paths of Israel over 2000 years ago then the resurrection becomes a sticking point and a massive problem. In the book entitled “In Search of Christianity,” one of the contributors, Colin Buchanan, past bishop of Aston, stated that, “The Jesus Christ to whom Christians respond is not the dead (though appealing) person of the past, but the Living Lord of the present. He is the same Jesus Christ who is presented to us in the Gospels.” If this statement is true, then  the resurrection is possible, believable, and in fact real!

If you reject the reliable record of the Bible, then you will always struggle with the reality of the resurrection of Christ.  One lawyer, Val Grieve, in his little book “Your Verdict on the Empty Tomb” stated as a lawyer the following legal opinion: “A lawyer, and especially a judge, is always face to face with the problem of how to evaluate evidence and distinguish the reliable from the misleading…I claim that logic must point in the direction of his resurrection on an actual day and date in our history when, if you had been there, you would have touched the living Jesus and heard him speak.”

For me the Biblical record is the reliable evidence and what it says about Christ is accurate and believable. The evidence about who Jesus is comes across in overwhelming fashion in the Bible.  So believing the resurrection is secondary to what you believe about Christ Himself. Settle that and the resurrection falls naturally into place.  Think it Thru

HOW DO WE HANDLE “THE POST-ELECTION SYNDROME?”

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Kevin DeYoung in a recent blog entitled A Prayer on Election Day concluded with these words:

Grant us the courage to stand up for what is right, the strength to try to make a difference, and the gospel-formed humility to accept that there are no Messiahs except for Jesus and no heaven on earth except the one awaiting us at the end of the age.”


Our new president is no Messiah and no elected official can deliver heaven on earth.   In fact according to Paul’s words to Timothy in II Timothy  3:1ff there will be a continued downward spiral in our world:

“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty for people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power….”

The challenge before us is not to put our hopes in Washington, but our confidence in the power of the Gospel to bring lasting change to the hearts of men and women.  That does not mean we are to abandon our prayers for our leaders. In fact…just the opposite. If we believe the Gospel is the answer for our culture then that very truth will drive us to our knees to pray for their salvation and that God would bring decisions from their hands that will further the Gospel in our land.  The story of the two eagles in Ezekiel 17 reminds us of the sovereign hand of God over the governmental affairs of nations [look it up and read it some time] where God brings change in spite of those who rule.

Our hope for the future is grounded in the triumph of the resurrection.  If God conquered death in Jesus Christ, then the rest is a “piece of cake.”  The darkness on the earthly horizon now  is always eclipsed by the glory of the future horizon yet to come! God isn’t done! The Spirit isn’t done! The Church isn’t done! Think it thru