My Dear Friends,
Why would anyone in their right mind believe the Bible, believe Jesus Christ, and believe that belonging to a Christian church was a sane and sensible thing to do?
Reason 1 why you shouldn’t believe. The Bible is simply unbelievable. Who today in this modern, scientific, rational world believes in creation out of nothing by an eternal, omnipotent God? Who in their right mind believes that Adam and Eve lived in a special Garden, sinned and brought the whole creation crashing down with them? Are you serious? Who can possibly believe that God opened up a sea, led the Israelites through safely but then drowned all their enemies in its waters? And then there is the story about the sun standing still, what is all that about? And Samson, killing hundreds of his enemies with the jawbone of a donkey! Could the Bible not have tried a little harder to make its message more believable?
Reason 2 why you shouldn’t believe. Jesus Christ! God’s Son from eternity. Born of a virgin. Feeder of 5000 plus with a few loaves and fish. Healer of the sick. Raiser of the dead. He turned water into wine! He said he was the light of the world, the resurrection and the life, the way, the truth and the life. This is all just too fantastic to be true. It is claimed he rose from the dead and then (can you believe it) ascended into heaven. He said he would ‘come again’ to judge the living and the dead. What is all that about? This is 2014, not the dark ages! Jesus may have been a ‘good man’, but the Son of God, the Saviour of the world? Are you serious?
Reason 3 why you shouldn’t believe. The Christian church! Look at it! At its best it is dull, boring, unexciting, an irrelevance to life in the modern world. People come together on a Sunday (some even do so twice!), sing, pray, and listen to someone ‘explaining’ the Bible for 30-40 minutes. Get a life! What has that to offer anyone in today’s world? Is it not just incredible that thinking people (so called) would do such a thing on a Sunday, when they could have a long lie in, go to Starbucks, watch a movie, go out to the pub? And look at these Christians. They say they are the children of the living God, that he indwells their lives, that they are heading for God’s eternal presence - would the way they live tell you that? If seeing is believing, then there is nothing to see in the church that would make anyone want to believe.
Reasons not to believe. And no doubt you can think of more. What can be said in defence of the Bible, Jesus Christ, and the church? Nothing. The Bible is a supernatural book, Jesus is a supernatural Saviour. The church is a supernatural people. They don’t need defending, they simply are what they are. The Bible does not try to be relevant. Jesus did not try to appeal to the masses, or to anyone for that matter. The church with all its manifest weaknesses, of which there are many, is the people of God, his believing, blood-bought, saved, loved and loving people (and if this does not describe you, you are not truly a part of Christ’s church).
Yes, there are reasons to believe, cogent, pressing, eminently reasonable reasons. But as Isaiah so plaintively declared, ‘Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?’ Unbelief is not a modern phenomenon. The world has never believed in the Bible or Jesus Christ or his church... until God in his mercy opens men and women’s eyes to see, their ears to hear and their hearts to feel. Augustine was an unbelieving, pleasure loving, sexually voracious philosopher until one day God in mercy broke into his life. He picked up the Bible, which he had read many times before, but this time what he read transformed his life. But you don’t need to be an Augustine to believe in the Bible, Jesus Christ and the Christian church. You do need to seek after the truth and to ask God, ‘Be merciful to me the sinner’. This for many is the ultimate stumbling block. Pride not only swells a person’s mind, it blinds them to the truth.
When I studied theology at the University of Edinburgh in the 1970‘s, one of my Professors (and he was not the only one, sadly) wondered if it were possible in the modern world to believe in the Bible and in a supernatural Saviour, who died for the sins of his people and rose in triumph on the third day. I said I did and there were many like me. He thought I was ’out of my mind', but in a nice way. I thought he was a lost, poor and to be pitied man who couldn’t see past the limitations of his own mind.
The ultimate reason to believe in the Bible, Jesus and his church is simply this, they are everything they say they are. As the ancient Scots would say, ‘Facts are chiels that wanna ding’ (look up Google).
With my warmest greetings as ever,