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Home >> Articles >> Apologetics - Defending the Faith


Faith
Is it Real?   

Q. How do I know my faith is "real" enough to save me? How do I know Christianity is true and Jesus really lived? How can I have faith in something or someone I can't see or touch? How do you make a "leap of faith" and believe something so extraordinary?

Answer:

These are good questions that encompass the doubts of many people. Thanks for asking - I'm sure it will help others.

Seal&Guarantee

God's Word tells us that He puts His "seal" on us when we are saved and gives us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 says:

"And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee."

Loses no One

Furthermore, the reference in John 6:39 lets us know that Jesus will lose none of those given to him. Don't forget that even Peter denied the Lord three times. Yet, the Lord restored him to fellowship. Be sure to read the story in Matthew 26:69-75, Mark 16:7, and John 21:15-19.




Is History Knowable?

What kinds of evidence establish that a person really lived in history? If you hear that John F. Kennedy was shot in Dallas, Texas, back in the 1960s - how do you know the photos of the Kennedy family are real? How do we know they are not fakes? How do we know the articles are based on fact?

In fact, is history knowable at all?



Evidence we Lived

In deciding what evidence establishes the historicity of a person it is helpful to note what evidence we use for everyday people. Usually we accept something like a birth certificate and death certificate, a job record, and the testimony of friends and family.

-birth certificate
-death certificate
-job record
-witnesses&genealogy

For example, I have a birth certificate that shows I was born in a specific city in a specific state. My job record and school attendance records show I studied music and history and performed with several symphonies over a span of several decades. There are some newspaper articles of awards and concerts. Finally, I have friends and family who can testify I graduated from college and played in many concerts.




The Historicity of Jesus

For a person as outstanding as Jesus it seems fair to perhaps ask a little more than that - after all, He did perform miracles and rose from the dead - something more than the average person could do.

Lineage

In Jesus' case we have a complete lineage listing all of His ancestors reaching back hundreds of years in history - far more proof than a stamped birth certificate. Take a look at Matthew chapter one for an outstanding birth record. It beats any "pedigree" we give our most prized animals!

By the way, there is reportedly "proof" that some Jews are able to trace back their ancestry or DNA to the Levitical priests. These are "real" records! Jesus' ancestors are "real" people who lived in real space-time.

Chain of Professors

We have a thorough job description detailing His whereabouts and the healings he performed over time. There are hundreds of witnesses including some hostile ones - and several historians' accounts - let alone archaeological evidence.

We have an unbroken chain of "professors" whose lives overlapped in the early centuries of Christianity - starting with Peter and John and their students. These are the early Church Fathers whose writings provide valuable evidence for the historicity of Jesus and His teachings.




Circular Reasoning?

Some critics want to state that Christians are just "using the Bible to prove the Bible." They claim it's a form of circular reasoning. Is it?

Well…No, we are not! No, it isn't. That criticism sounds good - but it just isn't true or accurate.

Consider the story of JFK's assassination. Is it "circular reasoning" to argue that any witnesses in Dallas and the testimony of friends and family cannot be used because they were there and so they are biased? Therefore, only outsiders' testimonies are valid?

Of course not! That's just silly! The testimony of good witnesses who were there is valid - in any court of law. Those who were not there provide few insights on a historical event.

Besides, we not only have the testimony of Jesus' friends and family and early Church Fathers, but we also have the writings of historians and the writings of political figures and the writings of a few who were hostile to this new Jewish sect.

Added to that many followers of Jesus were put to death for their faith in agonizing ways. No one dies a tortured death for what he "knows" is a lie. Many die for what they believe is the truth - even if it is false. But, they won't die for a lie intentionally!




Prophecy

Finally, there are some fascinating proofs that Jesus fulfilled the predictions of prophecies about Him given hundreds of years before His birth. There are at least 300 of these Old Testament prophecies which are dated and proved by such things as the archaeological finds of the Dead Sea Scrolls. These specific prophecies go far beyond probabilities in "chance."

This sort of proof goes far beyond ordinary, reasonable "proof" that the person is most likely who they are or claim to be. It is far more proof than we would demand for the existence of John F. Kennedy.



Leap of Faith

Christianity never asks that we make a "leap of faith" or believe in things that are unreasonable. Once we have been given reasonable evidence that it is true, Hebrews 11:1 reminds us that "faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen."

Gospel Message

The gospel message is a very simple message. It asks that we believe Christ died for our sins just as the Scriptures said (as prophesied in the Old Testament) - and that we believe He was buried and raised from the dead just as the Scriptures said (as prophesied in the Old Testament).

That's it. You will find this clear, concise gospel message in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. Some of the prophesied Old Testament predictions are found in Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53. Remember, these are proved to have been written hundreds of years before Christ's death. We know this from archaeological finds such as the Dead Sea Scrolls!




Appointed to Believe

Keep searching for the truth and be willing to read evidence books (called the study of "apologetics"). If after all of this you still cannot believe, maybe it is time to consider that perhaps you were not "appointed" to receive salvation. The book of Acts 13:48 says,

"When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord - and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed."

No matter how many evidences and proofs we give, no one will believe if they are not meant to believe. Even our "faith" is given to us. Ephesians 2:8 says, "For by grace you have been saved through faith - and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God - not as a result of works, so that no one may boast."




Apologetics

Here are three excellent books to study:

1. McDowell, Josh. 1999. The new evidence that demands a verdict. Nashville, TN: Nelson.

2. Muncaster, Ralph. 2004. Examine the evidence. Eugene, OR: Harvest House.

3. Strobel, Lee. 1998. The case for Christ. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.










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