Friday, January 31, 2014

Why Christianity?

That question was raised in Darci’s Random Thoughts … Combine it with the J. C. Ryle quote, and I have some random thoughts, too. Darci looks at differences between the largest of today’s religions and Christianity – their founders did not claim to be the son of God; they did not die to provide salvation; each lived and taught a lot longer than three years; none prophesied/accomplished resurrection.

That last claim is mentioned more than once in the Bible, but I like how Paul put it:

For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. (1 Corinthians 15:3-8 KJV)

John saw Him later, but under very different circumstances:

And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. (Revelation 1:13 KJV)

Yep – very different circumstances, and the description continues for additional verses. The resurrection does not exist in the other religions. It’s importance is evident to Paul:

And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. (1 Corinthians 15:14-15 KJV)

That’s a high standard to meet, isn’t it? If Christ did not rise, their testimonies were empty. Yet Paul’s meeting with Him on the road to Damascus, a story told by Luke in Acts 9, and again in Acts 22, surrounded by soldiers protecting him from those who would kill him for preaching the gospel.

Some people who claim to be Christians have killed in His name. Yet, when Peter defended him by striking a man with a sword, Jesus responded:

Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest's servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant's name was Malchus. Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it? (John 18:10-11 KJV)

While each of the major religions in our world have writings that are similar in minor respects, the resurrection stands alone as proof of God’s grace and mercy. Not only did He give His life that we might have salvation, He left us with proof, testified by witnesses, that He rose again. Although I love and believe the New Testament authors, Paul’s witness stands out. What does it take to change a man from a prosecutor seeking death sentences to a defense witness? Truth.

I’ve seen that truth in action – bringing huge changes to lives of people I love. Because of that – not because of where I was born – I’ve chosen Him, too. I’ve spent time reading and studying the Bible, looking as much for something I cannot believe as looking to understand. No – I do not understand it all.  I still see through a glass darkly. But there will come a time when I sit under the tree of life beside the river of life.  Come, picnic with me.

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