Why I Am A Christian

Title: Why I Am A Christian

Text: Romans 1:19-20, John 6:35, Proverbs 13:34

Time: July 16th, 2012

 

It has occurred to me from time to time to give an account as to why I am a Christian, since I spend my full time promoting Christianity by teaching and preaching the Bible. I do mention in passing why I am a Christian in my different ways while teaching on different subjects and topics of Christianity in my position as pastor, but I’ve never taken the time to clearly state why I am a Christian. Today, I think it’s important that I take the time to do just that – explain in plain terms why I follow Jesus and the Christian faith. Of course, there are many reasons why people today give why they do not or cannot follow Christianity. We’ve all heard the reasons, such as that Christianity isn’t reasonable, or that the Christian faith isn’t practical, or that the Christian church isn’t compatible with a tolerant, modern, secular and peaceful society where there are many different religions, beliefs and practices that all must live side-by-side in harmony. Today, the trend seems to be towards a tolerant secular humanistic faith. In Europe, but also in the United States, this move is evidenced by the rise in the category called “non-religious,” where people choose to live apart from any organized faith. Still others move toward some form of personal spirituality that doesn’t require any doctrine, authority or structure, such as New Age spirituality. In the midst of growing spiritual diversity and greater tolerance for non-religious beliefs and philosophies why do I choose to adhere to a fairly conservative brand of historic and traditional Protestant Christianity? That’s what I’d like to explain today in order to give you a little better understanding of my faith journey in life. To begin with, I was raised in a moderate, main line Protestant family. My father and mother, my sister and myself all attended a semi-liberal denominational Methodist church. There I learned a little about the Bible, the church and the Christian faith. During my teenage years our family converted to a more biblical understanding of Christianity through the influence of evangelist Billy Graham. I became “born again” during this time in the 1970s – which is to say, I moved from an understanding of general Christianity to a personal commitment in Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord. I then began to search out churches and activities within Christianity that fed my hunger for a greater knowledge and commitment to following after Jesus. This led to attending more evangelical, Bible-teaching churches and attending a Christian college. In addition, I felt the call to Christian ministry, so I attended an evangelical seminary and entered into the pastorate of a church. Over the last twenty or so years, I’ve taught and led churches, but I’ve never really stated specifically why I am a Christian. So today I’d like to give a clear explanation why I follow Jesus and Christianity — as opposed to some other religion or philosophy.

 

First, Christianity makes the most sense. Romans 1:19-20, “Since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” It is a common objection to Christianity by intellectuals that the Christian faith doesn’t make rational sense, that science now explains things better, or that human knowledge in many and all areas has made the truths of the Bible obsolete. But this isn’t true at all. In fact, taken as a whole, Christianity is the only worldview or belief system that makes sense of everything we experience in life. It makes the most sense of any belief system known today. For example, science can make sense of many things in the natural world, but it leaves unanswered so many questions about ultimate things. Yet Christianity can answer not only the “what” questions – what is there, but also the “why” questions – why what is there is there. For example, if, as science teaches, there was a “Big Bang” billions of years ago, if everything came suddenly into being from nothing, then this could be explained from the Bible when it states, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth,” Genesis 1:1. The universe isn’t eternal as many philosophies presuppose, but it had a beginning just like the Bible teaches. And there are many other examples of how Christianity makes the most sense of any worldview. I am a Christian in part because Christianity makes the best sense of everything we know of life. It explains reality best. The Bible teaches that men and women are sinful due to the Fall of our original parents Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden – and human history confirms the doctrine of original sin. If original sin weren’t true then we’d imagine someone or some group or community would have demonstrated at some point in human history that it really is possible to live a life of sinless perfection. It hasn’t happened and it won’t happen. Some worldviews may offer what seems superior in one limited area of life, but overall nothing comes close to Christianity in presenting an overall superior way of looking at and living life. For example, more and more secular people claim that the rule of reason is the best worldview to live by, but what if human reason is unreliable because it is flawed? What if we need not only reason but also revelation from God to guide us in life? This is what Christianity teaches. We need both reason and revelation to live in this world. As the above passage shows, some truths about God are known through observation and reason, but not all truths. We need God’s revelation to show us the way of salvation and how to live. We can’t figure it out on our own. This makes perfect sense to me, which is why I am a Christian and not a non-religious secular humanist. And in looking at all the other world religions, I conclude that if any one religion is true, it’s Christianity – but I’ll come back to that topic later.

 

Second, Christianity feels right. John 6:35, “Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” Not only does Christianity make the most sense of all the worldviews available in the world today, but also it satisfies my soul. In other words, I can fully live with it and be sustained by it. Since we are all made in the Imago Dei or “Image of God” we all seek fulfillment in God. Yet at the same time because of our sinful nature and sinful activity we are in rebellion against the very God we most desperately need to be complete. This contradiction is something almost all religions and philosophies try to address. But only Christianity fully supplies us with an answer. Faith in Jesus Christ reconciles us with God the Father and puts us in a right standing relationship with him. Through the death of Christ on the cross as an atoning sacrifice for our sins, we can by faith be made right with God. We can experience God again through forgiveness of our sins and live satisfying lives once more. By humbling ourselves and confessing and repenting of our sins, we can live in constant fellowship with God through faith in Jesus Christ. By reading our Bible and praying daily to God we can be sustained in the Christian life. By attending church regularly we can be encouraged by others and held accountable for our Christian life. Once we enter the Christian way of life we have a path to walk on through life that is guided and directed by God himself. And when we look ahead to our own eventual death, when we think of the life to come, there isn’t a sense of dread or fear because we know that our Lord and Savior is there waiting for us to welcome us into our eternal home. There is certainly more satisfaction in this than in some secular philosophy that teaches one’s non-existence at death, or even in some cycle of death and rebirth through reincarnation as Buddhism and Hinduism teach. This is not to say that my Christian faith always produces joy and happiness at every moment of my life, because that is unrealistic. But overall, the life I experience as a Christian is better than anything I can see in any other philosophy or religion I know. Not only does the Christian faith make the most sense of reality, it also is most satisfying in living. It satisfies the deepest part of me. Jesus claims to be the bread of life, to feed the soul of everyone who comes to him by faith, and I can testify that he is true. Jesus does feed my soul and I’m not hungry or searching for some other kind of food. Why would I seek some other food from some other religion or philosophy when I’ve found fulfillment in Jesus and Christianity? This is also why I’m a Christian – I find complete satisfaction in Jesus.

 

Third, Christianity produces the best results in society. Proverbs 13:34, “Righteousness exalteth a nation; but sin is a reproach to any people.” For all its faults and failures Christianity has produced in the last two thousands years the greatest civilization the earth has ever seen in Western culture. I know that isn’t popular to say today, and I’d also like to quickly say that I’m not defending everything that the West has produced and exported around the world. But with certain qualifications, we must surely agree that Western society has been an overall blessing to the world – and at the heart of the West has been the influence of Christianity. It isn’t Hinduism or Buddhism that is the heart of Western culture. Islam isn’t the foundation for Western civilization, even though there is some influence found here. Certainly atheism or even skepticism don’t form the core of the religious or moral base of the West. The Jewish and Christian spiritual influence alone is responsible for the success of the West. Again, not saying that Western culture is perfect or that everything conducted under the authority and activity of the West is justified, still, we must admit that overall it has been a blessing to all of humanity and the world, even with all its faults and failures. No other religion or philosophy has produced as much cultural advancement as Christianity. For example, the Soviet Communist experiment aimed to create a new culture, one built on the assumption of atheism, one that was built on secular principles not religious belief. Using only science and the rational thought of man this experiment ended in utter failure in the late 1980s. It failed to produce much of anything culturally significant. Yet, in only a few centuries in the United States with a flourishing Christian population our nation has advanced culture further than any society before in the history of the world. How can anyone ignore the fact that the Christian faith, its beliefs, its morality, and its practices have contributed greatly to the advancement of culture and humanity? We don’t have time to go into the reasons, the many reasons, why this is so, but we just need to note that it is so. And this is one of the strongest arguments in favor of the Christian faith. On practical reasons alone, a purely secular person might be attracted to building society around Christian beliefs and values simply because of the success of the West. I’m aware that there are some atheists who preach that religion, namely Christianity, is responsible for the ills and woes of the world. But who can seriously believe that? No. The evidence is that wherever Christianity goes, over time, generally speaking, it’s a blessing to society.

 

So let me review briefly what I’ve said about my own Christian faith. First, I’m a Christian because it makes the most sense. There may be some other system of thought that explains some one specific thing maybe better than the Christian answer found in the Bible, but can that same system explain other things better? No. For example, Islam may claim to be morally superior to Christian nations today, for example, in the area of sexual ethical practices. But do the harsh and unforgiving laws of Islam used to keep people in line really point to moral superiority? Isn’t it a greater testimony to moral superiority that Christians in the West voluntarily obey the moral teachings of Christianity? Christianity in the West is no doubt facing a crisis with the rise of secularism, but still, would anyone really trade what we’ve got for some other system? Second, I’m a Christian because I find fulfillment in the Christian faith. It isn’t just a system of thought or philosophy. I can live out my faith and be satisfied with it. I can go through life with a satisfying relationship with God through prayer and reflecting on the Bible and through church and Christian fellowship. I can’t imagine going through life using only unaided human reason or even utilizing the best human expert opinion. That would be unsatisfying. With Christianity I have the answers to life’s greatest questions. I know why I’m here, where I came from, and where I’m going. All these answers are found in the Bible and I believe them by faith. These answers don’t contradict the very best human thinking, although some of them may be in conflict with some human opinion. But I take satisfaction in knowing and believing that God has revealed himself through the sacred writings of the Bible. I can use this revelation along with human reasoning to make wise decisions about life. In this I am fully satisfied. And third, I can look at the history of the world since Jesus walked the earth and say that Christianity has produced an overall blessing for humanity. Where would the world be today if Jesus had never come two thousand years ago? Without his teachings we’d be a worse place. Without his salvation and the hope of eternity he offers, we’d be a more depressing and gloomy world today. I would hope that anyone who isn’t a Christian or who hasn’t committed themselves to following Jesus Christ for salvation would think long and hard about things. If Jesus or Christianity isn’t the answer, what is? Honestly, who or what could realistically take the place of Jesus? I think the answer is obvious – no one or nothing could take the place of Jesus. He alone offers us the best spiritual salvation in the here and now, and most importantly, in the life to come.

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