“Why Should I Believe?”Categories: Sermons
One of the things that I’ve really enjoyed about preaching this half-hour study series is the number of sermon suggestions I’ve gotten from the members here. I love to hear what y’all want to learn from the word, and before I’m done, there will be about half a dozen sermons that some brother or sister here specifically asked for.
This sermon comes to us from Carolyn. A couple of weeks ago, she came to me and asked, “What do you say to somebody who doesn’t believe in either God or the Bible? What’s the simplest argument that you can make that will convince them?”
Of course, every argument has its limitations. Not even Jesus could persuade somebody who refused to listen. The same is true for us. Nothing I say this morning will have any influence on a hard heart. However, if somebody is not a believer but is open-minded, this is the best approach I’ve found for reaching them. Let’s consider this morning, then, the answer to the question, “Why should I believe?”
The first point of the answer, and indeed the main argument, is that THE RESURRECTION PROVES THAT JESUS IS THE SON OF GOD. Paul makes this point in Romans 1:3-4. Today is a special day. It is a day on which we are gathered to remember and celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I am referring, of course, to the first day of the week. If you’re here because you think that the resurrection should only be remembered one day a year, I appeal to you, please reconsider that. The resurrection is the most important event of human existence, and we must give it the attention it deserves.
Let me back up a little bit, though. The resurrection is the most important event of human history if, and only if, it happened. A mythical resurrection has no meaning for any of us. Why should we believe that it is more than a myth?
If you’ll recall, I preached two sermons on this last year. If you don’t recall, I’m going to move those over to the current church blog so you can read them for a refresher!
Having said that, here’s the basic argument. Let’s start out by treating the Bible like any history book. For now, we’re going to ignore all the supernatural stuff unless something else gives us a reason to accept it.
Treating the Bible in this way, there are five reasonable, non-supernatural conclusions we can draw about the events surrounding the end of Jesus’ life on earth. First, it’s apparent that Jesus died on the cross. Second, His disciples believed, whether rightly or not, that the risen Jesus appeared to them. Third, His brother James, who did not believe in Him during His ministry, believed the risen Jesus appeared to him. Fourth, Saul of Tarsus, an enemy and persecutor of the church, also believed that he saw the risen Jesus. Fifth, on the first day of the week, Jesus’ tomb was found empty.
There’s nothing supernatural about any of those things, but when you put them together, they add up to a supernatural conclusion. The single best explanation for those five facts is that Jesus really did rise from the dead.
If that is true, if Jesus was indeed raised, we must take everything He said about Himself seriously, including His claim to be the Son of God. Somebody who claims to be the Son of God, is killed, and stays dead is either a liar or a deluded fool. Somebody who claims to be the Son of God, is killed, and rises from the grave truly is the Son of God.
Now that we’ve established that, it follows that IF JESUS IS GOD’S SON, THE BIBLE IS GOD’S WORD. Consider the words of the Lord in Matthew 15:3-4. In context, Jesus is involved in a dispute with the Pharisees about whether He has to follow their made-up human traditions. That doesn’t concern us this morning.
What does, though, is the way that Jesus speaks of the Scriptures during his rebuttal of the Pharisees. In v. 4, He quotes from two passages of the Law of Moses, Exodus 20:12 and Exodus 21:17. Then, He describes them in a particular way. In v. 3, He calls them “the commandment of God”. In v. 6, He calls them, “the word of God”.
That’s extremely significant. Let me explain why. I believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God. My belief is a reasoned, logical belief, and I’m happy to explain why I believe to anyone who asks. In fact, that’s what I’m doing right now.
However, my reasoned belief is all I have. It’s a conclusion that is not based on my own direct observation. I can see Shawn in his office working on a sermon. However, neither I nor anyone else could have seen the Holy Spirit inspiring Paul to write the book of Romans.
All that, though, is not true of Jesus. When Jesus describes the Scriptures as the word of God, that’s not a statement of faith. He knows, and He would not have hesitated to call the Scriptures out as a fraud if they were. However, when the Son of God endorses the Bible as the word of God, that’s straight from the horse’s mouth. That’s something we must accept.
The final part of the argument is that IF THE BIBLE IS GOD’S WORD, IT IS RELIABLE. Look at the statement that God makes in Isaiah 55:10-11. I believe that this is true because God said it, but even if He hadn’t said it, I think it’s nothing more than common sense.
Even if we know nothing else about God, we know from this lesson that He is powerful enough and rational enough to raise someone from the dead. The resurrection reveals God as a purposeful, intentional being.
If that’s who God is, the word tells us what His purpose is. Unless the New Testament has been mangled beyond comprehension, that purpose is clear. God sent Jesus to earth to die for our sins so that those who believe in Him and are faithful to Him could inherit eternal life. That’s not from one verse. That’s from hundreds of them.
However, if God allows the gospel to be perverted and destroyed, His purpose can no longer be accomplished. If there are all kinds of errors and falsehoods in the Bible, we can no longer rely on it to learn what God has done for us and what we ought to do for Him. Under those circumstances, the Bible would be about as useful a guide to heaven as a road map would be if it told us to get to Nashville by heading south. In both cases, no one would ever arrive.
That makes no sense. Why would God go to all that trouble to raise Jesus and then allow the gospel of the risen Savior to be corrupted into uselessness? The point is that we don’t have to take the skeptical view of the Bible that we took in the first point of this lesson. In fact, we shouldn’t.
Once we see that even a skeptic’s Bible proves the resurrection, the resurrection opens the door for revelation and miracles and Bible authority and everything else. In addition to everything else that Jesus proved when He rose from the grave, He proved that we can rely on the Scriptures too.