Monday, October 1, 2018


This past Sunday at Grace Bible Church, our pastor preached a powerful sermon about the stoning of Stephen. It culminated in a great example of forgiveness. As Stephen was dying, his prayer was for the forgiveness of his executioners.

Then falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them!’ Having said this, he fell asleep” (Acts 7:60, NASB).

Stephen followed the great example of our Savior as He was dying on the cross. “But Jesus was saying, ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing…’” (Luke 23:34, NASB). He not only asked His Father to forgive those who crucified Him, but we as believers, whose sins put Him on that cross, know He has also forgiven us.

We, as humans, cannot forgive sin in the same way God can, but we can forgive in our hearts. How often do we hold grudges and harbor ill-will?

“See to it that … no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled?” (Hebrews 12:15).

We have great examples of forgiveness in Stephen and ultimately in our Lord Jesus Christ.

You can hear this sermon here. You will be blessed.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

The Total Blindness of Unbelief (Believing is Seeing, Not the Reverse)

By Ed Cardwell

Jesus said to Martha, “Did I not say to you, if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” (John 11:40, NASB).

*     *     *     *     *

In the Gospel of John, chapter 11, we find that while Jesus was ministering on the eastern side of the Jordan, word was sent to Him from Bethany near Jerusalem that his friends Mary and Martha needed His assistance because their brother Lazarus was sick.

Rather than return promptly to come to their aid Jesus purposefully delayed his stay two days longer, as He knew what He was intending to do.

Lazarus died in the meantime and when Jesus and His disciples finally arrived near the village of Bethany, He found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days.

Martha, naturally grieving over the loss of her brother, when she heard that Jesus was approaching the village, went out to meet Him:

“Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You” (verses 21-22). 

When Jesus told her that her brother would rise again, she said,

“I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day” (verse 24).

Jesus responded:

“I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (verses 25-26).

Martha replied:

“Yes, Lord. I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world” (verse 27).

Mary coming out later to greet Jesus also expressed her faith and in a similar tone:

Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died” (verse 25).

Both Mary and Martha, because of their belief in Him, were about to witness the greatest miracle that Jesus performed prior to His crucifixion, and they were given to understand even more through their eyes of faith His divine nature, His eternal power, and His infinite love. 

*     *     *     *     *

It was a highly emotional scene:  bitter weeping and mourning over the death of this beloved brother and friend. We are told that even Jesus Himself, being moved and troubled in spirit, wept. But as the great healer Who could calm even the mighty elements and could open the eyes of a man born blind would not be shedding the same kind of tears as these other mourners. Might He have viewed His friend’s body as a hideous testimony of sin’s consequence upon His perfect creation? Could He have in view His final victory and yet with all the agony in between?

Finally Jesus was led to the tomb where they had laid Lazarus.

Against Martha’s protest that the body was already decaying after four days and there would be a stench, Jesus commanded that the stone lying against the tomb be removed.

And Jesus turned to Martha and said, "Did I not say to you, if you believe, you will see the glory of God?" (verse 40).

“And so they removed the stone. And Jesus raised His eyes, and said, ‘Father, I thank Thee that Thou heardest Me. And I knew that Thou hearest Me always; but because of the people standing around I said it, that they may believe that Thou didst send Me.’ And when He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come forth.’ [literally, ‘Lazarus, here!  Outside!’] He who had died came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings; and his face was wrapped around with a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, and let him go’” (verses 41-44).

*     *     *     *     *

It is crucial for our benefit to focus attention on the results of this miracle as to its effect on the witnesses. We notice that the multitude in attendance at this scene was quickly divided into two very different camps.

The first is described in verse 45:

“Many therefore of the Jews, who had come to Mary and beheld what He had done, believed in Him.” 

They “beheld” what Jesus had done. The Greek word is qea,omai (theaomai); it means to “gaze upon,” “view attentively,” “contemplate.” They could not but believe what their eyes told them and they interpreted the miracle correctly. They were compelled to conclude that this man was indeed THE MESSIAH.

They must have reasoned in their hearts the obvious: “If He has the power to raise Lazarus, He can raise the dead; then He can raise me! Hallelujah, praise God! Here is our Redeemer, come to us in the flesh!” We can almost hear them shouting out praises to God at this unrivaled and majestic display of supernatural power.

And the results were as Heaven had intended:  “THEY BELIEVED IN HIM” – And that He was sent to them from God (cf: verse 42).

We can only rejoice at the eternal significance of this great sign which Jesus performed and be humbled by His demonstration of great power and glory. Yes, He raised Lazarus; He can raise me!

*     *     *     *     *

Alas, there was an entirely different group present at this event. They saw the same thing that the first group saw. And their eyes had not deceived them. They saw a dead man come out of the tomb at Jesus’ command. They saw him bound from head to toe, and they saw him walking. They believed what their eyes told them. But they had a different interpretation and reaction to what they saw.

They did not see the glory of God displayed. They did not understand nor could they interpret the sign of the miracle. As amazing as it was, they were totally blind to the glorious significance of this event. To them it was an obvious threat, a monumental challenge to the universal status quo of governmental and religious authority. Why, this would definitely change the balance of power forever. And what if He raised everyone from the tombs?  Might it be that some of them had been responsible for the deaths of countless souls targeted by the council of selfish religionists? Oh, the manifold wickedness of unbelief!

So, their response was quite different from that of the first group. Verse 46 tells us what action they took:

“But some of them went away to the Pharisees, and told them the things which Jesus had done.” 

They ran back to those who held their trust to report the event and its potential dangers.

The chief priests and Pharisees did not delay in convening a high level cabinet meeting to deliberate on how to respond. They did not deny that what they were told was true. They believed what their minions had related and did not waver as to their certainty of all that was told. This Jesus, the bane of their “righteous” rulership, had indeed raised the dead!  And they could not cope nor endure it.

The council came to order with Caiaphas addressing the Sanhedrin :  

“What are we doing?  For this man is performing many signs. If we let Him go on like this, all men will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation." (verses 47-48).

The arrogance, the avarice and self-preservation that had always dominated this assembly quickly emerged to set the tone.

Jealousy and fear gripped the members. The high priest stood to calm his colleagues and to offer a “final” solution to this dangerous archenemy. His plan was not to be misunderstood:

“You know nothing at all, nor do you take into account that it is expedient for you that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation should not perish" (verses 49-50).

There is no record of dissension among the council. The die was cast. 

“So from that day on they planned together to kill Him.” (verse 53).

*     *     *     *     *

What was the difference between the two groups who witnessed the resurrection of Lazarus? What is the difference between any two such groups who look at the stars, the mountains, or a sunset? Both groups see the same thing; they believe what their eyes tell them. So there is a certain commonality to their fundamental belief. But beyond that, there is an infinite dissimilarity between the two as to what the mind and heart perceives.

The one group had an active faith in the one true God of Israel, and they believed in the prophets He sent who testified in the Old Testament concerning the promise of the coming One, He who was to restore all things. The other group had no such preparatory faith. Their “religion” was a dead orthodoxy.

To this second group their unbelief resulted in suspicion, hatred, fear, even conspiracy to commit murder. They were stone-blind to the fact that the sign was for their benefit as well. The hardness of unbelief had so clouded their eyes that they could not see, and this truth was totally lost on them.

But to the first group the showers of manifold blessings descended as they were the privileged to have been eyewitnesses as the Son of God performed this miraculous feat in their very presence. It was their faith in God that had given them eyes to see, to behold this demonstration of His divine power and glory.

One must now ask the question, “To which group do YOU belong?”

Knowing the Creator and trusting in Him allows one to see His handprint in places and circumstances that the faithless cannot see. Faith equips one to view beyond the veil, as it were, and to see the guiding hand of the Almighty in things that to the unbeliever are invisible. And the stronger the faith, the clearer is God’s hand seen. It can be compared to a dark room with lights controlled by a rheostat. The higher we turn the control of faith, the brighter the light and the clearer we will be able to see His loving touch.

Regardless of the hardships, heartaches, and disappointments experienced in this life, and even in the face of the sadness of death, the believer is able to rejoice with total confidence that the Redeemer is able, just as He was able to call Lazarus out of the tomb, to bring every afflicted one through the veil of tears and into a quiet rest safely and eternally in the Savior’s loving arms. 

One does not have to have witnessed this miracle in person to receive all its benefits. Jesus told Thomas, one of His closest disciples,

"Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.”  (John 20:29, NASB).

*     *     *     *     *

"Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®,
Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995
by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission."

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Eternal Salvation – The Irreducible Minimum

By Ed Cardwell

Every great teacher uses appropriate illustrations to point to the truth of the lesson. Jesus was the perfect teacher. He used the most singular example to explain His work of salvation which He was to accomplish for the entire world. He spoke to a religious ruler of the Jews and said in John 3:14-15:

“As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:  That whosoever (everyone who) believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” (KJV).

To teach His lesson Jesus pointed to an event in the Torah familiar to every Jew on earth and every good Bible student since:  Numbers 21.

From verses 4 through 9 in that chapter we find the Israelites struggling with impatience and discouragement after months and months of journeying from slavery in Egypt through the wilderness on their way to the Promised Land. Their grumbling and complaining followed miracle after miracle designed to accommodate their needs and to insure their safety and welfare; but alas depraved humanity has a short memory of God’s blessings. So we read:

“Then they set out from Mount Hor by the way of the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; and the people became impatient because of the journey. And the people spoke against God and Moses, ‘Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this miserable food.’ And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. So the people came to Moses and said, ‘We have sinned, because we have spoken against the LORD and you; intercede with the LORD, that He may remove the serpents from us.’ And Moses interceded for the people. Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a standard; and it shall come about, that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, he shall live.’ And Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on the standard; and it came about, that if a serpent bit any man, when he looked to the bronze serpent, he lived” (Numbers 21:4-9, NASB). 

The wise will connect the underlined to His message and arrive at the truth being taught:  Jesus will be lifted up (crucified), and those who believe in Him will have eternal life. That’s a fact!  Quite simple.

But no. Religious systems through the centuries have devised all manner of rites, rituals and ceremonies adding to the simplest of prerequisites to eternal life. Lists of do’s and don’ts, what to believe, what not to believe, where to go to school, what school not to attend, what degrees to have, what clothes to wear, the right form of baptism, and requirements ad infinitum and ad nauseam.

How many sermons have you heard delivered on the naked simplicity of Jesus’ words? Not many? Not any? Could this be because it is the nature of religious systems devised by fallen man to want to add something that man must do to accomplish what God alone has already done?

The thief on the cross who was crucified alongside of Jesus turned to Him in his distress and said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom!”  Jesus reply was, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:42-43, NASB).

How simple and beautiful is that? No time to make restitution of manifold wrongs to society; no time to join the ‘right’ church; no time for a baptismal ceremony; no time to give all your possessions to the poor. He is being executed. This was the very end. And he makes the right choice – finally! Jesus answers his need of forgiveness and he is welcomed without reproach.

But there is inherently another side to this coin of “looking to the bronzed serpent.” The wise student will not miss it. Let us return to an earlier section of the same passage in Numbers 21:

“Then they set out from Mount Hor by the way of the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; and the people became impatient because of the journey. And the people spoke against God and Moses, ‘Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this miserable food.’ And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. So the people came to Moses and said, ‘We have sinned, because we have spoken against the LORD and you; intercede with the LORD, that He may remove the serpents from us.’ And Moses interceded for the people” (Numbers 21:4-7, NASB).

What do we have here? We have a consciousness of sin on the part of the people. They are aware of their great need now because of their past sinful action and its severe consequences. We call this ‘repentance,’ a very common Biblical word. Repentance means a change of mind/heart which results in a change of action.

So, was there repentance on the part of the thief on the cross? Was there a consciousness of a great need because of sin in his life?  Let’s go back to that story in Luke 23. Let’s begin in verse 39  with the comment from the other thief who was also being crucified along with Jesus:

“And one of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, ‘Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!’ But the other answered, and rebuking him said, ‘Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.’ And he was saying, "Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom.” And He said to him, "Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise" (Luke 23:39-43, NASB).

It is obvious that this man had a real change of mind/heart experience. He was aware that he was in a position of incredible difficulty because of his evil past and that his sentence was just. That is real repentance. The solution?  Look to the merciful Savior. When you have nothing left, Jesus is enough.

One other example may help to reinforce the lesson:  the conversion of the Philippian jailer in Acts 16.

“The crowd rose up together against them (Paul and Silas), and the chief magistrates tore their robes off them, and proceeded to order them to be beaten with rods. And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to guard them securely; and he, having received such a command, threw them into the inner prison, and fastened their feet in the stocks. But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them; and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone's chains were unfastened. And when the jailer had been roused out of sleep and had seen the prison doors opened, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Do yourself no harm, for we are all here!" And he called for lights and rushed in and, trembling with fear, he fell down before Paul and Silas, and after he brought them out, he said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" And they said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved…” (Acts 16:22-31, NASB).

Not “join the right church, and you will be saved.”  Not “get baptized the right way and you will be saved.”  Not even “study the 10 commandments and follow them and you will be saved.”  But simply “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved.”

Now we return to look at the jailer’s situation. Paul and Silas had been no doubt bloodied by the beating they had endured. The jailer gave their wounds no attention, nor had he seen to their hunger and thirst. He threw them into the prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. No change of heart here. But they were praying and singing praises to God for hours and no one could avoid listening. Then suddenly a great earthquake, which brings great fear commensurate with its force, and the prison was shaken, all the doors were opened, and everyone’s chains were unfastened. He realizes that his position is a fatal one. Death is the only escape. But the words of the prayers and the hymns have served their purpose. He recognizes that Paul and Silas know the answer to his need. Repentance has flooded his soul. Falling down before them and trembling with fear he pleads, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

*     *     *     *     *

Just to be sure:  This message is not about sanctification; it is not about growth in the body of Christ; nor is about the maturing process of a Christian. This is about the beginning, the new birth, the starting point of eternal life. This is the door that opens into that new life. And Jesus Himself said, “I am the door.”

Yes, there is much knowledge to be gained; there is an ongoing process of maturation and sanctification, which the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer accomplishes day by day. The Apostle Paul’s letters in the New Testament are written for our learning and our edification. Fellowship with the saints is an essential element in the spiritual growth of the believer.

But with simple faith looking to Jesus, the sinless Son of the living God, dying for our sins upon that tree is the irreducible minimum to entrance into the heavenly abode.

The jailer saw his plight for what it was. His life was pointless and hopeless. There was only loneliness and punishment awaiting him. He had heard that there was a better life, an eternal life through the finished work of God’s Messiah who died to free him from his sins.

When the Israelites looked at the bronzed serpent on the standard, they did not look as simply idle curiosity seekers. They knew that their sins against Moses and against their holy God had brought on this calamity and that God had provided the cure. They had repented. 

When we look at the cross we do not look as simply spectators of an execution. We see the Son of God cruelly punished for the sins of the world – for our sins. Recognition of a need for forgiveness leads to redemption through the precious blood of the lamb.

Many other such examples one can find in the Holy Scriptures and much more could be said regarding this wonderful Savior, but let this word be enough for now. The truth is that the same simple message is still available today to everyone who believes.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Politics and Other Things

This is a Christian blog. In the early days, almost all of the articles were in some way related to Christian school education, since I was involved in Christian schools variously as a principal, teacher, and basketball coach for thirty-four years. Since retiring in 2012, I have broadened my scope somewhat.

For a long time, I have tried to minimize addressing politics. Christians are so often told that we should avoid political issues based on the alleged “separation of church and state” that some believe is found in the U.S. Constitution, which it is not. Sometimes it is even said that Christians have no business bringing their convictions into the voting booth. I have never bought into such foolishness. The reality is that some of the things that are called political issues are more than Republican vs. Democrat or right vs. left. They are, in fact, matters of common sense vs. foolishness, right vs. wrong, Christian vs. non-Christian, Biblical vs. non-biblical, and good vs. evil. Christians do have a role in politics. Some issues are not merely political. Issues that involve normalizing sin are not political issues. Rather, they are moral and Biblical issues, and ignoring them by saying that Christians and the church should stay out of politics is at best cowardly and at worst a denial of our convictions and a great detriment to our nation. For my article on this topic, click here. 

Following are a number of thoughts on such issues. Some of these things are absolute facts. Others are merely my opinions, based on my experience and knowledge. There are many other things I could mention, but these are a random collection of ideas.

  • The legitimate function of government is outlined in the Scriptures.  “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity” (1 Timothy 2:1-2), NASB). This makes it clear that God’s requirement for government, which He established, is to defend its citizens so that they are free to live godly lives. This would include law enforcement, national defense, border security, and anything else necessary to provide for national security. That’s it. Anything else government chooses to do must not interfere with this primary function. Sadly, government so often spends so much time and resources doing things it has no business being involved with that it has nothing left for its primary purpose. Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor” (Romans 13:1-7, NASB).
  • The Tenth Amendment must be honored and obeyed literally. The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. The government spends far too much time, effort, and money on things it is not authorized to do, and often it uses resources from those things it is supposed to do (such as national defense) in order to pay for activities that are reserved for the States and/or the people. The federal government has usurped authority it is not authorized to have. A good place to start would be to note that the government has no business overseeing education, medical care, and energy. All of these things can be done far more efficiently by private organizations that do not have the luxury of operating at a deficit. There are many other things that could and should be added to this short list, but these would be a good place to start.
  • Defense of our country is a primary responsibility of the government. While funds for this purpose must be spent in a wise and prudent manner, funds must not be diverted from national defense and defense of our national interests abroad in order to pay for social welfare programs.
  • Requiring voter ID is not racist. It is the best way to insure the integrity of the election process. Voting is a fundamental right of all age-eligible U.S. citizens, and eligibility to vote must be determined by a valid birth certificate and resulting picture I.D. in order to determine eligibility. Opposition to voter ID laws is a very thinly-veiled effort to allow people to vote who are not eligible to do so and therefore to cheat in elections. In reality, those who are against voter ID are acting in a racist manner by implying those they pretend to speak for are too stupid or otherwise incapable of getting an ID. People should be insulted by such an attitude. If people come to this country and want to vote, they should go through the legal process to become citizens. For my article on voter ID, click here
  • Voting against a minority candidate is not racist. Those who voted for Mitt Romney instead of President Obama in 2012 were not racist unless their votes were based strictly on skin color. Voting either for or against a candidate based on skin color is racist, but no vote is racist if it is based on the positions of the candidate. Voting against a woman is not sexist. Those who voted for President Trump instead of Hillary Clinton were not sexist unless their votes were based on sexism. Voting either for or against a candidate based on gender is sexist, but no vote is sexist if it is based on the positions of the candidate.
  • The Electoral College is our method of electing a president. The popular vote is irrelevant. I addressed the electoral college in a previous article. For that article, click here
  • Socialism has never, does not now, will never, and cannot possibly work. Those who call themselves “progressives” and then want to go back to the failed policies and procedures of socialism should actually be called “regressives.” Such people are either ignorant of or willingly ignore reality.
  • The government is not Santa Claus. It cannot provide everything for everyone. Those calling for Medicare for all, free college tuition, free medical care, etc., etc., have lost touch with reality and can never answer the question of who is going to pay for all this with any other response than “the rich” or “the government.”  It is important to remember that the government has nothing to give away other than that which it has taken from someone. Government produces no wealth, and money is not created by a printing press. Under a situation of “everything for everyone,” there would not be any rich people to pay the taxes, because there would be no motivation to work and produce anything.
  • A few years ago a congressman said that business does not exist to make a profit but to provide revenue for the government. This is an illustration of the fact that there is much foolish thinking among our alleged “leaders.” This demonstrates very clearly the need for term limits on Congress.
  • Higher taxes cause an economy to stagnate and result in more poverty and less revenue for the government. Lower taxes stimulate an economy, create wealth for more people, benefit everyone, and result in more revenue for the government. This has been illustrated many times. A previous U.S. President said he understood this truth, but he operated against it in order to be “fair to everyone” and “level the playing field.”
  • When someone says, “The rich don’t pay their fair share,” the speaker is generally someone who pays little or nothing. So who isn’t paying their fair share?
  • The largest tax cuts will inevitably go to those who pay the most. Anyone who understands third grade math should understand this. “Tax breaks for the wealthy” are so often talked about as a terrible thing, but the truth is that “the wealthy” are those who put more money back into the economy if they don’t have to give it to the government. More money in the economy creates jobs and produces more goods and services for everyone.
  • We often hear about “immoral profits.” It is really unclear why the word “immoral” needs to be put before the word “profits.” Profits are earned, and that money, in one way or another, goes back into the economy. As an example of “immoral profits,” consider the oil industry. “Big oil” (a term used as a pejorative by many) companies do research and development, exploration, drilling, etc. These companies take all the risk, and often their efforts lead to dry wells. On the other hand, the government puts taxes on everything corporations do, including on each gallon of gasoline. It takes no risks but just stands there with its hand out. The government actually makes more off of each gallon of gasoline or diesel than the oil company does. If anyone is making immoral profits, it is the government.
  • Calling people “racist” because of differing political views is neither accurate nor appropriate. When people have no legitimate argument for their positions on issues, they tend to fall back on name-calling, usually calling their opponents “racists” or one of several other “…ists” or “…phobes.” Mocking, ridicule, and name-calling are usually a sign of unwillingness to debate because of having a very weak position on the issues in question.
  • If there is a speaker who holds an opposing point of view, the proper response is to either listen respectfully or to simply not attend the event. Burning buildings, breaking windows, vandalizing cars, and doing all sorts of other mischief in order to prevent that speaker from speaking will accomplish nothing but illustrate a fear of someone else’s position. Much of this seems to be done in the name of “free speech.” This is utter hypocrisy.
  • People who preach tolerance should practice tolerance instead of being the most intolerant of people.
  • It is not racist for a country to control its borders.
  • Some say, “Not my president.” There is no such elected office as “My President.” There is the “President of the United States.” I did not vote for Barack Obama, but he was my president. Currently, Donald Trump is my president, and he is “our president,” including all of the “not my president” types.
  • All rights ultimately come from God, not the government. This is made clear in our Declaration of Independence. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…” 
  • None of the legal rights given by God and spelled out in the Bill of Rights can be legitimately taken away, but it must not be interpreted to guarantee imaginary rights, such as the "right" to an abortion, which it never mentions and which was never intended.
  • Abortion is the murder of a human being. No amount of convoluted reasoning and foolish arguments can change this reality. This is our modern-day holocaust and will ultimately bring God’s judgment.  God knows us before he forms us in the womb. God said to the Prophet Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5, NASB). King David amplifies this truth:  For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them” (Psalm 139:13-15, NASB). ",,,abortion is not a matter of a woman’s right to choose. It is a matter of the life or death of a human being made in God’s image." (Reference here.) 
  • The First Amendment has two parts relative to religion:  Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” This means not only that the government is not to establish a religion, but it also means that the government is not to interfere in religion. It does not mean that the government can compel the removal of religious symbols, such as crosses, that have meaning to the people in a historical sense. Our country was established based on religious freedom and Christian beliefs. It also does not mean that the government must recognize violent political movements disguised as religions. This amendment limits what Congress can do. It says nothing about what the church can or cannot do.
  • “Those who don't know history are destined to repeat it” (Edmond Burke). We do a great disservice to our younger generation by refusing to teach the history of the United States, including the reality of the Civil War. Tearing down statues of Robert E. Lee (who actually opposed slavery, although many today do not even realize it) and other Confederate figures is nothing more than pretending our history does not exist. Such is foolishness and does nothing to improve anyone’s life. Acknowledging the reality of the Civil War is not racism.
  • The Second Amendment means exactly what it says, and it is as much a part of the Bill of Rights as freedom of speech, religion, etc. "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." Those who want it to mean something other than what it says must recognize that if they destroy the Second Amendment, the whole Bill of Rights becomes meaningless. This amendment guarantees every citizen the right to own and carry firearms for the purpose of defense, and it states that this right must not be “infringed.” To “infringe” is to “encroach or trespass.” This falls far short of the desire of many who would not just “infringe” on this right but would totally take it away. Quite literally, this amendment makes almost all, of not all, gun control laws unconstitutional. To “bear arms” means to carry a loaded firearm. An unloaded gun is a club. So many who seem to love freedom of speech, at least for those with whom they agree, also seem to hate the right to keep and bear arms. This is inconsistent and hypocritical. A “gun-free zone” is actually a shooting gallery for those who have no respect for the law.
  • All laws passed by Congress must apply to the all government employees, including the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches.
  • It seems as if most foreign aid is a waste, especially when it goes to countries that hate us. Following are two examples of legitimate foreign aid:  (1) In cases of natural disaster, humanitarian aid should be carried out as long as there are safeguards to insure the aid ends up in the hands of those for whom it is intended and not in the hands of dictators, and (2) Economic and military aid must continue to the nation of Israel, since friendship with Israel is our greatest guarantee of national security. God said to Abraham, …I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing; And I will bless those who bless you,
    And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed”
    (Genesis 12:2-3). This promise has never been rescinded, and it will not be, because God is truth and cannot lie.
  • Judges, elected officials, and other government employees who ignore and violate the constitution and other laws must be held accountable and removed from office. Members of the Executive Branch must not hide behind "executive privilege" in order to defy the courts and the law. On the other hand, federal judges should not be allowed to overrule the executive branch based on a political philosophy rather than on the law.
  • It does not matter if a judge or Supreme Court Justice is a Democrat or a Republican, nor does it matter how that judge would vote on a hypothetical future case. What matters is that the judge or justice believes the Constitution means what it says and says what it means. Legal decisions must be made based on the rule of law instead of the political philosophy of the court.
This list of things could go on and on. Instead of doing so, I present a sampling of Scripture that addresses politics and government from a Biblical perspective, as well as a brief quote from Patrick Henry.

“Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a disgrace to any people” (Proverbs 14:34, NASB).

“When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, But when a wicked man rules, people groan Scorners set a city aflame, But wise men turn away anger”  (Proverbs 2:2&8, NASB).

“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” (Psalm 33:12, NASB).

“It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here” (The Trumpet Voice of Freedom, Patrick Henry of Virginia, p. 3).

Monday, May 14, 2018

How do I Know Christianity is the Right Way?

By David Bonebright

How do I know Christianity is the right way? I remember my reaction when I first heard that question. I don't remember specifically how old I was, probably in high school. I was dumfounded! This was not a question I had ever considered. I grew up in a Christian home where my parents and church taught me out of the Bible. I accepted by faith that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, and any other belief system that did not lead through Jesus Christ to get to God was wrong. Even though I knew that not everybody believed the same as I did, I was not adequately prepared to answer the question or debate my beliefs. My answer, I stammered, "It just is." The follow-up question led to my second answer, "I just know."

Going on three decades later, my answer is still pretty much the same. It just is, and I just know! I can answer it now without the shakiness and what appeared to be lack of confidence in my voice. Don't let my lack of apologetics skills in my youth fool you. My faith was strong. Any lack of confidence I had in those days was in my own ability to prepare an argument as that fateful question revealed. The simplicity of my answer does not do much to explain our position as Christians to an unbelieving world, so I have prepared a much longer answer. My long answer leads me right back to my simple answer, which I can say boldly and confidently.  

We know that God is real. If you're asking this question, it is most likely that you already have a belief in some sort of deity. An atheist is not as likely to ask a question about which path is the right one to take, considering that an atheist is least likely to involve a belief in God on his journey. If an atheist does ask this question, it is most likely going to be in attempt to trip up the believer and instill doubt. Answer the question anyway, by explaining the first part, and most likely the most important part of our belief. God is real. 

How do we know God is real? We are created in God's image with an inborn knowledge of His existence. "We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10, KJV)." The apostle Paul also explains in Romans 1 that God has given evidence of His existence through His creation and His intrinsic design. That is why isolated societies who have never heard of Christianity find something to worship. That is also why God used the first two of the Ten Commandments to warn us against worshipping anything that is not God Himself. He also has warned us many times throughout the entire Bible, both testaments, against worshipping idols, false gods, creatures, and other created things. A lack of belief, such as atheism, is a learned trait. It is not a natural inborn belief. A hardened belief that there is no God is possibly learned through studies, philosophical examples, and rebellious searching. The Bible has referred to those who say in their hearts, "there is no God," as fools (Psalm 14:1) and that those who profess wisdom outside of God's true wisdom have become truly foolish (Romans 1:22).  

God's creation clearly identifies His existence. The majesty and beauty of His handiwork gives obvious evidence that the world, universe, and all things, including living beings, were created, and there is obvious intelligent design. Like a painter leaves an autograph on a masterpiece, God has definitely inscribed His name on His masterpiece. Based on the world around us, when it comes time to meet God face to face, those who spent their lifetime in disbelief will be left without excuse (Romans 1:20).

We know that Jesus is God's Son and is God in the flesh. This information is as important to Christianity as belief in God. The eternal existence, birth, life, death, resurrection, and current presence of Jesus Christ separates Christianity from all other religions. How can I say that so boldly? Other religions have human figures who walked the earth and did things that are vitally important to their religious faith. How do I know that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, as John reported in his gospel (John 14:6)?

We can start by looking at His existence, which was well-verified by secular history as well as Scriptures. But so what? So was Mohammed. (Interestingly, Jesus was also an important character mentioned in the Q'uran, but that's not where I'm going with this.) Jesus was the only person in history for whom the calendar was reset. His life was well-established, and His death was well-documented.  He obviously existed, but how does that make him God? Jesus claimed to be the Son of God. He also claimed to be God. "Before Abraham was, I am" (John 8:58) and "I and the Father are one" (John 10:30) are just two of many quotes where Jesus made His claims abundantly clear. That should put to rest unbelievers' notion that Jesus never claimed to be God. Jesus was not "just a good man." He was who He claimed to be. "Good men" do not claim to be something they are not. 

What does that prove? Throughout history people have claimed to be God or a form of deity. Jesus was the only man who lived a perfect, sinless life on earth. Jesus kept every "jot and tittle" of the ancient Mosaic law, a feat which was impossible for everybody else. During His trial, Pontius Pilate even declared His innocence before famously washing his hands, and one of the thieves on the cross recognized that Jesus was hanging next to him without any guilt. This was a feat that Jesus needed to accomplish for our salvation. Jesus needed to be the perfect sacrifice for us in order to save us from our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Without the shedding of Jesus' perfect blood there is no remission of sin (Hebrews 9:22).
Jesus fulfilled every prophecy written in the Old Testament about Him:  His birth, His life, His death, etc. These prophecies were written at minimum 400 years before Jesus was born of a virgin in Bethlehem. I would encourage anybody to read through the entire Old Testament and underline everything prophetic about Jesus' life. Just about every aspect of Jesus' life is foretold. There are well over 100, maybe closer to 150 prophecies about Jesus, and He fulfilled them all. The mathematical probability of that statement is impossible! Sure, He knew the Scripture, and He could have willfully fulfilled some of them. But a man cannot control where he is born, who his parents are, whether or not his bones will be broken, or specifics on how he will die (I'm not going to argue about suicide). There is no way that Jesus, as just a man, could fulfill them all. And yet, He did!

The Bible identifies Jesus Christ as God. I will discuss the legitimacy of the Bible later. 

Jesus' sacrificial death was well-documented. I originally was not going to elaborate on this point, because His death is well established through secular history as well as Scriptures. It is understood that Jesus was executed and died, but there are some who question where and when He died. It is clear by biblical account that He died while hanging on the cross between two thieves. The Roman soldiers broke the legs of the thieves so they would asphyxiate by hanging their entire body weight on their lungs and die more quickly. But when they got to Jesus, they saw that He was already dead, so they did not break His legs. These soldiers performed many executions and had seen many people die, so they knew what a dead body looks like. But just to be sure, one of them pierced His side with a spear. Blood and water gushed out separately. Now, I'm not a doctor, but I have bled many times. I've also seen a number of dead bodies and know what lividity is. Your blood and water only separate after you are dead. 

Even if Jesus had hung there in some sort of comatose state with the appearance of death that fooled some of the most expert executioners, only to awaken three days later in a tomb, how would He have been able to gain enough strength in spite of His excessive blood loss to push a very large stone away from the threshold of the tomb? And how was He able to stagger past a bunch of armed guards whose very lives depended on securing the tomb? How far would He have been able walk down the road before He collapsed from complete exhaustion and died? There is clear and adequate medical and historical evidence that Jesus in fact died on the cross and lay in the tomb dead.  
Jesus' resurrection is well-verified. I have heard speculation that Jesus' body was tossed in a large pit where the bodies of the poor, homeless or unclaimed were tossed, which would explain the empty tomb. This theory does not take into account Joseph of Arimathea desiring the body to be placed in his family's tomb or the seal placed on the tomb. Also, the armed guards outside the tomb are well-reported. Their function was to keep Jesus' disciples from excavating the body and making outlandish claims of resurrection, but all of Jesus' disciples (with the exception of Judas Iscariot) went into hiding. Honest secular historical accounts of Jesus' burial support Scriptural history. 

After Jesus' resurrection, He spent forty days on earth with His disciples. He was not a ghost, as I've heard some claim. He was also not a hallucination, considering how many people would have had the exact hallucination. He ate meals with His disciples, the first being a fish with Peter on the shore. Ghosts don't eat. Hallucinations can be annoying inside of Disneyland's Haunted Mansion, but they don't do much else. Jesus lived in society and was recognized by people as Jesus of Nazareth, appearing before more than 500 people at one time! He can be verified through the witnesses of people who spent time with Him after His crucifixion.
After the forty days, Jesus ascended into heaven. This act was witnessed by about 200 people.  The ascension of Jesus Christ is more verified than Paul Revere's ride or Benjamin Franklin using a kite to discover electricity. Both those acts are accepted and believed based on assumption, and I also believe they happened. But where's the witness verification? There are many historical occurrences that are accepted with less verification than the ascension of Jesus Christ.
We know the Bible is God's Word. We know the Bible is the inspired Word of God, as Paul stated in a letter to Timothy (2 Timothy  3:16). The word inspired means "God-breathed," and we know the Holy Spirit is the true Author of the Bible. But come on, now! I could write a book and say that it is truth and it is inspired. Many have. What makes the Bible different from their books? 

The Bible was written by about 40 different men over the span of 1500 years.  The writers were not the authors, but scribes, writing what the Holy Spirit told them to. All of these men had extremely various walks of life, from farmers, shepherds, fishermen to doctors, lawyers, high counselors, priests and kings.  They also lived in extremely different times and environments. Yet their message remained consistent. I could not get 40 similar men in a room today and get them to write a story unbeknownst to each other and have it match at all! The Bible's perfection is too great to be coincidental. 

The Bible is without error or contradiction. Detractors have attempted to find contradictions in the inspired Word of God for centuries. Some have been deceptive in finding what they believe they could pass of as a true contradiction, only to have it fall apart with just a little research within the Scriptures themselves. The Bible is a very complex book, and it is possible you can find what you believe to be a contradiction. Often, just keep reading, and what you thought was a contradiction will be cleared up for you. The Bible does not contradict itself, but it complements itself, supplements itself, and verifies itself.  
The Bible is meant to be read in its entirety, with everything in context. As I've said earlier, the Bible is a very complex book, and if you spot-read or pull things out of context, you will not get the adequate intended message of God to us. Spot-reading and pulling things out of context is how many skeptics have come up with what they believe, or want others to believe, are contradictions. That is why it is so important for Christians to not only know the Bible, but to know how to defend the faith with apologetics. I have found a webpage, Apologetics Press, as a good resource to help Christians defend the Bible. But that is not meant to substitute for personal Bible study. As Christians, we should know biblical doctrine.  

The Bible has been verified through external verification. Archaeological findings match the biblical account of history. To this day, now even more than ever, archaeologists are finding more and more ancient artifacts that verify events and times recorded in the Bible. They have also found numerous manuscripts of ancient Scripture that match today's versions of the Bible. The Bible was originally written in at least two different now dead languages. Scribes were notoriously meticulous in copying the Scriptures, being very careful to preserve the Word. Modern translations can be found all over the world in many different languages, all derived from the original manuscripts. There are many more manuscripts found of the Bible than any other work of literature in history.  

Today we have a large number of versions, which has led some to question the legitimacy and accuracy of the Bible. Why do we need so many versions? How can we trust one over the other, and how do we know they all say the same thing? Throughout my life, I have studied the Bible out of three different versions. (I count the King James and the New King James as the same, even though there's a slight difference. One is newer.) In today's technical world it is even easier to study out of multiple versions of the Bible at the same time! All the versions say the same thing. The fact that so many versions have branched out and yet tell the same exact story does not discredit the Bible. If anything, it strengthens it, solidifies it, emboldens it!

The Bible has survived through fierce opposition. It is easily the most contested book in history. Writing this, I was reminded that about two decades ago a small group opposed the book The Catcher in the Rye. Mel Gibson's movie Conspiracy Theory probably didn't help matters. I thought, if we wanted to eradicate that book off the face of the earth, we could. It will never come to that. The Catcher in the Rye is a silly book (I admit I've never read it), J.D. Salinger did not die for our sins, and God did not promise his mother that her seed would crush the serpent's head. (I'm aware that was Eve, but for the purposes of my illustration, you get the point.)  But since the Bible is not a silly book, and Jesus Christ did in fact die for our sins, and the Bible perfectly gives us His message, the same forces that could easily snuff out Salinger's masterpiece have attempted to rid the world of the Bible and have failed. 

The Bible has survived multiple attempts at eradication. In ancient Rome, the Dark Ages, or in totalitarian governmental takeovers throughout history and even some places today, the Bible was and is outlawed.  Printing presses suspected of biblical use were destroyed, book stores burned, livelihoods ruined, and anybody who possessed a copy of the Bible was executed. Sometimes their executions were quite gruesome and horrific. Yet people of faith still managed to preserve the Word of God, often risking their own lives to do so. Once, atheist philosopher Voltaire smugly stated the Bible would be completely wiped from the earth by the turn of the century (1900, I believe). Today, his house is owned by a company that prints and stores Bibles. Our God has a sense of humor!

Even today, in the most free country on the planet, a country that was founded on religious freedom, the largest state in that country is attempting to restrict the sale of Bibles. Here in California, we have been ignoring God for too long.  Christians have been silent on too many issues, effectively allowing the salt to lose its savor. So now the Bible is once again under fire in a country where this is supposed to be unheard of. As shocking as that seems, and as concerned as I am, I trust in God. I am also hopeful, because I know God's will is going to be done. Throughout history, the Bible has not just survived where it is most opposed, but it has thrived! If nothing else, this should wake some of us up.

Quite a few religions believe in God, have a belief in a man called Jesus, and identify the Bible as a book of Scriptures. So what sets Christianity apart? How can I know it is the right one? I think some clarification is needed. The term Christianity is often used as a broad term, and certain religions usually of the West fall under the umbrella of "Christianity." However, true Christianity is following Jesus, the Christ that we find in the pages of the Bible. The first people called Christians were Jesus' disciples after they had founded a church in Antioch (Acts 11). You may find after reading this that some of the religions referred to as "Christian" are only referred to as such in name.

If you take all the religions of the world they can be divided into two categories. The first kind I'll discuss is works-based religion. A large majority of the world's religions fall under works-based belief. It is a natural tendency to believe that works are required to gain salvation, favor, or reward from a deistic being in a form of afterlife or higher spiritual plane. Every other system in life is works-based. Your grades in school are works-based, in spite of how ridiculous the curve might be. Your promotions are based on your works. Whether you start over another competitor on your sports team is works-based. It just seems natural that you would be required to do certain tasks to earn afterlife benefits.  
Works-based religions assume that man is generally good. Man is good enough to save himself from his own sins and he has the ability to do so. No real faith in God is required - just faith in your beliefs that your behavior is good enough. The problem is there is no way for sure you can know you are good enough based on your works. Various clergy in works-based religions have been heard saying, "I hope I'm good enough," or "I hope to be in heaven someday."  If anybody should know, it should be the clergy!

The second type of religions are faith-based. Very few "religions" fall under faith-based religion. All that do are under the umbrella of Christianity. (Like I said earlier, not all "Christian" religions are faith-based.) Faith-based religions require nothing of man to earn salvation other than belief (Titus 3:5). Salvation is obtained by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone (Ephesians 2:8-9), and it is not earned by works. If you confess with your mouth and believe in your heart that Jesus is Lord, you will be saved. Both a confession and belief in your heart are necessary for salvation (Romans 10:9-10). "With your heart you believe unto righteousness, and with your mouth confession is made unto salvation!" Those who call upon the Lord will be saved! (Romans 10:13). 

Faith-based religions teach that man is not good (Romans 3:10). In fact, man is bad (Jeremiah 17:9) and we are sinners! (Rom 3:23). (Instead, read all of chapter 3…or the whole book of Romans.) We fall severely short of God's glory and are unable to save ourselves. Romans 6:23 says "for the wages of our sin is death!" Fortunately that verse continues. We do not earn salvation. "The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." And I've already discussed what Jesus has done so we can obtain our gift! There is no amount of penance you can do for salvation. Works has its place in Christianity, as stated in James. But it is not necessary for salvation. 

Based on the totality of all the factors I've already discussed, I must conclude that true Christianity is the only way. The existence of God has been well established long before I wrote this paper. It is possible you could read this paper and others like it and still not believe in God. Not all will believe, and there might be nothing I can do to convince you otherwise. I wrote this paper to explain how I know God exists, and the path He has chosen for us is the right one.
The existence and current disposition of Jesus Christ has also been well established. I discussed the historical existence of Christ and the verifications of His actions, but I did not really go into detail about the precious gift that He provided for mankind and the sacrifice He made to give us that gift. Jesus, as the Son of God, did not have to assume the lowly life of a man and die a humiliating death on the cross. That was not even the worst of it! As a perfect man who knew no sin, He voluntarily took on all the sin of the world and pay for it. Could you imagine being completely pure and then getting covered with something as vile, wretched and disgusting as sin? As the ancient sacrificial lambs were merely a symbol of what Jesus was to do, Jesus' pure blood had to be shed for the remission of our, not His, but our sins. We deserve to be on that cross, not Him. Even if we were on that cross, shedding our sinful blood would be worthless and would not cleanse us from all unrighteousness. We owe Jesus a huge debt, one which we could never ever pay! But thanks be to God for His gift. If Jesus had chosen not to die on the cross, we would all be condemned to death first, and then eternity in separation from God.  

The Bible is a miracle book. Yes, let me repeat that.  he Bible is a miracle. I believe that for reasons I've already explained. There is no other book like it. I'll elaborate. Other religious books that claim to be Scripture were written by one person over the course of one lifetime. Yet, there are contradictions and mistakes in those other books. That claim is not disputed, most likely because those books are not nearly as hotly contested as the Bible.  

It takes faith to believe in God and in the elements and doctrine of Christianity. I can acknowledge that. I can also see where a lack of faith can hinder our non-believing friends from believing what we believe. But what non-believers cannot honestly deny is that Christianity has dramatically changed lives. So what? I mean, sure, other religions have had converts, other religions have done good things, and other religions have seen people turn over a new leaf. To the secular world, Christianity could have its place, "if that's what works for you."  What is so special about the changed lives in Christianity?  What sets them apart?
Let's start by looking at the Twelve Disciples. With the obvious exception of Judas Iscariot, the remaining eleven who had seen Jesus firsthand throughout His three years of ministry had their lives dramatically changed. If you recall, most went into hiding as Jesus was executed. Peter, the most brash and vocal of them, even denied Christ three times. These men, once the closest to Jesus of anybody on the planet, believed it was over, and if possible, were going to resume their lives from before they began following Jesus. What changed within these men to cause them to turn the world upside down for Jesus Christ and start the first church? They had received power from the Holy Spirit, as Jesus had promised them (Acts 1:8). All eleven of these men, who virtually were societal nobodies until following Jesus gave them a temporary social status, were prepared to die a martyr's death in service of our Lord and Savior. Ten of them were executed in manners unthinkable in today's society. The one who remained, John, would not die during his tortuous execution, so they exiled him to the desolate island of Patmos.  

Paul, a.k.a Saul, joined with the eleven apostles and was a key figure in zealously preaching the Word and founding the church. He also was inspired by God to write most of the New Testament. Where did Paul come from? He was a Pharisee, a member of the Sanhedrin, and he was zealously and aggressively attempting to snuff out the early church and imprison, if not kill, Christians wherever he could find them. What caused his change? The Bible reports that he was on the road to Damascus (Acts 9) when he met Jesus. Only Paul saw Him. His travelling companions did not. The experience left him blind for three days, something his travelling companions could not ignore. But something more happened to him that day than just blindness.  

The late, great Chuck Colson credits the disciples for his belief in Christ. Chuck Colson was a key figure in the Watergate scandal and later did prison time for his involvement. He said about the disciples that their testimony was enough for him to believe what they said about Jesus. Colson had been surrounded by the most brilliant political minds of that day, in contrast to the disciples who were just ordinary men. The brilliant men with whom Colson associated could not keep their stories straight, and their case fell apart. Such a huge contrast to the disciples, who were so emboldened after what happened that, not only did they stick to their story, they loudly proclaimed it! According to Chuck Colson, you don't put your life on the line for a lie.  

What about some of the obvious changes visible today? I have already mentioned Chuck Colson, who accepted Christ at some point before going to prison. After serving a minimal sentence (he probably could have avoided prison time, but he willingly went) he emerged and founded Prison Fellowship Ministries. He could have established a pretty lucrative law firm and lived a pretty easy life, but instead felt led by God to serve. There are many former prison inmates whose lives have been changed because something changed inside of Chuck Colson. 

Josh McDowell always considered himself an agnostic during the early stages of his life. At one point, McDowell attempted to disprove Christianity.  During his investigation, McDowell found compelling, overwhelming evidence for the reliability of the Christian faith (Josh McDowell Ministry webpage). Today he has become a very well-known apologist for the Christian faith. His evidence compelled him to write Evidence That Demands a Verdict. He has also written a number of other works. There are many Christian apologists whose lives had been changed because something changed inside of Josh McDowell.

Lee Stroebel was a newspaper reporter. He was a very shrewd investigator with a keen eye for fact and a sharp ability to ask the right questions. He was also a very devout atheist. But when his wife came to a saving knowledge of Christ, Stroebel angrily set out to disprove Christianity once and for all! He investigated as far as he could and interviewed everybody he could think of. Stroebel interviewed scientists, paleontologists, archaeologists, historians, medical doctors, even clergy. Ultimately, just like what happened to McDowell, all the evidence pointed Stroebel right back to Christ. Stroebel made a profession of faith in Christ. He wrote the book, The Case for Christ, and other books to substantiate his belief in Christ. (Admittedly, some of Stroebel's work might have subconsciously found its way into this paper!)

There are plenty of other public examples of changed lives I could probably cite, given enough research. Just speculating - our current President? At this point, he might be too soon to call. The Bible says we shall know them by their fruits (Matthew 7:16-20). But we have all seen people within our normal walks of life whose lives have been changed dramatically and for the good, whose changes could be tied to Christianity.  

Every single Christian out there has seen a change in their very lives. I accepted Christ at the age of 5. Before that, I was immersed deeply in a life of sin. I am so thankful that Jesus rescued me from a life without God and gave me hope. Yes, I joke, because how deep into sin could a five year-old fall? A five year-old whose parents continuously witnessed to him (by their lives) and took him to church. But really, how far is my joke from the truth? Everybody sins, and any sin leads to separation from God. Everybody needs salvation from their sins. Yes, the change in an older convert's life, somebody who had a chance to "sin more," or have more visible sins to be forgiven would be more obvious. But change did happen none-the-less. Even though regrettably I still sin, and I find temporary pleasure in it, I am not drawn to it. I am not a slave to it. In fact, I detest it, I want to repel it! Much like Paul, as he stated in Romans 7. 

I realize using my own internal experience as proof can be risky because everybody has his own personal experiences. Everybody is free to interpret personal experiences as he sees fit. The non-believer could say the derelict on the corner also has his own experiences and has seen his own path to salvation. But my experience is proof to me. From my salvation, to every time the power of the Holy Spirit has come upon me, and any other experiences that I know were the result of God, I can declare my faith boldly!  

I have said before that it takes faith to be a Christian. It takes faith to believe in God, to believe that Jesus is His son and is also God, and to believe He died in our place and rose again. I realize a non-believer could review all the evidence and still not have enough faith to believe. But for me, it is so much more than just faith. God is real! Jesus lives! God gave us a book which is indisputable as His Word! Those three statements are so true that to me, it would take more faith for me to believe in anything other than God.  

How do I know that Christianity is the right way? I have explained exactly why I believe. I have cited articulable facts to support why I believe. I have used Scripture, which is the most important source, to explain my belief. I have also used sources from fellow believers. I have prepared my long answer to explain our position as Christians to an unbelieving world. In writing this, I am brought back to the same conclusion I had at the beginning. It just is, and I just know!