What if?

 

Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.

But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

– 1 Corinthians 15:1-9; 12-19

 

We have been considering the evidence that supports the Christian faith. We have considered the testimony of changed lives, of Scripture and of eyewitness accounts. This week, let’s consider two more testimonies that offer evidence to support our faith.

First, consider the testimony of the Holy Spirit. Obviously, this testimony is only given to those who place their trust in Jesus. In Romans 8, Paul writes about the role of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is the seal of God that guarantees our salvation (Ephesians 1:13-14). In fact, without the indwelling Spirit, one is not even a Christian, and thus, is not a child of God (John 1:12). One receives the Spirit when one believes (trusts) in Jesus as Lord and Savior. Romans 8:9 states, “And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ (the Holy Spirit), he does not belong to Christ.” And so, how can you really know if the Spirit truly indwells you? By the way, I believe this is the most important question anyone can ever ask or answer. And here is the answer: You know the Spirit indwells you when you hear His voice within you. This is something that cannot be explained. You can only understand this through experience. Romans 8:16 states, “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.”

Perhaps the greatest single evidence as to the truth of Christ’s resurrection and life is the internal witness of the Holy Spirit. What do I mean by this? Well, when a person places his/her trust in Jesus, the Holy Spirit comes and indwells this new believer. The presence of the Holy Spirit becomes evident to this new believer, and He gives him assurance of his salvation. Essentially the Holy Spirit tells this new believer that he is now God’s child. And the only way that a person can understand this is to experience it. In John 14:16-18, Jesus said, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” Jesus takes up residence within us the moment we place our trust in Him. This internal witness gives evidence that He is alive.

Let me ask you a question. Have you sensed the presence of the Holy Spirit living in you? This is the ultimate test as to whether a person is truly a Christian. As Romans 8:9 clearly states, a true Christian belongs to Christ by the indwelling Holy Spirit. So, do you have the Holy Spirit dwelling within you? This is the ultimate proof of Jesus’ reality, and it is the ultimate evidence that you belong to Him.

Finally, we have the testimony of obedience. In John 7:17, Jesus said, “If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.” What did Jesus mean when he said this? People during Jesus’ day were trying to decide if what he was teaching really came from God. In other words, was it the truth? When we ask the question what if? we are really asking what is the truth? In essence, Jesus was saying that if you really want to know if Christianity is true, try it and see for yourself. In 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 Paul writes, “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel…” In other words, a nonbeliever cannot understand the gospel message. When he reads the Bible, it doesn’t make sense to him. He cannot really understand it (1 Corinthians 2:14). Paul goes on to write in 2 Corinthians 3:15-16, “Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.” The Bible tells us that if a person turns to the Lord in faith, he will remove the veil that covers his  spiritual eyes and enable him to understand spiritual things. Then, when he reads the bible, he understands it. Do you want to find out if Christianity is true? Jesus says, “Just try it!”

If we obey the Bible, we will discover whether or not it is true. Our obedience to God’s Word will serve as an ongoing testimony to its truthfulness. Do you want to see if this is true? Then read the Bible and do what it says.

So, how can we know if our faith is based on truth? We have five who testify: those with changed lives; the Scripture; eyewitnesses; the indwelling Holy Spirit; and our own obedience.

As for me personally, I stand on the doctrines of the Christian faith. My life has been changed. I’ve never been the same since I trusted my life over to Jesus when I was about 10 years old. I believe the Bible from beginning to end, and I have never once questioned it. It is the Word of God, and He speaks to me through His living Word every day. I believe the testimonies of those who have gone before me, such as Peter, James, John, Paul, Augustine, Calvin, Luther, Wesley, Graham and my mother. The Holy Spirit has whispered to me, “You are my child!” When I pray, I pray to my heavenly Father, Abba. Lastly, I have discovered that when I do what God says by obeying His Word, His Word is true. My obedience is an ongoing testimony that God’s Word is true, and Jesus is alive. For me, Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Without Him, I would be lost and without hope. What if? For me there is no what if? I believe! I hope and pray that you do as well!