What if? (Part 3)

1 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, 2 if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 

10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed. 12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. 

–1 Corinthians 15:1-19

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: the Holy Spirit and obedience.

The Holy Spirit is a testimony in itself. 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 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.” 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 the answer is this: 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. 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.

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.

Have you ever 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. 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 this series, we have been asking ‘What if?,’ but the better question is “What is the truth?” 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.

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, that His Word is true. My obedience, though far from perfect, 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.