In our current culture there has been an attack on Christianity. As an american I would not say that I am being persecuted however there are individuals out there arguing that there is no evidence for the existence of God. They argue that while they may not know how the universe came into existence they are currently working on it, and that even though it is a mystery right now, it won't be forever. Some of these people are so aggressive in their assertions that it causes an emotional response in believers. Our faith, what we know to be true is being challenged and someone is saying that it is not true, and there is no evidence? If you were like me, then there is a part of you that so much believes in God that you want to say, "I don't care what the evidence says I'll never stop believing in God!" The unbeliever then looks at you and lumps Christianity in with all of those other religions that say the same thing. I would like to suggest that we not do this. Christianity is not the same as other religions because it has the virtue of being true. In fact we have evidence. Our entire faith is not founded upon the origin of life. Even though by looking at the flood it becomes clear that many of the evidence that exists for evolution could be explained by said flood, but either way the origin of life is not what our faith is founded upon. It is founded upon the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is the corner stone, the thing that makes or breaks Christianity. Paul says that if Christ did not raise from the dead then our faith is worthless, and we should be pitied more than anyone else. This is also a key difference between Christianity and all the other religions of the world. We look to history to prove our faith. Looking at the historical evidence it seems clear that there was man named Jesus and he did rise from the dead. This is the best theory to explain why the 1st century Jews were willing to give their lives witnessing about our risen savior. They could not help but tell the truth. Anytime someone wants to try explain this away the have to say that is was a mass hallucination or something to that effect. So is this 100%? No, but there is evidence, and do not let anyone convince you that there is no evidence, because if Jesus rose from the dead then he is God, and what he said about the creation of the world holds true. This also teaches us something about our faith that has seemed to be lost in our current culture. Christianity is not about me and you. It is about God. God's attributes, God's response to sinners, and God's story. In our narcissistic culture we have wanted to make Christianity all about us. It is true that Jesus saves us from the wrath of God, but that is because God had mercy on us. It is nothing that we did, or do that causes Jesus to save us. In truth we are all wretched sinners in the eyes of God. Everything we do is like filthy rags to God. The good news is for those who trust in Christ when God looks at them, he seems them through the goodness of Jesus, and thus they are justified not because of anything they did themselves but rather because of Jesus. Yes that is the gospel. It is not believe in Jesus and you'll have a better life. It is not believe in Jesus and all your problems will go away. It is not believe in Jesus and you will get lots of money. While all these things might happen, that is not the point of Christianity. Christianity is about Jesus taking your rightful punishment from God so that when you stand before God on the day of judgment you will be justified. This is good news because it is the only way to be justified. We know because Jesus said so. He has authority because he is God, and we know he is God because he rose from the dead. Do you see how this all works together? In my own Christian walk I have tried to make it about me. One thing that is being preached in many churches across the US today is works righteousness. In the more liberal circles its, "believe in Jesus because he makes you moral by caring about all these issues to improve our planet and make it a better place and to keep making it a better place." This is works righteousness. You will be a good moral person when the world is a better place. I ask you, "how is that working out? I don't think you are working hard enough because I still lots of bad things in this earth." Believe it or not, the real danger lies in the more conservative circles. I got caught up in this for a long time. In these circles they say, "You are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, but if you are saved then you will have good works to prove it." So naturally what do then do, well what I did was I was constantly looking at my works to see if I was saved and you know what I found out? I'm not a good person. I struggled with this for a long time wondering why if I believed was I still having sin in my life. I didn't like this sin, I fought against it, but sometimes I would struggle with the same sin over and over again. I really wondered if I was saved and kept trying harder and yet would keep sinning. It almost seemed like the harder I tried the more I sinned. It was this paradox of wondering how If I am not saved by my works, and yet if I am saved I'll have works. Well finally I found the key and it was good news to me. I was told that I was looking to my works to save me rather than looking to Jesus. When you find yourself struggling with sin and perhaps doubt your salvation ask your self this question, "Is Jesus still risen from the dead?" If the answer is yes then yes you are stilled saved. Like I have to, you need to look the cross and resurrection of Jesus for the assurance of your salvation. You do not need to be looking to your works. Now does this mean that you stop battling against sin? No, when you understand the cross you don't want to sin. You fell bad when you do sin, and you want to live like Jesus who didn't sin. It works like this. Jesus takes your punishment for all the sin in your life. Past present and future. So no matter what you do, you are justified before God, however those who understand what it is that Jesus did will not want to sin and will in fact want to live like the one who has saved them. Not because they have to in order to prove their salvation, or earn it, but because they are grateful that their salvation is given to them. From here you can't help but talk about it. I wanted to talk about how as Christians we look to history to show that our faith is reasonable, and here I am giving the gospel. On that point it our whole faith hinges upon what Jesus did, and the truth is(because there is evidence to back this up) he did die on a cross and he did raise on the third day. This is how we know that he is God and all that he had said is true. So keep on in the faith Christian. Keep looking towards the cross and trusting in Jesus that you are saved and when you die, and stand before God, he will see that Christ has saved you. If that doesn't make Merry your Christmas I don't know what will. Except perhaps taking the Lord's supper with us Christmas Eve at 6:00.
Here you can read various thoughts and discussions that come from the mind of our Pastor