A Case for Christianity
With over 6,000 different religions in the world, how does one choose the correct religion? Is choosing the correct religion a random chance, such as finding a needle in a haystack, or is there a logical deductive way to find the correct method of salvation? Considering the eternal consequence, it is important to be sure of the decision you make. It only stands to reason God would provide a way for us to know what is the correct method of salvation. How, therefore, do we find this hidden truth? What method of investigation should we pursue?
There are several ground rules you should follow. For example, never assume you were raised in the correct religion. There is no guarantee your parents' religion is correct. You must make the choice for yourself. Next, as much as possible, verify everything you are being taught. Never assume something is accurate simply because a person in "authority" has said it. A few years ago the TV show, "Dinosaurs," was making fun of how people use their credentials as verification they are telling the truth. In one episode a scientist from the We Say So Company was making a presentation and said, "…and what I’m saying is true because I am wearing a white lab coat." Just because a person is called an "expert" does not mean he is correct. There still are scientists and doctors who say there is no link between smoking and cancer.
The Bereans were commended in Acts 17:11 for examining the scriptures daily to see if what Paul said was true. I cannot over emphasize the importance of verifying the claims of others. Even the information provided in this book should not be taken at face value. Check it out for yourself.
When evaluating a religion, the most important item to look at is how does this religion deal with sin and its consequences. Since sin is what’s separating us from God and will send us to hell, the way a religion deals with sin is extremely important.
What is God like? How can we learn about someone we can’t see? Although God is an invisible spiritual being, there is still much we can learn about Him. Basically, we can use indirect analysis to evaluate things we cannot see. For example, looking at some footprints in the snow can tell you a lot about the creature who left them. Likewise, we can learn about God by looking at His creation. His "footprints" supply us a great deal of information.
As we look at nature we see an organized and well thought-out system. We see cause and effect. We see an environment where every action produces a reaction and consequences. There is an accountability system in nature, and everything has to add up. The cause and effect principle is woven so deeply into every aspect of nature, nothing gets ignored. Even our social cultures reflect this. No matter what society you look at, there is always a judgment system for "inappropriate" behavior.
There should be many similarities between the physical world and the spiritual world. Therefore, we must conclude God will hold us accountable for our actions. More important, if God’s spiritual world is consistent with His physical world, God cannot ignore sin. When He serves as judge, He must fully meet all the requirements of His laws. If He fails to do this, He would become a trespasser of His own laws.
As I mentioned earlier, the first thing you should look at in a religion is how it corrects the sin problem. Unfortunately, very few religions offer any reasonable solution for the consequences of sin. What most religions offer are superficial remedies that look "religious" but are of little value. There are many other issues you should consider when evaluating a religion. However, since this is a major study in itself, we will not go into them.
I have come to the conclusion "true Christianity" is God’s method of salvation for mankind. I use the term "true Christianity" because there are many groups which call themselves "Christians" but deny the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus as the sole method of salvation. Many people (and religions) say although Jesus was a good man and a great teacher, He was not God. They say His teaching should be viewed with the same authority as all the other great men.
Simple logic dictates Jesus could not be "just another good man." Either Jesus is Lord God Almighty, a liar or a lunatic. On many occasions Jesus claimed to be God. If Jesus was not God, He was either lying about it or He was so deranged He actually believed He was God. Either way this would make him a bad person and His teaching invalid.
Without going into great detail, I would like to point out a couple of facts that convinced me Jesus is the only method of salvation. True Christianity hinges completely on the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. If you can prove Jesus did not rise from the dead, the claims of Christianity collapse.
Although the resurrection took place 2,000 years ago, it is still possible to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, Jesus rose from the dead. Josh McDowell does an excellent job demonstrating this in his book Evidence that Demands a Verdict.
Historically, there is no way a person could reasonably deny the existence of the person we call Jesus Christ. There is too much secular evidence supporting His existence. Nor can a person reasonably deny Jesus’ death on the cross. Finally, a person could not reasonably deny that Jesus’ tomb was empty on the third day. The question that is up for discussion is how it became empty. Either Jesus rose from the dead or something else happened to the body.
On many occasions Jesus said that he would be killed and then would rise from the dead on the third day. His prediction was so well known, the Pharisees, after Jesus was killed, went to Pilate about their concerns. They told Pilate they were afraid the disciples would steal the body and then claim Jesus rose from the dead. As a result the tomb was sealed and Roman soldiers were assigned to guard the tomb.
Despite all these precautions, the stone was rolled away and the tomb was empty. What are the reasonable and plausible explanations for the empty tomb? Two of the most common explanations are: The disciples sneaked by the soldiers and stole the body or the disciples overpowered the soldiers and stole the body.
Josh McDowell goes into great detail on how the Roman Empire ruled with an iron fist. They had severe penalties for soldiers who fell asleep or failed to perform their duties. The penalty was often death. There was also a severe penalty for breaking a Roman seal. Josh points out the Roman soldiers were so well-trained and disciplined, the American military has incorporated much of the Roman training into their own training.
Even if all the Roman soldiers fell asleep, thus allowing the disciples to steal the body, the disciples would have committed a major crime by breaking the Roman seal. Nowhere in any ancient writings is there any mention of the disciples being hunted down or arrested for breaking the seal. In fact, the disciples walked freely in public after the resurrection.
Reviewing the writings that were written during the time of an incident is extremely important in validating a claim. For example, let’s say someone is now claiming a gunman in a theater did not shoot Abraham Lincoln, but rather an arrow killed him while he was playing golf. While this claim sounds ridiculous, how can you prove it to be false? You weren’t there when it happened and none of the eyewitnesses are still alive.
Basically, you will look at the books, newspapers and letters written during that time period. If there is no reference to Lincoln being killed by an arrow at a golf course, you can reasonably conclude this was not the cause of his death. This same approach is used to determine what happened 2,000 years ago. Since there are no records of the disciples being hunted down for breaking the seal, we have to conclude they did not break the seal.
The second explanation for the empty tomb is the disciples overpowered the soldiers and stole the body. This is even less likely than the first explanation. The possibility the disciples could overpower these trained soldiers is remote. Even if they did, they would have been wanted for attacking Roman soldiers and breaking a Roman seal. Once again, there is no evidence indicating they were wanted or arrested for such crimes. Since there are no other plausible explanations for the empty tomb, I have to conclude that the predicted death and resurrection of Jesus took place.
There is another reason I have concluded the death and resurrection of Jesus is God’s method of salvation. In fact, I find this next reason even more convincing than the empty tomb. I am referring to the reason the disciples died a martyr’s death. All but one of the 11 disciples died a martyr’s death and the one who wasn’t martyred lived a difficult life and died in exile. You may say, "What is so special about that? Many people have died and suffered for various causes. Thousands of people have died for religions other than Christianity. In fact, thousands of people have died for causes which have later been proven to be false."
While it is true many people have lived sacrificially and died for false causes, it is important to note they thought they were true. Seldom, if ever, will someone live sacrificially and die a martyr’s death for a cause that he knows to be false. For what reason did the disciples live sacrificially and die a martyr’s death? The main theme of all of their messages is they saw Jesus after He was resurrected from the grave. The reason they lived lives they knew would most likely lead to suffering and a painful death was their desire to tell others they saw the risen Christ.
During the first century, there was nothing to gain by being a Christian leader. There was no wealth or status as we have in some Christian circles today. Being a Christian leader only meant loss and suffering. Either the disciples actually talked and walked with Jesus after the resurrection, or they were lying. I find it highly unlikely all of the disciples lived this kind of a life based on a lie. Therefore, I have to conclude their claims of the resurrection are true, validating Jesus as the Christ, the method of our salvation.
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