Today, we start a series on apologetics, the rational defense of the Christian faith, that will last several months. But before we can jump into topics like “Isn’t It Arrogant and Immoral to Argue There Is Only ONE Way to God?” and “How Can Evil Co-Exist In A World with An All-Powerful, Loving God?”, we need to do a little prep work.
Non-believers often shy away from Christianity because they don’t really understand it. Too many believe the faith is all about “being good” and “obeying certain rules.” That’s bunk!
Let’s start with the definition of “The Gospel” or “Good News of Jesus Christ” that is THE center of Christianity as defined by theologian R.C. Sproul:
The Gospel is called the ‘good news’ because it addresses the most serious problem that you and I have as human beings, and that problem is simply this: God is holy and He is just, and I’m not. And at the end of my life, I’m going to stand before a just and holy God, and I’ll be judged. And I’ll be judged either on the basis of my own righteousness – or lack of it – or the righteousness of another. The good news of the Gospel is that Jesus lived a life of perfect righteousness, of perfect obedience to God, not for His own well-being but for His people. He has done for me what I couldn’t possibly do for myself. But not only has He lived that life of perfect obedience, He offered Himself as a perfect sacrifice to satisfy the justice and the righteousness of God.
In other words, God created us. We belong to Him. We all sin and when we do, it is always first and foremost a sin against our creator. Such a cosmic crime against an infinite being calls for an infinite punishment–justice must be done. But for those who place their faith in Jesus Christ, the penalty for our sins is paid on the cross by our Lord.
But that just absolves us from punishment, it does not grant us the right standing we need to live with God eternally. Thus, Jesus also lived a perfect, sinless life, which He grants (or imputes) to us, so that in the end, we Christians are judged by His perfect life rather than our imperfect ones.
That’s good news.
But what about all the rules?
When we realize with heart and mind what Jesus has done on our behalf (i.e., are “born again”), we desire to worship God as well as live lives that demonstrate our love and gratitude for His great sacrifice. Every relationship, husband-wife, parent-child, friend-friend, is structured in certain ways because when two different people come together they will want to be loved in different ways.
For example, a wife may want her husband to show her love by listening to her and hugging her often and helping her around the house. On the other hand, a husband may want to be loved by being respected by his wife. Men and women are different (big shocker!) and, as such, will want to be thanked and loved in different ways.
Our God is very, very different. He is eternal, all-knowing, all-powerful, just and loving. He wants to be thanked and loved by worshipping Him alone, treating others well, not hurting ourselves through the destructive vices of drunkenness and greed.
Christianity isn’t about rules–it’s about relationship and those outside the faith need to know this truth.
The way of Jesus is the only way to God because He is God’s only son and has provided the only way to deal with our crimes, guilt and inner-sickness. He calls us to such healing and calls us to a beautiful relationship as well. That’s why Jesus it the only way.
Tomorrow, we will tackle a little more prep work as we talk about tactics for discussing your convictions.
Until then, grace and peace to you all.