Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Sincerity as Evidence for the Christian Faith
A few nights ago, I was reading a portion of the Gospel of Luke to my son Christopher before bedtime. In that portion of the Scriptures, Jesus was healing men and women of various illnesses and afflictions.
At a break in the reading, my son asked, "How do you know that's true?" Puzzled, I responded, "What do you mean?"
Christopher said, "Those miracles. How do you know they happened? It sounds like someone's lying to us."
At that moment, I realized that our son was taking a huge step in his development. He was not believing something merely because his parents believed it. He was questioning it.
My wife Janet and I assured him that it was proper to question us and the Bible. He needed to know that he was not alone in his doubts; he needed to know that it was a part of spiritual growth to raise questions. After all, those kinds of miracles do not happen every day in our lives. We have seen some remarkable answers to prayers for healing, but we have not seen anything like someone walking on water or someone being raised from the dead. In fact, even the apostle Thomas did not accept the resurrection of Jesus until he saw the Lord for himself.
We explained to Christopher that we have not seen the miracles recorded in the Bible firsthand, but eyewitnesses to those miracles preserved a record of them for us.
A few nights later, we returned to the subject. I let my son know that those eyewitnesses spread the word about Jesus and his miracles to everyone they encountered for the rest of their lives. Even though they faced severe persecution and death for telling people about the resurrection of Christ, they never stopped spreading the good news that Jesus had died for their sins and had risen from the dead in order to save them.
If the apostles had not honestly believed what they were saying and what they were writing in the Scriptures, they could have changed their story very easily in the face of death. But they remained committed to their account of Christ's message.
Sincerity does not necessarily prove one's testimony to be true. However, when a man remains committed to his eyewitness testimony in the face of death, it's a strong indication that he truly believes his message. Something happened in his life that he cannot deny.
And that's one good reason to take seriously the message of the apostles and other early Christians who wrote the New Testament. We know that they were not lying.
"And they have conquered (Satan) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death" (Revelation 12:11).
(The picture above portrays the crucifixion of the apostle Peter)