How seriously to you really believe that "Christ died for me?" For me. How has the consciousness of this revelation, which we should think about this day in particular, formed your life?
Is this thought always before you as the guiding principle of your life? If you are a Christian it should be. Of course we can all claim to believe something that does not truly inform and shape our lives. To lead your daily life with an awareness of this truth, however, is to live "under the shadow of the cross." It is the only truth which I know that gives my life meaning and lasting worth.
I spent some time last week discussing ultimate questions with an atheist. He felt that I was a Christian because of the faith my parents gave to me. After he realized that I did agreed with a number of his objections to many Christians on television and in the public arena he listened to my story a bit more closely. But the end result was that he said there were mysteries he simply could not answer. When I appealed to Christ crucified and buried, for our forgiveness, he questioned the historicity of this basis for my deep faith. He even assured me that he had read several of the most popular evangelical apologists, such as Lee Strobel. (He knew the arguments our thinkers make very well.) But he said, "Faith is foolishness. You put your trust in a miracle that you did not see and certainly cannot prove." I agreed with him that the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth was foolishness to him but to me it is life eternal.
As I walked away, again asking hard questions about my own faith, I found that I was driven back to this rather basic point: "Christ died for me." This is life. This is my hope and my foundation. I prayed, "God make me more aware of this truth every single moment of every day!"
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Honestly, as I think about my spiritual struggles, this is perhaps the very thing I have a hard time accepting. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and I believe that he died for our sins. I don’t see any other solution to the problem at the heart of the human condition, both collectively and individually, both the problems out there and the problems within. However, when it comes to the personal intimate part of this truth, that Jesus died for MY sins, so that I may know forgiveness, I have a hard time. I don’t know if its stupidity, or a deeply ingrained egoism, but receiving God’s forgiveness on one level seems so easy, and on another level, not so much.
Whatever the nature of my struggle, I agree with what you say, that this truth should be THE formative reality of a Xian’s life.
“For me” is the most difficult thing of my faith. It always has been. Doctrine, theology, practice, history, the bible – all of these don’t generally pose a problem.
Faith. No evidence. No proof. I thought about these this afternoon as I reviewed my sermon for Easter Sunday. What might prove the truth of the resurrection to a skeptic? In fact, what proves it to me? My conclusion was that the thing that persuades me over and over again that Jesus died for me is the change that he has brought about in my life. His Spirit lives in me and is shaping me into his image day after day. This does little to persuade the skeptic unless he is able to watch a body of believers live out the life of Jesus day in and day out and see for himself the reality of the living Christ.
As I understand Biblical faith, it is not simply “trust” with no objective evidence or proof. I’m not sure if that is what you were implying though. There is very good evidence for the resurrection (I would even say “proof,” as the Scriptures say of Paul, “proving” the resurrection to various people who questioned it).
However, even solid *proof* is not necessarily *persuasion*– and therein lies the rub. I have encountered more than a few skeptics who are unwilling to take the Bible (and specifically, the Gospels) seriously, as an accurate document of historical events. The same credence that they extend to other ancient historical documents somehow does not extend to the Bible. Yet, both inside and outside of its pages, the Bible has more evidential “back-up” than many of the documents on which are founded university classes in ancient history!
Ultimately, I believe the Bible’s authority to be “self-attesting.” That is, the Bible attests to, and proves, its own truth very well, even *without* many of the forms of evidence which so many apologists use (manuscript and archaeological evidence, extra-Biblical evidences about the life of Jesus, etc.) In that vein, as I wrote above, the Bible speaks of Paul “proving” the resurrection to people, and he seems to do so from the Scriptures themselves. However, when skeptics disqualify the Scriptures as accurate historical documents from the *outset,* they reveal their own prejudice….
Anyway, brother, I absolutely, 100% agree with you about the importance of the church (universal and local) showing the reality of the living Christ to skeptics! We display the transforming power of Christ to the world (imperfectly but truly), and God often uses that display to bring lost people to Himself. Even without us though, there is still solid proof for the skeptic, inside the Scriptures and elsewhere. Skeptics don’t naturally want to see that proof though (Romans 1:18-23), until God changes their hearts– and for that, we must all pray, share the Gospel, and love in other ways as well, as we have the opportunities to do so!
Happy Resurrection Day, everyone!
John where did you get that pic??
I would agree culture shapes our awareness of faith in God, or lack of, to the extent we still have freedom of the heart and soul to accept or reject. A freedom I think is absolutely frightful.
12 years of Jesuit prep school beginning in 1968 certainly informed much of my thought life, to say the least. I believe I truly wanted to know the TRUTH. Confounded, I blundered through my life searching, hoping, weeping. As the wreckage of my head knowledge piled up in the ditches along the road of despair I travelled God did a curious thing. He met me there. HE picked me up, dusted me off, looked me in the heart and said, ” I am the TRUTH you are searching for”. He took the filth of my sin and rubbed it into the tears of my eyes and broken heart. He turned it into a healing salve.
All I know is, once I was blind and now I see!
Thanks for reminding me. No Christ, no Holy Spirit to convict me.