change

Why do you Christians think they are right and the rest are wrong? This is a question I have had over and over again through the decades, but the premise of the question is wrong. It is not the Christian who is right, it is the Christian who is believing in faith, that the God of the bible is who he says he is. This is narrow minded in many eyes, but its not unlike any other religion, or political party out there. Even the person who is claiming not to be narrow mined I guess is narrow enough to oppose Christianity.

People tend to ridicule the believer like they wrote the bible. You can take issue with the bible but the believer has to abide like anyone else to what it says. Not all do, some take advantage, while others use it for their own gain. There is no dispute here about that. It happened in Jesus day, and it happens today.

I can’t tell you why others believe the bible is the word of God but I can tell you why I believe and follow scripture. As I said, I used to think why bother, there are so many religions out there they must all be wrong, and I was.

Below are areas that not only convinced me Jesus Christ is real, alive and working in my life today, but also continue to grow my faith that the God of the bible is true.

  1. Change / Personal experience
  2. Witnesses / Testimonies
  3. Science
  4. Archaeology

I thought Christianity was the same as all the other religions in that doing good was the major theme to get to a better place. If I worked hard enough, If my good deeds out weighed my bad ones, God would be obligated to let into heaven.

What I failed to realize is that beyond all the facts, duties and theology, there is a God who says he knows me, loves me and will come to live in me. He will help me and guide me. Jesus is a real person, who has walked in my shoes and promises to change me by his power, not my own effort.

This was a game changer for me, it is God living in us that makes the difference. We are the vessel for God to live in and through us.

John 14:20,21; Jesus speaking; When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.”

Think about what Jesus just said!

“I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you… I will love them and reveal myself to each of them” 

God promises relationship with us, each of us individually. Every one of us is important to God. Jesus is telling us that we can know him in a real way beyond book knowledge, if we want him.

If the God of the bible is who he says he is, then those who believe him can expect to  experience God in a tangible, interactive and relational way. Each believer can know him in a deeper way then just knowing about him. The closest analogy may be the difference between your relationship with your closest friend or family member, and what you can know about Julius Caesar, or Cleopatra. One is experiential knowledge, relationship, while the other is just knowledge.

John 17:3; “And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth.”-Jesus

The word used here for “know” in the above scripture is much more than just information, knowledge, or being aware of something. It is used to describe first hand, intimate experiential knowledge. See Strongs definition below:

  • 1097 ginṓskō – properly, to know, especially through personal experience (first-hand acquaintance). 1097 /ginṓskō (“experientially know”) is used for example in Lk 1:34, “And Mary [a virgin] said to the angel, ‘How will this be since I do not know (1097 /ginṓskō = sexual intimacy) a man?'”

The bible and therefor God, is testable. If we take God at his word and do as he asks, our lives will change. That is a challenge that can be quantified. For example; before I gave my life to Christ, I had a mouth and vocabulary like a sewer, not unlike the language of today, but 20 plus years ago when it was not so accepted. I also had a very crude sense of humor. both of these qualities I had tried over the years to curb because even among the vulgar, I stood out. Needless to say, my speech patterns and humor did not change. My attempts at behavioral modification just didn’t work, until one day I made a discover.

After two weeks or so from giving my life to Christ, I was at work on an armored car and had smashed my knee on one of the door bolts while I was getting into the truck. Two letters of a four letter word squeaked out. My partner, who was well aware of my conversion called me on the near slip. It was at that time, two weeks after the fact, that I had realized that I had not cursed since my conversion. I asked the crew I was with when the last time was that they had hear me curse or swear, and they admitted it had been some time.

Closer introspection revealed that my desire for drinking and chasing skirts was gone along with a core change in my sense of humor. What I once thought was hilarious, now made me uncomfortable. Hearing the same jokes now did not have the same effect on me. It was then, two weeks into my walk with Christ that I realized there had been a fundamental change in me, something deep in my core personality. This scripture became true to me that day.

2 Corinthians 5:17; “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”

Let me be very clear here. This was not my effort. There was no explanation other than God, that can explain how someone’s sense of humor can change overnight. Religion demands you change to get something. Religion says if you are good, you will receive this or that and God will accept you. Christ says, if you accept me as you are, I will accept you and change you. Christ says he will conform us to his image over our lifetime of walking in his light (word of God)

This turned religion on its head for me. I now wanted to please God for what he had already done for me, as opposed to trying to gain his favor by trying to be good. Something I could not do anyway. This was my first lesson in the difference between relationship with God and a religious duty.

Ephesians 2:8-10; “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”

I felt God’s tugging on my soul long before I gave my life to him. You might be feeling the same pull as I did right now. You may also be thinking as I did, I can’t be a good Christian so rather than be a hypocrite, I just won’t bother. It was a huge weight off my shoulders to learn that my relationship with God was not based on me having to be a perfect Christian. Let me encourage you with this, God loves you the way you are. He knew you before you were born, knows every mistake you have made and every mistake you will make. Yet, he still loves you, is calling you and wants to forgive you. We cannot be good enough, we will never be good enough and God knows that. That is why he sent Jesus to take our punishment for sin. Then he changes us slowly through his Holy Spirit as we learn and grow over the rest of our lives.

I dreaded the thought of all the things I loved to do that I would have to give up. Basically, life would be boring, regulated and stiff. What i did not realize is that when God moves in, he changes our desires. To my surprise, I no longer wanted to do those things. God had changed my desire and that is something religion can not do. Religion is me and you trying to earn our way into heaven by doing good deeds, hoping our good out weights our bad things.

God’s way is, you let him into your life and I will change you by his power and bring your desires in line with his own. I did not change completely overnight but enough for me to know God was there. He has left things in my life I need to work on, things that cause me to lean and depend on him daily. This is the Christians life until we meet God in person, but through those trials and challenges God continues to show himself to us, building our faith and building our relationship with him.

If you never spent any time with someone, you can’t expect to get to know them let alone become close with them? Friendships are born out of experiences, good and hard and it is no different with God. It is through life’s experiences that we get to know the character of God for ourselves. If we ignore him, or just call on him when we want something, like anyone else, that friendship, trust and closeness never develops.

After the initial changes God made in my life, he continues to show himself in situations of my life. Through prayer, reading and learning about him, his fingerprints on my life are undeniable. Through the deaths of my son and my daughter, health issues and life’s struggles, God has been there as he promised. I don’t always know why some things happen but I don’t have to. All I need to know is God loves me and I can trust him and that comes with time and experience. I take great comfort in the fact that Jesus himself suffered, cried and prayed just as I do. He had to learn through his experiences too and that is why I can put my trust in him. He knows what it is to walk this earth as a human being.

Hebrews 5:7-9; “While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could rescue him from death. And God heard his prayers because of his deep reverence for God. Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered. In this way, God qualified him as a perfect High Priest, and he became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey him.”

This was part one of the series as I discuss why I believe God is who he says he is and why I believe the bible to be true. God said he would change me if I would step out in faith and trust him and he did that.

I invite you to come back and read part 2, witnesses and testimonies.

 

 

Robert J.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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