Reasons to Believe
1. Everyone Believes in Something
No one can endure the stress and cares of life without faith in something that cannot ultimately be proven. Atheists cannot prove there is no God. Pantheists cannot prove that everything is God. Pragmatists cannot prove that what will count for them in the future is what works for them now. Nor can agnostics prove that it is impossible to know one way or the other. Faith is unavoidable, even if we choose to believe only in ourselves.
Faith or "belief" is only as good as the object in which we place our trust. What (or who) you place your faith in matters. Jesus said, "If you do not believe that I am He (Savior), you will die in your sins". (John 8:24), furthermore we are told, "He that believes on the Son has eternal life: but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him" (John 3:36). Therefore the Bible focuses not as much on the act of "belief" as on the "object" of belief. God requires man to put his faith in Christ alone for salvation; nothing else will satisfy Him.
2. Everything Has a Cause
Every effect has a cause. We do not exist in a vacuum or a bubble. Where do we come from? At some point we all recognize that life had a beginning. Logic and design eliminate the idea that we just happened to exist by chance. The God of the Bible is the ultimate answer to the question of our origins, for it is understood that as an infinite being and eternally self-existent He does not require a cause. (Psalm 90:4, Colossians 1:17; II Peter 3:8)
3. Evidence of a Designer
The universe displays a staggering amount of evidence for revealing an intelligent designer. This intelligence is apparent both in the things one observes and the way these things relate to others outside themselves. The intricate order of the universe and its regularity can fill even the most casual observer with awe. Within nature we observe many different components that work together to produce something valuable.
It is amazing that there would even be a question whether this intelligible order is the product of chance or of intelligent design. This design can only come from the mind of a designer. What's even more amazing is that this designer cares about us.
Some people reason that a God great enough to create the universe would be too big to be concerned about us. Jesus, however, confirmed what the design and detail of the natural world suggest. He showed that God is great enough to care about the smallest details of our lives. He spoke of one who not only knows every move we make but also the motives and thoughts of our heart. Jesus taught that God knows the number of hairs on our head, the concerns of our heart, and even the condition of a fallen sparrow (Psalm 139, Matthew 6).
4. God is Great
The God of the Bible is a Great God. He is different from us (John 4:24). He is independent and superior to the rest of the universe, "Who is like the Lord our God," the Psalmist writes (Psalm 113:5-6).
Perhaps it is comforting to know that there is something (someone) higher than man. This idea that God is greater than man is at the core of worship. It is appropriate for man to approach God with reverence because man is not equal to God. This view of God as being great must be balanced by God's ever-present Goodness.
5. God is Good
The God of the Bible is personally interested in you. He knows your name. He told Jeremiah "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you" (Jeremiah 1:5). The Apostle Paul called Him "my God." David called Him "a father to the fatherless, a defender of widows" (Psalm 68:5). And all Christians have received the "spirit of sonship," so that we may call Him "Abba, Father" (Romans 8:15).
The God of the Bible knows your name. "See," He says to his people, "I have engraved you on the palms of my hands" (Isaiah 49:16). "He cares for you, " the Apostle Peter says (1 Peter 5:7). Jesus says that the very hairs on your head are all numbered" (Matthew 10:30). And God promises that you can "call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart" (Jeremiah 29:12-13). God is not only Great…but God is Good.
The Bible says that God designs the circumstances of our lives in a way that will prompt us to look for Him (Acts 17:26). For those who do reach out for Him, the Scriptures also say that He is close enough to be found (Acts 17:27). According to the apostle Paul, God is a Spirit in whom "we live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28). The Bible makes it just as clear, however, that we must reach out for God on His terms rather than our own. He promises to be found, not by just anyone but by those who admit their own need and are willing to trust Him rather than themselves.
What do you think?
You're not alone if you are open to the existence of God but aren't sure you can accept Jesus' claim to be "God in the flesh." The teacher from Nazareth promised help to those who are concerned about doing the will of God. He said, "If anyone chooses to do God's will, he will find out whether My teaching comes from God or whether I speak on My own" (John 7:17 NIV).
If you do see the evidence for the God who revealed Himself to us through His Son, then keep in mind that the Bible says Christ died to pay the price for our sins, and that all who believe in Him will receive the gifts of forgiveness and everlasting life.
1. Who is Jesus Christ?
He is a Person who knows our needs, feels our pain, and sympathizes with our weakness. In exchange for our trust, He offers to forgive our sins, to intercede for us, and to bring us to His Father. Fully God and fully man, He cried for us, died for us, and rose from the dead to show that He was all He claimed to be. Conquering death, He showed us that He can save us from our sins, live His life through us on earth, and then bring us safely to heaven. He offers Himself as a gift to anyone who will trust Him (John 20:24-31).
Who Jesus Christ is Not
People think of Jesus in extremes. For some he is simply a thoughtless expletive, for others he is only a mythical figure. For some he is a good teacher, and yet for others he is much more than a good man…he is God.
Jesus was not simply a Good Teacher. "Why do you call me good?," Jesus said. "No one is Good except God alone" (Luke 18:19). While millions of people live their lives by the good teaching of Jesus Christ, he is much more than a good teacher. Jesus came not to teach the Law of God, but to fulfill it (John 10:18).
2. Who Others Said He Was
Jesus Christ is not the centerpiece of some myth. The existence of Jesus is recorded by historians…Jewish, Roman, Christian and non-Christian alike. Jewish Historian Flavius Josephus, who was born in A.D. 37, writes, "Now there was about this time, Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works - a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He was Christ; and when Pilate had condemned him to the cross, those who loved him at first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive again the third day." (Antiquities XVIII, III).
Roman Historians, who like Jewish historians would have preferred to dismiss the reality of Christ's existence, make reference of Christ and his followers (Tacticus Annals XV, 44). Others, including the critic Luican of Samosata, Seutonius, and Pliny the Younger, give sufficient additional historical evidence of the existence of Jesus Christ.
3. Who Jesus said He Was
"I have authority to lay my life down and authority to take it up again" (Matt. 5:17)
"I have told you everything ahead of time" (Matt. 12:8)
"If a man keeps my word, he will never see death" (Matt. 24:30)
"The Son of Man will come on the clouds…with power and great glory" (Mark 2:10)
"The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath" (Mark 13:23)
"I am [the Messiah]" (Luke 12:9)
"The Son gives life" (Luke 22:70)
"He who disowns me before men will be disowned before the angels of God" (John 4:25-26)
"I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live" (John 5:21)
"The Son of Man has authority…to forgive sins." (John 8:51)
"I have…come to fulfill the Law" (John 10:18)
"You are right in saying I am [the Son of God]" (John 11:25)
3. The Reality of Fulfilled Prophecy
Jesus Christ's advent as the Messiah would receive many challenges throughout history. If he was the same as any other "would-be" messiah his claims could be easily refuted. But consider what the prophets said…
In the 7th century BC, the prophet Isaiah pronounced, "Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" (IS 9:6). The location of this birth was identified as Bethlehem (Micah 5:2).
4. The Reality of His Life
Even in his early youth, Jesus refers to God as "My Father (Luke 2:49). He continues to make the same reference throughout his life as it is recorded in the gospel accounts.
In John 4, Jesus spoke with a woman from Samaria and that woman made reference to the knowledge of a coming Messiah, and Jesus responded clearly, "I, who speak to you, am He" (John 4:26).
Jesus demonstrated the miraculous in order to support his claims. He healed the sick, raised the dead…all the while demonstrating the compassion of one who truly loved those he was sent to serve..
Jesus lived a pure and holy life. Religious leaders trumped up the accusations that led to his arrest and crucifixion. His innocence was ultimately evident in his trial before the governor where Pilate states, "I find no basis of charge against in him" (Luke 23:4).
However, one of the most powerful evidences that Jesus lived, died, and rose from the dead is the changed lives of his followers, from those of the first century to those in the present time. Hundreds of millions of people throughout history have been able to say that they have come to know Jesus and that He has changed their lives.
5. The Reality of His Death
All available evidence, matters of public record, support the fact that Jesus went specifically through six distinct trials. The first before Annas, the high priest (John 18:13), another before Caiaphas (Matthew 26:57), the third before the Sanhedrin (Matt. 26:59), the fourth before Pilate (Matt. 27:2), the fifth before Herod (Luke 23:7), and the sixth was again before Pilate (Luke 23:11-25). Three of these trials were Jewish, and three were before Roman officials.
Jesus death by crucifixion was also a matter of public record. This form of capital punishment was unusually cruel, and it came after a customary whipping. The biblical record speaks of his accusers as placing a crown of thorns on Jesus head, as they mocked Him saying, "Hail, the King of the Jews." They spit on Him, and beat Him with a rod.
When his executioners observed that he was dead, they thrust a spear into his side, and as recorded in John 19:34, "Immediately there came out blood and water." This liquid outpouring suggests that Christ's death was not caused by suffocation, as would be typical, but by heart failure. Pilate consented to Christ's being removed from the cross only after four executioners had certified his death.
The body was placed in a private tomb, cut out of solid rock. A 1-2 ton rock was then place in front of the entrance. Since the authorities were suspicious of those who followed Jesus Christ, and from fear of political turmoil, a security guard was sent to the tomb (Matt. 27:65). Jesus was dead. His burial tomb was sealed. The scene was secure.
6. The Reality of His Resurrection
Something happened almost two thousand years ago that changed the course of history. That something was an empty tomb! The tomb that had held the sealed remains of Jesus Christ was empty. It was no secret, and anyone interested could confirm it as it was only a fifteen minute walk from the center of Jerusalem.
Even after over 2000 years, mankind hasn't forgotten the empty tomb nor the resurrection appearances of Jesus Christ. This is how it took place…
There was a giant earthquake (Matt. 28:2). The stone that had sealed the tomb had been rolled away. (Mark 16:4). It seems the Roman guard fled, as there was no one to stop those who came to the tomb from entering (John 20:6). The tomb wasn't completely empty for it contained the strips of linen that had been the graveclothes of their Master. When they saw the clothes in which they had buried Jesus, "they believed" (John 20:8).
Jesus appeared on several occasions that are recorded, we will mention just a few: To the Christ-followers on that first evening behind closed and locked doors (John 20:19) and by the Sea of Tiberias (John 21). Jesus linked up with a couple guys who had been in Jerusalem and were heading to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-15). Somewhere near Bethany Jesus left the Christ followers and ascended into heaven (Luke 24:52). Jesus later appeared to a hostile Christ hater named Saul while he was travelling to punish the Christ followers (Acts 9:3-6).
What do you think?
You may have mixed feelings when you think about the evidence surrounding the life of Jesus. You may feel compelled to believe that Jesus is the Son of God, but you're not sure of your relationship to Him. If that's the case, be assured of this: If you accept Him, He will accept you. If you seek forgiveness, he will give it. If you will receive His offer of forgiveness, everlasting life, and adoption into the family of God, He will become your Savior, Teacher, and Lord.
1. The Integrity of its Founder
Christ said He came from heaven to fulfill prophecy, to die for our sins, and to bring to His Father all who believe in Him. His first-century followers drew their own conclusions. They said they saw Him walk on water, calm a storm, heal crippled limbs, feed 5,000 with a few pieces of bread and fish, live a blameless life, die a terrible death, and become alive again.
During His ministry, when some of Jesus' followers took issue with His teachings and left, He asked those closest to Him if they too wanted to leave. Peter spoke for the others when he said, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" (John 6:68-69).
One of the most powerful evidences that Jesus lived, died, and rose from the dead is the changed lives of His disciples, from those of the first century to those in the present time.
To know Jesus from history is to know Him from afar. It is only to know "about" Him rather than to actually "know" Him. Do you know Jesus? Would you like to learn how you can know Jesus as your Lord and Savior?
2. Its Book is Reliable
The Bible was written in three different languages over a period of about 1,500 years by 40 different authors from every walk of life - kings, peasants, philosophers, fishermen, poets, statesmen, scholars, and tax collectors. The book on which the Christian faith rests tells one single story that begins with creation and concludes on the threshold of eternity. The integrity of its historical and geographical record is supported by archeology. The accuracy with which it has been copied and handed down to us has been confirmed by the Dead Sea Scrolls of Qumran, which brought the world manuscripts 1000 years older than any others previously in existence.
The subject matter of the Bible includes many topics, some that are controversial, and others that are not. Yet, the biblical authors spoke with continuity and harmony from Genesis to Revelation, telling one unfolding story: "God's redemption of man."
3. Its Claim
The first Christians were not driven by political motivations or religious dissent, they spoke of Jesus' life, death, burial, and resurrections because they were witnesses. They risked their lives to tell the world that with their own eyes they had seen an innocent man die and then miraculously walk among them 3 days later (Acts 5:17-42). Their argument was very concrete. Jesus was crucified under the Roman governor Pontius Pilate. His body was buried and sealed in a borrowed tomb. Guards were posted to prevent grave tampering. Yet after 3 days the tomb was empty, and witnesses were risking their lives to declare that He was alive.
These Christ-followers went even further in their effort to make it clear that their faith is not based on myth or legend. The Apostle Peter speaks of them, "We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty" (2 Peter 1:16).
4. Its Impact on the World
A carpenter rabbi from Nazareth changed the world. Calendars and dated documents bear silent witness to His birth. From rooftops, necklaces, and earrings, the sign of the cross bears visual witness to His death. The Western world-view, which provided a basis for social morality, scientific methodology, and a work ethic that fueled industry, had roots in basic Christian values. Social relief agencies, whether in the West or East, are not fueled by the values of Hinduism, Buddhism, atheism, or secular agnosticism, but by the direct or residual values of the Bible and the Christian faith..
5. Its Offer of Grace
No other religious system offers everlasting life as a gift, to those who trust One who has overcome death for them. The salvation Christ offers does not depend on what we have done for Him, but on our acceptance of what He has done for us. Instead of moral and religious effort, this salvation requires a helpless admission of our sins. Instead of personal accomplishments of faith, it requires confession of failure. Unlike all other options of faith, Christ asks us to follow Him -- not to merit salvation but as an expression of gratitude, love, and confidence in the One who has saved us (Ephesians 2:8-10).
What do you think?
You may have mixed feelings when you think about the evidence regarding the Christian faith. You may feel compelled to believe that Jesus is the Son of God, but you're not sure of your relationship to Him. If that's the case, be assured of this: If you accept Him, He will accept you. If you seek forgiveness, he will give it. If you will receive His offer of forgiveness, everlasting life, and adoption into the family of God, He will become your Savior, Teacher, and Lord.
1. Its Uniqueness
The Bible is not simply one of the great works of literature, but is in fact, the one…the greatest work, for it is unique among all other books.
Some great works take one man's lifetime to write; the Bible was composed over a period of roughly sixteen hundred years. Some books require a team of scholars; the Bible is the work of more than forty authors from every walk of life, including kings, peasants, philosophers, fishermen, poets, statesmen, and scholars. Portions of the Bible were written in the wilderness, in a dungeon, in a palace, in exile, in wartime, and in peacetime.
The Bible was written on three continents in three languages on hundreds of controversial topics. It contains inspired poetry as well as detailed history, biography, letters, memoirs, and prophetic writings. Yet this astonishingly diverse book speaks with amazing continuity, as it depicts one unfolding story…God's redemption of man.
2. Its Preservation
In 1947 a Bedouin shepherd made an extraordinary find in a cave above the Dead Sea. The broken jars he found yielded documents that had been hidden for two millennia. Additional finds produced manuscripts that predated previous oldest copies by 1,000 years. One of the most important was a copy of Isaiah. It revealed a document that is essentially the same as the book of Isaiah that appears in our own Bibles. The presence of the Dead Sea Scrolls discredit the claims of those who believed that the authenticity of the Bible had been lost to time and tampering.
The books of Moses were written 500 years before the earliest Hindu Scriptures. Moses wrote Genesis 2,000 years before Muhammad penned the Koran. During that long history, no other book has been as loved or as hated as the Bible. No other book has been so consistently bought, studied, and quoted as this book. While millions of other titles come and go, the Bible is still the book by which all other books are measured. While often ignored by those who are uncomfortable with its teachings, it is still the central book of Western civilization.
3. Its Miracles
Israel's exodus from Egypt provided a historical basis for believing that God revealed Himself to Israel. If the Red Sea did not part as Moses said it did, the Old Testament loses its authority to speak on behalf of God. The New Testament is just as dependent upon miracles. If Jesus did not rise bodily from the dead, the apostle Paul admits that the Christian faith is built on a lie (I Corinthians 15: 14-17). To show its credibility, the New Testament names its witnesses, and did so within a time-frame that enabled those claims to be tested (I Corinthians 15:1-8). Many of the witnesses ended up as martyrs, not for abstract moral or spiritual convictions but for their claim that Jesus had risen from the dead. While martyrdom is not unusual, the basis on which these people gave their lives is what's important. Many have died for what they believed to be the truth. But people do not die for what they know to be a lie.
4. Its Accuracy
Down through the ages, many have doubted the historical and geographical accuracy of the Bible. Yet modern archeologists have repeatedly unearthed evidence of the people, places, and cultures described in the Scriptures. Time after time, the descriptions in the biblical record have been shown to be more reliable than the speculations of scholars. The modern visitor to the museums and lands of the Bible cannot help but come away impressed with the real geographical and historical backdrop of the biblical text.
5. Its Power
There are many who claim to believe in the Bible without being changed by it. However, there are many more who have known the transforming power of the truth of the Bible. The Ten Commandments have been a source of moral direction to countless numbers of people. The Psalms of David have offered comfort in times of trouble and loss. Jesus' Sermon on the Mount has given millions an antidote for stubborn pride and proud legalism.
The real power of the Bible can only be known through the illumination of the Holy Spirit, who works through the Word and indwells those who are Christ-followers (I Corinthians 2:9-16). It doesn't mean that people can make up their own interpretations (2 Peter 1:20), rather the Holy Spirit uses the inspired words of the Biblical text to convict its readers of sin and testify to the work of Jesus Christ (John 16:8-15).
What do you think?
You're not alone if you have questions about the reliability of the Bible. The Scriptures, like the world around us, are marked by elements of mystery. Yet if the Bible is what it claims to be, you don't have to try to sort out the evidence on your own. To be tested in such a setting is Jesus' promise of divine help to those who want to know the truth about Himself and His teachings. As the central figure of the New Testament, Jesus said, "If anyone chooses to do God's will, he will find out whether My teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own" (John 7:17NIV).
One important key to understanding the Bible is that it was never meant merely to bring us to itself. Every principle of Scripture shows us our need of the forgiveness that Christ secured on our behalf. It shows us why we need to let the Spirit of God live through us. It is for such a relationship that the Bible was given.
If you've never received Jesus in this way, we encourage you to carefully read just a few verses from one book of the New Testament. These verses clearly present some very good news. Romans 3:23 (which says that all have sinned), Romans 6:23 (which says that the wages of sin is spiritual death, separation from God), and Romans 10:13 (which assures us that all who call on the name of the Lord Jesus will be saved). To accept God's gift, you can pray something like this: "God, I know I'm a sinner. I know I can't save myself. I believe Jesus died on the cross for my sins. I believe He rose from the dead to live His life through all who believe in Him. I now receive Him as my Savior. I accept your offer of forgiveness and everlasting life. Thank You, Father. In Jesus name I pray. Amen."
Did you pray that prayer? If so, you have accepted the greatest gift of all. The gift bought by God Himself—for you.
Please contact us for more information about how to grow in your new life as a child of God. Also, we would welcome you to join us as we grow in our faith together. Washington Heights Baptist Church is a body that faithfully teaches the Bible in a spirit of love and continued support.