Why Not Believe?

April 6, 2015

When I was 12 years old the minister at 9th Street Christian Church in Hopkinsville, KY, Pastor Roy Hulan, held a series of classes for those who were thinking about becoming Christians.  Pastor’s hope, as well as that of my parents, was that by the following Easter we would decide to become Christ followers.  I attended the classes and remember well struggling with the decision.  Two things bothered me.  One was that I had questions about the truthfulness of Scripture — could I really trust its accuracy.  The second was that, even at that young age, I knew I would need to be a better person if I was to become a follower of Jesus.  It wasn’t that I had done so many really sinful things at that time in my life — that came later.  But, I did know that I had thought plenty of things that were unacceptable for a believer.   And I did not know that I could or even wanted to conform to what I perceived as requirements for living life as a Christian.

Screen Shot 2015-04-05 at 5.12.33 PMWith regard to the accuracy of Scripture my biggest stumbling block was the virgin birth.  I didn’t know a whole lot about biology at that time but as a curious twelve-year old boy I was fully aware of the fact that children were born from the union of a man and a women.  That being the case, how could the biblical account of Mary giving birth to Jesus without the benefit of a normal man-woman relationship be true?  I had a difficult time with that until we spent a considerable amount of time studying the resurrection of Jesus — another troublesome area of Scripture.  It was certainly far from the norm and would certainly qualify as a miracle.  But, with the account of Jesus being raised from the dead there seemed to me to be a preponderance of evidence validating the event. I believed, and still do, that the resurrection of Jesus is a historically verifiable fact — at least as trustworthy as any other event of ancient history.  So, my resolution of questions about the virgin birth of Jesus turned to faith — that a God who can raise Jesus from the dead could also, by the power of the Holy Spirit, miraculously create the God-Man in the womb of a virgin.  That, in turn, led me to the conclusion that the God who, according to Genesis 1:1 created the heavens and the earth, was fully capable of producing the miracles, all of them, in the Bible.  Strong evidence and faith then led me to become a follower of Jesus — my Lord and my Savior.  I was baptized on Easter Sunday, April 5th, 1953.  

Now, with respect to second area that concerned me about becoming a Christian, i.e., changing my life to be obedient to the teaching of Scripture.  That is still something that I strive for.  But, I do so out of love for my Savior recognizing that He has already given me a clean account; that because of what He did on the cross I am “holy in His sight, without blemish, and free from accusation,” according to Colossians 1:22 NIV.  The Holy Spirit living within me convinces me of that.  

So, with that background, I found the following article by Pastor Bob Russell to be informative with respect to those who do not believe in the resurrection.  The article appeared first at: Bob Russell Ministries as: Why Some People Don’t Believe In The Resurrection.  RMF

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Why Some People Don’t Believe In The Resurrection

Bob RussellBob Russell

I watched the television special, “Killing Jesus” this past Thursday night. It’s based on the best-selling book by Bill O’Reilly and is well done. It’s good to see quality films that are Biblically accurate for the most part. I thought the movie helped clarify the reason the religious leaders were so determined to eliminate Jesus – they were envious of His popularity and threatened by His challenge to their traditional views of the temple worship.

I was disappointed, however, in the portrayal of Jesus’ resurrection. In the movie, the disciples never actually see the risen Christ. Three days after the crucifixion, they were perplexed to find His tomb empty. Later, while they were fishing in the Sea of Galilee they became convinced that He was alive when they received a miraculous abundance of fish in their nets.

Killing Jesus In reality, the disciples had a lot more evidence than a miraculous catch of fish. They were convinced of the resurrection because Jesus appeared to them in person. He invited them to touch the nail prints in His hands. He cooked breakfast for them and ate with them. He talked with them about the future of the church. He appeared to 500 of them at the same time and ascended into heaven before their very eyes.

That’s why every single disciple was willing to die for the truth that Jesus had literally conquered the grave. The evidence for the resurrection both in the Biblical record and the historical accounts of the disciples’ martyrdom is so overwhelming that those who honestly examine the record usually conclude it happened just as recorded in Scripture. Easter is not a religious myth that’s been embellished over time, it’s an actual event that is the hinge of history.

If the evidence for the resurrection is so strong, why do some people have such a hard time believing it’s true?

Some minds are closed to the possibility that the resurrection occurred because belief would require a dramatic change of lifestyle. They like the party life. They are addicted to the pleasures and valuables of this world. If Jesus really came back from the dead, His call to self-denial poses such a threat to their lifestyle that they don’t seriously entertain the idea.

Jesus said that would be the case. “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed” (John 3:19-20.)

Some don’t believe the resurrection accounts because they don’t want to be identified with their negative image of Christians. Maybe they’ve bought into the Hollywood stereotype that all Christians are nerdy, hypocritical, boring, shallow, hate-mongers. Or maybe they know someone who goes to church who is nerdy, hypocritical, boring, shallow and a hate-mongers and they think, “That’s not for me.”

Just because someone plays Beethoven badly doesn’t mean Beethoven was a bad composer. Just because someone lives the Christian life poorly doesn’t mean that Jesus isn’t worth following. God doesn’t ask you to be like Christians; He asks you to be like Jesus Christ. That’s a big difference.

Some people don’t believe because to do so would require too much swallowing of pride. There are those who have ridiculed Christians and made fun of churches for years. They’ve delighted in making believers squirm. They try to leave the impression they doubt because they think more deeply…they’re just a little smarter than others.

Each year our family fills out NCAA brackets and I provide a cash prize to the winner. It’s to my advantage to win so I don’t have to pay the prize and I can demonstrate that I know sports better than the rest. A few years ago my wife looked at my NCAA bracket and said, “You have the wrong two teams playing in the semi-finals.” She added, “The forms we’re filling out are kind of confusing, the east actually plays the south, but you’ve got the East playing the Midwest.”

My wife and I often disagree and we’re both strongly opinionated. To be honest when we disagree she’s right most of the time. But this really irritated me because she doesn’t know very much about basketball and I know a lot about basketball. (To show you how much I know, I picked Arizona as my champion this year.)

It was exasperating that Judy was trying to correct me in one of my strongest areas. We argued. A few days later I discovered she was right. You know when I admitted I was wrong? A year later when I decided to use it as a sermon illustration and even then I tried to find some way not to tell her. Arrogance often prevents us from facing facts.

David wrote, “In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God” (Psalm 10:4). Stubborn pride can be a tremendous barrier to prevent intelligent people from believing in the deity of Jesus.

Evidence is strong for the bodily resurrection of Jesus but some people don’t believe it because they don’t want to believe it. Critics scoff at Christians because they say we want to believe it’s true. However, it goes both ways. Some don’t believe because they don’t want to believe.

Ravi Zacharias said, “A man rejects God neither because of intellectual demands, nor because of the scarcity of evidence. A man rejects God because of a moral resistance that refuses to admit his need for God.”

The Apostle Paul wrote, “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved” (Romans 10:9-10).

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