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Is God Real? | Sunday Message (Guest Speaker: Lee Strobel)

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
December 3, 2023 3:00 am

Is God Real? | Sunday Message (Guest Speaker: Lee Strobel)

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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December 3, 2023 3:00 am

Guest speaker—and leading apologetic in America—Lee Strobel brings a powerful message discussing evidence for God’s existence. Listen in to expand your knowledge on spiritual topics, not only for yourself, but for future conversations with nonbelievers.

Notes:

1. Cosmology: The Origin of the Universe

Whatever begins to exist has a cause.

The universe began to exist.

Therefore, the universe has a cause.

Genesis 1:1 (NIV)

Transcendent, spirit, eternal, powerful, smart, personal, creative, caring, and unique.

2. Physics: The Numbers Behind the Universe

Psalm 19:1 (NIV)

“The exquisite order displayed by our scientific understanding of the physical world calls for the divine.” —Dr. Vera Kistiakowski, physics professor, MIT, and president of the Association of Women in Science

3. The Resurrection

1 Corinthians 15:17 (NIV)

Jesus was definitely alive at Point A.

“Jesus did exist, whether we like it or not.” —Agnostic Historian Bart Ehrman

Jesus was surely dead at Point B.

“Clearly the weight of the historical and medical evidence indicates that Jesus was dead [even] before the wound to his side was inflicted.” —Journal of the American Medical Association

Jesus was alive again at Point C.

His tomb was empty.

His disciples were convinced He appeared to them.

“I say unequivocally that the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ is so overwhelming that it compels acceptance by proof which leaves absolutely no room for doubt.” —Sir Lionel Luckhoo

John 1:12 (NASB)

Believe + Receive = Become

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” 1 Peter 3:15 (NIV)

“These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may KNOW that you have eternal life.” 1 John 5:13 (NASB)

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Hey there. Thanks for listening to the Greg Laurie Podcast, a ministry supported by Harvest Partners. I'm Greg Laurie, encouraging you.

If you want to find out more about Harvest Ministries and learn more about how to become a Harvest Partner, just go to harvest.org. Thank you. Thanks so much. Thank you. It's so great to be here, especially with the 50th celebration, going on 50th anniversary celebration. That is awesome. That is awesome.

So proud of you. You know, when I think of this church, I think of the words of Jesus in Matthew chapter 5, in the Sermon on the Mount, when He talked about a city on a hill cannot be hidden. And not that you're on a hill here, but I think figuratively, the way this church shines the message of grace and hope and redemption and eternal life that shines that message, not just all around Southern California, but all around the world. I just picture a city on a hill shining like a spotlight, shining this message of hope and grace everywhere. And that's what I think about when I think about you. So we're cheering you on from all over the world for what you're doing. Thank you.

Thank you for being part of what God is doing here. You know, I came across a statistic a while ago. It blew my mind. Here's a statistic. Did you know that 200 times a second, around the clock, someone on the planet is typing into a computer search engine, basically the question, is God real?

200 times a second. Well, and then you think, well, that does make sense, because isn't this really the ultimate question of life? So much hangs on this question of, is God real? William Provine, who was an atheist, was debating a Christian, and he said, look, I'll just be honest, as an atheist, I'll just tell you, you know, if there is no creator, then five things are true. Number one, there's no evidence for God. Number two, there's no life after death. Number three, there's no absolute foundation for right and wrong. Number four, there's no absolute meaning for life. And number five, we really don't have free will.

We think we do, but we're just biochemical machines. So you look at that and you say, wow, those are really huge implications based on whether God is real. Now, here's the other thing that's happening, is that the number of American adults who believe that God is real has been declining over the years. When I was a freshman in high school in 1967, 98% of American adults believed that God was real. Now you know what the number is? 81%.

The lowest in history. In fact, only six out of ten American adults are sure that God exists. And the numbers are the starkest among young people, among Generation Z, supposedly the first post-Christian generation. There are twice as many members of Generation Z who call themselves atheists as members of my generation.

But there are some positive statistics as well. Did you know that three out of four American adults say they want to grow spiritually? And nearly half of American adults say that they're more open to God today than they were before the pandemic. In fact, my friend Shane Pruitt, his ministry is to travel the country and to speak to young people, high school, college age, young people. And he said, I've personally seen more college students and teenagers start to follow Jesus Christ in the last three years than in the previous 18 years of ministry combined.

So there's some good things going on as well. And so I've written a new book, it's called Is God Real? Is God Real?

Exploring the Ultimate Issue of Life. And in that book I make the case from science, from history and so forth, that yes, God is real. And then I deal with the two biggest objections that skeptics raise. Number one, if God is real, why is there so much suffering in the world? And number two, if God is real, why does He seem so hidden? And so I wrote that to deepen the faith of believers and equip them to be able to talk to an increasingly skeptical culture, but also to give away to non-believers and so forth. So in all, there are about 20 lines of evidence that point toward the reality of God, that God is real. But to me, as a former atheist myself, there are two findings of modern science that for me are sufficient to establish that God is real. Let me tell you about those.

I think they're fascinating. The first area is called, and a fancy name, don't let us scare you, is cosmology. It just means the origin of the universe. Where did the universe come from? You know, for centuries, scientists believed that the universe was eternal. It was always there. It always existed.

It was static. And yet, a series of scientific discoveries over the last 50 to 80 years concerning the expansion of the universe has convinced virtually every scientist on the planet that the universe had a beginning at some point in the past. Some believe it's more recent than others, but everybody agrees the universe had a beginning at some point in the past. The famous cosmologist Alexander Vilenkin, who's at Tufts University, said, all the evidence we have says the universe had a beginning. In fact, he and two other cosmologists developed a theorem that tells us that any universe that is expanding on average through its history, like our universe, must have had a beginning. In fact, get this, if our universe is actually just a small part of a bigger multiverse, the multiverse itself must have had a beginning. And this leads to what I consider to be one of the strongest arguments for the existence of God. It's called the Kalam Cosmological Argument, and my good friend William Lane Craig, a scholar in this area, is famous for popularizing this argument. It's a very simple argument for God being real.

Here's how it goes. Number one, whatever begins to exist has a cause. Now, stop for a second. Can you think of anything that comes into existence that doesn't have a cause behind it?

No. There's always a cause behind something that comes into existence. So, whatever begins to exist has a cause.

Second, we now know the universe began to exist at some point in the past, and therefore, the universe has a cause. The Bible puts it this way. In the very first verse of the entire Bible, Genesis 1, verse 1 says, In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The phrase heavens and earth is actually a Hebrew figure of speech called the Mirism. It simply means God created everything. And so, I think cosmology goes a long way toward establishing that God is real. But then the most common objection you hear from people is, well, wait a second. If God created the universe, then who created God?

It's generally followed by nana nana nana. Bet you didn't think of that. Who created God? Well, it's just a misunderstanding of the argument. The argument is not whatever exists has a cause.

The argument is whatever begins to exist has a cause. God, by definition, is eternal. He never began to exist. He's always existed. In fact, before the universe was existed, time didn't even exist.

It was simply timelessness. And by the way, atheists shouldn't have a problem with believing that something is eternal, because they used to maintain until they were disproven by the evidence that the universe was eternal. Well, so based on this simple argument, we can draw some conclusions about God.

Think about that. Whatever begins to exist has a cause. The universe began to exist. Therefore, the universe has a cause behind it.

What kind of a cause can bring a universe into existence? Well, He must be transcendent because He exists apart from creation. He must be immaterial or spirit because He existed before the physical world.

He must be timeless or eternal because He existed before physical time came into being. He must be powerful given the immensity of the creation event. He must be smart given the incredible precision of the creation event. He must be personal because He had to make the decision to create. He must be creative because, my goodness, just look at the universe and how creative it is. He must be loving or caring because He so lovingly crafted a habitat where we can flourish. And then the scientific principle of Occam's Razor tells us there would be just one creator.

So what have we got? Transcendent, spirit, eternal, powerful, smart, personal, creative, caring, unique. Friends, that is a description of the God of the Bible.

Right? And that's the God of the Bible. In fact, since there's just one creator, this rules out polytheistic religions which claims there are many gods. And since the creator is separate from creation, that rules out pantheistic religions that say that everything is God.

And since the universe is not cyclical, that contradicts Eastern philosophies as well. And so I think just this one bit of scientific discovery over the last 50 to 80 years about the universe having a beginning gives us a great foundation for concluding, yeah, God is real. But then that case is amplified by a second area of science which is physics. Physics. Physics, in other words, the numbers that govern the operation of the universe. Psalm 19 verse 1 says, the heavens declare the glory of God.

The skies proclaim the work of His hands. Friends, one of the most striking discoveries of modern science has been that the laws and the constants of physics, in other words, the numbers that govern the operation of the universe, conspire in an absolutely extraordinary way to make the universe habitable for life. In other words, the universe is finely tuned on a razor's edge so that life can exist. So finely tuned it rules out the possibility that this could happen by chance.

Give you an example. It's like if you go out at night in the summer and you're in a rural area and you look up at the sky expecting to see thousands of stars, but instead on this night you see 50 to 100 giant dials in the sky. And each dial represents a number that governs the operation of the universe. And each dial could be set to one of trillions and trillions of possible settings, and yet every dial is perfectly calibrated so that life can exist. Friends, that is a picture of what modern physics gives us of our universe.

I'll give you a couple examples. The force of gravity. We all know what gravity is, right?

You drop something, it's going to hit the ground. Well, the value of gravity, the numbers of gravity are so finely tuned so that life can exist that it'll blow your mind. Imagine a ruler that goes across the entire known universe, 15 billion light years of width.

A ruler broken down in one inch increments. That represents the possible range along which the force of gravity could have been set, and yet it's set at the exact right place so that life can exist. What if we were to change it? What if we were to change it one inch compared to the 15 billion light year width of the universe?

Intelligent life would be impossible anywhere on the planet. That's just one of the dials, how finely tuned that is. Another example is the strong nuclear force.

That's the force that holds together the nucleus of atoms. What if we were to change that number? What if we were to change it?

Just barely change it. Just decrease it by one part in 10,000 billion billion billion billion. If we did that, all we would have in the universe would be hydrogen.

Life would be impossible. I asked one physicist, famous physicist, I said, what are the odds that this could have just happened by chance? He said, we physicists have a scientific phrase for describing what those chances are. I said, what? He said, ain't going to happen.

Ain't going to happen. Vera Kistiakowsky, who is former professor of physics at MIT, former president of the Association of Women in Science, put it this way. She said, the exquisite order displayed by our scientific understanding of the physical world calls for the divine.

It points toward God. So how do atheists try to get around this? They try to say, well, what if there's actually an infinite number of universes? We're just one of an infinite number of invisible universes. And if you spin the dials in enough of these universes, sooner or later, one of them is going to hit the jackpot, and that's us. We hit the lotto, and that's why we have life in our universe.

Well, there's some problems with that. Number one, there is absolutely no physical evidence whatsoever that there's actually an infinite number of invisible universes. Besides, if one universe requires an explanation, then an infinite number of universes requires an even bigger explanation, and that points even more powerfully toward God. Friends, speaking just for myself as a former atheist, if all I had to go on were these two areas of science, cosmology and physics, personally, I'd be convinced that God is real.

But then we can go further. Which God are we talking about? The God of Christianity, the God of Islam, the God of Hinduism?

Which God are we talking about? And to look at that, we have to shift to another area, which is history. Because it's through history that we can have confidence that Jesus is who we claim to be, the unique Son of God. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15, verse 7, If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile, you're still in your sins. In other words, the resurrection of Jesus, an historical event that we can investigate, just as you can investigate any other event of history, the historical resurrection of Jesus Christ establishes that He is who we claim to be.

Why? Because Jesus, in a variety of different ways, made transcendent and messianic and divine claims about Himself. He claimed to be the Son of God.

For instance, He forgave sins, which only God can do. He referenced Himself as being the Son of Man, which is a reference to the divine figure in Daniel chapter 7, who is sovereign and eternal and worshiped. He demonstrated divine control over nature. He said He would sit on God's right hand and exercise divine judgment, which was considered by Jewish leaders to be an assertion of deity. He received worship. Only God is legitimately worshiped. He claimed to have all authority over heaven and earth.

He exhibited divine attributes, including omnipresence and omniscience, and claimed that He deserves the same honor as the Father. In fact, at one point in John 10, verse 30, Jesus gets up before a big group of people like this, and He said, I and the Father are one. And the Greek word for one there is not masculine, it's neuter, which means Jesus was not saying, I and the Father are the same person. He was saying, I and the Father are the same thing. We're one in nature.

We're one in essence. And how did the audience understand what He was saying? Well, they picked up stones to kill Him, because He said, you, you're just a man, and you're claiming to be God. So Jesus claimed to be God, but so what? Anybody could claim to be God. But if Jesus claimed to be God, died, and then three days later rose from the dead, that's pretty good evidence He's telling the truth, right?

So, how do we know He did establish by His resurrection that He is who He claimed to be, the Son of God? It's an historical question. It's not just a question of theology and a question of philosophy.

It's a question of history. And I would suggest the answer is as easy as A, B, C. A, Jesus was alive at point A. Number two, Jesus was truly dead at point B. And three, Jesus was alive again at point C. If those things are true, it establishes that He rose from the dead.

So let's talk about these three points. First, Jesus was alive at point A. He really did live. Virtually every scholar, by the way, agrees that Jesus of Nazareth lived in the first century. My friend, Dr. Gary Habermas, great historian, wrote a book called The Historical Jesus. And in that book, he details 39 ancient sources referencing Jesus, from which he enumerates more than 100 facts concerning Jesus' life, teachings, crucifixion, and resurrection. And yet, the Internet buzzes with the claim that Jesus never lived at all. He's a myth. And He was modeled after earlier mythologies that were popular in the ancient world. In other words, Christianity is just a copycat religion. It plagiarized the idea of Jesus and the resurrection from earlier mythology.

And you know what? Some people buy it. Just recently, there was a poll done that showed that 25% of Americans who are not Christians, 25% say they're either absolutely sure or somewhat certain that Jesus never existed. So a lot of people believe this. People who propagate this claim are called mythicists. And for example, they'll tell you, you want to know where Christianity came from?

Well, I'll tell you where it came from. There was an earlier mythological religion called Mithraism, about this god called Mithras. And Mithras lived before Jesus.

Mithras was born of a virgin in a cave on December the 25th. He was a great traveling teacher. He had 12 disciples. He sacrificed himself for world peace. He was buried in a tomb. And three days later, he rose from the dead.

Does that sound familiar? Sounds like Christianity just copied this stuff from earlier mythology. But then you examine the evidence, which I did as I interviewed historians on this question.

What do you find? You find there was no cave. There was no virgin involving Mithras. Mithras supposedly emerged fully grown out of a rock.

That was the ancient myth about Mithras. Besides, nowhere in the Bible does it say that Jesus was born in a cave anyway. And so what if Mithras was born on December the 25th? We don't know the date that Jesus was born. Earlier theologians in the year 200 thought it was probably in January or in the spring.

We don't have a date. The Bible doesn't tell us the date. Mithras was never a great traveling teacher with 12 disciples. He was a mythological god. In one version he had one disciple.

In another version he had two disciples. Did he sacrifice himself for world peace? No. He was only known for having killed a bull. Was he buried in a tomb and resurrected on the third day?

No. There's no record of any belief about the death of Mithras. And so no claim about a resurrection. So look what happened. When we investigate history we find that these parallels to Jesus just evaporate.

They just go away. Here's the truth. According to a recent academic treatise on this topic, quote, The nearly universal consensus of scholars around the world is that there are no examples of any mythological gods dying and rising from the dead that came before Jesus. These resurrection myths came after Jesus.

They stole from Christianity. So even the agnostic historian, Dr. Bart Ehrman, who's no friend to Christianity, he wrote a book attacking this idea of myths kind of being the forerunner of Christianity. He said, quote, The claim that Jesus was simply made up falters on every ground.

And rather than succeeding in debunking religion, people just make themselves look foolish who promote these beliefs. And then he wrote a book about it and he ends the book with these words. Jesus did exist whether we like it or not. So, friends, there's no question about point A, Jesus really lived.

But then what about the second point? That Jesus was certainly dead at point B. In other words, he was killed by crucifixion under Pontius Pilate. Now, there are about 1.6 billion people in this world that don't believe that.

They're called Muslims because they're taught in the Quran in Surah 4, verse 157. That Jesus was not crucified. He didn't die on the cross and therefore was not resurrected. But what's the evidence? What's the evidence? Well, we're lucky in ancient history if we have one or two facts or sources to confirm a fact. So, in other words, a lot of what we believe about the ancient world is based on one source of information.

Or maybe two sources of information. And yet, in the case of the execution of Jesus Christ, we not only have reports in all four of the biographies of Jesus in the New Testament, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. All written within the lifetimes of Jesus' contemporaries. We have another report outside the Gospels that's dated back to immediately after his death, too early to be a legend. And we have five ancient sources outside the Bible that confirm that Jesus was executed. And so what do Muslims have on the other side?

But with all due respect, 600 years after Jesus lived, Muhammad says an angel in a cave told him it wasn't true. So just set aside religion. Let's just look at history. Set aside religious beliefs. Let's just examine what does the historical record tell us?

Where does it point? It points toward Jesus having been executed under Pontius Pilate. Friends, there is no evidence anywhere of anyone surviving a full Roman crucifixion. In fact, no less of a source than the Journal of the American Medical Association. A secular, scientific, peer-reviewed medical journal carried an investigation into the death of Jesus.

And this was their conclusion. Clearly, the weight of the historical and medical evidence indicates that Jesus was dead even before the wound to his side was inflicted. I mean, you could go to an atheist historian like Gerd Ludemann, one of the few atheist New Testament scholars. And he'll tell you this, quote, Jesus' death as a consequence of crucifixion is indisputable. That's how strong the historical evidence is.

And so what have we got? Jesus was alive at point A. He was dead at point B.

And then we come to the real test. Was he alive again at point C? Well, we have two strands of evidence that he was. First, his tomb was empty. His tomb was empty. The historical record tells us that Jesus' body was placed in a tomb belonging to Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the Jewish council. It's sealed, it's guarded, and yet it's discovered empty that first Easter morning. Now, as an atheist, I tried to explain this away by saying, well, wait a second. I'll tell you why the tomb of Jesus was empty. His body was never in it. Because, don't you know, part of the horror of crucifixion was you didn't get a burial. Your body was thrown to the dogs.

So that's what happened. Well, there was a problem I discovered with that claim. And it's called archaeology. Because archaeologists have discovered the remains of buried crucifixion victims.

One of them had the spikes still driven through his ankle bone and bits of the olive wood of the cross still attached. So you have at least two cases where archaeologists in recent decades discovered the buried bodies of crucifixion victims. So it's simply erroneous to say that the Romans didn't allow the burial of the executed, including the crucified. And by the way, the earliest report we have of the resurrection mentions that he was indeed buried. Now, there's several reasons we believe historically that the tomb was empty. But the most convincing to me was even the opponents of Jesus admitted that the tomb was empty.

How do we know? Because we know from sources inside and outside the New Testament that when the disciples began proclaiming that Jesus had risen, what the opponents of Jesus said was, oh, baloney. Well, they didn't say it that way. They said, oh, well, the disciples stole the body.

Now, think about that. That's a cover story. They're admitting the tomb is empty. They're just trying to explain how it got empty.

See what I'm saying? It's like if you're a teacher and a student comes up to you and says, a dog ate my homework. That student's admitting, I don't have my homework. But I can explain what happened to it. The dog ate it.

It's the same thing. So everybody in the first century was conceding the tomb is empty, whether implicitly or explicitly. That's not the question of history. The question of history is, how did it get empty?

And you go through the usual list of suspects. The Romans weren't about to steal the body. They wanted Jesus dead. The Jewish leaders of the day weren't about to steal the body. They wanted Jesus to stay dead. The disciples weren't about to steal the body. We have seven ancient sources, six of them outside the Bible, that tell us the disciples lived lives of deprivation and suffering as a result of their proclamation that Jesus had risen.

They didn't have a motive to make this up. So we have good evidence the tomb of Jesus was indeed empty. But that's not sufficient to establish point C that he was encountered after his death. We also know that the disciples were convinced that he had risen and appeared to them as the risen Christ. Remember how I said earlier we're lucky if we have one or two sources in the ancient world to confirm a fact?

Well, get this. For the conviction of the disciples that they encountered the resurrection of Jesus, we have no fewer than nine ancient sources, inside and outside the New Testament, confirming and corroborating the conviction of the disciples that they encountered the risen Jesus at point C. I mean we have a creed of the earliest church based on eyewitness reports with named eyewitnesses in it that tell us that Jesus appeared alive after his death, not just to the disciples but also to 500 people at once. The eminent historian Dr. James D.G. Dunn said, this tradition, we can be entirely confident, was formulated as tradition within months of Jesus' death. In other words, this dates back within months of his death, so early that it wasn't like a legend that developed 50 or 100 years after his life. We also have Paul's testimony about the disciples. He got to know the disciples and said, yeah, we're all saying the same thing that Jesus returned from the dead. We have Peter's direct testimony where he got up in the same city where Jesus had been crucified just a short time before and said, God has raised Jesus to life to which we're all witnesses. And what happened? 3,000 people said, we know you're telling us the truth.

What do we do? They repented and the church was born. We have the four gospels which document nine appearances of the risen Jesus.

And these are first century reports that bear the earmarks of historical accuracy. And then we have evidence outside the New Testament. We've got people who sat under the teachings of the disciples themselves and who testified the reason the disciples had confidence is because they witnessed the resurrection of Jesus. They knew it was true that he had returned from the dead and that's what gave them the confidence against all odds and against the sufferings they would endure to go out and proclaim that he is the Son of God. So that's nine ancient sources that reflect multiple very early testimony to the conviction of the disciples that Jesus had risen from the dead. So how convincing is this? Is this convincing just to evangelical Christians? I'll tell you what. When I was an atheist and I was a law student at Yale University, one of my heroes was a man who was considered the greatest defense attorney who ever lived.

Get this. If you know anything about law, this is going to blow your mind. He was in the Guinness Book of World Records as a defense attorney having won 245 murder trials in a row either before the jury or on appeal. Guinness Book of World Records said he is the most successful attorney who ever lived.

He was knighted twice by Queen Elizabeth. He was a member of the Supreme Court of his land. And if anybody knew what constitutes good evidence, it was him, Sir Lionel Lucku.

He gets it, right? I mean, he's able to take what looks like an airtight case against his client and find all the loopholes, all the problems with it. He knows better than anybody what constitutes reliable and persuasive evidence. And like me at the time, he was a skeptic about the resurrection of Jesus. Until one day, Sir Lionel, somebody said to him, you're the greatest lawyer who's ever lived. Have you ever taken your monumental legal skill and applied it to the historical record of the resurrection and come to an informed conclusion about whether Jesus really did return from the dead? And he said, no, I haven't, but I will. And so just like I later did, he spent years looking, scrutinizing, analyzing the historical record. And I'll recite to you one sentence he wrote that summarizes his conclusion.

He said, quote, I say unequivocally that the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ is so overwhelming that it compels acceptance by proof, which leaves absolutely no room for doubt. This from the greatest lawyer who ever lived. Friends, I came to the same conclusion.

Because my wife had become a Christian, I wanted to rescue her from this cult that she'd gotten involved in. I was legal editor of the Chicago Tribune. I took my journalism training, my legal training, and I spent a year and nine months of my life investigating the historical record. And I came to the same conclusion as Sir Lionel Luck who did. But then I didn't know what to do after I came to that conclusion that, yes, it is true, Jesus returned from the dead. He proved he is the son of God.

And then my next question was, well, so what? And Leslie, my wife, pointed out a verse to me, John 1-12. It says, but as many as received him, to them he gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in his name. And I noticed that verse forms an equation of what it means to become a child of God. Believe plus receive equals become. So I said, okay, I get it now. I believe that Jesus was alive at point A, was dead at point B, and was alive again at point C. I believe it based on the historical data. But that's not enough.

The Bible says even the demons believe and they shudder. There's another step I had to receive. Receive what? Receive this free gift of forgiveness and eternal life that he purchased for me on the cross when he died as my substitute to pay for all of my sin. And when I would receive this free gift of his grace, then I would become a child of God. And so I got on my knees and I poured out a confession of a lifetime of immorality. And I received Jesus as my forgiver, as my leader, and I became a child of God.

And my life was totally transformed as a result. Friends, can I tell you the good news? The good news is God is real. But then there's better news. There's better news.

Yes, God is real. That's good news. The best news is we can know him. We can experience with him. We can have a relationship with him. We can be forgiven by him. And when we pass from this world into the next, we can enter into his presence in perfect harmony forever. That's the best news.

That's the best news. So let me close by talking to two groups of people here. Most of us are followers of Jesus, and you've received this free gift of his grace. You've become a child of God. And I want to say to you, coming up here now at the Christmas season, people are more spiritually open the Christmas season.

Here's an opportunity for us to share this good news with them. That's why I wrote this book, Is God Real?, as a tool to give to someone who's spiritually curious. Because it's important that we understand why we believe what we believe. 1 Peter 3.15 says, Always be prepared to give an answer to anyone who asks us to give the reason for the hope that we have to do it gently and respectfully. Friends, people want to know, is this logical? Is it rational?

Does it make sense? Is God real? I was talking to a guy who said his six-year-old granddaughter was going to public schools. She was on the playground at recess, and the other kids were taunting her and making fun of her because she believes in God. Oh, you believe in fairy tales. You still believe in make-believe.

They're making fun of her. Friends, our children, our grandchildren, are going to be challenged in their faith in this hostile world that we're in more than earlier generations have been. We need ourselves to understand why we believe what we believe.

We need to share that with our kids. And so that's what I urge you to do this Christmas season. But then secondly, I want to say, you know, you may be here because somebody invited you, and this is a question. Is God real? It's very pertinent to you right now because you've been asking this question yourself. You've been wondering yourself. Here we go with Christmas season again. Could this be true?

Might this be based on reality? Friends, if that's you and you're just not sure, I hope today has helped you reach a conclusion about whether God is real and whether Jesus is His unique Son. You know, the first verse that I memorized as a new Christian was 1 John 5, verse 13. It says, These things were written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know you have eternal life.

I love that because you don't have to be in a state of confusion or anxiety or apprehension about whether God is real, whether we can know Him personally, whether He can be assured of Heaven. You don't have to wonder about that. That verse tells us we can know for sure. We can know. Do you know?

That's my question. Do you know? As you sit here right now, are you confident that God is real, that you have a relationship with Him, that when you pass in this world, He will fling open the gates of Heaven for you to spend eternity with Him? Do you know?

Are you sure? Well, if you're not, can I just give you an opportunity right now to not just believe, but to receive? Let's just bow our heads and close our eyes. If you want to take that step, I'm not going to ask you to do anything weird. You don't have to say it out loud. Just in your heart, God will hear you. Just in your heart, say, Lord Jesus, as best I can, I do believe that you are the Son of God. You proved it by returning from the dead. And right now, I confess the obvious, which is I'm a sinner.

I know that. I've done things that were wrong. I knew they were wrong before I did them.

I did them anyway. I've sinned. And right now, I confess that.

I want to turn from that. And in an attitude of repentance and faith, I want to receive. I want to receive this free gift of forgiveness and eternal life that you purchased for me on the cross when you died as my substitute to pay for all of my sin. Thank you, Jesus, for loving me so much that you endured the torture of the cross so that we could be reconciled forever.

Help me to live the kind of life that you want me to live, because from this moment on, I am yours. And now, Father, we know by your word that anyone who comes to you like this in repentance and faith receives your free gift of grace. We know that you have adopted them into your kingdom as your son or daughter.

They can have assurance and confidence as they build a relationship with you for the rest of their lives and then spend eternity with you forever. So we thank you for that. We thank you for this great church and how it unflinchingly and creatively and lovingly shines this message of hope and grace all over the planet. We thank you for everyone who's part of this great expression of your love. And we pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, who is our forgiver and who is our leader and who is our very, very best friend. And all God's people said, amen. God bless you all. Great to be with you.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-03 04:27:08 / 2023-12-03 04:42:05 / 15

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