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Is Christianity True #1

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green
The Truth Network Radio
May 13, 2024 12:00 am

Is Christianity True #1

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green

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May 13, 2024 12:00 am

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Welcome to the Truth Pulpit with Don Green, Founding Pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Hello, I'm Bill Wright. Thanks for joining us as we continue teaching God's people God's Word. Don begins a new message today, so without further delay, let's join him right now in the Truth Pulpit. Well, I invite you to turn to 1 Corinthians chapter 15 for our text this morning, which I will explain the choice of that text as we go along, but I want to open with the reading of 1 Corinthians chapter 15 verses 1 through 8 as we come to God's Word again here this morning. 1 Corinthians chapter 15 verses 1 through 8. Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.

Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For the balance of this calendar year we have been in a series that we've titled Building a Christian Mind, and our most recent messages have been on the doctrine of divine providence, following the divine decree, creation, and providence, and I just want to say a word about that because I'm going to pivot away from providence and move on to the next section today of that broader series. A full treatment of the doctrine of providence has to address the problem of evil. How is it that a sovereign God and a loving God is ruling over the universe and yet evil and sin exists in it? Why is there evil in a world that a holy God and a loving God created and sustains? Where does that evil come from? It's one of the most difficult questions in all of Christian theology.

God is not the author of sin, he does not force men to sin, indeed he commands men not to sin, and he is altogether holy. How do we put these things together? Well I address those issues in two messages from September 2019. The titles are God Over Evil, and secondly, Providence, the Will, and the Way.

That's September 2019. And I point you to those recorded messages in lieu of repeating them during this series, and I want to explain why I'm doing that. In large part I'm making a concession to my upcoming calendar, because after next Sunday I'm going to be away until October 8th, and I think it's best to advance this Building a Christian Mind series with the three slots that we have between now and then, rather than going into matter that I've covered sufficiently at another time. And so with all of that administrative housekeeping stuff out of the way, I want to come to today's message which I've titled, Is Christianity True?

Is Christianity True? And this is a continuation of the broader series on Building a Christian Mind. And if you haven't been with us, what I'm about to say will be a helpful little introduction.

If you have been with us, hopefully it will be a good review for you what I'm about to say. Because, beloved, let me approach it, let me enter into it this way. Yesterday Nancy and I were with two of our girls, and we had opportunity to visit a family cemetery that's about two hours from here. It's a place that's very precious to my heart. And to get to that cemetery and winding around another cemetery in the area, there is this little river that I thought was a big deal when I was growing up called the Muscatatuck River.

And it just makes for a very scenic location to visit and remember and to honor the memory of our loved ones that have gone on before us. But one of the things about the Muscatatuck River is that people kind of use it as a dumping ground. And so every year there'll be community-wide efforts to go in and cleanse it and remove all that's been dumped out so it can be a pure and more attractive river, I guess.

And I think part of the water supply in the area is driven by that. But a river running through daily is polluted, and it needs to be cleansed in order to have its maximum beauty and maximum effectiveness. That's a little bit of a metaphor, beloved, if you will, for the difficulty that each one of you have in having a mind in a fallen world, and especially a world like what we live in today. So much sewage is being dumped into your mind. So many things that you help contribute to with your choices and sinful inclinations. And what is meant to be a mind that is pure and clean and used to the glory of God instead is polluted and on the verge of being unusable. Scripture tells us exactly how to address that problem. It says, do not be conformed to this world in Romans chapter 12, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Part of what we've been doing this calendar year, and I realize it's been a long series and the truth is it hasn't been long enough, part of what we're doing is we're trying to clean the river of your mind out, taking away the worldly sewage that has taken root there and replace it with a pure source of truth and a pure source of thinking. Scripture says, as a man thinks, so he is. And the way that we think is a reflection of who we are, and all of the issues of life flow from the way that we think about truth, about Christ, about Scripture.

And so in my judgment, there has not been a more important series that I have done in the course of my entire ministry than this one. And where did we start, and how does all of this work? How do you have a Christian mind?

Well, beloved, you have to start with the broadest, most basic fundamentals of human thought, and then put those into place systematically over time so that you're working from the great broad principles down to that which is more specific. And so we started and answered the question how to know God exists. There is no excuse for anyone being an atheist, and Scripture makes this clear. Scripture says, the fool has said in his heart that there is no God. Scripture shows us the many ways that God has manifested Himself and revealed Himself so that all men everywhere in every circumstance in every age are on notice that a great powerful Creator God exists, and they will one day give an account to Him. We see that God has revealed Himself in creation. And in the canon of Scripture, in the conscience that pervades mankind, in the person of Christ, and in the conversion of individual sinners, every one of you in this room, those of you that were watching on the live stream, had a testimony of the existence of God and the reality of God in the two wonderful testimonies that we heard in the baptism waters at the beginning of the service. God exists, and what you need to do if you're going to have a pure mind is to start there and to realize that there are certain presuppositions which are absolute and by which everything else is measured and from which all of your other thought flows. There is a God, He rules over His universe, and He is there and He has made Himself known. That's the starting point of Christian thought. And there is no reason for any of you not to be able to just rehearse those things in your mind and be able to repeat them to others quite easily. Creation, the canon of Scripture, conscience, Christ, conversion, in all of those ways, Scripture says, God has made Himself known.

And we looked at each one of those issues individually months ago. Beyond that, we considered the topic how to know the Bible is true. What is the authority for truth and why do we open this single collection of 66 books and no more, 66 and no more, why do we open it and teach it and how do we know that this book is true and every other claim to revelation is false?

Well, we know that based on the highest testimony that there is in the universe. If you think of Old and New Testaments, there's two Testaments in the Bible, the Old Testament, 39 books, the New Testament with 27 books. In the same way, two words, two names, two titles assure us of the trustworthy nature of Scripture and those two words are Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ affirms the authority and the accuracy of the Old Testament to us in His ministry and He predetermined, pre-authenticated through His apostles the writing of the New Testament that would come. So that we receive the authority of Scripture, we receive the testimony of the Word of God in the written Word of God based on the highest authority that there is. Jesus Christ is the ruler of the universe and there is no one above Him and He says the Bible is true and trustworthy and He manifested that in His teaching in so many different ways.

We spent several messages covering that. And so there is a God, generally speaking, and He has specifically revealed Himself in His Word. Now all of a sudden our thought is being corralled into the right direction. We're being delivered from thoughts about that there is no truth, that there is no absolute authority. We're delivered from confusion about alternative and competing claims to revelation. We know it on the Word of Christ Himself that the Bible as we have it is true.

And that, all of a sudden, we have some clarity. We have, as it were, the Word of God whistling for us to come and beckoning us to come over and to follow it and to read and study it and know what it says. Unlike manna,r we answered the question how to know Jesus is Lord. We say that Jesus Christ is the ultimate authority.

How do we know that? And we looked at, we spent 11 messages on this, I think, looking at what the prophets did to prepare the way for Christ before He came and after Christ, how the Apostles interpreted and explained the person and work of Christ to us in unmistakable ways so that this true word from the God who exists has been vindicated by men who were attested by signs and miracles during their earthly ministries that they were men of God and that what they said and taught was to be believed and trusted. And they testified to Christ. And then Christ Himself in His earthly ministry performed works and mighty miracles and His teaching was unlike the teaching of anyone who has ever walked on the earth so that we have bookends of the spokesman of God. And then in the center, we have Christ with His person and works on full display in His life, in His death, in His resurrection, in His ascension manifesting His power so that there is no doubt that Jesus Christ is Lord.

And again, this is just a, you know, this is a 10-minute summary of 35 messages. We just finished knowing how God rules over all and saw that God planned everything that would ever happen before creation. He launched it into being at the creation in Genesis 1 and since then, He has been operating the universe and directing the course of all creatures, all events to perfectly accomplish His will which He planned before the beginning of time. And we see it unfolding, we see it unfolding before us. Now, beloved, especially for those of you maybe that are new to Scripture, new to Biblical thinking, what you have laid out for you from these things in Scripture, the existence of God, the authority of His word, the authority of Christ, the fact that God rules over all.

Beloved, what all of that gives to you is this, it's really wonderful, it's really remarkable, and in the miserably lost condition that people are walking in today, I mean, it's always been dark, but just people that don't know if they're a boy or a girl, how lost and confused people are to have a Biblical mind is to know this. This is to know where you fit in the universe. You're not your own creator, you're not Lord, you're not wise in yourself, but you exist in a realm that is owned by another, that is ruled by another, who is good and godly and holy, and He has made Himself known in His word, suddenly you know where you fit.

I am living in a realm that belongs to someone else. He calls me to follow His Son, and that's my chief responsibility during the course of my life that is transcendent above family obligations, whether they be to parents, to spouse, or to children, to follow Christ as Lord is a more preeminent claim on your priorities and upon your perspective than any other thing could be. And until Christ, this Christ of whom we've been speaking, is at the center of your thoughts and the center of your affections, you are out of harmony with the purpose of the universe, and you are out of harmony with God Himself, and you are living in sin, even if you're an outwardly moral person, if Christ is not at the heart of your affections, you are sinning against the purpose of the universe.

And we know these things. These are the natural, necessary implications of having a Christian mind. And so we have established, in my opinion, we have established the biblical and philosophical basis for the most foundational presuppositions of human thought.

This is all fundamental to proper human thinking. To deny God is to be out of harmony. To deny Scripture, to undermine Scripture, to neglect Scripture is to sin against the purposes of God. To live in independence of Christ is to sin against God.

To not be conscious of His providence and to be full of worry and anxiety because you don't realize that God is sovereign over all is to sin against God. And so these things, and you say, well, wait, wait, wait, wait. I could hear someone saying this, and I would not blame someone to say this, say, I'm a pretty good person. I'm a moral person. I pay my bills. I'm faithful to my wife.

I provide for my family. Who are you to be talking about sinning against God when I'm doing the best that I can? I get that objection at one level. But it's a totally humanistic and wrong way to think because Scripture says Jesus Christ, the Lord of all said that the greatest commandment was to love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, strength, and mind. And if you're not doing that, you are sinning against God.

And especially if you're not even aiming or thinking about doing that, you are in rebellion against the most fundamental command that God places on mankind. And so these things have very vast implications. And yes, it's taken some time to do this. You build a wall brick by brick.

You try to make sure that every level of the brick is level, and then before you start building another one, it takes time to do these things. And in light of the utter collapse of thought in culture and in the church, it's necessary for us to deal with these things. And so we're setting a foundation to know why we believe what we believe and what we teach.

But in our postmodern pluralistic society where everything's true and every opinion is valid and all of that, we need to ask this question. We need to ask this question that is the subject of today's message. How do we know that Christianity itself is true? Having established a theistic view of the world, how do we know that Christianity in particular is true? And that's what we want to address over this message and the next two messages that will come, Lord willing, from the Truth Community Church pulpit.

And let me just say this by way of final introduction. Elders in a church have, according to Scripture, very broad teaching responsibilities that take many different forms. In Titus chapter 1, verse 9, Scripture says that an elder is to be a man, not a woman, a man who is holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict. There's a positive teaching dimension which we're trying to do. There's a refutation of false teaching. And it takes a broad kind of teaching ministry to do all of those things in any effective way. The Apostle Paul said in Acts chapter 20, verse 27 that he did not shrink back from teaching the whole counsel of God. And in that context in the city of Ephesus where he was for three years, it says that he was teaching daily for hours and hours at a time, teaching all these different things that are recorded for us in the book of Acts and in his subsequent epistles. He was teaching broad subjects covering the whole counsel of God.

He was teaching in a variety of ways. And so that's what we're trying to do. Now, this new series, How to Know Christianity is True, will affirm the most central aspect of biblical doctrine.

I'll ask the question one more time. Is Christianity true and, by implication, every other religion false? Is Christianity true and, by implication, every other religion false? And we answer that question definitively, without apology, without fear, without favor to man. We answer definitively, yes, it is.

Christianity is true and every other religion is false. That's a, in a society like ours, that is a breathtaking claim to make. But it's what Scripture teaches.

This is not my opinion. How can we defend something like that in a society like this where we're told not to be too particular and not to keep your opinions to yourself? You know, it's bad enough to state your opinion with any kind of dogmatism and authority. It's even worse to look someone in the eye and say, your religion is a false religion and will lead you to hell. But beloved, love has to speak the truth. Speaking the truth in love, Scripture says, and that's what we're seeking to do. Now, what I'm about to say today in the next couple of slots, we covered this last year.

I freely acknowledge that. But the timing of it, the context of it, I think diluted the impact and the effectiveness that it should have had. Among other things, it was, I was doing this material right in the lead up to the major event that we had over at Northern Kentucky University in May of 2022.

And so this content kind of got dwarfed by bigger things that were happening in the life of our church. And so I want to come back to it, fit it into this series because it is so essential for the way that we are to think. And so here we go. A while back, I read a book by one of my very favorite authors whom I respect for him has no bounds.

The man named Ian Murray. He's written many books that many of you have read. He wrote a little paperback book you wouldn't necessarily suspect to have such fundamental material in it. The title of the book is The Undercover Revolution.

The Undercover Revolution, I think it's about 80 or 90 pages. It's not a long book at all. And it's a small book, stay with me here. It's a small book that traces how popular fiction writing by men like Robert Louis Stevenson and others, how popular fiction undermined the entire spiritual life of the nation of Britain. Fascinating book, as always extraordinarily well-documented, written in such a peaceable spirit, but with clarity of mind. That book really helped me in the things that I'm about to say because there's a chapter in it titled Is Christianity Fiction?

And that chapter is at pages 79 to 95, so I guess the book's at least 95 pages for those of you that like to keep track of the math on these things. Is Christianity Fiction? And I read that and I just thought, this is so helpful, so compelling, I need to share it with everybody that is under the sound of my voice. So I want to adapt it here and use it in this series because it is so fundamental to building a Christian mind. I'm flipping the nature of the question.

Instead of saying is Christianity fiction, I'm asking the question is Christianity true, but it's the same thing being approached from different matters. And today I want to address two sections as we begin to address that matter. And first question is this, and it's gonna take us back to the text that I read at the beginning of our message.

First question is this. Does this question even matter? Does this question even matter? Is it even important to consider whether Christianity is true or not? Or are we wasting our time? We should, you know, some people would have us just want to get to really practical teaching and teach me how to live my daily life and, you know, give me instruction on morals and those kinds of things, but, you know, why deal with this doctrine and why deal with things that divide people? Well, we want to answer that question. Does this question even matter?

How are we to approach it? Well, beloved, when we preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, understand that the gospel is a statement about historical facts, and it is an interpretation of historical facts. It tells us what happened, what Jesus did, and the gospel interprets the significance of what he did for us, for sinners, and having explained the gospel, it makes a call upon us to repent and to believe. So the gospel is a statement of historical fact and an interpretation of historical fact, and you see that right from the beginning in the passage that I read. Let's go back to 1 Corinthians chapter 15, verses one through four. And here today I'm using the term Christianity as equivalent, as a synonym for the gospel of Jesus Christ.

We're using those two terms as synonyms even though they could be distinguished in other contexts. 1 Corinthians chapter 15, beginning in verse one. Now, I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved. So Paul says, I wanna remind you about the gospel. You've believed the gospel, you stand in the gospel, you are being saved by the gospel. I wanna remind you of that, and he adds a little clarification just to warn people that sometimes there's false faith, as our two friends in baptism reminded us today. They knew what it was like, and I know what it was like, to be a false Christian, claim to be a Christian, be a church person, have some basic Bible knowledge, and yet to be miserably lost in sin. And so Paul, speaking to people like that, which I once was, he says, you know, you're being saved by this if you hold fast to the word I preached to you unless you believed in vain. There's such a thing as professing a faith that's not real, that's not genuine, that's not that which is born from above. So he's preaching the gospel to these people and saying, you know, most of you believe this.

Now let me remind you of what it is. And then in verse three he says this. Notice the history of what he says and the interpretation of the history which he says. Verse three he says, for I delivered to you as of first importance, this is primary matter of which he is speaking, what I also received. Paul received the gospel from the Lord Jesus Christ and Paul in turn delivered it to others.

That's the way it's supposed to work. You receive the gospel, you believe the gospel, you turn it and you give it to others. 2 Timothy chapter two verse two speaks about that as well. Paul says, I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died. Historical statement. As a matter of historical fact, Jesus Christ died on a cross outside of Jerusalem.

That's historical fact. He actually died. Then Paul gives the interpretation, the significance of his death when he says Christ died for our sins. If you were there in the first century and just looking at the death of Christ, you would not have understood why he was dying.

You wouldn't have understood it correctly. Scripture comes and tells us that Christ was dying as a substitute sacrifice for his people. And so Christ died, historical fact, for our sins, historical interpretation in accordance with the scriptures. This is what the prophets foretold.

What they said would happen. Isaiah 53 for example. He goes on, verse four, he was buried, historical fact. He was raised on the third day in accordance with the scripture. Historical fact, Christ died, buried and was raised. Theological interpretation, he did this for our sins. That is the gospel by which we stand and by which we are saved. Now as he goes on in the passage, he does something very interesting in my opinion.

Those of you that enjoy legal documentaries are fascinated by courtroom things. Paul, having stated these historical facts, as it were, I'm speaking metaphorically here, he calls hundreds of people to the witness stand to verify and to attest to the accuracy of what he just said. That Christ died, he was buried, he was raised again on the third day.

And look at this impressive list of witnesses, of impeccable witnesses that he calls to the stand to affirm what he had just said historically. Verse five, that he appeared to Cephas, then to the 12, then he appeared to more than 500 brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. Now, beloved, understand the great profound significance of what Paul is saying and doing right here in this portion of Scripture.

Christ died in approximately 30 AD, 30, 33 AD, depending on which interpretation of the chronology of his life you choose to follow. Paul here is writing in the late 50s, in the early 60s. He's writing within a generation or two of the time that Christ lived. You know, within 20, 30 years after Christ had died and all of these historical events happened, he's writing 20 or 30 years later.

Two, watch this, two people who were acquainted with the whole episode. He's writing to people who were contemporaries of the historical events, and he is telling them, you know about these witnesses. He's telling them in a way that draws upon their own knowledge, calls upon their own knowledge and says, all of these witnesses testify to what I'm saying and many of them are still alive.

You can go and talk to them right now. You can search them out and talk to these witnesses and verify what I'm saying to you. The historical reality has been established. And so these historical facts were attested by a multitude of witnesses so that as Paul makes these statements, you couldn't contest it. It'd be like making a statement to an audience today, let's say, just choose a president at random, you know, that there was a man named Barack Obama who was President of the United States and George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Well, I can make a statement like that and there's no contesting it. It's common public knowledge and many of you in this room were alive and know and remember aspects of the presidencies of these men.

It's like that. This is public, undeniable knowledge attested by hundreds of witnesses at the time. And so what Paul is doing here is he's giving historical fact that is attested by witnesses and he's giving a divinely interpreted explanation of what those facts mean. That's Don Green here on The Truth Pulpit.

And here's Don again with some closing thoughts. Well, my friend, there is no substitute for reading the Word of God for yourself and spending the time day by day going through the Bible in a systematic way so that you have a full exposure to everything that the Word of God says. It's remarkable the way the Spirit of God works through the Word to minister to our hearts in that way. And to help you do that, we have a couple of different Bible reading plans available on our website, thetruthpulpit.com. If you would go to thetruthpulpit.com, click on the link that says About, you'll find a sublink there that takes you to two different Bible reading plans that you can choose from. It's free, it's there available to help you in your reading of God's Word. And I know that the Spirit of God will use that in your life if you're not used to reading God's Word on a regular, systematic basis.

Make this the day that you start something new and move in that direction. And join us again next time here on The Truth Pulpit as we continue teaching God's people God's Word. That's Don Green, founding pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. Thank you so much for listening to The Truth Pulpit. Join us next time for more as we continue teaching God's people God's Word.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-13 05:00:26 / 2024-05-13 05:13:01 / 13

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