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Is Christianity True #2

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green
The Truth Network Radio
May 14, 2024 12:00 am

Is Christianity True #2

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green

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

Hello again, I'm Bill Wright. It is our joy to continue our commitment to teaching God's people God's Word. Today Don is continuing with the second part of a message we started last time.

So let's get right to it. Open your Bible as we join Don now in The Truth Pulpit. Now listen, beloved, we kind of have to have our feet planted in two different worlds as we consider these things. One foot planted in the historical context in which Paul wrote and to recognize the significance of what he's saying in the context of what he said to the church at Corinth during his lifetime and for what we're doing today to keep our other foot planted in our modern age, the modern age and system of thought in which we live and have our being, to have those two things side by side in our minds and to understand how they fit together and what the significance of them is. Because, beloved, in our godless, cynical society that mocks truth, that wants nothing to do with truth, that laughs at it, in a media environment that just soaks Christians in scorn and misrepresentation in our godless, cynical society, Christianity is at best patronized with words like, well, that's nice if it works for you. Our society thinks, and yet now I'm seeing here this dogmatic presentation of historical fact divinely interpreted.

And what am I supposed to do with those two things joined together? Beloved, thinking about it from this perspective of our postmodern society, we ask this question. Is Christianity simply a personal preference that dupes like us can indulge if we like but doesn't need to be taken seriously elsewhere? Does it even matter if it's true? Does it matter if Christ was actually a historical person who lived on earth, died on a cross, and bodily rose from the grave?

Does that matter? Or is this a waste of time? Why can't we just dismiss and get on with the first weekend of the NFL? Why are we spending our time on this? Well, beloved, let's keep reading in 1 Corinthians 15. The Apostle Paul certainly thought that the historical facts matter, that this isn't just a system of morals or a vague, abstract system of philosophy that we're talking about. These are historical facts of a tested historical record that matter. And so Paul gives a counterfactual argument. He says, let's assume that these historical facts didn't happen as we get down to it later. He says in verse 12, now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? He says the historical record is that Jesus was raised from the dead. Five hundred and fifteen witnesses support what I'm saying. Paul says, now in light of that, he looks at those who are undermining the doctrine of the resurrection and say, then in light of the historical record, how can you say what you're saying?

And let's just work through the implications of what you're saying. Verse 13, he takes their argument to its logical conclusion. He says, but if there is no resurrection of the dead, verse 13, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are found to be misrepresenting God because we testified about God that he raised Christ whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. These contrary to fact arguments can sometimes be a little bit difficult to follow. The gospel says that Jesus Christ is raised from the dead, but there are those who say he wasn't raised from the dead.

In our day, those who say it doesn't matter. What Paul is saying, he says, based on that presupposition, let's work through what that means. If there is no resurrection from the dead, then Christ himself isn't raised from the dead. Contrary to historical fact, but, you know, we're just going with what you're saying here. If Christ hasn't been raised from the dead, our preaching is worthless.

It's vain. It's empty because we're proclaiming a resurrected Savior and calling men to save them. And yet that preaching is false if Christ isn't raised from the dead.

And we're saying that God testifies that Christ is raised from the dead and therefore we're making God a liar if Christ isn't raised from the dead because we say that God says this and it really wasn't true if what you're saying is true. Verse 16, for if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then also all who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.

If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. If Christ isn't raised from the dead, truth collapses. Christian salvation collapses. Hope for heaven collapses. It's all vain, useless, and of no account.

Beloved, listen. I realize we're kind of thick in the weeds in some argumentation, some facts here, but it's crucial to know. It's crucial for you to think about through these things as you're raising your children. So many people think that religion is a waste of time or that religious ideas are only good for morality or even more so today, just good for making us feel good about ourselves and feel good about our lives. And if it feels good, it's achieved its purpose, and whether it's true or not doesn't really matter.

Objective truth claims are not essential for them. You and I have to understand. You and I have to put our feet down on this ground and say, I will not move from what I'm about to say. That that mindset, that whether it's true or not, that does not work for biblical Christianity. That is just not feasible because Christianity is rooted in time and space events that actually happened, that have historical witnesses to them.

And the time and space matter of history continued on after the apostolic age, as we're going to see. Real salvation requires a real sacrifice to atone for real sins against a real and holy God that we know exists because we've established that earlier in our series. What are we going to do with our sin? And our sin is true and real.

We better have, beloved, we better have a real and true Savior, a real and true salvation that can deliver us from our bondage and guilt and condemnation of our very real sins against a very real and a very holy God. It better be true because everything depends on it. Paul says if the resurrection is a fiction, our faith is worthless.

We're wasting our time. The history of this matters, but is it actually true? The Bible contains the record of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ for everyone to take and read.

This is freely available to everyone in the English-speaking world and in many, many other languages as well. There's no excuse. To be ignorant is to make a choice to be ignorant of these things. And the message of salvation is about you coming to Christ and personally receiving His love and resurrection power. True Christians honor and obey Jesus Christ. They no longer live for themselves, but they live for Christ, as again we heard so well expressed in the baptism testimonies. You know, when you get baptism testimonies like that ahead of your preaching, it makes your preaching a whole lot easier.

So I'm grateful. True Christians live for Christ. True Christians honor Christ. True Christians obey Christ. And here's the thing, beloved. Here's the thing that if Christianity is not really true, our reason for living utterly collapses.

There is no point to it. This is existential for the truth. This goes to our very existence and the validity of our existence as Christians and as a Christian Bible-teaching church. Everything depends and hinges on the reality of the factual truthfulness of what we say.

We're not engaging in silly, secular, philosophical speculation here. God has said this is true. And so we need to know, how do we know that? How do we know that?

Now, let me just say something quickly because this comes up. In one sense, we've been answering this question all along. At one level, you can say we know that Christianity is true because the Bible says so. The Bible is the authority, the final authority, and we can go and we can base it on that. Yes, absolutely.

Full stop. We can say in another way that I personally came to Christ. I know that these things, I'm persuaded of these things in my heart because of the work of the Holy Spirit in my heart. The Spirit of God opened my eyes, as Scripture says, He shined the light of the knowledge of Christ into my heart and brought me to saving faith.

Yes, absolutely. The Word of God, the Spirit of God, without those things we would not believe. And that is our authority. And what we're doing here in this brief series of messages is we're adding more to that because as we've seen, Christianity is a historically based religion. And what we see is that the history continued on. The testimony of history continued on and that's our second point for this morning. The testimony of history that we want to add as another supporting reality to the things that we say. And here's where we enter into some historical matters that developed after the time of the apostles. So point number two, the testimony of history. This is not at all the fullness of everything that we say to prove that Christianity is true, but it's really necessary and essential for us to know.

Here we go. The testimony of history. By unchallenged historical record, beloved, Christianity has existed for a very, very long time.

This is not something new and recent as ignorant people who have no concept of looking at something beyond what happened 15 minutes ago on social media. Christianity has long existed. And if the accusation is that Christianity is just a fiction, that these things never really happened, that there was never really a person named Jesus of Nazareth who walked on the earth. If that was all made up, beloved, there must have been a date.

Follow me here. This is a crucial pivot point. There must have been a date when someone made the story up. When a book of fiction is released, at some point the author had written it and introduced it into the mass market. Something that only existed in his mind, he made it up, he wrote, put it on paper, and now it's out available on the marketplace. Can we say that about Christianity?

Not very well. In fact, you can't say it at all. The historical argument on these things is conclusive, and just follow me here as we do a little bit of, as we kind of go back and step back increasingly into history to consider these things. And so, let's take a random date to say maybe Christianity was invented on this date, in this time period. And let's just pick a date 200 years after the time of Christ.

Okay? 200 years after the time of Christ. 200 A.D. Is it possible that Christianity was invented then and then developed from there without any prior historical record to support it? Is that possible?

No. It's absolutely not possible based on the most verifiable things that you could ever imagine. Christianity could not have been invented for the first time in A.D. 200 because, my friends, by that time the Christian message had spread from Spain to Egypt, perhaps to Britain and also to the Far East. Many, many written documents exist from the second century pointing to and talking about Christ and the Scriptures and the church.

And I just find what I'm about to say just, it's just so interesting, so amazing, so clear. You can go to the city of Rome, and you can go to the catacombs, the Christian catacombs in Rome. Catacombs were like an underground cemetery, and so you can go and you can see these places. In those walls are carved all kinds of Christian symbols from the time. When did all of this take place? When did they start putting people in those tombs with Christian symbols? Follow what I'm saying here. The very authoritative secular source, the Oxford Classical Dictionary, says this on page 302 of the edition that's in my library.

It says, and I quote, the official organization by the church of public catacombs mainly for the poor of Rome's Christian community began about A.D. 200. They say, well, so what? Who cares? Well, I care.

You should care. Think about what that means. Look at that evidence and think about what that means. In A.D. 200, they needed many burial places for many Christians. Obviously, the origin of Christianity predates 200 A.D. because if the fiction started in 200 A.D., you wouldn't need burial places for all kinds of Christians who existed before that.

So obviously, the origin of Christianity predates 200 A.D. You can continue to work your way back in time and find other prior evidence of the existence of Christianity. In 112 A.D., going back almost another century from our arbitrary starting point, in 112 A.D., we find a letter written by Pliny, a Roman governor in the area of modern day northern Turkey. And this secular leader wrote this. He said, Christians are people who were wont on the appointed day to meet before it was light and to sing with one another a hymn to Christ as God.

A political figure reporting on the facts that existed in his realm at the time, describing Christians singing hymns of praise to Christ as God. A.D. 112. So it couldn't have started then because it was so widespread that a secular leader with no inkling toward Christianity had to take note of it and reported it and recorded it.

It goes still earlier, beloved. A Roman historian in A.D. 64 named Tacitus wrote this about the burning of Rome in A.D. 64. Tacitus says that the Roman Emperor Nero, and this is so well attested, the Roman Emperor Nero set the city on fire and then he blamed Christians as the scapegoat for the whole event. Christians in A.D. 64 being blamed for a very public catastrophe still spoken of today. Well, if it was a fiction, who is he blaming to exonerate himself from responsibility for it? These Christians existed and Tacitus goes on to say Nero punished them with the most exquisite sufferings.

He's writing in A.D. 64, beloved. He says the author of that sect was Christ who in the reign of Tiberius was punished with death by the procurator Pontius Pilate. This is A.D. 64, and he goes on, that Roman historian goes on to say, but the pestilent superstition, see he's no friend of Christianity, he's calling it a pest, and the superstition, he said it broke out afresh, not only in Judea but in Rome. First then those who confessed were apprehended, next by their information a vast multitude were convicted, not so much of the burning but as of the hatred of mankind.

These were made a sport in their death. Christians were thrown to wild lions in the arena and had to fight for their lives as wild brutes tore them from limb to limb. Beloved, this Roman historian, not a friend of Christianity, said there was a vast multitude convicted, and there was a vast multitude in A.D. 64, which is the exact same timeframe in which Paul wrote 1 Corinthians. Now, this information from the catacombs in 200 A.D., the writings of Pliny in 112 A.D., the writings of the Roman historian Tacitus in 64 A.D., put all of these things together and realize what the cumulative testimony of this historical witness of a historical religion is telling you. My friends, for the Christian faith to be so widespread by A.D. 64, its origin must have occurred close to the time of Christ himself who was crucified in A.D. 30.

Here's the point. There was no time for anyone to make this up and to have it take root and to spread about because contemporary witnesses knew the factual matters of what had happened. Contemporary witnesses were around and could have refuted. No one would have believed this within the lifetime of the apostles if it wasn't historically true to go and say, Christ lived, Christ died, Christ raised, if he really hadn't. No one would believe that.

It would be like someone coming in here and saying 30 years ago there was a television entertainer named Johnny Carson and he was elected President of the United States. Every one of you would say, that's nonsense, that's not true, based on common knowledge and the common mind of the time, that's utterly impossible and ridiculous and no one would believe that. The fact that the apostles were preaching the resurrected Christ and appealing to knowledge of the facts shows us that this wasn't made up.

This is based on what really, really happened. The argument of the apostles was built on one simple historical fact. Jesus of Nazareth crucified at Calvary was the Christ of God.

From the beginning, I want to just take you quickly to a couple of passages. From the beginning, going back into just weeks after the ascension, look at Acts chapter 2. Look at Acts chapter 2 and notice how Peter preaches and notice what the ground of his appeal is in his argument as he speaks to those who crucified Christ. In Acts chapter 2 verse 29, he says, brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried and his tomb is with us to this day. When Peter said that, they knew where the tomb of David was.

Everybody knew it was built on the common knowledge in society. Verse 30, being there for a prophet and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would one day set one of his descendants on his throne. David foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption.

Look at verse 32 in light of everything that we've said here this morning. This Jesus God raised up and of that we all are witnesses. We all know this to be true. We've all seen it. We all have heard the testimony. We've talked to the eyewitnesses. You've talked to the eyewitnesses. You cannot deny what I'm saying.

It's true. And then he gives, having stated the historical facts, he gives the interpretation of those facts. Verse 33, being therefore exalted at the right hand of God and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, the Lord said to my Lord, sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool. Verse 36, is Christianity true? Here's the question. Is the gospel true?

Is it the way that things really are? Is it actually the truth of the eternal God revealed to men with a call for them to repent and believe? Verse 36, answers, says, let all the house of Israel know, therefore, for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified. Know it for certain based on historical fact.

And here's what the facts mean. One last passage as we close. Acts chapter 4, verse 8, the same Peter.

Again, being challenged by the authorities. In Acts chapter 4, verse 8 says, Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, rulers of the people and elders, if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, historical fact, whom God raised from the dead, historical fact, by him this man is standing before you well. This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. Peter says, I can tell you with confidence this is true. You know it. You cannot deny what I'm saying.

And here's what it means. Jesus Christ is Lord and God, and there is no other name under heaven by which sinners like you can be saved, except through repentance and faith in him. With the Apostle Peter, and in historical continuity with the church, we confidently say that Jesus Christ died and was buried.

And here's the significance of everything we've said today, beloved. The historical continuity of a historical religion confirms for us what we see biblically. God raised Christ from the dead. He is Lord and Christ.

There is no other name given under heaven by which you must be saved. And this is no matter of opinion. This is most sober truth. What have you done with it?

What will you do with it? Let's pray together. Gracious Father, gracious Father, as we look around at the environment of thought in which we live, we see what a polluted river it is. And each one of us, to one degree or another, have drunk from those putrid waters and are thinking wrongly and not according to truth. To one degree or another, Father, our prayer today is that you would take these things of most sober truth. There is a God who exists. There is a Bible that is true. There is a Jesus who is Lord. There is a God who rules over all. And Christianity is true. We pray that you would take these things, purify our thinking that we would be more devoted, faithful disciples of yours. And for those dead in sin, Father, would you awaken them that they might flee from the wrath to come and to flee from this world, to be saved from this perverse generation by coming to Christ in repentance and faith.

We pray in Jesus' name. Amen. That's Don Green here on The Truth Pulpit. And here's Don again with some closing thoughts. Well, my friend, before we go after today's broadcast, I just want to invite you to look me up on Facebook, Don Green on Facebook. I often make original posts. I make comments about ministry and other matters of biblical importance there that do not make their way into this broadcast. And so if you are on Facebook, I invite you to join me. I'm Dr. Don Green and join us on Facebook for another way to connect with our ministry. 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 / 2024-05-14 04:58:19 / 2024-05-14 05:08:08 / 10

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