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Christianity Today #1

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green
The Truth Network Radio
May 17, 2024 12:00 am

Christianity Today #1

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, 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. I invite you to turn to the book of Romans chapter 1 as we begin this morning. And as we turn there, I just want to say that we are completing in this message a brief series titled, How to Know that Christianity is True. We have seen that history confirms the truth of Christianity.

We saw key markers of dates working backwards in time, 200 AD, 112 AD, 64 AD. Matters of public record testifying to the existence of Christ and the existence of a widespread Christianity within a generation of the life of Christ. We saw that Christian preaching confirms the truth of Christianity, the truth of the Gospel.

On Tuesday evening, if you weren't here, you should get that message and listen to it. We saw that early Christians could not have possibly manipulated the Old Testament to make it agree with what happened in the life of Christ. And conversely, they could not have fabricated events in the life of Christ to conform to the existing Old Testament. We looked at those reasons why that was thoroughly impossible, and what we came to as a conclusion was this, is that the facts of the Gospel, the birth, the death, the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the spread of Christianity immediately after His ascension, these are matters of historical public record that are easily verifiable by anyone that will take the time to do it.

And ignorance of these facts is a culpable negligence on the part of every soul that would neglect them. And so we're led to an inescapable conclusion about all of these things, as we remember that from the time of Moses, God had been putting into writing, 1,500 years prior to the time of Christ, the anticipation of Christ, the prophecies of Christ, the sacrificial system that prefigured Christ, and then Christ came and fulfilled all of that, and appointed apostles, and they went out and preached after the resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit. Beloved, there's a whole system and unit of thought in the matters of biblical Christianity that is a seamless web of sparkling perfection. And what all of that tells us is this, is that what God promised in the Old Testament, beginning with the writings of Moses in the first five books of the Bible, what followed in the historical and prophetic books that came, everything that was anticipating the coming of a great prophet, of the Son of God, of a Redeemer for His people, everything that God had promised over nearly two millennia, He's now fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Look at Romans chapter 1 beginning in verse 1. As we see an overview of these things in the writings of the Apostle Paul, this will kind of give us a context for other things that we want to say here this morning as we conclude this series, How to Know Christianity is True. The title of today's message is Christianity Today.

Christianity Today, not referring to that deplorable magazine that goes by that name, but how you can know Christianity is true today, how one becomes a Christian today, that is the source of our preaching and that is the object of our consideration here this morning. As we begin by reading the first six verses of the book of Romans, Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures concerning his son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ. Now, just a couple of preliminary comments about that text. Notice the prophecy and the emphasis on prior written Scripture that Paul makes there in verse 2. When he speaks of the gospel of God at the end of verse 1, he says it was promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scripture. Months ago, we took an extended period of time looking at how Scripture in the Old Testament at the time of Christ and in the apostolic writings, they all greatly emphasize that the gospel that is being preached in the New Testament is in perfect conformity with what was promised in the Old Testament. And so that we must see that the New Testament is an outgrowth of everything that was prophesied and promised in the Old Testament. And that's a beginning point really of having a Christian mind is to see this fundamental unity flowing through the Old and New Testaments as it points to Christ.

Go on and see the historical aspects there in verse 3 where Paul says concerning his son, who, we could add parenthetically, as a matter of historical record and ancestral bloodlines that really happened, this son was descended from David according to the flesh. We do not preach empty platitudes. We do not preach a mere moral theory. We do not preach abstract philosophy or theology.

The gospel is premised on actual historic events that actually took place in real space, real time on this real earth, and that were witnessed and attested by hundreds and hundreds and even thousands of people over the course of time. It's a matter of public record, beloved, and we cannot easily dismiss it as a fiction because to do that is to simply deny history and truth itself. And it is a matter of intellectual suicide to do that. Sometimes the accusation is made to become a Christian, to believe in Scripture, to believe in Christ is to commit intellectual suicide. That's bogus hogwash.

The reverse is actually the truth. To deny Christ, to deny the history of the gospel is to be willfully and culpably blind. Verse 4 of Romans, he was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of Holiness by, parenthetically, as a matter of historical public record, his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord. Then Paul goes on and says that that Lord appointed him through grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations. Among all the nations, beloved, this is universal truth.

This is not something that is limited to middle class white suburbia in America by any means. This is the one gospel for all the nations. This is why Jesus says go into all of the nations and make disciples.

It's because he is Lord over all. There is one God over all, one God over Jews and Gentiles alike, one saving gospel for Jews and Gentiles alike that has universal applicability, universal authority, and a universal command to repent and believe in Christ. We are swimming in the waters of universal truth that is so well attested that in terms of the writings of other secular writers in ancient antiquity, there is no comparison to how well Christianity and the biblical record and the biblical manuscripts, how abundantly they are testified as according to everything else combined. Scripture and Christ and the gospel is in a category of its own, alone, which is what you would expect if it is true, and it is. Now, the preaching of the apostles rested on the person of Jesus Christ himself, of his person, of his life, his ministry, his works, and the interpretation of his death on the cross, that it was an atoning death, a sacrificial death designed to satisfy the just wrath of an angry God against the sins of all of mankind, and Christ offering a sacrifice that would reconcile his people to a holy God as the Spirit calls them one by one to faith in Christ. The apostles spoke of his works, his words, his death, and his resurrection. Now, here's another question as we test, as we probe the legitimacy, the accuracy, the internal consistency of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the biblical message.

As it were, we probe to see if it's as warm in the center as it is on external appearance by these things. Is there an internal unity, an internal consistency that would explain the actions of the apostles as they proclaimed that message? Now, here's the question. Could the Christ that they preached as the Son of God and the Son of Man, fully God in human flesh, could that person of Christ truly resurrected from the dead, leaving behind an empty grave where his bones, his body had been placed, leaving behind an empty grave, could that story, could that person have been an invention of the twelve apostles? Could they have collaborated after Christ died and assuming for the sake of argument, contrary to fact, that Christ was really dead, that Jesus was really dead and did not rise from the dead, could the apostles have conspired together to concoct a story that would make Christ resurrected when he really wasn't and have power to change the lives of those who heard and believed, could they have invented that on their own? Let's ask a question just based on simple human motivations. Why would they do that?

Why would you do that? Why would those twelve apostles, eleven before Matthias was chosen as an apostle at the end of Acts chapter 1, why would they do that? The conspiracy, so-called, if that's what they did, it brought them nothing, beloved, nothing that human nature desires. You cannot explain it by human motivation because the apostles received no worldly advancement from this so-called supposed conspiracy. It brought them no material benefits. What it brought them instead were beatings and imprisonment and ultimate martyrdom over the course of time. They did not receive human praise for their message and for their ministry.

No Jews from their own race praised them. The Jews were in violent opposition to them. As you read through the book of Acts and you read the writings of the apostle Paul, you see how often they stirred up opposition to these men, opposition to these message. Why would these men, these apostles do that simply to bring scorn and contempt and physical suffering upon themselves?

Why would they do that? That's not what men do if they are out to advance their own cause. And think of it further, beloved. If the apostles made this up, they all ultimately died as martyrs for the cause, with the exception of the apostle John who was exiled to a rocky island called Patmos at the end of his life. If they made it up, beloved, they died and they went to the stake and other means of execution.

They died for what they knew to be false if in fact this was a conspiracy that they had made up. Beloved, men don't do that. Men don't do that. They don't die for stories that they know to be false, which has to be the premise if they conspired together in order to make up this Jesus.

Men don't do that. And particularly, beloved, that reality and that motivation needs to be really clear to us in our day here in the 21st century where conviction is despised and rejected and viewed as something that is uncouth and unwelcome in the world in which we live. Because in our world, everybody's just supposed to let everybody get along. Everybody, you know, your opinion's fine. My opinion's fine. Let's just not make too much of issues of truth. Well, in that postmodern spirit of where we live, we have the testimony from 2,000 years ago of men who knew the truth and died for it, suffered for it in a way that is utterly foreign to the way that people think about principles today. In the midst of the carnal, ungodly, worldly way in which people live today, this is a spirit that is unknown.

Foreign to the counsels of considered thought as the world measures it today. The apostles didn't make this up. Men don't die for what they know to be false if the premise of the opponents of Christianity would be true. Here's where it leaves us, beloved, that what we see in the Lord Jesus Christ transcends humanity. It transcends history. It transcends human explanations. And part of the reason for that can be seen by the testimony recorded in John 7, verse 47.

You don't need to turn there. But the contemporaries of Jesus, as they heard him speak, and even Roman authorities, Roman soldiers who were sent to arrest him, to stop him, and they didn't do it. And the testimony is, never has a man spoken the way this man speaks. And at the end of the Sermon on the Mount, we read that when Jesus had finished that sermon, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority and not as their own scribes.

And so everything about the historical record is consistent and points in the same direction. What God promised in the Old Testament over a course of 1,500 years had been fulfilled in very recent history in the person and ministry and the work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Now, with all that said, with all that said, beloved, and for those of you perhaps that are visiting, perhaps joining into this lengthy, lengthy series at the tail end, you're kind of parachuting in and you haven't heard all the groundwork that was laid for it, let me say this. Everything that I've just described today and over our prior two messages last Sunday and Tuesday, none of that is enough to make a person a Christian. You do not become a Christian by believing in history and agreeing with a certain set of historical facts. The very fact that people so easily dismiss the history shows that something is lacking there, not in the truth or the accuracy of the history that we've presented, but something is missing. Something's missing, beloved, from the presentation of all of these very important matters because we realize and we freely acknowledge, in this pulpit anyway, that the powerful truth of what we've said is not enough to convert a single soul to Christ.

We freely and openly acknowledge that. You do not become a Christian by believing in history. You don't become a Christian by being in church today. You do not become a Christian simply by being born into a Christian family. And as lovely as it was to welcome those six little ones to the front here today and do something for them, not a one of them is going to be saved simply because of a physical birth to believing parents. You do not become a Christian by moral effort. You don't become a Christian by having a dad that's an elder. None of those things, none of those earthly things are enough.

None of them are sufficient. You can only become a Christian by personally repenting of sin and believing in Christ Himself. That's the only way. Now, at one level, that's simple in the sense that it's not complicated to understand and grasp the principles behind it. That's not difficult. The gospel is clear and direct and uncomplicated enough that a child can understand it and a child can believe. But it's not simple and easy to believe in Christ, at least as some try to make it seem. You know, one of the things that was mentioned in the waters of baptism earlier was, you know, I had prayed a prayer. Kelly said, that didn't make me a Christian. Mark said words of similar import. He knew of Christ, but that didn't make him a Christian.

Why is it, beloved? What is it that we could have all of this history, that we could have clear statements about what the gospel is and that it's not difficult to grasp, it's not a complex system, which is one of the reasons, beloved, one of the reasons why I detest the system known as Roman Catholicism and why our pulpit has been, is now, and always will be unalterably opposed to that demonic realm of thought, of teaching, is because it's so incomprehensibly complex and self-contradictory. You could never draw Roman Catholicism out of the Scriptures alone.

It's a moral abyss that leads people into darkness and ultimately into eternal judgment if they entrust their souls to that system of thought. But still, believing in Christ, not as easy as some might make it seem. Some of you, perhaps, saying, I want to live my life of sin now, all believe in Christ at the end, all repent at the end of my life after I've enjoyed sin for a period of time, you know, and I've done what I want to do, I've pursued my career, and I've gotten wealthy or done whatever I want to do, I've had multiple women, multiple men, whatever the case may be, and I know I can't do that if I claim Christ. So I'll indulge these things now, and at the end, I'll repent and believe in Christ.

Beloved, if that's you, you're going to hell. You're going to go to hell with that mindset. Because a primary assumption that you're making there is that it is within your power, in your time, as you choose to repent and believe in Christ.

But that's not true. You do not have the power to repent and believe in and of yourself. You are dependent upon the grace of God to help you. And if you are pursuing sin now and indulging in pursuing that life, beloved, that's not going to make your heart more tender and susceptible to the influences of the gospel at the end. You're pouring more and more concrete around your heart and making it harder and harder to pierce it and to get through with for the truth to come through. We rejoice in the fact that sometimes God saves people on their deathbeds.

But the reality is, is that's pretty rare. And you should not presume that the day of salvation for you will be at your choosing 30, 40, 50 years from now. You shouldn't presume on that, because Scripture says today, now is the time of salvation. Today is the day of salvation. And if you reject and harden your heart against the gospel today, you should not presume that you'll have another opportunity tomorrow. It's that urgent. It's that momentous.

It's that consequential. It's not as easy to believe as some would make it to seem, and that's what I want to lead you into as we consider Christianity today. The first point that we need to consider is the reality of unbelief. The reality of unbelief. Why is it not as easy to believe as so many make it out to be? You know, just come forward, pray a little prayer, and you can go away going to heaven. That's as deplorable as Catholicism in the reality of things.

Let's say this. We've looked at the history of Christianity over the past two and a half messages. The history of Christianity, as compelling as it is, can do no more than win temporary attention in the minds of those who don't believe.

Think about it this way, my friends. If evidence could turn one into a Christian, then the time of the first century would have been a time of universal turning to Christ, because so many knew about the resurrection. All of Judea, all of Palestine would have been converted by the compelling evidence that was known as a matter of public record at the time. They knew of the resurrection. They could have literally walked to the tomb and seen it empty and walked away unbelieving.

Now that may, for many of you, that may be a stunning thing to see, because, you know, we're used to people kind of trying to set their own terms by which they'll believe. If God will show me a sign, then I'll believe. If, you know, if I saw signs in heaven, then I would believe, and on like that. But, beloved, that's not true.

A sign will not help you believe. Jesus made that clear. Jesus said that even a resurrection does not compel belief.

He said in Luke chapter 16 verse 31, he said, If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead. If you reject the word of God, if you're cold, indifferent, hard, unbelieving in response to the living word of God, nothing else is going to help you. And the problem is, is that unbelief, rebellion against God, the carnal man, rules in the human heart with a power that mere facts cannot move.

It would be like trying to go up to that great mountain in Yosemite National Park, Half Dome, and that massive piece of granite, and trying to put your hand against it and move it, pressing against it with your human power through one hand, say, I'll move this. It doesn't work that way. In like manner, facts don't move an unbelieving, unconverted heart. And Jesus spoke of this, if you'll turn to the Gospel of John with me, John chapter 3, the reality and the power of unbelief.

And all of these things are good reasons not to be an Arminian. John chapter 3 verse 19, Jesus said, This is the judgment. The light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works be exposed.

And in Romans chapter 8, you don't need to turn there, just listen as I read Romans chapter 8 verse 7. We read that the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law, indeed it cannot. And those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You see, beloved, there is a ruling disposition, there is a controlling power, there is a spiritual death in the human heart that is beyond the reach of mere information. And it is beyond the reach of human will to change and convert in its own power. And that's why, beloved, that's why you have so many, many people that will say something like this. You know, that I prayed a prayer, I tried to believe, and it didn't work for me. I know that many of you have perhaps experienced that, some of you have it in your own family.

People say, I tried and it didn't work for me. A stunning admission that it is not within human power to enter the kingdom of God. You must be born again, Jesus said, if you are to enter the kingdom, you must be born again. You must receive something from above that you do not control if you are going to be saved.

The apostle Paul adds further perspective. In 1 Corinthians 2, 14, he says, the natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. You're not even able to understand these things as an unbelieving person, not able to accept them.

Let the weight of that settle into your heart for a bit. The natural person does not accept these things. They're folly to him, not able to understand them because they're spiritually discerned.

You realize how desperately sad and how desperately desperate this is? That all men are under the wrath of God, guilty and condemned for their inherited sin from Adam and the commission of their own sins and their own life. There is one gospel that can save them. It's demonstrably true, it's demonstrably accurate, and yet they cannot tap into it by their own power because of the reigning power of sin and unbelief in their hearts. That's a reality of unbelief.

It's a spiritual dungeon where the key has been thrown away. That's Don Green here on The Truth Pulpit. And here's Don again with some closing thoughts.

Well, thank you, Bill. My friend, I want to let you know of a special ministry that we have at that's very near to my heart. We have a ministry to those who are in prison.

And in the nature of life, sometimes we have loved ones that go astray and find themselves behind bars and spending significant time in incarceration. Well, we have a ministry to them. We send them transcripts of messages that I've preached from the pulpit of Truth Community Church. We do it on a weekly basis.

They get mail every week. If you have a loved one in prison that you would like to have us reach out to in that way, do me a favor. Go to our website, That's Click on the link that says About, and you'll see a drop-down menu that will take you to our prison ministry. You can fill out the form, and we'll be happy to respond and then join in with you in ministering to that one who is outside the normal course of society. So that's, the About link for our prison ministry.

That will do it for today. We'll see you next time on The Truth Pulpit. 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 / 2024-05-17 05:01:19 / 2024-05-17 05:11:58 / 11

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