First Peter 3:15 says, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (New King James Version). I have a great hope within me — a blessed hope that is Jesus Christ. Today I was asked why.
And I confess that can be a difficult question to answer. After all, in our day and age, having hope in Jesus Christ as the only hope of salvation and eternal fellowship with God is a difficult thing for many to swallow. I wouldn’t expect it to be anything different, though — the generic “No Monopoly on the Truth!” religion of, for example, Miss Oprah Winfrey is hard to avoid.
It’s increasingly questioned, then, how I and so many others can make the statement, “Only in Jesus Christ is there any hope of Heaven; anyone who has not believed in Jesus Christ in a biblically meaningful way are already condemned to Hell.”
My answer for my hope is the hope itself: Jesus Christ. And really, as brazen as that statement may seem coming from me, it was stated in boldness by the man Christ Jesus Himself nearly two millennia ago:
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. 18He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”John 3:16–21, NKJV
So why do I believe in Him?
The simplest and most theological answer I could give is that I believe in Him because the Father dragged me to Christ, quickening my spirit, and granting me faith to believe, faith which my newly alive spirit could not help but express.
But here are some other reasons for curious unbelievers to consider. I am not saying these are foolproof answers; indeed, if you are an obstinate unbeliever, you’ll find cause to object to each and every one of these and won’t waste any time in not thinking about them — fair enough, for the Scriptures certainly do anticipate that response from so many. If there are any out there who have honest questions regarding these points, by all means post them. If you’re posting not out of curiosity but out of a desire to argue or debate or whatever, you are welcome to due so at The Fellowship Hall.
- I believe in Jesus Christ because He rose from the dead. The apostles — eyewitnesses to the life and death of Jesus Christ — went to their graves proclaiming that Jesus Christ had risen from the grave, having conquered death. Opponents to Christianity (including the mighty Roman Empire) did not squelch the message of the apostles by way of exposing the still-dead body of Christ, for there was no still-dead body to expose! Unable to reveal what they felt was the truth, they instead resorted to massacring Christians.
- I believe in Jesus Christ because of the testimony and character of the apostles. These men spent years with Jesus Christ, growing in understanding of Him and the Old Testament, and when He died, they disbanded believing He had been defeated. Yet in no time at all, the apostles became an indomitable force in the spread of the message of Christ. Having seen Him alive with their own eyes, they risked their lives testifying of His. Were these men charlatans, they would be the twelve most wicked, most damnable tricksters in all of history, for their message has led to the martyr deaths of countless believers. Yet it is extraordinarily unlikely that these men would themselves be deceivers, for they died (some very brutally) affirming their beliefs.
- I believe in Jesus Christ because the once Christ-hating, Christian-murdering Paul would become perhaps Christianity’s greatest evangelist, proclaiming the truth of Christ in cities even after having been beaten and dragged out of the same!
- I believe in Jesus Christ because the Old Testament foretells of a coming Messiah who would provide salvation for His followers, and Jesus Christ fits the bill perfectly. First century Jews didn’t hate Jesus Christ because He wasn’t fulfilling the prophecies; rather, in fulfilling the prophesies and revealing Himself to be God come in the flesh, the Jews conspired to kill Him.
- I believe in Jesus Christ because He is the unifying theme of the Scriptures. This is a book written over thousands of years by over forty writers from various classes and occupations, ranging from prophet to king, shepherd to Roman tax collector. Given all of that, it is remarkable that from beginning to end, the Scriptures are unified and consistent.
- I believe in Jesus Christ because of the preservation of the Scriptures. Thousands of years after John penned the final “Amen” in Revelation, we are still unearthing increasingly earlier manuscripts, parchments, and papyri of the Scriptures; no matter how early this evidence it, the same Scriptures (albeit assuredly in a differently language than English!) are found thereon. The claim that the Scriptures have been manipulated throughout history is groundless. While certain groups may translate the Bible in a way which is biased to their beliefs, the underlying manuscript evidence is miraculously uniform, with variants most often consisting of spelling and word order; where the variances are even larger, no significant doctrine is affected.
I could go on, but others have already put together much more thorough answers for our hope. For the above reasons and more, I believe I am right about Jesus Christ.
Still, the most poignant reason is the first — producing the dead body of Christ was impossible for the First Century Romans, and it is still impossible today.
Paul, writing about twenty years after the Crucifixion, said this about the Christian’s faith:
Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up–if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable, (1 Corinthians 15:12-19, New King James Version).
When Paul wrote that, there were still eyewitnesses alive who were at the Crucifixion. The Romans at any time could have went to the tomb in which Jesus had been buried, unearth Him, and parade the lifeless body around to believers in Corinth, in Galilee, and anywhere else they may have been. But they didn’t. They couldn’t.
Jesus Christ is risen.
He is my hope, and He is the reason for my hope.
I do not believe that I am right; rather, I believe with certainty that the Scriptures are. I am only right insofar as my beliefs line up with the Scriptures’ teachings.