By Scott Cahan
PART 1 – INTRODUCTION
I am a follower of Jesus Christ, or to put it another way, I am a Christian in the true sense of the word, meaning one who identifies himself with the person and work of Jesus Christ. The purpose of this article is to lay out my reasoning for this belief. It is not my goal to force my beliefs on anyone else. That would be pointless because true Christianity cannot be forced. One becomes a Christian by choosing to do so. I simply want to state why I feel this religion is not only 100% true but also worthy of following. I want to show why it is so compelling that I’d be willing to stake my entire life on its truth and allow its teachings to change who I am inside and out.
WHAT CHRISTIANITY IS AND IS NOT
Anyone can say they are a Christian. In fact, many do. Something like 65 percent of Americans identify themselves as Christians. But a simple look at the moral state of the U.S., a so-called Christian nation, will make the case that most of those who claim to be Christian have no real understanding of what it means to be a Christian. Being born into a Christian family does not make you a Christian. Attending a Christian church does not make you a Christian. Living in the U.S. does not make you a Christian. Donating your time or money to a charity does not make you a Christian. Trying to be a good person does not make you a Christian.
But, what is it that makes someone a true follower of Jesus Christ? Simply put, it is worshipping and following the person of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. At the end of this article, I will endeavor to explain what are the beliefs that one must agree upon if they are going to claim to be a Christian. But, the main body of this article will be my explanation of why I have decided that this particular religion is the one and only true religion.
Please note that I said a true Christian is someone who not only worships Jesus Christ but also follows him. A true follower of Jesus will do both, worship him and follow him. To leave one of the two actions out is to falsify one’s allegiance to Jesus. To worship him is to live in such a way that honors and glorifies him as the one and only God who made everything and sustains everything with all wisdom and love. To follow him means to pattern my life after the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. So, when I say I am a Christian, I mean I am doing my best to live in such a way as to both worship and follow Jesus Christ.
I’M FAR FROM PERFECT
Now, if you know anything about Jesus Christ and his teachings and the life that he lived 2,000 years ago you’ll know he’s a difficult person to imitate. I want it to be clear that just because I say I’m a follower of Jesus Christ it does not mean I’m just like him or that I am in any way perfect like he was and still is. On the contrary. I still mess up on a daily basis, and I fall short constantly in my desire to be like him. But being perfect is not the point for Jesus’ followers. We humans are imperfect by nature. That’s why we need a perfect savior, to obtain forgiveness for our shortcomings. The point that I want to make here is I am seeking to follow Jesus to the best of my ability. That includes living as much like him as I am humanly able and also studying his life through the holy scriptures. It also includes fellowshipping with him through daily prayer and by spending time with other believers. This attitude of life is what Christians call having a relationship with God through Jesus. Although I don’t hear an audible voice guiding me as I go, you can be sure I sense his presence in my life through my time in his word and speaking to him through prayer. Even in circumstances of my life I’ll feel his guidance as I seek to live for him. This relationship between Jesus Christ and his followers is real and difficult to explain to someone who has only an outside knowledge of Christianity. But it is a reality for me and all other true believers. It’s not some secret that only select Christians get to experience. A relationship with God the Father through Jesus Christ is readily available to anyone who truly seeks him.
So, you see, my intention in this article is not to build myself up, because there is nothing good in me to brag about. Anything good in me comes from Jesus. He alone deserves to be lifted up. I hope that this article will be an encouragement to someone who is interested to know what Christianity is really all about. I pray that my experience in following the true Jesus will encourage others to lay aside false, empty beliefs in other Gods as well as wrong views of Christianity that come from our culture. My hope is that my readers will decide to pursue a real relationship with the true God of the universe.
PART 2 – MY REASONS FOR BELIEF
AN INTELLIGENT CREATOR
I’d first like to give my reasonings for my belief that there must be a God or some kind of creator. These points don’t necessarily point to the God of Christianity but they are still an important foundation for my more specific reasons that will follow.
The first reason I believe there is a God is because of the incredible complexity of our world and the universe as a whole. You can start small by looking at the inner workings of a cell and be amazed at how much is going on in such a tiny, microscopic space. You can expand your horizons a little and look at the human body which has been accurately called by scientists “the incredible machine.” An honest study of blood circulation, digestion, our network of nerves, cell regeneration, and much more will make the whole concept of evolution laughable. But if all that is not enough, look at the universe. All scientists agree that there are many mathematic factors involved in the sustaining of our universe. If any one of those factors were altered even the slightest bit, then the whole universe would collapse.
All of these examples and many more are proof that an intelligent mind created it all and put everything in just the right place to make it all work. It is an insult to hear someone say it all happened by chance. Chance can only produce randomness and chaos. Saying something complex like the universe or the human body evolved over billions and billions of years is only a way of avoiding thinking about the impossibility of that thing really happening. Blaming it all on chance is nothing more than wishful thinking from those who refuse to believe in God no matter how much the facts of science prove otherwise.
A GOD OF BEAUTY AND ORDER
There is also incredible beauty and order in nature that speaks volumes about the existence of a creator. Just look at the sheer creativity that can be seen in animals and plants. They come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and mannerisms. I find it difficult to believe all of the beautiful variety of nature came about by accident. All of nature, including animals, plants, minerals, the atmosphere, and even human beings work together to form an incredible tapestry of life. Remove any small thread of the tapestry and the whole work of art would fall apart. Not only is all of creation functional but it’s also beautiful. Again, this is a clear sign of a creator, not blind chance.
Another reason why I believe there must be a God is because all of mankind, no matter where they live in the world or in what time period they lived, has the same moral compass. Yes, there are minor differences in what is considered right and wrong between cultures. But, for the most part all humans agree that certain things are considered bad or evil while other things are considered good. For instance, killing another human being is agreed upon universally as being a bad thing. Also, taking someone elses property is frowned upon. And, even though many cultures do not have a marriage ceremony, almost every culture does place a high value on exclusivity in relationships between one man and one woman. Yes, there are individuals who don’t hold these common beliefs, but as a whole, cultures around the world, even those who have never heard the teachings of Jesus or Budah or Mohammad still have a similar moral compass. “So what?” you might ask. Well, where did that moral compass come from if we are all a product of blind chance and natural selection? Something or someone must have put this sense of right and wrong into us. Blind chance cannot do that, only an intelligent being could give us that. And why would that intelligent being do that? Because it is giving us a part of itself. The intelligent being has a sense of right and wrong and it wanted its creation to have the same thing.
THE BIBLE IS RELIABLE
Okay, so now that we’ve established that there is plenty of evidence to the fact that there is a God who created everything, let’s move on to why I believe the God of Christianity is the one and only true God. First, and most importantly, the Bible testifies to who he is and to his involvement with mankind.
Before I explain this reason further, I should pause to make it perfectly clear that the Bible is a reliable and historically accurate book. God refers to the holy scriptures as his very own words and I believe that 100%. That is not wishful thinking on my part, that’s a conclusion I’ve come to after much research on the matter. I know it has become popular among college professors, media personalities, and self-proclaimed scholars to question the Bible’s accuracy. Many will suggest the Bible is mere legend consisting of stories that were created to explain things humans couldn’t understand that grew bigger and more fantastic over time. I would say that those views of the Bible have become popular simply because that’s what sinful human beings want to believe. They don’t want to admit that there is a creator who has given us a perfect way to live that includes clearly defined moral laws because that would mean those same humans would have to stop doing the things that bring them temporary pleasure. Therefore, people reach for any explanation of God and the Bible that would water it down or dismiss it all together. College professors claim to be experts on the subject but most of their arguments are only repeating what other college professors are saying. Anyone who studies the word of God thoroughly and with an open mind seeking the truth will find God. At the same time, anyone who studies the word of God with the preconceived notion that it is false and irrelevant to their personal life will not see it for what it really is.
My research of reading and listening to lectures, plus having read through the scriptures a number of times, tells me the Bible is not only true, but it is the most amazing book ever written in the history of the world. This article by Sheri Bell says this, “The contents of the Bible were written over a period of over 1500 years, by 40+ authors from every walk of life: kings, fisherman, statesmen, poets, philosophers — even peasants. Some wrote in the wilderness, others in dungeons, some in a palace, and others while on military campaigns. And they wrote from three different continents, and in three languages, Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. Wow!”
The Bible all comes together as a masterpiece that tells the story of how God created mankind and then rescued mankind. Every part of the Bible agrees with the rest. The old testament sets up the new testament perfectly. Not only that, much of what happens in the new testament is predicted in the old, hundreds of years before it happens. Then, when we read the New Testament, we see Jesus doing and saying things that fulfill and explain perfectly what happened in the Old Testament. There is lots more I could say about the reliability of the Bible including a massive amount of archaeological evidence, but I will move on for the sake of time.
THE IMPORTANCE OF JESUS CHRIST
Because I can say with confidence that the Holy Bible is in fact the inspired words of God, the loving creator as mentioned above, then the next logical step is to look to the Bible for the answers about who Jesus is. Does the Bible tell us who Jesus is? Of course, it does. In fact, every book of the Bible is about Jesus, directly or indirectly. That’s actually one of my reasons for believing in Jesus. The fact that the entire collection of scriptures contained in the Bible, all point to one person, Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
The Old Testament is the long, detailed story of the nation of Israel, leading up to the birth of Jesus. It includes his lineage, starting with Adam and Eve and traces his ancestors through Abraham and the patriarchs and then to David and the kings, and even beyond to less famous names.
The Old Testament also goes into great detail to show how God redeemed his people through an imperfect system of sacrifices and rituals that was all meant to be symbolic of the sacrifice that Jesus would later make. In fact, the sacrifice that Jesus made when he died on the cross met every requirement of the old system of sacrifices so perfectly that there was no longer a need for the old burdensome system. Jesus was the ultimate perfect lamb, sacrificed for the sins of his people, past present and future.
Then, there is the New Testament portion of the Bible. That tells the story of Jesus’ life on earth, his death and resurrection. It then begins the story of how his sacrifice impacts the rest of the world. It’s about his disciples spreading the message to the world so that sinners from every nation can benefit from the perfect sacrifice made by Jesus. That, in a nutshell, is what the Bible is about. It’s all about Jesus. He is the focal point, not only of biblical history but also the history of the world.
PROPHECIES COME TRUE
The Bible predicts the future numerous times in very specific Prophecies that always come true. Experts say there are approximately 2500 Prophecies mentioned in the Bible and around 2000 of them have already been fulfilled. The remaining 500 Prophecies are about the time that is still in our future, so we are still waiting on those, but there is no doubt that eventually they will all be fulfilled. Here is a good article on the topic. Scholars agree that at least 300 Old Testament Prophecies were fulfilled in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ alone.
JESUS IN OTHER RELIGIONS
Another reason I believe Jesus is real and the true God is because most world religions include Jesus as part of their beliefs as well. They all see him in a positive light, making him someone of importance in their religion, but none of them elevate him to the level of God himself as stated in Christianity. To be sure, they all have a lesser view of Jesus. But, nevertheless, all of these other religions have included Jesus in their teachings, almost as if they are using his name to give their beliefs more validity. Muslims claim Jesus to be one of God’s highest ranked and most beloved prophets. The Bahai Faith considers Jesus one of many manifestations of God. And the Jewish people thought Jesus was a great teacher, but rejected him as Messiah. No other religious figure from any of the world religions gets pulled on like Jesus is.
JESUS DISCIPLES KNEW HE WAS THE REAL DEAL
Most of the New Testament in the Bible recounts the story of the early church that sprang to life immediately after Jesus’ death and resurrection. There we read about his disciples and how they all devoted the remainder of their lives to telling others about their encounters with Jesus. None of them became rich or enjoyed the prestige associated with being the leaders of a growing religious movement. On the contrary. All of the disciples endured much hardship including religious persecution, imprisonment by the Roman officials, stoning, beating, and more. In the end, almost every one of the early church fathers were brutally killed for their belief in Jesus.
When I read of such heroic, yet difficult lives I’m always struck by the fact that these early disciples of Jesus Christ must have believed with 100% certainty that the message they were preaching and living by was true. If they had had any doubt in their mind then they would have turned away from the faith at some point. Especially when their life was about to end because they would not give up teaching others about Jesus Christ. These men were the ones who walked with Jesus and listened to his teachings for 3 years. They had first-hand knowledge of who he was and whether or not he was the real deal. If they’d suspected he was even the least bit of a fraud they wouldn’t have devoted the rest of their life to him. You can tell by the life that each of them led after Jesus went away that they all thought his plan of salvation was the one and only way to heaven.
MY EXPERIENCE WITH JESUS
The heart of Christianity is a relationship between God and his followers. One of the reasons I can say with certainty that Jesus Christ is real is because I have a personal relationship with him. No, I cannot see him, touch him physically, or hear his voice audibly, but I feel a closeness to him that is hard to put into words. It comes from spending time with him doing such things as reading his words, speaking with him conversationally in my prayers, singing to him, and spending time with other true believers otherwise known as “the church.” In each of these activities I can feel his presence, sense his gentle voice, and see evidence of his touch in every direction. He is very real in my life, every minute of every day.
I could tell of specific instances when I saw dramatic evidence of Jesus intervening in my life to help me or someone I love, but convincing my readers through miracles is not my goal. God still does miracles when he chooses, but many times he chooses not to. My faith is not based off of some emotional event that happened but on a solid belief that is grounded in my heart, mind, and soul.
So, those are my reasons for embracing the Christian faith so whole heartily. My faith in Jesus Christ is not something that affects me only for a few hours on Sunday morning, but it defines every part of who I am. A relationship with the Jesus Christ of the Bible will always do that. Not because I’m brainwashed or because I’ve forced myself to act a certain way out of fear. The reality is when you encounter who Jesus Christ really is and what he has done for you, you can’t help but be changed into a new person.
Now that I’ve stated my case for believing, I’ll go a step further for anyone who is curious about what exactly it is that I believe. Please understand, this is not my personal brand of Christianity. I have not taken a few principals of the Bible and twisted them to fit my lifestyle. What I’ll be stating below is the main tenants of the Christian faith as agreed upon by most Protestant denominations that hold the holy scriptures as the inspired word of God.
PART 3 – WHAT IS TRUE CHRISTIANITY?
True Christianity comes from believing in the Jesus Christ of the Bible, not in some modern reinterpretation of him. The Bible lays out clearly who he is, what he taught, and what he did to save mankind from their sins. He is one member of the trinity; God the Father, God the Son (Jesus), and God the Holy Spirit. Jesus was fully God and fully man. He came to this Earth, born of a virgin, to live a perfect life so that he could become our living sacrifice. It is important to understand that Jesus was not just a perfect man, but he was God himself. So, God came down to earth to save us.
Why do we need a living sacrifice? That’s a good question and an important point that needs to be understood.
- The Bible teaches that God is our creator. He created the stars in the universe, the cells in our body, and everything in between.
- Of all his creation, we human beings are his pride and joy. Why? Because he created us in His image. We are unique among all his creation. His desire all along has been to be close to us and fellowship with us, the crown of his creation.
- But our problem is that we have all sinned. A person whose worst sin in life is telling a little white lie is in the same boat as a mass murderer. No matter how our culture tends to label some sins worse than others, all sin is the same in God’s eyes. Every single human being that’s ever lived has sin in their life and therefore, cannot be with God. Why? Because God is holy and perfect. To bring sin into his presence would make Him no longer perfect and holy. Therefore, he has to keep us away from him as long as we have sin in our life. When we die that separation will take us to a place called hell.
- But, as I already stated, God desires to fellowship with us. Therefore, he made a way to wash away our sins so that we no longer have to be separate from him.
- The Bible teaches that the cleansing of sin can only come through a blood sacrifice. In the Old Testament, God set up a system of sacrifices for the Israelites that would take away their sins temporarily. It was a complicated system of animal sacrifices that had to be made throughout the year by his appointed priests and at his appointed place, the temple. That was an imperfect system that could only wash a man or woman’s sin away temporarily, until the next time they sinned. It wasn’t that God’s system was faulty. No, his plan all along was to use that system to point to the perfect sacrifice that was yet to come. The Old Testament is a prelude to Jesus Christ. It was meant to prepare the way for Jesus. The sacrifices in the Old Testament are a picture of the ultimate sacrifice that Jesus would make.
- Jesus enters the picture. He is God himself in the flesh. He is 100% God and 100% man. As a man he was tempted in every way we are, yet he never sinned. Therefore, he was the perfect human being.
- Even though he had never done anything wrong, mankind sentenced Jesus to death. He was nailed to a cross and his blood flowed as he died a slow and agonizing death. In the Old Testament sacrifices that I mentioned above, the priests killed lambs to get the blood required for the temporary cleansing of sins. When Jesus’s blood flowed during his crucifixion, God was giving his own blood (holy and perfect, never tainted by sin) as the perfect sacrifice. This is why he is called “The Lamb of God.” He did this so that anyone who desired his cleansing would be made clean for all eternity.
- His sacrifice means forgiveness of all sins. This forgiveness was now offered to all of mankind, not just the Jews.
- By believing in the truth of what Jesus came to the world to do, we are entering into a new covenant, or agreement, with God the Father, our creator. This covenant says as long as we put our trust and faith in the Son of God, Jesus Christ, then his sacrifice will be applied to us. In a sense, his blood will cover our sins so that we can be with God.
- Jesus died on the cross but he did not stay dead. He rose again on the third day and is still alive today, waiting for us in heaven. The fact that Jesus rose again is very important to those that choose to follow him. It means that we followers of Jesus Christ will also rise to live again after we die. Just as death had no effect on Jesus, the same will be the case for his followers.
- Because our sins have been washed away by Jesus’ blood, we can now be in God’s presence. When we die, we will go to heaven to be with God. Heaven is considered such a wonderful place, simply because God will be there. Because we have been made clean, we get to have fellowship with him and see him face to face.
- But what does this all mean for us while we’re still here on earth? Because we have accepted Jesus’ sacrifice as our own, we now have access to the Father through Jesus. This is where the relationship comes in that I mentioned earlier. We will spend the rest of our earthly life getting to know Jesus and becoming more like him. We put our trust and faith in Jesus Christ as we live our life. We live out our trust and faith by worshipping him and following him as I mentioned at the beginning of this article.
- As Christians we still live imperfect lives. That’s because we still have the nature we were born with. In other words, we still mess up all the time. But, those mess ups or sins will for now on be covered by the blood of Jesus. God will no longer look at us and see sin. He’ll look at us as his children. When a person decides to give his or her life to Jesus Christ they’re saying, “I believe in your sacrifice and I want to give my life to you so that your sacrifice will be applied to my life and my sins will be forgiven.”
- Since we have made this decision, that means our heart’s desires change and we begin to want to be more like Jesus Christ. We desire to fellowship with him and find ways of letting others know about him too. These desires flow naturally from the heart of a true believer because the more one focuses on Jesus the more you realize how incredible his sacrifice actually was. He did not have to come down to earth to save us but he did it out of his incredible love for us. There was no reason he should have saved me. There was nothing good about me that made him say, okay, Scott you’re worthy of being saved, therefore I’ll save you. No, I was not worthy of being saved. Not a single one of us is worthy. Not the Pope. Not Billy Graham. Not Mother Theresa. Not even the nicest, kindest, giving person we know. Every one of us has a heart tainted with sin. Like I said earlier, little sins are considered just as bad as big sins in God’s eyes.
- The fact of the matter is, God loved us all so much that he decided to make a way for you and I to be with him. We call this salvation. He rescued us. His hand is reaching down to you and me. If we grab onto it, his grip is sure and firm and he’ll never allow us to fall back into the darkness that is pulling us all down. All we have to do is take his hand.
Thank you for reading my explanation of what I believe and why I believe it. I am open to questions or comments from anyone who has a true interest in this topic. I am even open to talking to sceptics as long as they have honest questions or concerns. Whoever you are, dear reader, my prayer is that you will take this salvation that is being offered to you seriously. It is no exaggeration to say the consequences can mean life or death. My prayer is that you will choose life.