Malawi Vision Casting and Connect3Training – After earlier attempt to establish CBMC in Malawi, CBMC Africa once again went to Malawi for the country’s vision cast which took place in Zomba town on the 28th April 2018. We had 30 signed up for CBMC.
2018 World Convention, Belfast, Northern Ireland – Listen as Steve Trice, Chairman of Jasco Products, located in Oklahoma City, OK, USA shares how his business strategy allows the company to give 50% of their profits away each year.
Eric Metaxas – Many members of Generation Z are choosing justice over the gospel, but they don’t have to. They can choose both.
Generation Z—roughly those young people born between the mid-1990s and mid-2000s—is known for a lot of things: its technological savvy, its commitment to social justice, its loneliness, its online connectedness, and its seemingly endless quest for “authenticity.” One thing it’s not as known for is a commitment to gospel proclamation and traditional evangelical doctrines.
Writing about these “young evangelicals who have ‘expanded their mission’ to include social justice along with evangelism,” pastor and author Tim Keller says, “Many of them have not only turned away from older forms of ministry, but also from traditional evangelical doctrines of Jesus’s substitutionary atonement and of justification by faith alone, which are seen as too ‘individualistic.’”
And for all the good they’re doing—and they are—Generation Z Christians have become unbalanced. That’s not old fogeys like me or Tim Keller talking; it’s coming from one of their own: Jaquelle Crowe, the author of “This Changes Everything: How the Gospel Transforms the Teen Years.”
Writing for The Gospel Coalition, Crowe says, “The fundamental problem is that we’ve created a false dichotomy. When you pit justice and gospel against each other, you miss the point of the Bible and devalue God’s heart for both. Justice fits squarely in the framework of biblical Christianity. It flows fiercely out of the gospel as a practical implication of loving God.”
John Stonestreet, my colleague, has talked a lot about truth and love not being in opposition. And he’s exactly right. As the letter of James reminds us, what good is it to say, “Stay warm,” without giving someone a blanket? That is how we can begin bringing balance back to the gospel.
Pointing to the shining examples of William Wilberforce, Hannah More, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Crowe says we need a biblical balance not of justice or the gospel, but of justice and the gospel. But Crowe goes a step farther. She says we need to make the gospel our priority, because only a right understanding of the human predicament before heaven will power our passion for justice on earth.
“If we want to live out justice the way God commands and celebrates,” Crowe says, “we must prioritize the gospel. If we truly want to see human flourishing and reduce global suffering, we need to deal with the biggest problem humanity faces: sin and death.” She’s right, and because you’ve heard plenty from me about Bonhoeffer and Wilberforce, let me point out another example.
William Carey was an 18th-century cobbler-turned-minister who heard God’s call to go to India and became known as the “father of modern missions.” Urging his fellow Presbyterians to care about the lost, Carey said, “Multitudes sit at ease and give themselves no concern about the far greater part of their fellow sinners, who to this day, are lost in ignorance and idolatry.”
But Carey’s concern for the lost didn’t stop with their souls—far from it! Besides translating the Bible into many Indian languages, Carey was instrumental in banning the Hindu practices of sati—which is widow-burning—along with infanticide and assisted suicide. He lived out a personal philosophy that any Christian can get behind: “Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God!”
Jaquelle Crowe would agree, saying, “We need justice operated out of gospel love,” adding, “That’s what Jesus did. He drew water for the thirsty and told them about the Living Water that could eternally satisfy. He served food to the hungry and preached about the Bread of Life.”
Thank God for Generation Z Christians who are passionate about justice, and for Jaquelle Crowe, a young woman who knows that justice and the gospel go together and who is bold enough to call her generation—Generation Z—to own all of the gospel.
Eric Metaxas – There’s been much disparaging of “thoughts and prayers” lately. But I’ll tell you why prayer is good for you and for the world.
Want to enrage a secularist? Well, the next time there’s a natural disaster or national tragedy, such as another mass shooting, you can say that your “thoughts and prayers” are with the victims. They seem to hate that, and say that “thoughts and prayers” are not sufficient unless you also do something tangible, like passing a law. Well, I don’t know how effective sending thoughts is, but I can guarantee you that prayer, as Jesus said, can move mountains.
And it’s not just me saying this. Clay Routledge, a professor and psychological scientist, points to “the tested psychological and social benefits of prayer as well as the reality of how most believers turn to faith-based practices in addition to, not instead of, other courses of action.”
Let me share some of this good news about prayer. First, it’s associated with well-being and health. In one study of older adults, the negative effects of financial problems on one’s health were significantly reduced for people who pray regularly for others. For those who perceive of God as loving instead of as distant and unresponsive, prayer produces psychological benefits. People whose prayers centered on gratitude and care for others had the fewest symptoms of depression. I love that! Prayer is good medicine.
But does prayer actually do anything? Or is it, as our critics say, merely a distraction? Well, for starters, Routledge says that prayer “frees up cognitive resources needed to focus on mental tasks by reducing the extent to which people are distracted by negative emotions.” It also reduces alcohol consumption, helps promote a person’s value of sacrifice, and strengthens one’s relationships. Prayer even makes you happier!
And prayer doesn’t lessen one’s belief in science or medical treatment. As Routledge says, “For most believers, prayer isn’t a substitute for data-based solutions. It is a personal resource that complements and may even help facilitate other thoughtful action.”
One of my heroes, the great William Wilberforce, accomplished more “thoughtful action” than most, as the key figure in abolishing the British slave trade. But Wilberforce was also a man of prayer—prayer that fueled his faith in Jesus and compelled him to act for the good of his fellow man. It was Wilberforce who said, “Of all things, guard against neglecting God in the secret place of prayer.”
Maybe just maybe there’s a connection between Wilberforce’s “thoughtful action” and his humble prayer to our Savior.
I have more good news about prayer. Jesus invites us to come to His Father in prayer, and there we will find answers. “Ask,” He promises, “and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.”
Now will we always receive precisely what we have sought? No, of course not! Every responsible father gives his children not all that they want, but all they truly need—and our loving heavenly Father is no exception. Prayer opens the pantry of God’s provision.
The best part—prayer takes our focus off ourselves and places it where it belongs—on God Himself. And in so doing we are changed, for the better.
So the next time someone says you should do more than pray, remember this insight from Adoniram Gordon, the founder of Gordon College: “You can do more than pray, after you have prayed, but you can never do more than pray until you have prayed.” Amen!
Prayer is no small thing, as Eric highlights. The apostle Paul encouraged believers to “Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving” (Colossians 4:2).
Frans van Santen, Young Professionals Coordinator, CBMC Europe (Europartners) Recently we had the privilege to train 70 young professionals in Kiev, Ukraine, about Authentic Biblical Leadership. It was a great time of learning and fellowship together. See what the business and professionals had to say about their time together here.
John Stonestreet – Some are saying that Christians have lost the culture. But what if it was never a war to win, instead it was a calling to embrace?
If there is an overarching theme for BreakPoint—starting with Chuck Colson and now with Eric and me—it’s culture. Specifically, how Christians can understand it, engage it, confront it, even restore it—through the clarity of a Christian worldview.
As Brett Kunkle and I explain in our book, “A Practical Guide to Culture,” what we mean by culture is not some mysterious thing cloistered in art museums. No, culture is the sum of everything we as human beings create, write, say, do, and think—the marks we leave on our world.
In that sense, “engaging the culture” isn’t really optional. It’s human. It’s as much a part of being alive as breathing is. We don’t decide whether we’ll engage the culture. Just how.
I say this because lately, a few people have suggested that Christian efforts in the culture have failed. One gentleman recently wrote me saying that worldview-style training like the kind we do just hasn’t worked. We’re losing the next generation, he said, and mainstream culture is as dark as ever.
But I want to push back against this idea, at least on a couple of fronts. First, it just isn’t true! You can’t convince me that the work of people like Francis Schaeffer, Chuck Colson, David Noebel, or the work of groups like Summit Ministries or the Colson Center, teaching Christians how to approach culture from a Christian worldview hasn’t made a difference. I’ve seen young faces light up when they get this Christianity thing for the first time, realizing it’s true, and that faith relates to culture. I’ve seen too many to believe that it hasn’t made an impact. I was one of those faces in 1994.
And stats back me up on this. Far from the doom and gloom we often hear in the media, and from Christian sources, the Church isn’t collapsing in America. In fact, evangelicals have one of the highest retention rates of their young people of any Christian group.
And to say that “worldview hasn’t worked” is to ignore the incredible inroads made in the academy in our lifetime. Consider that the entire discipline of philosophy was flipped on its head in the late 20th century by people like Alvin Plantinga. Consider the amazing progress in law, not only now, but the seeding of jurisprudence by the folks at Alliance Defending Freedom. Consider the gains of the pro-life movement. All of these were either directly or indirectly inspired by Christians taught to engage culture armed with Christian worldview thinking.
What this thinking has done is offer an antidote to the toxic assumption that Christianity is just something you do on Sunday in the pews; that Christianity is personal and private. No way. Christianity is personal, but it’s not private. Every square inch of human existence belongs to Christ.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m under no illusion that things are going great in the culture. No, Christians are facing incredible challenges around the world. And in Western culture, it’s all but lost any sort of privileged position it once had.
But here’s the kicker: we don’t teach worldview or champion the idea that Christians should “engage culture” because it “works.” It’s not a strategy, folks. We do it because we’re redeemed human beings, and because redemption is in line with, not opposed to, our created purpose.
Christians shouldn’t make art, write literature, compose music, build businesses or any of these things to win a kind of war against secularism. We do these things because they’re part of what it means to be truly human. And that’s what Jesus saved us to be—fully human worshipers of God with all of our lives.
So yes, the worldview movement and its emphasis on culture has made a difference. I know the beneficiaries by name. But we don’t teach worldview or engage culture for strategic purposes. We do it because Christianity isn’t Christianity without it.
As Chuck Colson would often say, Christians are to “make the invisible kingdom visible.” We do just that by intentionally engaging the culture around us in every sphere of life God has called us to.
‘Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (Matthew 24:35). Anthony DeStefano uses this Bible quote toward the end of his new book Inside the Atheist Mind: Unmasking the Religion of Those Who Say There Is No God, pointing to the resiliency and truth of Christianity. “You can hide it, persecute it, denigrate it, scoff at it, lock it up, even murder it—but all to no avail . . . those words of Christ have not passed away.” He talks a bit about the book and why he wrote it.
Kathryn Jean Lopez: Why do you consider it an important thing to frame the “new atheists” as bullies?
Anthony DeStefano: It’s important because it’s the truth. Bullies are usually cruel, arrogant, ignorant, intolerant, selfish, self-centered, often cowards and liars — and when you try to correct them, they usually throw temper tantrums. Well, that’s the perfect description of modern atheists. And these particular bullies are at war with us, plain and simple. For the last 20 years, they’ve been waging an all-out, media-driven attack on believers — especially Christians — in the form of anti-Christian books, movies, TV shows, articles, speeches, billboard campaigns, blogs, anti-religious civil litigation, and government legislation — and it’s been relentless. Their goal has been to totally eradicate religious beliefs from the public square. As I say in my book, there’s only one way to deal with bullies — and that is to stand up to them and fight them. Ultimately, that’s why it’s so important to define the “new atheists” as bullies right from the start — so we don’t waste any more time and start countering their attacks in the most effective way possible.
DeStefano: It’s true that the “new” atheists have been around for a while, but their influence has never been as great as it is now. Atheism is reaching epidemic proportions today in the West. In a very short time, most of the countries in Europe will lose their Christian majorities to those who consider themselves atheists or “religiously unaffiliated.” In fact, the “religiously unaffiliated” or “nones” are now the second largest “religious group” in Europe. In the United States, “nones” make up almost a quarter of the population!
Atheism is especially popular with today’s youth, who have been attracted to the confident, firebrand styles of atheists such as Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, and Sam Harris, and also to the idea of a hedonistic culture with no moral truths or commandments. And in truth, these figures understate the impact of atheism on the culture. Many people stop short of calling themselves “atheist” but reject the majority of dogmas held by Judaism, Christianity, and the other world religions. In other words, their professed religious views have little or no relevance in their lives. These are the “Cafeteria Christians” the “Christmastime Christians.” They are believers in name only; in their behavior, they are thoroughly secular. For all practical purposes, they are atheists — and this is especially true in the media, academia, the entertainment industry and the government. Now is therefore the best time for my book, because the world in which we live is literally facing a crisis of faith.
Lopez: Is it your prayer that Christopher Hitchens now knows he is wrong about God after having experienced His mercy? Do you pray for him and others you describe as bullies who are still with us?
DeStefano: It’s very much my prayer that Christopher Hitchens was forgiven by God for his attacks on Christianity. During the writing of my book, I prayed for his soul often, and I still do. I actually like Christopher Hitchens. Despite his offensive and sometimes obscene attacks on our Faith, he could be very charming and funny and likeable. In fact, since he died, I think there hasn’t been a trace of wit or cleverness to come out of the mouths of any of the new atheists. He was truly their brightest star. I enjoyed the way he wrote, and I especially enjoyed his humor.
I think many Christians feel this way, and some — such as Bishop Robert Barron — have said so publicly. Hitchens’ mother killed herself when he was young, and he felt a lot of guilt about it, because she had reached out to him before she died, and he wasn’t there. Those kinds of painful experiences leave a mark on a person, and I hope and believe that God, in His infinite mercy, took that into account when judging Hitchens.
The main point to understand, however, is that sometimes the best way for us to show mercy to others is to employ “tough love.” My book is tough on atheists, but the reason is not because I hate them, but rather because I want to prevent them from harming others and from harming themselves. Their vicious attacks on believers and on Christian values have to be stopped, and I believe that by being honest with them we are actually showing more mercy for their souls, and not less.
Lopez: Why does it matter that that Hitchens had a cross in his hospital room near the end of this life?
DeStefano: Hitchens spent a good deal of his time in a Catholic hospital during the last year of his life, with priests and nuns darting through the corridors and crosses hung above all the doors. This is an important point to note because it means that up until the very end, the man who wrote that “religion poisons everything” couldn’t escape religious kindness. This ironic fact, predictably, was completely lost on his atheist followers. But it can’t be lost on us. Christ said that “Heaven and Earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” The truth always wins out in the end. Christopher Hitchens was born with the very name of God imprinted on his identity — Christopher, after all, means bearer of Christ — and he couldn’t get away from the cross of Christ even as he lay dying. God always has the last word.
Lopez: You talk about atheists using descriptors such as “pseudo-intellectual blowhards.” How Christian is that? Could the tone have been less strident? Aren’t you called to joy?
DeStefano: Christians are called to be Christ-like. That is the primary duty of anyone who identifies as a Christian. The question is what did Christ do and say when he was confronted with hypocrisy and injustice? And the answer is he was extremely direct and forthright. In fact, it’s good for all Christians to reflect on why the founder of Christianity was tortured and killed. It wasn’t because he was so “nice.” He was killed because he said some very upsetting and harsh things to the people who were in authority at the time. In fact, he was extremely confrontational!
When he saw how the money-changers in the Temple were cheating His people, He didn’t try to give them a pleasant, civil lecture. Instead, He made a whip of cords and physically drove them from the marketplace. And when the Pharisees and Scribes tried to trip him up with their clever word games, he put them squarely in their place, calling them “white-washed tombs full of dead men’s bones” and a “brood of vipers” and “blind guides” and “hypocrites.” Our Lord didn’t mince words. He fought back hard against the injustice and hypocrisy of his day. And he was crucified for doing so.
Some Christians have this naïve idea that Jesus Christ was sort of like Mr. Rogers. Well, I like Mr. Rogers as much as anyone, but as nice and good a person as he was, he didn’t save the world! He didn’t overcome the forces of evil. In order to fight against great evil, you sometimes have to use very strong words and be very honest. You have to use tough love, just the way Christ did. And that’s exactly what we need to do today in response to today’s arrogant, atheist no-nothings. Yes, we must always love our enemies and pray for them, but we must never allow them to stop us from carrying out the command Christ gave us — to make disciples of all nations and to fight injustice with every fiber of our being. In fact, the joy we experience as Christians will be more real and more intense if we start to fight against the evil that is all around us in a courageous way, instead of just trying to live a “comfortable,” “nice” Christianity.
Lopez: What is it about the “intolerance” of the “Atheist mind” today that might help us unmask other misconceptions about intolerance?
DeStefano: “Tolerance” is such an important buzz word today. The problem is that it’s used too often as a weapon to employ “intolerance” against anyone who believes differently than you. Case in point: the atheists. Atheists are tolerant and believe in free speech as long as you agree with them. If you don’t agree with them, watch out! For instance, well-known atheist Sam Harris has said: “If I could wave a wand and rid the world of rape or religion, I would not hesitate to get rid of religion.” And Al Stefanelli of the organization American Atheists has stated that “sometimes intolerance becomes necessary and even laudable, if it is directed towards bigotry, discrimination, etc.” In other words, atheists believe that it’s ok to be intolerant, as long as you’re being intolerant against Christians! And this is nothing new.
Secular atheists have a long history of intolerance and repression. It’s part of their DNA. It’s part of who they are. It’s been at the root of their relentless drive over the last 50 years to systematically purge all religious symbols and imagery from the public square. Atheists have accomplished this repression of free speech with a mixture of scorn, smears, deception, and legal intimidation. There’s really been the equivalent of a modern inquisition in this country — in entertainment industry, in much of the media and in the academic world — to root out secular heretics — people who don’t believe in the secular humanist agenda.
Just look at the repression of free speech on the college campuses today! There’s even a movement among atheists to stop parents from exposing children to religious “propaganda.” The bottom line is that secular atheists just don’t believe that the rights our Founding Fathers spoke about — including the right to free speech — are from God and therefore unalienable. They believe our rights come from government. So naturally government can repress those rights when it wishes to — which is a prescription for tyranny. The lesson for all of us is that “tolerance” and “intolerance” are virtually interchangeable words for atheists today, depending on who they are attacking.
Lopez: Do you really believe your book can teach atheist readers humility?
DeStefano: I believe that if an atheist is sincere and truly has an open mind, then yes, my book can teach him or her humility, because it proves beyond a shadow of a doubt the great contribution religion has made to civilization and the great misery atheists have caused throughout history. However, I think most of the atheists writing their books and blogs today are not sincere. Rather, I think they are practicing their own religion — a religion of unbelief — and I think they wish to spread this religion of nothingness to the whole world. In fact, their dogmas are so powerful that their whole thinking process is overwhelmed, and it’s extraordinarily difficult for them to be humble. That’s why I’m not worried about it at all. As I say on the very first page of Inside the Atheist Mind, this book is not for atheists, it’s about them.
John Stonestreet – Holy Week is a reminder of many things, but one we often forget is rest. God did it, and so should we.
Here’s a tough one: If Jesus died and was in the tomb by Friday night, spent Saturday there, and rose Sunday morning before the women arrived, how can we say He was in the tomb for “three days and three nights?”
The answer is more than just a good lesson on why we shouldn’t read Western assumptions into the Bible. There’s also a worldview gem buried in this detail of Holy Week: a call to rest, not just from something like work, politics, or the news cycle, but in someone.
Ours is a culture that’s forgotten how to rest. The political environment is frantic, and social media makes us feel like we’re always missing out on something. It’s tempting to spend even the Lord’s Day worked up over the stories in our newsfeeds.
At least in some ways, this makes our culture similar to the first Holy Week.
Think of how the people of Jerusalem, who so eagerly welcomed Jesus in as King, demanded His crucifixion just days later. Peter, impatient for a revolution, cut off the servant’s ear in Gethsemane. In all of this restlessness, Pilate caved to a mob baying for the blood of an innocent man.
Even after Jesus’ resurrection, the disciples were still asking when He would return the earthly kingdom to Israel.
And so, between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, Jesus reminded them—and us—how to rest.
The gospels describe this time period in several ways: Jesus was “three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” All four gospels report that His resurrection took place on “the first day of the week,” which for Jews was Sunday.
There’s some dispute on this, but the majority of scholars agree that Jesus died on a Friday—“the Day of Preparation.” This means that He was not in the tomb for 72 hours, no matter how you slice it. The only full day He spent behind the stone was Saturday—the Sabbath—the day on which God commanded the people of Israel to rest, just as He had rested after His work in Genesis 2.
Here’s where it can help to take off our Western glasses and think more like the authors of the New Testament. They didn’t divide days at midnight like we do, but at sundown. And in the first century Jewish mind, part of a day counted as a whole day. So, because Jesus was buried on Friday evening and rose on Sunday morning, He was in the tomb “three days and three nights” by Jewish reckoning. By modern reckoning He was in the tomb only one full day: Saturday, the Sabbath.
Here’s that worldview gem I promised: After God incarnate had declared His work on our behalf “finished,” He honored the Sabbath once more, just as He had at the beginning of creation. In the tomb, God rested.
G. K. Chesterton writes in “The Everlasting Man” that this Sabbath Jesus spent in the earth was the last Sabbath of the old creation, which was marred by Adam’s sin.
“What [the disciples] were looking at” on Sunday morning, writes Chesterton, “was the first day of a new creation, with a new heaven and a new earth; and in a semblance of the gardener God walked again in the garden, in the cool not of the evening but the dawn.”
When we rest on the Sabbath, we do so not in the old creation, but in the new—not in the world marred by Adam, but in the world being renewed in Christ. We trust not in politics or princes or earthly decrees, but in Him who became, Himself, our Sabbath rest.
Andrew Peterson makes this same connection in his new album, “Resurrection Letters: Prologue,” when he sings, “In six days God made the earth and all the heavens/but He rested on the seventh/God rested/He said that it was finished and the seventh day He blessed it/God rested.”
Eric Metaxas – Welcome to Holy Week. In 2012, the English poet Ruth Padel accepted a commission from Manchester’s Hallé Orchestra to write poems that would be read between the movements of Joseph Haydn’s “The Seven Last Words of Our Savior on the Cross.”
Writing about her experience two years later in The Guardian, Padel called her acceptance of the commission “rash.” Her father was a psychoanalyst, her mother was a great-grand-daughter of Darwin—what could she have to say on this subject?
Well, that’s a good question.
By her own admission, Padel had “no idea if what [she] did works theologically, but musicians find it OK to work with.” Thankfully, we don’t have to settle for “OK to work with.”
In 1783, the Cathedral of Cadiz, Spain commissioned the great composer Joseph Haydn to write a musical setting for what are known as the “Seven Last Words (or Sayings)” of Jesus on the cross.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the “Seven Last Words,” they are “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do;” “Today you will be with me in Paradise;” “Behold your son/Behold your mother;” “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” “I thirst;” “It is finished;” and finally, “Father into your hands I commend my spirit.”
Haydn’s opus consists of nine parts: an introduction, followed by a musical meditation on each of the seven sayings, and then completed by a section entitled “Il Terremoto,” which is “earthquake” in both Italian and Spanish. Il Terremoto, of course, refers to the earth quaking in Matthew 27 when Christ “yielded his spirit” and died.
At the original performance at Cadiz Cathedral, the Bishop spoke one of the sayings of Jesus, “delivered a discourse thereon,” and this was followed by Haydn’s musical meditation on the words.
Since Haydn never specified what, if anything, should be said between movements, subsequent performers have felt free to add, or not add, whatever was “OK to work with.” But, as the Vermeer Quartet learned, paying heed to what works theologically is the way to go. In 1988, they won a Grammy nomination for their performance, which featured excerpts of sermons by Martin Luther King, Jr. and Billy Graham between movements.
The recording came about because music-only performances left them with the “polite applause of a worn-out audience.” So, they decided to “restore Haydn’s work to its original sacred setting.” The experience was “transforming.” As the quartet’s violinist told the New York Times, “Though we knew the music so very well . . . we had never before been obliged to relate it in its intended context.”
Haydn, who typically began his manuscripts with the phrase “in nomine Domini,” “in the name of the Lord,” and ended them with “Laus Deo,” “praise be to God,” would, no doubt, approve.
John Stonestreet – If someone asked you whether we can really know who Jesus is and what He accomplished, could you give a convincing answer?
Well, Easter is just around the corner. And that means so are those annual TV specials and magazine articles that cast doubt on the biblical account of Jesus, wondering aloud whether he even existed or not. It’s amazing how many mainstream media outlets still posit that fringe theory as if there’s a serious, scholarly debate. There isn’t.
Even so, what are we going to do with this opportunity in front of us? Because that’s what it is…a great opportunity to tell friends and neighbors the truth about Jesus. After all, the events surrounding the life of Jesus, especially the crucifixion and the resurrection, either happened or they didn’t. We’re not talking about merely issues of personal belief; we’re talking about real events of history, and if they happened, change everything.
When Christians say that Christianity is true, we’re not saying that we think it’s true. Or that it’s true for us and not for “them.” Or that it’s true if you believe. No, we mean that it’s true whether you believe it or not. We mean that Christianity is just flat-out true: that Jesus actually lived, that you could have seen Him, that the crucifixion actually took place, that He really did rise from the dead.
Had you been there, you could’ve eaten the fish and loaves that were multiplied by Jesus from the little boy’s lunch. The water that Jesus walked on would have gotten you wet. And had you been in that upper room with Thomas, you could have seen the wounds on Jesus’ hands and placed your finger in His side.
These historical events are not just matters of personal faith; they’re matters of public truth. And you and I, especially in this cultural moment, have a responsibility, a task, a calling even, to articulate and defend these truths when called upon.
Now if you can’t, I’ve got some great news. You can learn to do this. I’m always troubled when Christians act as if there are not reasons that back up their faith. Folks, we live in the golden age of apologetics. And one of the most effective equippers of others is J. Warner Wallace.
J. Warner Wallace’s first career was as a cold-case homicide detective. Today, he’s a best-selling author and nationally known speaker, who also serves as an adjunct professor of apologetics at Biola University. He knows his stuff, and he’s as good as it gets in equipping others to make the case for Christian truth.
A former atheist himself, Wallace put Christianity to the test in an investigation that finally led to his conversion. And he had to face the same question we all hear every Easter: who is Jesus? “Many faith traditions lay claim to famous religious leaders and founders,” Wallace says, “but Jesus is different… the New Testament leaves little room for doubt: Jesus claimed to be God and taught this truth to His followers.”
While the prophets usually said, “This is what the Lord says,” Jesus said, “I tell you the truth.” Wallace adds, “Prophets spoke for God, but Jesus consistently spoke as God. In addition, Jesus claimed God’s title, “I am,” and other significant characteristics of God—such as the ability to forgive sins.”
That’s what Jesus claimed, but the question is, was He telling the truth? Or maybe he was crazy. Or maybe the Gospel accounts are fairy tales. Or maybe…
Be prepared to make the case for Jesus this Easter.