Trinity Lutheran Church
1103 Central Avenue
Hawarden, IA 51023
Gosh...where should one start in a world where everything is ascribed equal merit and value? And the message that comes to us day after day by way of the media is that we must, above all else, be tolerant of every conceivable idea. We are a culture paralyzed by trying to be nice to everyone and everything. The result is that very few people really hold to any firm position on anything. What most people know is what they like. Truth, however, rarely comes up.
Contrary to popular belief, in the world in which we find ourselves, not everything is of equal value. There are some things that are true and others that are not. There is fiction and there is fact. There is wish and there is reality. There are ideas that are harmful and others that are not. When it comes to Jesus, what I would like to suggest to you is that Christianity is, above all else, true.
And someone from the back yells, "What is truth?" It's a good question. It's a question every person should struggle with at least once in their lives. Without presenting a college course in Epistemology (the study of truth), truth very simply is what is. Truth is what is real. Christianity is true like math is true. Regardless of how you feel about math, 2+2 will always equal 4. Regardless of what you think or how you feel about truth, truth simply is.
Most people would agree that what we know of what is comes to us by way of our five senses. What is real is what we can see, hear, taste, touch, and feel. But what about things we haven't seen or aren't able to touch? What about things that have happened in the past like Caesar's Galic wars, or the dialogues of Plato and Aristotle? Do we think those things are real? I would say yes, and even if you wanted to debate the accuracy of what we know, the Western world holds that Caesar's Gallic wars happened and that Plato and Aristotle were real people who walked around on this planet.
Now why do we think this? Well, we have historical records that inform us of the facts, to the truth of what happened. The records, by all scrutiny, appear to be accurate and so there is good reason to accept them as true. Or, in other words, we have good evidence for the reliability of the documents. We can put our confidence in what they say as true.
Now when it comes to God, there are all sorts of ideas in the world as to what God is and how you would know. Most people come to the conclusion that there is a god, but without Him revealing Himself to the individual, God ends up being more of a feeling and mental image of what that person imagines God to be. This is why, these days, God talk is mostly impressions and feelings, and not much else - a generic spirituality, with no definition. You hear it all the time. God, to me, is...Never mind "to me", I'm interested in "is", apart from "to me". I want to know what is true.
Consider, for a moment, the possibility of what it would be like for you if God were real and that He made Himself known by coming to earth, invading our history, and leaving an historic record to support that fact. What if there was strong evidence to support the reliability of that report? Would that, perhaps, change things for you?
And somebody from the back again yells, "Oh, you're talking about the Bible!" Well, yeah...but hold on a moment. Forget for a minute that Christians treat that book as if it were let down out of heaven on a string. Just put that thought aside for the moment. Forget also that you consider the Bible as just one book.
What Christians call "The Bible" (which by the way, simply means 'book') is actually 66 different books. The New Testament is 27 different reports all concerning the same individual, Jesus. The New Testament consists of 3 eyewitness accounts of His life and death, 1 thorough historical compilation via interview of the eyewitnesses, 21 letters written to different assemblies in which lived eye witnesses to the actual accounts and 1 really odd book that seems to talk in word-pictures about the final history of the world.
Most people are unaware that the manuscript evidence for the New Testament books is greater than that for any other ancient writing of comparable date. There are over 5,000 Greek manuscripts (MSS) or parts of MSS of the New Testament. In fact, the evidence is so strong that Frederic C. Kenyon, who was keeper of manuscripts in the British Museum, wrote:
"But besides confirming the...authenticity of the canonical books, the new evidence tends to confirm the general integrity of the text as it has come down to us...The interval then between the dates of original composition and the earliest extant evidence becomes so small as to be in fact negligible, and the last foundation for any doubt that the Scriptures have come down to us substantially as they were written has now been removed. Both the authenticity and the general integrity of the books of the New Testament may be regarded as finally established."
In other words, we have good reason to believe the documents are reliable and "good history". One of the reasons for their accuracy is they seem to have been written very close to the date of the actual events. It's also fun to mention the fact that Pontius Pilate and Quirinius, who was governor of Syria, both mentioned in the New Testament, have been shown to be real individuals by archaeological evidence.
The question of, "Why Jesus?" is answered when one considers this simple fact: Jesus Christ was a real person, who claimed to be God and who rose from the dead to back up that claim. We have really good evidence to believe this as true and reliable fact based on historical documents that have been verified as both authentic and accurate.
No other belief or religion can make this claim and stand the scrutiny of scientific inquiry.
Why Jesus? Why Christianity? Very simply, because it is true.
And because it's true, it has something important to say about the nature of the universe as we know it, the condition of mankind, and your standing before a holy and just God.
Want to know more?
The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? by F.F. Bruce
History and Christianity by J.W. Montgomery