This coming Sunday (Easter) is the day when Christians around the world celebrate history’s most important event: the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. At this season, along with Christmas time, people, even nonbelievers, are most conscious of the life of Christ. If they are able to see their way through all the extraneous baggage that has come to be associated with Easter (bunnies, egg hunts, parades, etc.), then they just might get a glimpse of what Christianity is all about. Unfortunately, that is becoming increasingly difficult.
Of course, Easter is about Jesus Christ, but the naturalistic worldview and secularism have captured the heart of our culture. Still, people want to know, “Why should I believe in Jesus? What so special about Him? Just who was He? How was He different from any other religious founder?” Those are fair and good questions if asked honestly (which, for many atheists and non-Christians, they are not).
In this installment, we answer the age-old question, “Why should I believe in Jesus?” We will examine eight reasons the Bible gives why anyone should believe in him and highlight some of the key Christian doctrines that are derived from those reasons. We will use as our basis the Apostle John’s first letter which was written to explain to his readers why they should be confident that their faith in Christ was sound.
Reason 1: You should believe in Jesus because He was with the Father from all eternity.
1 What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life – 2 and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us… (1 John 1:1-2 NASB)
John begins his letter by harkening back to the prologue he wrote in his Gospel. In John 1:1-3 he declared: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” (NASB)
These statements testify to the fact that Jesus, the Word in His preexistent state, was God! He was, as Christian theologians explain it, the Second Person in the Holy Trinity. The New Testament indicates here and in many other places that the One Godhead consists of three equally eternal and infinite Persons (not modes of existence).
The Trinity is a difficult concept for even most Christians to comprehend. But we must keep in mind that it is only possible because God is an eternal and infinite Being. Thus, the three Persons are all infinite and eternal, and, by definition, since only one thing could exist infinitely, they are, together, the One and Only God.
Thus, you should believe in Jesus because was the eternal God. These are the doctrines of CHRIST’S DEITY AND THE TRINITY (All three persons of the Trinity are extensively mentioned in John’s writings).
Reason 2: You should believe in Jesus because He was made manifest to us in flesh.
… and (the Word of life) was manifested to us – 3 what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. (1 John 2b – 3 NASB)
John here stated that the eternal God Himself came to earth physically in the person of Jesus. Again, this reiterates what was said in John’s Gospel.
14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 John testified about Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’” 16 For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. 17 For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him. (John 1:14-18 NASB
The point is that God became a man.
This is the doctrine of the INCARNATION (Lit. the embodiment). Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity, willingly gave up His eternal state and was born physically of a virgin. As Paul told the Philippians: 5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped (“used for His own advantage”- HCSB), 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. (Philippians 2:5-7 NASB)
I recall once being involved in a discussion with a Muslim scholar. He simply could not comprehend or accept the idea that Jesus was God. He thought the very idea was blasphemous. He regarded it as a form of idolatry. In his view God (Allah) is far above his creation and is unknowable in any personal way. All we can do, he asserted, is obey Allah’s commands as revealed through angels to Mohammed and written in the Qur’an.
That is not the God of Christianity. God, who Jesus taught to address as our Heavenly Father, loves us and wants to have a personal relationship with us. That is why He sent the Son out of eternity to temporal earth as a human. It means He cared for us. But there is more to His coming than just this. Jesus had a work He had to accomplish on earth.
Reason 3: You should believe in Jesus because His shed blood (death on the Cross) cleanses us from sin.
John reminded his readers of this critical aspect of Jesus’ ministry on earth.
…but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. (I John 1:7 NASB)
Jesus was not born into the world simply to walk around teaching and praying. As important as that was, it would have been insufficient for our salvation. Jesus had to give His life as a sacrifice for our sins. He died on the Cross to take the penalty that we deserve for our sin. This is called the doctrine of the SACRIFICIAL ATONEMENT. More will be said about this in a later installment in this series: “Why Should I Believe in the Crucifixion?”
Reason 4: You should believe in Jesus because He is faithful to forgive those who confess and repent of their sins.
John offered his readers a comforting assurance.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9 NASB)
Confession means to agree with God that we have sinned. Even Christians need to confess when we fall and disobey God. We must also be willing to repent, meaning we must have a strong desire to turn around and go in a different direction. Here is a promise that, if we confess and repent, He will always forgive and cleanse us. But we must never forget that our forgiveness was bought with the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. For that reason only is salvation a free gift to us by faith. This is called the doctrine of GRACE. Thus we should believe in Jesus because through Him God forgives sin.
Reason 5: You should believe in Jesus because He is our Advocate with the Father.
In John’s Gospel, Jesus told His followers that He had to go away so He could send them the Paracletos to help them in their faith. He was, of course, referring to the Helper (NASB; NKJV), the Comforter (KJV), the Counselor (HCSB; RSV), the Advocate (NIV; NRSV) (lit. “one called along-side of”), that is, the Holy Spirit (John 14-16).
In his letter John applied that same term (Paracletos) to Jesus representing us before the Father.
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate (Paracletos) with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. (1 John 1:10 NASB).
John’s point is that, though we are sinners, Jesus is our Advocate before the Father. In this way John means that He as the intercessor on our behalf. As the One who paid the penalty for our sin, if we put our faith in Him, then, sort of like a lawyer in court, He represents us to plead our case. He bridges the sin gap from us to God.
Unlike in American courts of law, in the British system, a defendant has not just one, but two lawyers. One is called the Solicitor. His job is to meet face-to-face with the defendant to hear his side of the story and plan a strategy. The Solicitor then employs a Barrister who actually represents the defendant in court. He may not even meet with defendant at all.
Thankfully, Jesus serves as both our Solicitor and Barrister (our Advocate) in the courtroom of God. He is our INTERCESSOR.
In recent weeks we have heard lots in the news about the new Pope, Francis I from Argentina. One question rarely asked by the media is why Roman Catholics have a Pope at all? They call him the Vicar of Christ (from a Latin word that means substitute or deputy). They regard the Pope as the earthly representative of Christ on earth. He is sort of a go-between for them to Heaven.
With all due respect to our Catholic friends, if we follow the Scriptures we have no need for any substitute for Jesus. He alone is our advocate.
Reason 6: You should believe in Jesus because He is the propitiation for our, and the world’s, sins.
The NASB translates 1 John 2:2 in the following way:
…and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world. (NASB)
John calls Jesus the “propitiation” (Greek: hilasmas – sometimes translated as “expiation” [RSV] or “atoning sacrifice” [NIV; NRSV]) for our sins. “Propitiation” is a big word that means “satisfaction” or “completion” (see also Romans 3:25; Hebrews 2:17; 1 John 4:10). In other words, Jesus satisfied the necessary and just penalty for sin by His death on the cross.
This is the doctrine of JUSTIFICATION. We are made right with God because Jesus has made the sacrifice on our behalf. We will address this further in the next installment.
Reason 7: You should believe in Jesus because He desires us to keep His commandments and walk in His Spirit.
John also tells his readers that they must rely on Jesus to live holy lives as God desires.
The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; 5 but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: 6 the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked. (1 John 2:4-6 NASB)
I once saw, on television, a famous musician who professes to be a Christian. He was receiving an award or some such thing. I was hoping he would give God glory for his success. Unfortunately, the words that blurted from his mouth were so profane the TV network did not have time to hit the bleep button before they were broadcast. I was dismayed to see that the man took his Christian witness so nonchalantly.
If we desire to live the kind of life God wants us to, we must walk in the power of God’s Spirit. We cannot do so in our power or ability. Obedience to His commands is a lifelong challenge which we can never fully attain. Nonetheless, it should be our ambition to be holy as He is holy.” This is the doctrine of SANCTIFICATION (make Holy).
Reason 8: You should believe in Jesus because He promises and provides eternal life.
John assured his readers that if they put their faith in Christ they would someday enjoy the gift of eternal life in Heaven.
This is the promise which He Himself made to us: eternal life. (1 John 2:25 NASB)
This is, of course, the primary objective for God’s plan of salvation – that we live forever in His presence. This is the doctrine of GLORIFICATION. Those who place their faith in Jesus are guaranteed a home in Heaven.
Those are just eight of the reasons the Bible says we should believe in Jesus. He is the One and Only way of salvation. If anyone will confess and repent of their sins, place their full faith in Jesus and His saving work on the cross, and receive Him as their Savior and Lord, he or she will be saved!
Next installment – Why should I believe in the Crucifixion?
© 2013 Tal Davis