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Study Six – Conclusions and Implications

For all those who participated in this apologetic study, you are either

  1. a Christian - in which case you were not studying apologetics to find out whether Christianity is true or false, but to try to understand it better and to learn how to argue for it and persuade others of its truth [1 p. 384], or

  2. not a Christian – in which case you are probably reading this study out of curiosity, to find out why Christians believe the things they believe and also, hopefully, out of an honest search for truth, an open-minded wondering whether this thing is really true after all. [1 p. 384]

This apologetics study presented factual evidence for the truth of Christianity. It examined intellectual reasons and arguments supporting a person's decision to become a follower of Jesus Christ (a Christian).

When examining the material, we found the following logical structure to hold true

  1. Jesus existed;

  2. The New Testament is reliable as a historical record;

  3. Christ’s claims to divinity are found in Scripture;

  4. Christ’s claims are true

Now, if Jesus' claim to be God is true, then what difference does it make? To answer this, we have a look at how this apologetic study fits into the entire Christian journey. For believers this can assist in explaining their belief to others. For non-believers it can serve as a travel agent’s layout of the stages ahead on the Christian road; it is what travelers who choose to go further down this road will be in for. [1 p. 384]

Four Steps in the Christian Journey

  • The first step is mental belief.

This is first because you cannot take any other step toward a goal unless you believe it exists. You cannot seek or deal with a Person you do not believe exists. You cannot pray to a God that you think is dead. [1 p. 384]

This study was designed to persuade you to take that first step by means of rational arguments. If you have already taken that step and believe that Christianity is true, this study is designed to help you to persuade others to take that first step. [1 p. 385]

If you are a non-believer and still do not find the material in this study convincing, I would like to encourage you to continue your honest search for truth. There are many more comprehensive and detailed Christian apologetic books and materials available. You may also find Pascal’s Wager (in the section on “Does God exist?”) and the sceptics prayer (later in this section) useful in your search.

However, this first step is a mere beginning. Much, much more is in store for the believer. The first step is like believing in the accuracy of a road map; the next three steps are like actually using the map. [1 p. 385]

  • Step two is called repentance.

Before we can adequately discuss what repentance is, we need to understand the concept, and consequence of sin.

Sin is technically defined as breaking the law of God; it is wrongdoing of any kind – a violation of God’s rules and standards. It is well summed up by the saying “I’ll do it my way”. We live our lives making daily “I’ll do it my way” choices. Choices involving aspects such as our temper, our tongue, our sexuality, our relationships, and our attitudes. We are in charge of our own lives and make our own decisions. [30]

What are the consequences of this? Simply put, the result is that we are separated from God – both now and forever. Separated from our Holy Creator by our unholiness. Sin creates an eternal gap or chasm between each one of us and God; a gap that we cannot bridge on our own. The result of sin, is spiritual death – eternal separation from the person who created us and loves us the most – God. The consequence for sin, is therefore, a spiritual ‘death penalty’. [30]

Romans 3.23: For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

Isaiah 59.2: But your iniquities have separated you from your God

Romans 6.23: For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord

This highlights the significance and importance of Jesus Christ. It provides the answer as to why God entered human history. How could this penalty be paid? How could this gap caused by sin be removed? How could God and humans be reconciled? None of us can ever pay this penalty, as we are the guilty ones. Someone innocent had to pay the price – but there is only one innocent, sinless person … Jesus Christ … God! Jesus Christ, through His death, paid the penalty for the sin in our life. [30]

1 Peter 3.18: For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous [Jesus] for the unrighteous [me], to bring you to God

Romans 5.8: But God demonstrates His own love toward us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us

John 14.6: Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life'. No one comes to the Father, except through me'

Acts 4:12: Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.

What then is repentance? It is not merely feeling guilty or sorry for your sins, but choosing – with that most fundamental and deep down part of your soul, your will - to turn out of the road you are now traveling down (the “I’ll do it my way” road), because you have been convinced that it is not the right road, the true road, the road designed for you by God, the road that leads to God. In the full sense, repentance means renouncing the lord of your present road – the “evil one” (Matthew 13:19), the “father of lies” (John 8:44) and the “ruler of this world” (John 14:30) – so that you can give yourself instead to Jesus Christ, your rightful lord. It is change of fundamental allegiance - like changing sides in a war. [1 p. 385]

To think about: How could someone’s commitment to Jesus vary if they a) accept him once they have realised the consequences of sin and that He is the only solution, b) accept him for what they can get, internal peace, eternal life, etc?

  • The third step, which is the other side of repentance, is faith.

Not just mental belief (that is step one) but accepting and receiving Jesus Christ as God and Saviour and Lord of your soul, your life, your destiny. The first step is believing the road map; the second is turning out of your present road; the third is turning into another road. [1 p. 385]

You are willing to put a self-run life behind you, realizing that Jesus and the sin He died for should not both be in your life. You are putting all your trust in Jesus to forgive your sins and to give you eternal life (Acts 3:19). Being reconciled, beginning a relationship, with God. [30]

John 1.12: Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God

Acts 3.19: Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out

Romans 6.23: … the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord

  • The fourth step is traveling down His way, actually living the Christian life.

Step three is faith, step four is works – good works, works of love. The two necessarily go together. In step three the tree of Christ’s life is planted in you; in step four it bears fruit. For “faith without works is dead” (James 1:26). [1 p. 385] It involves growing and deepening your relationship with God. Daily studying God’s message to us (the Bible), speaking to Him (prayer), spending time with others that know God (church, fellowship) and making life decisions by asking “What would Jesus do?” [30]

These steps constitute the Christian journey. The requirements for the life that Jesus spoke about: “I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)

To think about: Do you think some step is missing from the four presented here? If so, what?

These four steps put this study into perspective, as it only hopes to persuade your honest reasoning that Christianity is true (step one). This is necessary but not sufficient. No one will launch a boat thinking the sea is only a myth; but believing in the sea is not sufficient to become a sailor. [1 p. 385]

Do Jesus' claims make a difference?

Yes, definitely! For if Jesus Christ is God, then when he died on the cross, he provided the only means for God and humans to be reconciled. Nothing in history could be more important to every person on earth than that. For being God, he is omnipotent and present right now, and he can transform you and your life right now as nothing and no one else possibly can. If Christ is divine, he has right to our entire lives, including our inner life and out thoughts. If Christ is divine, our absolute obligation is to believe everything he says and obey everything he commands. [1 p. 152]

To think about: The following is a suggested prayer when starting on the Christian Journey: "Lord Jesus, I want to know You personally. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. I ask you to come into my life as my Lord and Saviour. Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Please take control of my life. Make me the kind of person You want me to be"

 

Do you agree that if Jesus was who he claimed to be, then a person’s acceptance or denial of him is the most important decision they could make? Why or why not?


 

 

 

 

 

The Sceptics Prayer

But – you may reply – even after examining all the evidences and arguments presented, I am still uncertain as to whether Christ is God. I'm not even sure if there is a God. [1 p. 387]

Here is a way to find out whether Christianity is true or not – pray. Tell Jesus Christ that you are seeking the truth – seeking him, if he is the truth. Ask him to fulfill his promise that all who seek him will find him (Matthew 7:7). In his own time of course. He promised that you would find, but he didn’t promise a schedule. He’s a lover not a train. [1 p. 387]

If Christianity is true, he will. Such a prayer constitutes a scientifically fair test of the Christian “hypothesis” – that is, if you do not put unfair restrictions on God, like demanding a miracle (your way, not his) or certainty by tomorrow (your time, not his). The demand that God act like your servant is hardly a scientifically fair test of the hypothesis that there is a God who is your King. [1 p. 387]

But all this King asks for at first is honesty, not faking a faith you do not have. Honesty is a choice of the will – the choice to seek the truth no matter what or where. This is the most momentous choice you can make. Honesty is infinitely more momentous than we often think. It is also much harder than we think. Our culture trivializes honesty into merely “sharing your feelings.” Shallow honesty seeks “sharing”, deep honesty seeks truth. [1 p. 387]

To think about: How easier is it for someone to honestly desire truth? What makes it easy, and/or hard?

What then could a sceptic pray? Perhaps something along the lines of the following.

God, I don’t know whether you even exist. I’m a sceptic. I doubt. I think you may be only a myth. But I’m not certain (at least not when I’m completely honest with myself). So if you do exist, and if you really did promise to reward all seekers, you must be hearing me now. So I hereby declare myself a seeker, a seeker of the truth, whatever it is and wherever it is. I want to know the truth and live the truth. If you are the truth, please help me.

This study has appealed to the intellect, this last section is infinitely more important: the appeal to the will to be honest and open to truth. [1 p. 388] If you are not convinced of the truth of Christianity, then we encourage you to commit yourself to the honest seeking of truth – to pray the sceptics prayer.

If you have come to an intellectual belief that Christianity is true, then we encourage you to act on this truth, to share this truth, and to take the next steps involved in the Christian journey. This is the most important decision that you could ever make.

Discussion questions and exercises

  • Describe in your own words the four steps in the Christian journey



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Describe in your own words, the concept of sin and repentance



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Do you think this study presents enough evidence for accepting Christianity as true? If not, what additional evidence do you think is needed?



 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Try and summarise the entire logical argument followed in this study. Provide brief explanations and conclusions for each of the main points.



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 


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