Friday, October 19, 2012

What I Believe...1-3-1

The older I get, the more I appreciate simplicity.  Achieving simplicity, however, is not easy.  I am fond of the quote attributed to Blaise Pascal (and others): "I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time."

Rambling is easy.  Simplicity takes time and effort.  The goal of simplicity in writing is to maximize the number of things you do not say.  And so, with simplicity as a goal, I wish to express what I believe as a Christian.

  • I believe 1 thing about myself.
  • I believe 3 things about Jesus.
  • I believe 1 thing about the future.

That is the outline.  1-3-1.  I don't know how to reduce it any further.  And so, let me now explain what those things actually are.

I believe 1 thing about myself:  I am a sinner.  Of this fact I am utterly convinced and persuaded.  Both my own experience and the Bible confirm this time and time again.  Animals have instincts.  Their actions may be pleasant or unpleasant, but they can never truly be classified as right or wrong.  Man is different.  We are bound inescapably to an awareness of good and evil, right and wrong.  We call this the Moral Law.  I am obliged to keep this Moral Law.  But I don't.  And I know it.

I believe 3 things about Jesus:

     First:  He was not merely a man, but God in the flesh.  Jesus was God entering into the human world as a man.  No other conclusion adequately explains everything He did and said.   His birth and life fulfilled every prophecy that the Old Testament predicted.  The only rational explanation is this:  He planned it.  He was both the Author of the prophecies and their fulfilment.  His miracles, words and life confirmed He was God.  Add to this the fact that He actually claimed to be God.  Good men don't do this - unless, of course, it is true. 

     Second:  He died as a substitute for sinners like me.  The cross was a cruel, but not uncommon, instrument of death.  But Jesus' death was unique.  It was not an accident.  It was not a failure.  It was not, ultimately, a tragedy.  His death was a planned and purposed substitution - bearing the penalty for sin that sinners like me deserved.  Like the lambs slaughtered by the priests in the Old Testament as sacrifices for sin, so Jesus Christ died as a perfect, sinless sacrifice for all who would put their faith in Him. 

     Third:  Jesus rose again from the dead.  On the third day He rose.  Death could not hold Him.  God the Father accepted His sacrifice and acknowledged Jesus Christ to be precisely who He claimed to be.  The soldiers, whose lives depended on guarding the tomb, could not explain away what happened.  And so remarkable and convincing was His resurrection that His disciples, previously discouraged, were now willing to die preaching the good news of this truth to others.  And most of them did. 

I believe 1 thing about the futureA Day of Judgment is yet to come.  If this is not the case, then the world we live in makes no sense to me.  Those who do wrong often seem to get the furthest ahead.  Those struggling to do what is right often suffer for it.  Cruel misfortunes seem to fall randomly upon our race.  If all our hope is tied merely to this life, then life is ultimately meaningless.  There is no right or wrong.  Life would be, to quote Shakespeare's famous line in Macbeth "a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."  But this life does mean something.  I know it does.  And I think we all do.  Life is significant.  What we do and what we believe matters.  Right now, in fact, counts forever.

That is as simple as I can make it.  I'm sure others could do better.  Maybe if I had more time...I could too.

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