Summary: This message answers three questions: (1) Does God exits? (2) How Can We Know for Sure That God Exists? and (3) How Can We Know God?
Today I am beginning a new ten-week series of messages. It is based on a series that is titled Christianity Explored by Rico Tice and Barry Cooper, out of England.
The purpose of Christianity Explored is to introduce people to Jesus Christ. My interest in this series was aroused when I was trying to find a tool that I could use to help un-churched and de-churched people (i.e., people who used to go to church but don’t anymore) examine Christianity. I believe that Christianity Explored is a useful tool, and as I was examining it I thought that it would be good to expose our entire congregation to the material.
So, for the next ten weeks we will explore Christianity by looking at the Gospel of Mark. Obviously, this is not going to be a detailed exposition of Mark’s Gospel. However, my goal is to address three questions that cut to the heart of Christianity:
1. Who is Jesus?
2. Why did he come?
3. What does it mean to follow him?
So, with that in mind, let us begin our “Introduction to Christianity Explored” by reading Mark 1:1:
1The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. (Mark 1:1)
Sometimes Christians talk about the Bible as if it is the last word on any subject. However, many un-churched and de-churched people have a problem with that approach. They wonder:
• Is it really possible for a sane person to reach the conclusion that the Bible is indeed God’s way of speaking directly to human beings?
• And if so, on what grounds?
Let me use a simple illustration to answer these questions.
Suppose I show you that I have a bag of Hershey’s milk chocolate Kisses. How do you know that the bag of Hershey’s Kisses really contains milk chocolate Kisses?
There are three simple tests that you can apply to know whether the Hershey’s Kisses really are Hershey’s Kisses.
First, there is the claim test. You can look at what it says on the bag. If the bag claims to be anything other than Hershey’s Kisses, then you might as well forget it. But, if it claims to be Hershey’s Kisses, then that is an important starting point.
In the same way, what does the Bible say about itself? The Bible claims to be God’s word to human beings. It says that it is “God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16), that God speaks to us through it.
Now, the fact that the Bible makes a claim to be God’s word to us is not sufficient to prove that it is indeed God’s word to us. After all, I could claim to be the rightful heir to the Oppenheimer fortune. That claim by itself does not make it true. But, it does warrant further examination.
The Bible claims that it is the word of God to human beings. Further, the Bible claims that it holds the secret to eternal life. It claims to have extraordinarily accurate prophecies (most of which have already come true, although some concern events yet to come). And it claims to show the only way that human beings can be saved from God’s judgment.
The Bible makes all these claims. Outrageous? It certainly appears to be. Provocative? Just a bit. True? That depends on who you ask. But even if there is only the tiniest, tiniest possibility that these claims might be true, then the Bible certainly deserves further examination. Because if the Bible turns out to be God’s word to human beings, wouldn’t it be extremely unwise to ignore its message?
Second, there is the look test. You can open the bag of Hershey’s Kisses to see what is inside. Does it look like the bag contains Hershey’s Kisses inside?
Similarly, if we open the Bible and look at what is in its pages, it certainly looks like God’s word.
Approximately forty different authors over a period of sixteen hundred years wrote the sixty-six books of the Bible in three different languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek). The authors were fisherman, farmers, government employees, or kings. They wrote in different time periods, in different geographical locations, and to different groups of people. One would expect a wide diversity of themes to be displayed when combing all sixty-six books into one Bible. However, the truth of the matter is that there is an amazingly unified message that comes through in the Bible. This fact is what makes the Bible unique. Despite the incredibly diverse variation in authors, settings, and so on, there is a breathtakingly stunning uniqueness about the single, unified message of the Bible.
There is one striking message—one striking person—at the centre of the entire sixty-six books that make up the Bible. And that person is none other than Jesus Christ, the subject of Christianity Explored. Given the diversity of its origin, the long period of time over which the Bible was written, and the even longer period of history that is covered in the Bible, this single-focused purpose is stunning and staggering.