A new life full of questions
When I became a convert to the Christian faith, some experienced believers encouraged me to ask questions to understand the reasons why one should follow Jesus Christ. My zeal to know the answers earned me the nickname “Question Mark” on one occasion.
Not that I had earned any better nicknames.
I began looking for evidence to believe in the authority and authenticity of the Bible.
“How can one know if the accounts of Jesus’ resurrection were really true?”
“Were the four Gospels just a conspired act of clever copying by zealous disciples?”
I soon upgraded to the next level of questions.
“Are there sources apart from the Bible that talk about Jesus rising from the dead?”
Such questions were important to me, given my background. My hostel-mates and parents would probably never believe if I said the words “I believe Jesus is God because the Bible says so”. So the least I thought I should do was to gather “neutral”, non-Christian information about Jesus.
Books like ‘The Case For Christ’ and ‘Evidence That Demands A Verdict’ made my day!
These compelling works and barrelfuls of evidence cheered my heart more than a tin of gulabjamuns could.
Fear of failure
Three years down that line, I was still asking questions. I could say as a Christian, I was active in various church and evangelistic activities.
But I could not bear to read about atheistic and agnostic scholars and professors slam God and the Bible. I would get so upset!
All this evidence was not enough for them; they were still trying to refute the Bible and poke holes in it. Why couldn’t these people stop?! I could not rest until I had dug into confounding articles about “textual criticism” and “earlier sources” in hope of nailing the opposition with the heavy hammer of evidence.
On the other hand – all this obsession with the “right evidence” was not really helping my battle with a serious addiction issue.
I was learning all I could to fight off repeated sins in my life. It was so shameful to call myself a Christ-follower and then run after what the world loved to chase. I remember reading and re-reading the impossibility of reading Romans 6:6,7 – “you are dead to sin” (Really?) and chuckling to myself, shackled by long chains forged out of skepticism (unbelief) and despair.
Freedom by bending my knees
Few moments could compare to that time when I felt God’s Spirit had me “cornered” to help let go of my questions about the reliability of the Bible – and instead to admit that God’s Word was true and powerful.
Either I could continue digging for more evidence about the Bible’s authority- and keep getting buried in my pile of sin. Or, I could give up my pursuit and fall on my face, my pride minced out. I knew for sure that until I surrendered my thoughts to Christ’s, I could kiss true freedom from sin goodbye.
The Bible said Jesus could set me free from sinful cravings – ugly and relentless in their monstrosity. But I had to repent of my habit of putting the Bible on trial. I had to fall helpless into God’s arms, the arms of the gracious King of kings who could alone remove the stone-wall of unbelief in my heart.
Freedom came by buckling the knees of my soul to admit that God’s Word had more power than the human ability to reason. All this while I had placed my hope in what well-meaning Christian apologists had to say. Which explains a lot of why I secretly hoped these guys would never fail in a debate, because – what would become of my faith if they failed? Here was my faulty presupposition all along – the Christian faith is worth following only if the wisdom of Christians doesn’t fail before skeptics.
Apostle Paul knew that wisdom and science could never convince people to trust Jesus Christ or the Bible with their lives. All of us already have a source of truth we trust. Do we know what we trust in?
…and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. 1 Cor. 2:4,5
We need to learn to hold on to the presuppositions our Lord and His disciples held on to. Jesus said, “He is not for me is against me”(Matt. 12:30). There is no “neutral” ground that can be trusted without the truths of the Bible.
We can be brought out from the trench of our minds’ “reasoning” to the right presuppositions only if God shows us favour that we don’t deserve. And that has happened powerfully at the cross, where Jesus bore the deadly wrath that was reserved for those such as me who “claiming to be wise.. became fools” (Romans 1:22).
I used to believe that evidence about God could change the heart.
Now I know – evidence was never designed to change the heart. God gives faith to transform lives, evidence is meant to support that faith.
Like it says in the Lord Jesus’ story :
‘I know, Father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but they’re not listening. If someone came back to them from the dead, they would change their ways.’
“Abraham replied, ‘If they won’t listen to Moses and the Prophets, they’re not going to be convinced by someone who rises from the dead.'”
Luke 16:30-31, MSG
1. A great article from Frame and Poythress.