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YOU EXPECT ME TO BELIEVE THAT???
“…absurd and utterly unphilosophical nonsense” 1 Corinthians 1:23(b) (Amplified Bible).
My brother in law is a part-time taxidermist and usually has all the work he can handle because deer hunting in this area is a passion for many during the winter months. To bag a trophy buck and hang it on the wall has become a rite of passage for most boys (and quite a few girls). So the relative few in that business who gain a reputation for turning out truly life-like mounts can expect the world to beat a path to their door!
Processing the hide and antlers from a deer, and then putting them back together as a realistic representation of the original is labor intensive. The initial step involves tagging the antlers, setting them aside until they are needed, and then putting the bagged/tagged hide into the freezer to preserve it. The date of receipt along with the number of hides in the freezer having earlier dates (because it is a part-time occupation, some could actually be left over from last season!) determines how long it will be until the finished product is ready. Of course hunters want to show off their prize to family and friends the next day, so they must be told up front that things in the real world just do not take place that quickly! And that seemingly universal misconception gave rise to a tee shirt worn by many taxidermists featuring a cartoon character doubled over with laughter. The caption reads: “You want it when?”
That illustration quickly came to mind as I began to think about how people react to the Gospel message. They may not say it, but their internal reaction is, “Come on now, you can’t be serious!” And Christians should understand that because when we witness to others we are asking them to believe some seemingly incredible things—especially if they are hearing it for the first time.
So to analyze the spiritual reason behind their reaction while remaining as objective as possible, we must try to view the subject from their perspective. And when we do, we will find there is far more to genuine belief than mere intellectual acceptance of the facts as presented.
Then as we take a look at the Gospel message from an unbeliever’s point of view, my comments will reflect the sentiment expressed by the Apostle Paul in 2 Cor.11:23 when he wrote the following parenthetical statement: (“I speak as a fool”)!. He was being facetious and wanted them to understand that. So please bear in mind that what I am going to say is not meant to be sacrilegious or disrespectful. The intent is to make a very important point by emphasizing the negative.
First of all, what does Christianity ask people to believe? Basically it is the Gospel message—the “good news”—that God became a man (Jesus Christ), so that He could die a sacrificial death and make it possible for those who place their absolute trust in Him to live forever.
Well now, that is really interesting! Let’s break it down and look at the major points:
Þ God. Has anyone ever seen Him? How do we know He even exists? Has He ever tapped you on the shoulder and talked with you? How would one go about proving His existence, let alone be expected to believe it without irrefutable proof? Hmmm.
Þ Jesus Christ. Supposedly God’s Son and therefore Himself God in the flesh. Born of a virgin over 2000 years ago and died in relative obscurity. Built no cities, wrote no books, had no heirs, left no physical evidence behind that modern science will accept as being definitive.
Þ Miracles. Jesus and His disciples fed thousands of people from 5 loaves of bread and 3 fish, restored sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, healed people of leprosy, cast out demons and even brought the dead back to life. Wow!
Þ The Gospel Message. Jesus was crucified on a Roman cross to atone for the sins of those who place their trust in Him. He died, was buried and on the third day God resurrected Him from the dead. Then forty days later He ascended back into heaven. And if you truly believe this message, repent of your sins and ask Him to save you, He will grant you eternal life.
Man, you gotta be kidding me! Why on earth would anyone be so dense as to believe such stuff? Any kid who is old enough to know that Santa Claus is a myth is old enough to reject the whole thing as being preposterous, so give me a break!
Has this type of thinking ever been true of your own experience? Most who were not born again until after they became adults will admit to having such thoughts and it is understandable, because reaching that conclusion is seen to be logically “air tight and bullet proof” by the overwhelming majority of people on Earth.
And if circumstances were different, I would not believe it either!
How does that admission grab you?
Yet in spite of the many reasons I could use to claim it is phony baloney, here is the truly amazing thing: I do not merely believe it—I know to the very depths of my being that it is 100% true and the issue is forever settled. But then up pops the billion dollar question: What caused me to believe something that so many are convinced is beyond fantastic???? The Bible tells us the reasons, pro and con:
“For the story and message of the cross is sheer absurdity and folly to those who are perishing and on their way to perdition, but to us who are being saved it is the [manifestation of] the power of God” 1 Corinthians 1:18 (Amplified Bible, emphasis mine).
And the next related verse furnishes the subtitle for this article:
“We preach Christ (the Messiah) crucified, [preaching which] to the Jews is a scandal and an offensive stumbling block [that springs a snare or trap], and to the Gentiles it is absurd and utterly unphilosophical nonsense” 1 Corinthians 1:23 (Amplified Bible, emphasis mine).
To put it mildly, the world at large views the Gospel message as being totally and utterly ridiculous! But the Apostle Paul gave this explanation as to why he believed it and why I and countless others do as well:
“But to those who are called, whether Jew or Greek (Gentile), Christ [is] the Power of God and the Wisdom of God. 25 [This is] because the foolish thing [that has its source in] God is wiser than men, and the weak thing [that springs] from God is stronger than men. 26 For [simply] consider your own call, brethren; not many [of you were considered to be] wise according to human estimates and standards, not many influential and powerful, not many of high and noble birth. 27 [No] for God selected (deliberately chose) what in the world is foolish to put the wise to shame, and what the world calls weak to put the strong to shame. 28 And God also selected (deliberately chose) what in the world is lowborn and insignificant and branded and treated with contempt, even the things that are nothing, that He might depose and bring to nothing the things that are, 29 So that no mortal man should [have pretense for glorying and] boast in the presence of God. 30 But it is from Him that you have your life in Christ Jesus, Whom God made our Wisdom from God, [revealed to us a knowledge of the divine plan of salvation previously hidden, manifesting itself as] our Righteousness [thus making us upright and putting us in right standing with God], and our Consecration [making us pure and holy], and our Redemption [providing our ransom from eternal penalty for sin]. 1 Corinthians 1:24-30 (Amplified Bible, emphasis mine).
Just for the sake of discussion let us assume you wanted to engage in a battle of wits with a brilliant atheist to prove that God exists. Do you really think you could win him/her over to your point of view? Of course it might be possible, but the odds would be long against it. While on the other hand, according to principles set forth in the Word of God, to ask someone to believe the Gospel message while they are spiritually dead is literally—as far as their own ability is concerned—asking the impossible!
“But the natural, nonspiritual man does not accept or welcome or admit into his heart the gifts and teachings and revelations of the Spirit of God, for they are folly (meaningless nonsense) to him; and he is incapable of knowing them [of progressively recognizing, understanding, and becoming better acquainted with them] because they are spiritually discerned and estimated and appreciated” 1 Corinthians 2:14 (Amplified Bible, emphasis mine).
O.K, so how did I wind up believing it? Was I not born into this world just as spiritually dead as all the rest of humanity? Yes, but God through His goodness and grace did something for me that I could not (and would not) do for myself!
“And you [He made alive], when you were dead (slain) by [your] trespasses and sins” Ephesians 2:1 (Amplified Bible, emphasis mine).
“Even when we were dead (slain) by [our own] shortcomings and trespasses, He made us alive together in fellowship and in union with Christ; [He gave us the very life of Christ Himself, the same new life with which He quickened Him, for] it is by grace (His favor and mercy which you did not deserve) that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation)” Ephesians 2:5 (Amplified Bible, emphasis mine).
“And you who were dead in trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your flesh (your sensuality, your sinful carnal nature), [God] brought to life together with [Christ], having [freely] forgiven us all our transgressions” Colossians 2:13 (Amplified Bible, emphasis mine).
My friend, God called me to salvation. And to understand what that means, let us back up and pay particular attention to the first sentence in 1 Corinthians 1:24 (above) and note that it says, “But to those who are called…” In the context of the passage we find the Gospel message is “absurd and unphilosophical nonsense” to those who are spiritually dead, BUT to those who are called “it is the power of God and the wisdom of God.” The word “but” denotes a distinction between the two groups—a turning point, if you will—at which time spiritual death is negated and spiritual life/understanding is gained. It is referred to as being “born again.”
And the reason God called me is because He had chosen me “in Christ” prior to creation.
“Even as [in His love] He chose us [actually picked us out for Himself as His own] in Christ before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy (consecrated and set apart for Him) and blameless in His sight, even above reproach, before Him in love” Ephesians 1:4 (Amplified Bible).
Then when the time was right He “drew” me—He literally enabled me to believe in Jesus Christ.
“No one is able to come to Me unless the Father Who sent Me attracts and draws him and gives him the desire to come to Me, and [then] I will raise him up [from the dead] at the last day” John 6:44 (Amplified Bible).
But are we not born with the capability to exercise that amazing degree of faith? Absolutely not! It is furnished by God and some believers are even given more of it than others:
“For by the grace (unmerited favor of God) given to me I warn everyone among you not to estimate and think of himself more highly than he ought [not to have an exaggerated opinion of his own importance], but to rate his ability with sober judgment, each according to the degree of faith apportioned by God to him” Romans 12:3 (Amplified Bible, emphasis mine).
What about the wee little detail concerning “spiritual death,” you ask? According to1 Corinthians 2:14 (cited earlier) it was impossible for me to understand the Gospel message, much less believe in Jesus Christ while I was “dead in trespasses and sins,” so what happened to make it possible? The answer is found in Eph.2:1; 2:5, and Col.2:13 (also cited earlier) where we are told that God made me alive! Because I was chosen in Christ, spiritual death was reversed, saving faith was granted, and genuine belief was the result. That logical progression is confirmed by the following passage:
“And when the Gentiles heard this, they rejoiced and glorified (praised and gave thanks for) the Word of God; and as many as were destined (appointed and ordained) to eternal life believed (adhered to, trusted in, and relied on Jesus as the Christ and their Savior)” Acts 13:48 (Amplified Bible, emphasis mine).
So why do I and other genuine Christians believe all the seemingly fantastic things that were mentioned earlier? Simply because God did a supernatural work in our hearts that allowed us to believe and then know beyond question that we have eternal life.
“I write this to you who believe in (adhere to, trust in, and rely on) the name of the Son of God [in the peculiar services and blessings conferred by Him on men], so that you may know [with settled and absolute knowledge] that you [already] have life, yes, eternal life” 1 John 5:13 (Amplified Bible, emphasis mine).
Has this ever happened to you? If so, you will be able to answer “yes,” at least to some degree, when considering the 11 questions found at the very beginning of the Cutting Edge Salvation Page: www.cuttingedge.org/salvation.html Maturity in the faith will make these points much clearer, but even a new believer will be able to see the changes taking place in their life.
However, if you remain convinced the whole thing is silly, I still urge you to ponder what the Bible has to say because you might wind up “singing a different tune!” What have you got to lose?
If you have been born again and received Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, but have been very lukewarm in your spiritual walk with Him, you need to immediately ask Him for forgiveness and for renewal. He will instantly forgive you, and fill your heart with the joy of the Holy Spirit. Then, you need to begin a daily walk of prayer and personal Bible Study.
If you have never placed your trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior, but have come to sense His reality and the approaching End of the Age, and want to receive His FREE Gift of Eternal Life, you can do so now, in the privacy of your home. Once you truly believe in Him as Lord and Savior, you are spiritually Born Again, and are as assured of Heaven as if you were already there. Then, you can rest assured that the Kingdom of Antichrist will not touch you spiritually. If you would like to become Born Again, turn to our Salvation Page now.
We hope you have been blessed by this ministry, which seeks to educate and warn people, so that they can see the coming New World Order Kingdom of Antichrist in their daily news.
Finally, we would love to hear from you. You can write us at:
Cutting Edge Ministries, C/O Pastor Ron Riffe
P.O. Box 26
Gordo, AL 35466
You can also E-Mail Pastor Ronald Riffe regarding questions or comments about this article.
God bless you