A Transforming Message

12-16-16
Friday
 
 
Lee Strobel, a reporter for the Chicago Tribune, was an avowed atheist. Lee was antagonistic towards God. His wife said she was confused about faith. When they were dating and got married Lee said there was no room for God in their relationship. When Leslie started attending church Lee told her that this wasn’t what he had signed up for. He thought nothing good could come of it, but in the following months he saw positive changes in her character. Why do you think some people fight against faith in God?
 
 
Leslie said she came to know God with her heart. Lee needed to investigate and believe in God with his mind. When Leslie invited Lee to church he attended with his reporter’s notebook confident that he’d be able to explain to her that she was involved in a cult.
 
Lee thought it was going to be easy to expose the wrong thinking of Christianity but instead it took him two years to investigate the issues. He said it was the most exciting story he ever investigated.
 
 
Lee knew that the Gospels were ancient historical documents. He went to experts to study the accuracy of the documents and to learn how they were verified as part of the Bible. Lee began his quest believing that the Bible was full of contradictions but when he actually studied it he found that wasn’t true. As Lee tried to disprove the Bible he found himself fascinated with it.
 
 
He said he started out as a hard-hearted atheist and found himself so intrigued by the Bible that he was willing to follow wherever the evidence led him. What he didn’t realize was the evidence would lead him onto a relationship with Jesus Christ through faith in the very person he sought to discredit.
 
 
The message of the gospel transformed his life. The book, The Case for Christ was the result of that initial investigation. Several other books have been written since that time, A Case for Faith, A Case for the Creator, The Case for Christianity and the Case for the Biblical Jesus.
 
 
Lee came to Christ because he was willing to openly examine the evidence. His life was transformed because of the miracle of the message. Lee tells us in his book that the evidence of people with changed lives after coming to faith was the most compelling in his thinking. He came to believe the gospel message was true because he witnessed the transformation of his wife first hand.
 
 
That is the miracle of the message. It captivates us with the compelling story of redemption and it has the power through faith in Jesus that transforms lives.
 
 
Prayer: Thank you for the transforming power of the gospel.


An Authenticated Message

12-15-16
Thursday
 
The testimony of a credible eye witness is one of the most reliable pieces of evidence in a court of law. Thieves, rapists and murderers are sent to prison by the testimony of a single witness. If you have 2 witnesses who agree, you have an airtight case.
 
 
The message of the gospel has a number of credible witnesses. There are 4 men who record the life and times of Jesus. There is an historian named Luke who recorded the events of the disciples and the early church. There as the man named Saul who was converted to Christ and became Paul the apostle. He wrote much of the New Testament as he sent letters to the churches he established. There are letters from the brother of Jesus, James, who wrote concerning how we should live. The apostle Peter wrote letters that we have today. All these writers are credible witnesses to the explosion of the gospel and the birth of Christianity.
 
 
But all these writers devote their attention to the person of Jesus Christ and his sacrifice for sin on a roman cross and his resurrection from the dead 3 days later. This is the Gospel:
 
 
That Christ (the chosen messiah of God) was born of a woman and was crucified on a cross, yet without sin because he was innocent, but was the sacrifice for the sin of all mankind and that his death was accepted by God the Father as payment for our sins and he was resurrected from the dead after 3 days and is a living savior able to be the mediator between God and man.
 
 
Hebrews 1:3
3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high
 
 
The writers of the New Testament gave us much more than history, they gave us their spiritual insight to see beyond the events of the times and see the eternal purposes revealed by the author of the New Testament – The Holy Spirit.
 
 
The New Testament gives us the factual information along with spiritual commentary to understand the message. But the message is authenticated by the life and death of Jesus Christ and all these events are proven true by the resurrection.
 
 
According to Luke there were 500 eye witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus. The question of the authenticity of the message has been thoroughly documented and proven. The question remaining is do you believe it?
 
 
Prayer: Thank you for the authenticated truth of the gospel and for the power it has to those who believe.


An Historical Message

12-14-16
Wednesday
 
The message of the Gospel was unveiled by people who can be verified with a high degree of historical accuracy. Down through the centuries many skeptics have denied the existence of Biblical characters. Their purpose? If you can prove the people who brought the message didn’t exist… then the message must be false as well.
 
 
No historical figure has endured as much criticism as Jesus of Nazareth. If the so called historians can prove Jesus never existed then Christianity can be defeated and the gospel can be discredited.
 
 
Unfortunately for these skeptics there is too much information from non-Biblical accounts to discredit the life and times of Jesus. The following is just one of these accounts.
 
 
Tacitus—or more formally, Caius/Gaius Cornelius Tacitus (55/56–c. 118 C.E.)—was a Roman senator, orator and ethnographer, and arguably the best of Roman historians.
 
 
Tacitus’s last major work, titled Annals, written c. 116–117 C.E., includes a biography of Nero. In 64 C.E., during a fire in Rome, Nero was suspected of secretly ordering the burning of a part of town where he wanted to carry out a building project, so he tried to shift the blame to Christians. This was the occasion for Tacitus to mention Christians, whom he despised. This is what he wrote—the following excerpt is translated from Latin by Robert Van Voorst:
 
 
Neither human effort nor the emperor’s generosity nor the placating of the gods ended the scandalous belief that the fire had been ordered [by Nero]. Therefore, to put down the rumor, Nero substituted as culprits and punished in the most unusual ways those hated for their shameful acts … whom the crowd called “Chrestians.” The founder of this name, Christ [Christus in Latin], had been executed in the reign of Tiberius by the procurator Pontius Pilate … Suppressed for a time, the deadly superstition erupted again not only in Judea, the origin of this evil, but also in the city [Rome], where all things horrible and shameful from everywhere come together and become popular.
 
Is Tactus a believer? Hardly. Tactus hated Christians. But his admission as to the purpose in Nero’s arson also concludes with the certainty of the existence of this man Jesus.
 
 
There are many other historical references to the person Jesus Christ of Nazareth, enough to conclude that indeed Jesus lived and taught and died by crucifixion exactly as portrayed by the New Testament writers.
 
Our message is historically accurate, but that does not conclude its authenticity. The gospel must be believed… and that is where the miracle of the message is tested. Historical accuracy opens the door to intellectual investigation and when the gospel is thoroughly evaluated we can choose to believe or not believe it. This is where faith comes in.
 
 
Prayer: Thank you for the evidence preserved through history so that we can know that Jesus lived and died just as the Bible declares. Thank you for the conviction of the Holy Spirit who took that truth and revealed my sin and my need of a savior.



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