A God Worthy of Worship
We live in a nation where the Easter holidays are widely observed. So at this time every year, virtually every American is confronted with the question: Do I believe the claims of Jesus Christ? And if so, what will I do about them?
Most Americans learn at some point that according to the Bible, Jesus of Nazareth was born of the Virgin Mary and claimed to be the Son of God. He was tortured and crucified at the hands of Pontius Pilate, a Roman governor, for making such claims. According to the Scriptures, he walked out of a tomb three days after his burial.
And according to the Scriptures, the whole point of all this was for Jesus to pay the penalty for man’s rebellion against the Creator. He came to reconcile us with our Maker.
From Belief in Creation to Belief in the Resurrection
Frankly, I’ve never had trouble believing this. It’s never been hard for me to believe in a God who can do and has done things we can’t comprehend. Think about your own skills and abilities, the power you have to reason and create, and compare them to those of a tiny gnat. Not only is the gnat incapable of doing much of what you can do; it cannot even comprehend what you can do. It has no concept of what a computer is or why you would use one — much less how to create one.
I not only believe that God created the world, but have trouble understanding why anyone would doubt it. It makes no sense to me that a random and mindless collision of dust particles could have led to complex, thinking creatures capable of appreciating beauty, experiencing joy, showing empathy, and acting courageously. And without a Creator, we can’t explain the existence of what C.S. Lewis describes as “a real law, which none of us made, but which we find pressing on us.”
If you believe that God made the world and everything in it, why should you have trouble believing the Bible’s account of the resurrection of Jesus Christ? If God can make a human being from scratch, surely he can bring a dead one out of the grave.
Miracles are the Center of Christianity
There are some people today who identify as “Christian” but will freely confess that they do not believe in the Bible’s miracles. Surely this is an untenable position; these miracles are the very basis of the faith.
As J. Gresham Machen pointed out in his classic book, Christianity & Liberalism, “The great weapon with which the disciples of Jesus set out to conquer the world was not a mere comprehension of eternal principles; it was an historical message, an account of something that had recently happened, it was the message, ‘He is risen.'”
More Than a Set of Principles
To truly be a Christian is not merely to be a person who thinks Jesus had some good ideas, who tries to be “good,” or who follows some set moral standards. To be a Christian is to know who Christ was, what he did and why — and to be changed by knowing these facts. Indeed, the failure to understand Christianity this way is the basis for many misunderstandings about Christians that have tragic, practical effects today.
For instance, some people wrongly believe that Christianity is simply a lifestyle. No wonder they are outraged at the Christian florist who refuses to service a same-sex wedding. They thought her faith was about following a moral code centered around “being nice.” In fact, her aim is to obey a moral code centered around the living God — a God she is not at liberty to defy or re-define. The “God” they imagine is a set of principles, or perhaps a permissive grandfather-figure. But the God whom she serves is holy, loving, and worthy of obedience.
Christianity is about a God who is real, who reveals his unchanging character in Scripture, and who lovingly sent his Son to rescue sinful people through certain historical actions: his obedience, death, and resurrection. Both those who celebrate Easter and those who choose not to are confronted with those facts once again this weekend.
Those who cannot accept that Jesus was the Son of God, that he lived a perfect life on earth, died to make us right with God and rose from the dead, are not truly “Christians.” And neither are those who believe the facts, yet are not moved by them to love, worship, and obedience.
If Jesus didn’t do the things the Bible says he did, he is not worthy of our worship. And if he did do them, how can we do anything but worship?