Christianity rests upon a foundation made up of three major pillars: God, the Bible, and Jesus. In that order.
The first pillar is the fact that there is a God. There is a creator of this universe, one who sustains our lives. He will be our future judge someday. The second pillar of Christianity is the fact that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. It is not something written by man. Man held the pen, but God inspired or moved the men in what they wrote.
The Second Pillar: The Bible is the Word of God
By the argument from above, we see that there must be a God, but who is he? Is he the God of the Bible, Allah from the Quran, Vishnu from Hinduism? We look at one possibility, the Bible? Can the Bible prove it is from God? If so, then the Bible reveals who God is.
The Bible itself contains countless claims of being inspired by God like this one, [2 Timothy 3:16-17 NIV] 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.It claims to be “breathed out” by God, meaning its origin and source was God and not just in the minds of humans. Though any book can claim this–claiming to be from God does not mean it is from God. We have to analyze this book and conclude for ourselves if the Bible could be produced by human means or if the book is supernatural and couldn’t be produced by human means.
Here are six characteristics of the Bible that altogether show that the Bible could not be written by humans alone. These six are contained in the mnemonic HICCUPS:
First, we ask, “Is the Bible historically accurate?” The Bible claims that God cannot lie (Titus 1:2) and that God knows everything (1 John 3:20). So if the Bible is from God, that Bible has to be without error in its record. The Bible is filled with historical details that can be verified, from fact to locations to specific kings. Historians around the world, modern as well as ancient, agree that the Bible is historically accurate. Archeologists even use the Bible to locate lost cities and to know what they are looking for.
For example, atheists accused the Bible for being false for many years because of its inclusion of Pontius Pilate, the Roman official that oversaw the crucifixion of Jesus. There was no archaeological evidence that such a person existed. That is, until 1961 when the “Pilate stone” was discovered and verified the Bible’s account. An Italian archaeological team working at Caesarea found a stone tablet that measured 32 inches high, by 27 inches wide, by 8 inches thick. On this slab were the remains of this simple title: “Pontius Pilate, Prefect of Judea”—almost the exact same title as the one given to him in Luke 3:1. As archaeology progresses and makes new discoveries, the Bible’s history becomes increasingly verified.
Even contemporary documentation verifies the Bible’s claims. You may not have ever seen Jesus but you can know he existed because there is so much evidence he did. The New Testament is written by eyewitnesses and secondhand accounts of Jesus, but also many non-Christian documents were written that mention Jesus at that time too. Roman historians like Thallus, Cornelius Tacitus, Pliny the Younger, and Jewish history like the Talmud or the writings of Josephus all refer to Jesus. These were not believers–they were historians recording history.
If the Bible was not historically accurate then it could not have been written by an omniscient God who does not lie.
Second, we ask, “Is the Bible intact?” Many skeptics claim that the Bible has been corrupted through the centuries and even rewritten at later dates so much so that who knows what the original Bible said. Is the Bible’s claim correct, that “the word of the Lord remains forever” (1 Pet. 1:25)?
When we open the Bible, we are reading from a catalog of 66 books, some of which were written more than 3,400 years ago. The latest books of the New Testament were completed by 100 A.D., almost 2,000 years ago. All of the original documents that Old and New Testament writers produced have been lost or destroyed. Our Bibles are only composed based upon copies of copies of the original writings. The copying of the Bible was done by hand by scribes and many people have criticized the purity of the Bible because of this fact.
If you have ever played the game Telephone you understand the logic of this accusation. One person will begin by telling someone a secret, that person then tells someone else that same secret, and so on. By the time the message has passed through everyone the message is completely different. They apply this principle to the Bible and claim it is corrupt.
But if we applied this principle to all historical documents then history would become a very mysterious subject. When a history textbook speaks of Augustus Caesar, how do you know this Augustus really existed and that the account is true? You haven’t met Caesar and neither has the person who wrote the textbook. But those scholars have studied historical documents concerning the man. In that same way, the documents that made up the Bible may have been copied but they can be depended upon.
In 1947, a number of ancient documents were found by accident in a cave on the northwest side of the Dead Sea. These were the Dead Sea Scrolls which make up one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of all times. Hundreds of Hebrew and Aramaic manuscripts and a few Greek fragments were found and are believed by scholars to have been written between 200 B.C. and the first half of the first century A.D. The most notable and pertinent group of documents found in the caves of Qumran near the Dead Sea is the collection of Old Testament books. Every book from the Hebrew Bible was accounted for among the scrolls except the book of Esther.
Before this discovery, the latest Old Testament manuscripts dated only to about AD 1000. How well preserved would you think the Old Testament was between 200 B.C. and A.D. 1000? If you would believe the skeptics you would think none of the original was present in the newer copies. But when scholars compared the modern day Biblical text with the newly found scrolls from more than 2,000 years ago they show the corruption to the text is pratically nonexistent. They serve as proof that the Old Testament text has been transmitted faithfully through the centuries. One person said, “Since it can be demonstrated that the text of the Old Testament was accurately transmitted for the last 2,000 years, one may reasonably suppose that it had been so transmitted from the beginning.”
And the New Testament is the same. There are over 5,300 manuscripts of the Greek New Testament in existence today, in whole or in part, that serve to corroborate the accuracy of the New Testament. (Compare this to only 643 copies of Homer’s Iliad.) Some of these are separated from the completed New Testament by only 300 years. We have records of early Christians writings about the New Testament from 90-160 A.D. The records are so many and their quotes of the New Testament are so often that their writings could reconstruct the entire New Testament if it were ever lost. Their quotes of the New Testament of their day are identical to the New Testament we have now.
If the Bible is from God and it has not remained intact–but instead was corrupted, then we would not be able to depend upon it to reveal to us that God’s message.
Third, the Bible is also coherent. The Bible is made up of a library of sixty-six books, written by more than forty different people. Over a span of 1400 years. It was impossible for the writers to get together and compare their notes. They lived at different times and in different places. Yet, they tell different parts of one story. Even that alone is incredible. The Bible contains sixty-six books that tell one story. It is the unfolding drama of God’s redemptive plan from creation to the present time and through eternity. This continuing story provides evidence that these sixty-six books are inspired, just as the writers of the information claim.
Most people who read the Bible in the 21st century rarely stop to think about the 66 different books that compose the sacred Scriptures. Because the 66 books fit together so perfectly, it is easy to consider them to be one organic unit. To say that the writers of the Bible were diverse would be an understatement. Yet, though their educational and cultural backgrounds varied extensively, and though many of them were separated by several centuries, the 66 books that compose the Bible fit together perfectly. To achieve such a feat by employing mere human ingenuity and wisdom would be impossible.
If the writers of the Bible conflicted in their message then it would suggest it was not written from a single author, God. If the Bible is written with a single source, God, then it should form a single coherent message.
Fourth, the Bible is cogent. That is, relevant and convincing by virtue of forcible, clear, or incisive presentation. History is filled with evil actions committed and constant warfare over mostly unimportant issues. Humans have always needed a moral guidance that the Bible sufficiently provides by revealing a good God who gives righteous commands to follow. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says that the Bible is useful to teach, to rebuke, to correct, and to train in righteousness.
Throughout history humans have always sought after understanding of the universe, of themselves, and of their purpose. The Bible reveals the narrative that mankind fits into, that a personal God created mankind and loved them despite their disobedience. God’s Son died for mankind and people can be reconciled to their Maker through faith in Christ. The Bible is not just a story of Jesus–it is our story. It shows who we are and who we can be.
The Bible is the most published and read book in history because it speaks to mankind. It shows mankind at its best and worst. It provides a path for humans to travel on with a destination they understand. The Bible is a literary masterpiece even if it was not inspired.
If the Bible is written by God, the Creator of the universe, then shouldn’t it be powerfully persuasive and reveal mankind’s purpose or their destiny? Who would believe the Bible was written by God if it was lackluster and didn’t give us direction? If the Bible is written by God it should be cogent.
The facts so far may not prove that the Bible is inspired by God. But they are required for the Bible to be inspired by God. How could something written by an all-knowing, all-powerful being not be historical, intact, coherent, or cogent? These characteristics establish a solid base for our analysis of the Bible before we move onto the supernatural characteristics of the Bible.
The fifth quality of the Bible is that it is unexplainable. During the time of the Bible, medicine and science were horribly ignorant. What passed for medicine in those days would horrify us. Today we have the best scientific understanding and best medical practices then ever. However, the Bible presents completely accurate information concerning the fields of medicine and science; this knowledge is far more advanced than the knowledge present at the time and that which was available to the civilizations it was given to.
The Law of Moses in the Old Testament was written by Moses, who received the best education in Egypt (Acts 7:22), but his writing possesse far more superior medical knowledge than he could have known. The Pentateuch contained the most advanced, flawless medical prescriptions that had ever been recorded. Furthermore, every statement that pertained to the health and medical well-being of the Israelite nation recorded by Moses could theoretically still be implemented and be completely in accord with every fact modern medicine has learned in regard to germ spreading, epidemic disease control, communal sanitation, and a host of other medical and scientific discoveries.
For example, today we understand the value of blood concerning health, but for a long period doctors believed that blood would be contaminated and cause sickness so they would use leeches to draw out the blood or a practice known as bloodletting where the veins and arteries located just above the elbow were opened, and the patient’s arms were bled to expunge the contaminated blood. This practice led to the death of George Washington in 1797, just over 200 years ago. But in 1450 BC Moses wrote, “the life of the flesh is in the blood” (Lev. 17:11). It took 3,000 years for medical knowledge to catch up to the Bible!
Another example, you probably believe in germs and washing your hands, but that is a fairly new understanding. In 1847 an obstetrician named Ignaz Semmelweis observed that 18% of pregnant women died of labor fever in his hospital. But this rate dropped to 3% if the woman used a midwife instead of the advanced medicine available. Semmelweis saw doctors perform autopsies and wash their hands in a bowl of bloody water, dry their hands with a shared towel, and proceed to work with the still-living women. This may be disgusting to us but these doctors did not know of the existence and danger of germs. Semmelweis ordered everyone in his ward to wash his or her hands thoroughly in a chlorine solution after every examination. In three months, the death rate fell from 18% to 1%.” But 3,000 years before the Bible wrote about the practice of sanitation. The Old Testament says if you touch a dead body you are unclean for seven days and have to wash yourself twice before you are considered clean. That is the concept of quarantine!
How could such an ancient document reveal knowledge that was so recently discovered? How could Moses have known this information when writing? The answer is the awesome, omniscient God revealed this truth among many to us through His inspired Word.
If the Bible is written by an omniscient God shouldn’t there be parts of it that show a level of understanding beyond mankind’s ability? But if there are portions that are purely unexplainable then perhaps it is not written by man alone.
The sixth quality of the Bible is that it is predictive. The Bible contains predictive prophecy, predictions of future events; this is a specific subset of the unexplainable elements in the Bible. These prophecies demonstrate knowledge of the future. It is fair to say, if the Bible can predict the future repetitiously, in detail, without being wrong, then it proves to be supernatural and from God.
Does the Bible predict the future repetitiously, multiple times. Any person can accidentally get something right on accident once. Can a person intentionally predict something is going to happen multiple times? Does the bible predict in detail? Anyone can simply predict, “Something bad is going to happen to America.” And that person is going to be right. The predictions have to be detailed. Does the bible predict without being wrong? If I sit down and write down 10,000 possible things that could happen to America, I will probably get one right. But then I have 9,999 predictions that were wrong. If the Bible is truly written with knowledge of the future, then all the prophecies need to be accurate.
Even God acknowledges the prophecies have to come to pass, Deuteronomy 18:21-22. A single false prophecy indicated a prophet was not from God. On the opposite side, Jeremiah 28:9 says when a prophecy comes to pass it indicates he is speaking God’s words. If the Bible is written by prophets who are speaking words from the omniscient, all-knowing God, then the Bible should demonstrate knowledge of the future.
Ezekiel’s prophecy of Tyre’s fall serves as an example of supernatural foreknowledge. The book of Ezekiel begins “in the fifth year of King Johoiachin’s captivity,” which is 597 B.C. Chapter 26 is eleven years after this, so 586 B.C. This chapter contains a prediction of the city of Tyre’s destruction.
The the maint part of the city of Tyre was a half mile off shore on a small rocky island. It was considered impregnable; its geography was so that no one could enter the island if they did not want you to. Ezekiel’s prophecy predicted (1) many nations would come against Tyre; (2) the inhabitants of the villages and fields of Tyre would be slain; (3) Nebuchadnezzar would build a siege mound against the city; (4) the city would be broken down and the stones, timber, and soil would be thrown in “the midst of the water;” (5) the city would become a “place for spreading nets;” and (6) the city would never be rebuilt. The history recorded of Tyre’s fall matches exactly what the Bible predicted.
(1) many nations would come against Tyre; in 586 BC the king Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon besieged the city. In 392 B.C., the king of Egypt. In 332, Alexander the Great. Then, Ptolemy of Egypt until about 315 B.C. when Syria besieged Tyre for 15 months. So, Babylon, Syria, Egypt, Rome, Greece, Armenia, and Persia are but a sampling of the “many nations” that had a part in the ultimate destruction of Tyre.
(2) the inhabitants of the villages and fields of Tyre would be slain; the mainland of Tyre was besieged by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 B.C. and ultimately destroyed by the Greeks in 333 B.C.
(3) Nebuchadnezzar would build a siege mound against the city; this came to pass in 586 B.C. when the mainland city was besieged for thirteen years. The island was unaffected.
(4) the city would be broken down and the stones, timber, and soil would be thrown in “the midst of the water;” when Alexander the Great was not allowed into the town he sought to destroy it. Because of Tyre’s unique geography it was almost impossible to get to the island. Alexander does something completely unthinkable; he commands his army to take the stones of buildings in the mainland city and to throw them into the sea to form a bridge toward the island. Alexander’s crazy scheme worked and the Greek army devastated the island. All people were either killed or sold into slavery.
(5) the city would become a “place for spreading nets;” after so much destruction through the years, the inhabitants of the area relied upon fishing to sustain themselves.
and (6) the city would never be rebuilt; the mainland is now underwater like Ezekiel predicted, “When I make you a city laid waste, like the cities that are not inhabited, when I bring up the deep over you, and the great waters cover you” (26:19).
How could Ezekiel have predicted this so accurately and with such great detail? Ezekiel claims to have been written in the sixth century B.C. and the latest critics can suggest it was written in the fourth century B.C.. This proves that Ezekiel wrote about a specific, unpredictable historical account with fine detail before it occurred. Such a feat is beyond human means.
There are other examples:
The seventh quality of the Bible is a conclusion from the previous six, supernatural. The Bible has to meet these qualities in order for us to reasonably conclude that it is supernatural. The Bible needs to be historical if it is written by an omniscient God. The Bible needs to be intact if we are going to depend on it to reveal God’s message. The Bible needs to be coherent if it is written by a single author, God. The Bible needs to be cogent if it is written by the Creator of mankind. The Bible needs to have unexplainable elements that mankind could not produce if it is written by an all-knowing God. The Bible needs to have predictive elements if it is written by a God who knows all things, even the future. With all of these qualities met, it is safe to say that the Bible can not have been written by humans and that it is supernatural in nature and origin.
If a book had all these qualities that demonstrated it could not have been produced by mankind, and that same book claimed to be written by God, would that not be evidence enough to support that claim?
The Bible is the most published book in history and yet so many people just keep it on the shelf without realizing these qualities or its significance. What will you do with this knowledge? Will you keep your bible on the shelf? Or will you read the Bible and learn what God wants us to know? How could we have a book written by God, the Creator of all the universe, and not read it?
Look back at 2 Timothy 3:16-17. If we believe the first part of the verse, we will believe the second part. If we believe the Bible is inspired, “All Scripture is breathed out by God,” we will believe it is the guide for our life, “…profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
We will start with this basic question, What is Christianity all about? Christianity rests upon a foundation made up of three major pillars: God, the Bible, and Jesus. In that order.
Before you believe in Jesus, you first have to believe the Bible is God’s word. Before you believe in the Bible, you first have to believe that God exists. An atheist won’t be convinced by the Bible because he doesn’t believe in God so he definitely won’t believe the Bible is written by God. To convince a person Jesus is the Messiah you have to use the Bible, so a person must first believe the Bible is God’s word for you to show with the Bible that Jesus is the Messiah.
The first pillar is the fact that there is a God. There is a creator of this universe, one who sustains our lives. He will be our future judge someday. The second pillar of Christianity is the fact that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. It is not something written by man. Man held the pen, but God inspired or moved the men in what they wrote. The third pillar is the fact that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Christians really hold firm to the belief that there is a God, that the Bible is His Word, and that Jesus Christ is His Son. In this lesson I want to look at the first two.
The First Pillar: The Existence Of God
The first pillar on which Christianity rests is proof of the existence of God.
[Romans 1:20-23 NIV] 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.Notice these three facts found in this text.
The Bible emphasizes faith. Part of faith is trusting God, but before you can trust in God you have to believe he exists. Heb. 11:6 says faith is believing 1) he exists and 2) he rewards those who seek him,
[Heb 11:6 ESV] 6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.The Bible says that from creation itself we can determine that there is a God. Do you think this is true? There are many reasons why a god must exist.
Many Christians might say they know there is God because they “just know” or because they “feel it.” This is not a solid argument. God’s existence is not proven by our subjective feelings. An atheist can make the same argument that there is no God because he feels it. A hindu can say the same thing about their gods. And so on. Arguments for God’s existence should not be subjective or personal. When determining if God exists or if the Bible is inspired by God we should not abandon logic.
Here are five solid arguments that prove God’s existence. I use the mnemonic COMET to remember it:
The Cosmological argument is based on cause and effect. It goes like this:
Every effect has a cause. What was the cause for the beginning of the universe? It is against the laws of science to say the universe came into existence without a cause and it is against the findings of scientists today to say that the universe has existed for all time. Scientists have attempted to answer the question of the beginning of the universe with the big bang, but scientists are still at a loss to explain the cause of the big bang.
The cause of the universe (called in philosophy the “prime mover” of “first cause”) had to (1) exist before the universe, (2) be superior to the universe, and (3) be independent from the universe. We could say the first cause has to be eternal, almighty, and self-sustaining. Sounds like God.
[Psa 19:1 ESV] … The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.The Ontological argument is an argument considering the idea of god alone. It asserts that it is logically necessary that if God possibly exists, then he actually exists. It is a difficult argument to understand and it really only appeals to fans of philosophy. It goes like this:
The argument works logically but is not extremely persuasive for those that are not fans of philosophy or rhetoric.
The Moral (or Anthropological) argument asks the question, “Where did right and wrong come from?” How would you define “evil” and “good”? Anytime someone criticizes the ethics of a person or action, they are appealing to some sort of moral standard.
If morality is subjective, then it follows that in some situation an act like rape would not be evil and also would be moral (like if an alien race threatened to destroy all mankind unless you raped a person). Is there every a situation where rape is good? Can we agree that rape is always evil, regardless of the motive, the outcome, and the circumstance?
If morality depends on culture, then those who go against the cultural standard would be evil. In that case, Martin Luther King Jr. would be evil because he denied the culture of racism. In that culture segregation and racism were the norm, so it would not have been evil. However, can we agree that racism is evil regardless of the culture? So, there is a standard of morality that exists outside of circumstance or culture. Where did this objective standard come from if not from human beings? If what is evil is always evil and what is right is always right, then who decided this?
The moral argument says:
The Bible tells us that people innately have a “law” written on their heart that guides them. We could call this the conscience. Where did this conscience come from? Who wrote this “law” on people’s hearts? It was God. God placed the moral standard on our hearts.
[Rom 2:14-15 ESV] 14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law (God’s word), by nature do what the law requires (live morally), they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts (by God), while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them…The Emptiness argument argues that God exists based on our desires. Every human desire has the possibility to be fulfilled. Hunger is fulfilled with food. Thirst is fulfilled with water. A duck’s desire to swim is fulfilled with water. A mother’s desire to parent is fulfilled with child-bearing. A person’s sexual desire is fulfilled with sex. For every desire there is something in this world that fulfills the desire. No desire is left empty. But, if I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world or that there is something outside this world that fulfills that desire and fills that emptiness.
All civilizations since the beginning of history have worshipped gods. Why is it that? Why is there this constant desire in human beings to worship something greater than themselves? If there is a desire for something greater than this world there must be something greater than this world to fulfill it, because all our other desires can be fulfilled by things of this world. Simply put,
[Psa 42:1 ESV] … As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.The Teleological argument analyzes the intricate design of our universe. It goes like this:
God’s creation was done with wisdom. God’s intelligent and orderly design can be clearly seen.
[Pro 3:19-20 ESV] 19 The LORD by wisdom founded the earth; by understanding he established the heavens; 20 by his knowledge the deeps broke open, and the clouds drop down the dew.Do cars just happen? Of course not. Their multiple systems are interactive and integrated with each other in order for the automobile to operate. A designer(s) lies behind the creation of a car. Yet, compared to the universe, or compared to the human body, or even compared to the inner workings of one tree leaf, a car is a crude and primitive invention. If the creation of a car demands the existence of the remarkable human mind, what must be required for the creation of the human brain/mind? Obviously, something or Someone far superior to the human mind would be needed for its creation. Logically, that Someone must be the powerful, transcendent Creator, God.
Even scientists have noted how near impossible our world is. The Earth is just the right location with all the right detail for life to exist. Any minor changes to any detail would exclude the possibility of life. We have the right type of planet, in the right type of galaxy, with the right type of sun, with the right type of orbit, with the right type of axis, with the right type of speed of orbit, and so on.
Scientists have discovered that in order for, what they call, atomic weak force to function, which allows fusion (in our sun), which allows for human life, it has to be finely tuned down to one in ten to the hundredth power. That is a one with 100 zeros after it. The odds of our human life scientifically is nearly impossible.
Another statistic, this one about the expansion rate of the universe–the universe is constantly expanding. Scientists have discovered that in order for life to exist that rate has to be at a particular speed, not too slow and not too fast. Scientists say that rate is finely tuned down to one in ten to the one-hundred-twentieth power. That is a one with 120 zeros after it. Again, the odds of our human life scientifically is nearly impossible.
What are the odds that there is a higher being that created the universe like God? Would the odds of God be greater or lesser than 1 over a 10 with 120 zeros? Either way–whether by accident or by God’s design, whichever you believe you are accepting a nearly impossible possibility.
Adding to that, consider the second law of thermodynamics which concerns the direction of natural processes and establishes the concept of entropy. It states that when energy is added to a system the result is chaos, not order. Even by the scientific laws of our universe, complexity is not a result of natural processes. If left to its own the universe produces less order, not more. If there is order in the universe, it is not a result of itself–it is a result of something outside of the universe.
When you see a watch you naturally assume there is a watchmaker. Someone you have not seen or known, but you assume there was someone intelligent who designed that complex watch. However, beliefs like the big bang or evolution are like taking all the parts that watch, putting them in a box, and shaking that box for millions of years. What would be the statistical odds that those pieces would fall into the order of this intricate watch? You could say, it takes more faith to believe in that than it would to believe in a watchmaker you cannot see.
When it comes to God we should not abandon our mind. The definition of faith in the Bible is NOT “believing without evidence.” We must believe in the evidence and have faith in the conclusion it leads us to. Evidence that there is something greater than ourselves is all around us.
If you were to die today would you, without a doubt, go to Heaven? If you would, then how do you know? If not, then would you like to?
The Bible is a very large book but it can be condensed into the simple message of John 3:16, [Jhn 3:16 ESV] For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.God’s desire is that we have eternal life, that is, that we go to Heaven. What we call going to Heaven and being saved is what God calls “eternal life.” Can we know we have eternal life? God says, Yes!
[1Jo 5:13 ESV] I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.God made it so that we can know we have eternal life. God’s word is written so we can have eternal life and have a relationship with him. If we read the Bible we find out that Jesus is the key to going to Heaven.
Jesus is the way!
God’s love was shown by the sacrifice of Jesus. This verse is a basic overview of God’s plan to save mankind. There are more details to God’s plan than this, but Jhn 3:16 is a good overview. The way God saves the world is through his Son’s death. It was by God’s love. It requires faith. It gives eternal life. Eternal life is a life that never ends, meaning when our life on earth ends there is still life to live in Heaven.
[Jhn 8:24 ESV] (Jesus said,) “I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.”Notice in John 8:24 how Jesus gave two options? One is believing and the other is dying in our sins. The reason that we needed Jesus in the first place is because of our sin. The problem of sin is only solved by faith in Jesus. Faith–believing Jesus is the Son of God–is our way to having eternal life and going to Heaven.
Sin separates us from God!
[Isa 59:1-2 ESV] 1 Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; 2 but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.Sin makes a separation between sinners and God. Those with sin need to be saved. But the problem is: we all sin!
[Rom 3:10, 23 ESV] v. 10 …None is righteous, no, not one …
v. 23 …for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…The Bible calls the state of being separated from God death. Eternal life is having a relationship with God and going to Heaven. Death is having no relationship with God and being destined for Hell. Sin separates us from God, so sin produces death. Sin means we need to be saved and God wants us saved too!
[Rom 6:23 ESV] For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.If all people sin and sin separates us from God, then all people are separated from God. If Jesus is the solution to sin, then that means all people need Jesus. Jesus is the good news!
[Eph 2:1-10 ESV, partial] And you were dead in the trespasses and sins…like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ–by grace you have been saved …For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast … God brings us from bad news to good news–from death to life! God does not want to give us what we deserve, Hell. God wants us to go to Heaven because he loves us and is rich in mercy. God has grace, which means favor. He favors us. He gives us something we do not deserve.
Saved by God’s grace!
The message of Jesus’ death is called the Gospel. The Gospel is God’s power to save us if we have faith. If we have faith in the Gospel, the message that Jesus died for us, then we can be saved.
[Rom 1:16-17 ESV] For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”Without faith you can’t please God.
[Heb 11:6 ESV] And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.What is faith?
Belief/faith is the way to access eternal life. But what is the definition of “faith”? Is it faith to believe there is a god? What is God’s definition of faith? James says even the demons believe in God, so not all kinds of “faith” give you eternal life.
[Jas 2:19 ESV] You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe–and shudder!Is it faith to believe in God and do nothing God commands us to do? Jesus tells us that part of faith is obeying God. Faith alone is not enough to gain eternal life. There are other parts required of us in order for us to be saved by God. Another piece required is baptism.
[Mar 16:16 ESV] (Jesus said,) Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.To be saved, both faith and baptism are required. Jesus assumes people who believe/have faith will get baptized. Jesus did not consider the possibility of a person believing the Gospel and not being baptized. Baptism is something you do when you believe. Jesus did not say, “Whoever believes will be saved,” he said, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved.” Jesus’ words show how important baptism is. Look at Acts 2 where Peter also connects faith and baptism.
[Act 2:36-38 ESV] 36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” 37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.Verse 36 is a description of the Gospel: the crucified Jesus is the Messiah, that is God’s chosen one. In verse 37 it sounds like the people believed this; they were convicted, “cut to the heart.” They asked Peter what they should do. What do you do when you believe Jesus is the Messiah? Peter gives them the answer in verse 38. Notice what he said: (they believed) Faith + (Peter said) repentance + baptism = forgiveness + Holy Spirit. Repentance means changing our minds and lives. Repentance is committing to avoid sin and turning your life to God. Forgiveness is eternal life because sin is what keeps us from God so if sin is forgiven, then we are brought together with God, meaning we are saved!
Saved by the Gospel
The Gospel = Jesus’ death + burial + resurrection. God saves through this Gospel.
[1Co 15:1-4 ESV] Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you–unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures…Peter said in Acts 2:38, we have to repent and be baptized to be saved. Obeying the Gospel includes baptism. Baptism connects us to the sacrifice Jesus made. When we are baptized we unite in Jesus’ death, we unite in his burial, and we unite in his resurrection. Like Jesus, we go from death to life. We undergo a death, burial, and resurrection like Jesus.
[Rom 6:3-4 ESV] Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.Our eternal destination depends on us obeying the Gospel. Not doing so leads to wrath.
[2Th 1:7-8 ESV] (When God judges the world,) …when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.The Gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. We obey that by undergoing our own death, burial, and resurrection in baptism and then by living a new life submitted to God. Our new life is dedicated to obeying God’s commands and will result in eternal life.
[Rom 6:22 NIV] 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.This is how we know we are going to Heaven. When you have faith in the Gospel (Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection), and repent from your sins, and are baptized, you gain eternal life (and forgiveness of sin and the Holy Spirit).
So, I ask once more, if you were to die today would you, without a doubt, be going to Heaven?
Bobby Price was born and raised by Christian parents in Perrin, Texas. Bobby decided early in life to become a preacher of God's word. He attended the Sunset International Bible Institute in Lubbock, Texas where he graduated in 2015 with his Bachelors of Biblical Studies with a focus in Congregational Ministry. Afterwards, he interned for a year at the valley view Church of Christ in Jonesboro, AR. He is currently working on his Masters of Biblical Studies, through the Sunset International Bible Institute Graduate School.