I’m taking a short break from our “What Did Jesus Do When He Discipled” series. This topic has been on my mind and heart, and I wanted to write something about it.
Enjoy prosperity while you can, but when hard times strike, realize that both come from God. Remember that nothing is certain in this life.(Eccl. 7:14)
Solomon wrote these words in Ecclesiastes, one of the saddest books in the Bible, I think. Because with all his wisdom he looks at life through human eyes and sees nothing substantive. He has all the money and pleasures this world has to offer, and he finds no meaning in any of it. And in man’s wisdom, he asserts, “Nothing is certain in this life.”
That’s pretty much the attitude of many people today. We live in an interesting time when some people have a knee-jerk reaction to anyone who has any certainty about anything. I understand, somewhat. I mean, we have news contradicting news on every other channel and website out there. We have a pandemic with doctors who can’t agree on much. We have people convinced and certain they are right on every side of every topic it seems—and they believe their side with passionate emotions most of the time.
Being a young parent during these days must be excruciating as you try to make the right decisions for your children. We don’t know what is best, what is right, for our kids. Whereas most of us have experienced that in the past as well, it seldom was a life or death situation. Now, you are being faced with what should be every day decisions that can be life-altering decisions.
Even science that is touted as the most reliable place for finding facts changes with each new discovery and each new grant funding someone else’s ideas. We think we know until we find out we didn’t really know what we thought we knew.
In a world where all these opinions and ideas are constantly at our fingertips 24-7, our brains can be on overload, and we may resist listening to another voice saying they are sure of anything.
I’ve been mulling all of this over for a while now. And I realize I am convinced of many things. I have chosen which side to believe on certain issues. I have accepted what I find to be the most logical with my way of thinking. And I’ve been guilty of confirmation bias at times, I’m sure. Even in my theology, certain beliefs I hold to as true may be seen as false by some of my best friends. We choose to disagree on these things and remain friends in spite of them.
However, and this is a huge “however,” I am convinced of some beliefs that nothing can shake. My friends who may disagree on some beliefs hold to these same beliefs. These are beliefs that are fairly universal for anyone who has studied the Bible and knows good exegesis. These are moorings we can hold onto in the rough seas of uncertainty, doubt, and fear.
May I share those with you?
You will find those who disagree with me. Belief is a matter of faith, after all, but the faith I have in these items is so solid because of what I’ve experienced as well as what I’ve read in the Bible. These go beyond simple religion or denomination. These are truths that those who wrote the Bible were certain of even in the midst of horrible persecution and threat of death. These are the truths that people right now hold onto in places like Afghanistan and North Korea. People die daily for these certainties. Do you want to know what beliefs are so strong that a person would rather die than change their minds? Would you want to hold on to an anchor of certainty that would cause you to give up everything else, literally, just to stay true to that?
The perfect answer to these questions, of course, is “Certainly!” I hope you answered them that way.
- I am certain that God’s Word, the Bible, is trustworthy.
I know many groups exist today who are trying to tear it apart, and some who are believing “scriptures” that have been debunked by some of the best scholars in history. But I believe God has preserved His Word to us. The Gospels have been shown to be accurate accounts of the events of Christ’s life. God has left us His Word to teach and guide us in living this life. It is no surprise that some want to tear it down and try to do away with it. If we believe it, we must act. We must choose to follow Christ. We must make Him our Lord, Savior, and God. That means we must humble ourselves and follow Him. Frankly, many don’t like that. We want to be our own gods choosing how we want to live.
I love what Luke says in the beginning of his Gospel:
Many people have set out to write accounts about the events that have been fulfilled among us. 2 They used the eyewitness reports circulating among us from the early disciples. 3 Having carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I also have decided to write an accurate account for you, most honorable Theophilus, 4 so you can be certain of the truth of everything you were taught. (Luke 1:1-4, NLT)
Luke is one of the more detailed Gospels in the Bible. Luke, the man, was a physician and well-educated man and dedicated follower of Christ.
Luke also wrote Acts which shares about the earliest Christians. What I love about both of these books is that we see Jesus’ life and those who followed Him. We see how His followers, before His death, scattered in fear when Jesus was arrested. Then, after Jesus leaves earth and gives His Holy Spirit to believers, suddenly there is no fear. We see believers who give everything to share about what God has done in their lives and in history. They die for the cause of the Gospel. They are changed dramatically by what God has done, and there is no doubt in their lives about the truth of the Gospel.
This leads to the second certainty I have.
- I am certain that the Gospel and Salvation through Christ are real. God’s love and forgiveness are real. I know this from my own life-changing experience of salvation, and I know this from the Words in the Bible. I also know this from many others who have a testimony of the reality of God and His transforming love in their lives.
36 “So let everyone in Israel know for certain that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, to be both Lord and Messiah!” (Acts 2:36, NLT)
17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. (Eph. 3:17-19, NLT)
9 And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. 10 For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. 11 So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God. (Romans 5:9-11, NLT)
Honestly, I could stop here. If I have these two things, everything else falls into place. I don’t need to argue or debate anything else. I don’t need to tell you which choices people make are sinful and which are acceptable in my view. I don’t need to assert that I know the best way to live, raise children, worship, or build relationships. Seriously, if I have God’s Word and I have God’s love and forgiveness which lead to a real relationship with Him as my Lord and Savior, I’m set. I have a life filled with purpose and meaning. I have a hope and a future. I have His Spirit to guide me, comfort me, and fill me with His wisdom. I live for Christ and to make His name known among the nations. Everything else in this life pales in comparison.
But I am certain of one other thing that I want to share with you. Not only does God love you. Not only did Christ die for you. But…
- I am certain God does not give up on you as you seek to follow Him. God does not give up on me. He is merciful and gracious and keeps working in our lives throughout the entire time we have here.
6 And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. (Philippians 1:6, NLT)
I don’t know where you are today or what you are certain about, but I hope these three truths give you a foundation you can build on. Truth is not relative. Truth is Jesus Christ. Salvation is not “fire insurance” and is not easy. Some of us have been told a lie that just believing and walking down an aisle and praying makes us a Christian. But if we’re honest with ourselves, for some of us, that “believing” was just a mind game. It never was a heart change. Believing in the biblical sense means a heart and mind change. It means a turning away from our sin and choosing to follow in obedience to Christ, our LORD and Savior. It’s surrender.
And for some, maybe you’ve gotten caught up in the rhetoric and politics of today. Maybe you’ve believed lies about yourself and others that have caused you to be disheartened and disillusioned. God gives us hope in the middle of despair, joy and peace in the middle of turmoil. As you work through these arguments and concerns for our world and its people, find your rest and hope in Christ, and let God’s Word guide and comfort you.
4 Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled. (Romans 15:4, NLT).
I know, more than I know anything else, that God is real and His Word is true. I hope you have that same certainty and comfort in your life as well.