► Christians are seen as people who need something to enable them to cope with the problems of life, just like alcohol and drugs.
► We all do need a crutch to help us to get by in this world, a desire for something to sustain us. It is true that there are definite psychological needs (such as fear of danger, disease and death) that might prompt us to invent God so that we would feel secure.
a. Salvation can only be known after we accept it by faith. We have to rely on the witnesses of the Bible and Christians.
b. Based on the Bible, salvation is real and certain:
(1) 1Jn 5:12-13 Salvation is clearly declared.
(2) 2Ti 2:11-13 Paul uses the definitive word “will” 3 times to emphasize the reality of salvation (also Ro 10:9).
(3) Eph 1:13-14 God puts the Holy Spirit in a believer’s heart as a seal and a deposit to guarantee Christians that we will receive our inheritance. This inheritance includes eternal life and future glory in God’s eternal kingdom.
a. Jesus affirmed the fact of rebirth (Jn 3:3,5).
b. Rebirth is real and objective, based on the following points:
(1) Some argue that rebirth is a temporary emotional phenomenon resulting from psychological stimulation and/or social pressure (e.g. in gospel meetings). But there are innumerable believers who accept Christ in different situations and possess enduring faith all their life.
(2) Some argue that rebirth is resulted from the adolescent feeling of insecurity. But Christians come from all walks of life, including many famous thinkers. Many Christians were formerly staunch opponents of Christianity, such as apostle Paul and C.S. Lewis.
(3) Some argue that rebirth is imaginary. But it is impossible to have an imaginary experience occurring in different parts of the world all through history and with high degree of similarity.
c. The best proof is the experience of the changed life of a born-again Christian, often very different from the old life. Changes include renewed strength, courage, love, higher morality, and inexplicable joy and peace. It can be felt by the reborn person and by others (2Co 5:17). There are numerous such witnesses in books and from people in churches.
● The Bible promises that following Christ will bring personal peace, brotherly love, true fulfillment and victory over evil.
● The Bible teaches that when persons become Christians, they begin a refining process toward becoming a perfect reflection of Jesus’ holiness, compassion and wisdom. But the process lasts an entire lifetime, and throughout the process the Christian is always allowed the choice of whether to take the next step.
● The Christians we encounter every day are at different points in this refinement process.
● We must judge by whether a specific Christian is a better person with Christ than that person would have been without Him.
a. Based objectively on God’s promise (1Jn 1:9):
(1) Rebirth is preceded by repentance and faith.
● A change of heart: Greek word for “repentance” includes “change of heart and thinking”, that is, the change from human thinking to God’s thinking.
● A change in action: Hebrew word for “repentance” includes “turning back” or “coming back”, that is, the change from one’s own way to God’s way.
(2) Assurance of salvation: No man can snatch salvation from a believer (Jude 1:24; 1Co 1:8-9; Jn 10:28-29; 17:11-12).
b. Based subjectively on the indwelling of the Holy Spirit who acts as a guarantee (Eph 1:13-14):
The Holy Spirit helps the believer in:
(1) having a new attitude toward the Lord (1Co 12:3)
(2) being more conscious and sensitive of sin (Jn 16:8)
(3) understanding truth (Jn 16:13)
(4) being comforted (because of “interceding for the believers”, Ro 8:26)
(5) receiving power and gifts to witness and to serve (1Co 12:11)
(6) possessing fruit (singular) of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23)
a. Arguments from Authority:
(1) Consensus: Nearly all cultures and the majority of all individuals believe in life after death.
(2) Jesus: Jesus, as a trustworthy person, affirms the fact of resurrection (Jn 11:23-25; 5:25-29). There is also strong evidence presented in the Bible that Jesus rose from death.
b. Arguments from Reason:
(1) Existence of the soul: If the soul dies, it must die either by decomposition or by annihilation. But the soul is not composed of parts so it cannot decompose. Also, death is not a process of annihilation and there is no external process to annihilate.
(2) God’s justice: God is just and that attribute is reflected in all his dealings with man. But there is great injustice in this life. To be consistent with God’s justice, there must be justice after death to redress and compensate for injustice before death.
(3) The meaning of life: If life ends in final annihilation, then life does not have an end worth living for. Life must have an end worth living for. Therefore life does not end in final annihilation. [This is precisely why suicide is an atheist’s logical choice.]
c. Arguments from Experience:
(1) Experience of dying: Many dying Christians said that they saw the heaven opened and Jesus welcomed them home (Ac 7:55-56).
(2) Postmortem presence: Many describe experience of the presence of a person already dead.
(3) Near-Death experience (NDEs): Many who were medically dead for a short while but were revived later reported out-of-the-body experience with uncanny precision.
a. Anxiety is the deep-seated inexplicable fear or worry. (In comparison, fear is resulted from tangible things, such as fear of taking an examination or fear of crime.) Everyone is burdened with anxiety.
b. Existentialist philosophers talk about 4 types of human anxiety:
(1) Toward self: guilt (of sin)
(2) Toward the world: estrangement or alienation (from your own true self and from others)
(3) Toward life: meaninglessness (of life)
(4) Toward the end: death (its inevitability)
c. Christianity provides answer for the above 4 anxiety problems:
(1) Sin is forgiven and man is justified (Ro 5:1). Guilt should not control us anymore. (1Co 15:56-57)
(2) Man is born again (2Co 5:17) and should be true to oneself. True fellowship and harmony with God and among men are established (1Co 1:9). Estrangement is eliminated. Faith brings love which is manifested perfectly in the ultimate kingdom of God but demonstrated in the church today.
(3) Life is meaningful (Jn 10:10). We now have a destination (heaven) and are now living our life to serve God. We have true joy (Ro 5:2) and peace. We have and will receive the divine inheritance in the end.
(4) We are not afraid of death because we have eternal life. It is a blessed hope. Life in heaven is a better life than life on earth. Moreover, we will be resurrected in the end (1Th 4:16-17).
d. But Christians do not always escape from anxiety because of our lack of reliance on God. Our proper attitudes should be to “wait on the Lord” (Ps 27:14) as God has said that “Be still and know that I am God.” (Ps 46:10)
a. A hypocrite is an actor, one who puts on a false face. He says one thing but does another. A church contains some people like this because:
(1) Not all people in the church are real Christians.
(2) Some Christians may have wrong understanding of what they believe. Jesus condemned hypocrisy (Mt 23:15).
(3) Some Christians omit to follow Christ -- carnal Christians. [John McArthur says that the term is self-contradictory and illogical.]
(4) Believers are striving to be holy and perfect but are not perfect yet. Just because a person is not perfect does not mean that he is a hypocrite.
(5) All believers are fallible human beings who are prone to sin. Even apostles were wrong sometimes (Gal 2:11-14).
b. Just because the church contains hypocrites does not mean that all Christians are hypocrites. There are many people who are living consistently with the teaching of Jesus Christ.
c. Christianity stands or falls on the person of Jesus, not on actions of Christians. Jesus was never a hypocrite.
d. The church is like a hospital, full of sick people who wish to be healed. The presence of sick people in a hospital should not stop a sick person from entering it.