Posts Tagged ‘reasonable faith’

Matthew 8:28-34
Jesus Restores Two Demon-Possessed Men

Details of the Christian faith. One of the things that I love about our faith is the fact that it is the only faith that couches itself in history. People in historical context. Events that can be compared to historical records outside of the Bible. Ours is a faith that can be tested against man’s reality. All other religions begin with fables or claims of historical fact that cannot be tested. Christianity begs you to do research. Those who understand our faith welcome your skepticism and call upon you to do the research. It is a reasonable faith. It is a real time faith that welcomes your questions. Why is that important? The fact that it is a faith that can be verified, and it is a faith that does not rely on the word of one main or some created legend, it is a faith that can be shared by reasonable men and a faith that can be shared by all. One of the historical facts that is in today’s passage, Matthew 8:28-34, is that there was actually a place called Gadara in the time of Jesus and its inhabitants were called the Gadarenes. Why is this important? Let us see. The passage begins with the statement that Jesus and the disciples arrived at the other side at the region of the Gadarenes. What does that mean? Why does Matthew mention the “region of the Gadarenes” and what purpose does that serve in what Matthew is trying to say here?

According to Wayne Blank in his devotional, “Gadarenes”, at http://www.keyway.ca/htm2003/20030210.htm, Mr. Blank says,
“Gadara was one of the Decapolis, or ‘Ten Cities,’ that were originally inhabited primarily by Greek people who settled in the region after the time of Alexander the Great’s conquest. After the Romans occupied the region from about 65 B.C., Gadara was made the capital of the Roman province of Peraea. Gadara was located east of the Jordan River on a mountain about 6 miles southeast of the Sea of Galilee. The people of Gadara were known as Gadarenes…” He continues, “They were still mostly Gentiles in the time of Christ, as indicated by their keeping of pigs…”

To me, the inclusion of this sentence in Matthew’s text is significant in several respects. First, it gives historical perspective to the story. Gadara being one of the ten cities of the Decapolis is something that can be verified via historical research into the Greek and Roman antiquity. Although the Bible does not need help, it certainly continues to prove the point of the historical veracity of the Bible and that the events of Jesus’ life did actually take place in places that you can go to and touch and feel. My wife and I have a friend from our life group that recently got to go Greece on a mission trip to serve missionaries who had come in from other countries for a conference. During the conference, as a nurse, she was a part of the team that checked on the health of the missionaries and their families. During her time there, she was able to do some sightseeing such as visiting the ruins of ancient cities mentioned in the New Testament such Philippi. The fact that she could stand where Paul, one of the great men of our faith, stood is not only awe-inspiring but it is also evidence of the historicity of our faith. The fact that this friend could visit the places where Paul preached and evangelized gives confidence to our faith. Though our faith does not depend on us visiting such places, for there are those who will never see the Holy Land or visit Philippi, it does give you confidence that our faith is one that can be verified. It occurred in the real time of human events. There are historical references outside the Bible that Jesus existed. There is ample evidence to support the reasonableness of our faith. All of that can get you 95% of the way to Jesus Christ, but faith must get you that last 5% of the way. Jesus was real. But the question you must come to answer is whether or not you believe that He is the Son of God and that He is the only way to the Father in heaven. That is the most important question that you will ever answer in your life. Your eternity hangs in the balance. However, our faith is one that welcomes your questions. It does not take blind faith in a fable as Hinduism and Buddhism do. It does not require that you accept blindly the vision revealed to only one man as so many other religions such as Islam do. To understand what Christ has done for us on the cross fully, the Christian faith almost begs you to investigate it. Blind faith based on feelings or coercion is not the way of the Christian faith. Our faith demands that you understand it, question it, and make up your mind.
Second, and as importantly, this passage is proof that Jesus took his ministry outside the traditional Jewish boundaries. The implication here is that the Good News of Jesus’ ministry was for everyone, the whole world, and not just his native Jewish nation. This is not to knock the Jewish nation in anyway because Jesus was a Jew. He was saddened by their unwillingness to be the light of the world as God’s chosen people. Thus, Jesus carrying the message to regions of Palestine that were not Jewish is significant. He was taking up the mantle of being the light of the world. A mantle that Christ’s church took seriously after his death and resurrection such that the example of his life and his teachings spread like wildfire throughout the Roman Empire. Jesus was spreading the good news of the kingdom to all who would hear it. If it were not for those who desired all to share in the kingdom of God, Christianity would be a small little sect of Judaism located in Palestine right now to this day. Jesus sets the example here that would be followed by his disciples. His command to go and make disciples at the end of this gospel was not without precedent. We see him on numerous occasions through this and the other gospels sharing the gospel outside the boundaries of Jewish society. Jesus, the Great Commission, was not asking his disciples to do anything that He had not already demonstrated to them. Jesus commands to do the same. Here, we see Him doing it. Later, we see his disciples doing it. Now, it is our turn. We have been shown by our Teacher.
The implication for you and me is that we have an example right here of how Jesus willingly took the news of God’s love to everyone even in regions where they worshiped other gods. We are, thus, called to share the Gospel anywhere, anytime, anyplace. We must share the gospel. It is not an option. It is a command. We have our example from Jesus himself. If we do not share the gospel, people cannot have the experience of asking questions about the faith. They cannot come to understand it. They cannot come to know the saving grace of Jesus Christ. They cannot come to love the fact that our faith is one that can be verified. They cannot know that our faith is one that welcomes your questions and your doubts. They cannot know the amazing changes that can be brought about through the Holy Spirit that give us hope and peace in knowing that we have been saved from the precipice of hell by the loving act of Jesus Christ on the cross. Let us be unashamed. Let us be bold. Let us share the gospel. It only makes sense that all should have the opportunity to know Jesus Christ.

Luke 1:1-4 — Today we begin another book of the Bible. The Gospel of Luke is where my heart has been led. The thing that is being shouted into my heart this morning as we begin is reasonable faith. Christianity is a reasonable faith. Modernists say that the Christian faith is just an opiate of the people. They claim that we use religion to explain things that we are too lazy to investigate. However, Luke screams to us that it is a reasonable faith.

From other references to Luke in Acts and in the writings of Paul, we know he was a physician. He was the equivalent of a doctor to us. Therefore, he had to be a logical person. He had to be a person who researched medical problems and came to conclusions. He was very much an “if x, then y” kind of guy. He knew the importance of being thorough. He used his skills of observation and analysis to draw conclusions about the illnesses that he encountered as a doctor. Thus, for him to undertake this account of the life of Jesus, he would have researched, observed, and drawn conclusions. He would have been thorough. You can read Luke’s account of Jesus’ life with confidence that it was written by a clear thinker, a logical mind, and a thorough researcher. Because the gospel, the Good News, is founded in historical fact and grounded in truth, our spiritual growth must include careful, disciplined and thorough investigation of God’s Word so that we can understand how God has acted in history. It is a reasonable faith. Luke used research. He relied on other written accounts of Jesus. He used eyewitness interviews. He used all resources available to him. Many scholars believe that prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD because it is not mentioned in his writing (some conjecture that is was written as early as between 55AD-60AD – only 30 or so years after Jesus’ death). Thus, many of the eyewitnesses of Jesus life were still alive. They would have debunked his book easily if it contained falsehoods and fabrications. Just the opposite happened. It quickly because accepted as a valid rendering of Jesus’ life by the early Christian church. Because the truth was important to Luke, he relied heavily on eyewitness accounts. It is a reasonable faith.

Real Christianity does not ask us to close our eyes and jump off a cliff. It welcomes criticism and asks to check it out. The Bible encourages us to investigate the things we doubt. Luke says it himself in Luke 1:4, “so that you can be certain of the truth of everything that you were taught.” While man-made religions rely on mystique and unverifiable legend as the basis of their belief systems, Christianity stands clearly rooted in history. There is ample evidence outside the Bible to verify its accuracy. Modernists who debunk the Bible as inaccurate are continually proven wrong as man makes new archaelogical discoveries. The Bible thus is evidence of God entering and intervening in human history. There is ample evidence outside the Bible, for example, that Jesus existed. It is commonly accepted throughout the world that Jesus existed. No man-made religion can make that claim. Every religion in the world has a position on Jesus. These religions feel compelled to respond to Jesus in their religious writings. Christianity does not feel the need to respond to man-made religions because it does not have to. Christianity is based on the truth. Our faith welcomes your scrutiny. It is a reasonable faith. It does not rely on mysterious beasts in a time that cannot be verified. It does not rely on superhumans of the past that we cannot research and verify. It does not rely on other religions to create our own holy book and create a political system to unify our people and have that book revealed as being completely inconsistent within itself. Everything in the Bible. Everything in Jesus’ life is original, historical and verifiable.

We can have confidence in our faith that it is not just a bunch of hooey that cannot standup to scrutiny. This gives me great comfort. If the gospels were written in a time when many of the eyewitnesses were still alive and the authors were trying to editorialize and make Jesus more or less than He really was, wouldn’t they have screamed foul. This gives me great confidence in what I believe in. There is a whole and complete line of reasoning that we could go down called apologetics, which is a fancy word for the defense of our faith, that we do not have time to go down here. But, I know that every couple of years, there is new evidence to support the historical claims of the Old Testament. And, I know for a fact that my Savior actually lived, breathed, walked this planet and was not some lie created by Christianity, the religion. I know my Savior existed. I know this because extrabiblical sources say the same thing. Jewish and Roman historical records admit his existence. I know He existed. For the many things non-believers dispute about our faith, they DO NOT dispute that Jesus existed. How amazing is that! How much comfort is that! My Savior is not some made up human fantasy. He is not some opiate of the people. My Savior invites you to understand that He did actually come down from heaven and walk as God in the flesh. We know He existed. How much greater now are His claims in the Bible if you fully understand that He existed and is not simply something made up within our own faith. Ahhh, this is amazing stuff when you discover it. Christianity welcomes your scrutiny. It is a reasonable faith.

Father, thank you for opening my eyes to the real facts of our faith, the main one being that Jesus was indeed a real historical figure. Thank you for revealing to me that He was real. Thank you for revealing that to me because for me personally it gives credence to the basis of my faith. There are things that I have to take on faith about our faith but it is grounded in a real man who lived on earth. The fact that He is and was and always will be the Son of God is the faith part. The things that require faith are the difference between seeing Jesus as a radical rabbi that existed and God in the flesh that existed. I choose to believe by faith that Jesus Christ is your Son Father. You gave us reasonable faith that can take us 95% of the way there but real faith gets us the last mile. Thank you for Jesus as the historical man. Thank you for Jesus as my Savior. Amen.