The Gospel: A Basis for Certainty What is the truth and how does that relate to the Gospel?

Several years ago I was walking up to the microphone to speak when someone handed me some sheets of paper. In this small stapled packet, I quickly read the story of a young college student who had grown up in a Christian home. He had entered college a strong Christian excited to share the gospel with friends. However, college provided some unexpected challenges to his faith. One of his professors encouraged him to read The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins- a book that attempts to criticize, and mock religions and religious believers. In it are some pretty scathing accusations against Christianity, which for this young man shook him to the core. He walked away from his faith and confided only in his uncle. After a period of time, the sorrow and grief he felt in his new belief that Christianity wasn’t true led him to take his own life. Upon reading this story, my heart broke. I wish he had had the opportunity to speak with someone who could help him process through the allegations against Christianity presented into that book. But at the same time, there is a lot to learn from his story, because he clearly now understood what was lost if Christianity is indeed false. If the Christian gospel is true, meaning that Jesus truly is God in flesh, who died to pay our punishment, rose from the dead demonstrating His credibility and authority, and because of his death and resurrection secures an eternity with God for those who believe, then THAT changes everything about how we understand ourselves to be. Even more so, it changes how we perceive and engage not just with our own personal life, but with the world around us.

But I’m an Apologist. Meaning, when I am invited to speak at events, I help people understand what Christianity teaches by explaining to them Christian teachings such as Why Jesus had to die, or demonstrating what evidential proof there is for Christianity. It is also important that I connect Christian teachings with their lives--giving reasons why I think the Christian message should be embraced. So, the gospel in my context means the life, purpose and teachings of Jesus explained in many ways. Now, as you can imagine, there are hundreds of topics that I could discuss, but I think that there are three things in particular that are worth thinking through in this era we live in when it comes to the relevance of the gospel to a person. Consequently, these three things make the Christian message very much worth considering.

The gospel means that truth exists and can be known. I have traveled all around the world and been shocked at the level of confusion that people in our society now express. It is not just a confusion of ideas, but a confusion of being able to know whether or not those ideas, or any ideas for that matter, can ever be known or exist in any objective way. In other words, is anything true? And even worse, can truth itself be known? Does truth itself even exist? I often reflect on Pilate’s words to Jesus in John 18:37-38. Imagine the scene. Jesus had already been arrested for His teachings and brought before the Jewish council to argue for his innocence. The threat of being crucified for answering these religious leaders “incorrectly” was looming over His head. After Jesus offers no apology for anything He had ever spoken, He is sent on to Pilate, the Roman Governor. Pilate, confused as to why he is being troubled with the silly religious affairs of the Jewish people, encourages the Jews to take Jesus away and deal with Him themselves. But they want death for Jesus, and only Pilate can command that. So he agrees to speak to Jesus. He inquires as to whether or not Jesus is a King, to which Jesus replies that the reason why He was born and on earth was to testify to the truth, “Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” Pilate, not really grasping what Jesus is saying, then asks Jesus probably the most profound question of his entire life, “What is truth?” before turning and walking away. I deeply wish that Pilate had just waited for Jesus’ answer. To get Jesus’ direct answer to a question that has resurfaced in our generation would have given us plenty to spend serious time contemplating. But Pilate doesn’t wait, and in so doing admits that he has missed what Jesus was saying. “Truth” is standing directly in front of Him. Jesus is the revelation of truth. If you are someone who is a lover of truth, once you begin serving Jesus, you will have found the source of truth itself. If we want to know what is true about our lives and God, we can find that in Jesus. You will get the answer as to why you were created, if you as a person are valuable, how should one live etc. Additionally, because God exists, that means that He created us with a mind capable of discovering truth. This is a significant point because it has never been proven that a self-creating universe without the guidance of a divine being would create people with minds able to know what truth is, or even value knowing truth at all. Truth isn’t necessarily needed for survival. In fact, truth often hurt ones chances of survival. So why should we assume that our brains know truth at all? A universe that is created by a rational and personal creator God can assure you that truth is an objective thing that can be discovered and known.1

But to know truth, you first have to be willing to discover it, and then accept whatever you have discovered. The search may take a while and may be faced with many challenges, but note, it is not always the uncovering that is the hardest, but rather the acceptance of the truth you have found. Truth does not always uplift, but in Christianity, it does not disappoint.

Secondly, if the Christian gospel is true, it assures us that identity and meaning are to be found in the Creator and ultimate source of fulfillment. The gospel answers the question, “Who am I”, and “Why are we here?”, because it acknowledges a personal and intentional Creator. Why is this important? Well, if God is personal, then He wants interaction with His creation. That immediately makes humans separate from the rest of the world. We don’t read Biblical stories of God trying to connect with a tulip or Barn Owl anywhere close to how He chooses to interact with us. We also know that it is only us humans that are created in God’s image meaning that we alone of all species were always intended to have a unique relationship with God. Every people, tribe and nation are equally valuable. This concept alone, makes Hitler’s attempt of creating the perfect race by eliminating the “weaker and less valuable” completely incoherent with a Christian worldview. It makes tribal wars that have torn apart parts of Africa completely without foundation. And it means that any attempt by any Christian to not see another Christian as their brother or sister, completely unbiblical. Your identity is always grounded in your Creator never in what you or someone else attributes to you. If Christianity isn’t true, then “Who are you?”

And even further, because the gospel is true, it means that there is a meaning to your life. You were created for something and that something is to know your God. To experience Him, both now and for forever, and to be able to freely adore Him. This means that it matters that you ever existed at all. It matters that you were created as opposed to being “the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms”, as the Naturalistic, godless world, concludes. The truth of the gospel means that you are able to, in beautiful a way, find yourself in God.

But finally, the Christian gospel speaks of hope. Proverbs 13:12 says, that “Hope deferred makes the heart sick”, and I think that there is still truth to be found in these words of wisdom from so long ago. When someone lacks hope, they are essentially lacking the ability to believe that something can change for the better in their life or particular situation. Christianity promises a future that cannot be erased or changed by events on this earth. That future is that those who follow Jesus now, will one day be united with Him. The “hope” of every Christian is not that they will make tons of money now, or that they will get to heaven and have the biggest and best house, but rather that they will be able to closely talk and walk with their God. And when life is painful and destructive, to know that the greatest and best thing you have to look forward to is still to come, gives hope. As my colleague, Tom Price puts it, “Hope is the ability to say, ‘It's not over’. Things can still get better. The end has not come. Hope is the ability to imagine a better future". The relevance of this cannot be overstated. In a society where so many suffer from depression and suicidal thoughts, to know that there is hope is literally life-giving. As we look around the world and cringe in agony over the suffering we see, hope assures us it will end. Hope gives us the ability to find a smile. Hope will not be eliminated by the rain, and when you feel broken, joy will find a way to endure through pain. Hold on.

I love the Christian message because it is a message not just for today, but for all of civilization, both in the past and future. It offers a message of forgiveness and acceptance. It tells us that the truth about us is that we are valuable and exist for a reason. We are precious to our Creator. And it also tells us that no matter how filled with grief life can be, we can always have something good awaiting us. For those that accept the gospel of Jesus, these truths awaken and delight. We don’t have to experience the sorrow the young college student experienced upon determining Christianity wasn’t true. Rather, with thankfulness, we can embrace the invitation extended to us, that anyone who believes in Jesus and accepts His offer of forgiveness, can fully rest in the comfort, health and peace that comes with knowing their Creator.

For further reading on the subject of the existence of truth without God, see https://www.bethinking.org/atheism

Footnotes

  1. Bertrand Russell “A Free Man’s Worship”, December 1903. [back]

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About the author

Profile photo for Alycia Wood

Alycia Wood graduated from Roberts Wesleyan College with a degree in Criminal Justice and from Marygrove College with a Master’s in Social Justice. She also graduated from the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics and spent two years as a Fellow with RZIM in New England. Alycia’s speaking background is quite diverse. From universities (such as MIT, UCONN, Harvard, University of Massachusetts, Boston University, Dartmouth College, and Brown University), to retreats, from conferences to men’s and women’s prisons, Alycia has addressed major issues surrounding faith to diverse audiences.

Additionally, she has traveled to countries such as Haiti, Honduras, the Dominican Republic, and Jamaica, volunteering at soup kitchens and orphanages as her passions for “showing Christ” extends beyond her local environment.

In her spare time, Alycia enjoys music and is a lover of all things football and hockey.

Alycia Wood was one of the plenary speakers at Missions Fest 2018.

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