Vol. 6, No. 7
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The story could be repeated in just about any congregation. A young man grows up in the church. Following his baptism, he takes an active role in leading singing and waiting on the Lord's Table. Everyone that is familiar with this young man says the same thing: "He is a strong Christian." And yet, within months after entering college, this "strong Christian" is on the path to becoming an unbeliever. His decision to leave the church was not sudden. Rather, it occurred over several weeks as this young man wrestled with questions tossed out by his newfound friends.
The problem was this young man never developed a foundation for his faith. In fact, a great deal of his belief system was built around the beliefs of his parents. And to compound the problem, on occasions when this young man sought out answers on which to solidify his faith, he commonly received the same answer: "Well son, we don't know the answer for everything. Sometimes you just have to believe -- you have to take a blind leap of faith." In other words, this young man "believed" but he did not know why he believed. He was living an "inherited" religion.
So picture an eighteen-year-old who suddenly finds his faith challenged. His friends (and professors) confront him with questions and information that directly conflicts with his belief in the God of the Bible. And sadly, all this young man has to defend himself with is the notion that he had taken a "blind leap." Having, therefore, no good reason to keep on believing, when faced with tough questions, this young man falls headlong into the trap set for him by the "roaring lion" -- our adversary, the devil (1 Peter 5:8). Satan was successful in his task because we failed in ours. How many souls have been forfeited as our young people find themselves in a similar situation? They are presented with problems or alleged Bible discrepancies, and due to a lack of sufficient knowledge, they cast their entire belief system aside and begin supporting and defending worldly views. Unfortunately, this young man was not the only one we have told that faith is a "blind leap." Literally thousands have not been trained "in the way he should go" (Proverbs. 22:6), because we did not show them the evidences upon which their faith should have been based.
If we are ever going to break this cycle, then the first thing we must teach our young people is that faith is not a blind leap. We have the evidences around us to support our beliefs. We can prove the existence of God. We can prove the Bible is the inspired Word of God. We can prove Jesus Christ's deity. And we can show the foundation of Christ's church. But it all starts with establishing the fact that the Christian religion is not simply a "close my eyes and hope it's true" belief. Only after we establish that primary principle will we have a foundation strong enough upon which to build.
Peter stated that Christians should be "ready always to give answer to every man that asketh you a reason concerning the hope that is in you" (1 Peter 3:15). We are commanded to "contend earnestly for the faith, once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3). With an increasing number of people doubting God's existence, Jesus' deity, and the inspiration of the Bible, the Christian will find an increased demand upon him to be able to defend these things. Paul stressed that we should "prove all things," and then having done so, "hold fast to that which is good" (1 Thessalonians 5:21). It was Paul's custom to teach the Gospel by presenting the evidences documenting the truthfulness of Christianity (see Acts 17:2-3; 19:8). That is, in fact, how Peter preached the first Gospel sermon -- by presenting the evidence in a defense of Christ's resurrection (Acts 2).
Through a study of the evidences upon which Christianity is based, Christians can come to see that Christianity is not a "pie in the sky" or an "I hope so by and by" kind of religion. On the contrary, Christianity is grounded in historical fact. Its roots are deep and its precepts are provable. Through a study of Christian evidences, we can show young people that they can: (a) know God exists, (b) know Jesus is God's Son; and (c) know the Bible is God's inspired, inerrant, authoritative Word. In so doing, we can give young people a clear view of their God, his Son, his church, and their future home of heaven.
Truth does not shrink from exhaustive examination, for it has nothing to fear. Rather, truth welcomes the searchlight of the severest scrutiny, unfailingly confident that it cannot be disproved. A religion that discourages logical examination of its claims is tacitly admitting the doubtfulness of its position. Christianity has no fear of submitting its beliefs to the critical examination of skeptics. Nor does Christianity fear to have its proponents study the claims of other religions (or no religion at all). Truth will not bend or break beneath the onslaught. A faith that cannot withstand a terse, critical examination is a faith not worth having in the first place. As young people are shown the manifold evidences that prove God's existence, Jesus' Sonship and the Bible's inspiration -- and as they examine other claims (atheism, agnosticism, skepticism, denominationalism, etc.) under the dissecting microscope of God's Word -- eventually they will come to accept, and be able to defend, the one true religion of the one true God.
Let us, like Paul, never be ashamed of the Gospel, recognizing that it is the "power of God unto that salvation" (Romans 1:16). Let us study diligently to learn it well, and then in turn teach it to our children from the time we arise in the morning until the time that we lie down to sleep at night (Deuteronomy 11:18-21), so that when the time comes for them to "leap," they will find themselves able to see a firm foundation underfoot.