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Evidence of Christianity

OPINION by Pastor Chuck DeVane, Special to The Sentinel-Record | May 20, 2023 at 4:00 a.m.

Then they raised their voices and said, "Away with such a fellow from the earth! For he should not be allowed to live."

-- Acts 22:22, ESV

The fellow they wanted to do away with was the Apostle Paul. His crime was Christianity, and he was living it. Furthermore, he was spreading it! Surely such a one must be killed, according to the mob injustice surrounding him in this episode.

Paul stood his ground and stood up to the mob. He did so, ironically, by basically confessing that the charge that he was a Christian was absolutely true. What if you were put on trial for being a Christian? Would there be enough evidence to convict you?

Like Paul, you must first confess you are a sinner. Paul let this mob know he was once one of them, a sinner who sinned against God and humanity. He would soon write to one of his proteges that he was the chief of sinners (ref. 1 Timothy 1:15), because of his prior persecution of Christ and His church.

Most live on the other extreme, not persecuting God but simply ignoring God's word and Christ's church. Ignorance will be no excuse on judgment day. And whether it be by ignorance or arrogance, we've all sinned in many forms and fashions (ref. Romans 3:23), and every salvation testimony begins with the honest and humble confession of our sin.

Secondly, you must be able to testify of how God saved you. Paul recounted how Jesus came to him on the Damascus Road. He credited the bold witness of Ananias with helping him to understand the Gospel, baptism, and the Christian life. There is not one mention of anything Paul did for God, except sin. Instead, his salvation story was about what God had done for him, choosing him, coming to him, changing him, saving him.

Few conversions are as dramatic as Paul's, but every salvation story follows the same road. There is deep conviction of sin. There is a look to the Lord, who was already looking at us, and a total surrender to who He is and what He has done to save us. In repentance and faith, a new Christian is born, born to worship, serve, and obey the Lord.

A valid testimony, like Paul's, must also include a history of baptism and responsible church membership. Paul was baptized by the church in Damascus and eventually became involved with the church in Antioch. On a trip to Jerusalem, he realized his life's calling, missionary service throughout the Gentile world. Paul was on this mission when he was arrested and faced this first of his five trials.

Finally, blessed assurance of salvation is found in living a worshipful, obedient, mission-minded life for Christ. Paul's testimony reveals that service is the reason that God saves us from sin. Such service is often costly, as Paul had discovered. But the price is nothing compared to the price Jesus paid for His people.

Paul will go on to four more trials, simply for being a Christian and broadcasting the Gospel. He will live under some kind of arrest and imprisonment for most of the rest of his life. But only when his life is completely spent for Christ will he find true freedom. The same is true for you and me.

Can you testify of coming to grips with you own sin? Can you recount how the Lord saved you, and give yourself no credit in the process? Can you give testimony of how you have worshipped, obeyed, and served the Lord?

If you profess to be a Christian and seek to share the Gospel, be sure your trials will come. Hopefully they will not be as severe as those Paul had to endure. But if you were put on trial like Paul, just for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?

Chuck DeVane is the pastor of Lake Hamilton Baptist Church. Call him at 501-525-8339 or email [email protected].

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