One good way to establish the veracity of Christianity is to simply see how people respond to it. People are usually repulsed by it, and for very good reason: it cuts right across human pride and autonomy. And folks can’t stand it when you mess with those things.
You see, the Christian gospel is quite plain about the human condition. It tells us that we are all lost sinners who are at enmity with God and under his just wrath. Unless we repent and turn from self and sin, we are headed for a lost eternity.
Those are very unpalatable truths to fallen, natural man. People hate to hear that they are not good and acceptable, and they shake their fists in rebellion against a holy and pure God. And they are not crazy about the biblical doctrine of original sin either.
This says that because of the fall, we are all born with a sinful nature – an orientation away from God and toward sinful self. And this truth is demonstrated on a daily basis. The problem is, most folks think it applies to someone else, but not themselves.
They pat themselves on the back and think they are OK – after all, they have not murdered anyone, or raped anyone, or committed some horrific crime. But it is only fear of others, the veneer of civilisation, and God’s common grace, that keep us from manifesting to the world just how bad we really are.
Take away laws and their penalties, take away public scrutiny, and take away the restraining power of God, and we would all be a bunch of Hitlers or bin Ladens. The truth of original sin is everywhere to be found. As Chesterton once said in his classic volume Orthodoxy, “Certain new theologians dispute original sin, which is the only part of Christian theology which can really be proved.”
And proof there is in abundance. Consider a study discussed by Jerry Newcombe. It is yet more confirmation of biblical truth and doctrine. I will let Jerry pick up the story: “A new study verifies the truth revealed in Paul’s statement in the Bible that the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.
“Paul didn’t say that money is the root of evil – although I’ve heard people misrepresent the Bible as supposedly saying that. Nor did he say it’s the lack of money that is the root of evil, although I’ve heard some people say that’s what it should say.
“Yet I’ve known some poor people who were very greedy, and some rich who were not. Well, a new study validates what the Bible said 2,000 years ago – not that it needs validation – that the love of money is indeed a corrupting influence.
“Writing for CNBC, Mark Koba penned a report, ‘Just the Scent of Money is Corrupting: Study.’ Koba writes, ‘The report by University of Utah and Harvard researchers found that individuals who could gain monetarily through unethical behavior were more likely to demonstrate that behavior than those who weren’t offered a financial gain.’
“Kristin Smith-Crowe, professor of management at the University of Utah, co-authored the recently-released study. She said, ‘We certainly found that the love of money is corrupting and just the mere exposure to it makes people do bad things.’
“In our highly materialistic age, it’s easy to forget that ancient Christians classified greed as one of the ‘Seven Deadly Sins.’ The sin of greed is as old as time and as current as today’s news. Do you realize that a significant minority of Americans today would be willing to kill you if the price were right? These are among the many disturbing findings reported in a book about twenty years old, entitled, The Day America Told the Truth.
“This ground-breaking work revealed just how immoral we have become as a nation. Anecdotally, of course, we read about that every day in the news. But this book was based on extensive surveying where the respondents were guaranteed anonymity.
“One of the findings is related to greed. Pastor R. Kent Hughes writes about the disturbing results to an intriguing question the respondents were asked: ‘The survey…posed the question, ‘What are you willing to do for $10 million?’
“Hughes reports, ‘Twenty-five percent would abandon their families, 23 percent would become a prostitute for a week, and 7 percent would kill a stranger. Think of it. In a gathering of 100 Americans, there are seven who would consider killing you if the price was right. In 1,000 there are seventy.’ Gulp.”
Yep. Gulp alright. And until we get to the point where we can truly say that we too would do such things if the circumstances were right, we are not yet candidates for the gospel. Jesus came to save sinners, not the righteous. We are all sinners, although most of us won’t admit to this.
But until we do, we cannot become recipients of the marvellous grace of God as manifest at Calvary. Two truths must forever go together here, as John Newton once said: “My memory is nearly gone; but I remember two things: I am a great sinner, and Christ is a great savior.”
Are you there yet my friend?