Your Circle of Acquaintances
By Dave Breese
By this time of the year, I'm confident that you have made many new friends in your collegiate experience. Value them, because they may well be among the best friends that you will have for all of life. By this time, I'm sure also that you have divided the people you know into many catagories. This would include the smart, the not-so-smart, the false, the true, and the fair weather type. This is the way it is everywhere because, of course, all people are not the same. If all people are created equal then some, as a politician said, are more equal than others.Attitudes
In fact, your circle of acquaintances probably already has reached out into the ranks of the detractors, the hecklers, the cynics and the snobs. These abound on every campus and there is no getting away from them. Life is always a varied, eclectical thing.
These people with an open sneer take the initiative and press upon each of us the question, You talk about having faith and being a Christian. How do you know this so-called faith of yours is even true? What about the Mohammedans, the Confucians, and yes, what about the atheists? Isn't this matter of faith simply how you look at things?
I sympathize with attitudes like this because I used to also think along such sceptical lines. A thousand conversations later, my whole thinking about Christianity was changed. I had read C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity and also John Gerstener's Reasons for Faith. More than that, I had taken the time to read the Bible and, particularly the New Testament in detail. I was astonished at the way that amazing Book hung together and I became totally impressed that only God could have been the author of such a remarkable treatise. I came to the utter conviction that Christianity is really true. With joy, I promised God that I would give my entire life to telling people about the Gospel and attempt to bring as many to faith in Christ as I possibly could. The results have been marvelous, but I especially note that I have never found a reason to doubt so much as one verse of the Bible. Living with confidence toward God is a great experience indeed. Living without that confidence is totally nerve-wracking and, finally, impossible.
Millions have discovered that life, if it is going to be lived at all, must be built on a foundation. Pity the poor professor who, without the foundation of faith in Christ, must open his class at the beginning of the season by saying, Well, here we are. Pity the poor student who has never come to the place of faith in Christ and is, therefore, bewildered and wandering. Pity the poor atheist who calls, Dial-A-Prayer and nobody answers. The fact is that everyone must have faith in order to operate in this life. A false faith is no faith at all, but believing the true faith is the key to everything. In this regard, you'll be interested to know that my friend, Dave Hunt, has produced a very helpful book called, In Defense of the Faith. It is subtitled Biblical Answers to Challenging Questions.
I'll be happy to send you, with my compliments, a copy of this very informative text. Take the time to drop me a note and I'll see that you get your free copy of In Defense of the Faith. A mastery of what this book has to say will be a marvelous addition to your life and capability.
There are several reasons why we need to defend and assert the message of historic Christianity. The Christian faith is the best thing that ever happened to this world. We must remind ourselves of its marvelous results regularly. The Christian faith has produced individual salvation for millions who have believed the Gospel of Christ and have testified to receiving new life in Him.
Beyond the circle of light which is Christianity, the world is a dark place. The Bible says that Christ died to destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage (Heb. 2:14,15). Christian faith has banished sin's power and opened the door to life to all who believe. The only issue to everlasting life is knowing Christ. It therefore must be said that no one goes to hell because he is a sinner nor to heaven because he is righteous.Salvation By Grace
Yes, the message of salvation by grace is the core of Christianity. Denying salvation by grace makes Christianity no different from the thousands of graceless religions in our world. Let's remind ourselves then of the fact that salvation comes to us according to the mercy of Jesus Christ. The remarkable message of Christianity is righteousness without works (Rom. 4:6). God gives us saving grace and also grace for living. He helps us every day, not because we are worthy but because Christ has purchased it all in His work on Calvary's cross. Yes, the Gospel of Christ is the world's most wonderful message because, at its core, it is the amazing offer of salvation by grace. The person who believes this Gospel will never be ashamed. By contrast, one who simply follows a religion, even if that religion is called Christianity will be forever afraid of losing salvation or falling out of the love of God. Religion produces a life of fear, whereas grace produces eternal confidence.
Our college experience is normally the last stop before we move out into life. You are in the process of gaining your final impressions as to what the world is like and what you might be able to do in the midst of that world. Probably you have many times asked, Will the world be too demanding? Am I strong enough to make it in the midst of all of the pressures in life?
If I may hazard an answer to the question, I would say first of all, that the world will be very demanding. It seems like the speeding conveyer of time is moving faster than ever. In a few short years, we have moved into the Worldwide Web, the cybernetics revolution, the Internet and other ways in which the world is tying itself together. There is no doubt that the young person who knows these things is going to have a tremendous advantage in the days to come. There's also no doubt that one can fall behind the fast moving technological progress of our time and end up swamped by things that get too complicated.Dedication to Christ
So the question, Can I handle life in the days to come? is certainly a fair one. Let me say quickly and most emphatically that the answer to that question is, Yes, a thousand times yes. Providing a couple of special things are true about you. The first quality that we must have is that we must be sure that we know Christ as personal Savior. Jesus talked about Himself and you when He said, I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly (Jn. 10:10). Therefore, a person who knows Christ knows the One who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us (Eph. 3:20). So, one who knows the Lord is greatly enabled to live life adequately and responsibly in this world.
The second quality that I would recommend beyond being a Christian is to have a life that then is truly dedicated to serving Christ. There are quite a number of great purposes being touted in this world as worthy of your interest. Many of them are not too great at all and especially are they diminished when we realize that life is a quickly passing thing. The Bible asks the question, What is your life? and answers it by saying, It is even a vapor, that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away (Jas. 4:14). Therefore, one is not stupid who takes the available time in life, which is not infinite, and uses it to accomplish something to the glory of God. Many people build beautiful things and accomplish great doings by human standards, but from heaven's point of view it is not really worth it. They will still stand before God empty-handed because they merely became experts at accomplishing things that are not worth doing. I pray that none of us will make that same mistake.
Therefore, it is a marvelous thing to have a life committed to Christ. When this is true, what we do in this world simply expands out into eternity when life is done. One day the earth will be gone and heaven will be the great reality. One is no fool, therefore, who labors today to accomplish the things that will matter when one day we are in the presence of God.
About this matter of success and capability, about having the strength to make it, may I offer a second word of advice? The Apostle Paul gave us the answer as to how to live in the midst of the challenging world when he said, Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take to you the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith you shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Eph. 6:10-17).Peer Pressure
Looking toward the future, I pray that God will give you real wisdom. I know that the pressure of the peer group often suggests that anyone who is too religious is really being ridiculous. The wonderful thing about the Christian life is that Christianity is not a religion, but it is a relationship with God. In that God is the only significant power in the universe, being related to Him is not a fool's game. Therefore, don't be afraid to play that game because you'll never be sorry.