Albert Einstein once said that he desired to know “how God created this world,” for his scientific observations led him to a belief in the existence of a higher power, a “subtle spirit” largely unknowable to the human mind.
But God is neither unknowable nor unfalsifiable. Jesus was, in fact, a historical person; his life and death were meticulously recorded by historians like the Jewish scholar Josephus, as well as by wide-ranging, eyewitness accounts from Jesus’ followers and most vicious enemies. Not only was Jesus’ painfully thorough execution evidence that he was killed, over 500 witnesses (and an empty tomb) are evidence of his resurrection. Roman Jewish religious authorities and contemporary scholars alike have made tremendous efforts attempting to discount the historical resurrection, but their attempts have failed to overcome the overwhelming evidence of Jesus’ miraculous return from the grave. Of the 11 apostles that were executed for their faith, all were asked to deny the resurrection, but not one of them could betray what they knew to be true.
Jesus was born at point A, died at point B and was alive again at point C. When a man is resurrected from the grave, I am — as a thoughtful human being — rationally compelled to believe his claim to be the “Son of God.” When Jesus asserts that he is “the way, the truth and the life” and that “no one comes to the Father except through [him],” (John 14:6) I take his word for it on account of his supernatural authority.
However, Christianity is more than an account of objective historical reality. It identifies a fundamental flaw within ourselves, a gaping wound that does not heal.
It shows how we are a slave to our sinful tendencies, that we “desire to do what is good, but [we] cannot carry it out. For what we do is not the good we want to do; no, the evil we do not want to do — this we keep on doing” (Romans 7:18-19). The great tragedy of human existence is not that we often do what we know is wrong, but that we cannot do what we know is right — the harder we try, the greater we fall short. It’s not that we sin, but that we are sinners, helplessly enslaved to the very evil we despise. It is for this reason that Paul laments, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God — through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
When the Lord Jesus died on the cross, he took on himself the punishment that was due to our sin. When he rose from the dead, he also resurrected our spirit, which was once dead, enslaved to sin, but is now alive and free to follow God’s purpose. When you become a Christian, you simply have faith that Jesus’ death and resurrection has given you a new life. You are “born again.” You have done nothing to earn it — rather, you have faithfully submitted your stubborn will to Jesus, who has been waiting your whole life to give you the salvation that was already accomplished for you on the cross. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son” (John 3:16-18).