Romans 10:9-10 “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus Christ, and believe in your heart God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
In 1833, Professor Simon Greenleaf became the Royall Professorship at Harvard University and, in 1846, succeeded Judge (later Justice) Joseph Story as Dane Professor of Law at Harvard. Greenleaf contributed extensively to the development of the Harvard Law School, including expansion of the Harvard Law Library. But he may be best known for his 1874 apologetic essay entitled “Testimony of the Evangelists Examined by the Rules of Evidence Administered in Courts of Justice”, where, after careful examination of the Gospels, he argued that the resurrection of Jesus Christ was not a hoax, myth or fiction but fact.
Before this, Greenleaf was an agnostic. In his classroom at Harvard, he taught students how to reach conclusions based on evidence. One day in class, the topic of the Resurrection came up and he dismissed it as historical fiction. But a brave student raised his hand and asked him if he had “considered the evidence” for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ? From then on, Greenleaf set out to apply his legal expertise in evidence to disprove it. But his plans backfired on him. Being a man of conviction and reason, and because the evidence was conclusive, Greenleaf responded by giving is life to Jesus Christ.
In the past three weeks, we have examined what it means to be truly thankful for what God has done. First we looked at God’s purpose – that He created me to know Him personally and spend eternity with Him in heaven. Then, in Part 2, we looked at why I naturally don’t know where I stand with God – because my sin nature separated me from Him. And last week in Part 3, we saw how God has provided the solution for my sin in Jesus Christ. This week, we look at how I, like Professor Greenleaf, must respond to God’s provision.
The Bible says there are three things involved in my response. First, I must repent: “Repent and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3:19). We usually think repentance is being sorry for what we’ve done. But let’s face it, most of us are sorry when we sin, especially when we get caught! The bible’s definition of repentance is to turn away from your sin and turn to God through Jesus Christ. It’s the picture of doing a U-turn, where you willingly decide you want to live by God’s standards and abandon your way of living: “Repent and turn to God, and do works worthy of repentance” (Acts 26:20).
The second thing the Bible teaches is that I must place my faith in Jesus Christ alone: “By grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves – it is a gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). But what do we mean by faith? It’s more than just believing the facts about who Jesus Christ is and what He has done: “You believe there is one God – you do well. The demons also believe, and they tremble” (James 2:19). Having faith in Jesus Christ means you are willing to trust Christ with your life. It’s like going on an airplane – once you are in, you no longer have any control. You have trusted your well-being to the pilot. Jesus Christ wants nothing less than your complete trust in Him to save you.
And finally, as our verse for this week explains, you must be willing to give the control of your life to Jesus Christ as your Lord: “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus Christ, and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart man believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9-10). But Jesus Himself warns that surrendering to Him as your Lord means more than just words: “Not everyone who says ‘Lord, Lord’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven – only he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). To surrender to Jesus as Lord means giving Him control of your life. It’s like driving a car – the one who is driving decides where the car will go. Christ wants to lead you – not the other way around.
When Professor Greenleaf was confronted with the evidence for the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ, he stayed true to his conviction, which he had not only embraced as a lawyer but also in teaching others, to follow the evidence where it leads. He responded by giving Christ control of his life as his Lord and Savior.
Now, you must ask yourself a question: is there any reason you would not be willing to accept God’s free gift of eternal life, by turning away from your sins and placing my faith in Jesus Christ? Philosopher G.K. Chesterton, when asked why some people, in the face of the evidence, are still unwilling to give Christ their life, answered simply: “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.” The difficulty is in surrendering, because we so want to control our own lives. But it is also the reason for our thankfulness. Because we acknowledge that He has done it all for us.
“The Evidence of Faith’s Substance”, Article #274 – December 17, 2017