Bulletin Articles

Bulletin Articles

The Unbelievable Truth

The truth is sometimes difficult to accept. Faith can be hard. Many reject a teaching because they do not think what is being said is believable. While Christians would argue that the truth is indeed believable, we also must realize that there is something about the nature of it that, at first, may appear to be more difficult to receive. After all, we are asking that people accept that a crucified man was raised from the dead. Consider, for example, what Paul referenced at the end of his sermon in Acts 13:

“Look, you scoffers,
marvel and vanish away,
because I am doing a work in your days,
a work that you will never believe,
even if someone were to explain it to you.” (Acts 13:41)

Paul quoted this from Habakkuk 1:5. In Habakkuk’s context, the sins of the people had reached a point where God determined that it was time bring judgment upon them. Habakkuk asked about it, and God told him that what was about to happen (using the Chaldeans to judge) would be something he wouldn’t believe. How could God use a wicked nation like Babylon to judge his own people? Unbelievable. But that’s exactly what God did, and it serves as a witness to the way God works.

God does not conform to our expectations, and we need to learn to adjust the way we think. If we cannot live with that, then we can never accept what comes next, because what comes next will either be a stumbling block to us, foolishness to our ears, or a testimony to the wisdom and power of God.

Fast forward to the time of the preaching of the gospel. Paul preaches the death, resurrection, and kingship of Christ. The manner in which God accomplished salvation through Christ was, as in Habakkuk’s day, unbelievable at first hearing. And it served as a warning to those who rejected the message. If we expect God to act according to the way we think he ought, and then we reject him when he doesn’t conform to our thoughts, then we can only expect that “what is said in the prophets” would happen to us. It may have seemed unbelievable, but it was the truth. God’s ways and thoughts are not ours, and it takes humility to recognize that our own thoughts are not always so great.

“For as heaven is higher than earth,
so my ways are higher than your ways,
and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isa 55:9)

If we are not humble enough to accept this concept, then our own arrogance will get in the way of what comes next in God’s plans. Paul’s point in 1 Corinthians 1-2 falls right in line here. God would accomplish salvation in an unexpected manner that makes people question its viability. But God did it this way on purpose. The cross was a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles. God has accomplished something through Christ that is unbelievable to mere human rationale. We cannot in any way take credit for the plan. Yet to our way of thinking, we wouldn’t do it this way, so surely God wouldn’t do it that way! Think again.

“For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but it is the power of God to us who are being saved. For it is written, ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and I will set aside the intelligence of the intelligent.’ Where is the one who is wise? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the debater of this age? Hasn’t God made the world’s wisdom foolish? For since, in God’s wisdom, the world did not know God through wisdom, God was pleased to save those who believe through the foolishness of what is preached.” (1 Cor 1:18-21)

The nature of the message makes the Gospel amazing. It’s not a story concocted in the minds of Jews or Gentiles. I could not have dreamed this up and neither could you. It’s a story they wouldn’t believe. A Jewish peasant from an obscure place in Galilee is crucified as a criminal (the most shameful, humiliating death imaginable), then raised from the dead and proclaimed Savior of the world? For so many, this is “a work that you will never believe, even if someone were to explain it to you.”

It’s only from the mind of God that salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus could be accomplished. Tell the story. Many won’t believe it because it doesn’t fit their rational categories. But when all the dust settles and all the options are considered, there is really only one place to land.

God did a work that may be unbelievable on the surface, but it is in demonstration of his love and power. It will have its scoffers as it always has, but scoffers pass on and vanish. The Gospel remains. Who and what will you trust?