He is Who He Said He is
Jaclyn Beck '07
“If Christ had not died for our sins, faith could not justify us from our sins; for faith does not do anything, or change anything, or create anything: it simply assents and consents to what has been done.” ~ A.J. Gordon
I attended an Easter service this past Sunday that didn’t do what an Easter service normally does. It didn’t recount the events of the crucifixion to serve as a reminder to me that Jesus suffered a long death for my sins and rose from the grave three days later, and that is why we celebrate Easter. It wasn’t emotional. Instead, it was forty-five minutes of proving that the resurrection of Jesus was real. It took the “story” out of “the crucifixion story”, and used simple logic to validate that Jesus is who said He is. It was rational, and it was based around one piece of scripture: “He is not here. He has risen, just as He said.”
The service really caught my attention, and as I bring my research on A. J. Gordon’s theology to a close, I realized that it resonates so well with what A. J. Gordon has to say about faith— that faith is simply saying, “Yes. Christ died for my sins. He is who He said He is.” Of all the questions I’ve looked into with this project— “Who is called to missions?” “What is servant leadership?” “What is our role in social justice?”— I feel the useful message I took out of it is that if you seek, you will find the truth. Jesus is proven, and faith requires only that we chose to see the proof.
A. J. Gordon cautions though that proving God shouldn’t be confused with experimentation. In his sermon, “Proving God,” he says, “God does not invite us to experiment with Him. He does not invite us to take the Gospel and make a sort of trial trip with it for a short distance, and then, if we are satisfied that it is seaworthy and safe, to engage a permanent passage to the Kingdom of Heaven. No! He makes the definite declaration at the outset that the Gospel is sufficient to save, to the uttermost, all who accept it. Then He says: Prove whether or not that is true. Do not try it and then take it. Take it and then try it. Do not experiment on it and see if it is worthy of your confidence; but, believing that God’s work is worthy of all acceptation, accept it and spend your life demonstrating its worth.
“Is it not true,” he says, “that much of our praying and laboring is of the tentative and experimental sort? We work to see what will come of it. We pray to test what the effect will be. We throw out our efforts and wonder what results will follow, instead of fixing our eyes on a definite result and bending all our energies to that end. ‘Isn’t it an astonishing exhibition of unbelief,’ says an eminent writer, ‘that if a prayer of ours is answered we regard it as such a remarkable thing that we must tell everybody about it for weeks afterward, as though some strange thing had happened?’ ‘The sum of the angles of a triangle equal two right triangles,’ says geometry. And the student, figuring it out, proves it true, and feels no astonishment at the issue. He would have been confounded otherwise. But when the Bible says, ‘Ask and it shall be given you,’ and we prove it, we are amazed at the truth and fidelity of God, and consider it a discovery worth of telling for months. It amounts to saying, Mathematics is true without a doubt, but when the Bible is proved true, wonder, O my soul, and be astonished with great astonishment.
Should we not reverse all this and take answer to prayer for granted as surely as an answer in mathematics? What, astronomy so sure in its laws that the arrival of a comet or an eclipse of the sun may be calculated to a minute, and nobody dreams of a miscarriage; and geometry so absolute that we can computer the height of a mountain and the area of a plain without fear of error in our calculation, yet doubt God’s word? No, astronomy is but the measuring of the heavens, and geometry the measuring of the earth, yet God says, ‘Heaven and Earth shall pass away, but my word shall not pass away’.”
The human experience
The preacher on Sunday said that the Bible is full of evidence that proves Jesus is who He said He is, and for that alone we have reason to celebrate. But if that’s not enough, we also have human experiences with Jesus and the Scriptures to back it up. Our own experiences with God serve as proof of the truth, as well as the experiences of others. There are also many stories of scholars, scientific investigators, and theologians who pour themselves into the scriptures with the mission of disproving Jesus, and come out at the end of their research confirming that He is the truth.
Sunday’s message mentioned the story of Lee Strobel, author of “The Case for Christ.” Lee Strobel was a legal editor and investigative journalist for The Chicago Tribune, who not only grew up in an atheist household and lived most of his life as an atheist, but also set out to disprove Jesus after he found out his wife had become a believer. He studied the Bible line by line using investigative techniques he learned through his career set on changing his wife’s mind to save their marriage, but at the end of his two-year research Lee Strobel had changed his own mind, and said in an interview, “I cannot deny the facts any longer. Jesus is who He said He is.”
The Bible must be so powerful and full of evidence if it can change disbelieving men who study it to find its gaps and shortcomings into men of faith.
“There are things of God hidden in the Scriptures, diffused through human history, and inwrought with religious experience, which no intellectual acumen, however subtle, can grasp,” said A. J. Gordon. “I would that every student of the Bible would take the motto which [scholar John Bengel] took for his guidance in study: ‘Apply thyself wholly to the Scriptures, and apply the Scriptures wholly thyself.’ Learned critics are applying themselves wholly to the Scriptures with microscopic intensity of search and research, but they neglect the other half. We hear of some who are famous at taking a sword and cutting up the scripture, but we would like to see the Scripture, which is itself a sword, go through these men and cut some of them up.”
Faith for a life more abundant
I did not set out to disprove Jesus with my research, but my human experience with God and scripture through this project still changed my life. My goal with this project was to bring to light one man’s research and advocation for the truth, and to give some answers on some of Gordon College’s most pressing questions. But, seven months, 15 books, and over 130 sermons and articles later, I arrive at the end of my study with not a whole lot of answers, just more evidence for Christ, deeper-rooted faith, a stronger desire to keep studying the Bible.
On top of that, and most importantly, I was reminded through this project of the abundant life Christ offers us for simply accepting Him and affirming Him for who He is. This is the point of faith, and arguably the point of Christian theology. A. J. Gordon’s study into God’s word gave him a faith that built this school, and now we are all a part of it. That is proof of Jesus. This moment is proof of Jesus. Every prayer you speak is proof of Jesus, and faith is acknowledging that to be true.
“Every answered prayer is a pulse beat of the heart of Jesus,” says A. J. Gordon. “Live in Him constantly then; pray in Him unceasingly. Thus by patient continuance shall you attain unto eternal life. This is the goal which is set before us. ‘He that believeth on the Son hath life’ indeed; has it in principle, in germ. For this very reason we are exhorted ‘to fight the good fight of faith and lay hold of eternal life,’ that as life is now in us in its beginnings, we may enter into life in its fullness.”
Jaclyn Beck is currently an editor at HCPro, Inc. in Marblehead, MA, and graduated from Gordon College in 2007 with a bachelor's degree in Business Administration. She can be reached at jbeck711gmail.com.