1 John 5:10 “Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son.”
Every moment of a Christian’s existence his faith is under attack. The attack is unrelenting and takes many forms. It is such a constant feature of our existence that sometimes we hardly notice it. But from time to time something happens to make us feel the attack again. We become deeply aware of how hard it is to hold on to our faith.
This is a major side-story of the Easter account. It is important enough, and urgent enough, that sometimes it may seem as though it is the main issue. Is it possible to believe Jesus rose from the dead? Just hours after it happened Jesus’ enemies were spreading rumors about his disciples stealing the body. They paid good money to make sure that their version of the events got air time around Jerusalem.
Jesus’ own disciples didn’t find it any easier to believe he was alive again. Ten of them refused to believe the women when they came back with the first report from the empty tomb. Thomas held out a week longer in spite of the growing number of witnesses who had seen Jesus alive.
The onslaught against faith isn’t limited to Jesus’ resurrection, or even the Bible’s claims of supernatural events. Those seem to offend against science and reason. People also make moral objections to Christian teachings. Isn’t spanking violence against children? Doesn’t respect for authority contribute to injustice and neglect of the poor? Isn’t traditional marriage teaching unfair, even mean, to those with same-sex attractions?
Then there are the questions and problems with the goodness of God. If God loves everyone, then why are some saved, but others are lost? Why is faith in Jesus necessary? If God is kind and merciful, then why does he allow so much suffering–hunger, disease, poverty, war, or natural catastrophe? These are often not theoretical questions. They come from the personal experiences of our own lives. I am not suggesting that it is wrong to wonder about these things. I am saying that the conclusions to which many people come are hostile to Christian faith.
Can faith survive? The good news about God’s Son is more than an offer of grace. It is the gift of grace. It does more that invite us to believe. It grants, it plants that faith deep within our hearts. I have read many stories I loved because they excited me, moved me, even inspired me to change. Sometimes they play my emotions like a cheap violin. Still, none of them are like the testimony God has given about the life and love of his Son. This has embraced me, possessed me, and now inhabits my heart and soul in a way that has made, and is still making me, a different man.
That is why John can say, “Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart.” I don’t understand everything God demands or promises. I may still struggle to agree with it all. There are certainly things I would do differently if I were God. But I can’t shake the inner conviction that says, “Jesus is your Savior, and God’s word is true. Trust him. Follow him.” It is not my own inner voice. God’s testimony often contradicts and corrects the voice inside me. It exposes my inner rebel and puts him down. Even more, it invites me, it leads me to the certainty that I live in a perpetual state of forgiveness. Love is always where my Lord stands with me. His way is good, if not always easy or pleasant, and he won’t steer me wrong. Listen. Believe.
This sometimes makes giving my testimony of faith to others frustrating. John also describes the skeptic who does not believe: “…(He) has made (God) out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son.” “Prove it!” the skeptic says. “Prove that Jesus lived, died, or rose. Prove he said this or that. Prove his demands. Prove that he saves.” I would love to. I have only the story, the word, the testimony God has given. The skeptic thinks it is all a lie. But it has conquered my heart, and I know that all of it, all of it, is true. I can only repeat the testimony God has given. I can’t make you believe. “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” That’s the sum of the matter.
Our faith is always under attack. But God has given us his word to defend it, to feed it, and to make it live and flourish. Listen like the little children. Believe like them, and keep your heart of faith.