I've been pondering the life of Paul as I study his dying words in the epistle of 2Timothy. I can't believe the adventures Paul has been through by the time he writes this letter - from Persecuting Pharisee to the Appointed Apostle, Paul's life has had its fill of hardships. And after recapping his 2Corinthians11 list of troublesome journeys, he is finally near his end... awaiting his execution in a jail.
And thus this is perhaps why I don't understand when people say, 'Believe in Jesus, because if He exists and is God then you are going to heaven. But, if He does not exist, at least you've lived a good life.' Ever heard that before? I'm sure I'm not the only one. All I can say to that with all my heart's passion is, 'No.'
At the end of Paul's life as he reflects as a lonely man in his cold uncomfortable prison, jailed for the gospel, he can confidently say that it was all worth it. He can reflect on his life and say, 2Tim4:7 - 'I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.' (Amen brother Paul). What you do not find him saying is, 'Well, when I die I'll go to heaven and if I don't, then at least I've lived a good life.'
Are you kidding me? That is the last thing Paul would say. I cannot imagine Paul even coming close to saying such a statement. I cannot imagine Paul saying - 'If Christ does not exist, if He did not rise from the dead, at least I've lived a good moral life.' To the contrary, what I do clearly remember him declaring is, 'If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.' (1 Cor 15:19).
If it was just about morals... if it's just about following Christ's teaching in this life, but He never died nor rose from the dead, then pity me beyond anyone else. I have lived my life for nothing and for no cause.
Christians cannot adopt the saying above ('if He does not exist at least we've lived a good life'). We cannot adopt it because it is not true and because it is not about morals. It is about Christ. This isn't some easy road we're all on. This is a road filled with hardships and persecutions (2Tim 3:12), of self-dying and self-sacrificing for the sake of Christ. This is a hard long-endured long-fought life where family members become persecutors, friends become foes, and giftings become 'a waste of talent'.
There is no option 2 for the true believer. Believe in Christ because He is God. He is the way, the truth, and the life. He did die for your sins. He did rise from the dead 3 days later. And He does work in you and cause your heart to repent and turn to Him. Believe because He is.
I'm sold out. The gospel is true. That's why I believe. If I am wrong - then for goodness sakes this was not the good life. There is no safe way out for me. If I am wrong - then pity me for I am of all people most to be pitied.
But save your pity... God's Word is never wrong.