We Need More than an Accidental Faith

We Need More than an Accidental Faith

Written by J. Warner Wallace |
Tuesday, August 29, 2023

My rather sterile investigation of the gospels lead me to believe THAT Jesus was God and THAT He died for my sins and I certainly accepted His offer of Salvation. But while I considered myself “saved,” I seemed to trust Jesus for little else. I knew it was time to stretch, to step out in faith, to dream much bigger than I had ever dreamed before and trust Jesus for the results. I began to serve in the local church, entered seminary, began to write and podcast and eventually found myself with the opportunity to write a book. The crazy journey began to take shape.

The Gospel of John records an important conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus:

John Chapter 3
1Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; 2this man came to Him by night, and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know THAT You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” (emphasis mine)

Jesus then talks to Nicodemus about what it means to be “born again” and concludes the conversation by saying:

16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes IN Him should not perish, but have eternal life. (emphasis again mine)

Jesus took the time here to make a distinction between belief THAT and trust IN. There’s clearly a difference between knowing THAT Jesus is a good teacher and believing IN Jesus as God and Savior.

In 1996 I did not believe that Jesus was anything more than a misunderstood legend from the first century. I had been a police officer and detective for several years, and I was a proud, independent, willful atheist. I was unmoved (and unconvinced) by the alleged evidence that Jesus actually lived or that the New Testament gospels could be trusted as eyewitness accounts. Well that’s not actually true. To be honest, I was simply unfamiliar with the depth of the evidence and unwilling to examine it fairly. I had been raised by an atheist and a cultural Catholic and thought the God of the Bible was an imaginary, unnecessary crutch.

When I walked into a Christian church in 1996, it was the first time I had ever been in a non-Catholic church building for anything other that a wedding. It’s still a mystery to me why I even decided to go in the first place. I was definitely there for my wife more than I was there for me. I still saw no need for such superstitions. I was, however, captivated by the way the pastor described Jesus. He offered Jesus as a wise sage with important wisdom that could speak to my life and inform my decision making in important areas like work, relationships and parenting. While I wasn’t interested in Christianity, I was interested in what this ancient sage had to say.

I bought my first Bible. It was an inexpensive pew Bible; I think it cost me less than five dollars. As I read through the gospels, I was surprised to find that they seemed to display characteristics of true eyewitness accounts. One of these is something I call “unintended eyewitness support.” It’s not unusual for an eyewitness to a crime to describe the events in such a way that more questions are raised than answered. It’s not until an additional eyewitness is interviewed that the questionable observation is reconciled in some way.

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