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  • Writer's picturePatty

Truth That Altered Lives

Read: 1 Corinthians 15:3-8; Acts 4:1-22; Acts 26:22-29

I said it once again just the other day. "I don't know who is telling the truth." Two people spoke. The problem? They contradicted each other in an important matter; so, at least one of them was either mistaken or lying. It seems to me that more and more, I can't discern who is speaking truthfully. As I thought about this dilemma, I was reminded of a story my husband and I heard more than 40 years ago when we lived in Arkansas. We were both taking courses at a rehab center for the blind, and it was there where my husband met Steve. He didn't know this young man well. He did know that Steve was legally blind and that he was also taking a course that was supposed to help folks with vision problems become more employable. Many of the clients who were there at that time would go out and drink. Sometimes heavily. Steve had gone out one Saturday night, and he was impaired from the alcohol. We heard that as he walked back to the rehab center, he fell down a 15-foot embankment and struck his head. He ended up in the hospital, and here is the part that, though (we can't verify it), if true, is amazing. Steve, it was said, woke up, and he could see well. I tried looking up the possible vision changes that might occur after striking the head. All I could find is that such a trauma could make vision worse, rather than better. The only other thing we ever heard about Steve was that when he was released from the hospital, he returned home to the state from which he came. Back to this story later.

Truth. It is precious and important, and standing on it can alter lives. That was the case in the early church. Followers of Jesus were accused of turning the world upside down. Another rendering of the verse is that the believers had thrown the world into disorder, Acts 17:6. How did this happen? They believed the truth of Jesus' resurrection. They held firm to the truth that Jesus was the promised Messiah. The writers of the New Testament were either eye witnesses or those who had learned the truth from those who had been with Jesus. They weren't standing on tales that someone had concocted; instead, they were proclaiming the Good News that Jesus was the One Who was prophesied to die, be buried and then rise again. Each of these truths had been proclaimed in the scriptures. What we call the Old Testament. This was verified truth. Jesus had been seen after His resurrection by individuals as well as a group of 500 people, 1 Corinthians 15:3-8. Paul himself had encountered Jesus in a dramatic way as he was on his way to persecute Jesus' followers, Acts 9:1-9. This dramatic encounter with the Lord changed this young rabbi's life. His focus was completely changed. All because of truth. Irrefutable truth. The one who had so vehemently opposed Jesus' followers had become His bold spokesman, Galatians 1:23.

We know these early followers held fast to what they knew to be true about Jesus because many were martyred, beaten or threatened because of their bold witness for the Lord. People wouldn't endure such hardships for made-up tales; instead, they would have recanted. In Acts 4:1-22, we encounter the disciples as they stand before the Jewish council. Why were they in trouble? A man who had been paralyzed for more than 40 years had been healed, and it was because of Jesus' power that this wondrous miracle had been wrought. When told to no longer speak about Jesus, the disciples demonstrated the strength and boldness of their truth-altered lives. The ones who had been less than courageous joyfully stood for the Lord. They would do what God showed them to do. They would not stop because of man's edict. In Acts 26, Paul was giving his testimony before Roman officials, King Agrippa and Governor Festus. He boldly proclaimed what Jesus had done in his life. When Festus said that his great learning had caused Paul to lose his mind, Paul kept right on proclaiming Jesus. He reminded them about what had been said by the prophets. I love Acts 26:29. This is where Paul said that he longed that those who heard him be like him. A Christian. There was one part of his life that Paul didn't want his audience to share. He didn't want any of them to be chained as a prisoner like he was. How his life was altered. He went from a man who longed to persecute and harm believers to one who longed that his judges come to know Jesus. Paul's chains hadn't hardened his heart toward those around him. Instead, his desire was that each of them be saved.

Back to the story about Steve. It might be true, but it hasn't altered our lives. Why? Because it was never verified. We never spoke to Steve after his fall, and we didn't speak to anyone who truly knew the veracity of the story. So why share with confidence and joy when the story might not be true?

Many people think that we have a flimsy foundation like that concerning Jesus. With gentleness and respect, I say that they are badly mistaken. For proof, we can point to the prophesies that were given hundreds of years prior to their fulfillment, Isaiah 46:9-10. Verifiable truth! Spoken by the Flawless One, Almighty God Who cannot lie, Titus 1:2. In addition to the scriptures, we have the confidence of those who boldly proclaimed Jesus after He went back to heaven. They did not speak of the Messiah for personal gain. They proclaimed His truth out of love for Him and love for people. They truly showed their love for God and their neighbors as they walked out their altered lives.

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