According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, a “tipping point” is “the critical point in a situation, process, or system beyond which a significant and often unstoppable effect or change takes place.” In coming weeks I will propose some tipping points in our experience as believers – tipping points related to belief, practice, affections, and Biblical interpretation.
Today I begin with a tipping point related to the strength of our belief, faith, or trust in Christ (the same Greek word pistis is translated as belief, faith, and trust in English). Is there a specific catalyst that can help a person’s waning confidence in the truth of Christ regain momentum?
I believe that “the critical point beyond which a significant and often unstoppable effect or change takes place” in our struggle to believe in Christ is the reality of his resurrection.
Belief in the resurrection of Jesus is not a blind leap of faith. There is credible historical rationale for believing that Jesus was raised from the dead. As N.T. Wright and other scholars have pointed out, only the resurrection explains both the empty tomb and the disciples’ conviction that they had seen Jesus alive again.Jesus’ resurrection was a tipping point for Jesus’ disciples, who moved from confusion and uncertainty to assurance of faith when they realized that Jesus had been raised from the dead (of course, the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost made a big difference as well) . “Doubting Thomas” was able to confess, “My Lord and my God” when he saw the resurrected Jesus (John 20:28). Saul/Paul, who persecuted Christians, was immediately and dramatically changed after seeing the resurrected Jesus on the Road to Damascus (Acts 9). James the brother of Jesus was skeptical about Jesus as the Messiah before the resurrection but became a believer and faithful church leader after the resurrection.
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:14, “If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith, and in 15:17, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Paul realized that Jesus’ resurrection was the linchpin of the Christian faith.
From a logical standpoint, if there was truly a man who died, was buried, and was raised on the third day (never to die again), then that changes everything about our world. Death has been conquered. Miracles are possible. The claims of this resurrected one suddenly become believable. His identity as Savior, Messiah, and Judge is validated: “God has given proof of this to all men by raising Jesus from the dead” (Acts 17:31).
When it comes to my faith in the Christian story, if Christ has been raised from the dead, the rest is details. Why couldn’t the resurrected one have died for my sins? Why couldn’t he have existed from eternity with God the Father? Why couldn’t he send the Spirit to inspire his apostles’ teachings? If Christ is risen indeed, it is OK if I can never fully resolve the problem of evil or grasp the mystery of the Trinity.
In my moments of doubt I always return to the resurrection. It is the tipping point for my faith in Jesus and the rest of the story of the Bible. Jesus is risen; He is risen indeed. Enjoy celebrating that truth this coming Sunday!