Faith— 03/31/2022

“Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth Is!”

By Pastor Ron Buxton

It was the kind of conversation that I had had on many occasions before. However, on this particular occasion I was bolder than normal. It was winter and I was standing at Monument Square in downtown Portland Maine, and talking to a very convinced atheist. In fact, he was so convinced that I sensed the need to even ratchet up my own convictions as we talked. We got serious.

Now, the introduction was simple enough. I asked this young college student if he believed what the Bible described concerning the uniqueness of Jesus Christ. And, normally, that would usually end with just a smile and a hand wave as the person walked away. Not this time. This young man seemed to have been waiting for me. Perhaps he’d already seen my previous failures to engage in spiritual conversations with others. Or perhaps he was just looking to argue. Either way, the dialogue endured for more than 15 minutes–which seemed like a lifetime while outside during that winter cold.

Most people concede that Jesus Christ was a real historical person who lived during the 1st century A.D. in Israel. Frankly, there’s too much documentation from even secular historians to argue against it. However, whether Jesus was only a itinerant rabbi who taught good ethics—or God Himself—-is where the true battle lines are drawn. And that’s where our conversation became heated. Needless to say, we ended with a handshake as I challenged him to a “gentleman’s wager”. That’s when I put my money where my mouth is.

You see, I told him how much money I had in my banking account then, and challenged him to refute the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ with verifiable and scholarly documentation as proof. By doing so, I told him that I would have “gladly” (my exact word) emptied out all my savings and given it to him. Why? Because if Christ hadn’t risen from the dead then life simply doesn’t make sense at all. Why would I say that? Because all the profound questions about life’s origin, purpose, and its final culmination are only adequately explained by the works, words, and wonders of Jesus Christ.

Folks, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most attacked teaching of Christianity, and for good reason. The Apostle Paul said that if Christ had not risen from the dead then our faith is both empty and futile (1st Corinthians 15:14,17). And, as a result, hostile atheists have seized upon that challenge for centuries now. Just like that defiant young man on the streets of Portland Maine, who never contacted me later.

If the argument about ultimate reality was only based upon theories or vague ideas, then nobody has a convincing argument. But God didn’t leave us in the dark. God Himself—in Christ—showed up to explain everything. Most importantly, He explained forgiveness and salvation. And that, my friends, continues to be the only thing that I’ll put my money where my mouth is!