How do we know Christianity is the true religion?
Thank you for this simple but profound question: How do we know that Christianity is the true religion? The simple answer is: because God, who does not lie or deceive, has told us the truth in his Word, the Bible (John 17:17, Tit. 1:2).
I realize that this answer will not satisfy a great many inquiring minds—perhaps including yours. Nevertheless, it remains the best answer. But to give you a bit more to “chew on,” here are some additional thoughts.
How do we truly know anything? (The study of “knowing” is called epistemology.) Philosophers generally are divided as to whether a person comes into the world as a “blank slate” to be written upon by sensual experience or as one already programmed with knowledge which can be added to. Historically, orthodox Christianity has held to the latter position, believing that God the Creator from the beginning gave mankind a basic, innate knowledge—including knowledge of himself (Rom. 1:21). He has even written his moral law on the hearts of his human creatures (Rom. 2:14).
The entrance of sin into the world (Gen. 3) adversely affected how a person understands and applies both innate and acquired knowledge. What ought to be obvious to the uncorrupted mind becomes questionable and challengeable to the mind that is in rebellion against God. Undergirding the biblical concept of salvation is the renewal of one’s mind through regeneration, i.e., new birth (John 3:3–8). When the gospel of Christ crucified as an atoning sacrifice for sinners and of Christ risen from the dead is presented to the unregenerate mind, the frequent response is to question and reject it, essentially saying, “I don’t see how this proposition can be true.” (Rom. 1:18–25, 1 Cor. 1:18). But the born-again person receives the gospel gladly and in faith because, having a renewed mind, he or she perceives that God’s plan of salvation is eminently sensible, rational and workable (1 Cor. 1:24–25). In short, we will never discover the true religion without God's help and grace.
In contrast, the propositions of non-Christian religions, atheism or agnosticism are fanciful and unworkable. They are mostly products of human imagination and not the revelation of God.
Generally speaking, God by his Spirit will use the sincere reading and studying of the Bible to lead one to a conviction of the truth and ultimately trust in Jesus. The Holy Spirit will objectively and subjectively confirm the truth to us (John 16:13, Rom. 8:16). If a person ignores and neglects the Bible, he or she is likely to wrestle with a life of uncertainty and doubt.
Although the propositions and personal testimonies of the Bible are a completely adequate means of knowing what is true, God has granted us also the testimonies of believers throughout the history of Christianity. Of course, these must contend with the counter-claims of non-Christians, but taken together with the teachings of the Bible, they do indicate that true (as opposed to nominal) Christians are not delusional but have real peace, real fulfillment and real practicality in their lives. Believers interact with God on a daily basis and are able to deal with people and circumstances in love and insight.
May the Lord bless you and bring you to a firm conviction of the truth in Christ
"Questions and Answers" is a weekly feature of the OPC website. The answers come from individual ministers in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church expressing their own convictions and do not necessarily represent an "official" position of the Church, especially in areas where the Standards of the Church (the Scriptures and the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms) are silent.
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