When Paul wrote his first letter to the church in Corinth, he included among his words of greeting this unique expression:
"The testimony of Christ was confirmed in you."
In these brief words, Paul captured the very essence of the gospel program. His long journeys, his tireless missionary endeavor, his survival of harassment and persecution, his concern for the spiritual prosperity of his converts, all found ample reward and fulfillment when he could say, "Confirmed in you."
During recent years we have been hearing frequent mention of a disconcerting situation known as the "credibility gap." It is a rather picturesque description of the difference between what is said and what is true.
Actually, there is nothing new about it. Satan accused God of a credibility gap way back in the Garden of Eden.
Ever since that time, suspicion has been one of the most uncomfortable by-products of sin. This inherent skepticism keeps us constantly looking for evidence to support or deny what we hear. We have come to accept the necessity of furnishing adequate proof for our own statements, and we call this proof "confirmation."
Frequently my telephone rings, and I find it is the cable office calling. The voice will say, "We have a cable for you," and then proceed to read me the message. It is a fast, efficient system, but it has its hazards. The girl at the cable office may misread. I may mishear. Or perhaps I will make insufficient and inaccurate notes. Aware of these possibilities, the cable company wisely sends a messenger who, a few hours later, delivers a teletype version marked, "Confirmation."
Confirmation is tangible evidence. It is visible affirmation of something we may have heard but for which we desire proof. We demand it. We need it. We appreciate it.
To a skeptical world has come God's message of hope. It sounds good, and there are many who would like to believe it. They are intrigued with the possibility of forgiveness, the apparent social benefits of Christian fellowship, the amazing potential of eternal life. But how can they be sure? What proof do they have that the message is authentic, that there is no credibility gap?
They have you.
This was Paul's great confidence. This is the church's greatest asset. This is where God rests His case. "The testimony of Christ was confirmed in you."
Paul H. Eldridge was president of the former FarEast Division when he wrote this article and is reprinted by permission from the Far Eastern Division Outlook.