Author, Speaker, Pastor

July, 25, 2024

Author, Speaker, Pastor

WHY JESUS? Reinforcing the truth and deity of Christ

John R.W. Stott, English theologian, said it is important to defend the uniqueness of Christ. He once stated:

“So, because in no other person but Jesus of Nazareth did God first become human (in his birth), then bear our sins (in his death), then conquer death (in his resurrection) and then enter his people (by his Spirit), he is uniquely able to save sinners. Nobody else has his qualifications.”

Some people simply don’t want to believe – regardless of reason, research, or evidence supporting the Bible. Nevertheless, the most important decision every human being will make in this life is whether or not to believe the gospel and trust in Jesus Christ alone for salvation.

And the most important question to answer in this life is this: “Who is Jesus?”

What a person believes about Jesus will impact every area of life and then where you will spend eternity! Let’s be blunt: there is no gray area here because Scripture reveals exactly who Jesus is, what He came to do, and how believers should live as a result.

Either Jesus is the Way, or any pathway, philosophy, religion, or belief system will do.

According to Barna Research, nearly 60% of Americans agree with this statement:

“Many religions can lead to eternal life; there is no ‘one true religion.’

This is because too many have fallen for the idea of religious pluralism or syncretism. The popular but wrong worldview of the anti-Christian “co-exist” philosophy plays right into this.

Because it was so clearly stated throughout Scripture, the Apostle Paul and other writers did not give us the option to debate who Jesus is or whether they believed Him to be God. For example, tradition holds that the following powerful verses about Christ from Philippians chapter 2 were memorized and used as a great hymn of early believers.

Philippians 2:5-11 states:

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Verse six clearly reiterates that Jesus existed in the form of God – not just ‘a’ god. Then it mentions He was equal to God. But He humbly emptied Himself.

It’s important to point out Jesus did not give up His deity, but He was fully God as well as fully man due to the incarnation, “the Word became flesh” (John 1:14).

Also note He obeyed – in His humanity – and followed the plan ordained from the foundation of the world, offering Himself as a ransom, allowing sinful man to torture and kill Him.

One key to Jesus’ obedience on earth was the endurance of suffering. That’s not a popular message. Too many prefer to pursue ear-tickling teaching about how mankind is so good and deserving, and about living our best lives now.

This passage of Scripture clearly declaring Jesus’ deity, is powerful ammunition against those who deny the fact Jesus Christ is Lord. Proverbs 18:10 states that “the name of the Lord is a strong tower.” There is no higher name than Yahweh, and Jesus has that name.

One day, every knee will bow – not some knees, not most knees, but every knee of every soul will acknowledge Him. Every tongue will confess this truth: Jesus Christ is Lord.

One sure sign or impact event that should prove Jesus is Lord, God, and Savior would be the fact He overcame death by rising from the grave. And the tomb is still empty today! This, on top of hundreds of eyewitness testimonies, fulfilled prophecies, overwhelming archaeological evidence, and all the countless signs and miracles Jesus performed.

Acts 1:3 states,

“…He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God.” Many. Convincing. Proofs.

I’m not so sure people really want proof, facts, or evidence about who Jesus is. They’d rather keep on living the way they’re living and call Jesus a good man, a prophet, an influencer, or a good teacher. It’s just not convenient for Jesus to be Lord and God.

C.S. Lewis stated:

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would be either a lunatic — on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

But today, people have all kinds of ideas and opinions about who He was. The same was true when Jesus lived among the people.

Matthew 16:13-17 states:

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” 15 He *said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, SimonBarjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 

Caesarea Philippi was a center of idol worship to many gods. It’s interesting that this was the setting Jesus chose as the background to ask His followers that key question. Here, the Bible tells us God confirmed and revealed the Messiah to Peter, but it was not yet Jesus’ time. He instructed them not to tell anyone. Yet. Because it wasn’t His time.

Paul would later write to another church about the incomparable Christ.

Colossians 1:13-19 states:

“He rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. 15He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18 He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. 19 For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him…

It seems God wanted to get something across to the church. All means all, not some. Jesus was and is fully God.

Colossians 2:9 states:

“For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form…”

Using the word “fulness” may have been adequate enough for most of us. God, however, chose to drive home the point by adding the word “all.” In Christ, all God’s fulness dwells.

One false teaching among the Colossian Christians was similar to an early form of the Gnostic heresies that would come later. These Gnostic heresies made a radical separation between the spiritual and the material. That is why Paul needed to make it clear that all the fullness of the Godhead was in Jesus bodily, not in some strange, mystical sense. John also dealt with this false teaching in 1 John 4:2-3 and other passages. Another false teaching in the early church was called Docetism, which claimed that Jesus had no actual human body; He only seemed to have one.

In verse 15, the word “image” is eikon in the Greek, meaning exact representation. Also note Jesus created heavens, thrones, ranks, and hierarchy’s as seen by the words, ‘thrones, dominions, rulers, and authorities.’ Christ is King of Kings.

In the Nicene Creed of 325 AD which came out of that important council, they clarified the deity of Christ. An early version of the Creed stated Jesus was, “begotten of the Father before all ages. Light of Light, true God of true God, begotten not made, of one essence with the Father by whom all things were made.”

In other words Jesus was not a created being but rather, the Creator. They used the word, “homoousias” which means the “same in being, same in essence” of the same substance…”

It’s also important to point out the word “firstborn” does not mean Jesus was a created being. The word refers to preeminence or position; it is used as a rank, rather than chronologically. In Greek and Jewish culture, the firstborn was the son who received the right of inheritance from his father – whether he was born earliest or not.

Abraham’s son Isaac, the child of the promise was referred to as the first born but Ishmael was born before Isaac. So again, “firstborn” here means highest in rank.

All this to say Jesus Christ is the perfect image – the exact likeness – of God and is the very form of God. He has been so from all eternity. Jesus is the manifestation and representation of God the Father and thus, Jesus is fully God in every way.

In Revelation 22:13, Jesus declares,

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”

Speaking of the beginning, we couldn’t wrap this up without going to the Gospel of John. For skeptics or anyone to claim Jesus never said He was God or that the Bible doesn’t mention the deity of Christ, they are either ignorant, they’re in denial or completely uninterested in pursuing the truth.

John 1:1-4 states:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.”

Before the universe began, the Word “was” … That simple verb indicates the eternal pre-existence of Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity, “…who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty (Revelation 1:8).” Jesus covers past, present, and future!

That life of Christ flows through believers today by the Holy Spirit and continues as a light to all mankind. We are the light of the world. But as the very next verse says, “The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. (John 1:5).”

Another meaning for comprehend is, “overcome.” The darkness cannot, has not, and never will overcome the Light.

Sadly, the same holds true today: Christ still shines in the darkness, only today He shines through us, and the world does not comprehend it. But that doesn’t change the truth, our mission, and our purpose. The gospel is the power of God to salvation and Jesus is the only way.

There is no other name by which we can be saved (acts 4:12), and all the bones of other so-called gods and prophets can still be found in their tombs or gravesites somewhere in the world. Thank God we can trust in Jesus and unlike every other cult or religion, we have assurance of salvation because God is faithful to His promises.

Some people find a system of works or beliefs that seems to work for them. Others cling to teachings or philosophies that tell you mankind is essentially good and you deserve a problem-free, wonderful life. Still others don’t care if it’s true, they just want something that pleases their flesh and doesn’t have many restrictions on how they live.

I get to interview amazing men and women of God and always come away encouraged, better informed, or inspired. A few weeks back on Worldview Matters, I talked with author and former homicide detective featured on Dateline, J. Warner Wallace. In his book, Cold Case Christianity, he states:

“I’m not a Christian because it “works” for me. I had a life prior to Christianity that seemed to be working just fine, and my life as a Christian hasn’t always been easy. I’m a Christian because it is true. I’m a Christian because I want to live in a way that reflects the truth. I’m a Christian because my high regard for the truth leaves me no alternative.”

Some people say they are living they are living their truth, but if they don’t repent and turn to Jesus, they’re in for a rude awakening one day. To them, this life is all there is.

Thank God we can know the truth, and as Jesus said, that truth will set you free.

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WHY JESUS? Reinforcing the truth and deity of Christ

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John R.W. Stott, English theologian, said it is important to defend the uniqueness of Christ. He once stated:

“So, because in no other person but Jesus of Nazareth did God first become human (in his birth), then bear our sins (in his death), then conquer death (in his resurrection) and then enter his people (by his Spirit), he is uniquely able to save sinners. Nobody else has his qualifications.”

Some people simply don’t want to believe – regardless of reason, research, or evidence supporting the Bible. Nevertheless, the most important decision every human being will make in this life is whether or not to believe the gospel and trust in Jesus Christ alone for salvation.

And the most important question to answer in this life is this: “Who is Jesus?”

What a person believes about Jesus will impact every area of life and then where you will spend eternity! Let’s be blunt: there is no gray area here because Scripture reveals exactly who Jesus is, what He came to do, and how believers should live as a result.

Either Jesus is the Way, or any pathway, philosophy, religion, or belief system will do.

According to Barna Research, nearly 60% of Americans agree with this statement:

“Many religions can lead to eternal life; there is no ‘one true religion.’

This is because too many have fallen for the idea of religious pluralism or syncretism. The popular but wrong worldview of the anti-Christian “co-exist” philosophy plays right into this.

Because it was so clearly stated throughout Scripture, the Apostle Paul and other writers did not give us the option to debate who Jesus is or whether they believed Him to be God. For example, tradition holds that the following powerful verses about Christ from Philippians chapter 2 were memorized and used as a great hymn of early believers.

Philippians 2:5-11 states:

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Verse six clearly reiterates that Jesus existed in the form of God – not just ‘a’ god. Then it mentions He was equal to God. But He humbly emptied Himself.

It’s important to point out Jesus did not give up His deity, but He was fully God as well as fully man due to the incarnation, “the Word became flesh” (John 1:14).

Also note He obeyed – in His humanity – and followed the plan ordained from the foundation of the world, offering Himself as a ransom, allowing sinful man to torture and kill Him.

One key to Jesus’ obedience on earth was the endurance of suffering. That’s not a popular message. Too many prefer to pursue ear-tickling teaching about how mankind is so good and deserving, and about living our best lives now.

This passage of Scripture clearly declaring Jesus’ deity, is powerful ammunition against those who deny the fact Jesus Christ is Lord. Proverbs 18:10 states that “the name of the Lord is a strong tower.” There is no higher name than Yahweh, and Jesus has that name.

One day, every knee will bow – not some knees, not most knees, but every knee of every soul will acknowledge Him. Every tongue will confess this truth: Jesus Christ is Lord.

One sure sign or impact event that should prove Jesus is Lord, God, and Savior would be the fact He overcame death by rising from the grave. And the tomb is still empty today! This, on top of hundreds of eyewitness testimonies, fulfilled prophecies, overwhelming archaeological evidence, and all the countless signs and miracles Jesus performed.

Acts 1:3 states,

“…He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God.” Many. Convincing. Proofs.

I’m not so sure people really want proof, facts, or evidence about who Jesus is. They’d rather keep on living the way they’re living and call Jesus a good man, a prophet, an influencer, or a good teacher. It’s just not convenient for Jesus to be Lord and God.

C.S. Lewis stated:

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would be either a lunatic — on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

But today, people have all kinds of ideas and opinions about who He was. The same was true when Jesus lived among the people.

Matthew 16:13-17 states:

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” 15 He *said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, SimonBarjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 

Caesarea Philippi was a center of idol worship to many gods. It’s interesting that this was the setting Jesus chose as the background to ask His followers that key question. Here, the Bible tells us God confirmed and revealed the Messiah to Peter, but it was not yet Jesus’ time. He instructed them not to tell anyone. Yet. Because it wasn’t His time.

Paul would later write to another church about the incomparable Christ.

Colossians 1:13-19 states:

“He rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. 15He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18 He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. 19 For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him…

It seems God wanted to get something across to the church. All means all, not some. Jesus was and is fully God.

Colossians 2:9 states:

“For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form…”

Using the word “fulness” may have been adequate enough for most of us. God, however, chose to drive home the point by adding the word “all.” In Christ, all God’s fulness dwells.

One false teaching among the Colossian Christians was similar to an early form of the Gnostic heresies that would come later. These Gnostic heresies made a radical separation between the spiritual and the material. That is why Paul needed to make it clear that all the fullness of the Godhead was in Jesus bodily, not in some strange, mystical sense. John also dealt with this false teaching in 1 John 4:2-3 and other passages. Another false teaching in the early church was called Docetism, which claimed that Jesus had no actual human body; He only seemed to have one.

In verse 15, the word “image” is eikon in the Greek, meaning exact representation. Also note Jesus created heavens, thrones, ranks, and hierarchy’s as seen by the words, ‘thrones, dominions, rulers, and authorities.’ Christ is King of Kings.

In the Nicene Creed of 325 AD which came out of that important council, they clarified the deity of Christ. An early version of the Creed stated Jesus was, “begotten of the Father before all ages. Light of Light, true God of true God, begotten not made, of one essence with the Father by whom all things were made.”

In other words Jesus was not a created being but rather, the Creator. They used the word, “homoousias” which means the “same in being, same in essence” of the same substance…”

It’s also important to point out the word “firstborn” does not mean Jesus was a created being. The word refers to preeminence or position; it is used as a rank, rather than chronologically. In Greek and Jewish culture, the firstborn was the son who received the right of inheritance from his father – whether he was born earliest or not.

Abraham’s son Isaac, the child of the promise was referred to as the first born but Ishmael was born before Isaac. So again, “firstborn” here means highest in rank.

All this to say Jesus Christ is the perfect image – the exact likeness – of God and is the very form of God. He has been so from all eternity. Jesus is the manifestation and representation of God the Father and thus, Jesus is fully God in every way.

In Revelation 22:13, Jesus declares,

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”

Speaking of the beginning, we couldn’t wrap this up without going to the Gospel of John. For skeptics or anyone to claim Jesus never said He was God or that the Bible doesn’t mention the deity of Christ, they are either ignorant, they’re in denial or completely uninterested in pursuing the truth.

John 1:1-4 states:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.”

Before the universe began, the Word “was” … That simple verb indicates the eternal pre-existence of Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity, “…who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty (Revelation 1:8).” Jesus covers past, present, and future!

That life of Christ flows through believers today by the Holy Spirit and continues as a light to all mankind. We are the light of the world. But as the very next verse says, “The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. (John 1:5).”

Another meaning for comprehend is, “overcome.” The darkness cannot, has not, and never will overcome the Light.

Sadly, the same holds true today: Christ still shines in the darkness, only today He shines through us, and the world does not comprehend it. But that doesn’t change the truth, our mission, and our purpose. The gospel is the power of God to salvation and Jesus is the only way.

There is no other name by which we can be saved (acts 4:12), and all the bones of other so-called gods and prophets can still be found in their tombs or gravesites somewhere in the world. Thank God we can trust in Jesus and unlike every other cult or religion, we have assurance of salvation because God is faithful to His promises.

Some people find a system of works or beliefs that seems to work for them. Others cling to teachings or philosophies that tell you mankind is essentially good and you deserve a problem-free, wonderful life. Still others don’t care if it’s true, they just want something that pleases their flesh and doesn’t have many restrictions on how they live.

I get to interview amazing men and women of God and always come away encouraged, better informed, or inspired. A few weeks back on Worldview Matters, I talked with author and former homicide detective featured on Dateline, J. Warner Wallace. In his book, Cold Case Christianity, he states:

“I’m not a Christian because it “works” for me. I had a life prior to Christianity that seemed to be working just fine, and my life as a Christian hasn’t always been easy. I’m a Christian because it is true. I’m a Christian because I want to live in a way that reflects the truth. I’m a Christian because my high regard for the truth leaves me no alternative.”

Some people say they are living they are living their truth, but if they don’t repent and turn to Jesus, they’re in for a rude awakening one day. To them, this life is all there is.

Thank God we can know the truth, and as Jesus said, that truth will set you free.

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