The simple answer is: I don’t know! And just as importantly, I don’t need to know!
First things first… a little background about me. Not too long ago, I had a job that I loved more than anything. I think that was part of the reason I stood there four and a half years ago confused and baffled… devastated. It was more than a job. It was a calling; a mission. I was good at it! People loved me! I was a kids and youth pastor for 12 years. I didn’t know then but I do know now, I put that ministry before everything, even God himself! All in an attempt to feed my ego. …
Why then is there so much controversy surrounding the name of Jesus? Why do so many unbelievers get angry or frustrated at His name? I Googled Jesus today and got more than 3.5 billion results. There have been countless books written about Him.
Some people don’t believe and some people want to call Jesus a good moral teacher or a prophet who brought wisdom into the world. The truth though, is that Jesus claimed to be God and we have a decision to make about that claim. We either believe Him or we don’t believe Him. There really are no other choices.
C.S. Lewis has said the following: “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 either be a lunatic — on the 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.”
There are only two options. His revelation of Himself as God must be either true or false. There are no other choices. So what do you believe? Have you thought about it? This is the single most important decision you will ever make.
Let’s explore the possible alternatives and decide what we believe based on the evidence. The three possibilities are that He was lying and knew He was lying; He was crazy and therefore He didn’t realize He was lying; or He is God.
The first possibility is that Jesus was lying and knew it. .
What if Jesus was a liar? If He knew he was not God then He was lying and betraying the trust of His followers. He taught others to be honest whatever the cost so lying and betraying others would mean that He was a fraud. He instructed people to trust Him as the only way to heaven and many people did but if He was lying then this would make Him a monster. If He was lying or deceiving His followers with claims or promises He couldn’t keep then He was evil.
If this was the case and Jesus was knowingly lying about who He was then He was nothing more than a complete failure. His claim led to His crucifixion, an extremely painful experience that could have been stopped at any time by admitting He was lying.
Those who say that He was a good moral teacher must explain how that could be if He was intentionally lying to people about who He was. A lying Jesus isn’t compatible with what we know about Him, the way He lived or the things He said.
If you examine the lives’ of the people who knew Him in the bible as well as the people who know Him today the results are amazing. So what happens to these people? Alcoholics become sober; cowards become courageous; the hateful learn to love; selfish people become generous; sinners learn to repent and the list goes on.
It just wouldn’t make sense for Him to be a liar. Someone who lived the perfect life that He lived, who taught such amazing truths and died the way He died could not have been a liar.
The second possibility is that He thought He was telling the truth but was deranged.
What if Jesus was just crazy? Could He have mistakenly thought He was God? It is possible for a genuinely good person to be wrong. Unfortunately it wouldn’t be the first or last time that someone mistakenly identified themselves as God. These people are rightly seen as irrational and delusional. We lock them up so they can’t hurt themselves or others.
With Jesus it was different though. We don’t see the personality defects and irregularities that go with such a disconnect from truth. If we take the case of a schizophrenic for instance, their aim is to escape from reality and a claim to be God would be a cause for concern.
If He was deranged could He have lived life with such a calm and rational demeanor as He was recorded as doing? If He was insane He would not have been able to maintain His self-discipline and composure throughout the time of His earthly ministry.
Giving an honest study of the life of Jesus it is impossible to arrive at the conclusion He was disconnected from reality. The words of Jesus are the most life-changing words ever recorded. These same words have freed so many people caught in sin, pain, failure and hurt.
It is impossible for Jesus to have been insane. He taught with such logic, love and compassion that He clearly knew what He was doing. In fact many people claim that in order to experience spiritual healing all they need to do is pick up their bible and read the words of Jesus.
I reject the claim that Jesus was crazy.
The final possibility is that Jesus is the Son of God.
What if Jesus is the Son of God? What if He is exactly who He said He was? Basic common sense will reveal that Jesus was not a liar or a deranged man. These possibilities can not exist when you honestly look at the evidence. There is only one other option.
Jesus is in fact the Son of God. Let’s look at the evidence. The New Testament is a document proven to be historically accurate. It contains twenty seven books which were all written in the first century A.D. This is important because it means they were all written within a few years of Jesus’ Earthly presence and they all proclaim that Jesus is God. They were all written by different people and for different reasons but they all share the common theme of who Jesus is and what He did.
The writers of the New Testament were not the only ones who recorded information about Jesus. Many early philosophers and theologians recorded what they knew. They all lived within a few decades of Jesus and they all make the same claim about His divinity.
Here is what some of them are recorded as saying about Jesus:
Ignatius of Antioch (Ad 110): God incarnate…God Himself appearing in the form of man. Justin Martyr (AD 100-165): For they who affirm that the Son is the Father, are proved neither to have become acquainted with the Father, nor to know that the Father of the universe has a Son; who also, being the first-begotten Word of God, is even God. Irenaeus (AD 177): …the Father is Lord, and the Son is Lord, and the Father is God and the Son is God; for He who is born of God is God. Melito of Sardis (AD 177): He was man, yet He is God. . .
Today there are followers of Jesus everywhere who have seen and felt His presence in their own lives. There are many people who, in a spiritual darkness and despair have met their savior who then picked them up, dusted them off and set them on a new course. I know through personal experience that if you call out to Him he answers. Turning your life over to Him is a decision full of logic. Soon, though the logic won’t matter because you will have made the ultimate life-changing connection with The God of Everything who loves you more than you will ever know.
You must carry this message. Ask your friends, family, coworkers, strangers, everyone to follow Jesus. Ask people about the options.
Was Jesus a liar? No Was Jesus deranged? No Is Jesus your savior? There are no more choices.
For non believers, the name of Jesus many times causes negative emotions. These emotions take many different forms. It confuses them. It embarrasses them. It makes them angry. It makes them want to change the subject. It makes them want to argue. But why?
If you go to a friend and bring up the subject of god (lower case) then people are ok but when you bring up the name of Jesus people have a problem.
When Jesus started His mission here on Earth people began to realize that He was making many amazing and hard to believe statements about who He was, why He was here and what was happening. How could a simple carpenter from Nazareth be saying such things?
So what were some of these statements that He made:
He was making claims that would make Him equal to God.
He was the only way to salvation.
He was the only way to forgiveness of sins.
Today we will begin looking at the claims Jesus made and decide if they were true. The truth isn’t about what you want to believe but what is real.I We live in a world were people believe in many different things and in many cases those things are not real.
So what about Jesus? Who did He claim to be? Are those claims true?
Let’s start at the beginning. He claimed to be God. Many different belief systems believe in a “god” or a spirit of the universe who created and is in charge of the world.Muslims, Jews, and Hindus all believe in a God that knows them personally and takes an active role in this planet’s affairs.
Believing in Jesus takes it one step further. God became man through Jesus. This is what makes being a Christian far different then the other belief systems. Jesus Christ is not a first and last name. In Greek the name Jesus means “the lord saves” and Christ mean “anointed one” which points towards a King and/or a priest.
The Old Testament promised His coming and the New Testament makes it clear that Jesus Christ is God. The references throughout the scripture could only apply to God.
These are so many scriptures in both the Old and New Testament referring to Jesus and how it had to be Him. The characteristics Jesus had can only be true of God.
Jesus is self-existent. (Existing independently of any cause, as God. –Dictionary.com) John 1:2 (NIV): 2 He was with God in the beginning.
Jesus is omnipresent. (Present everywhere at the same time.) Matthew 18:20 (NIV): For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
Jesus is omniscient. (Having complete or unlimited knowledge, awareness, or understanding.) John 6:64 (NIV): 64 Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him.
Jesus is omnipotent. (Almighty or infinite in power.) Matthew 8:26-27 (NIV): 26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. 27 The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”
Jesus’ first followers were Jews who had very strong religious beliefs and only believed in one true God. Some of theses early believers included:
Paul who was named Saul a Jewish Rabbi. Before Jesus changed his name to Paul, he was a violent persecutor of the early church. (See Acts 8:3)
Peter a Jewish fisherman, who Jesus called at the beginning of His Earthly ministry. (See Matthew 16:16)
Martha who was a personal friend of Jesus. (See John 11:27)
Stephen who was the first Christian to be stoned to death for his belief. (See Acts 7:59)
Thomas who first doubted that Jesus had rome from the grave. (See John 20:25-28)
Jesus made some bold claims about who He was. He also did some amazing things in the presence of many witnesses:
Jesus himself claimed to be eternal.
He claimed to be equal with God.
Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath.
Jesus was in direct conflict with the Jewish leaders.
As Jesus said and did these things, the religious leaders of the day became increasingly angry.and hostile towards Him. They sought to kill him several times before His actual trial. There were several attempts at stoning Him and in one instance they tried to throw Him off a cliff. Why were they so angry?
They understood the claims that He was making and the things He was doing. It drove them crazy. He claimed to be the Son of God. He claimed that He had the ability to forgive sins. He healed sickness. He performed numerous miracles. During His trial He made claims that further infuriated the authorities. They never stopped to consider if His claims were true.
Jesus was put on trial for who He claimed to be, not for anything he may have done. During the trial Jesus confessed to being God (Matthew 27:41-43). You must decide if that claim is true.
Jesus is the only one who has and can offer eternal life. 1 John 5:11-12 (NIV) says “11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.”
Will you accept His Offer?
Next time was Jesus crazy? Was He lying? Or is He God? There are no other choices.
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One of our world’s greatest needs is the ability and desire to share God. In order for you to take hold of all that
generosity has to offer, you must share God with every person you encounter. “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.“xlvi I am not talking about pushing your beliefs on others, which will actually have the opposite effect on people than what you should be striving for. Don’t be pushy! Simply learn to share by the life you lead. Share by example! Live your life in such a way that people see the positive results you achieve. They will take note of it and that’s when they will begin to ask questions. …
Generosity is a characteristic that will always lead to success, in every area of your life. Like
anything worth having though, it must be strengthened and developed every day. When you learn to give of your time, talent, energy and money, you will begin to experience success in all areas of your life. …
I was at the gym early this morning and I got to thinking about my friends. It brought me into a place
I’m not talking about those people that you know casually. I’m talking about those few good, close friends that know you well. They are there with you through anything. They stand shoulder-to-shoulder with challenges you never thought you would face. They celebrate when you experience victory! …
We learn to walk by the time we are one; we learn to ride a bike by the time we’re six, about the same time we are starting school. We learn to drive by the time we are sixteen. We get married, have kids and then retire. We do this, most of us anyway, without learning about success. I’m talking about real success. Some of us may have learned society’s version of success and that is precisely why we are unhappy and unfulfilled. Of true success, we know very little or even nothing. Many of us never learn what success is and what it isn’t. We don’t understand what failure is or what it isn’t. …
I want to point out that God is not against you attaining wealth. If you make sacrifices and give, he will provide you with a hundred-fold return. You don’t have to wait until you get to heaven for that hundred-fold return either. The hundred-fold return is “in this present age.” You must realize that a hundred-fold return on this earth is a very small reward compared to what you get when you arrive in heaven. That is, eternal life.
Within this scripture, right along with your blessing, Jesus mentions that persecution comes along with your reward. There are many people who become jealous when their friends, family and neighbors attain success. They see others becoming successful as their failure. They may even criticize you for obtaining the very things that they themselves want.
Are you responsible enough to be blessed? Blessed people always stir up controversy. They tend to offend those who choose to live in mediocrity. Remember, to him whom much is given, much is required. There is a huge responsibility for those people God chooses to become leaders and builders of faith. Hard work and faith will always lead to success. Success will always lead to controversy and criticism.
“But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.”clxix
As I have established, the pursuit of money at all costs is evil. I have seen the scenario played out so many times. A young family just starting out discovers that they want so many more things than what their current income can support. The husband starts working harder and the wife starts working harder. They see less and less of each other and the kids. This is where the family begins to disintegrate.
I spent my early 20’s fresh out of college working 15 hours a day, “chasing the money.” I always believed in God, but I had the belief that only by working so much would I ever achieve financial success; nothing could be further from the truth. God will take care of you. God will give you all things. He does this when he knows that you are truly seeking Him; not seeking Him just to gain wealth. You must seek the giver, not the gift. Would you want a friend or family member who is more interested in what you can give him or her more than they are in loving you? God feels the same way.
If you know all of this, why is money such a touchy subject and why do you worry so much about it? I believe it is because you trade your time for some amount of money per hour or week or year.
Michael at R2W
Help Renewed2Win show everyone a better way to live! All support goes directly to helping people achieve real success no matter what the future brings.