Tagged: the real Jesus

The Apologist’s Tool Kit

apologists_ebook_iconThank you, Missouri Baptists, for enthusiastically supporting the MBC’s new apologetics ministry. Over the last year, I have been privileged to speak or lead workshops in many churches across the state to help Christians “earnestly contend for the faith” (Jude 3).

Topics have ranged from “How do I know the Bible is true?” to “What do false prophets have in common?”

As many of you know, apologetics simply is “a reasonable defense of the Christian faith.” For followers of Jesus there has never been a more important time to know what we believe, why we believe, and how to share our faith with an increasingly skeptical world.

The apostle Peter urges us to “set apart the Messiah as Lord in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15).

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Was Jesus Both God and Man?

Apologetics 101: Part 7 — How can I identify the real Jesus?
JesusThis is session seven in a 10-part series designed to help Christians defend their faith.

Keys to identifying the real Jesus (audio part 2)

Keys to identifying the real Jesus (audio part 1)

Keys to identifying the real Jesus (pdf)

 

Keys to Identifying the Real Jesus

Apologetics 101: Parts 6-7 — How can I identify the real Jesus?

This is sessions six and seven in a 10-part series designed to help Christians defend their faith.

Keys to identifying the real Jesus (audio part 1)

Keys to identifying the real Jesus (pdf)

1. His origin

What Jesus says about Himself: He is eternal and uncreated.

  • John 8:58 – “I assure you: Before Abraham was, I am” (I AM is the name God gave Himself at the burning bush [Ex. 3:13-14]).
  • John 17:5 – “Now, Father, glorify Me in Your presence with that glory I had with You before the world existed.”
  • Rev. 1:17-18 – “Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last, and the Living One. I was dead, but look—I am alive forever and ever, and I hold the keys of death and Hades.”

What the eyewitnesses say about Jesus: He has always existed and is the uncreated Creator.

  • John 1:1-3 – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things were created through Him, and apart from Him not one thing was created that has been created.
  • Col. 1:15-17 – He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation; because by Him everything was created, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things have been created through Him and for Him.

What do you say about Jesus’ origin?

2. His deity

What Jesus says about Himself: He is co-equal and co-eternal with the Father and the Holy Spirit

  • Mark 14:61b-62 – Again the high priest questioned Him, “Are You the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” “I am,” said Jesus, “and all of you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power and coming with the clouds of heaven.”
  • John 8:24 – “Therefore I told you that you will die in your sins. For if you do not believe that I am [He], you will die in your sins.” (I AM is the name God gave Himself at the burning bush [Ex. 3:13-14]).
  • John 10:30 – “The Father and I are one.”

What the eyewitnesses say about Jesus: He is God, co-equal and co-eternal with the Father and the Holy Spirit; the fullness of deity in the flesh

  • John 1:1 – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
  • John 5:18 – This is why the Jews began trying all the more to kill Him: not only was He breaking the Sabbath, but He was even calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.
  • Col. 2:9 – For in Him the entire fullness of God’s nature dwells bodily …
  • Heb. 1:3 – He is the radiance of His glory, the exact expression of His nature, and He sustains all things by His powerful word. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

What do you say about Jesus’ deity?

3. His humanity

What Jesus says about Himself: He is fully human, sharing the full range of mankind’s experiences from thirst to temptation.

  • Matt. 4:1-11 – Jesus is hungry and tempted by Satan but responds to both with God’s Word.
  • Luke 19:41; John 11:35 – Jesus weeps over Jerusalem and at the tomb of Lazarus.
  • John 11:33, 38 – Jesus is “angry in His spirit.”
  • John 19:28, 30 – “I’m thirsty,” he says, and then He dies.

What the eyewitnesses say about Jesus: He is virgin born, adding sinless humanity to His deity; His humanity enables Him to serve as our great high priest.

  • Matt. 1:18-25 – The birth of Jesus Christ came about this way: After His mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, it was discovered before they came together that she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit…. Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: See, the virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and they will name Him Immanuel, which is translated “God is with us.”
  • John 1:14 – The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We observed His glory, the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
  • Phil. 2:5-8 – Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage. Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men. And when He had come as a man in His external form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death—even to death on a cross.
  • Heb. 2:17-18 – Therefore He had to be like His brothers in every way, so that He could become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For since He Himself was tested and has suffered, He is able to help those who are tested.

What do you say about Jesus’ humanity?

4. His purpose

What Jesus says about Himself: He came to bring God’s kingdom; to seek and save the lost; to pay mankind’s sin debt; to defeat Satan and his works; and to offer us eternal life.

  • Matt. 12:28 – “If I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you.”
  • Luke 19:10 – “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost.”
  • John 10:10-11 – “A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come that they may have life and have it in abundance. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”
  • John 12:32-33 – “As for Me, if I am lifted up from the earth I will draw all [people] to Myself.” He said this to signify what kind of death He was about to die.

What the eyewitnesses say about Jesus: He came to die and rise from the dead in fulfillment of Scripture; to save sinners and reconcile them to God.

  • Rom. 5:6-11 – For while we were still helpless, at the appointed moment, Christ died for the ungodly. For rarely will someone die for a just person—though for a good person perhaps someone might even dare to die. But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us! Much more then, since we have now been declared righteous by His blood, we will be saved through Him from wrath. For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, [then how] much more, having been reconciled, will we be saved by His life! And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
  • 1 Cor. 15:3-4 – For I passed on to you as most important what I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures …
  • 2 Cor. 5:21 – He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
  • 1 Tim. 1:15 – This saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them.
  • Heb. 2:9 – But we do see Jesus—made lower than the angels for a short time so that by God’s grace He might taste death for everyone—crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death.
  • 1 John 3:8b — The Son of God was revealed for this purpose: to destroy the Devil’s works.

What do you say about Jesus’ purpose?

5. His proof

What Jesus says about Himself: He fulfills Messianic prophecies, most notably by rising physically from the dead.

  • Matt. 12:39-40; 26:31-32 – “An evil and adulterous generation demands a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish three days and three nights, so the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights…. Tonight all of you will run away because of Me, for it is written: I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered. But after I have been resurrected, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.”
  • Luke 18:31-33; 24:38-39 – “Listen! We are going up to Jerusalem. Everything that is written through the prophets about the Son of Man will be accomplished…. they will kill Him, and He will rise on the third day…. Why are you troubled …And why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself! Touch Me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.”
  • John 2:18-22 – So the Jews replied to Him, “What sign [of authority] will You show us for doing these things?” Jesus answered, “Destroy this sanctuary, and I will raise it up in three days.” Therefore the Jews said, “This sanctuary took 46 years to build, and will You raise it up in three days?” But He was speaking about the sanctuary of His body. So when He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this. And they believed the Scripture and the statement Jesus had made.

What the eyewitnesses say about Jesus: He fulfills Messianic prophecies, most notably by dying on the cross for mankind’s sins and rising physically from the dead.

  • Mark 15:25-28 – Now it was nine in the morning when they crucified Him. The inscription of the charge written against Him was THE KING OF THE JEWS. They crucified two criminals with Him, one on His right and one on His left. [So the Scripture was fulfilled that says: And He was counted among outlaws.]
  • John 19:33-37 – When they came to Jesus, they did not break His legs since they saw that He was already dead. But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out…. For these things happened so that the Scripture would be fulfilled: Not one of His bones will be broken. Also, another Scripture says: They will look at the One they pierced.
  • Acts 2:22-27 – “Men of Israel, listen to these words: This Jesus the  Nazarene was a man pointed out to you by God with miracles, wonders, and signs that God did among you through Him, just as you yourselves know. Though He was delivered up according to God’s determined plan and foreknowledge, you used lawless people to nail Him to a cross and kill Him. God raised Him up, ending the pains of death, because it was not possible for Him to be held by it. For David says of Him: I saw the Lord ever before me; because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced. Moreover my flesh will rest in hope, because You will not leave my soul in Hades, or allow Your Holy One to see decay.”
  • 1 Cor. 15:3-4 – For I passed on to you as most important what I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.

What do you say about Jesus’ proof?

6. His uniqueness

What Jesus says about Himself: He is the Messiah/Christ; the Son of God; the Alpha and the Omega; the only means of salvation.

  • Matt. 26:63-64; 27:11 – Then the high priest said to Him, “By the living God I place You under oath: tell us if You are the Messiah, the Son of God!” “You have said it,” Jesus told him. “But I tell you, in the future you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power and coming on the clouds of heaven” … Now Jesus stood before the governor. “Are You the King of the Jews?” the governor asked Him. Jesus answered, “You have said it.”
  • John 14:6 – “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
  • Rev. 1:17-18 – “Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last, and the Living One. I was dead, but look—I am alive forever and ever, and I hold the keys of death and Hades.”
  • Rev. 22:13 – “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”

What the eyewitnesses say about Jesus: He is the unique Son of God; divine; the Creator; the only means of salvation.

  • John 1:1, 14, 18 – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…. The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We observed His glory, the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth…. No one has ever seen God. The One and Only Son – the One who is at the Father’s side – He has revealed Him.
  • Acts 4:11-12 – This [Jesus] is The stone despised by you builders, who has become the cornerstone. There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people by which we must be saved.
  • Col. 1:16; 2:9 – because by Him everything was created, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities— all things have been created through Him and for Him. … For in Him the entire fullness of God’s nature dwells bodily.
  • Heb. 1:3 – He is the radiance of His glory, the exact expression of His nature, and He sustains all things by His powerful word. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

What do you say about Jesus’ uniqueness?

7. His call to us

What Jesus says about Himself: He calls sinners to trust in Him for eternal life; He invites the weary to rest in Him; He beckons the spiritually thirsty to be satisfied in Him; He warns of the danger of rejecting Him.

  • Matt. 11:28 – “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
  • John 3:16-18 – “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. Anyone who believes in Him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the One and Only Son of God.”
  • John 5:24 – “I assure you: Anyone who hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not come under judgment but has passed from death to life.”
  • John 7:37b-38 – “If anyone is thirsty, he should come to Me and drink! The one who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flow from deep within him.”
  • John 8:24 – “Therefore I told you that you will die in your sins. For if you do not believe that I am [He], you will die in your sins.”

What the eyewitnesses say about Jesus: He calls sinners to receive forgiveness of sins and everlasting life by believing in Him; He grants salvation by grace through faith, apart from works; He calls us to salvation and to service.

  • Acts 2:39 – For the promise is for you and for your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call.
  • Rom. 4:4-5 – Now to the one who works, pay is not considered as a gift, but as something owed. But to the one who does not work, but believes on Him who declares righteous the ungodly, his faith is credited for righteousness.
  • Eph. 1:18 – [I pray] that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened so you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the glorious riches of His inheritance among the saints …
  • Eph. 2:8-9 – For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift …
  • Eph. 4:1 – I, therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received …
  • 1 Thess. 2:12 – [W]e encouraged, comforted, and implored each one of you to walk worthy of God, who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.
  • 2 Tim. 1:9 – [God] has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began.
  • Titus 3:5 – He saved us— not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to His mercy, through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit.

What do you say about Jesus’ call to you?

Copyright 2009 by Rob Phillips

In Search of the Real Jesus – Download a Free Chart

jesusJesus of Nazareth is among the most famous, admired and influential persons in history.  Amazon.com offers more than 175,000 titles about Him. Google lists more than 165 million references to Him. For the most part, every major world religion holds Jesus in high esteem, but they can’t agree on who He is or what He accomplished.

For example:

  • Islam teaches that Jesus was a great prophet who lived a sinless life, but denies that He is the Son of God or Savior of the world.
  • Hinduism, for some, says Jesus was an Avatar or incarnation of God, a great spiritual teacher, a guru, but not particularly unique among Hinduism’s 330 million gods.
  • Buddhism generally regards Jesus as a teacher who may have possessed Buddha hood or enlightenment, but was not mankind’s Savior.
  • Judaism considers Him a humble and insignificant prophet, a reformer who performed good deeds, but not the Messiah and not divine.
  • Christianity declares that Jesus is the Son of God, Messiah, and Savior, whose death and resurrection paid mankind’s sin debt and provided forgiveness of sins and eternal life.

The debate over Jesus is not new, however. Jesus Himself addressed the issue with His disciples in Matthew 16:13-17, confirming Peter’s answer, given by God the Father, that He is the Messiah (or Christ), the Son of the living God. Further, Jesus provided evidence for His claims through the fulfillment of prophecy, His teaching, miracles, sinless life, sacrificial death, and physical resurrection. The New Testament writers recorded Jesus’ words and bore eyewitness testimony of His life, death, burial, resurrection and ascension – and many of them died for their faith.

But what about you? Will you honestly examine the best available evidence and decide for yourself? Everyone can find the real Jesus by examining the best available evidence – the Scriptures – and asking three important questions: 1) Who does Jesus say He is? 2) Who do the eyewitnesses say He is? And 3) Who do you say He is?

Download this free study guide and examine the Scriptures for yourself.