Pt.2 - "Who Is Jesus Christ, Really?" - Pastor J.

Can you answer this question during the Christmas season?

(pt.2 of 4)  This is perhaps the most important question, apologetically and evidentially, regarding Jesus Christ in all of the Scriptures.  If the Bible is true, then how a person answers this simple question will determine where an individual will spend their eternal destiny.  Especially at this crucial time of celebrating the Christmas season, are you personally able to answer the skeptic's or seeker's question of "Who is Jesus Christ, really"?

If not, my aim in this 15 min. video is to begin to teach you the 4 central truths concerning the identity of Jesus Christ, as taught in the New Testament.  If you take the time and learn these 4 central truths concerning Christ, it will enable you to not only stay free from error and false teaching about Jesus, but it will also allow you to be much more effective in explaining Christ and His Person to those who will ask you for help and answers this Christmas season.

Here is how to T.H.IN.K. rightly concerning Christ:
  1. T rinity - Jesus is the second Divine Person of the Triune GOD.  He is eternally, God the Son.
  2. H ypostatic Union - Jesus took upon himself a second nature, a human nature, when conceived.
  3. IN carnation - Jesus, the eternal Son, took upon Himself a fully human body and existence.
  4. K enosis - Jesus willingly chose to limit his use of, or access to, His divine attributes while on the earth, though He never lost them or ceased to be God the Son. 

Join me for these 4 short video teachings from a sermon I recently taught.  I hope it will be a blessing to you, and help equip you to be a more effective ambassador for Christ, during this Christmas season!

Be blessed, be bold,  and have an Intelligent Faith this Christmas season!

- Pastor J. 


A Question for Christmas: "Who is Jesus Christ, really?" - Pastor J.

Can you answer this question accurately and effectively?

(pt.1 of 4)  This is perhaps the most important question, apologetically and evidentially, regarding Jesus Christ in all of the Scriptures.  If the Bible is true, then how a person answers this simple question will determine where an individual will spend their eternal destiny.  Especially at this crucial time of celebrating the Christmas season, are you personally able to answer the skeptic's or seeker's question of "Who is Jesus Christ, really"?

If not, my aim in this 15 min. video is to begin to teach you the 4 central truths concerning the identity of Jesus Christ, as taught in the New Testament.  If you take the time and learn these 4 central truths concerning Christ, it will enable you to not only stay free from error and false teaching about Jesus, but it will also allow you to be much more effective in explaining Christ and His Person to those who will ask you for help and answers this Christmas season.

Here is how to T.H.IN.K. rightly concerning Christ:
  1. T rinity - Jesus is the second Divine Person of the Triune GOD.  He is eternally, God the Son.
  2. H ypostatic Union - Jesus took upon himself a second nature, a human nature, when conceived.
  3. IN carnation - Jesus, the eternal Son, took upon Himself a fully human body and existence.
  4. K enosis - Jesus willingly chose to limit his use of, or access to, His divine attributes while on the earth, though He never lost them or ceased to be God the Son. 

Join me for these 4 short video teachings from a sermon I recently taught.  I hope it will be a blessing to you, and help equip you to be a more effective ambassador for Christ, during this Christmas season!

Be blessed, be bold,  and have an Intelligent Faith this Christmas season!

- Pastor J. 

The Resurrection of Jesus

William Lane Craig

Examines the historical grounds for belief in Jesus’ resurrection, focusing on the empty tomb, his post-mortem appearances, and the origin of the disciples’ belief in his resurrection.

I spoke recently at a major Canadian university on the existence of God. After my talk, one slightly irate co-ed wrote on her comment card, “I was with you until you got to the stuff about Jesus. God is not the Christian God!”

This attitude is all too typical today. Most people are happy to agree that God exists; but in our pluralistic society it has become politically incorrect to claim that God has revealed Himself decisively in Jesus. What justification can Christians offer, in contrast to Hindus, Jews, and Muslims, for thinking that the Christian God is real?

The answer of the New Testament is: the resurrection of Jesus. “God will judge the world with justice by the man He has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead” (

Acts 17.31

). The resurrection is God’s vindication of Jesus’ radical personal claims to divine authority.

So how do we know that Jesus is risen from the dead? The Easter hymnwriter says, “You ask me how I know he lives? He lives within my heart!” This answer is perfectly appropriate on an individual level. But when Christians engage unbelievers in the public square—such as in “Letters to the Editor” of a local newspaper, on call-in programs on talk-radio, at PTA meetings, or even just in conversation with co-workers—, then it’s crucial that we be able to present objective evidence in support of our beliefs. Otherwise our claims hold no more water than the assertions of anyone else claiming to have a private experience of God.

Fortunately, Christianity, as a religion rooted in history, makes claims that can in important measure be investigated historically. Suppose, then, that we approach the New Testament writings, not as inspired Scripture, but merely as a collection of Greek documents coming down to us out of the first century, without any assumption as to their reliability other than the way we normally regard other sources of ancient history. We may be surprised to learn that the majority of New Testament critics investigating the gospels in this way accept the central facts undergirding the resurrection of Jesus. I want to emphasize that I am not talking about evangelical or conservative scholars only, but about the broad spectrum of New Testament critics who teach at secular universities and non-evangelical seminaries. Amazing as it may seem, most of them have come to regard as historical the basic facts which support the resurrection of Jesus. These facts are as follows:

FACT #1: 

After his crucifixion, Jesus was buried in a tomb by Joseph of Arimathea. 

This fact is highly significant because it means, contrary to radical critics like John Dominic Crossan of the Jesus Seminar, that the location of Jesus’ burial site was known to Jew and Christian alike. In that case, the disciples could never have proclaimed his resurrection in Jerusalem if the tomb had not been empty. New Testament researchers have established this first fact on the basis of evidence such as the following:

1. Jesus’ burial is attested in the very old tradition quoted by Paul in 

I Cor. 15.3-5

:

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received:

. . . that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures,

and that he was buried,

and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,

and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve.

Paul not only uses the typical rabbinical terms “received” and “delivered” with regard to the information he is passing on to the Corinthians, but vv. 3-5 are a highly stylized four-line formula filled with non-Pauline characteristics. This has convinced all scholars that Paul is, as he says, quoting from an old tradition which he himself received after becoming a Christian. This tradition probably goes back at least to Paul’s fact-finding visit to Jerusalem around AD 36, when he spent two weeks with Cephas and James (

Gal. 1.18

). It thus dates to within five years after Jesus’ death. So short a time span and such personal contact make it idle to talk of legend in this case.

2. The burial story is part of very old source material used by Mark in writing his gospel.

Continue reading --->

The Birth of God

William Lane Craig

Does it make sense to say that Christmas marks the birth of God? This question evokes the primary theological debates of the fourth and fifth centuries – how Jesus Christ can be considered both human and divine. Below, Dr. Craig offers his understanding of how Jesus’ divine and human natures join together in a single person, how His human frailties and experiences were deep and meaningful, and how one can cogently hold to celebrating “the birth of God” at Christmastime.

Tonight I’ve been asked to speak on “The Birth of God.”  The title is jarring because it seems unintelligible.  How can God, the uncreated Creator of all things, have a birth?  How can a being which is self-existent and eternal, the Creator of time and space, be born?  It doesn’t seem to make any sense. 

And yet at Christmas this is, in a way, precisely what Christians celebrate.  The Christian doctrine of the incarnation states that Jesus Christ is God in the flesh.  Jesus was thus truly God as well as truly man.  He was born of the virgin Mary; that is to say, Jesus had a 

supernatural

 conception but a perfectly 

natural

 birth.  Since Jesus was God in the flesh, his mother Mary is therefore called in the early Christian creeds “the Mother of God,” or the “God-bearer.”  This isn’t because God somehow came into existence as a result of Mary’s conceiving or that Mary somehow procreated God.  Rather Mary could be called the God-bearer because the person she bore in her womb and gave birth to was divine.  Thus, Jesus’ birth in this sense was the birth of God.

But that only pushes the problem back a notch.  For how 

can

 Jesus be both God and man, as Christians believe?  If anything appears to be a contradiction, surely this is it!  For the properties of being divine and the properties of being human seem to be mutually exclusive, to shut each other out.  God is self-existent, necessary, eternal, all-powerful, all-knowing, all-present, and so on.  But human beings are created, dependent, time-bound, and limited in power, knowledge, and space.  So how can one person be both human and divine?

Birth of God – The Bible describes Jesus as both human and divine

Now in case the Christian hard-pressed by this question is tempted to avoid the problem simply by denying that Jesus was really divine or denying that he was really human, let me say that the Bible doesn’t leave that option open to us.  The New Testament affirms both the deity and the humanity of Jesus Christ and so 

forces

 the problem upon us.  Take, for example, the opening chapter of John’s gospel.  The gospels of Matthew and Luke open with the story of Jesus’ supernatural conception and virgin birth; but John’s gospel takes a more cosmic perspective, in which he describes the incarnation of the pre-existent Word of God.  He writes,

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.

Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.

There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. . . .

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John testifies concerning him. He cries out, saying, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’”  From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.

Here John describes Jesus as “God,” the Creator of all things, who became flesh and entered human history about 2,000 years ago in the land of Judea.  Thus, the implication is inescapable, as well as the problem it poses:  Jesus was both human and divine.

As succeeding generations in the early church struggled to understand the doctrine of the incarnation, some people resolved this apparent contradiction only at the expense of denying one or the other pole of the biblical teaching.  Groups such as the Gnostics or the Docetists, for example, denied that Christ was truly human.  He merely 

appeared 

to take on human form; the flesh of Christ was merely an illusion or a disguise, and his supposed sufferings merely apparent.  On the other hand, groups like the Adoptionists or the Eutychians denied instead the true divinity of Christ.  Jesus of Nazareth was just a mortal man whom God adopted as His Son and assumed into heaven.  In opposition to these groups on the left and on the right, the early church repeatedly condemned as heretical any denial of either Christ’s humanity 

or

 his deity.  However contradictory or mysterious it might seem, theologians staunchly stood by the biblical affirmation that Jesus Christ was truly God and truly man.

Birth of God – The debate over the nature of Christ

Continue reading --->

Was Jesus Married?!? A Response to the 4th century papyrus...

Feedback: Was Jesus Married?

A Response to the Claim Made in a Supposed Fourth-century Papyrus Fragment, by Tim Chaffey, AiG–U.S.

Earlier this week, headlines announced that a new discovery shows Jesus was married, and we have received inquiries regarding this subject. These bold claims are based on the discovery of a papyrus fragment written in an ancient Egyptian language known as Coptic.1Is there any basis for such a claim, and would it even matter if Jesus was married?

Dr. Karen L. King

Dr. Karen King holds the fragment, showing its small size. Without more of the context from the original document, it is highly unlikely that one can properly understand the initial message.

2

Dr. Karen L. King, a historian from Harvard Divinity School and member of the Jesus Seminar,

3

 recently had the opportunity to examine the smaller-than-business-card-sized fragment when an unnamed private collector asked her to study it to determine its authenticity. At this point, very little is known about the collector and the provenance of the artifact, other than the claim that the owner acquired the piece from a German owner in 1997.

In a draft of her upcoming paper on the subject in the Harvard Theological Review, King, for the purposes of reference, calls the fragment The Gospel of Jesus’s Wife, but what does the fragment state that would merit such a title? According to King, the mere eight partial lines of text from the front of the piece are translated as (brackets indicate where the text cuts off):

  1. “not [to] me. My mother gave to me li[fe . . .”
  2. The disciples said to Jesus, “. . . [
  3. deny. Mary is worthy of it [ (or this could also be “Mary is n[ot] worthy of it.”)
  4. . . .” Jesus said to them, “my wife . . . [
  5. . . . she will be able to be my disciple . . . [
  6. Let wicked people swell up . . . [
  7. As for me, I dwell with her in order to . . . [
  8. an image [
Papyrus

Close up shot of the 4 cm x 8 cm fragment. Eight lines of text are visible on the front (pictured), while only a few words can be translated from the back side (not pictured).

4

The text on the back of the fragment was translated as:

  1. my moth[er
  2. three [
  3. . . . [
  4. forth which . . . [
  5. (illegible ink traces)

Without the surrounding context or any other copies of this document, it is practically impossible to determine what this writing is really about. Of course, the fourth line of the front side is what triggered the headlines. According to this Coptic fragment, Jesus was apparently telling His disciples something about His wife.

Read the rest of this interesting article

HERE.

Can Probabilities Vindicate Jesus? - pt.2

How hard is it to fulfill ancient prophecy....accidentally?

(pt.2 of 3) This is an interesting video in which Dr. Missler examines the statistical likelihood of Jesus of Nazareth accidentally fulfilling 8, 16, and even 48 Messianic predictions from the Old Testament. This research is based off of Dr. Peter Stoner, from Harvard, and the book he wrote entitled "Science Speaks", where as a mathematician he employs Probability Theory to arrive at the conclusions he does.

The interesting thing is that all of the predictions were written down over 400years before hand (or more in many cases) and we can still read the manuscripts today to verify them. The Septuagint manuscripts are one such famous ancient manuscript that we have.

Any unbelieving skeptic has plenty of opportunity to verify the manuscript's age and prediction, and then cross reference it with the historical fulfillment in the life of Jesus of Nazareth. Please investigate it for yourself, as I did, if you are skeptical.

Finally, if even ONE of these predictions be true, the cause must be supernatural/beyond our universe, since no natural explanation will suffice. All of the Old Testament authors said that they were inspired by GOD to write these predictions down, which would seem very plausible, especially of dozens of predictions were fulfilled, and were then verified historically.

Investigate the evidence and follow it wherever it leads. Try to disprove it, and if it holds true - accept it and its implications for your life.

- Pastor J

Was Christ a Divine-Human Person?

Dear Dr. Craig

untitled.bmp

I have read many of your books, regularly listen to your podcasts, and have heard you speak in-person. I am trying to untangle a question, and I need your help.

I need clarification about the person of Christ, so I can effectively answer unitarian theists such as Moslems and resolve my own confusion.

In Christ, we find a unique person who is fully God and fully man. So we might represent this in an equation as follows: God + man = Christ.

We know from the Bible that we are to worship God alone, yet the person of Christ accepts worship from Thomas and is addressed in prayer by Stephen.

But how can this be, since Christ is not God alone but forever the God-man? As a Christian, I am not worshiping Christ's human body, but I am worshiping his person. And that person is not solely God but also man. Does this not violate the scriptural principle of worshiping God alone?

Please help me untangle my thinking, so I can effectively communicate to others. Thank you.

Kerry

United States

Click HERE to read Dr. Craig's answer

CNN Doubts Whether Jesus Historically Existed!

If you were challenged to demonstrate 
that Jesus truly existed historically
could you do it?


Can you name any non-christian historical sources 
for Jesus' existence?


Our recent series (posted on Friday's) entitled "Ancient Non-Christian Sources for Jesus of Nazareth" highlights 17 solid secular historical sources affirming the life and ministry of Christ.  These include 2 Roman Emperors, numerous Roman and Jewish historians, and also many gnostic writings as well.  

Why do I bring this up?  Because CNN recently published this uninformed blog post, attempting to cast academic doubt on the historical existence of the Jesus portrayed in the New Testament Gospels.  This kind of sloppy, biased reporting highlights the need for us Christians to have a good working knowledge of the evidence that exists for our worldview and faith, particularly regarding the life of Christ Himself.  Below is a portion of the article, with a link at the end to the complete version.  

If you haven't done so already, please go to www.garyhabermas.com and download Dr. Habermas thesis on the 17 non-Christian sources for the life of Christ.  Learn who they are, and then be prepared to lovingly answer your friends and co-workers when challenged on this historical point (1 Pet 3:15).


Below is the article as CNN posted it:

By John Blake, CNN
(CNN)– Timothy Freke was flipping through an old academic book when he came across a religious image that some would call obscene.
It was a drawing of a third-century amulet depicting a naked man nailed to a cross. The man was born of a virgin, preached about being “born again” and had risen from the dead after crucifixion, Freke says.
But the name on the amulet wasn’t Jesus. It was a pseudonym for Osiris-Dionysus, a pagan god in ancient Mediterranean culture.  Freke says the amulet was evidence of something that sounds like sacrilege – and some would say it is: that Jesus never existed. He was a myth created by first-century Jews who modeled him after other dying and resurrected pagan gods, says Freke, author of  "The Jesus Mysteries: Was the ‘Original Jesus’ a Pagan God?"
“If I said to you that there was no real Good Samaritan, I don’t think anyone would be outraged,” says Freke, one of a group of mythicists who say Jesus never existed. “It’s a teaching story. What we’re saying is that the Jesus story is an allegory. It’s a parable of the spiritual journey.”
On Easter Sunday, millions of Christians worldwide mark the resurrection of Jesus. Though Christians clash over many issues, almost all agree that he existed.
But there is another view of Jesus that’s been emerging, one that strikes at the heart of the Easter story. A number of authors and scholars say Jesus never existed. Such assertions could have been ignored in an earlier age.  But in the age of the Internet and self-publishing, these arguments have gained enough traction that some of the world’s leading New Testament scholars feel compelled to publicly take them on.
Most Jesus deniers are Internet kooks, says Bart D. Ehrman, a New Testament scholar who recently released a book devoted to the question called “Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth.”
He says Freke and others who deny Jesus’ existence are conspiracy theorists trying to sell books.
“There are people out there who don’t think the Holocaust happened, there wasn’t a lone JFK assassin and Obama wasn’t born in the U.S.,” Ehrman says. “Among them are people who don’t think Jesus existed.”
Does it matter if Jesus existed?
Some Jesus mythicists say many New Testament scholars are intellectual snobs.
“I don’t think I’m some Internet kook or Holocaust denier,” says Robert Price, a former Baptist pastor who argues in “Deconstructing Jesus” that a historical Jesus probably didn’t exist.
“They say I’m a bitter ex-fundamentalist. It’s pathetic to see this character assassination. That’s what people resort to when they don’t have solid arguments.”
 The debate over Jesus’ existence has led to a curious role reversal. Two of the New Testament scholars who are leading the way arguing for Jesus’ existence have a reputation for attacking, not defending, traditional Christianity.
(For the entire article go to The Jesus Debate: Man vs. Myth - CNN)

THE HISTORICAL JESUS: Scholars debate it!

As a part of our Friday series "Ancient Non-Christian Historical Sources for Jesus of Nazareth", I wanted you to listen to the first part of a scholarly discussion regarding the historical information surrounding Christ and his life. 

There are few minds within Christian Academia more qualified to speak on this matter that Dr. Gary Habermas (www.garyhabermas.com) from Liberty University.  He is considered to be one of, if not the, world experts on the historical research of Jesus of Nazareth, whether it be from Christian or non-Christian sources.

Kick back, enjoy, ..... and have an Intelligent Faith!

- Pastor J.