Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The unique-ness of Christianity (and our response)

For your consideration, there are over 400 prophecies in the Old Testament concerning Jesus Christ.  Folks, He perfectly fulfilled them all!

The odds of someone doing that who was not the Messiah are too great to even calculate!  It would be impossible for anyone to even begin fulfilling the prophecies by being born of a virgin or choosing what family line they would be born from unless that person was GOD in the flesh!

Every detail prophesied and fulfilled.  ALL within the person of Jesus Christ!  All the way through His death and resurrection.  Listen very closely.  If you aren’t saved and the reason that you are holding onto for that is that you just don’t see proof that Jesus was a real person or that He really didn’t do what the Bible says He did, listen closely.  The evidence of the Lordship of Jesus Christ is absolutely indisputable. 

Amongst all world religious systems Christianity stands alone.  What makes it so unique?  Its founder.

Jesus Christ is unique; and because Christianity is linked expressly to Him, it becomes unique also.  In fact you simply cannot have Christianity at all without the true Lord Jesus Christ. 

You see folks, if Jesus Christ is not who He claimed to be, and if He did not do what He said He had come to do, then the whole foundation of Christianity is destroyed!  Everything collapses.  Christ-less Christianity is nothing more than man-made religious rules.

Logically then, if Christ is the central theme of Christianity we need to ask the question, ‘Who is Jesus Christ?’.  Who is this Lord that Paul was so willing to serve?  That men and women throughout the history of the church have died for.  Who is He?

1.) Jesus Christ is the Son of God

When the New Testament writers used the term ‘Son of God’ it wasn’t used lightly.  When they called Him Son of God, they meant here is the one who stands apart from all others because He is more than a man, He’s fully divine.

Matthew 16:16 – Jesus asked the disciples who they thought He was and Peter answered that He was the Christ, the Son of the Living God!  This fact set Jesus apart from the people that others thought He was.  It identified Him as the Divine Messiah!

Jesus assured them that Peter’s statement was not a guess but a direct revelation from God!

2.) Jesus Christ is the God-man

Not only unique in His divine nature, but also unique in that He became a man and now remains the God-man eternally.  No one else is like that nor could they ever be.

So He was fully divine as the Son of God but as a descendant of David, a Son of David it says, He was also fully man.

The really interesting point there in verse 4 of our text is the word ‘declared’.  Paul says, Jesus was born of earthly royalty.  That in itself was not a unique claim. Many others believers and pagans alike were of royal birth.  But this Jesus, this man born of the Davidic line is the Messiah!  Why?  Because He was ‘declared the Son of God’.

Jesus said in John 10:30 that ‘He and the Father are One.’.
Romans 1:5-6 - 5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name’s sake,  6 among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ;

Through the facts of the Gospel of God we have received Grace.  If you are in Christ Jesus then you have received the merciful kindness of God, by which He exerts His Holy influence on the souls of mankind, turning them to Christ!  Then He keeps us, strengthens us, increases our faith in Him, our knowledge of Him, and our affection towards Him and others.

Among whom, the Bible says, WE ARE ALSO CALLED!  WE are called to obedience in Jesus Christ!! The whole of Christianity rests on the fact that Christ has raised from the dead.

1 Corinthians 15:13-14 - But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; 14 and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain.

If Christ has not been raised then our preaching is in vain, our lives are completely wasted.  That implies that our whole life is built around Jesus being alive!

The divinity of Christ, which is what sets it apart from all other religions, is most proven not in His miracles or in His healings.  His divinity is most proven by His resurrection!

It wouldn’t be unreasonable to doubt the claims of Jesus IF; IF He hadn’t risen from the dead!  His very Sovereignty depends upon it.

More than this our regeneration, our salvation, depends on it.  1 Peter 1:3 –“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,”  We are born again to a LIVING Hope through the resurrection. 

Oh how we as believers ought to rejoice every minute in that truth!  That beyond any doubt it is established!  God has established from eternity past, fulfilled it in Christ, and guaranteed it forever!
1 Corinthians 15:20-22 - But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.  21 For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead.  22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.

The ESV says IN FACT CHRIST HAS BEEN RAISED!  Amen?

Romans 1:7 - to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Called as saints.  What does that mean that we are called as Saints?  The Greek word for Saints is hagios (hag-ee-os).  It means ‘to be Holy’.  Now we know that we’re not Holy on our own but, Paul lays out in these 7 verses, Christ’s  Blood makes us Holy.  So just to call us saints signifies a calling.  We’ve been called as saints.  Called out to be Holy.

Hagios comes from another the Greek word Hagos.  It means an awful thing… Are you seeing this with me yet?  We are called out from something awful and damnable… called out and set apart to be Holy! And Walk with Christ!

Ephesians 2:1-9 - And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,  2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.  3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.  4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,  5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),  6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,  7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;  9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

What a beautiful picture of redemption!  Jesus Christ dying and resurrecting to redeem a people from an awful thing.  That awful thing was the curse of sin.  I was born in sin.  My nature was sinful and the moment I was old enough to consciously rebel against God, I did… and so did all of you.

But thanks be to God!  We have been redeemed.  Honored to share in the resurrection of Christ.  But for all who are in Christ they too have been named saints.  People whom God has called by His Grace and Sanctified by His Spirit.

God shows His love for us by rescuing us from sin’s curse and forgiving all our sins!  So what is our response Christians?  We must preach Christ!  So that the eyes of sinful men may be opened.

We preach Christ crucified.  To those who reject the Gospel, we preach Christ and plead with them to repent and we don’t stop until they do or until they die… whichever comes first.

God has spoken in our hearts, ‘Let there be Light!’ and because of that you called out to Jesus Christ! ‘Save me’.  That’s what happened to you Christian.  Learn who you are.  Learn to thank God for calling you into fellowship with Him and then live in the humbling wonder of His Grace.

Matthew 10:32-38 (NASB) - “Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven.  33 “But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.  34 “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.  35 “For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;  36 and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household.  37 “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.  38 “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.

Think of Jesus’ words and then think of the worst case scenario with your family member.  So you witness to family members and the worst thing that can happen is that you will become their enemy rather than family right?  You aren’t in a Muslim family so your life probably isn’t on the line.  At the worst you’ll just be written off as the family religious black sheep.  So what!  I don’t mean to down play family.  Family is very valuable.  God created the family unit.  But let’s be careful not to make family an idol that we preserve at the cost of Gospel truth either.

Besides, how do you know they will reject the truth of the Gospel?  You may think that their heart is hard and sinful and that they will automatically reject.  You are basing your assumptions on the behavior of that person that you’ve seen to date.  If God has chosen to save them through your witness then they won’t reject it.  They’ll respond in a way you could never imagine them doing.

If you love them, you’ll tell them the truth.  The most loving thing you can do for them is tell them the truth about sin and God’s judgment and God’s Love shown in Jesus Christ.

Now you do want to be careful with family, friends, and anyone you witness to.  You don’t want to pressure them into a false conversion.  A decision made just so you’ll back off is no good, so we must rely on God to work on their hearts.  Keep Paul’s word to Timothy in mind when you’re doing these things…

2 Timothy 2:24-26 (NASB) - The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged,  25 with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth,  26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.

Keys to this text:

1.) You are whose servant? - God’s servant!  You are doing HIS business; not your own.

2.) Be kind… not quarrelsome – When they reject what you are saying it will anger you.  You will be tempted to raise up in that anger and chastise them as if to demonstrate you were willing to be gentle so long as they agreed with you or listened to you.  But now that they won’t, you just get angry.

3.) Able to teach – meaning; God calls us to be able to articulate the true Gospel.  In Greek it means “skilled in teaching”.

4.) Be patient when wronged – You may find this hard to believe, but I have a BIG mouth!  Don’t be too shocked now.  When dealing with family it is SO easy to get hurt and offended… If you are going to open your mouth for the Gospel, you need to pray consistently that God reigns your words and your emotions.

Proverbs 14:29 (NASB) - He who is slow to anger has great understanding, But he who is quick-tempered exalts folly.

If you fly off the handle (demonstrate the unrighteous anger of man) then; 1.) They’ll quit listening 2.) You might miss hearing questions they have that they Bible answers.

5.) Rather than getting angry, even if provoked, resolve to be all the more gentle – If you look at what Jesus did closely you’ll notice that with religious leaders and teachers He wasn’t gentle but blunt.  However, with all others, nearly, He was gentle but truthful.  Using gentleness, Lovingly correcting them… why???

6.) So that God might grant them repentance and save them!  - Look at how it words that there.  The NASB says – so that they may ‘come to their senses’.

The snare of the devil is the lie that attempts to suppress our conscience.

1 Peter 5:8 (NASB) - Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

He prowls around like a lion, waiting to devour you.  He can’t just pounce out and get you.  Its when we walk into the darkness.  Allow our doubts and fears to overtake us out of our pride… So you be gentle with them and pray and keep believing and trusting God that hopefully one day they’ll be saved.  But even if they don't repent, you are being obedient to Preach Christ Crucified... and that's all you can do...

God Bless Folks!
j

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