jeff warren Posts

The Question

As we move into this new year, it’s good to remember that there are two mistakes we can make regarding the past. First we can stay in it, allowing past failures or past successes define us. This is why Paul said, “… but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.” Philippians 3:13  He’s saying, “Don’t live in the past”.  Don’t let it define you. Move on. But another mistake we make regarding the past is to disregard it altogether. And in our transient culture many tend to have no past, no connection with the past, and then feel that they live unto ourselves. We don’t know where we came from and so we live in the now and for the now. And when you live only in the present, you live only for yourself and not as a part of a community, a tribe, a family – a STORY.

As a pastor, one of the recurring questions I get (in varying forms) is essentially, “What is God’s will for my life?” We believe God has a specific plan and we want to know what it is. But the question itself betrays our misunderstanding. We’re asking the wrong question. The better question is, “What is God’s will?” Period. The first question centers on me; the second centers on God. He is the Source, Purpose, and Reason for life, not us. So what is God’s will? What is He up to? What is He doing that He wants me to join?

God is really about one thing: Himself.

Initially that sounds strange. Immediately we think that’s egotistical or self-centered. If we were to say that about ourselves it would be. But not God. He is already the Center of all things and because He is perfect, loving and good, anything- or anyone– who comes to Him experiences His perfection, love and goodness. So God wants everyone to come to Him to receive all that He has to give – for our good and to His glory. And what He has to give is always good and right for all things created because He created all things.

So, what God is up to primarily is bringing everything and everyone under His sovereign reign and perfect love. What He’s up to specifically is rescuing all of mankind from sin (from ourselves apart from Him) and renewing all things created. And all of this, “to the praise of His glorious grace, with which He has blessed us in the Beloved..” Ephesians 1:6. He wants all people to come to Him through the Beloved, Jesus Christ, Who alone has made provision for us to do so. Christ alone came from God. Christ alone lived the perfect life and met the holy demands of God for us, when we could not. Christ alone has provided the sacrifice for our sin and He alone will lead us to new life in Him.

God has a mission and He has formed a Church (a called-out people) to bring all other people to Him. He’s calling us out. He’s calling us to Himself. He’s calling us together. He gives us power to accomplish what He;s called us out to do. Jesus said it this way:

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8

That is God’s will. That’s what’s up.

“Under New Management”- the Stewardship of Time

If you live in the Dallas area you may know that a two-word message has gone forth from our church out into the city for decades. Two words: “Night Cometh”. It is not unintentional that these words are found on the steeple clock that rises high above the hustle and bustle of NW highway. Though foreboding and ominous, this message expresses an urgency and unavoidable reality: our lives are finite and limited. Jesus said, “I must work the works of Him who sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” John 9:4-5

Life is a stewardship, it’s temporary, and you’re accountable.  A steward is a manager, someone who has been given a trust, a responsibility to manage or supervise someone else’s property or belongings. We are stewards of the precious gift of this one & only life, given to us by God. Paul said it like this: “This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy.” 1 Corinthians 4:1-2  Stewarding this gift means that we recognize that we are under new management- there’s now a complete shift in mindset, attention, and focus. We now set our “minds on things above” (Col. 3:2). We have a completely new trajectory, a deed transfer (from the domain of darkness into His glorious light)- everything we do is now to be done for His glory- as a response, an act of worship- for all He has done for us! As Christ followers we have a choice to make. Jesus said we now have choice. But we cannot serve two masters. No can serve both God and “Mammon” – the pursuit of wealth and financial acumen. He followed that challenge with this: “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” Matthew 6:25 Every time Jesus talks about time He talks about anxiety. Consider the connection of time and anxiety. We become anxious over those things we cannot control. You cannot control time. You can’t stop it and you’re running out of it.

You may not know that the watch you have on your wrist and the clocks you have in your home were in large part the invention of Benedictine monks- a group of ascetic, monastics committed to a life of prayer and solitude. The clock was invented to keep them on regular patterns of prayer- waking them up in the middle of the night & in the mornings to pray. Interestingly, the clock (and subsequent alarm clock that woke you up today) was invented to steward our lives toward worship- and to do so in community- corporately, not individually. With their invention of the mechanical clock, the Benedictines became the first humans to devise a system of telling time not directly related to the cycle of nature. The relationship between time-keeping and celestial motion- or the change of seasons- quickly became too abstract to be noticed anymore. Subtly clock time came to have an existence of its own. And the clock moved from a tool to a task-master.

“We have become tools of our tools.” Henry David Thoreau

Many of us here today are mastered by our possessions. If you don’t think so just look at a family w/ middle school & high school students- if someone doesn’t demand that we put our phones away we may not even look at each other. (What if we were as obsessed w/ our Bible as we are w/ our cell phones). The clock was designed to be our tool but it has become our master. To live in a way not mastered by the clock is to live a life that is counter-cultural.

Luke 10:38-42 In this passage we see the progression, the steps that lead to a misdirected life. The stewardship of time demands a Christ-centered identity, Spirit-directed priorities, Spirit-led activities, resulting in a God-honoring life. The same thing that happened to Martha can happen to us.

The Stewardship of Time

1. Mistaken identity Martha believed that her identity was found in her activities and her ability to accomplish things. Understandably, all the ladies in the house respond with “Someone has to work!” But Jesus said that Mary chose “the better thing (the one thing, the best thing) that will not be taken away”. Instead our identity is found in Christ and what He has done for us. In His performance for us not our performance. In His approval of us not our ability to gain the approval of others. In Christ we fully forgiven, totally loved, and completely accepted by Him. A mistaken identity leads to…

2. Misplaced priorities For those of us who are busy with many competing time demands- family, work, exercise, solitude, service, etc.- we seek to “balance our time”. I’ve come to realize that the concept of “balance” is a myth. Jesus didn’t talk about balance. He talked an all-out pursuit of one thing. “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33 Then He follows in vs. 34 with, “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Jesus talked about a singular focus and pursuit: the “kingdom of God”. What is “the kingdom of God”? This is critical to understand because it’s the ONE thing Jesus said we should seek first. The kingdom of God is the reign, and subsequent renewal of God in all things, starting with me. It is His reign and rule in all things.

3. Misguided activities Your priorities will guide your activities. We all want to be productive. We have sense of wanting to use our time wisely or maximize our time. Here’s the problem: “productivity” is defined as “a quantifiable amount of work achieved in a specifiable amount of time”. Many of us seek to define ourselves by our activities and the more we accomplish the more we feel good about ourselves. But because time can’t increase, the more activities we add to our lives, the more out of control we become. This is why Karl Jung said, “Busy-ness is not from the devil. Busy-ness is the devil”. Counter to popular opinion, busyness is not the sign of a significant life. Busyness is the sign of a misguided life. What do you need to stop doing?

4. Misdirected life Every minute we make decisions that reflect our priorities, directing our activities. Days become weeks, weeks become months, then years- and years become lifetimes- either squandered or lived to the glory of God.

“Time is not to be understood as a scarce commodity, the shortage of which hangs over our heads like a cloud and threatens our feverish attempts to make something of ourselves and our lives. Instead, by the grace of God and with a view to what God has done in the past and desires to do in the future, Christians are freed to view time as a gift and to dwell graciously in the present, knowing that God has liberated us from the necessity of justifying ourselves. God has created a “timeful” people whose existence offers the world a foretaste of the kingdom. These people have been freed from the tyranny of believing that their ultimate destiny or joy is tied to how they “spend” their time. This freedom makes possible the appearance of a “new” time: a time for caring for those – like the elderly, children and the mentally handicapped – whose productivity is suspect; a time for being with those – like the poor, the downtrodden and the discouraged – who do not promise to contribute to our status or to guarantee that we will leave feeling upbeat; and a time for entering into the gratuitous and joyful worship of a God who promises not that things will always work out the way we believe they should, but of a God who promises NEVER to leave us or forsake us.” Phil Kenneson, Life on the Vine

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:21 God, His glory, His kingdom lasts from generation to generation, and forever. Our time is running out. “Night is coming” when no one will be able to do anymore work. But as we steward this one and only life we’ve been given, all to the praise of His glorious grace, He will help us redeem the time and maximize the days we have remaining. Don’t waste your life. Live for Christ while it is still called today. There’s a marked “contrast between Martha as she tells Jesus what He must say and Mary who listens to what Jesus desires to say to her.”

A mistaken identity leads to misplaced priorities that lead to misguided activities that result in a misdirected life.

On Reformation Day- Trick or Treat?

So today is Halloween. It’s a great day to trick others with unexpected grace and treat them with surprising love.

To track the etymology of the word is to understand it’s meaning: “Halloween” comes from a contraction of the German/Dutch, “All Hallowed Saints Eve” to “All Hallows’ (Saints’) Evening” – “All Hallows’ Eve” – Hallowe’en. It’s a yearly celebration observed in a number of countries on October 31, the eve of the Western Christian (Catholic) feast of All Hallows’ Day. The day is dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints (hallows), martyrs, and all faithful departed believers.

More importantly for protestant believers, today marks the day commemorating Martin Luther’s posting of his ninety-five theses, grievances against the Catholic Church at the entrance to the Castle Church in the town of Wittenberg, Germany. Luther, an Augustinian monk, doctor of theology, and resident of Wittenberg, posted his objections on October 31st in AD 1517. He did so knowing that the next day, All Saints Day, many would come to the church and be able to read it. Luther’s theses sparked a rediscovery of the core beliefs of the Christian faith and primal teachings of Jesus. His protest (thus the term, “protestant”) or confrontation within the Church would eventually lead to the movement known as the Protestant Reformation.
The historical, theological trends that brought about the Reformation began centuries before its actual occurrence. The root cause of the Reformation was a departure from several foundational teachings of Jesus, including the believer’s relationship with God and relationship with the Church. At the heart of the protest, however, was the issue of salvation and namely a departure from grace.

Through the years the Church had gone the way of the default mode of the human heart: the way of the law. The formation of a self-salvation project is always the default mode of the human heart. The Church had veered so far off the track of grace that a radical course correction was necessary. The reaction of the Church against Luther and a constant refusal to discuss his theses prompted an internal schism that eventually became the Reformation movement. By 1530, the lines were clearly drawn and an official statement of faith, known as the Augsburg Confession, began the first Protestant Church.

ALL OF THIS BEGS THE CRITICAL QUESTION: How have we veered off track and moved away from the teachings of Jesus in our day? Without constant self-correction (Spirit-led correction) we will always run to the way of the law. Law puts us in control. It allows us to check the box, to add to, and measure our contribution. And as a result, the law always leads to guilt and shame or pride and a judgmental spirit. The law has no power within it to transform us. It only condemns us and (hopefully) points us to the better way of God’s free grace in Christ. If we do not constantly re-calibrate everything back to the Person and Mission of Jesus, we will always go back to the law. If Luther were alive today, what would he be nailing on the doors of our churches? Better yet, what if Jesus were to come to our churches? What would He see? What would He say?

I believe we’ve veered off the course of the Church Jesus intended us to be. The need for a radical reformation in our day stems from two primary problems or re-discoveries:

  1. We need to rediscover of the Gospel of God’s rescuing grace.
  2. We need to rediscover the Mission of Jesus- to make disciple-makers.

The first challenge today is not that we don’t believe that God saves us by His grace. Our problem is that we don’t believe that He saves us by grace ALONE. We come to Christ by grace through faith and then we think it’s time for us to get busy, adding our good works to the mix. We are saved by grace and then we strap on the law. As Paul noted, we want Moses to finish what Christ has begun. We move from Jesus as Savior to Jesus as Example. Jesus as Savior is liberating news. Jesus as Example is crushing news. We’ve forgotten that, just as central to our salvation as Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross for our sin, is the fact that He lived the perfect life for us- so that we wouldn’t have to. I am free from condemnation because Christ fulfilled all of the crushing demands of the Law. There is nothing new inside of me, only the law. The Gospel (as News) comes from completely outside of me. I bring nothing to the table.

The second challenge of our day is a determination to join Christ on His core mission: to make disciples. We need to move from programs to disciple-making. Church leaders need to ruthlessly assess all programs, events, and gatherings in light of the singular mission of Jesus- to make disciples. The great sin of the Church in our day is not unlike that of Luther’s day: lots of church activities that form for us our own self-salvation project. We have so many options we can put together our own track, one that best suits our needs. Instead, we must bring all of our energies to making disciples. We must realize that being a disciple if not learning a body of knowledge but instead, mastering a skill set. And that skill set (in the context of loving, accountable relationships) is learning how to hear from the Spirit of God through His Word, obeying His Word, and telling someone else about it. Only through obedience will we see the power of God unleashed in our lives and only then will we see the reformation that will save the Western Church in our day. Lord, may it happen!

Let the reformation begin today with simple, unexpected acts of grace and surprising love without condition.

Happy Halloween.

Did the Resurrection of Jesus really happen? – by Sam Holm

Death.  When we contemplate our own mortality or experience a loved one’s death, we must come face to face with death.   For the Christian and non-Christian alike, death brings pain.  However, the Christian has a different perspective.  Jesus gives us hope in a better life now and after death.  Why?  Because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Did the Resurrection of Jesus really happen?

The reality of the resurrection can be examined and scrutinized.  Our faith in Christ is not only built on theology.  It is based on history.  In John 14:6, Jesus proclaimed, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” Now, this is not a provable fact in the same way that His resurrection is provable, but it is nevertheless either true or false. It cannot be true that Jesus is the only way while at the same time it is also true that other religions can also offer salvation. If salvation comes through Jesus, then it is because He is the Son of God and it cannot come through any other means. As we have studied, if there are other ways to be saved, then Jesus is a liar and a fraud and He offers no salvation at all.

In 1 Corinthians chapter 15, Paul addresses doubt about the resurrection.  He makes several strong statements.  “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain… And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.”  At least some in the church in Corinth doubted whether or not they would be raised.  Paul addresses their doubt head on by listing many who saw the resurrected Christ and were still alive at the time of the writing.  “(Jesus in resurrected form) appeared to Cephas (Peter), and then to the Twelve.  After that, He appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all He appeared to me.”  He seems to say, look at all of the eyewitnesses.  Jesus rose again.

However, many of us still doubt about the Resurrection.  Let’s address several of the primary questions of doubt.

Did Jesus die?   – Yes.  The Roman Historian Tacitus wrote in his final work Annals 116AD (assessing blame on Christians for the fire that destroyed Rome in 64AD): “Christus, from whom the name (Christians) had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of . . . Pontius Pilatus..”  What was the extreme penalty?  Crucifixion.  The Romans were experts at executing and wanted to be sure He was dead.  They publically killed him.  He did not pass out.  When he was seen on Sunday, he was in full health.  If he had suffered on the cross and somehow escaped death, he would not have been worshiped as a resurrected Lord two days later.  He would have needed someone to nurse him back to health.  Jesus died on the cross.

Was the tomb empty?  – Yes.  Gary Habermas writes that “75% of historical scholars accept the historicity of the empty tomb.”  Even early critics like Justin Martyr and Tertullian say it was empty.  Jewish writers never refute it, they just try to explain it away.  In addition, the resurrection was first preached in Jerusalem.  If the tomb was not empty, the body would have been produced by the government and religious leaders.

Was the body stolen?  – No.  The Jews and Romans would have shown everyone if they had it.  The body would have squashed the Christian revolution.  The disciples were terrified and had no motive.  Just a few days prior they deserted Christ in his greatest time of need.  They would not have stolen the body knowing they would end up dying for what they said they believed.

Was it a group hallucination?  – No.  500+ people at the same time?  That’s funny.

Was the story made up?  – No.  Nothing looks fictional in the way it is presented.  The resurrection appearances suddenly stopped (at Ascension with the exception of Paul).  Women were the first witnesses in the gospel narratives and they were not given a voice in court.  You would not choose a woman to prove your story was true.  Witnesses were alive when the NT was written.  “500+ people – they are alive today.  Go ask them.”  What is the motive?  Suddenly, this group is ready to suffer and die for their faith.  No one would do this for something they made up.

Josephus in Antiquities of the Jews wrote around 93AD “About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he . . . wrought surprising feats. . . . He was the Christ. When Pilate . . .condemned him to be crucified, those who had . . . come to love him did not give up their affection for him. On the third day he appeared . . . restored to life. . . . And the tribe of Christians . . . has . . . not disappeared.”

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, “I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.  For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: 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…”

Jerry Vines says: “Gospel not a catch word for man made theology.  Nor a code word for man-made methodology.  But a clear word of divinely directed history.”

In verse 11 of 1 Corinthians 15, Paul says “His grace toward me was not in vain (NIV – Without effect… NLT – God poured out his special favor on me-and not without results…).  The transformation of thousands of lives and the explosion of the early church is the primary reason we know this story was not made up.  What happened to those who believed in the resurrection?  James, the brother of Jesus, was openly skeptical that Jesus was the Messiah. Later James became a courageous leader of the Jerusalem church, even being stoned to death for his faith. Paul, possibly the PRIMARY biblical example, was persecuting the church and then his life transformed?  Why?  He saw the resurrected Lord.  Faith in the resurrected Christ totally transformed the lives of all who saw him.

The resurrection of Jesus really happened.  The death of death.  Do you believe it? You can respond to the truth of the resurrection by responding to Christ Himself, as the Risen Lord.  You can receive salvation through believing in the resurrection.

Faith in the resurrection does not only transform the way you die, it transforms the way you live.  There is a member in our church.  I’ve asked permission to share his story.  He was a cultural Christian.  He grew up hearing the stories of Jesus, went to church on occasion and lived like the world.   Then, one Sunday he was faced with the truth of the God, Jesus and the resurrection.  Life totally changed.  He said when we were talking, “Suddenly, my faith was the most important thing to me.”  He read many books attacking and affirming the faith.  His conclusion.  The resurrection really happened. And his life is proof.

Jeff Warren’s father died last Monday.  In his obituary we read: “He was an active member at FBC Charlotte where he was a deacon and loved teaching Sunday school. Following retirement he became the Assistant to the Pastor (Dr. Charles Page) in the area of evangelism. Gene had a passion for sharing Christ with anyone who would listen.”  If Jeff’s father were here today, do you know what I think he would say?  The resurrection of Jesus happened!  And his life is proof.

Is your life proof that the resurrection of Jesus really happened?



Is Jesus who He claimed to be?

“I believe; help me with my unbelief!” Mark 9:24

In previous posts below we explored the reliability of the Bible and the audacious claim that it is actually “God-breathed”. We looked at evidences for the existence of God and noted that perhaps the main evidence for God’s existence is that He came here in Person and told us He exists and showed us exactly who He is. Few doubt that Jesus lived and that He is arguably the greatest and most influential person who has ever lived. It seems logical to believe that a man named Jesus lived but was He really God in the flesh? Are the outrageous claims that He made of Himself true? How can I know?

Perhaps you have wrestled with this question of doubt. It’s critical that we wrestle with this one because it is at the center of the Christian belief, indeed (if it’s true) at the center of LIFE itself. As we approach this question, we need to realize that at the center of Christ’s teaching, His mission, His Message, His life, was His IDENTITY. The central theme or truth of His teaching was not a set of principles or commands; it wasn’t love or grace, per se. At the core of His teaching was His identity. Think about it: Jesus was ultimately crucified not because He talked about love or serving others or caring for the poor. No, His enemies crucified Him because of Who He claimed to be. And it is His identity that continues to be at the center of discussion, debate, belief and unbelief- and heaven and hell. We can’t overstate the importance of this question.

Luke 7:18-23 John asks, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” If there is anyone in the Bible that we would think did not doubt Jesus’ identity, it was John the Baptist. He was the foretold prophet and his role was to announce who Jesus was. In John 1:29, seeing Jesus, John said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the Word.” Here in Luke 7 (also told in Matthew 11) John finds himself in prison, about to be beheaded and he’s questioning the true identity of Jesus. Notice how the Bible never hides doubt, sin, failure, brokenness. It simply describes real people wrestling real faith issues.

Who did Jesus claim to be? He said He was the Messiah, the long-awaited “Liberating King”, the Lord God in the flesh, the Son of the Most High, the now-seen Holy God.

Jesus answers saying, “tell John what you’ve SEEN (His works) & HEARD (his words)”.

1. His works prove He is Lord. What evidence do we have that Jesus Is Lord? We have what the Bible calls “signs” Jesus’ works (these “signs” were prophesied. The Gospels record 35 miracles that Jesus performed: 23 were healing miracles, 9 were miracles showing power over nature, and 3 were miracles of raising the dead. He had power over nature, He calmed the storm, turned water into wine, fed 5,000 people from 5 loaves and 2 fish, raised people from the dead. He performed miracles of physical healing, and He reports back to John that “many people of diseases, the lame walked, lepers were cleansed, & the deaf could hear..” He provided physical and spiritual healing, defeating evil spirits as well. He says,  “Go and tell… the blind receive their sight, the dead are raised up…” These were all signs of the kingdom of God, a New Order that Jesus came to usher in. His miracles proclaimed the nature of the kingdom- that is, blindness, brokenness, death do not reign and rule in the kingdom of God. He reverses the order of this fallen and broken world.

Of course, the ultimate demonstration of His Lordship was the resurrection (much more on that next week). BUT historically, how do you explain what happened 2000 years ago if Jesus did not rise again? Scholars have noted that within five weeks after the resurrection not just one but over 10,000 Jews in Jerusalem (including many Pharisees, the ruling priests of the day) who were willing to give up their social and religious beliefs that they had rigidly observed since childhood to follow Jesus.

2. His words prove He is the Lord. He said tell John about my works and tell him about my words- the truth that He spoke- and again namely the truth about WHO He was. Jesus didn’t simply walk around doing good things. He walked around making the audacious claim that He was the Messiah, knowing that it was blasphemous. He even challenged hostile, even violent skeptics to examine Him, watch Him, and prove that He wasn’t. I’ve talked to people who claim, “Jesus never really claimed to be God.” Just listen to His first hearers: “This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because not only was He breaking the Sabbath, but He was even calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.” John 5:18

John 10:24-31 “So the Jews gathered around Him and said to Him, ‘How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.’ Jesus answered them, ‘I told you, and you do not believe (WORDS). The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me (WORKS), but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, & they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.’ The Jews picked up stones again to stone him.” He is clearly claiming to be the Messiah and everyone knew it.

Note (back to Luke 7) that John the Baptist wanted to believe, the Pharisees did not.  And to answer John the prophet, Jesus looked at the Old Testament, the signs of the foretold Messiah. As He answered the Pharisees (theologians) Jesus gave a very theological and logical response. But again, faith precedes reason. Even with the works of Jesus, we still find ourselves doubting. One of the ways to come to a clear conclusion is to eliminate the possibilities. For some this will offer a very clear response:


Four Possible Options for Jesus’ Identity:

1. Legend This option would say that the story of Jesus claiming to be God is a legend; it never even happened. Most people believe Jesus lived. The problem with Jesus as legend is that modern archaeology shows that the four biographies of Christ were written within the lifetime of Christ’s contemporaries. Most scholars agree that by 70 – 80 AD the Gospels were written. People knew Jesus personally. They saw Him. They could have refuted the claims about Him. See Dr. Luke’s purpose in writing His account of Jesus in Luke 1:1-4.

Consider this: President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963. Imagine, if over the past 50 years, and over the past 15 years in particular, people claimed J.F.K. was the Messiah. What if people began saying that he rose form the dead? What would happen? Those who knew Him would refute those claims immediately. If Jesus was not a real person, how do you explain what happened on the in the Southwest region of the Mediterranean Sea? How do explain the emergence of the most transforming movement of history 2000 years ago? For some, the most impressive of all historical sources are the numerous ancient non-biblical sources that refer to the life and Person of Jesus, including the writings of Tacitus (considered the most famous Roman historian of Antiquity) and Josephus (a famous First Century Jewish historian, who was not a Christian), both of whom were born within 25 years after the death of Jesus. Within 150 years there are more extra-biblical sources that mention Jesus than who mention Tiberius (the Roman emperor at the time of Jesus). In the First and Second Century there are numerous sources that document historically that Jesus lived, died, and was crucified, that His disciples claimed to have seen Him alive after His death, that the empty tomb was commonly accepted and not disputed even by the enemies of Jesus, that the number of believers spread rapidly and widely after the claimed resurrection appearances, and that believers from the very beginning worshipped Jesus as God. This is why most people believed a man named Jesus lived. If He is not a legend, then perhaps He was a…

2. Liar – This option would argue that Jesus knew He was not God but lied and said He was. Few if any, take this option seriously because Jesus was such a great moral teacher. But how could He be a great moral teacher if He lied about the most crucial point of His teaching: His identity. And of course, what do you do with the miracles, the resurrection? Jesus consistently answered His skeptics, namely the Pharisees, with, “I AM” statements, to the questions concerning His identity. “I AM” was the name of God, YHWH, in the Old Testament. Revealing again that it was His identity that was the focal point of His teaching. Consider these amazing claims he made:

  • To know Him was to know God. (John 8:19)
  • To see Him was to see God. (John 12:45,14:4)
  • To believe Him was to believe in God. (John 12:44)
  • To receive Him was to receive God. (Mk. 9:37)
  • To hate Him was to hate God. (John. 15:23)

To honor Him was to honor God. (John 5:23) As if to say: “Prove that I’m lying”

3. Lunatic – This argument says that Jesus really thought He was God and though He was sincere, He was self- deceived. He was crazy; He was a lunatic. Is there any evidence of abnormality or imbalance as we look at Jesus’ life?  No, he did not behave like a madman. Again, you must deal with miracles, the resurrection, and the prophecies. Consider the prophesies: Mathematician Peter Stoner took just eight of the Old Testament prophecies about Jesus and calculated that the odds of them being fulfilled by any one person in history to be 1 in 10 to the 17th power- this 1 with 17 zeros behind it. To understand how incredibly unlikely that is, Stoner says you should take 100,000,000,000,000,000 silver dollars “and lay them on the face of Texas.  They will cover all of the entire state two feet deep. Now mark ONE of these silver dollars and stir the whole mass thoroughly, all over the state. Blindfold a man and tell him he can travel as far as he wishes, but he must pick up one silver dollar and say that this is the right one. What chance would he have of getting the right one?  The same chance that the prophets would have had of writing these eight prophecies and having them all come true in any one man, from their day to the present time…” (see page 167 of Evidence that Demands a Verdict: Historical Evidences for the Christian Faith, Volume I, by Josh McDowell). Consider too that most of the prophecies were outside the control of Jesus (not self-fulfilling)- family lineage, date of death, born in Bethlehem, preceded by a messenger, rejected by His own people, betrayed for 30 pieces of silver, scourged, death with hands and feet pierced, crucified with thieves, no bones broken, soldiers gambling for clothes, suffer thirst during death, buried in rich man’s tomb.

4. Lord If none of the other options is true, the only option is that Jesus was and is Lord. He knew who He was and He spoke the truth boldly. Jesus wanted everyone to check out His claims to see if He could back up what He was saying (John 10:38).

In his famous quote in Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis writes: “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. Now it seems to me- obvious- that He was neither a lunatic nor a fiend: and consequently, however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that He was and is God.”

Who do you believe Jesus is?

Jesus is the whole truth about God, God as God is, rather than whom we supposed God to be.” In Matthew 16, Jesus asked, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ (Messiah), the Son of the living God.”

Who do you believe Jesus is?