"ISSUES OF DISTINCTION" The Identity Of Jesus Of Nazareth INTRODUCTION 1. So far we have considered two "Issues Of Distinction": a. The Existence Of God - which differentiates between... 1) Atheists and agnostics on the one hand 2) Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, Moslems, Christians, etc., on the other hand b. The Identity Of God - which distinguishes between... 1) Buddhists, Hindus, etc. 2) Jews, Moslems, Christians, etc. 2. In doing so, we briefly surveyed evidence that supports a belief... a. That God does exist b. That the God of Abraham (i.e., the God of the Bible) is the one true God 3. Our next "issue of distinction" concerns "The Identity Of Jesus Of Nazareth"... a. Jews and Moslems believe he was just a good man, perhaps even a prophet b. But Christians profess much more, that He was the Messiah, even the Son of God! [In this study, we shall briefly review the claims made about Jesus, and some evidence which supports these claims...] I. THE CLAIMS MADE ABOUT JESUS A. THE NEW TESTAMENT MAKES BOLD CLAIMS ABOUT JESUS... 1. Presenting Him to be the Messiah, foretold by the Old Testament a. As seen in the confession of Peter - cf. Mt 16:13-17 b. As seen in Luke's description of Jesus' conversation following His resurrection - cf. Lk 24:25-27,44-48 2. Presenting Him to be the very Son of God! a. Again, as confessed by Peter - Mt 16:16 b. As introduced in John's gospel - Jn 1:1-3,14 B. THE NEW TESTAMENT ALLOWS ONLY TWO ALTERNATIVES... 1. Jesus is everything the New Testament authors claim a. The Christ, the Son of God b. Indeed, the King of Kings and Lord of lords
- cf. 1Ti 6:14-16 2. The New Testament is a carefully orchestrated fraud, written purposefully to deceive! a. The authors leave us no other choice - cf. 2Pe 1:16-18 b. Either their story is true, or they were false witnesses! - cf. 1Co 15:14-15 C. WE CANNOT SAY THEY MIGHT HAVE BEEN SINCERELY DECEIVED! 1. Especially in reference to the resurrection of Jesus, which is offered as the ultimate proof of His deity and Messiahship a. They claim they ate and drank with Him afterwards
- Ac 10:39-41 b. They claim they saw and touched Him - 1Jn 1:1-4 2. They leave us NO ROOM for saying they were but MISTAKEN or DECEIVED! a. Some skeptics have tried to offer this as an alternative b. That perhaps in their grief and loss over the crucifixion of Jesus they "hallucinated" or saw grief-inspired "visions" of Jesus c. But "hallucinations" and "visions" are highly individualistic experiences 1) One person might see the hallucination or vision 2) But several or many people don't see the same vision at the same time! d. As outlined in the gospels and also 1Co 15:4-8, the resurrection appearances of Jesus were often witnessed by many at the same time (over 500 on one occasion!) [So we really have no other choice; either the New Testament with its claims about Jesus is a "Book Of Truth," or it is a "Book of Lies." Which is more reasonable to believe? To help us decide, consider...] II. IMPLICATIONS IF CLAIMS ABOUT JESUS ARE NOT TRUE A. THE NEW TESTAMENT IS A CAREFULLY ORCHESTRATED LIE! 1. With great accuracy the authors described events, places, and people (at least those we can confirmed by archaeology)
- Lk 2:1-5 2. If the record of miracles and the resurrection is false, then they very carefully intertwined fact and fiction! -- IS IT REASONABLE TO BELIEVE THAT? B. THE AUTHORS SUFFERED EXTREME HARDSHIP FOR WHAT THEY KNEW WAS A LIE! 1. Many people will lie if they can get something out of it (such as money, power) 2. But what did the apostles get out of it? - cf. 1Co 4:9-13 3. What did Paul get for holding to his testimony?
- cf. 2Co 11:24-29 4. How do we know they really suffered this hardship? a. The fact that the letters of the New Testament were even saved! b. For example, consider the letters 1 & 2 Corinthians... 1) These letters are filled with rebuke of the Corinthians 2) The Corinthians would have every reason not to save these letters which exposed their faults 3) The Corinthians had first hand knowledge as to whether the apostles and Paul really suffered the hardship spoken of in their letters 4) If they knew the accounts of such hardship to be false, they would have quickly destroyed these letters written by a liar who embarrassingly wrote about their problems! 5. So especially the author of half the books of the New Testament (Paul) suffered extreme hardship for a lie, if the New Testament is not true -- IS IT LOGICAL TO BELIEVE THAT? C. THE AUTHORS WHO WERE MARTYRED KNEW THEY WERE DYING FOR A LIE! 1. True, many people in history have died for what was actually a lie... a. They sincerely believed it be true; sadly, they were mistaken b. But we have seen that the nature of the apostles' testimony as eyewitnesses of the resurrection does not allow for the possibility they were sincerely mistaken 2. History and tradition record that: a. JAMES was stoned to death b. PAUL was beheaded c. PETER was crucified 3. If the New Testament is a lie, they went to their deaths KNOWING they were dying for a lie! -- IS IT RATIONAL TO BELIEVE THAT? D. IN SUFFERING AND DYING FOR A LIE, THEY WENT AGAINST EVERYTHING JESUS AND THEY THEMSELVES TAUGHT! 1. "But let your 'yes' be 'yes', and your 'no' be 'no'." - JESUS (Mt 5:37) 2. "Therefore, putting away lying, each one speak truth with his neighbor..." - PAUL (Ep 4:25) 3. "Therefore, laying aside all malice, all guile, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking" - PETER (1Pe 2:1) -- DOES IT MAKE SENSE TO BELIEVE THAT? E. THE BOOK WITH THE WORLD'S HIGHEST STANDARD AND LOFTIEST GOALS WAS COMPOSED BY LIARS, FRAUDS, AND DECEIVERS! 1. What book presents a higher standard of love and morality than the New Testament? 2. For example, Jesus' "Sermon On The Mount" (Mt 5-7) and Paul's "Discourse On Love" (1Co 13) -- CAN YOU BELIEVE IT? CONCLUSION 1. This is what one MUST believe if they do not believe the New Testament when it speaks of the miracles, fulfilled Messianic prophecies and resurrection accounts of Jesus: a. It is a carefully orchestrated lie! b. The authors suffered extreme hardship for what they KNEW was a lie! c. Those authors who were martyred KNEW they were dying for a lie! d. In suffering and dying for a lie, they went against everything Jesus and they themselves taught! e. And somehow, these liars, frauds, and deceivers came up with a book containing the world's highest standard morality and loftiest goals! 2. I am convinced that those who do not believe the New Testament are those who: a. Have never read the New Testament carefully b. Have not considered the logical implications of simply regarding it as a mixture of fact and fiction! 3. But to those who will read it, I believe that they will find... a. That it has "the ring of truth" to it b. That it will convince one of the true identity of Jesus of Nazareth! 4. As John wrote toward the end of his gospel: "And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name." (Jn 20:30-31) 5. What is YOUR view of Jesus of Nazareth? a. Are you willing to accept the evidence that "Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God"? b. If so, then with such faith you have the right to become a child of God, and have "life in His name"! - cf. Jn 1:12; Ga 3:26-27