Heart of Christianity
Jan 3, 2016 // By:Dave // No Comment
This is the heart of Christianity: following a man (the person called Jesus Christ) who:
- claimed to be God
- claimed to have the authority to forgive sins against God the Father
- claimed to have the authority to heal and perform other miracles in the name of the Father
- claimed to have the authority to speak on behalf of the Father
- claimed His crucifixion and death was necessary and planned in advance
- allowed himself to be crucified for the sins of mankind and
- claimed not only to be resurrected from his death but
- claimed also that He would return and judge this world which he made
- claims to have the authority to reward the faithful
- accepted worship from His followers
- claimed that those who refused his saving gift of salvation to be delivered to eternal punishment called hell which was their willful choice as the only alternative to living in heaven.
These claims are the foundation of a system of belief known as Evangelical Christianity. These claims elevate the person of Jesus of Nazareth and establish Him as God incarnate (the 2nd member of the Trinity of God living among men in human form, Emmanuel from Isaiah 7:14)
for textual references for the above claims: see “claims of Christ
This is also the heart of the matter for all who refuse these facts (claims of Christ) and commonly respond by saying he was merely a good man or teacher on the same level as Gandhi, or Mother Theresa or Martin Luther King, Jr.
While these wonderful kind responses may attempt to give Jesus some grace for His personhood or mission, they fall far short of completely addressing who He was or what He did. If we are to call Him anything , the label needs to accommodate everything He did and said and not just selected actions or quotes.
- Fact: He not only claimed to be able to heal sick, forgive sins and perform miracles, but did them repeatedly and in the presence of many witnesses who were there and still alive when the earlier accounts of the bible were already circulating and could have been corrected quickly.
- Fact: He died on the cross, not fainted, or fell asleep, as recorded by extra-biblical sources and was placed in a cave in the side of a hill, blocked by a stone so large it would have taken multiple men to move it (round tablet rolled down into a groove in front of entrance), and watched by a roman guard unit who would have faced death if they fell asleep at their post or allowed anyone to remove His body.
- Fact: He was seen alive again and in His physical body by many, including His disciples, their families, and as recorded in 1 Cor 15: 3-8
Here’s the problem to get to … how can you call some one good who claims to be God ? ( if He is not, that would make him a liar or a lunatic). This point is best addressed by the writings of C.S. Lewis in a quote from his book Mere Christianity.
“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 patronising 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.” 
This choice is inevitable and inescapable. A person’s claims regarding anything are either right or wrong. If wrong, then they are either misinformed or misleading others and if right, then the truth of those claims must be accepted and dealt with.
The bible itself is clear on God’s stance against false teaching (as well as the stance of Jesus’ followers):
(2 Cor. 11:13-15; 1 Tim. 4:1-3; Acts 20:28-30; 1 John 4:1; 2 Tim. 4:2-4; Titus 1:9-14; 2 John 9-11; Romans 16:17,18; Gal. 1:6-9; 2 Peter chap. 2)
So, if Jesus was a lunatic or liar, he would not have been able to do the things He did (remember He did not just say things, He backed them up with action; healing blind, deaf and lame, even brought two people back to life; a little girl and his friend lazarus). He forgave sins and the healed were cured of infirmities as the result, cast out demons who divulged His identity to those around before they were cast out, and finally His resurrection and ascention back to heaven. Of the three choices, Liar, Lunatic or Lord only one fits the bill and the evidence.
So what do we do with this information? That is up to you the reader. Truth, once heard, should change something in the life of the hearer. If you now accept that Jesus was and is God, that means He made you, died for you and wants to give you something. Take a look at the fourth book of the New Testament, The Gospel according to John (right after Matthew, Mark then Luke) and read the first three to four chapters. Pay close note to the conversation between Nicodemus and Jesus in Chapter 3 since this pharasee asks many of the questions we seem to ask. Jesus , your God, also made you for a purpose and has incredibly cool plans for you once you decide to find out what He has in mind. Forward this link to a few friends who need to read this then go read John. If you don’t have a bible at home , here is a link to read it on line:
next week, I’ll begin locating and compiling evidence for the existence of Christ outside of the bible
(since many object to using the bible itself as evidence of the bible’s validity … a form of circular reasoning)
in His service, Dave Cadieux