I am so excited. I have been working on finalizing the text for a new book, one that has been in the works on and off for the past 15 years or so! I have completed writing and design and it is currently in proofing, Yay and PTL. The book is entitled, “Why I Believe What I Believe: The Foundations of our Christian Faith.” The basic premise is to outline our Theological stances and to tie these to the Biblical texts. It has been my observation that those who are called by the Name of Jesus, namely Christians, many times do not have a solid grasp of the underpinnings of faith and thus can easily be misled or misdirected. The basic plan is for a release around the end of April or first of May through Amazon and on Kindle devices.
The following two segments are excerpts from my forthcoming book. Both are from the chapter entitled “The Person of Jesus.” I hope that you enjoy them.
A sob pierces the air and He bows His head. In this one moment of time we capture a poignant visible snapshot of the heart of God. A large, hot tear of grief courses down His cheek. It reflects His long-lived sadness at the human condition that was introduced by the Fall. Jesus’ heart is tugged by the pathos of the moment, the outpouring of love by Lazarus’ sisters and friends, their sense of loss underscored by the gulf of death. He knows that the human problems of pain, separation, hatred, and death all originate from man’s rejection of God’s lordship. The rebellion dates back to the Garden of Eden.
Jesus wept.[i] The warm tears flowed in sequence, streaking the face of the One Who had chosen to be the perfect sacrifice for all mankind’s sin, from even before the foundation of the world. He Himself had created us for eternal fellowship with Him. Yet, mankind had become nothing more than fuel for the fires of Hell. He Who is “God with us”[ii] weeps with us over our human condition, and then moves heaven and earth to save us all.
What makes Jesus so wonderful is that He makes the invisible and intangible God visible to our limited vision. Before the dawning of the days of the New Testament, God’s Person and His character was conceptual, but when the Word, Who is God, “became flesh and made his dwelling among us,” (John 1:1;14) we could finally know God in a new and intimate way. We could now literally see, hear, and touch Him. (1 John 1:1-3) It is through Jesus that we can finally have the depth of God’s love register, not only in our mind’s eye, but through our God-created senses. From Jesus, we can hear the voice of the Great “I Am” proclaim God’s judgment and declared God’s love and grace. Jesus is the God-Man, flesh and blood, who “too shared in [our] humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death–that is the devil–and free [us] who all [our] lives were held in slavery by [our] fear of death.” (Hebrews 2:14,15)
His tears and anguished cries of pain cannot be hidden from our eyes (Hebrews 5:7-10). Jesus is completely authentic in every way. His heart is God’s heart. His desires are God’s desires. His anguish is God’s anguish. His love is God’s love. He is the Second Person of the eternal Trinity; God made flesh; Immanuel; God with us; the Suffering Servant; the way, the truth, and the life. He is our peephole into Heaven itself for it is through Him that we can glimpse all of eternity. He is the way to Heaven having paved the road of salvation with His body, built the bridge over the gulf that separated man from God with the wood of His Cross, and sealed it all with His precious blood that was spilled for the atonement of mankind’s sins (Romans 3:25).
Who exactly IS this Jesus? Could He really have been Who He claimed to be? Many in the world throughout history have accepted Him at His word and have been saved. Likewise, many have chosen to deny Him and consider Him more a figment of story-telling, or a poor deluded soul, than believing Him to be the Son of the Living God. How you decide to look at Jesus will have a profound effect on your life, on your worldview, and on your Eternity.
[ii] Immanuel means “God with us.”
Jesus suffered intensely on the Cross, both physically in His full humanity and spiritually in His full divinity. As He assumed all of mankind’s sin He was increasingly separated from the Father Who could not be in the presence of Sin. The Godhead which has never been separate for all of eternity was experiencing a separation! He cried out in agony from the torture of the Crucifixion, “My God, my God, why have your forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46) Max Lucado wrote concerning the poignancy of the moment. “‘Here is the cup, my Son. Drink it alone.’ God must have wept as he performed his task. Every lie, every lure, every act done in shadows was in that cup. Slowly, hideously they were absorbed into the body of the Son. The final act of incarnation. The Spotless Lamb was blemished. Flames began to lick his feet…The undiluted wrath of a sin-hating Father falls upon his sin-filled Son. The fire envelops him. The Son looks for his Father, but the Father cannot be seen. ‘My God, my God…why?’”[i] During the separation from His Father and through the transaction in which He assumed upon Himself all mankind’s sin, Jesus paid the price of eternity in Hell for all men.
How could this separation have happened? It is important to realize that “[T]he unity of the Father and the Son is not identity. Jesus said indeed that ‘the Father and I are one’ ([John] 10:30), but this is explained in the words: ‘that the Father is in me and I am in the Father’ (10:38). The Father and Son are one, but not the same.”[ii] They are separate Persons in the Trinity and in the plan of Salvation, they had to separate. Not only did Jesus have to take sin upon Himself, but He also had to do the unthinkable: God had to taste death! As His lifeblood ebbed away, Jesus entrusted Himself to His Father. With His last rasping, dying breath, Jesus quoted Psalm 31:5 as He said in a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” (Luke 23:46)
Dead. Jesus’ body hung lifeless on the Cross until it was brutalized by a Roman spear and then brought down for burial. Joseph of Arimethea petitioned Pontius Pilate for the right to bury Jesus. After receiving permission, he and his fellow Sanhedrin member, Nicodemus, prepared the body with spices and wrapped it in linen. A separate cloth was wrapped around Jesus’ head. Jesus’ rapidly cooling body was then laid in Joseph’s new tomb, the stone was set, seals were affixed to it, and a guard was posted (see, for example, Matthew 27:62-66). Silence kept vigil in Jesus’ tomb that Friday evening.
That next Sunday morning, the world changed. In the early hours of that day, something that had never happened before occurred. Jesus’ grave clothes imploded upon themselves as the body that was there disappeared! Jesus never had described His death as being final. His teaching about the coming events always stressed that “he must be killed and after three days rise again.” (Mark 8:31) His mission was not going to end on the sour discordant note of death but instead with the triumphant trumpet blast of victory! The Resurrection was always the true destination of His walk on Earth’s surface. ”He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.” (1 Peter 1:20,21) The Resurrection kindles our faith because that one event visibly places the stamp of God’s approval on all that Jesus did. We don’t preach a dead ideologue. We serve a living Messiah!
In the chapter addressing the Word of God, we concentrated on the passage from 1 Corinthians 15:12-18 in which the Apostle Paul emphasized the importance of the Resurrection event. The point is well taken that what we do with the raising of Christ from the dead either establishes us a Christians or reduces us to non-believers. It is impossible, maybe even slightly insane, to claim to believe in the Gospel but to negate the power of the Resurrection! If Jesus was not raised from the dead then all the gospel accounts only form a fine and wonderful story. The disciples and early Christians placed their lives on the line for what they knew to be true. Within literal days of Pentecost, James the brother of John and Stephen were both martyred while remaining true to their witness. The Christians who formed the early Church were persecuted, beaten, stoned, imprisoned, their lives turned upside down, all because they were certain of the authenticity of Jesus’ message confirmed by the Resurrection. Throughout the ages since then and until today, the eyewitness accounts still move men and women to put everything on the line in order to follow the risen Lord Jesus Christ!
There are many who ascribe to Jesus the role of a prophet or that of a teacher. As C. S. Lewis stated in the earlier-quoted passage, this is not what He introduced Himself to be. His birth announcement, proclaimed to a band of shivering shepherds by the angelic host, stated that “[T]oday in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” (Luke 2:11) Jesus plainly said concerning His ministry that “the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (19:10) His opponents, ridiculing Him on Golgotha’s cross even recognized this aspect of His ministry. They said, “He saved others but he can’t save himself!” (Matthew 27:42a) In addressing Nicodemus, the member of the Sanhedrin who visited Him by night, Jesus proclaimed that:
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. (John 3:16-18)
It is clear that Jesus always has been and always will be the Savior. His mission was always clear, to save all mankind by paying the price of sin on the Cross and by drawing all people to Himself (e.g. John 12:32) for His saving grace. He did not come to become some wise teacher or a religious philosopher or a world leader. He came to save. “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be save.” (Acts 4:12) The Gospel narrative makes no sense without Jesus’ soteriological[iii] role. He came to call all who had need of salvation. He said to the Pharisees who were criticizing His being surrounded by what they called “sinners and tax collectors” that “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:17) All mankind is sick. All of us are filled with the poison of sin. Thus, Jesus came to call all of us to repentance and to salvation!
[i] Lucado, Max Six Hours One Friday. Sisters, Multnomah Publishers, Inc., 1989. p 101
[ii] Moody, Dale The Word of Truth. Grand Rapids, Wm B. Eerdmans, 1981. p. 406
[iii] Soteriological is a theological term that refers to salvation. It is derived from the Greek word soteros, which mean savior.
Note: The Biblical quotations are all taken from the New International Version (Biblica). Apart from quotations, the text is and cover design is all copyright (c) 2013, Chris Laforet.