Sunday, April 06, 2008

Discovering Christ

Discovering Christ

Introduction: Who is Christ?

A. Jesus is a Teacher

Most if not all people regard Jesus as a great teacher. Mahatma Gandhi regards Jesus as one of the greatest teacher who ever lived and the Sermon on the Mount as the greatest sermon ever preached. He studied the New Testament in South Africa and when he went back to India to lead the Indian Independence movement. Unfortunately, he was unable to see Jesus as more than a man.

a. Teaches about God (John 14:6,7)

JN 14:6 Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him."

If you read through the Gospel accounts, you will notice that Jesus has always been teaching the people about God. He understands that it is difficult for people to relate to a God who is invisible. That is why He often points to Himself as the incarnation of an invisible God.

b. Teaches about God’s love (John 3:16)

JN 3:16 "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.

The other emphasis about Jesus’ teaching about a God is who is not only our creator but a God who loves us, His creation. God loves us so much that He is willing to sacrifice His only Son for us. That is another difficult lesson to learn. For example, you have a really good friend. So good that you love each other very much. Then one day, you discovered that you have cystic fibrosis. This is a disease that eats up and destroys your lung tissues. The doctors tell you that the only way you will survive is if you receive a heart-lung transplant. And your friend came up to you and said, “Here take the lungs and heart of my only son so that you can live, the son I love very much.” I know it is not a likely scenario but that is what the love of God can be compared to in our present setting.

c. Teaches about God’s plan of Redemption (2 Cor. 5:18,91)

2 Cor 5:18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.

This world is not what God made it to be. God created a perfect world which He said was good. This world is broken. God wants to fix this world, this creation that He has made. Therefore He has a plan which involves His Son. Jesus coming to this world is part of this plan. The other part of the plan is what Jesus has been teaching: calling people to turn back to worship God and training the disciples to be the people of God-the Church.

B. Jesus is a Man

The Gnostics do not believe that Jesus is a man. If you have read the book or watch the movie, The Da Vinci Code, you would have been exposed to some of the Gnostic gospels; the Gospel of Barnabas; Gospel of Mary etc. Some Gnostic teaches that Jesus is not a man but something that looks like a man. Others teach that Jesus was the first created creature of God. The biblical accounts was very clear that Jesus is a flesh and blood man.

a. He is the son of Joseph and Mary (Matt 13:35)

MT 13:55 "Isn't this the carpenter's son? Isn't his mother's name Mary, and aren't his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas?

Even though He was conceived by the Holy Spirit while Mary is still a virgin, yet He was born normally like any other child. He has a childhood and was accepted by other children as one of them. In fact, he was accepted by his community as one of them. That is why they were so surprised to find Him different. Isn’t he so and so’s son? Even though Jesus has a divine nature and a human nature, His human nature was so prominent during His time on earth that He was accepted as one of the community.

b. He struggled with decision making (John 12:27,28)

JN 12:27 "Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? `Father, save me from this hour'? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name!"

If Jesus is purely God, then there is not need to struggle. After all, God is omniscience and omnipotence. The fact that Jesus struggled with His decision making indicates that He is like us. He is a human male. For his time on earth, He has put aside His divine nature so that he is human. Like us, he felt stress, pain and the uncertainty of decision making.

c. He was thirsty (John 19:28)

JN 19:28 Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, "I am thirsty."

For me, this is the strongest proof that He was human as He hung on the cross. It was midday, the sun was beating down mercilessly and He felt thirsty. God does not feel thirsty. A human being does.

C. Jesus is God

Jesus is a great teacher and a man. If that is what He is, then He would have just started an effective philosophical school and we are still in our sins. Jesus is fully man. He is also fully God. That is what is so amazing about Jesus.

a. He is called by Divine Names (Rev.22:12,13)

REV 22:12 "Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.

Names are very important. It is not just a label to identity you but denotes who you are. Those of you who have children will be aware of how difficult it is to find names for your children. Will they grow into their names? In Revelations, Jesus is uses a name the Alpha and the Omega. Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet and omega, the last. It means completeness or perfection. The only one who can bear such a name is God. Jesus uses names reserved for God such as the “I am”. That is why the Jewish people wanted to kill Him. He was using the name of God and to them that is taboo; taking the name of God in vain.

b. He is called by Thomas his God (John 20:28)

JN 20:28 Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!"

The apostle Thomas, often called Doubting Thomas because he said he would only believe if he can see and touch the risen Christ. Actually I would consider him an empirical scientist because he wants to be sure in his own belief. Jesus knew that. That’s why He allowed Thomas to touch His wounds. Thomas burst out in amazement acknowledging that He is God. Legend has it that Thomas traveled to southern India. Here he came into contact with an ancient civilization and Hinduism. That he was able to have converts and started the Mar Thomas Church was an indication of how strong was his conviction that Jesus Christ is God.

c. He is referred to as God (Heb.1:8)

HEB 1:8 But about the Son he says, "Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever, and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom.

God Himself referred to Jesus as God. We believe that God is Trinity: God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son and the Holy Spirit. We do not have three Gods. We have one God who is three. Hence the doctrine of the Trinity. God is omnipresent. When Jesus was on earth, His divine essence is still part of the Trinity. One must not have the misconception that when Jesus was walking the earth, there is only two of the Godhead up there. There are always three who are one.

D. Jesus is Savior

a. Savior because of His completed work on the cross (Col 1:20)

19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

When Jesus died on the cross, it was all part of God’s plan of redemption. The world was broken. It was corrupted by human sin. Sin is defined as disobedience to God. The punishment for sin is death. That is justice. Since we have all sinned, we can die only for our own sin. We need someone who does not have sin to die for us. Then we can be free. This person is Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ being God is sinless. Hence He can die for our sin. Thus justice is fulfilled. The theological term for this is penal substitution atonement.

b. Savior that brings the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38)

AC 2:38 Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off--for all whom the Lord our God will call."

We receive this justice when we believe that Jesus die on the cross for our sins. We have received the forgiveness of sin because of what Christ has done. And what is more, God gives us a sign of our forgiveness. He gives us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is given to us when we accept Jesus Christ’s completed work on the cross.

c. Savior bringing eternal life and assurance of salvation (John 10:28-30)

28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. 30 I and the Father are one."

God has given us his assurance that what He has given us is eternal. God however respects our freedom. We are all given the freedom to accept or reject Him. That is the wonder of God. Only a loving and supreme God will allow His creature to choose to accept Him or reject Him. If we accept Him, we move from the kingdom of this broken world to the kingdom of God. Once we are there, as long as we remain faithful, we will never fall out of the grace of His Hands.

Conclusion: Making Friends with Jesus (John 15: 5-8)

JN 15:5 "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. 8 This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

If Jesus is who He is: fully God and fully man, then what He has done on the cross are true and we have been freed from our sins. He has taken our sins upon Him. We have received forgiveness. All that He has taught us about God is true. God loves us and wants us to be part of His plan for the redemption of this creation. No only people but the environment as well. Jesus Christ is God incarnate. He is the invisible God making Himself visible. So our role now is to follow Jesus Christ.

Soli Deo Gloria


Adam Pastor said...

Greetings Alex

Without doubt, Jesus the Messiah is indeed A man, Teacher, Savior, and Lord!

However, he certainly isn't himself, GOD Almighty!

No, Jesus recognizes solely ONE GOD. And that is his Father.
He calls Him, the only true GOD!
(John 17:3) And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

Jesus the Lord Messiah
[Col 3.24, Luke 2.11, Acts 2.36]
is indeed Almighty GOD's ultimate representative, agent and plenipotentiary.

As such he can indeed be called "God" in that sense; just as the judges of old
[Exo 21.6, 22.8-9, 28, Psa 82.6]
and Moses [Exo 7.1, 4.16] were called "God";
hence John 20.28, Heb 1.8

In fact Heb 1.9 makes it clear that although Jesus is called "God" it cannot be in the sense that he himself is Almighty GOD seeing that he has a 'GOD' above him i.e
(Heb 1:9) ... even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.

Hence, Jesus is the Christ, the anointed one; because Almighty GOD, his God, has anointed him above all

So, Jesus is second to Almighty GOD alone.
[See 1 Cor 15.27]

However, because GOD Almighty has made him, "Lord of all"; making him, GOD's ultimate agent and representative; Jesus can indeed share "divine names & titles" because Jesus being the Messiah, speaks for and functions for Almighty GOD.
However, he himself isn't GOD.

Rather he is ...
(1 Tim 2:5) For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;

the one mediator of the ONE GOD.

For further info, Alex, I recommend you view the video at The Human Jesus

It goes into more detail about this subject.

Alex Tang said...

hi Adam Pastor,

Thank you for your comments. I will certanly look at the video. Thank you again.