CHRISTIAN BELIEF

Jesus Christ – Man or God?

In our last Evangel we thought about the claim that the Bible is the Word of God. In this issue we look at who the Lord Jesus Christ is, from the Bible evidence.

Christianity has Christ at its centre. Jesus Christ, born 2,000 years ago, is an historical figure whom we ignore at our peril!

The poet Emerson said "The name of Jesus Christ is not so much written into history as ploughed into history."

A Hindu professor in South India said "My study of modern history has shown me that there is a MORAL PIVOT, and that more and more, the best life of the East is revolving round it. That pivot is Jesus Christ."

The American statesman Benjamin Franklin said "Christ's system of morals and religion, as He left them to us, is the best this world has seen or is likely to see."

HISTORICAL SOURCES

Many people in most countries acknowledge that Jesus lived and died. They can't deny it - there is too much historical evidence to prove it from non-Christian, non-Biblical sources. For example three Roman historians record His existence - Flavius Josephus, wrote of "Jesus the Christ" in Book 18 of his Antiquities. Tacitus tells that Pontius Pilate put the founder of Christianity, Jesus Christ, to death in the reign of Tiberius, Emperor of Rome. Pliny the younger wrote to the Emperor Trajan on the subject of Christ and the Christians. Other sources, such as the Babylonoian Talmud mention Jesus by name.

GOD AND MAN

To accept Jesus Christ as a fact of history is one thing - to believe that he was God is quite another!

Christians accept that Jesus was at the same time, both God and man. But these are not the only beliefs held by those who believe the Bible.

Here are some more:-

His conception was a miracle - His mother was a virgin.

He never, ever committed one sin. He did nothing wrong and was in fact perfect.

Everything He said is absolutely true and in everything He did He made no mistakes. He had supernatural powers to heal and to multiply quantities of food when the need arose.

When He was put to death by crucifixion it was no accident - He died voluntarily as a substitute for all those who believe; He died instead of them. Three days after He died He came back to life again and appeared to many people.

Six weeks after His resurrection He went up into the clouds - ascended - in full view of His deciples - and has not been seen since. But there is a day coming, according to the Bible, when He will return in the same way - in the clouds - and this event will signal the end of the world as we know it.

What fantastic claims these are that Christian people make! What do YOU make of it all? Where does Jesus Christ fit into your thinking?

In the last Evangel we made the bold statement that the Bible is True. All the facts in the above list are to be found clearly stated in the pages of the Bible and have been accepted by millions down the centuries as THE TRUTH, THE WHOLE TRUTE AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH!

All of the claims have to be believed as truth by faith. Faith is being certain of what we cannot see. Which means that it takes an act of commitment on our part to say "I believe it."

Jesus Christ is central to Christianity. Christians worship Jesus Christ because we beleive that He is God - the ONLY God. Our God has three aspects to His personality - and Jesus is just one of those. Along with the Father and the Holy Spirit (the other two persons) Jesus is God. This is called "The Trinity" - a three in one person.

When Jesus came to live on earth He, the God of the Universe, occupied a human body like yours and mine, to show us what God is like. Jesus was a special man - in Him lived the fullness and wonder of God in bodily form. Some people were privilieged to see Him and follow Him - some believed in Him. Others, the majority, even though they had said that "seeing is believing" (like you have said perhaps) they saw Him - and yet still did not believe - but rather put Him to death.

And what about that death - that crucifixion on a hill outside the walls of ancient Jerusalem? Why did it not spell the end of Christianity once and for all? You know - get the ringleader and the gang disappears rapidly. This did not happen! People are still becoming Christians, believers in Jesus 2000 years later.

A SUBSTITUTE

It was not a martyr's death! When Jesus died He became a substitute for all men and women who would come to believe in Him. Why do you or I need a substitute? Every person who has been born into this world will one day have to answer to God the judge of the world, and be judged for his or her life while they have been on the Earth. Human beings are spirits with bodies, and when the body wears out or ceases to function, the spirit is separated, released and summoned to appear before God the Judge.

We will be judged to see it we have lived a life according to God's commands - to see if we have come up to the perfect standard set out for us by the God who made us. All who fail to reach the standard will be found guilty and will be sent to a place of torment and suffering which lasts forever. We have to realise that we are all imperfect - and to know the penalty for imperfection.

THE PENALTY PAID

There is however, just ONE MAN who did live up to the perfect standard - the man Jesus Christ. And since He has no guilt and therefore did not deserve to die then who better to be a suitable substitute for those who do deserve to die? And this is the powerful message of the Christian Gospel that is unique among all the world religions. Jesus died instead of other guilty people. God the judge accepts Jesus' death so that those who believe this message might live with Him forever. This truth is contained in the Bible verse in John's Gospel chapter 3 and verse 16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

What does Jesus mean to you? Is he a mere historical figure? Or is He YOUR SAVIOUR?


FRANKLY SPEAKING

Black is white if you go by the dictionary definition. The former is the absence of colour - because of complete absorbtion, and since white is the absence of colour too, black must be white! Well it would make my old grand-mother laugh. 'You'll be telling me black is white next!' she used to say. By the same kind of logic up is down, since if you set off walking up a mountain and keep going you'll eventually come back down! I guess it will be no surprise then if I tell you that it now seems that bad is good, if we can judge by the way some people are determined to repeal clause 28 for example. Sometimes the children at school refer to something as being really wicked, what they mean is that it's really very good. In fact it's usually something enjoyable as well. But then some things which the Bible calls sin do sometimes seem to be pleasurable - that's why we do them, and why we don't like being told not to do them!

I'm not surprised by these things really, and if you read the Bible you might know that it speaks of just the kind of thing. It says that many things which are in fact bad will be called good by men and women in our times. Romans chapter 1 talks about people who have turned the truth of God into a lie and are filled with unrighteousness, who know the judgement of God on these things but do bad things and, have pleasure in others that do them.

The words of the Bible are a very good judge of the human character. I would be 100% certain that you would never expect to find yourself in the Bible, but if you look you will find yourself described in its pages. It says that however decent a person you might be, you are more inclined to do what is bad that what is good. (Romans ch7 vs19) This is because you in fact possess a heart which is wicked and deceitful, something which is true of everybody - me included. (Jeremiah ch17 vs9) This in turn is because of sin at work in your life, as it has been since you were born. Oh yes, I must mention that according to the Bible no one is born innocent. (Psalm 51 vs5) And a sinful nature is something we have all inherited from our first father Adam, who disobeyed God in the beginning and so did wrong.

You might not like to hear these things or think that it's all a load of stuff and nonsence. However you can't really deny the truth of what I'm saying can you? Think about it, none of us has to teach our children to be bad. They say no and do naughty things right from nappies. In fact we have to teach them to be good - think what they would be like if we didn't! So none of us ought to be surprised when they think that bad is good - to bring us back to where we started.

Whatever you and I may think about things, God is the judge of what is right and what is wrong. If we accept that He is good and perfect, then we can rely on God to come to a righteous judgement. He has made all things. The world and all that is in it is His, therefore He alone has the right to say what is good and what is bad. God has in fact done this and passed a judgement on sin (doing what is wrong according to God's word). God has said '...the soul that sins, it shall die.' (Ezekiel ch18 vs4) So that is that then, what can be done? We are all in the same boat and it is sinking.

Well the general picture is pretty bad, but there is hope - and that a sure one. God has not left it at that. He has not left us to our down devices and our own doom. God sent His son Jesus Christ. Why did He do that? Well the Bible also tells us that Christ came to get rid of sin (Hebrews ch9 vs26). At the same time He came to save the sinner - that's you and me. (1 Timothy ch1 vs16). Making the one who has sinned to be righteous, perfect and good. This is because God is gracious and ready to forgive, and because none of you can save yourselves. Salvation is a gift from God (Ephesians ch2 vs8). To receive it you must turn from sin to God - this is called repenting, and believe in His Son Jesus Christ, asking Him to cleanse you from your sin. The Bible clearly teaches this, and as my old grandmother used to say '...it's black and white!...'

If you wold like to know more, we at Whiddon Valley would be glad to meet you and talk straight with you about these things.


NO MEAT - I'M A LION!

Taken from Creation ex Nihilo Vol. 22 No. 2 March - May 2000

Earlier this century a female African lion, born and raised in America, lived her entire lifetime of nine years without ever eating meat. In fact her owners George and Margaret Westbeau alarmed by scientists' reports that carnivorous animals cannot live without eating meat went to great lengths to try and coax their unusual pet ('Little Tyke') to develop a taste for it. They even offered a cash reward for anyone who could devise a meat containing formula that the lioness would like. The curator of a New York zoo advised the Westbeaus that putting a few drops of blood in Little Tyke's milk would help in weaning her, but the lioness cub refused to touch it - even when only a drop of blood had been added. The more knowledgable experts among the many visitors to the Westbeau ranch also proffered advice, but nothing worked. Meanwhile Little Tyke continued to do very well on a daily diet of cooked grain, raw eggs and milk. By four years of age she was fully grown and weighed 352 pounds. As George Westbeau writes it was 'a young visitor' to Hidden Valley ranch who finally put his mind at ease in response to how Little Tyke could be persuaded to eat meat (thought to be essential for carnivores to survive):

'He turned to look at me with serious eyes then asked, "Don't you read your Bible?" I admitted I didn't read it as much as I probably should. He continued "read Genesis ch 1 vs 30 and you will get your answer."

The verse reads 'And to every beast of the earth and to every fowl of the air, and to everything that creepeth upon the earth wherein there is life I have given every green herb for meat and it was so.'

Many people consign Genesis along with the rest of the Bible to the bin of myth and story. However it bears up to every scrutiny of the truths which it clearly states. Isn't it about time that you gave the word of God more serious consideration? For it is ...'able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.' the Bible 2 Timothy ch 3 vs 15


FROM THE PASTOR'S PEN...

Dear friends and naighbours in Whiddon Valley,

Spring brings NEW life. Evidence surrounds us here in this little corner of Barnstaple that new things are happening.

We have a NEW school; a NEW cycle way; a NEW site for more houses at Castle Park and for some of us NEW neighbours. We are now in a NEW century and a NEW M.......... (We are still sick of the word, aren't we?)

There are some people who often find themselves wishing "Oh that I could have a NEW start!" Life has become too much - money worries; relationship problems; illness and sorrows - all crowd in and make us wish that we could draw a line, begin a fresh page and write a NEW chapter.

The Bible has much to say about this. King David of Israel said that God had put a NEW song into his mouth - something had made the King happy. It was recognition that God had done some marvellous things. (Psalms 40 and 98)

An Old Testament prophet named Ezekiel, speaking on God's behalf, said, "I will put a NEW spirit within you. I will make you a NEW heart."

Jesus Christ brought what He called a New Testament, a NEW testimony, to the favour of God for His creation. This was disclosed to us through His death on the cross and then His rising again from the dead. In between His death and resurrection he was laid in a NEW tomb. He gave His disciples a NEW Commandment, that they should love one another.

But the important thing for us to realise in 2000 is that God has promised a NEW start to anyone who will believe these things about His Son the Lord Jesus Christ. Becoming a Christian is a NEW start - not the turning over of a new leaf - but a complete change - repentance leads to this change - turning away from sin leads to this NEW life. The Bible says that if "Any man or woman is in Christ, (that is has trusted and believed in Christ) then the old things in his or her life have gone, passed away, died - in fact all things become NEW!" Is this your experience my friend?

Of course you could stay as you are - you could carry on in your old ways and reject the NEW start offered in the Lord Jesus Christ - but why do that when everything else NEW is so attractive? New clothes, new car, new home - but not a NEW life - a NEW clean life enjoying forgiveness and pardon and a clean conscience?

As you see nature bursting with NEW life ask yourself "Is it not time I found something NEW?" Jesus Christ has never disappointed anyone who came genuinely and humbly to Him, saying sorry for the old life of sin and selfishness. May many of you discover this NEW life very soon. It is only to be found in a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

With warm wishes to everyone in Whiddon Valley.

Yours sincerely

D. W. KAY


MY STORY

Twenty three years ago, I had only been to church on about two occasions. The 1977 changed all that! It was then that I started going to church on a regular basis. I heard about the Lord Jesus Christ and my need to come to Him and ask Him to forgive my sins. The Bible says in the 1st Letter of John ch 1 vs 8 'if we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.' Sin! What was that? What was this word and what did it mean? This was all very new to me, and I was spending much time in reading the Bible and in asking the Lord what it all meant. The church I was attending was very small, but the people were warm and friendly. They were so helpful and gave me every encouragement as I asked many questions and sought answers. One Sunday evening in October of that year I asked the Lord to forgive me my sins, I put my trust in Him, believing He died on the cross for me.

You too can come to know Jesus Christ in that same way I did twenty three years ago. Don't put off enquiring any longer, do you want to spend eternity in heaven with the Lord, or in hell? God looks down from heaven and sees everything that each of us is saying and doing at any time. No one can hide anything from God. Nowadays I go to Whiddon Valley church, and you're welcome to come along, and hear about the Lord Jesus Christ, and how He can change your life completely for the better. He changed my life, and I now know that believing in Him as my personal saviour is the best thing I have every done.

By John Reeves

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