Article IV, part 2

Truth or Dare (Article 4)

In our last post we began to look at the three largest religions: Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity. We quickly looked at the ideals, philosophies, and theologies of these three dominant belief systems. In this article we will examine why no other religion, but Christianity, is one-hundred percent truth. robe & thorns

It’s obvious that this blog, as others on this site, are focused on the truths of Christ. I’ve made no attempts to state otherwise. So, how is it that I am so confident that the teachings of Christ are true? For many reasons, actually, but for the purpose of this article we will focus on the person, character, and deity of Jesus Christ. Why? Because, if Jesus didn’t exist, and wasn’t perfect, and wasn’t God, then Christianity is all a lie. All three have to be true.

History never doubts the existence of Jesus of Nazareth, so I’ll not linger on this point, and as far as His perfection is concerned — well, there is not a single religion that doubts Jesus’ good and perfect nature, and Scripture is full of statements concerning His spotless character (Leviticus 22:19; John 1:19; 1 Peter 1:18-19). Even “non-believers” will tell you Jesus was a good man, but was Jesus of Nazareth deity? Was Jesus Christ, God? Yes, Jesus is God incarnate, and there is plenty of evidence to back this statement up.

Before doing so, though, I must reiterate the fact that humanity is flawed. All religions agree on this very key point. The “non-religious” even know that people are in need of improvement; that mankind lacks perfection. However, it’s only Christianity that proclaims time-and-again that humanity cannot save its self (Romans 5:12). It’s this teaching, found only in Christianity, that people need a savior to help them reconnect to God, that causes all aspects of Jesus to be so vital (Romans 5:15). For if mankind can save its self, as all the other religions teach, then Christ’s existence and death was for nothing, and God wasted His time and effort.

Would an all-knowing, always existing, deity of perfection allow Himself to be caught in an act of waste, and futility? After all, this all-powerful being created all that we can behold, and experience, and more. Right? Would this deity not have the intelligence, and understanding to know that sacrificing a being of perfection is unnecessary, if people can just cycle through the reincarnation process and work their imperfections out on their own, as the Hindus believe? Would this super-being allow His flawed creation to just flounder around pursuing “jihad,” giving them only a fifty percent chance of working their way back to Himself and into His presence, as the Muslims teach?

God is indeed the maker of heaven and earth (Genesis 1:1; Isaiah 48:13; Colossians 1:16), and He is truly the only being that is all-knowing (Psalm 147:5b; 1 Samuel 2:3b; Isaiah 55:9), self existing (Exodus 3:14-15; Isaiah 48:12; Revelation 4:8b), perfect (Deuteronomy 32:3-4; Psalms 5:4; 1 John 1:5), and all-powerful (Psalm 62:11b,89:8, 147:5a). Nothing can escape God’s sight — nothing (Psalm 139). It’s because of God’s perfection that He cannot allow within us imperfection. Just as darkness flees from light, so too will our sinfulness keep us from God’s perfection.

You see, laws exist to expose what is wrong with humanity. Anarchy allows all kinds of activity to go unpunished, but laws do not. Religion exposes us to a higher law; a higher morality. God’s law, the Ten Commandments, was given to mankind to expose our unrighteous acts, and guide us to know that we cannot escape our just punishment without divine help (Romans 6:23; Galatians 3:10; James 2:10). God cannot help but demand perfection, as He is perfect (Matthew 5:48). Therefore, all aspirations of perfection that any other religious faith may wish to achieve can never be reached. All that remains for mankind is the hope of Christ, the only perfect person to have ever lived and offer Himself up as a sacrifice for our sins (Romans 8:3-4). So now that we have laid out the reasoning behind why humanity needs Jesus to be its savior, let’s examine the proof of His deity.

First, Jesus Christ knew His purpose and understood His destiny from the beginning. clouds 6 You see, unlike any other religious founder that ever lived, it’s only Jesus of Nazareth who possessed a clear vision of His calling. You can see God’s calling being exhibited in the life of Christ as early as twelve years of age (Luke 2:41-52) in Scripture. All other religious founders painfully sought to know their purpose and calling, in life. This evidence can be found in a book, by Robert E. Hume, entitled: The World’s Living Religions.

Second, Jesus of Nazareth claimed to be the exclusive “door way” to eternal life (John 10:7-9, 14:6). No other religious founder ever made such a bold, and selective, statement. Hindus don’t have any one founder for which to enter into enlightenment. Their teachings refuse to say that any one way is the only way into eternity, but Jesus taught: “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.” (Matthew 7:13)

Islam doesn’t teach that heaven is obtained through their founder, either. They see the prophet Muhammad as an example for how to live a life that is pleasing to Allah, but the Apostle Paul, after encountering the resurrected Jesus, taught that: “He [Jesus] saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy.” (Titus 3:5) If Jesus was not God, then He could not state that: “No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

Third, Jesus Christ claimed that He could make right the flaws of humanity, by forgiving the sins of mankind. No Brahman avatar ever made this claim, and the prophet Muhammad refrained from such statements, as well. Jesus, however, never avoided the subject (Matthew 9:1-8; Luke 23:39-43).

Fourth, Jesus of Nazareth over came death. No other religious founder has ever raised the dead (Matthew 27:52; Luke 7: 11-16, 8:41-56; John 11:1-44), and certainly none of the religious founders from history has ever died, been buried, and then three days later returned to life (Matthew 28:1-10; Mark 16:1-10; Luke 24:1-12; John 20:1-18). Only a deity could accomplish such a task. Skeptics will claim the resurrection story is fictitious and part of Christian folklore, and lacks evidence, but that isn’t so.

The fact that the resurrection story was included in the New Testament writings, and the fact that these writings were taken down within a few years from the actual event (which was widely accepted as fact) is significant evidence for the authenticity of this happening. Why? Because the witnesses in and around Jerusalem, at the time of the resurrection, would still have been alive when these writings began to circulate. Any one of the over 500 witnesses could have began to discredit the accounts, had there been any ounce of falsehood recorded.

And what of these 500 plus witnesses? Could they not have all made this event up or shared in an elaborate mass hallucination? Well, if these 500 plus individuals were to share a hallucination they would have to have experienced it at the same time and in the same way, but that was not the case. There was the woman who saw Jesus at the tomb (Mark 16:9-10; John 20:11-18). Christ’s disciples saw Him in the upper room, where they had been hiding (Mark 16:14; Luke 24:36-49; John 20:19-31). Two men saw Jesus on the road to Emmaus (Mark 16:12-13; Luke 24:13-35). Several hundred saw Christ resurrected (1 Corinthians 15:3-6). The Apostle Paul saw the resurrected Lord on the road to Damascus, well after Christ’s ascension (Acts 9:1-20). This theory of a shared hallucination is absolutely ludicrous.

Then there’s the devotion of Jesus’ disciples. These timid men went from hiding in the shadows to dying for their Lord. If they had been a party to any type of lie, they would have abandoned it at the first threat made against them. These were not brave warriors out to perpetrate a lie, for a false god. James, the half brother of Jesus, abandoned his belief that his brother was crazy and died preaching Christ’s Gospel message. The Apostle Paul had once been a persecutor of the Christian fanatics, and was considered a Jew-of-Jews. Why would he have abandoned his duties to the Synagogue, and his faith, had he not really experienced an encounter of a divinely kind? None of the apostles abandoned their Lord, when death came knocking — none. And all of them died very painful deaths, according to documented historical accounts.

There’s also the fact that Jesus’ tomb was found empty, Empty Tomb 1 and history records this to be true (Matthew 28:5-6; Mark 16:1-6; Luke 24:1-3; John 20:1-9). The disciples could not have stolen the body from a tomb guarded by Roman soldiers, as the Jews claim happened (Matthew 27:62-66, 28:2-4 & 11-15). Again, these eleven men were timid, scared, and hiding. They were in no frame of mind to understand what had just happened to Jesus, much less take on a dozen or more Roman guards in a fight for Christ’s body. Besides none of these eleven men had military training, and none of them really even paid attention to the fact that Jesus told them He was going to have to die, and return from the grave to accomplish His mission. These were simple, uneducated fishermen, for the most part, and they weren’t clever enough to create a lie of this magnitude in the midst of such grief.

Then there’s the “swoon” theory, that claims Jesus never died but passed out and later awoke from within the grave. This theory states that this nearly dead Jesus, somehow loosed Himself from His death-wrappings and pushed away an extremely heavy rock. There by enabling this horrifically wounded man the chance to walk past the dozen or so Roman guards and into the night air a free religious rabbi. This one is so ridiculous I’m not even going to take the time to explain the medical reasons that prove just how absurd it is, but again — just as with the previous theories — it would have been up to the “witnesses” to maintain the story or abandon it. No one will die for a lie, not knowingly. Jesus of Nazareth’s tomb is empty because Jesus Christ, is the living Creator.

Jesus also promised to one day return to earth and judge its inhabitants (Mark 13:23-26; John 5:20-30, 14:1-3), our fifth proof of His divinity. Only a madman would make such a claim. Only God, Himself, could promise it. No other religious founder has ever attempted to make such a promise. No Hindu Vishnu ever made this claim, the prophet Muhammad didn’t, nor did Buddha, or any other religious leader. Only Christ made such a vow. Which brings us to point number six — Jesus claimed to be God in the flesh.

You see, no religious founder ever had the audacity to claim to be God in the flesh, except for Jesus of Nazareth. Brahman’s many Vishnu’s never claimed to be the actual “Universal Spirit.” The prophet Muhammad never claimed to be Allah, incarnate. It’s only in the person of Jesus Christ that we find the Creator of heaven and earth existing in human form, by His own admission (Matthew 26:63-64; Mark 2:1-12; John 8:56-58, 10:11-18 & 24-30, 18:33-37) — Jesus is God.

If Jesus had simply come to earth as a good man who taught us a better way to enlightenment, or if He had simply modeled a better way to live for God, then Christianity would have never lasted past the first few followers. Again, as the death threats would have increased the followers would have certainly decreased. But Christ’s claim to deity, and His proof by way of His miracles and the resurrection account, gave strength and veracity to His followers, as does His Holy Spirit (John 14:15-20). This is why Christianity grew and why Christianity gives a sure path to restoring mankind to God.

Author, and former atheist turned theologian, C.S. Lewis explains Christ’s account this way:
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the real foolish thing that people often say about Him [Jesus]: ‘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 a 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 mad man 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 patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

What kind of good, moral man would live a life teaching of truth, and yet lead people to put their faith in a lie? What kind of good, moral man teaches about peace and love, and yet allows people to be slaughtered in his name because he lied about being God? No! Jesus had to be the promised Messiah. He had to be the perfect “Son of Man,” come to sacrifice Himself for our sins. Christ had to be Immanuel, God with us — the incarnate Word [Davar] of God — the one, the only begotten Son of God, or else nothing moral and good would have existed in His name. It’s all a devilish lie unless Jesus is Yahweh, and over four-hundred fulfilled prophecies prove that Jesus IS.

I’ll close with this thought from author, teacher, and former agnostic Josh McDowell. Josh McDowell 1 In this post from TRYJESUS.COM Mr. McDowell tells of a group of people hiking into a forest, but after a while they became lost. Fearful for their lives, these people begin to look for a way out. In the distance some of them spot a split in the trail, and at the edge of the split there appears to be two human forms. The group makes a run towards these two people, in hopes of receiving their help. As they draw near they come to realize that one is alive and wearing a park ranger’s uniform, the other man is dead. Josh McDowell writes: “Now which of these two are we going to ask about the way out? Obviously, the one who is living.

When it comes to eternal matters, we are going to ask the one who is alive the way out of the predicament. This is not Muhammad, not Confucius, but Jesus Christ. Jesus is unique. He came back from the dead. This demonstrates He is the one whom He claimed to be (Romans 1:4), the unique Son of God and the only way by which a person can have a personal relationship with the true and living God.”

Truth or Dare by J. Scott Harden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://www.jasonmin.wordpress.com.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

The “NIV” and “New International Version” trademarks are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by International Bible Society. Use of either trademark requires the permission of International Bible Society.

“The World’s Living Religions” © 1997 by Robert E. Hume

All rights reserved. Published by MacMillan Publishers, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010; www.us.macmillan.com.

Josh McDowell‘s study entitled “Why is Jesus the Only Way to Get to God?,” Copyright © 1993 by Josh McDowell and Don Stewart, from the book “Answers To Tough Questions,” can be found at: http://www.tryjesus.com/QandA/questionJ3-print.htm

If your church or organization would like to talk with J. Scott Harden about a speaking engagement, or a writing project, please get in touch with Mr. Harden through Jason MinistriesTwitter account or Facebook page.

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Article IV, part 1



I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart. . . . Where!?” This is probably how most of us would respond to the concept of joy — with a question.

Imagine suffering through some great physical ailment, such as cancer, and being counseled with these words from James 1:2, “Count it pure joy, my brothers [or sisters], whenever you face trials of many kinds.” You’d probably fight back the urge to slap someone by firing back with a great big “What!?” “Count this bone breaking, gut wrenching, painful curse as what!?” “Joy?” Or, imagine suffering through an unexpected divorce after twenty-plus years of what you thought was wedded bliss and hearing someone say these words from 1 Thessalonians 5:16, “Be joyful always.” You’d probably exchange a cross-eyed glance for a moment, only to ask, “Be joyful when!? Now!?

We all realize that life is hard and that suffering is bound to catch up to each of us at some point. And some of us know that God wants us to experience joy in all aspects of our lives. So, why is it when suffering enters our lives do we not only question the suffering but also the idea of being joyful in the midst of it?

It has to do with our thoughts. We were incorrectly taught that bad things are meant for bad people and that good things happen to good people. And who can be more good than we Christians, right? After all, we are God’s adopted children (Ephesians 1:4-5), are we not? Well, let’s examine this ideal more closely.

What makes us believe or think that bad things happen to bad people? From an early age we were told stories and shown movies that depict the message that “crime doesn’t pay” or “good conquers evil.” In the Bible we read such verses as: “The Lord reigns forever; he has established his throne for judgment. He will judge the world in righteousness; he will govern the people with justice” (Psalm 9:7-8). We also learn that our own laws here in America — based on the Ten Commandments, our Constitution and the Bill of Rights — will bring justice and will punish those who intend to do us harm. Yes, we learn these things, read such verses, and study such ideals, but who or what defines for us what is good and what is bad? The answer is: our Creator, the great “I Am” — God.

God defines evil and righteousness. To be evil is to take on the attributes and spirit of Satan (Galatians 5:19-21), but to be good is to take on the attributes and Spirit of Jesus Christ, God’s Son (Galatians 5:22-23). Is this not why we think of Christians as good people? Don’t we expect Christians to act as Christ would act? After all, doesn’t popular Christian culture teach us to always ask “WWJD” (what would Jesus do)? Why ask this question if we aren’t expected to act on it?

For American citizens, living within the boundaries of our laws determines if we are good citizens or bad citizens. And though it is true that we are counted as good citizens if we obey the law, and though it is true that we as Christians are expected to act as Christ did, there is another truth we must come to terms with, and that is, “There is no one righteous [good], not even one” (Romans 3:10). None of us are good. Obey the law perfectly; we can’t. Be as righteous as Jesus; a daily struggle all Christians should aspire to accomplish, though not likely to happen.

So, why bother? Why care enough to try? Because even though we can’t be righteous on our own, Christ’s Spirit living in us can.

“But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known to which the Law of the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Jesus Christ.” (Romans 3:21-24)

Jesus’ Spirit in us gives us the strength to be good; to do good things (Philippians 4:13).

You have read that no one person is good; yet you see that we can be good with God’s help. You may even grasp the overall concept, but how does this truth answer our question from earlier regarding suffering and joy? In this way: we must stop thinking that “good” people won’t and shouldn’t suffer. None are good and life is hard. Just as Jesus suffered for living a righteous life, so too should we expect to suffer. Listen to the apostle Peter’s words: “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed” (1 Peter 4:12-13). Did you catch that? Suffering in this life is not strange or abnormal, but very much the norm. And even better, if we rejoice in our participation (as hard as it will be, have the right attitude of worship — your choice, remember) then we can be overjoyed, totally thrilled beyond our wildest imagination, when God’s glory is revealed to us in heaven! Joy within suffering is our choice and a marvelous avenue to experiencing true worship and God’s glory. So, how do we do it? How do we choose to be “joyful in all things”? We must first realize what this principle of worship really is and what joy really means.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “joy” as:

(noun) a feeling of great pleasure and happiness: ‘tears of joy’/‘the joy of being alive.’ Also as (verb) [heart.] poetic/literary — rejoice: ‘I felt shame that I had ever joyed in his discomfiture or pain.’

And, The Life Application Study Bible (NIV) defines “joy” as, “(noun) emotion evoked by well-being, success or good fortune: gladness or delight.” I find both of these definitions to be inadequate; well short of accurate. Allow me to explain why.

The definitions we just read are lacking, because they ascribe to joy the same attributions of happiness. Though these definitions define joy as both a noun and a verb, which it is, they really are ascribing no more depth to the word than if it were simply the word “happy” (an adjective). But happiness is really nothing more than an emotion. Something we occasionally experience, because it is fleeting. Joy is not a temporal emotion, but an actual attribution of God’s character — a part of His being; a “fruit” of His Spirit, according to Galatians chapter 5 verse 22.

Nothing about God is temporary. “In the beginning God . . .” (Genesis 1:1a); “In the beginning . . . was God” (John 1:1); “I am the Alpha and the Omega . . . who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty” (Revelation 1:8). God and His characteristics always have been, are now, and always will be. Happiness is not one of the fruits of His Spirit, but joy — real joy — is! Real joy can never be temporal or fleeting because it is a source of power and strength (Nehemiah 8:10b). Joy, can only come from God’s love for us and our obedience to Him (John 15:9-11). And joy, everlasting joy, can only come from God’s forgiveness and our restoration to, and peace with, Him (Luke 15:8-32).

Best-selling author C.S. Lewis once said that “joy is never in our power and pleasure [or happiness] often is.” If it’s in our power, then it’s fallible, temporal, of us and not of God, and definitely not real joy. Only a facsimile befitting the simple definitions ascribed to it from any dictionary on any shelf. We must understand what joy really is. It is eternal, a source of power for us, an attribute direct from God our Creator, Himself. Let’s now look deeper into what joy means to us and how we can apply real joy to our everyday lives and our everyday worship.

In our next post, we will fully disclose what joy means, and will expose how to correctly apply it to our everyday life and worship. Article 4, part two, will take the word “joy” and dissect it; cutting into what we said it is and looking around inside it — finding what lies at its core. To do this we will literally examine the word letter by letter, and when we are done, the acrostic we end up with will be a simple and applicable tool with which you can allow God to bring real joy to you daily.

The Joshua Project by J.Scott Harden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at jasonmin.wordpress.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at https://jasonmin.wordpress.com/.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

The “NIV” and “New International Version” trademarks are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by International Bible Society. Use of either trademark requires the permission of International Bible Society.

Down In My Heart (I’ve Got the Joy)” by George Willis Cooke, pub.: Unknown, Copyright: Public Domain

If your church or organization would like to talk with J. Scott Harden about a speaking engagement, or a writing project, please get in touch with Mr. Harden through Jason MinistriesTwitter account or Facebook page.