Classic Christianity – A Closer Look at The Word of God P10 (03-01-21)
When you read in the scriptures about all the different eyewitnesses of those who saw, heard and touched Jesus, what conclusions do you come to? You can only come to the conclusion that Jesus is either a nutcase, a liar, or an imposter, or He is indeed what He claimed to be, God in the flesh. If even archaeological evidence confirms the events, times and places that are recorded in the scriptures are true, and that what is written down by the prophets came true precisely as they said, then I would ask where does the evidence lead? What probability is there that all these over 300 prophecies, even over a thousand years, long before the events occurred, by people of all walks of life and different periods in history, all came true, what reasonable conclusion would you come to? The overwhelming evidence is why we believe that Jesus is God and His word is true. Jesus even said if you cannot believe me by what I say then believe me based on the miracles you see. Nicodemus, a leading Pharisee, even said, “Who can do the things Jesus does unless God were with him?”
We also have the testimony of men today, who have been born again of the Holy Spirit of God. One day they are going in one direction, and then the next day they are going in another direction. One day they are in a bar getting drunk, or strung out on cocaine, and then the next day, they are free. We have the testimony of the apostle Paul, who one day was on the road to Damascus set out to destroy the people of the Way, the Christians, and then he had an encounter with the living Christ. The believers observed a change in him and said the man we used to fear is now preaching the gospel he once tried to destroy. You also have the same testimony by the apostle Peter, who denied he even knew Jesus and was in fear behind closed doors, in fear of the religious leaders of the day, and then after Pentecost, he received power from the Holy Spirit, where for the first time in history men were indwelt with the Spirit of God. Now, he is boldly preaching to a crowd of over three thousand men, not including women and children, telling them that they crucified the Lord of glory, and to repent unto salvation.
So will you believe based on the testimony of the prophets? Would you believe the words of scripture, all pointing to the fulfillment of all prophecy in the person of Jesus Christ? Would you believe based on the testimony of the miracles of Jesus? Would you believe based on what He said was true of you before He even met you. think about the testimony of the Samaritan woman at the well who Jesus told her she had five husbands and the one you are living with now is not your husband. Then He tells her about living water, and says to her “I Am the promised Messiah?” If you were Nicodemus, would you believe the words spoken by Jesus, who said you must be born again? Would you believe based on the testimony of the apostles? Would you believe the apostle John who said He heard those words on that mountain where a voice from heaven said, “Behold this is My Beloved Son, listen to Him”? Would you believe based on the evidence of an empty tomb and that Jesus walked on the earth after having risen from the dead and appeared to over five hundred men before ascending back to His Father? Where would you find out about such things? In the scriptures we hold in our hands today.
You cannot separate the word of God from the author of God, the author of the word, who is Christ Jesus. The word of God is living and active. Why is it living and active? Because Christ is living and active. In other words, He is alive today. He is risen and alive in the hearts of men. Based on overwhelming evidence, I am persuaded, I am absolutely confident that the scriptures we hold in our hands is the word of God, is of divine origin, that I might know God. I know the word of God is useful to me for instruction, correction, rebuke, and training in righteousness, is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Because I have the Spirit of the living God living in me, He is the one who reveals truth to me and continually renews my mind and guides me into all truth. This life of Christ in me, as I abide in Him, is what manifests itself in the lives of others. For what pleases God is our faith in Him that expresses itself through love. This is a dynamic relationship with the living God, the Creator of all that is seen and unseen, who is also Jesus Christ our Lord.
Folks, when I am talking about these things, and as we are studying these things, it is not to try to get everybody to believe like I do. To get to know that the word of God is true is not even the issue. There are many people who beat the bible to death saying the bible is true and divide entire denominations over that fact, and beat people to death, and getting mad and getting unloving toward one another. I believe the bible is true but you do not act like it. The bible says to love one another. How can you say the bible is true but you have no desire at all to act like the bible is true? So it makes me wonder sometimes if we really believe it is true. So we say it is true only in the intellectual sense. It is a prideful tenant of my denominational preference where I believe it is true but certainly would not know it is by a person’s actions or attitude there that the bible deals with.
6 The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
Someone says, “I believe the bible is true but we need to go over here to lean on someone else’s understanding.” To that person I say, “You do not believe the bible is true because there is more to believe the bible is true than saying ‘I believe those words are true’. I see the words are true but I also believe what it means. If we do not believe what it means, then what good does it do to believe what it says?”
So when it says the word of God is sharper than a two-edged sword and judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart, I know nothing that does not deal with the attitudes of the heart that man tries. I know the problem that I even encounter in life whether drunkenness, gluttony, bulimia, anorexia, manic depressive, and any of these man-made things. I emphasize man-made words, that we put upon man, renamed them and therefore redefined them, calling them sickness instead of what they are, so that any one of those things cannot be cured by the word of God. To man that says I would not have a clue to go to the word of God to rat those things, someone does not know what the word of God says, and more importantly what it means.
That is why it is so important, folks, that we are going through this series. First, we had the lesson on what Jesus said about the word of God, and He, as God, says it is absolutely true. Now we have been studying what the apostles, who were followers and who were with Christ from the beginning, said about the word of God. Now we are reading about what the writer of Hebrews had to say, in Hebrews 4:10, and testifies to the fact the word of God is active and is alive.
Now, let us pick up with Paul’s testimony in Acts 17.
When Paul and his companions had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. 2 As was his custom, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and proving that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead. “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Messiah,” he said.
Now, what gave weight to the apostles eyewitness testimony concerning Christ was God’s many prophecies made hundreds of years in advance, which all came true in the person of Christ. How did you bring that about? Did Jesus kind of know the Old Testament and know what was said of the Messiah and acted out those things? That is what some people say, that he was just acting out. That could be but it would be hard to act out your birth and resurrection. We just forget about that.
So these people were noble minded as the Bereans were.
11 Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. 12 As a result, many of them believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men.
How did they believe? Through examining the scriptures and letting the Spirit of God reveal to them what the scriptures meant.
Once again, why are all of these passages important as to Jesus’ testimony about Himself, the apostles testimony about scriptures, and all testifying about Jesus? That is what we are basically talking about today and we have been talking about and will continue talking about. This is as simple as this. If we do not believe Jesus is God, we cannot fully believe that He is if we do not know why we believe He is. I just do not want to hear Jesus is God, I want to know why Jesus is God. If I cannot believe, if I do not believe that He is then how can I believe that He can?
So you see the importance of this. If I do not know why Jesus is God then I cannot believe He is. And If I cannot believe He is, then how can I believe He can? Can what? Do everything He said He was going to do, like judge the attitudes of my heart and judge my thoughts and take the word of God, as it says, which is profitable for teaching, reproof, correction and training in righteousness. If I do not believe the word of God is going to do that then why go to it? I will just go to man’s understanding, which is no understanding at all.
What this boils down to folks is, were these men good witnesses? What are some valid criteria of a good witness?
2 Peter 1:16-18
16 For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”[Matthew 17:5; Mark 9:7; Luke 9:35] 18 We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.
A criteria for a valid witness is I was an eyewitness. I saw it. I heard it. Once again, if you observed an accident and someone ran a stop sign and ran into somebody and killed him and you were standing on the corner, and the guy sitting in the car said, “The person just jumped in front of me”, or “that was not me driving the car”, or some other excuse. What is going to convict that man and bring him to truth? An eyewitness standing there, saying “I saw him”. “I heard him.” Or any other eyewitness on the other side of the street saying “I saw him” or “I heard it”.
You have a line up of criminals of a person who has been raped or robbed. They bring in the people, and a person says “that is the one”. Another person says “I was also raped. That is the one.” That is an eyewitness. Based on that eyewitness, that person is going to spend probably some time behind bars. The validity of a witness, many times an eyewitness who saw and heard.
These apostles said we saw him and we heard him.
Let us talk about the apostle John, the beloved John, the one who identified himself as the one who Christ loved. Now He loved all people but there was a special relationship with John there. He was the last of the apostles to be alive. When he wrote 1 John and the gospel of John, it was around 95 A.D. and he saw Jesus for who He was, and that is God. Again, he was an eyewitness. We are talking about what is a criteria for a valid witness. We talked about what Peter said. Something we saw with our eyes. We were eyewitnesses of his majesty and we heard it.
Once again, it is back to the same claims of Christ we talked about before. When Christ claimed He was Christ, He is either a lunatic who claimed to be God when He wasn’t. If I was walking around saying that I was God, people would have to say that I lost my marbles. Or he knew that he was not God and claimed he was anyway, which would put him in the category of being the biggest imposter who ever walked on the face of this earth or he claimed to be God. This is a trilemma. You really do have to take your choice. Either this man really is the Son of God or a madman or something worse. As C.S. Lewis said, “you can spit at him as a fool or fall at his feet and call Him Lord God but let us not come up with any patronizing knowledge about him being a great moral teacher. He never intended that to occur. He never said that and never intended it to be.”
So the eyewitness of John is this.
1 John 1:1
1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes,
So we are talking about hearing and seeing with our eyes.
1 John 1:1
which we have looked at and our hands have touched – this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.
Who is the word of life? That is Jesus Christ, the word who became flesh. Back to Hebrews. The word of God is active and sharper than a two-edged sword. It is living. The word of God is alive, that is Christ Jesus alive.
1 John 1:2
2 The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us.
We are talking about a testimony and hearing the testimony of Christ Himself who testified to being with the Father in heaven and appearing to us here on this earth, God becoming a man.
1 John 1:3
3 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.
There were people who were coming and saying “I am saved. I believe in the Father.” I am sorry, you cannot say you believe in the Father unless you also believe in the Son because the Father testified about the Son and the Son testified of the Father. So how can you say you believe in one but not the other? It is the same question that Jesus asked the Jews who said they believed in Moses. ’How can you believe in Moses when Moses wrote about me? If Moses testified about me and I am here and you say you deny me then you also deny Moses because Moses wrote about me. So how can you say you believe in Moses but not me?”
45 “But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set. 46 If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. 47 But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?”
In 1 John, you had people who were called Gnostics, who were the practitioners of Gnosticism, who were into the mystical. Everything was the mystical. They held this secret knowledge that no one else had. As John Macarthur said, “There are a lot of people posing as Neo-gnostics today, posing as Christians, are claiming to have some kind of special psychological knowledge, and you are too dumb to know about, but if you will come to me I will reveal it to you very slowly because if you got it real quick you will get out in a hurry without very much money, but I am going to reveal it to you very slowly.”
That is a form of Gnosticism, saying “I got this special knowledge”. There is not any of us who have special knowledge unless it’s from the world because God did not give us special knowledge. He just gave us wisdom from God and gave us His Spirit living in us so a man of no education or a man educated beyond his intelligence can understand if we rely on the Spirit of God to teach truth to us. So there is no special knowledge at all. It is in front of us. Any man can read it and any man can understand it, if you are born again. If you are not born again, then of course you will not understand that.
The Gnostics believe that Jesus did not come in the flesh because they came up with this philosophy that all matter is evil, flesh is matter, and therefore is evil, and God could not be evil so therefore He did not come in the flesh so He is an illusion. Later on in 1 John it talks about that.
1 John 4:2-3
2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.
You cannot be saved denying the humanity of Christ any more than you can be saved denying the deity of Christ. So you have one group of people coming to your house denying His deity and then the next group comes over denying His humanity. Between the two, you got a pretty good denial going on. Maybe that was the beginning of denial.
At any rate, that was the Gnostics. So to that he was verifying the validity of his own testimony saying that we are not talking about some theoretical, mystical knowledge here. I am talking about what I saw and heard. You cannot see and hear an illusion. He was a human being. He came in the flesh. We also touched him. It is hard to touch a ghost. With every one of those things, he is saying, ‒I heard Him, I looked at Him, I saw Him, and I touched him. That kind of Gnostic denies your theology. We are talking about what we have seen and heard.
1 John 1:3
3 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.
That does not mean cookies and cokes. That also does not mean you have all your sins confessed. That means so you can be saved. You do not have fellowship with us as a believer when you are an unbeliever.
2 Corinthians 6:14
14 Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?
What fellowship does light have with darkness? That is why it says not to be unequally yoked.
So you are talking about unequally yoked, someone claiming to be something they are not. We who are in Christ today through faith in the revealed word of God, we have fellowship with Christ, and our fellowship is with the Father and His Son. You cannot deny one. Jesus says this also.
9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
So you cannot say “I have fellowship with the Father but this Jesus I do not understand” because if you have seen Jesus you have seen the Father. Fellowship is in Christ. Fellowship means two fellows in the same ship. You are either in Christ, saved, or out of Christ, lost. You are not bouncing in and out of fellowship. You are either in it or out of it. But our fellowship is with the Triune God and we would like you to have fellowship with us. We would like you to believe truth but if you continue to believe the error, you will not be in fellowship with us and therefore you will not be in fellowship with God either because you do not know God. Your fellowship with God is not predicated with us, but your fellowship with us is predicated on your fellowship with God. Because I am not going to be unequally yoked with you denying the humanity of Christ. You cannot be saved.
We turn now to Luke 1:1-4 to see another validity of a witness.
1 Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word [of Jesus]. 3 With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.
Luke wrote down from the beginning those things that he saw and heard, the eyewitnesses to that, so that you may know the certainty of what you have been taught. When we hold, the word of God in our hands today, they are an account of people who saw, heard and touched Jesus and recorded exactly and precisely what was told to them by Him and also with His promise that when the Holy Spirit comes to you He will bring back to your mind everything that I have taught you.
Luke says, “I want you to know that I have looked at this. I have carefully investigated everything from the very beginning and I have written down for you an orderly account so that you may know with certainty that the things you are taught are true.
Now in Acts 1:1-4, again he says.
1 In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen.
Once again, the book of Acts is a continuation by the same author, Luke, of the book of Luke. So in the gospel of Luke, Luke, who was a medical doctor, wrote down carefully, and investigated everything about Christ’s; life from the beginning and wrote it down. He could not have written down according to Jesus if the Holy Spirit had not been revealing to him all these things and then taught all things that Jesus did up until the day he was taken up to heaven.
On the day Jesus Christ died on a cross, a New Covenant was ushered in. So the four gospels are an account of Jesus’ physical life here on this earth prior to the New Covenant. So He taught under the Old Covenant. He was born of a virgin under the law, under law in His physical life, and then fulfilled the law. No man on earth had ever fulfilled the law. Christ fulfilled the law. How? He walked in the perfect law all of his life and love is the fulfillment of the law.
So the gospel is a record of Christ’ physical life under the law, fulfilling the law and, in so doing, showing man that he can‣t, which he already knew, because he was going to a cross to die for forgiveness of sins who could not fulfill the law so that, having the law fulfilled, with no man able to live up to it, ushered in a brand New Covenant of grace whereby He says, “There sins and lawless acts I remember no more.”
16 “This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.”[Jeremiah 31:33]
17 Then he adds:
“Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.”[Jeremiah 31:34]
18 And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary.
The book of Acts was written by the same author to the same individual, Theophilus, written by Luke, taking up after his resurrection through the first eighteen or so years of Christendom. We are talking about the apostle Luke who wrote the gospel of Luke. And he said that was an orderly account. Then in the book of Acts, he says in that first book I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven. Now in the book of Acts, hw is picking up His instruction to the apostle on that day He was lifted up to heaven, physically raised, when He told them to go to Jerusalem and wait to be indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God.
In other words, Jesus said to them, “I am going away but I am going to send the Spirit of God to you.” Prior to the day of Pentecost, there was no such thing as being spiritually regenerated. In other words, in the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit came upon a person for divine service and then would depart from him. That is why you read David say this.
11 Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.
That would not be said to God today because today He says this.
God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
That is a permanent transaction today only due to the cross.
So we have some conclusions we have to make on all of this. First of all, the same conclusions we had to make in regard to the testimony Jesus said about the word of God. If Jesus is God, and if He is, is He going to lie to you? If Jesus says the word of God is true, then the word of God is true. If Jesus says there is Jonah in a big fish, then there was Jonah in a big fish. If Jonah is not in a big fish, then Jesus lied and He ceases to be God and we should pitch the bible. Jesus also talked about Noah and the flood. If no such thing as Noah and the flood then Christ Jesus is not God for God is not a liar. He does not need to be a liar. If Jesus is not God, then we are to be pitied of all people and we are still in our sins and what difference would it make if there was a great flood or not.
The same could be said of the apostles that we are talking about. We are talking about the testimony of the apostle Peter in regard to the word of God. We talked about the testimony that the apostle Paul made in regard to the word of God. We talked about the testimony of the apostle Luke and what he said about the word of God. We also talked about the author of Hebrews as to what he said about the word of God. So we have to come to some conclusions. The only options we have in regard to the testimony of those witnesses is that they were liars or they were imposters of some kind or they were nutty too. They just thought they saw and heard and He was not really there. Or they truly had an encounter with the living Christ.
Folks, the same thing true then is true today in regard to our own personal testimony. If you are truly born again with the Spirit of God, there came a point in time in history where you too had an encounter with the living Christ. I remember in my particular case, it was 1969. I remember that like it was yesterday, July 13, 1969, when I was a lost person, and I stepped out of darkness into the light and accepted the Lord Jesus Christ into my heart as my personal Lord and Savior and my life was totally transformed on that day. I was thirty six years of age physically and a brand new babe in Christ spiritually.
There are people who get confused with that. They say, “I do not remember for sure when that happened when I was born again.” I do not remember when I was born physically but I certainly was. The important point is do you remember that you are. Whether you remember the time or not is not the issue. But was there a time when by an act of the will was executed when by faith you said, “God I accept you into my heart.” Whether you remember the year or month is not the issue. But there was an event if you are born again, a time in your life when that decision was made, when that awareness of that truth was revealed to you by the Spirit and you responded to it. That could also be on your deathbed and nobody knows it except you and God. But there is a point in time, a critical point in time just like a critical point in time when you were born physically. You were not born by osmosis over a period of time. There was a day that you were born. There is also a day when you were born again.
And we became children of God. When you testify to that event, again, you either are insane or you are also lying or you also had an encounter with God. That is quite frankly what I have to ask people who are denying what I am saying about the word of God. What you are really saying is that I am a maniac, a deluded human being or an imposter or I truly did have an encounter with the living God, and you have to make that choice about me as well.
It is hard for them to say to your face you are a looney tune or an imposter but that is what it amounts to to those of us who are testifying we have had an encounter with God. That would not necessarily be the case by saying I go to church, or that I am a Baptist or a Methodist or a Catholic, because you would not have to draw those kinds of conclusions, to say you are a looney tune, or a liar or you really are a Catholic. That would not make any sense at all. So when you are talking about having a relationship with the living God, those are the only conclusions you are going to have to come to.