Classic Christianity – A Closer Look at Jesus Christ P1 (10-05-20)
If your house had a faulty foundation, the house would collapse. So also is it true, that as a Christian or a religious person, if you do not have a firm foundation in what truth is, the person of Jesus Christ, you too will fall with a great crash. So, who is this person of Jesus Christ? Many religious people, and even non-religious people, know something about him, that he influenced history, changed men and nations. You read about Jesus whenever you see A.D. written on a calendar, which means, “the day of our Lord”. Hardly an American has not heard or sung a Christmas carol during the Christmas season, such as “Emmanuel, God with us”, but do you know the significance of what that means? Have you thought about the words to that song, and where they came from?
So why is it important to know about Jesus Christ? What does he have to say about himself? Where did he come from? If he had such an influence on men and nations, where would I look to find out more about him? Let us open up the scriptures, the words written through men who were eyewitnesses of the time that Jesus walked on this earth and who wrote down what he said.
Now, as you read, I challenge you to ask God to reveal to you the meaning of His words, what Jesus is really saying to you and me. It is so easy to hold onto whatever has been taught you by your religious tradition or upbringing, of what someone has told you. If you were to read that Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life”, then what conclusion can be drawn? I heard my grandmother once say that there are many ways to God. But if that is true what my grandmother said, then either Jesus just lied to me, and if he did, then he is not God, or my grandmother lied to me, or was merely passing on what someone had told her was true.
But, when you ponder over the scriptures, you see that Jesus himself said he is God, and there are so many eyewitnesses who confirmed what he said and saw the miracles he did that no man could do. So, be open to the fact that Jesus really could be God, and if he is indeed God, that means he has answers to life you are looking for. Have this attitude of heart, that if I am going to know what truth is, God Himself must reveal it to me. Have this attitude of heart, not on a temporary life, but life that is Christ, that He will live in you forever. This is not the time to have an attitude that I am just going to try it out and see if I like it, and if I do not, I will just walk away. God does not want a temporary relationship with you, but He wants to take residence in you and be with you forever. He loves you unconditionally and accepts you unconditionally. No other person can do that or is capable of doing that.
Sometimes people will say, “Man, what an egotistical thing to say he is the only way. Is that not dogmatic?” Jesus is not being egotistical nor dogmatic. He came from God, and He is telling truth He heard from His Father. He is telling the truth. It is not about a doctrine or a dogma, but it is reality. It is truth just like gravity is truth, and if you walk out of an airplane in flight because you want to get fresh air, you will hit the ground and die. Jesus is talking about the law of sin and death and the law of liberty, of new life in Christ Jesus.
If you fail to come to Christ for life, you will indeed die in your sins. That is what Jesus said. He loves us so much that he left heaven to provide for us freedom from sin and death, freedom from legalism and error and misdirection. He came to take away the consequence of sin, which is death, in order to give us new life, His resurrected life, to be lived in us and through us. That life in Christ Jesus is received by faith, and faith alone in Him, in what He alone accomplished for you through the death, burial and resurrection of Christ Jesus.
A number of years ago when I was in business, in the work I did, we were constantly dealing with the home building business. Although most of those in the home building business were ethical in their business, otherwise they would not survive. But there were those who were not so ethical. In Texas, unlike in the midwest, where you normally have basements. In Texas, because of the soil and construction costs, there were very few homes with basements in them. So everyone builds on a slab. The soil in Texas is sometimes unusual. When working here in Texas, Colichi is in the soil and causes the foundation to crack. There is a wide separation between dirt and concrete. The soil was a shifting type of soil. So it was common to put adequate reinforcement steel into the building of the concrete. There were many people in that business to furnish the reinforcing steel. You see checker-board rods of steel and pour concrete in that and that stabilizes it. When you are taking inspections by the bank, to make sure inspections are done as supposed to be done, you would see builders who would put reinforcing steel according to codes. The inspectors would come by and inspect the slabs are adequate. When they left, people would take some of that reinforcing steel out and put it in the next batch and save some money that way.
Some people, for the purpose of cutting costs, could alleviate altogether the reinforcing steel in the concrete and therefore just put something on the piece of concrete without reinforcement in it and put those on top of it, and would probably look pretty good until sold. So you can put the best of materials on top of that slab, the most beautiful designs on your walls and have ceilings like something Michaelangelo would put together, but if that foundation was not reinforced and not strong and not built properly, then
if not obvious at the beginning, it will be obvious at some point in time that that those are going to collapse. That foundation is the key to the stability of the home, not the walls or the ceiling or type of shingles on your home, or what type of carpeting on top of an inadequate foundation. You can dress up the foundation to look beautiful. The carpeting can make it look like a plush home, but that foundation, which is not glamorous, just concrete, if it is not reinforced properly, that home will crack and even to the point of collapse.
24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
That is so picturesque in regards to the Christian life. We can decorate it and carpet it with plush religious garb, and make it look good. We can walk around in robes like we are holy. We can build buildings with beautiful stained glass, high-beamed ceilings, ceilings that appear awesome. You go to Europe and walk into cathedrals in England and Germany where the fantastic structures were built, and it is dead inside. There is no life. Yet you can go in and start thinking about how awesome this is, and say, “here God is”. That is what religion is, “come into my building for that is where God is.” I got news for you. God does not live in buildings. He lives in people. If that foundation is that He lives in buildings and not in people then you have a cracked foundation that will fall down some day.
24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.
Do you have a foundation that depends on how beautiful walls are or a structure that depends on the fact the house is built on a firm foundation? Because of a firm foundation, I know the walls are going to stand up, the windows are not going to crack and the ceiling is not going to fall in because I know what kind of foundation I stand on. So you are going to live in confidence.
2 Corinthians 5:1
1 For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.
In California, when we lived out there, with the number of homes on the sides of hills, I wondered sometimes, what a view, but what a view if one of those pillars broke, which made the house stand, and those kind of earthquakes and mudslides that occur, and see the pitiful condition of these beautiful homes that slide down hill. Why? Walls not correctly built? Ceiling bad? No. It was on a flimsy foundation. The peers could not hold up.
It is such a picture of what Christianity is like. We dressed it up. We put it in beautiful settings and made people believe this is the real thing. We got plush carpet that would not hold up anything. We have beautiful paint that has no structural benefit to it at all. We have beautiful wallpaper that has no structural value at all. And we have windows and light fixtures that dazzle you but have no structural abilities at all. We ooh and awe over things so temporal and never ask the question, “What kind of a foundation is this built on?” or “What kind of foundation do we have?”
In Christianity, we have the same thing. We have substituted the glitter for reality. Christianity is not made up of nice principles or is it made up of law. Christianity is a person not a creed or code of ethics. It is a person and that person is Jesus Christ.
We are going to be studying from a series called A Closer Look at Jesus Christ. We are not trying to sell books. I am trying to get you to have confidence in this foundation that God has given to you. I want to tell you that you can sit and listen to me all day long or some other radio minister, but I cannot teach you what the word of God means. I can proclaim to you what it is saying. I can proclaim to you what God has revealed to me what it means. That is a one sided deal. God has to reveal to you what it means. Now, certainly when the Holy Spirit lives in you, He has the capability to reveal to you, which He does, to know what it means, whether it is spoken to you or read to you. But our confidence comes when it comes direct from the horse’s mouth rather than eating chewed up food.
1 Corinthians 2:9-10
9 However, as it is written:
“What no eye has seen,
what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived”[Isaiah 64:4] –
the things God has prepared for those who love him –
10 these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.
13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.
What I want you to come to do is what I had to depend upon in my life, to come to what I believe, not predicated on what some man has told me, but predicated on what the Holy Spirit has confirmed and what the Holy Spirit has confirmed in my life as I have been able to approach the word, relying on the Holy Spirit of God with an attitude of dependency, that “Lord, if you do not teach me what it means, I will not know.” I can know what it says and repeat it back like a parrot. For me to know what it means, that is going to change my life. For me to proclaim merely what it says, that might change someone else’s life, if they are listening to that with an open heart, depending on the Holy Spirit to teach him what it means, but that will not do anything for me.
Honestly, that has happened to me, I had proclaimed truth of the word of God before I even knew what it meant. It had not done anything for me yet, but it changed someone else’s life. That is because I did not approach the word of God with an attitude of dependency but rather with an attitude of “I already know what it means, for old Bill told me.” So I cannot encourage you enough to get these study books and open up the word of God with an attitude of dependency, “Lord Jesus, teach me what this means in the depth of my heart, not a casual understanding. I want to really know it.” I do not want reinforcing steel that can be taken away, but I want it coated with concrete so once it hardens you cannot get the steel out of it. I think you know what I mean.
Lesson one is on who Jesus Christ proclaimed to be. If you go to any part of the world and talk to any man of any religion, whether a Christian or a non-Christian but just religious people, and ask, “Who is the most outstanding individual of all time?” You will most likely find the answer to be Jesus Christ irregardless of how committed to a particular religion. If they know any facts, they will have to acknowledge there is no man like Jesus Christ. He is the unique person of all time. He is a person who changed the whole course of history. Even the date on the morning newspaper will bear witness to the fact of this. Jesus of Nazareth. He was not an imaginary figure, for otherwise it would not make sense to have A.D, Annum Domini, the year of our Lord, on our calendar. You are not talking about someone who did not exist, but a man who walked on the face of this earth. So it is not up for grabs of whether Jesus was here or not. What is up for grabs is, “Was he who he claimed to be?”
You read about the life and influence of Jesus, and you will observe that his message will affect great change upon men and nations. History is really His story. It is the story of the life of one man. You remove Jesus out of history, then it would be a completely different story in this world today.
One writer described Jesus’ influence this way.
“Nineteen wide centuries have come and gone and today he is the centerpiece of the human race and the leader of the column of progress. I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched and all the navies that ever were built, and all the parliaments that ever have sat, and all the kings that ever reigned put together have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as has that one solitary life, Jesus of Nazareth.”
You can take Buddha out of Buddhism, Mohammad out of Islam, and in like manner the founders of the various religions out of their religious systems, and little would be changed. But take Christ out of Christianity, and there would be nothing left. It is therefore imperative if we are to honestly accept or reject the Christian faith that we openly explore the facts and thoroughly examine the claims of Jesus Christ.
21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus,[from Joshua, meaning the Lord saves] because he will save his people from their sins.”
22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”[Isaiah 7:14] (which means “God with us”).
It was a mystery to me. I was 36 years of age before I came to Christ. Before then, I heard Christmas songs all my life, never rebellious to them, cried listening to them, and enjoyed every one of them. How many times have we heard, “Immanuel, God with us” yet not have a clue what it meant. It is like having ear plugs in my ear. Never did it enter my mind, that entire 36 years, did I ever contemplate that Jesus is God. I heard he was called the “Son of God”, but I never knew what that meant.
Here in this passage you hear these prophetic claims concerning the Messiah. This familiar passage is sung and proclaimed throughout the world every Christmas season yet the true meaning and impact has been missed and overlooked, not just by people like us, but by the majority of listeners, the message that God is with us.
So, what do you think “God with us“ means? Why do you feel it is important to study the life and person of Jesus Christ? I ask you, “What do you hope to gain personally from this study we are about to embark upon?” “Do you feel the need to know God and draw closer to him?” It is not that you can do something to draw closer to God but to enable your mind to be expanded to the point that you understand His already closeness to you. So many times people say, “I want to get close to God?” How can you do that if He is already in you. But if Christ is not in you, you are not born again, then getting close to God is as simple as inviting God, who is standing at the door of your heart to come in. But once He is in your heart, it is not the idea of getting close to God, but the idea of learning how close He has already come to you. He lives in you. It is like saying, “I want to get closer to my heart.” I got news for you. There is no way to get closer to your heart. He lives in you. Your heart is already there and so is Christ Jesus. Now it is the process of discovering who that is who lives inside of you, if you are indeed born again. If you are not, then to make that very decision today, to ask the Lord Jesus Christ to come into your heart and to give you life, to thank Him for what He did on the cross for you and to receive what He desires to do today in you, and that is to come in you to live. You will never be alone again, to have God come in you with the promise to never leave you or forsake you. It is not a temporal God. When talking about opening a door and letting Him in, it is not talking about a revolving door. But one with a lock on it that once you come in it is closed forever. It is not revolving.
It is important for us to understand who this Jesus is. He is not one who gives and then takes away. Nor is He one whom you receive and then cast away. He sees your heart when you receive Him. If it is true faith, it is not the kind of faith that would say, “I will accept you today, but if I do not like the action, I will reject you tomorrow.” He already sees that in advance. He does not enter into those kinds of hearts.
Jesus dealt with that. In John 2, we read that people saw the miracles he did and believed in him. We would say, “born again.” He said, “No. No.”
23 Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in him. 24 But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. 25 He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.
Christ knows your heart. He knows the time of impact, the time of conversion, of decision time, whether you are coming to Him sincerely or just for a quick fix. He does not enter into quick fix hearts. He enters into people’s hearts who are asking Him to come in you forever. That is who you are. There is no such thing as a God who enters into your heart temporarily. Such a god does not exist. There is no such thing of a god who comes to live in you with an attitude that if I do not like it, I cast Him out. The one true God does not come to live in people’s hearts like that. He waits for you to be willing and ready to have a permanent God and that is Jesus.
We will pick up now on some claims that Jesus made about himself. What did Jesus have to say about himself? If you and I introduce each other, we ask each other questions, such as “Who are you?” or “What do you do?” And we say we were born here and we do this or that. That is all a part of your history. That is all a part of your identity, of who you are. Who did Jesus say He is?
In John 14:6, Jesus told us who he is.
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
That was not good news to a heart that says, “I am a Jew.”, “I am a Catholic.”, “I am a Baptist”, “I am a Church of Christ”, or “I am a Plymouth Brethren”. Such a heart responds, “Do not tell me no one comes to the Father except through you.” “I join by my denomination or natural birth or through my heritage. So do not tell me you come to the Father through you. You come to the Father through something else.” “Some people say you come to the Father through Mary or through Buddha or whoever else it might be.” If that is what you have been taught, I am sorry to say, but according to the word of God, not man’s tradition, but that is a lie. No one comes to the Father through any other person except through Jesus Christ. That is in accordance to Jesus’ testimony. I really do not think he lies and if he does then he ceases to be God and we may as well discount the whole thing.
When Jesus identified himself, he did not say he is a way. He did not say he is a truth. If there are many ways or many truths, then he is just one of them. He also did not say he is a life. In other words, you say “Get a life” then “I am one you can get”. He did not say that. There is no spiritual life available to man except through Jesus. There is no truth except through Jesus. There is no other way to God except through Jesus. Then to make it more clear, in case someone is not hearing what he said. He said, “No one can come to the Father except through me.“ He said, “I am the truth about salvation. I am the truth about the Father. I am the way to the Father. I am the life of the Father.” Everything is tied up in the person of Jesus Christ.
Now, folks, he was not saying that because he was an egomaniac, as if He decided I am me and I am wonderful and you are going to accept this. No he said this because it is truth. It is not the case of being dogmatic. It is not the case of being a doctrine. It is the case of being reality. It is like a person saying you cannot live without water. “You are too dogmatic.” I may be dogmatic, but I am also telling you the truth. You try living without water and you are going to die. “I do not like that.” You won’t like it when you die either. But the fact of the matter is that is truth. “I do not want to eat.” If you don’t, you will die. “I do not like that. That is dogmatic. That is not being liberal.” Well, that may be true, but it is truth. If you do not eat, you will die. You cannot argue with those things.
24 I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins.”
I would like to take a walk as I am flying from Dallas to New York. So I would like to step out of the plane to get a breath of fresh air. If you do, you will crunch on the ground. “Well, I do not like that. ” That is the law of gravity. Change the law. “I do not like that law. I want fresh air.” Well, give it a whack.
That is not dogma nor is it theology. It is reality. It is truth. So when Jesus came and said, “I am life ”, that is not saying, “I am better than Buddha or better than someone else”. It is truth. It is reality. It is not the case of “I am better or less ”. If you believe it you will live and you deny it you will die. That is also truth. You can rationalize these things all day long but the fact of it is, because it is truth, that to deny it you reap the benefit of the denial.
So Jesus is not saying that to keep us under some sort of bondage. He is saying it because we are already under the bondage. He is telling us so we can get free from death, from legalism, from error and misdirection, by saying you are already misdirected.
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