Classic Christianity – A Closer Look at Jesus Christ P5 (10-13-20)
If you were to visit Israel, you would see the Sea of Galilee, and those places recorded in the scriptures where Jesus had been, on the boat with Peter, and who had walked with Peter, James and John. Here is God in the flesh. Would you have recognized him as God? He claimed to be God, but he looks like just one of us, human. We know his father and mother, Joseph and Mary. Well, Joseph was assumed to be his father. We also know his younger brothers. How hard it must have been for them in those days to know Jesus is God unless there was also additional evidence that he is. Let us explore further the evidence of his claims to be God.
Still today, people will scoff at that, those things Jesus said concerning himself. “How can a mere man claim to be God?” The truth is, he is not a mere man, and he was born from a virgin, so His Father truly is God, and Joseph is really like a step father to him while he walked on the earth. But God is Spirit, Jesus is God, and so Jesus is both God and man. Jesus is telling the truth about himself. What does he want us to know, so we might have life in His name?
So, as you listen today, follow along in John 6 and John 8, and look up other passages in scripture, what Jesus says concerning himself. Ask the Lord to open up your heart to get to know God personally. “If you have seen Jesus, you have seen the Father.” What is he saying here? Do we need to seek the Father? Do we need to seek the Holy Spirit? No. When you have the Son, you have the life for life is in the Son. And if you have Jesus the Son, you have the Father, and the Holy Spirit is sealed in you forever. There is nothing more to seek, when the Spirit of God is living in you.
The Holy Spirit came to reveal Jesus as God to us. The Father sent Jesus into the world to do something for us we could never do for ourselves. You are not going into the scriptures to know about God, but to enter into a personal relationship with the living God. He is not a character in a book. He is not someone to study about in a book. He is someone to experience in your life. When Christ is real to you and you know Him and He knows you, and you experience daily His love, His forgiveness, His mercy and kindness, and His fellowship and all of those things that come from a personal relationship with the living God, you are not seeking anything anymore.
What a marvelous privilege to share the good news about Jesus Christ. If you were to visit any part of the world today, and asked anyone of any religious background, “Who, in your opinion, is the most important and outstanding person out there of all time?” I think you would be hard pressed not to say Jesus of Nazareth. Whether you accepted him as God or not, I think still you would have to agree that there is no man that ever lived like Jesus of Nazareth.
Even to the point as we discussed last week, that our calendars have been divided by B.C, before Christ and A.D., Anno Domini, that is of Latin origin, meaning in the year of our Lord. Isn’t it strange that in a world that really denies the deity of Christ as a whole, still our calendars are divided by B.C and A.D. And so, we have to take a look at the claims that Christ made about himself. You would almost think that would be unimportant to do until you realize that in the religious world today, and even in the so-called Christian world today, that there is a denial of the deity of Jesus Christ.
It is a staggering thing when you realize the statistics that have been published of all of the seminaries. That involves all of the seminaries of every denomination that is in this country. Of all of the seminaries, that are saying we are Christian seminaries, that in those, I believe the figure is something around 90% of the professors teaching in those seminaries, deny the virgin birth and the very deity of our Lord Jesus Christ. We wonder why our people are messed up. It is because our teachers are messed up.
Quite frankly, until some place at some time, some kind of a massive sweep takes place in seminary, of getting rid of intellectual professors, who are denying the very essence of Jesus Christ, we can never expect our churches to be any different than what they are. The people standing in the pulpits are a by-product of the seminaries they went to, and how in the world can they ever stand in the pulpit and proclaim Jesus Christ with boldness as to who he is, if they have had four or five years of training as to who he isn’t. So, it is a vitally important thing.
On the other side of the coin, you go in and try to do that today, and with the governmental human rights with everybody, you are going to have a real tough time cleaning out the seminaries. There have been people who have tried to do that and have literally been, in essence, nailed at the stake in an attempt to try to get professors who agree that the word of God is the inerrant word of God, that Jesus Christ is God, that he was born of a virgin, the very basics of the Christian faith. You go out and try to jar someone out of a teaching position in a Christian seminary, and a Christian seminary who holds to the very opposite of that teaching, and you are going to find yourself in a great deal of trouble legally. Yet we say there is a separation of church and state. There is only a separation of church and state as it relates to the state saying to the church, “Don’t get in my business”. But the state says, “For darn sure I am going to get in yours.” So, it is one of those things. It is a part of the country that we live in today.
I was talking just the other day with the chaplain, Ray. Many of you know him from his radio ministry and his prison ministry that has been going on for years and years and years. And he is taking something like 20 trips over to Russia in the distribution of bibles over there. And as he said, “it is a strange thing” and chaplain Ray is probably in his late 60s, but as he said, “I have seen this country. We are trying politically and every other way to be like Russia was. Russia is over trying to be like we were. In other words, they are trying to get free, and our government is trying to get us back into socialist bondage.” And so you look at that and it is almost impossible to believe what is taking place in this nation today. But yet it is taking place.
Now, with all of that said, the solution is not getting involved, I do not believe, in politics. I think the solution is a refreshed, new dedicated proclamation of the person of Jesus Christ with no apology at all, that Christ Jesus is precisely who he claimed to be, and that is God. He said in one place, “I and my Father are one. If you have seen me, you have seen the Father.”
As we talked about last week, that is not a statement that was misunderstood or misquoted or recorded wrongly. The Pharisees themselves picked up stones to stone him for that very statement. He asked them, “Why are you picking up these stones? For which one of the miracles I did do you want to stone me for?” They said, “it is not because of any of these miracles we are stoning you for, but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”
So Jesus was coming through loud and clear in regard to who he was claiming to be. He said, “I give you eternal life and no one will ever perish and no one can snatch them out of my hand.” And he went on to say, “my Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all and no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.” Then he went on to say, “I and my Father are one.” Once again, the same reaction. They picked up stones to try to stone him to death.
We have to realize that Christ claimed himself to be exactly who he is, and that is God. He did not try to hide that truth. He proclaimed the truth. He told the Jews, “your Father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day and he saw it and was glad.” So their reply is, “you are not yet 50 years of age, and you have seen Abraham?” Jesus said, “I tell you the truth that before Abraham was born, I am.”
In so answering in that fashion, that “I tell you the truth. Before Abraham was born, I am”, he was identifying himself with Exodus 3:14 when God said to Moses, “I am who I am”. “This is who you are to say to the Israelites. ‘I am has sent me to you’.” So, once again, to the very declaration of being the “I am”, he was identifying himself as who he is, and that is God.
So, the people that deny the deity of Christ by saying that Jesus never claimed to be God just did not understand the scripture because he was coming through loud and clear. Their violent reaction to his claims make this very obvious. They tried and ultimately eventually killed Jesus, not for what he did, but for who he claimed himself to be.
Now, as we open up our study today, we are going to open up in chapter 2 because it is one of the options you have to deal with in regard to a man claiming himself to be God. As we talked about before, he was either insane or he was a con artist, a madman, or he was truly God in the flesh. We are going to take a look and see which one of those two he is.
If you have your workbook, we are going to be studying through a Closer Look at Jesus Christ, out of our Classic Christianity study series. We are beginning now on lesson 2, titled A madman or God in the flesh. I do want to encourage you that if you have not picked up a copy, in order to go along with us as we are teaching on these editions in regard to the person of Christ and the deity of Christ, that you certainly do so.
I guess I would have to say that if there is one bible study book that would be without question that you should not be without, it would be this particular bible study. It is the foundation. Christ is the foundation of the entirety of the Christian faith. He is the foundation of our very life. If we are not grounded in that foundation, we really are not grounded much of anything. We try to put walls on top of a flimsy foundation, we are going to find that thing is going to crack some day. So, to me, I do not think there is a more important subject for believers to study than the person of Christ and who he is and who he claimed to be. Quite frankly, there is no more important subject than what we are talking about right now.
So, I am not saying that to sell books. We do not need to sell books. I am saying it for the purpose for you, as listeners, to have an opportunity to take full advantage of this teaching time, not just listening to what one man is saying to you, but being able to go into the word of God and let the word of God speak to you.
Let us begin in John 4:24.
24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
So now as we look at that, we say, alright then how does the word of God and how does Jesus describe God in that verse? Well, as Spirit. God is Spirit. You must worship Him in Spirit and in truth. That is kind of a far cry, is it not, from very major religious organizations that teach that God is merely a glorified man. That negates that philosophy doesn’t it, that God was just a man who was glorified? That is a ridiculous thought to begin with, but there are huge denominations that teach that. They are not true Christian denominations, but huge denominations who teach that God was just merely a glorified man. Jesus did not say that. He said that God is Spirit and you must worship Him in Spirit and in truth. So, that is how we worship Him, in Spirit and in truth.
18 No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.
So it says no one has ever seen God, but God has made Him known. What he is talking about is that no one has ever seen the totality of God, but God the Son, the one who is at the Father’s side, has made Him known. That is how we get to know God today, through the person of Jesus Christ. You take a look into the Old Testament. People, again, how did they identify their God? “I am the God Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I worship the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I worship Abraham’s God. I worship Isaac’s God. I worship Jacob’s God.” That is all they really knew. They did not understand the triune God. They did not understand that God is God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. They did not understand that at all. As a matter of fact, there was not any way for anybody to fully understand that until Jesus came to reveal that truth to us.
Now, he continued in his testimony.
23 But he continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world.”
Man is from below. God is from above. So Jesus was identifying himself as one who came from above and he was doing that to us, whom he said are from below.
38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.
In other words, to do the will of the Father. Once again, identifying himself as one who came down from heaven, not one of us who were born of earth. He said he came down from heaven. Now he was born physically here on this earth, wasn’t he? But his being came down from heaven.
46 No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father.
He is talking about Himself. Only Jesus has seen the Father.
So, once again, Jesus was saying if you want to know the Father, you are going to get to know me. It is a strange thing, again, what I see in some evangelical circles today, where there is a new emphasis that I see developing, and people talking about, about the Fatherhood of God, talking about getting to know the Father more. They are out seeking Old Testament passages, and seeking this, to try to get to know the Father, where Jesus said, “if you want to get to know the Father, you are going to get to know me.”
So here are people, once again, I think, who are getting bored with Jesus. In other words, saying, “he does not have any meaning to us.” That is true if all he is is a character in a book. Christ is alive, and he came to live inside you and me. He is not a character in a book. He is not someone to study about in a book. He is someone to experience in your life. When Christ is real to you and you know Him and He knows you, and you experience daily His love, His forgiveness, His mercy and kindness, and His fellowship and all of those things that come from a personal relationship with the living God, you are not seeking anything anymore.
9 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
Jesus said you will find me, to knock and the door will be opened. Who is he talking about? Himself. “When you come to me you will never thirst again. Anyone who comes to me will never be hungry again.
13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty
When I see so-called evangelical Christians running around, and very popular ones incidentally, talking about seeking, I have to say, “No wonder you are seeking because obviously you have not found. No wonder you are knocking, because you have not found. Why would you be seeking? Why would you be thirsting when he says when you come to me you will never thirst again, and when you have eaten of me you will never be hungry again? Why in the world are these people representing themselves as Christian leaders? Why are they hungry? Why are they seeking? Why don’t they find?” What they are looking for is in the person of Christ Jesus. When you have found Him, you have found it all. There is nothing else to seek after you have found Him. There is nothing else to look for after you have found Him. It would be more accurate to say after He found us.
We have gone through the same thing when everyone is looking for the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit came to reveal Jesus. Recall what Jesus said.
26 “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father – the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father – he will testify about me.
13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.
The Holy Spirit is here. We do not need to examine and study the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit came to reveal Jesus to us. What the Christian world is missing is the fact that when we have Christ we have it all. We are not out to seek Trinity. We do not have to seek the Father and the Holy Spirit. They all came to reveal Jesus. When you have Him, you have it all. So, I would pray that people who are getting into this type of thing, instead of taking off in a seeking process, for something he did not tell us to seek, will get back on course and be satisfied with their relationship with the living Christ, who lives in us and is our only hope of glory.
Now, again, where did Christ claim to be from?
33 For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
He identified himself as the bread of God. Remember he called himself the bread of life.
35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”
Where did he come from? Down from heaven. What did he come to give? Life to the world. What kind of life? Spiritual life.
24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
Jesus is God. What did he come to give us? Spiritual life.
41 At this the Jews there began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?”
Once again, what were they thinking of? Well, the physical. “This guy is Joseph’s son. We know his father. We know his mother. How can he say he came down from heaven?” I think one of the things that I saw when I had the privilege of going over to Israel a number of years ago, walking by the sea of Galilee, taking a boat trip on the sea of Galilee, seeing places in Jerusalem, looking at people out on their boats, looking exactly like they did back in those biblical times, realizing those men out there, just kind of visualizing that could have been Peter and James and John, all those guys out there on those fishing boats. Then one of those guys climbs out of the boat and says, “I am Jesus of Nazareth. I am God.” I want to tell you, it brought me to the fact of how difficult it would have been to have believed had you not seen the evidence in his own life. It would have been a very difficult thing. We kind of look back and say, “How can those guys be so stupid? He was right there!” In some instances, it would be harder than it is today. For today, we have the Holy Spirit of God living in us who is bearing witness to that truth all the time. Of course, they did not have that until after his death, burial and resurrection. That did not happen until the day of Pentecost.
50 But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”
I believe that when Jesus is identifying himself as the bread that came down from heaven, he is establishing where he came from. As mentioned, that would be a very difficult thing because he is a human being, and you would know his mother and father. And Joseph was assumed to be the father. It was not true, but it was the assumption. But they knew his parents. Later on, Joseph and Mary had additional children, so they also knew his younger brothers. And so, that would have been a difficult thing. Here is a person you knew physically, claiming to have come down from heaven. I really do not have as much of a problem, especially being over there, seeing that. I do not have as much of a problem understanding the confusion of the Pharisees, especially in light of the fact that the Holy Spirit of God had not been given to man as yet. Until after his death and resurrection, the Holy Spirit of God did not live in man.
(If you do a word search on the “Spirit of the Lord came”, you will see evidence of how the Holy Spirit came upon people in the Old Testament for a specific purpose.)
Now, I believe the Holy Spirit, as told in the Old Testament, came upon man for divine action and for divine revelation. So it was possible, obviously or the apostles would not have been there. It was possible for the Holy Spirit of God to have been moving on people for people to believe. In other words, helping them to see beyond the physical into the reality of the spiritual. He was claiming, therefore, to be the bread of life and came down from heaven.
58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.”
There again, I think that it is important for us to say, in comparison to what he is talking about here. He was talking about forefathers who ate manna. There was a Sabbath rest available to the Jews in the desert. They did not go in. They refused to go in because of their unbelief.
(You can read the account in Numbers 13-14, of the unbelief of the Jews and the result of having to wander in the wilderness for forty years.)
16 Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? 17 And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies perished in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? 19 So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.
So instead, they settled in the desert, chowing down on manna. They died in the desert just chowing down on manna, furnished by God all the way but never entered into that Sabbath rest. So what was he saying here? “Here is bread that is different from the manna that kept you alive physically. That bread I offer to you is the bread of eternal life.” It is the Sabbath rest we have the privilege of entering into. It is the bread that came down from heaven. It is not just bread that could be made here on earth. It is bread and it is eternal. There again is a picture of eternal life that comes from faith in his physical death on a cross and his spiritual resurrection following the cross.
62 Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before!
Jesus is claiming to be an eyewitness of two things, from above. There are many scriptures that amplify that He was saying that. “What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before!” Jesus is saying, “You are not only looking at me but you are going to see me ascend. You are going to see me go back to where I came from.”
24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
How did Christ describe God in John 4:24? He described him as Spirit.
19 Then they asked him, “Where is your father?”
“You do not know me or my Father,” Jesus replied. “If you knew me, you would know my Father also.”
What we were just talking about. “If you want to get to know the Father, you get to know me. If you knew me, you would know my Father.”
8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”
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’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.
44 Then Jesus cried out, “Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. 45 The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.
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