Who Is Jesus? Session 10: Handling the Questions

These are the notes for our final session of Focus on the Family’s Who Is Jesus? study. Click on the links below for the other posts in this series.

 

Answers to “Quote/Unquote” on page 94

  1. We need to draw near to Him.
  2. All truth flows from the very character and nature  of God.
  3. “Look! You’re not listening to me. I saw Him!”
  4. They didn’t just believe that Jesus rose from the dead…; they were there.
  5. To be effective in persuading people today, we have to do it in a relationship.
  6. Sometimes you can get yourselves into a no-win situation.
  7. Admit what you don’t know.
  8. Pray before, pray during, pray after.
  9. We are increasingly a culture of skeptics.
  10. People are afraid of the real Jesus.

We are talking about “handling” the questions; not “answering” the questions. It may be easier to just give someone an answer, but chances are they will just move on to another question, another objection.

Our quest: To know Him, and to be His faithful, effective witnesses (Acts 1:8)

Prepare: 

15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.

1 Peter 3:15-16

Practice:

The more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in battle.

Proximity:

“How can you be salt and light if you’re never around meat or darkness?”

Lecrae

Persuade: 

 

Keys to effective persuasion:

  1. Develop relationships with lost people.
  2. Choose your battles carefully. Remember, you aren’t trying to win an argument; you are trying to win a person. Our ultimate quest is to know Jesus, not to know answers! (John 17:3)
  3. Admit when you don’t know the answers. You will never get someone to admit they are wrong or don’t know something if you never admit you are wrong.
  4. Always gentle, always respectful
  5. Pray! Pray before, pray during, pray after! If we hope that God will grant them repentance (verse 25), then we should be asking for that.

Act wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the time. Your speech should always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person (Colossians 4:5-6)

23 Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will (2 Timothy 2:23-26)

“We should not see unbelievers as enemy combatants, but as prisoners of war.”

What we can expect when we engage unbelievers:

  1. Skepticism
  2. Apathy
  3. Fear: People don’t reject Christ because they’re afraid of not having enough knowledge. They reject Jesus because they are afraid of not having enough control.
  4. Persecution:

10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Matthew 5:10-12

The most important question you will ever face is the one Jesus asked Peter: ‘Who do you say I am?’

Who Is Jesus, Session 9: Is Jesus the Only Way?

This is Session 9 of Focus on the Family’s “Who Is Jesus?” study. 

The big question is, “Did Jesus claim to be  God.” The hard question is, “Is Jesus the Only Way?”

Answers to “Quote/Unquote” Section (page 84)

Q1: Is Jesus the only way? You may end up asking this question more than anyone else.

Q2: Reality is our best friend. We live in a very “one-way” world.

Q3: If I’m a follower of Jesus, I’m going to say what He said.

Q4: A lot of people will try to make you the problem; you’re the one who’s arrogant.

Q5: Jesus also declared that any other way was false.

Q6: We struggle with exclusivity because we think too little of Jesus.

Q7: A monolithic god would be the eternal Alone One.

Q8: There is no middle ground with Jesus.


Exlusivity, intolerance, bigotry, arrogance, narrow-mindedness are all words that are associated with the claim that Jesus is the only way. We shouldn’t be surprised to hear things such as:

How do we deal with the tough question?

  • By realizing that exclusivity makes logical sense. We live in a “one-way” world. There aren’t “many paths” to making a $100 bill, for example, and a gallon of gasoline isn’t a “relative concept.” And if the answers to the question, “How has God revealed Himself to humanity?” or “What does it take to have a relationship with God?” result in contradictory answers, it isn’t logical to say that both of them are right.
  • By acknowledging that humans didn’t make Christianity exclusive… Jesus did. You cannot say you are a follower of Jesus, but that there are many paths to God, when the Jesus you claim to follow said that there is only one path.

Anyone who was merely a man who said the sorts of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher…

C.S. Lewis

  • Mark 8:38
  • Luke 14:26; 22:29
  • John 5:39; 8:16,28,54,56; 14:6,7,9,21; 15:16,23; 17:15

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, 10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11 Jesus is

“‘the stone you builders rejected,
    which has become the cornerstone.’

12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

Acts 4:8-12

“We struggle with exclusivity because we think too little of Jesus and what He did.”

How else might we satisfy the wrath of a holy God?

  • By prayer and asking forgiveness? If so, why did Jesus have to die?

Answering the objections:

Objection: There can’t just be one way to relate to God.

Response: Tell me what you mean by relating to God. For Christians, the key question is, “How do you satisfy the wrath of a holy God?” And if there are multiple answers to that question, then the death of Jesus on the cross was unnecessary and cruel. 

Objection: All religions lead to the same place.

Response: Tell me about that place.

Objection: All religions are basically just different names for the same God.

Response: Tell me about that God.

Objection: Each religion sees part of a spiritual truth, but none of them can see the whole truth.” (The blind men and the elephant story)

Response: What is that whole truth? Can it be known?

Objection: There can’t only be one absolute way.

Response: Why not? Aren’t there plenty of examples of absolutes in the universe? Why do you have a problem with an absolute spiritual reality?

The higher your view of Jesus, the more exclusivity makes sense. The lower your view of Jesus, the less it makes sense.

Conclusions…

  • Logic and reality are our allies.
  • You are not the author of the exclusive claims of Jesus.
  • Remember C.S. Lewis’s “liar/lunatic/Lord” argument (and add “legend” to it).
  • If Jesus is not the only way, then the reality of the crucifixion destroys belief in a good God (Why did Jesus have to die if there could be many ways to a right relationship to God?).

On the video, Tackett plays a clip from The Oprah Winfrey Show. Here is the clip he uses. This is poor quality, but it’s the same clip:

Bonus: What about the innocent guy in the jungle of Africa who’s never heard the name of Jesus? Here is David Platt’s response. If you want to skip directly to the “innocent person in Africa” part, go to the 4:10 mark.

Next Week: Handling the Objections

Who Is Jesus, Session 8: The God Claim, Part 2

Notes from May 18 Who Is Jesus Bible Study.

Here are the notes from this week’s session of Focus on the Family’s Who Is Jesus Bible study. To read the notes for previous sessions, click on the links below:

 

 

In the last session, we began to look at seven key pieces of evidence that Jesus claimed to be God. To recap:

So, let’s look at the next three:

5. Jesus claimed a divine relationship with the Father.

6. Jesus Manifested God’s Divine Attributes

7. Jesus claimed divine titles.

“Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”

Jesus gives Himself the title of Messiah.

Some Problem Passages…

  1. Why did Jesus Himself warn the disciples to tell no one that He was the Messiah (Matthew 16:20; 17:9)?
    • Notice that the rest of 17:9 says, “Until the Son of Man is raised from the dead.”
    • After the resurrection, Jesus tells His disciples to tell everybody! (Mt. 28:18-19)
    • In other words, Jesus wasn’t trying to deny the truth, but to reveal the truth at the right time.
  2. When Caiphas asked Jesus, if He was the Messiah, all Jesus said was “You have said so” (Mt. 26:63). Isn’t that a little weak?
    • We hear that in English and think He is saying something like “Those are your words, not mine.” But in Greek, the meaning is more along the lines of “From your own mouth you have testified to the truth.”
    • Note that in the parallel account in Mark’s gospel, Jesus’ response is, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of power, and coming with the clouds in heaven” (Mark 14:62). This was enough for Caiphas to charge Him with blasphemy.
  3. Jesus called Himself “Son of Man” more often than “Son of God.” Which was He?  
    •  Some skeptics would challenge the God Claim by pointing out that “Son of Man” was used throughout the Old Testament to refer to human beings:
    • However, in the Gospels, Son of God and Son of Man are used interchangeably. As you can see in Luke 22:67-70, the Sanhedrin did not make a distinction between Jesus’ phrase “The Son of Man” and their phrase, “Son of God.”

      This doesn’t mean the New Testament contradicts or is inconsistent with the Old Testament. Daniel, writing hundreds of years before Jesus, establishes the link between “Son of Man” and the Messiah:

      13 “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man,[a] coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. 14 He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.

      Greg Koukl notes that this phrase meant something very significant in ancient Israel. When Jesus used the phrase, the Jews picked up stones to stone Him, because “You, a mere man, are making yourself out to be God.”

      Jesus referred to Himself as the “Son of Man” more than any other title. But you can’t use this to argue that Jesus didn’t claim to be God. Look at how Jesus used that title:

       

  4. “Son of God” doesn’t necessarily set Jesus apart. Aren’t we all “children of God?”
    • Jesus is not using these terms the way we would talk about human beings as “children of God.” Jesus said this to Nicodemus in John 3:16-18:

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

In other words, He is the unique, and and only begotten Son of God!

My Favorite Title For Jesus: “I AM”

56 Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.” 57 “You are not yet fifty years old,” they said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!” 58 “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” 59 At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds. (John 8:56-59)

They weren’t stoning Him for bad grammar!

These Are Claims… Where’s the Proof?

  1. The proof of miracles: “That you may know the son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”–He said to the paralytic–“I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” (See Mark 2:5-12)
    • See also what Jesus said about doing the works of the Father in John 10:24-26; John 10:37-38.
  2. The Proof of Witnesses (Dt. 19:15) In John 5:31, Jesus said that “If I testify about myself, my testimony is not valid.” So he proceeds to list all the witnesses that testify to His claims. And He doesn’t stop with three!
    1. John the Baptist (John 5:33)
    2. The works of Jesus (John 5:36)
    3. God the Father (John 5:37)
    4. Moses (John 5:46)
    5. All Scripture (John 5:39)
    6. The Holy Spirit (John 15:26)
    7. His followers (John 15:27)
  3. The Resurrection (The Greatest Proof) 


Answers to “Quote/Unquote” section on page 74 of the Study Guide:

  1. He spoke as if God were not only His Father, but… as if He had this relationship with God that was intimate.
  2. He called Himself the Alpha and the Omega.
  3. Jesus calls Himself Son of God. That’s no big deal; we’re all children of God, correct? No.
  4. “Son of Man” became equated to Messiah and Son of God.
  5. Jesus was not saying “I and the Father are the same person.” He is saying, “I and the Father are the same thing. We’re one in essence.”
  6. They picked up stones to stone Him not because He got His grammar wrong.
  7. He says, “I am,” and all the soldiers can do is fall to the ground.
  8. You and I are called to be witnesses to who Jesus is, and the final proof is the greatest proof, and that’s the Resurrection.

Next week: Is Jesus Really the Only Way? 

Who Is Jesus? Session 7: The God Claim (Part 1)

Here are the notes for Session 7 of Focus on the Family’s Who Is Jesus? study.

Q1: If Jesus is God, then everything begins to make sense.

Q2: If Jesus is really God, then the consequences are huge.

Twenty years later, when you ask someone on the street “Who is David Koresh?” most people didn’t know. Yet, 2,000 years later, billions of people not only know His name, they still believe His claims. Why?

 

Arguments Against the Divinity of Jesus

Did Jesus actually claim to be God? Seven key pieces of evidence

Q3: He acted as if He could actually forgive the sins of people (Luke 7:44-49)

  1. He led a sinless life (John 8:46;  1 Peter 2:22; 1 Peter 1:19; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb 4:15;

Q4: “I can’t think of another human being whose reputation was actually enhanced the closer you peered into their life.” –Lee Strobel

Q5: Jesus accepted the worship of men (Matt. 14:33; Mt. 28:9). Others in the Bible flatly refused to be worshiped: The angel in Rev. 19:10; Peter to Cornelius (Acts 10:26)

Q6: If He was either delusional, or a deceiver, or even a nice deceiver, you couldn’t call Him a good teacher.

Q7:  Jesus spoke with divine authority (Mt. 7:28-29; Mt. 28:19; John 5:39-40)

Q8: Jesus is either Almighty God or He is arrogant beyond belief.

Among these Jews there suddenly turns up a man who goes about talking as if He was God. He claims to forgive sins. He says He has always existed. He says He is coming to judge the world at the end of time. Now let us get this clear. Among Pantheists, like the Indians, anyone might say that he was a part of God, or one with God: there would he nothing very odd about it. But this man, since He was a Jew, could not mean that kind of God. God, in their language, meant the Being outside the world, who had made it and was infinitely different from anything else. And when you have grasped that. you will see that what this man said was, quite simply, the most shocking thing that has ever been uttered by human lips.

CS Lewis, Mere Christianity

Next Week: The God Claim, Part 2

Who Is Jesus? Session 6: The Resurrection

These are notes from this week’s “Who Is Jesus?” class. The curriculum is from Focus on the Family’s TrueU apologetics material.

Answers from the Listening Guide (p. 56)

  1. Jesus really died, but it was the twin of Jesus that was appearing to people.
  2. Hallucinations are usually a very individual kind of thing.
  3. Somewhere between the time He was put in the tomb and Sunday morning, Jesus revived.
  4. There is no inconsistency in the story of the burial of Jesus.
  5. Over time, a legend begins to be formed about Jesus, and it just gets embellished, year after year.
  6. I think one of the greatest bits of evidence for the resurrection is the changed lives of His disciples.
  7. A legend requires at least two full generations before it can begin to be formed.
  8. If Jesus didn’t really rise from the dead, then the gospel is useless.
  9. How many people will die for a lie when they know its a lie?

Arguments Against the Resurrection

The Twin Theory: Jesus really died, but His twin was the one who people were seeing.

The Hallucination Theory: Instead of seeing the real Jesus, people hallucinated Him.

The Wrong Tomb Theory: Everyone who claimed to have gone to the empty tomb went to the wrong one.

The Swoon Theory: Jesus didn’t really die on the cross. He swooned on the cross, then was revived in the cool of the tomb.

The Inconsistency Argument: Details from the four gospel accounts don’t match up. And because of these inconsistencies, we can disregard the entire story.

The Disciples Stole the Body: In Matthew 27:62, the chief priests go to Pilate and say,

“Sir, we remember that while this deceiver was still alive He said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ 64 Therefore give orders that the tomb be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, His disciples may come, steal Him, and tell the people, ‘He has been raised from the dead.’ Then the last deception will be worse than the first.”

So Pilate orders the soldiers to make the tomb “as secure as they know how” (vv. 65-66). After the resurrection, Matthew 28:12-15 reads:

12 After the priests[a] had assembled with the elders and agreed on a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money 13 and told them, “Say this, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole Him while we were sleeping.’ 14 If this reaches the governor’s ears,[b] we will deal with[c] him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So they took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been spread among Jewish people to this day.

So here are the questions:

The Myth Theory: Over time, a legend began to be formed about Jesus, and it just gets embellished, year after year. 1 cor. 15:3-8 says: “For I passed on to you as most important what I also received:

that Christ died for our sins
according to the Scriptures,
that He was buried,
that He was raised on the third day
according to the Scriptures,
and that He appeared to Cephas,
then to the Twelve.
Then He appeared to over 500 brothers at one time;
most of them are still alive,
but some have fallen asleep.
Then He appeared to James,
then to all the apostles.
Last of all, as to one abnormally born,[a]
He also appeared to me.

Paul is relating a creed that had been established within months of Jesus’ death.  If it truly takes two full generation for a legend to be established, Paul’s statement, “Most of these are still living” refutes this.

The Meaning of the Resurrection:

If Jesus didn’t really rise from the dead (see 1 Cor. 15:12-19)

12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say, “There is no resurrection of the dead”? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; 14 and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation is without foundation, and so is your faith.[d] 15 In addition, we are found to be false witnesses about God, because we have testified about God that He raised up Christ—whom He did not raise up if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, Christ has not been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.18 Therefore, those who have fallen asleep in Christ have also perished.19 If we have put our hope in Christ for this life only, we should be pitied more than anyone.

The Power of Death has been Broken! (Gen. 3:15)

The resurrection of Jesus confirmed:

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