Who Is Jesus? Session 10: Handling the Questions

977235These 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.

 

Who Is Jesus S10.1

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:

Who Is Jesus S10.2

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?’

Today in Christian History: June 1


On this date in 165 AD, Justin Martyr was scourged and then beheaded after he refused to sacrifice to the pagan gods. Justin was born in the biblical city of Shechem, and early in his life followed the philosophy of Plato. But his life was changed when he realized God was pursuing a relationship with him through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. In his first Apology, he took parts of the Bible that the pagans found hard to believe and observed that the pagan myths were much harder to accept and often contradicted each other. According to Lang’s Christian History Devotional:

Perhaps the most appealing statement in the Apology is “never was the crucifixion imitated in any of the so-called sons of Zeus.” Justin had hit upon the core of the gospel: a son of a god—rather, the one Son of the only God—gave himself up, the innocent suffering in place of the guilty.

Today in Christian History: May 30


In 1972, Née Shu-Tsu, better known as Watchman Nee, died in a Chinese prison. As the founder of over 400 local churches, Watchman Nee was a threat to the new Communist regime, and so spent the last twenty years of his life in prison, allowed no visitors except his wife. 

When the authorities cleaned out his cell, they found this scrap of paper:

“Christ is the Son of God who died for the redemption of sinners and was resurrected after three days. This is the greatest truth in the universe. I die because of my belief in Christ. Watchman Nee.”

Information taken from J Stephen Lang’s The Christian History Devotional

Today in Christian History: May 29


G.K. Chesterton was born on this day in 1874.  Chesterton was a larger-than-life personality (literally–6’4 and over 300 pounds). He was a great influence on CS Lewis. His best known work, Orthodoxy, is the source for some of my favorite quotes:

The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.

Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.

There are two ways to get enough. One is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less.

The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.

Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.

Dear Sir: Regarding your article ‘What’s Wrong with the World?’ I am. Yours truly,

G.K. Chesterton

For more words of wisdom, check out this article from Relevant: 15 Chesterton Quotes That Will Shape Your Faith

Today in Church History: May 27

John Calvin, arguably the greatest post-biblical theologian who’s ever lived, died on this date in 1564, and was buried, according to his wishes, in a plain coffin in an unmarked grave. He didn’t want to have a “Calvin cult” spring up around his personality or teachings. How ironic that Calivinism (or even the accusation of it) has become such a divisive issue for the church today. 

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

Who Is Jesus S9.1

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:

Who Is Jesus S9.2

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)

6-blind-men-hans

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?

Who Is Jesus S9.3

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

Today in Church History: May 20

In 325, the Council of Nicea convened on this date.  At issue was the nature of Jesus. Was He “of similar substance” to God the Father, or was He “of the same substance?” 

Why does that matter? J. Stephen Lang, in The Christian History Devotional, seems to be saying it doesn’t. That it was a nitpicky argument over a vowel (“similar substance” to the Father is the Greek word homoiousios;  “same substance” is homoousios):

This sounds to us like useless nitpicking. All Christians agreed that Christ was the divine Son of God and the Savior of man. Why was it important to determine if he was “like” or “same as” God? Had it only been a theological matter, Constantine could have ignored it. But there were actually fights breaking out between the supporters and opponents of Arius’s view. —Lang, Christian History Devotional, May 20 entry

 Lang leads off his entry for today with the admonition from 2 Timothy 2:23: “Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels.” The implication is that this argument over the nature of Jesus fits the category of foolish, ignorant controversy. But this verse applies to issues like the color of the carpet, or whether the youth should go to Six Flags or Cedarpoint this year. The Council of Nicea had slightly weightier matters on its agenda.  The Gospel Coalition does a good job getting to the essence (sorry!) of the issue with this infographic:


Does it matter? Absolutely it matters. On this day in Christian history, the lesson for me isn’t that we should “pick our battles,” but that there are matters of faith and doctrine that are worth zealous defense. I’m thankful for how God shaped Christian history through councils, creeds, confessions, and catechism!