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Examine the Evidence

In Matthew 16, Jesus posed the question to His disciples. “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” The disciples replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” These were dead men who the people believed had come back to life as Jesus. But Jesus turned the question to His disciples. “But what about you? Who do you say I am?” Was Jesus having an identity crisis or was He just trying to determine their foundation of belief? Were they getting to the truth yet? Peter confessed, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” After living with Jesus for a few years, they finally understood!

So the question is now posed to us, “Who do you say Jesus is?” Some would say Jesus was a good man. Some would say He was a prophet. Some would say He’s a myth; someone designed a religion around this mythical character. But we all have to wrestle with this question because it is foundational to how we live our lives. Let’s examine the evidence for the case of Jesus. Pastor Louie Giglio said in a message recently, “Investigation brings revelation, and we will come to know the reality of Jesus.”

Jesus said He is God – the great I AM. In John 10:30, “I and the Father are one.” Jesus did not die because of the things He did, but what He said about Himself. The Jewish leaders accused Him of blasphemy because of His claim to be God. Jesus claimed it and as proof did miraculous things. Whatever He claimed He backed up with His works. The biblical accounts of Jesus found in the Gospels attest to these works. These were eye-witness accounts of Jesus’ life. The disciples point to Jesus by the way they lived after His death. Something happened that changed their fortitude. At the death of Jesus, they were afraid – hiding from the Jewish leaders fearing that they would be next. However, when Jesus – who claimed that He would die and rise again – did what He said He would do, everything changed.

Jesus was seen after His death. The disciples became empowered by the Truth. The foundation of their beliefs was realized in that moment when they could touch Him and see the nail scars in His hands and feet. It has been noted by historians that each disciple died because of what they believed. They could have recanted and lived; but they died because they knew the truth. John was the only disciple who lived to be an old man. But it wasn’t for the lack of trying to kill him. Many attempts were made, but God allowed him to live so that he could give the revelation of things to come.

But if you don’t believe the Bible, is there other proof of Jesus’ existence? What do we have to point to Jesus’ life – that He was real? Pastor Louie pointed to the Rosetta Stone in the British Museum. It was discovered in Egypt and was dated from 186 B.C. If nothing else, there is a break in history: Before Christ and After Christ. There were many historians from that time period noted the significance of the events that changed people’s lives. Josephus is one of the main historians of that era that notes the Christian religion. There were others too. There was something different about these Christian people.

Pastor Louie noted from Josh McDowell and C.S. Lewis that there were three ways to consider Jesus – he was a liar; he was a lunatic or He is Lord. One of these is the truth, and we have to determine by the evidence given by Jesus’ claims; His actions about His claims; by historical evidence of these accounts; and by changed lives of those who believe. This is foundation truth that will change how we live.

If Jesus is Lord, then that changes everything. Our circumstances can be seen through that lens. If Jesus brings something into our lives, then it is for a purpose. We are told to endure it because it will strengthen our faith. It will give us greater understanding of Jesus’ character during those trials. We can believe what Jesus said about Himself because He proved it on the cross. He loved us enough to die for us and give us eternal life if we just believe He is who He says He is. Examine the evidence and settle the issue in your heart. There is no greater time than in the present. Investigation brings revelation. Settle the matter and live as you believe it is true.

The scroll of Isaiah the prophet was handed to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where this was written:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released,
that the blind will see,
that the oppressed will be set free,
and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.”

He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue looked at him intently. Then he began to speak to them. “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!” Luke 4:17-20 (NLT)

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It’s Inevitable

Can it get more bizarre? We have less than a week now to one of the biggest elections in my lifetime. I remember Watergate. I remember Carter’s presidency. I remember Bush/Gore election and waking up the next morning to find out who actually won. We’ve had a few twists and turns throughout our history, but really can it get any worse? But God is in control of all of it, and He is never surprised. He knows exactly what’s happening here and knows how it’s all going to turn out. I know God’s hand is in this election process. I mean, really. God has been all over this election period from day one when each candidate chose to run; and when each and every one of them dropped out until we’re left with these two.

And here we are with six days to go. On Wednesday next week, life as we know it will go on. Change will happen regardless of who is behind that desk in the oval office. Change is inevitable. We either go with it or fight it, but it’s going to happen regardless. After all, God’s Word has already told us things are going to spiral out of control in the last days. Yes, the last days have been since Jesus returned to heaven. But He told us it’s going to be like a woman in labor. The pains will come closer and closer together until that moment of birth.

I think we can all agree that the pains have grown closer and closer over the last several years. God’s word tells of the prophecies in the end, and we’re seeing a good bit of these things today. He tells us to be watchful and anticipate the end. I have struggled with the concept that all this (picture hands waving in the air) will come to an end one day. I have read Revelation – I know what it says about the end of time. But to believe that one day I could actually see it come to fruition seems a bit far-fetched. Why did He choose us to go through this period (if it truly is the end)? We could have all been born in a different century.

I don’t know when we can anticipate the rapture; before the tribulation period or after or maybe right in the middle; who knows? I do believe we’ll have to go through some times of suffering. Pruning will have to happen – to each of us personally and to the Church Body. Branches have to be pruned in order to be fruitful. These last days will be fruitful and persecution of the Church is inevitable – every branch of the church no matter where it is located needs some pruning. The American branch has been sitting pretty for a couple of centuries, but things are going to change. It has to. God foretold it in His Word. If God said it, then it will happen just as He said. Persecution is coming; it’s just a matter of time.

The thing about persecution, we are told to count it as joy when we experience suffering (James 1:2). In the early days of the church, the apostles rejoiced after being flogged because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name (Acts 5:41). In 2 Corinthians 11, Paul “boasts” about all the suffering he endured for the sake of the Gospel message. Of course, that was back in the day; surely we won’t have to endure such things, right? I cry over a stubbed toe!

I have noticed that we don’t get out of this life without some kind of suffering. If we are doing God’s work, then we will suffer in some way. Satan hates God and because of his hatred of God, he hates us. Anything Satan can do to thwart the plans of God, he’ll do it. Satan will try to take us out, but nothing can get to us unless it comes through God. God will only allow suffering for His purpose. Suffering will purify our faith. Count on it. And count it as joy because we have been counted worthy to suffer for His Name. Let it be as He said. And let us be found faithful to the tasks in this time and place for we are here for such a time as this!

“Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.

Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.” Revelation 22:12-14

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