[Darris] Your faith in God, the Bible and Jesus Christ as your Savior is under attack.
Look at this headline from an American news magazine. It questions, "Who Was Jesus?" And the answer given in the magazine is all wrong!
Was Jesus who He said He was - the Son of God - or was He an imposter as this article implies?
The message Jesus brought from the Father lays a claim on your life today. It is the most important message you can hear. Listen carefully because your eternal life depends on it.
Join us on Beyond Today as we seek the true answer to the critical question: "Who Is Jesus?"
[Announcer] Join our host, Darris McNeely and his guests, as they help you understand your future on Beyond Today !
[Darris] The Newsweek article is headlined "The Myths of Jesus." How's that for a starter? It goes on to mention a recent text that says Jesus had a wife. Now this is an old story, there's nothing really new there. It is easily disproved by serious and honest scholarship. Jesus Christ was not married, and there is no historical record - in the Bible or out - that He was.
But then the subhead here in this article goes on to raise the question, "But what do we really know about the historical truth of the early life of Jesus? Even the gospels disagree."
That line of questioning is demonic and it's meant to mislead you. It is meant to destroy your faith.
This type of dialogue reminds me of what I read in the book of Genesis when the serpent tempted Eve with a negative style of questioning. Let's read it:
"Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, 'Has God indeed said, "You shall not eat of every tree of the garden?"'"
Right here Satan posed a negative in what was really a positive matter. God had earlier said, "Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat..."
The way God put it was positive and inviting with clear teaching of what tree to avoid. All trees but one were good - the positive was first, with emphasis. Satan's way is to cast doubt by subtle wording. Satan's way is to rip away faith and belief in God or anything God says. That is why you see a relentless attack against the Bible and the true teaching of Jesus Christ the Son of God.
This article in Newsweek is typical of countless others that rip and tear at the fabric of faith - faith in Him as Creator, faith in His Word that reveals the glorious purpose for human life, and belief in Jesus Christ as the way and the means that you can enter the spiritual family of God.
God has been taken out of public discussion and is not admitted. The Bible is not respected. It's not revered as the Holy Word of God - the basis for all moral and ethical law. It is not admitted into polite discussion today, but this is the root of our most horrific social problems manifested by the violence of shootings, and bombings and strife in our schools and public gathering places, in all parts of today's world.
Articles like this are crafted by intelligent people who are caught up in a world that does not want to admit a knowledge of God or acknowledge that God has any authority or claim on human life. They are unwitting pawns in the hands of a master deceiver - Satan the devil. Are you deceived along with the rest?
It's interesting. This magazine - Newsweek , it's going out of print. It's a victim of the changing digital publishing world. In the future, it will be a digital magazine and whether or not it will survive that form is yet to be seen. That's very interesting. You see the Bible and the New Testament that records the truths of Jesus' life, it's been in print for nearly two thousand years - and the printing presses still churn out new editions of the Book.
The Bible claims to be the Word of God. The life and the teachings, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the central feature of the Bible. The truth of Christ's statements are critical to our salvation. We must have confidence that the story is valid. On this our eternal life depends.
Now consider the reliability of the New Testament texts that have come down to us from the ancient world of the first century. It is recognized by many scholars that the Gospel accounts can be relied upon to be accurate in the critical details of Christ's life. You see the accounts agree in the areas of Christ's mission, His teaching, His death and His resurrection. You can build a solid foundation of faith by reading with confidence the Four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Jesus Christ is not a mythical figure.
What I am giving you on this program is really a fresh perspective on the Jesus that you've always heard about but never completely understood. Let's see what Jesus Christ said and let's look at something little understood or realized about the nature of Christ - and who He really is.
Jesus Christ came as a herald, announcing the Kingdom of God. He expressed by teaching and example the power of the world to come. Those who heard and witnessed what He did for that three and a half year ministry of His, they were amazed. They were captivated by what they experienced. No other teacher, leader or popular figure - no matter how charismatic - had expressed the Kingdom of God the way Jesus did. And they had seen many men try.
Notice what Mark's account says: "Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, 'The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel'" (Mark 1:9-11, Mark 1:14-15).
You see, first century Judea was a world looking for a Messiah. They yearned for the "good old days" and they were willing to listen to anyone who offered hope of freedom. When Christ came along He found a willing audience ready to listen. Willing to listen but not always ready to commit to His teaching and to do what He taught.
And that is the real test of Jesus, the Son of God. Will we, will you, do what He said? Will we listen to His message with open ears and fresh eyes? Will we trade in the old understanding for a fresh perspective on the life and the teachings of Jesus?
Christ came with a message that required a person to change their life and He found an audience of people who were hungry for something better, something new. But when they heard that they must make a change they often drew back. The message they heard was too hard. It required them to actually change their lives.
On one occasion Christ's teaching was so difficult to accept that many left Him. It says, "Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, [they] said, "This is a hard saying; who can understand it?"... [and] From that time many of His disciples went back and walked [no more] with Him..."
Many could not understand Christ's teaching then and many more cannot fully appreciate Christ's message today.
When Christ turned to Peter and asked if he too would be leaving, Peter said, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. ... [and] we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
His teaching is no less challenging for us today. But you can know Him and He can change your life. He is not a myth and He is not to be argued over, with or about. He is to be obeyed and worshipped. Our free study aid that we're offering on this program, Jesus Christ: The Real Story is really the perfect tool to help you understand who Jesus is.
And later in this program I'm going to explain more about this free booklet. In its pages you can learn much more about the Jesus that you may only partially understand.
What if I told you that this Jesus of Nazareth that you read about in the New Testament is also the God you read about in the Old Testament? You know He told the Pharisees at one point, "before Abraham was, I AM."
Now why is this important? It's important because a lot of people jump the track in Bible understanding by looking at Jesus as a kinder, gentler form of God. Much different from the one that they read about in the Old Testament. They see the image of God in the Old Testament as a sterner, harsher more judgmental God - one who ordered the extermination of men, women and children at the hands of Joshua and the Israelite armies.
People for centuries have read the Old Testament stories and they've raised questions about God that create the same kind of unbelief that we see in the questions raised about Jesus in an article like this. People today cannot reconcile the image of Christ in the Gospels with the image of God in the Old Testament. Yet, the God we read about in the Old and in the New is the same!
That's right. Think about that. The God who ordered Joshua and the Israelites to wipe out whole villages of people - including all the men, women and children - that God is the same One who was born of a virgin, took children in His arms to bless, and healed those bent over with infirmities of life.
How could all this be? Probably, the question is: Why must it be this way? That is the better question. Let's examine why.
You have to understand the two images, from the Old and from the New, to really grasp the complete picture - the true picture of God, both the Father and the Son - but especially the real truth of who Jesus is. You cannot fully understand who Jesus is till you get this.
In the book of Joshua, we read of the famous city of Jericho and its destruction at the hand of Joshua. Joshua says to his armies... "Now the city shall be doomed by the Lord to destruction, it and all who are in it" (Joshua 6:17).
You read the account and it shows no one was to be spared.
Going on, "Then the people went up into the city...and...utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old...with the edge of the sword" (verse 20-21).
This is the story throughout this part of the Bible. Men, women and children were killed and their lands taken over by this invading Israelite army. They did this in the name of God and religion and the story goes on and only gets worse.
Israel, under God's instruction - remember the same God who became Jesus Christ - practiced what today we would call genocide upon a native people and they took by cruel force their lands and their homes. This story is where people really get mad and upset with the story of God in the Bible. "How," they ask, "could God do this?"
And this has caused so many throughout time to doubt and to question belief in God. As people today suffer in war or natural catastrophe the same questions are raised: How can a just God allow such suffering? If He is all powerful why doesn't He prevent it?
These are good questions, but they are incomplete. They are asked without understanding. The truth is that raw, unbridled, sinful human nature had its consequences in the life of these nations, tribes and the peoples of biblical history.
So who is Jesus, really?
And here is what you need to understand.
The same God that we read about in the Old Testament is Jesus Christ in the New Testament, walking and teaching among the people of Judea. Notice these scriptures:
"Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all [of] our fathers were under the cloud, [and] all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ" (1 Corinthians 10:1-4).
The Bible reveals that before He became human in the form of Jesus, this Being was known as the Word. Notice what the apostle John wrote:
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made" (John 1:1-3).
These two passages, and there are more, clearly reveal an astounding truth that opens the way for us to understand not only who Jesus is but why He and the Father chose to operate in the universe as they do.
The picture we have of Christ teaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God, healing the sick who are brought to Him out of deep compassion that He felt, and feeding up to five thousand people on a Galilean hillside - this Jesus is not at odds with the image of His actions in telling Joshua to kill sinful people and take their lands.
Jesus looked on the people that He walked among and He wept. He saw they were like sheep without a shepherd. Their problem was the spiritual darkness upon all peoples at all times including our own modern world. Jesus came as the light that shone in the darkness but no man could understand it.
It says, "In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it" (John 1:4-5).
He knew the answer to death and suffering was in His life. A life that would be sacrificed for the sins of mankind. Here is the point: Jesus Christ as God in the flesh chose to put Himself through the same experience, only worse, that He put a woman and an infant through in Jericho and in Jerusalem. He was beaten and crucified on a stake in the most hideous and painful death a human could conceive. He suffered as no man ever suffered. And in this act He experienced, in the flesh as a human, what every human being feels. As we read in the book of Hebrews, He learned obedience. He experienced pain and suffering in the flesh.
He experienced pain, fear and loss. When Jesus cried out to His Father, "Why have you forsaken Me?" He was living the ultimate moment of suffering. You see, Christ even asked, "Why?"
The Bible says, "we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone (made) perfect through sufferings" (Hebrews 2:9-10). Jesus, the God of the Old Testament, who sees and allows the suffering of all humanity came down and lived in the flesh and suffered and He learned in every dimension what it means to be human.
We can now answer the question, who is Jesus? He is God. And today He is alive at the right hand of the throne of the Father. He fully understands the workings of life on this earth. And He is not to be argued about, dismissed as a mythical figure or ignored by those who write such obscene tripe as this magazine article which blasphemes the Holy Son of God.
You should put away such malignant ideas and teachings and begin to understand the true story of Jesus Christ.
That's why the free booklet we're offering today, Jesus Christ: The Real Story is one designed to help you understand more of this fascinating story. It is a guide that will take you through the many scriptures of the Bible that clearly paint a vivid and inspiring picture of Jesus Christ.
In North America, you can receive this free booklet by calling: 1-888-886-8632. That's 1-888-886-8632. Or go online to BeyondToday.tv . If you live outside of North America, to request your free booklet please go to our website or write us a letter at the address on your screen.
It's also available for download to your iPad, Kindle, or your Nook. And as always, all of our publications are provided free as an educational service.
When you request the booklet you can also receive a sample issue of our free magazine, The Good News . Each issue of this bi-monthly magazine contains in-depth articles covering Bible prophecy, Christian living, and Bible-related features. The Good News magazine gives you more information than you receive here each week on Beyond Today . You need this magazine to stay informed and also to challenge your worldview. The Good News breaks through the clutter of information today and it provides a dose of spiritual reality you can't afford to be without.
In addition, I encourage you to visit our website. We are continuing to produce daily video commentaries on breaking news and important topics. Join us throughout the week for BT Daily and get additional material to help you better understand life and hear commentary and analysis on the news.
Don't be afraid to check us out and see whether what we write is true according to the Bible.
I'm joined now by my fellow Beyond Today hosts, Gary Petty and Steve Myers. This has been a unique program for us to cover as we look at what one national news magazine says or raises as a question, what the Bible says. And when we go through this very critical issue of Jesus Christ being the God of the Old Testament and the two images, how really are they to be reconciled?
[Gary] You mentioned Jericho earlier and people really get confused. They look in the Bible and say, God killed those people in Jericho and yet Jesus came preaching a message of love. They say those two things are opposites, but they're really not. You have to understand the concept behind it. God's love does not do away with justice. God's love doesn't condone evil, and that's what people think. And if you think about it, it can't be true. I mean there's an old saying that says, for evil to thrive, all you have to do is have good men...
[Darris] Do nothing.
[Gary] ...do nothing. That's right. So for evil to thrive, all God would have to do is nothing. Well, God loves humanity but at the same time, He's not going to let evil grow and grow and grow until it wins! If God would do nothing, eventually evil would win and that's not going to happen.
[Steve] God says He's love and so is it possible that Jericho and throughout the book of Joshua where they talk about the different instances of destruction, could those be instances of love? And I think when you, you see the overall picture you get the idea that it is. Because as the people came in, God said destroy evil. He expected justice. For them to be the model people, that had to happen. And so He told them to destroy those people. And in fact the Hebrew word that's used there is the word herem - "to utterly destroy" them. And the idea that that brings is that they would utterly destroy those people and be devoted to God.
[Darris] Israel would be devoted to God.
[Steve] Yeah, absolutely. And so it was a type of sacrifice almost - so that their devotion to God was to be holy people, to be God's representatives, to be the model nation. And so there is a connection there - that Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever - so for us, we are to destroy sin out of our lives. We are to be representatives of Jesus Christ. He is to live His life in us and through us. And so the story is the same. Those people, they'll have their opportunity. But for us, we now must live by Christ and that life that He lived should be in us and through us.
[Darris] There is another dimension to this that we did not have the time to cover in this program and that is that to really understand why God did what He did, why Christ as the God of the Old Testament did what He did with those peoples, you have to understand the truth of the resurrection. And that in itself draws you back to Jesus because either He was resurrected or He wasn't. And if He was, which He was, then we have a Savior and everything is different and the hope that those people will be resurrected is there as well.
[Gary] Well Jesus even said, I am the resurrection. So I mean, that's the core. One of the reasons He came was to create a future resurrection.
[Darris] So before we leave this topic, let's be very clear. The God who told Noah to build a boat, appeared to Abraham, led Israel through the Red Sea, appeared to Moses in a burning bush, was also the same God who came down born of a virgin and became Jesus Christ and died for our sins.
[Steve] There is no doubt. And in fact, the story doesn't end there. It goes on because He was resurrected. He is the way, the truth and the life. He is our High Priest. He is our Savior. He is our Lord, our Master, our soon-coming King - all of those things. And so the story goes on and it's consistent.
[Gary] Right. And you mentioned John 1:1 earlier.
[Gary]...where John, it talks about the Word who was God and with God. That's the problem with these kinds of articles. They really deny the divinity of Jesus Christ...
Darris Yes they do.
[Gary] ... that He preexisted, that He was with God, and God, and He was God in the flesh.
[Darris] Yeah that's another whole topic off of this as well, that they deny that He was the divine Son of God. Which if you do that then why even write the article, other than to destroy faith, and that just rips as I said at the fabric of society and takes away any hope that people have. We mention I believe, you did Steve, that John 14:6, Christ is the way. That is such a wonderful verse to help people to really understand that Christ is the way through life today, and without that understanding then life can be pretty miserable.
[Gary] Well you think about what Paul says that God created all things through Jesus Christ. So this creation is the work that God is doing through Christ. He created human life. He came then to teach us what human life is all about. He's coming back as King of Kings to teach all humanity what life is all about. He is the way! He shows us the way to the Father. He shows us the way to eternity.
[Steve] And He's not just, Savior. We can personalize it. He's my Savior. He is my Lord. He is my Master. And I think when we begin to understand God's purpose for our lives, then that begins to help us to see the whole picture that He is, not only a life - the life, the true life, the spiritual life that we can have in God.
[Darris] So He is relevant for a person going through the challenges of life in the twenty-first century today. He understands the modern dilemma of life in this world today.
[Gary] And the reason why is, is human nature hasn't changed. I mean we think we're a little more sophisticated because we have technology but the things that motivate human beings, the things that at the core of us are emotions, what we need, what we want out of life, isn't any different than 500 years ago or a thousand years ago or 3000 years ago. Jesus Christ can relate to anybody at all time as He came as a human being and yes, He is just as relevant today as He has ever been.
[Steve] And coming as God in the flesh! Hebrews 4:15 it tells us that He was tempted in all points as we are. Does He understand us? Absolutely. He knows what it's like. He can identify with us. That whole section there even talks about it. He sympathizes with our weaknesses, so He knows. He experienced it. He understands. So when we pray to Him He knows what we're talking about. He's instantly there to intercede for us and so definitely, He is valid. He knows everything about us and He is there to help and guide us.
[Darris] I think that is why it is so important that we counter this on-going attempt to deny who Jesus was and help people to understand that He is the way, and the answer, and the way to follow through this world and this life today.
Many could not understand Christ because their hearts were hardened by unbelief, and it's the same today. Unbelief and lack of faith is ripping the heart from people - preventing us from drawing close in a living relationship with Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
Christ said He is the way. And indeed He is the way forward through life today. He is the answer for the great questions asked by everyone. Questions like, Where is God? and Why do people suffer? and What is this life all about?
Please, make up your mind today to examine the real story of Jesus Christ. It contains the most important hope you will find in this life. I really challenge you to get both of these offers: Jesus Christ: The Real Story booklet and The Good News magazine. Study them with an unbiased mind and look up in your Bible each verse we quote. Read the context of that verse, the ones before and after, and begin to study the Bible with a heart to examine your deep and long held beliefs against what you find written in the Bible. That's all we ask. We know it can make a positive difference in your life.
I'll be back right after this:
[Narrator] "You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for generations to come" (Exodus 31:13).
The Sabbath is a key to the Kingdom of God . The New Testament book of Hebrews says, "There remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God."
Jesus and His followers kept the Sabbath and they still do today. God commands us to pause and reflect on His way of life. Take a break from the fast paced action of this world. Experience a rejuvenation of the mind and grow closer to Him. Join us as we explore the Sabbath and show how it is a key to the Kingdom of God.
The United Church of God is hosting free Kingdom of God Bible Seminars held around the world. Go to KOGSeminars.org to find one near you. Kingdom of God Bible Seminars - giving the message of hope for tomorrow - beginning today!
[Darris] Thanks for joining us. Don't forget our free offers. Tune in again next week for another edition of Beyond Today and please join us in praying, "Thy Kingdom come." For Beyond Today, I'm Darris McNeely. Thanks for watching.
[Announcer] For the free literature offered on today's program, go online to BeyondToday.tv. Please join us again next week on Beyond Today!