Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Gospels should be separate:

Investigative reporter and famous author Lee Strobel in his book “The Case for Christ” points out that when witness’ stories are one and the same they are suspect. In fact it leads one to think about collusion and or conspiracy.

Only since the 17th century have we had an English translation of the Bible that includes the four gospels side by side. Many of us Christians will point out the harmony of the gospels while critics accuse us of conspiracy and contradiction. Because the gospels are grouped together it gives our critics easy opportunities to point out what they feel are direct contradictions in the story of Jesus. One might point out that in the Gospel of Mark 2:25-28, Jesus refers to Abiathar the high priest when in 1 Samuel 21:1-6 the Old Testament clearly tells us that Ahimelech is the high priest. Is Jesus miss-quoted? That is a whole other article.

The four gospels were written separately in different areas of the world and at different times. As Lee Strobel points out it is this reason that gives the Gospels validity. The idea of collusion has no basis to stand on. When the Gospels were written the authors had no idea in time their books would be collected together. God did.

The Gospel of Matthew was written for the Jews. Scholars still debate if the original was first written in Hebrew or Greek. His Gospel is rooted in Hebrew tradition beginning with the lineage of Jesus. The order of events is situated of importance to a Jewish audience. The accounts focus on accuracy in relationship to prophecy within the Old Testament rather than focus on chronological order.

The Gospel of Mark was intended for the Romans. The Roman culture was one of action. They admired individuals who exhibited strong character and determined action. We see Mark using words like “immediately” and points out unequivocal results. Appealing to the Roman culture.

The Gospel of Luke was written for the Greeks. Intellectual minded with a desire for the facts. Greek culture was looking for perfection. With that Luke presents Jesus as the ideal man of that perfection. Also revealing to the Greeks that perfection is one who is not selfish but selfless. Showing Jesus’ love for the poor.

The Gospel of John tends to be written for a general audience. Which makes sense. We often use John’s Gospel in witnessing today nearly 2000 years later. Verse 3:16 are well known. John’s focus is on the fact that Jesus is the Son of God. Reporting on His miracles and deity while Matthew presents Him as the Messiah. Mark presents Jesus as a man of action and Luke describes Jesus as the perfect man. One we should all strive to be.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Why did Jesus have to die?

When you visit the nursing homes you hear a lot of conversations on death, religion and God. There you find parents, sons and daughters, grandparents and great grandparents. You also will see children. Children ask the best questions in my opinion. One question I hear many times over is, “Why did Jesus have to die?” The answer I hear spoken by many is, “Honey, Jesus died for our sins.” Think about that statement for a moment it means absolutely nothing to a child. The worst thing is that same statement means absolutely nothing to a teenager or an adult who is a not-yet believer. I know. I was taught that very same statement. So why are we surprised when a teenager or an adult suddenly becomes defensive when we talk to them about Jesus? By now they have come to believe there are other people far worst than them. In his or her minds the death of Jesus has no value or meaning. We need to tell others the truth. When one asks, “Why did Jesus die?” Look them in the eye and say, “Jesus died for you.”

There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
John 15:13 (NLT)

Why did Jesus die for me? We need to give them an answer. An answer they will understand. If I do not feel guilty of a crime then I will not feel responsible for the consequences of that crime. Even worst if I do not realize I have committed a crime or an offense how can I feel responsible for it? In the unbeliever’s mind they have not committed a crime or an offense. How can you call me a sinner if I do not believe that I am a sinner? There is the root of the problem. What did Jesus do?

When we look at Luke 18:18-24 Jesus tells us how to witness. Pastor Ray Comfort uses Jesus’ teachings in his TV series “The Way of the Master.” Have you ever told a lie, half-truth, a white lie, or an exaggeration? What does that make you? A liar. Have you ever stolen anything regardless of its value? Even when you were a kid? What does that make you? A thief. Ever-used God’s name to express discuss? Instead of using a four-letter word that starts with “S” you use God’s name instead. It is called blasphemy a very serious offense in God’s eyes. You are starting to get the picture. A un-believer must be convinced of their transgressions against God before they can ever come running to Christ in repentance. The rich man walked away from Jesus. Jesus’ objective was repentance not conversion. We must learn repentance first.

Put it another way. You are standing in a courtroom before a judge. You admit to being guilty. Just before the judge pronounces sentence a man you have never met before stands in front of the judge and says, “Judge I have paid for this man’s crime. I have taken and paid in full for this man’s punishment.” The judge looks at you and says, “You are free to go.”

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23 (NLT)

If I myself do not realize my crimes against God how can I come running to our Saviour in repentance to escape the wrath to come? This is why we have so many false converts in our churches today. They are not running to Christ to save their lives. They are walking up to him for life enhancement. A gospel of prosperity is what they are being told.

The truth is Jesus took my place. I deserve to be on that cross. You deserve to be on that cross. He did not die for my sins. He was punished and died for me. It is my sins that required my death. That is God’s law. Jesus died for me. Jesus died for you. Payment made in full. This is why a personal relationship with Christ Jesus is the foundation of our faith. What did it say in John 15:13 above? It did not say no greater love than to die for one’s sins. It says no greater love than to die for one’s friends. Jesus died for you.

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