Is Jesus The Answer?
WHAT DO CHRISTIANS MEAN WHEN THEY SAY ‘JESUS IS THE ANSWER’?
By Benjamin Raven Pressley
Don’t get mad or just dismiss when a Christian says Jesus is the answer to this culture of hate and fear. Let me try to explain to those who just blanket reject the idea that Jesus is the answer and explain why it is a viable solution or at least a step in the right direction.
When Christians say things like this they are sharing experientially things they have witnessed in their own lives and the lives of others how Jesus so totally changed and turned someone wicked’s life around that it could only be attributed as miraculous and supernatural. We have seen impossible situations turned around for good. We have seen people healed on many levels of need where pills, therapy and doctors have failed.
When Christians make these claims it has nothing to do with religion or going to church. It is not some propaganda effort to convert people to their religion. It is not coming under a set of legalistic guidelines and restrictions that we impose upon ourselves and claim our misery as proof of self-righteousness and favor from some deity that demands we sacrifice and bow before him.
Fact is there is evil in this world. Anyone who denies that is a blind fool. And yes there is a demonic supernatural force driving it, steering it. No, I’m not blaming the devil for everything. I blame humanity because humans have the power to choose good or evil, right or wrong. It is our responsibility. But the devil has made a good case for making self-serving choices. He has manipulated humanity through pleasures, over sexuality, selfishness, vanity, power, racism, hate, division. He has built entire religions around it like Islam, Atheism and even in some Christian churches. He has pulled the ultimate bait and switch by manipulating and creating a culture where people don’t even believe he exists. But again, this does not excuse humanity. Things only have power over us that we give it. WE ALL have the power to choose. The devil, religion or God can’t force us to do things against our will.
So, why Jesus? Because no matter how twisted and distorted people have made Jesus to be, creating a self-serving selfish religion that people have mistakenly accepted as what Christians mean when they speak of Jesus it does not cancel out whom He actually is. Read the Bible for yourself, let the scriptures speak to you, read about what Jesus and the apostles actually taught and don’t go by what this culture has painted him to be. Don’t dismiss him because a religious movement used his name to justify their hate and destruction during the Crusades. Don’t dismiss him because some charismatic self-serving, self-proclaimed prophet in an Armani suit has built an empire bilking naive followers into giving their money to him or her. Don’t dismiss him because of some so-called church that waves hate signs in public.
At the heart of the teachings and message of the Bible is a message that people without the help of a God who cares for them, loves them and is willing to empower them will make bad choices; choices that are self-serving, choices that give them gratification in that moment with no consideration or thought of how it affects anyone else. At the heart of its message is to realize that we as human beings do have the power to choose and that our choices do affect the world around us. At the heart of the message is something most people’s pride will not admit: That we cannot do it without supernatural assistance. We were created with a spirit and a conscience that is weak and fallen and God wants to come alongside us not to condemn us, not to organize another religion, not to make us feel like worms…He wants to set us free. He wants to revive our broken spirits. He wants us to be all that we can be. He wants to give us the edge we need in time of temptation to make the right choice. He wants to empower us. He wants to make us one with light and love. He wants us to love others as much as or more than we love ourselves. He wants to be our friend and mentor. He wants to be the way, the truth and the life.
He offers life and change and unity and hope and peace….And he offers to supply the power to make it happen. He offers to change our nature and connect us back to him and to one another. His message is we all need his help whether we consider ourselves to be good or bad.
That is my attempt to clarify to whomever is listening what it means when Christians say Jesus is the answer. I hope this helps.
HOW CAN JESUS CLAIM TO BE THE ONLY WAY?
By Benjamin ‘Raven’ Pressley
When Jesus came to this planet in human form He appeared to a world that worshiped many idols and false gods. The Romans were the superpower of their day and they had many temples to many different gods and many of these temples had prostitutes that served as priests and priestesses. There were pagan gods like Molech and Baal. People were sacrificing their children to by throwing them in the lap of an image of Molech that had been superheated and burned them alive. Even the Jewish religion of the time had divided up into sects and had added so many laws to the laws given to Moses that made it impossible to live a life that pleased God. They took one commandment about not working on the Sabbath and said, “Well you can’t pull a chair across your dirt floor because that would be plowing and that would be working on the Sabbath and oh, you can’t look in a mirror either because you might see a gray hair and pluck it out and that would be work also.” See what I mean?
But did Jesus come on the scene hating and rebuking everyone and throwing fire and plagues down on the people of the day, no, He declared in Matthew 5:17, “Think not that I am come to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.” In other words He was declaring that all the belief systems of mankind, all the religious ideas they had that they are now fulfilled and satisfied in Him. He was declaring that no more would we have to seek for a way, the truth or eternal life based on some belief system but that He was the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). That was a bold statement. He didn’t just come like Buddha or Mohammed and declare A WAY. He clearly said He was THE WAY, as in the one and only way. That’s no misinterpretation. He did not declare His way to be another way but boldly said IAM THE WAY, THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE. Now most religions acknowledge that Christ was a good man, a teacher sent from God, etc. but when He declared Himself to be the way, the truth and the life that makes Him to either be who He said He was or a lunatic! He didn’t say of Himself that He was another teacher or prophet. He said the ‘buck stops here’.
That should be good news because it clears away all the confusion of what thousands of other belief systems who basically say one must do this or that to be saved and have eternal life. I have honestly and objectively considered many belief systems. I don’t know about them all but I can tell you about many of them and I can honestly say after much consideration that Christianity is the only one that makes sense to me of all of them. Christianity is the ONLY belief system that is honest enough to say we can’t save ourselves, no matter how good we are, that our best is never going to be good enough when considering a God that is so holy and so perfect. Christianity is the ONLY belief system that provides us the way, the only system that admits we need a savior. Christianity presents an honest story of humankind from the creation of this planet and all that is on it, how people rejected God’s plan to walk in relationship with Him in Eden, how God gave humankind the law through Moses just so we would know that they could not even live up to it and then turns the tables on the enemy and all humankind and all religion and says “You can’t do it yourself but I love you so much I will do it for you.” Wow! Think about that! God Himself paid the penalty of sin, fulfilled all belief systems, closed the gap between God and humankind, brought us into a renewed relationship with Him and even declared He would empower us to live the life of holiness and even provided for us that every time we fail He would forgive us, pick us back up and go from where we fell.
1 Timothy 2:5 declares “There is ONE GOD and ONE MEDIATOR between God and man, the man CHRIST JESUS.” That is good news! You don’t have to ‘shop around’ until you find the right religion or person to follow. They are ALL fulfilled in Jesus Christ. People historically have been in search of the unknown god. In Acts 17:16-34 Apostle Paul came to a town that was very religious and had built temples and idols to every god imaginable and just to make sure they didn’t miss any they made an altar with the inscription “to the unknown god”. Paul didn’t blast or rebuke them he just said “Let me declare and present this God to you” and proceeded to tell them about the one and only true and living God. That is what I hope to do today for you in this article.
God from the beginning never abandoned humankind He just refused to take away our power of choice. It was humankind that abandoned God not the other way around. People have historically desired a god they could control, a god they have created in their own image…basically they have desired to be their own god. Think about it. Go back to the Garden of Eden. Get past Eve being tempted to eat an apple she wasn’t supposed to eat and you will get to what she was really tempted by. Turn to Genesis 3:4-5 and read with me for yourself: “And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” The temptation was two-fold: First, set the stage, “Ye shall not surely die”. What was the Satan doing through the serpent? He was getting her to doubt God and get her believing she couldn’t trust her maker. Two, “Your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” There’s the clincher I wanted to get to. Appeal to the human desire to be their own god, to have control. That one-two punch was not just A LIE but THE LIE. To this day human failure to see the truth and trust in their creator is built on this lie.
This is the gospel in a nutshell: Sin came into the world by one man, Adam, we were put back in right standing with God through one man, Jesus. By one man sin entered the world; by one man we are redeemed . How is this possible? Adam was the first man. In his loins were all mankind therefore sin was passed down to every child of Adam, and that includes you, me, all humankind. When Jesus came on the scene sinless, born of a virgin, not of sinful flesh, though he was born of a woman He was born without the curse of sin upon Him. Our sins and the judgment we deserved was placed upon Jesus on the cross. He was the only one who could do this. The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Sin had to be judged. When Jesus died on the cross He paid it all in full. Every sin of every man, woman and child, paid in full!. He was more than a man. He was the Son of God. None of us deserved mercy or love but God is love (1 John 4:8) and He could not help but love the most wicked among us. The entire weight of all the sins that ever were committed and ever would be committed were laid upon His shoulders. His blood was sufficient to take care of all the sins of the world. There was no need to sacrifice animals anymore. Even the law was fulfilled. No need to crucify Jesus afresh. Once was enough. And it didn’t end there. They crucified Him and put Him in a tomb and He even conquered death! He rose on the third day. It is not just a story! He did it for you! He did it for me! So what should our response be to that? If you live a sinful life all the way up to the day you die and do not repent (turn from) your wicked ways you have made a choice without saying a word. You have rejected the salvation offered to you. 1 John 5:17 says, “All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death.” Also read James 4:17, “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” There is a difference between the stumbling in sin and feeling convicted of it and asking forgiveness vs. knowing you are committing a sin and doing it willfully. A person who is living a sinful lifestyle more than likely has not been saved at all. They may have prayed a so-called ‘sinner’s prayer’ or cried off a little guilt at the altar but if they truly did not repent of their sins and commit their life to Christ they will be lost just as sure as if they had never went to the altar. There has to be a deep seated regret for the sin a person has lived. 2 Corinthians 7:9-11 explains: “Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. 10. For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. 11. For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.” This is what is often called ‘conviction’. It is a realization that a person is a sinner and in need of a savior and is followed by God drawing that person to Himself. “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:44). People love to classify sin and say ‘Oh, I’m not as bad as so and so’ but Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” All people are born into sin and need to be saved it isn’t about how good or bad we are. And it is not about making yourself live up to a set of rules. That is legalism. That is religion. The truth is we are supposed to live in a relationship with God and if we truly live in a relationship with God we will just naturally want to live for Him, not because He commands it, but because we want to. Romans 5 ends with these 2 verses: “20. Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: 21. That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.“
As I said earlier, I have honestly and open-mindedly looked into and studied many religions and philosophies and one thing that stands out to me in Christianity is it is the only belief system that admits we cannot do it on our own, that we need a Savior. It could not and cannot be lived apart from God in our life guiding us and empowering us by His Spirit. The truth has not changed. The truth is a person. The truth is still alive and well. His name is Jesus. Call upon His name and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free (John 8:32).
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