Don’t Ask Me That: I AM-IDENTITY

It seems pretty clear—that the first followers of Jesus worshiped him, seeing him as much more than a regular rabbi/teacher, he had an authority which set him apart, but what if these followers were just wrong or mistaken. We need to take the next step and allow Jesus to speak for himself. Some critics say, “If Jesus knew what people were saying about him, he would be rolling in his grave!” Yet, from the lips of Christ came the words which set him apart and which brought about an identity:

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I AM: IDENTITY (John 8:56-59/ Mark 14:62-64) Let’s look at two separate episodes in the life of Christ which give us red-letter moments which stand out. As Jesus was talking about his teaching he promised to set the Jews free, and they bristled at the idea, calling themselves descendants of Abraham and Jesus’ response is worth noting:  56 Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.” 57 “You are not yet fifty years old,” they said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!” 58 “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” 59 At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.

You see the instant response—to you this may seem like a little bit of overkill, overreaction, a need for anger management, but the Jews who are versed in Scripture instantly recall the power of the I AM—from Exodus 3. Jesus had just used the eternal name of God as His own! Just as God gave the name to Moses as a means to setting free the Israelites in captivity, Jesus gave the name as a sign that he was sent to set free mankind from an even greater enemy than Egypt: sin. In Mark 14—he solidified this by using his most popular title for himself, Son of Man62 …Jesus said. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” 63 The high priest tore his clothes. “Why do we need any more witnesses?” he asked. 64 “You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?” They all condemned him as worthy of death.  If you had any doubt about how Jesus saw himself, think again, he connects himself directly to the prophecy of Daniel, who saw coming from the clouds a god-like Son of Man, sent from heaven to receive all authority on earth forever, to be worshiped by all people, receiving God-like worship.  Again, if you doubt that interpretation, look to the first hearers response for clarity. They were ready to get the rocks out and stone him, again!

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Continue reading “Don’t Ask Me That: I AM-IDENTITY”

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Don’t Ask Me That: Jesus Identity?

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Who do you say I am? It was the question that Jesus asked Peter. It is a question that is sometimes ignored, other times laughed away, but the question remains–who is Jesus? Some say just a person, others a prophet, still others the very presence of God. As the arguments seems to go: Jesus was clearly a good moral teacher or prophet but why are you trying to make him into God? Even the church comes up with different answers. It was the day after Christmas at a church in San Francisco. The preacher was looking at the nativity outside when he noticed the baby Jesus was missing. Immediately, he turned towards the church to call the police. He was in a panic, his mind raced, “Great another case of nativity vandalism, theft, secularism trying to make a point with the little baby Jesus.” But as he was about to do so, he saw little Jimmy with a red wagon, and in the wagon was the figure of the little infant, Jesus.
The preacher walked up to Jimmy and said, “Hi, Jimmy, where did you get the baby?”
Jimmy replied, “I got him from the church.”
“And why did you take him?”
With a sheepish smile, Jimmy said, “Well, about a week before Christmas I prayed to little Lord Jesus. I told him if he would bring me a red wagon for Christmas, I would give him a ride around the block in it.” (Jeff Strite)

jesus santa.jpg Continue reading “Don’t Ask Me That: Jesus Identity?”

Monday’s Madness-Quote of the Day

Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “Bravely take hold of the real, not dallying now with what might be. Not in the flight of ideas but only in action is freedom. Make up your mind and come out into the tempest of the living.”

Whether we are following your passion or are being persecuted, whether embracing your call or coughing through another painful day—we have a God who worked with our ultimate well-being in mind and allows us to serve him in any setting.

 

Don’t Ask Me That: What Now?

That is where a lot of people are at… We have found so far that because of what was—events rooted in history, because of what is—reliability of the words, that all that is left is whether we should trust the Bible for in our own lives.

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What Now? In 2 Peter 1:21 he makes a pretty powerful claim about the promises in the Bible-21 For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

You know people just like I do, they look at the Bible like a speech from a politician, with distrust. They assume that Scripture to come together so perfectly around the historic figure Christ had to be altered after the fact.  A change here, a detail there, and BOOM! They figured all those OT prophecies could say whatever was necessary. The only problem was a young shepherd boy lost one of his sheep. In 1946, he not only found his sheep, but he found the Dead Sea Scrolls, caves full of 981 manuscripts in the modern day West Bank—from hundreds of years before Christ lived—with the exact promises from the OT.  Promises like from where the Messiah would be born, raised, tribe he would descend from, how he would arrive in Jerusalem, what would happen while he was there, how he would die (before crucifixion was invented),  where he would be buried, what would happen on the third day, what would happen to his followers, where their power would come from, etc. Hundreds of promises. Continue reading “Don’t Ask Me That: What Now?”

Don’t Ask Me That: Trust the Bible?

Not only do we get internal claims, but also external proof that the events actually happened—reality instead of mythology, closeness to the actual events rather than centuries later, but next we get to take on…

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 What Is? People will often say, “The Bible has been copied over and over again-it is like the game telephone that you probably played in school—What started off “Walking in a Winter Wonderland”—becomes “Waltzing in a White Bagel Bag.” Isn’t the Bible—over 2,000 plus years the very same thing?  We have the eyewitnesses like John who said in 1 John—“that which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this is what we proclaim—how does that information get to the next generation or down through the next 20 centuries. You’ve probably heard people make those types of arguments, there is no way I can trust that what happened back then is what I am reading today. If you’ve desired that type of certainty you aren’t alone.   The Bible actually gives us a clue to the link between 1st generations to 2nd generation. In the opening words of Luke’s gospel we see his purpose: Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled[a] among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught. That certainty is what a lot of people are looking for. When there is a quote in red—did Jesus really say—Love your enemies? Did Jesus really say “I’ve come to serve not to be served?” Continue reading “Don’t Ask Me That: Trust the Bible?”

Don’t Ask Me That:Why Should I Trust the Bible?

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A few months ago, I was sitting at a coffee shop in town with a friend. We were doing a weekly Bible study together. We had just started talking about discipleship, trying to be like Jesus when a lady stopped us and asked if we were talking about the Bible. She was pretty forward; she asked to sit down with us because she happened to be reading some books that strangely related. She pulled up a chair, apologized for interrupting, and then unleashed on us a fury of reasons why she didn’t trust the Bible. She had been a child in VBS and memorized Scripture, but now she said, “I believe in God, but I don’t need the God of the Bible…I’m beyond that!” She isn’t alone. It isn’t a new phenomenon. Thomas Jefferson famously had the Jeffersonian Bible where he cut out everything that was miraculous or supernatural, later on the Jesus Seminar, a group of self-appointed scholars came together and voted on what they thought the Jesus in their image would have said.

A lot of you might be able to relate with that honest outburst. The Bible might be a family heirloom, might have in the front cover family history, but for most people it is only busted out on “holy occasions, Christmas and Easter, maybe,” but generally people seem to have moved beyond that” outside of the church. Today, we continue in our sermon series called DON’T ASK ME THAT! Sometimes that are first response when our faith is challenged. Today we take another step in being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks for the reasons for our hope in Jesus Christ. We take on the dreaded question that maybe stopped you dead in your tracks as you opened your Bible to share an important verse: Why Should I Trust The Bible? How do I know that what’s written in the Bible isn’t just a myth that developed with time.

It all beings with:

Move #1: What Was? People want to know if what the Bible writes about actually happened! Was Jesus death and resurrection widely accepted in the early church, was it’s importance realized? Paul starts to answer that question in more than one way  in 1 Cor. 15:3-7, it is a passage written in 55AD, about 25 years after Christ was crucified, but there is more than meets the eye:  For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance[a]: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas,[b] and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Paul gives us what is agreed on by scholars to be a early church creed. Think of a creed like the early slave songs, passed along as a way to teach a mostly illiterate group important information in a memorable pattern. Paul highlights the most important teachings that he had received and was now passing along. But what’s even more interesting is the timing of the creed–how early did Christians hold to these core teachings. Walk through the timeline with me. Paul was martyred in 64 AD, wrote 1 Corinthians in 55 AD, gave them the teaching when he visited in 50 AD (second missionary trip), and first received it as Galatians 1:18-19 remind us that three years (after his conversion), I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter and stayed with him fifteen days. I saw none of the other apostles–only James, the Lord’s brother.  15 days of comparing experiences, talking about doctrine, seeing how the Gospel had changed lives—and receiving a creed from the early church at the latest 36AD. James D. G. Dunn went so far as to point out, “we can be entirely confident (this creed), was formulated as tradition within months of Jesus death.” The closer to the actual events, the most precisely they can be remembered. Continue reading “Don’t Ask Me That:Why Should I Trust the Bible?”