Well, the Da Vinci Code movie, which opened last weekend, has become as popular as the book upon which it's based. The film took in a whopping $77 million on its very first weekend, and that was in the United States alone. Worldwide, the film grossed $224 million in its very first weekend, making it the second largest movie to debut in history – second only behind the last Star Wars movie, Return of the Sith. Now, Jeff Blake, vice chairman of Sony Pictures that made the movie, said, and I quote, he said, to beat all the Harry Potter films, to beat all of the Lord of the Rings films, is just beyond our wildest dreams. He went on to say, whatever the controversy that surrounded the movie, the public has taken the movie over now and they're embracing it, end of quote. Well, from Mr. Blake's point of view, the movie's popularity is a good thing, because Sony Pictures is making a lot of money. From my point of view, the movie's popularity is a bad thing, because it's filling people's minds with theological error at an alarming rate. People who are so untaught, biblically, that they are going to tend to believe what Dan Brown says about Jesus Christ and Christianity and the Bible at face value. Last week, a reporter on PBS's Religion and Ethics said, and I quote, she said, most people will see The Da Vinci Code as an entertaining movie, but they will also leave the theater with questions about where the truth really lies, end of quote. Now friends, this is the reason why we're doing a three-part series here entitled Cracking the Da Vinci Code.
And really, my purpose in doing this series is two-fold. Number one, I want to make sure that you who are sitting here today, that you understand and know the real truth about the issues that Dan Brown raises. And number two, I want to create a resource tool, CDs, tapes, that you can give to your friends, your neighbors, your co-workers and your relatives to help them fight off the lies that are told by Dan Brown in his book. And if you missed last week, when we talked about the integrity of the Bible, last week we dealt with Dan Brown's theories about how the Bible was twisted and rewritten in the fourth century by men with sinister political motives.
And we saw that none of his theories hold any water in this regard. If you missed that, I want you to go out in the lobby and pick up a copy of last week's message right after we're done. And also, while you're out there, we have lots of other resources for you. Two of the best are books first by Dr. Darrell Bock of Dallas Seminary and second a book, a little red book by Josh McDowell. But there are lots of stuff out there.
Pick it up and use it. Today, we want to go on in part two to talk about the true nature of Jesus Christ. Now, let's begin by asking the question, well, what is the issue really anyway? Well, the issue is that the Bible claims that Jesus Christ is Jehovah God himself wrapped in human flesh. But in his book, Dan Brown takes issue with this. He claims, number one, that Jesus Christ himself never claimed to be God. He claims, number two, that at the beginning of the Christian faith, Jesus' followers never regarded him as God. He claims, number three, that the Roman Emperor Constantine convened a council at Nicaea in 325 AD, at which time the leaders of the early church reinvented Jesus, making him into a divine figure instead of just a mortal man.
And they did this to solidify their own power base. And finally, Dan Brown claims, number four, that Jesus was so human that he married Mary Magdalene and had a daughter with her. Those are the issues. So, really there are two questions we want to ask today. The first one deals with the issue of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Were they really married and did they have a daughter? Listen to what Dan Brown says in the Da Vinci Code and I quote. He said, the marriage of Jesus and Mary Magdalene is part of the historical record. Jesus and Magdalene were a pair. The early church carried on a smear campaign against her, branding her as a prostitute. The church needed to defame Mary Magdalene in order to cover up her dangerous secret. He continues, the church needed to convince the world that the mortal prophet Jesus was a divine being. So the church perpetuated Mary Magdalene's image as a whore and buried evidence of Christ's marriage to her because a child of Jesus would undermine the critical notion of Christ's divinity. This, Dan Brown says, is the greatest cover up in human history, end of quote.
Now what about all of this? What about Dan Brown's claims that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene? Well, we should say at the beginning that even if Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married and even if they had sex as a married couple, that that fact in no way would disqualify Jesus from being the incarnate Son of God or from having lived a sinless life. The Bible is clear that God considers marriage to be a holy institution. God considers sexual relations within marriage to be a holy activity.
This is why the Bible says, Hebrews 13.4, marriage is honorable in all ways and the marriage bed is holy. However, as we've just seen, Dan Brown wants to use this theory that Jesus was married, first of all to reinforce his point that Jesus was a mere mortal and second of all to reinforce his claim that because the Bible covers this up, therefore the Bible cannot be trusted to give us a true and accurate picture of who Jesus really is. So, was Jesus married to Mary Magdalene?
Well folks, there is absolutely no historical evidence anywhere to support this fact. In fact, one of the few things on which both conservative and liberal theologians agree, and they don't agree on much, but one of the few things they agree on is that Jesus was single. Dr. Kate Jansen, author of the book The Making of Mary Magdalene, to my knowledge not a believer in Jesus, and I quote, there is no historical evidence, archeology, or letters, and no evidence is sin number one for historians, she says. There is no evidence that Jesus married Mary Magdalene or had a child with her, end of quote. In an article in USA Today, Amy Wellborn, author of Decoding Mary Magdalene and to the best of my knowledge not a believer in Jesus, said and I quote, the Gospels are all very forthright about Jesus's familial relations and they don't hide the existence of Mary Magdalene either. If they, Jesus and Magdalene, had been married, there would have been no reason to hide that fact. And friends, what evidence does Dan Brown bring to the table to prove then his theory that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married?
Well, here's his evidence, and I quote, the Gnostic Gospel of Philip calls Mary Magdalene the companion of the Savior. As any Aramaic scholar will tell you, the word companion in those days literally meant spouse, end of quote. Now, since I did my Ph.D. work at Johns Hopkins University in the area of Hebrew and Aramaic, I would like to make a couple of comments at this point if I may.
In fact, I'd like to say four things. Number one, I'd like to say that the Gnostic Gospel of Philip that Dan Brown refers to here was not written in Aramaic. It was written in Coptic, a dialect of ancient Egyptian. Number two, since that's true, we don't even know what Aramaic word for companion Dan Brown's talking about because the Gospel of Philip doesn't use any Aramaic words. Third, I'd like to say that even if the Aramaic word for companion were used, that that word literally means friend and to the best of my knowledge is never used anywhere to refer to a man's wife. And finally, the word that is used in the Gospel of Philip and translated companion is actually a Greek word that the Coptic language borrowed from the Greek language. And what's interesting is that the Greek language has a very specific word for wife, the word goonee, and it is not the word that is used here in the Gospel of Philip to refer to Mary Magdalene. You say, Solon, what you're saying, if I understand you correctly, is that Dan Brown presents no evidence to support his claim that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married. Is that right?
Folks, that is absolutely right. Dr. Bart Ehrman, Chairman of Religious Studies Department, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, not a believer in Jesus. And I quote, not a single one of our ancient sources indicates that Jesus was married, let alone to Mary Magdalene and finally Dr. Darryl Bach, Dallas Theological Seminary, and I quote, what is the likelihood Jesus was married?
The answer is short, none. End of quote. And that leads us, friend, to our second question for today, and that is what about this idea that Dan Brown puts forth that the bishops who all came together at the Council of Nicaea, that they reinvented Jesus in 325 A.D. and made him a divine being when before that his followers did not consider him to be that.
Listen to what Dan Brown says, and I quote. He says, until the Council of Nicaea, Jesus was viewed by his followers as a mortal prophet, a great and powerful man, but a man, nonetheless, a mortal. Jesus' establishment as the Son of God was officially proposed and voted on by the Council of Nicaea. Jesus' divinity was the result of a vote and a relatively close vote at that. And why would these bishops have wanted to redefine Jesus like this? Well, Dan Brown says, and I quote, establishing Jesus' divinity was critical to the further unification of the Roman Empire and to the new Vatican power base.
It was all about power, he says. They, that is the bishops, literally stole Jesus from his original followers, hijacking his human message, shrouding it in an impenetrable cloak of divinity, and using it to expand their own power. Brown concludes, what I mean is that almost everything our fathers taught us about Christ is false. End of quote.
Now, did this really happen? Did the Council of Nicaea redefine Jesus in 325 AD as being God in the flesh, or is this what the church believed about Jesus from the very beginning? Well, let me give you the evidence. Friends, the truth is that the Council of Nicaea did not redefine Jesus in any way. In fact, the deity of Christ was not a fluid issue during the first three centuries of the early church leading up to the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD. To the contrary, the doctrine of the deity of Christ was set in concrete from the very beginning of Christianity.
And as far as the evidence, let me put this into the record. First of all, from the first century AD, we have the writings of the New Testament. Titus chapter 2 verse 13 calls Jesus our great God and Savior. The apostle Paul says, Colossians 2.9, for in Christ all the fullness of deity dwells in bodily form.
And you might say, wait a minute, whoa, whoa, whoa, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, whoa, whoa, Lon, you can't do that. Because Dan Brown says that the New Testament's been twisted, that the New Testament's been changed. So you can't present the New Testament as evidence because he says that's all part of the plot.
Okay, fair enough. Let's go then and look at the early church fathers living between 100 AD and the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD and let's see what they said. Alright, 105 AD, Ignatius said, God himself was manifested in human form. 150 AD, Clement of Rome wrote, it is fitting that you should think of Jesus as God. 180 AD, Irenaeus said, Jesus is God as his name, Emmanuel, God with us, indicates. In 225 AD, Origen said, no one should be offended that the Savior is God. In 250 AD, Cyprian said, he referred to Jesus Christ as our Lord and our God. In 304 AD, Lactantius said, we believe him to be God and that's just a smattering of the evidence.
Friends, the point is that there was no disagreement or confusion among the leaders of the early church when it came to the deity of Jesus Christ. Maybe you know the name Polycarp. Polycarp was born in 69 AD. He was a personal friend of the Apostle John. In 155 AD, at the age of 86 years old, Polycarp was arrested by the Roman authorities, taken before a statue of Caesar and told that he must either bow down and worship Caesar as God or else they would kill him. Polycarp refused, saying that Jesus was God, not Caesar. The Roman official, the general, the commander who had arrested him, was so impressed with his age, 86 years old, and felt sorry for him, that he literally begged Polycarp to please reject Jesus so that his life would be spared. Polycarp said, and I quote, for 86 years, I have been his servant and he has done me no wrong.
How then can I blaspheme my king who saved me? And so they burned him alive at the stake. Now it's pretty strange, isn't it? That during the 250 years prior to the Council of Nicaea, isn't it interesting that Polycarp and thousands of other Christians just like him died for the deity of Christ? That they died for a theological idea that Dan Brown claims didn't even exist yet. Very interesting.
Very interesting. Listen, Dan Brown's claim that Jesus' establishment as the Son of God was officially proposed and voted on by the Council of Nicaea, that claim is absolute rubbish. You say, okay, Lon, well then what in the world was the Council of Nicaea about? I mean, I've heard more about the Council of Nicaea in the last month and I want to hear about it. What was the crazy thing about?
Well, let me tell you. The Council of Nicaea actually met to deal with a fellow named Arius. Arius was a church leader in Egypt. He began teaching that Jesus was not truly God and his heresy developed an enormous following, particularly in Egypt. He was opposed by Athanasius, the Bishop of Alexandria, Egypt and the conflict in Egypt became so acrimonious that Emperor Constantine called a church council to deal with this and bishops came from all over the Roman Empire to this council and friends, rather than redefining Jesus as Dan Brown claims they did at this conference, actually the bishops, what they really did is they reaffirmed Jesus. They reaffirmed the full and utter deity of Christ that the church had believed and the church had preached from the very beginning and they exiled Arius and all of his followers for the rest of their life from the Roman Empire for teaching heresy. The Nicaean Creed in part reads, and I quote, it was developed at this council, we believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of all things visible and invisible and in one Lord Jesus Christ, true God of true God, begotten and not made, who is of the exact same substance, homoousios in the Greek, the exact same substance as the Father, end of quote. And by the way, the vote that Dan Brown says was relatively close was actually 300 to 2.
I wouldn't call that close, would you? Now friends, where did the early church get this idea that Jesus was Jehovah God in the flesh? Did they just make it up?
No. The early church got this idea directly from Jesus himself. Listen to what Jesus said. John chapter 5 verse 17. Jesus said to them, my Father works on the Sabbath and I do too.
I'm working also. For this reason the Jewish leaders tried all the more to kill him because not only was he breaking the Sabbath but he was also calling God, his own Father, making himself equal with God. John chapter 10. Jesus said, I and the Father are one. Therefore the Jewish leaders once again picked up stones to stone him. Jesus said to them, I have showed you many good works.
For which of them are you stoning me? And they replied, for a good work we're not stoning you but for blasphemy because you, a mere man, are claiming to be God. John chapter 14. Philip said to Jesus, Lord show us the Father and we will be satisfied. And Jesus answered Philip, have I been with you this long and you still don't know who I am? He who has seen me has seen the Father.
I don't know how you can say it any clearer than that, folks. Don't you ever let anybody, my friend, tell you that Jesus Christ never claimed to be God. The truth is Jesus claimed to be God everywhere he went. This is why the Jewish rabbis who heard him talk every single day, this is why, because they knew exactly what he was claiming, this is why every time he opened his mouth they picked up rocks to throw at him.
And I love what C.S. Lewis, the famous Oxford professor said, and I quote, he said, a man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg or else he would be the devil of hell. Each of us must make the choice, C.S.
Lewis says. Either this man was and is the son of God or else he is a mad man or something worse. But let us not come up with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that option open to us. He did not intend to, end of quote.
And so let's summarize. Friends, the Council of Nicaea did not redefine who Jesus is. Dan Brown claims that up until the Council of Nicaea Jesus was viewed by his followers as nothing more than a mortal man. Dan Brown also claims that at the Council of Nicaea that they voted the deity of Jesus into existence by a relatively close vote and as we have seen today both of these claims are utterly untrue. The church's position on the deity of Jesus Christ has never changed my friends from the day in which Jesus spoke the words of John chapter 5, from the day when Jesus spoke the words of John 10, from the day in which Jesus spoke the words of John 14. The church's position always has been what the apostle Paul said in Colossians 2, 9 that in Jesus Christ all the fullness of deity dwells in bodily form. And if this is what your father taught you then friends what your father taught you about Christ is right.
It's right. Now to conclude let me say that you know to claim to be Jehovah God in the flesh is one thing. To prove it is a completely different thing. That's why the Bible says Romans chapter 1 verse 3 that Jesus was authenticated with power to be the Son of God.
How? By his resurrection from the dead. In other words one of the key reasons Jesus rose from the dead my friends was to prove to you and me and every other human being alive that he is exactly who he claimed to be in the Bible. Hey Buddha is still in the tomb and dead. Muhammad is still in the tomb and dead. Confucius still in the tomb and dead.
So is Joseph Smith the founder of the Mormons, L. Ron Hubbard the founder of Scientology, Mary Baker Eddy the founder of Christian Science, Charles Taze Russell the founder of the Jehovah's Witnesses, so is George Menard Shaw, Karl Marx, Rabbi Schneerson and every other Rabbi to ever live. They're all still dead and in the tomb and you know what we say here. Follow a dead Savior and you'll end up just like him. I said that.
The only creative thing I ever said. Now the great news of the Bible is we don't have a dead Savior. The great news of the Bible is we have a living Savior. We have a risen Savior and the converse is just as true. Follow a living Savior and you'll end up just like him.
This is why Jesus said, John 14, 19, because I live forever you who believe in me you're going to live forever too. And friends if you're here today and you're already a follower of Jesus Christ I've got some great news for you. The great news is that Dan Brown is wrong, that Jesus Christ is exactly who the Bible says he is and that your eternal destiny is utterly secure in the hands of Jesus Christ. And if you're here today and you're not a follower of Jesus Christ, well I've got some great news for you too.
The great news is Dan Brown is wrong. Jesus Christ is exactly who the Bible says he is and he's got a fabulous offer for you. And here's his offer.
John 11, 25, I am the resurrection and the life, Jesus said. Here comes the offer. He who believes in me will live in eternity even though he dies here on earth.
Now I don't know how you get a better offer than that. And so you know before you leave today, my friend, if you're here and you've never trusted Jesus we want to give you the opportunity to take God up on his offer right here, right now before you leave. So let's bow our heads together.
Let's close our eyes. And if you're here today and you want to take the risen Christ up on his offer of eternal life, then what we're going to do is I'm going to lead us in a short little prayer. I'm going to pray out loud. I want you to pray silently, one little phrase at a time. And we're going to trade in all of your human effort and we're going to trade in all your religious activity.
And instead we're going to embrace the blood of Jesus shed on the cross to pay for your wrongdoing and you're going to become a follower of Christ and activate his promise that because he lives forever now that you believe in him you will too. So here we go. I'm going to pray out loud. You pray silently. Heads bowed, eyes closed.
Here we go. Lord Jesus, I come to you today because I want eternal life. I want to know for certain that when I leave this earth I am going to live forever in heaven with you. And so right now I turn from my own human effort and my own religious activity as my strategy for getting eternal life. And I embrace Jesus Christ and what he did for me on the cross, shedding his blood to pay for my sin.
I embrace that as my only payment for sin and my only ticket to heaven. I open my life to you today. I surrender my heart to you today.
And I invite you into my life to be my personal Lord and Savior. In Jesus' name I pray. And Father, I want to pray for the folks who prayed that prayer that you would confirm in their heart and spirit right now as they sit here that a great transaction has taken place in the heavens, that they have been transferred, as John 5-24 says, from death into eternal life. And Father, I want to pray for all of us here that you would remind us that the Bible is telling us the truth, that Jesus is who he said he is, that Dan Brown's book is a bunch of lies, and that there is absolutely no reason for our eternal confidence to be shaken or in any way moved. You can handle our eternal destiny. It is utterly safe in your hands because you are the risen Savior, the living Savior, and because you live, every one of us who have trusted you, we will live also. Lord, encourage our hearts with that truth and we pray these things in Jesus' name. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-04 12:51:38 / 2022-12-04 13:01:36 / 10