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Christ and The Early Church #2

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green
The Truth Network Radio
September 6, 2022 8:00 am

Christ and The Early Church #2

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green

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September 6, 2022 8:00 am

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Is there any possibility that Christianity is just a made-up fiction? Did someone make this up? Did the apostles do something to make this up and they tricked the world by what they did?

The answer is no. This is the Truth Pulpit with Don Green, founding pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. I'm Bill Wright. Today, Don wraps up his look at the relationship between Jesus Christ and the early church, and how the things Jesus said and did prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that he and the Messiah of the Old Testament are one and the same. Friend, if you've got your Bible handy, let's begin today's lesson with the second half of a message titled Christ and the Early Church, here in the Truth Pulpit. Look at Acts chapter 17. Acts chapter 17, verses 1 through 3. Now it's the Apostle Paul preaching. Now when they had traveled through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. And according to Paul's custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and giving evidence that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, this Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ.

Same message. This man Jesus that I am telling you about is the fulfillment of the entire Old Testament expectation. You see it in Acts chapter 18. We see in verse 4, there in Corinth, we know that from verse 1, it says that he was reasoning in the synagogue every Sabbath and trying to persuade Jews and Greeks. But when Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia, Paul began devoting himself completely to the word, solemnly testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ.

One more at the end of the book of Acts, chapter 28, verse 23. When they had set a day for Paul, they came to him at his lodging in large numbers, and he was explaining to them by solemnly testifying about the kingdom of God and trying to persuade them concerning Jesus from both the law of Moses and from the prophets from morning until evening. So he's telling them, he's speaking about Jesus, and he is tying it to the Old Testament expectation. Beloved, if you look at a map, you see how far spread and far flung this was just within the immediate apostolic era.

In Jerusalem, in Damascus, in Caesarea, in Thessalonica, in Corinth, in Rome. In each of those cities, the same type of argument being made, the man Jesus was the Christ. The man Jesus is the fulfillment of all of the Old Testament prophets, the prophecies and the expectation. This man so recently in your midst was the Messiah and is the Messiah. And it is only through him and belief in him that you can have the forgiveness of your sins. And so over and over again, we find apostolic preaching saying that Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament expectation.

Now, beloved, all of that was a long laying of a foundation to make this statement. That very message preached so many times, recorded for us in the Book of Acts, that very message to the Jews shows that Christianity is true. It shows that Christianity is true.

And that brings us to our third and final point. We want to talk about the implications of this apostolic preaching. The implications of this apostolic preaching. Now, you need to just remember some really basic, simple things about the Jews. Scripture says in the book of Romans chapter 3 that God gave his oracles to the Jews. God gave his revelation through Jewish prophets that his revelation was made to the Jewish people. And so they had a great sense of ownership and a great knowledge of the Old Testament writings. And here's what's so significant, is that the apostles of Jesus Christ were appealing to their Old Testament scriptures to verify their claims about the Lord Jesus Christ. Now, as I said earlier, the Old Testament was completed 400 years before Christ. And the Old Testament picture of the coming Messiah was an established fact. This was established in the Jewish mind. We are going to have a deliverer who will come for us. Now, there's one of two possibilities.

Well, there's three, I guess. You could suggest, perhaps, well, maybe what the apostles did was that they somehow surreptitiously, secretly, edited the Old Testament after the fact so that the Old Testament would now conform to the life of Jesus Christ. And remember, we're trying to find a way, we're trying to find a way as a devil's advocate to say, is there any possibility that Christianity is just a made-up fiction?

Did someone make this up? Did the apostles do something to make this up and they tricked the world by what they did? Is it possible that those early Christians could have edited the Old Testament prophecies so that they conformed the record, the pre-existing record, to the life of Jesus which had occurred in the so immediate recent past? Could they have done that? Could they have tweaked the Old Testament so that it conformed to the life of Christ after the fact? Is that even possible? The answer is no.

That's completely impossible. That cannot explain the existence of Christianity. The Old Testament Scriptures were jealously guarded by Jews who never became Christians at all. They would have immediately recognized any kind of edit to the established text, and they would have quickly repudiated and refuted it.

To appeal to the Old Testament to hostile Jews was a remarkable strategy to prove their point. They're pointing to the Jews' own Scripture in order to show that Jesus was the Christ, as we saw. Now, the Jews who did not want to receive Christ, they would never have cooperated in that kind of fiction. They would never have overthrown their own Scriptures for a Messiah that they themselves rejected.

It's impossible. So there is no way that the apostles played with the Old Testament text after the fact in order to make the Old Testament text conform to the known facts of the life of Christ. Now listen, the Jews of the day, they had many objections to Christianity. They made up lies. You remember they paid off the soldiers to say that they fell asleep, and the disciples came and stole the body of Jesus while they were asleep. They had many objections. They told lies in order to resist Christianity, but the one thing that there is no record of is the Jews making the accusation that Christians had tampered with the Old Testament in order to conform it with the life of Christ.

Let me say that again. The accusation that Christians had rewritten the Old Testament was not an accusation that hostile Jews made against them. If that's what they had done, believe me, the Jews would have registered that objection loud and clear.

It would have refuted the whole farce if in fact it had been a farce. The fact that the Jews didn't make that argument shows that that's not what happened. So, let's flip the question.

Let's flip the question. Let's assume that the Old Testament Scriptures were held intact, nobody tampered with the Old Testament text whatsoever, but maybe what if this is possible? Is it possible that the apostles fabricated, made up the life of Jesus, told aspects about it that were not true so that it would conform to, so that it would match the Old Testament record?

So after the fact, they go out preaching and they say things, they knew the Old Testament, and they said that Jesus did these things when in fact he really didn't. Is that possible? No.

No, that's not possible. Now, let me just step back from the question for a moment and frame the factual matters for you. Scholars debate the precise dates of the life of Christ. Some, for example, will date his crucifixion to AD 33. The best scholarship, in my opinion, believes that his death is dated to AD 30.

Now stay with me. That date is significant, and all of this is starting to come together now. Christ crucified AD 30. Nero in Rome, a long way from Jerusalem, accuses Christians of having burned the city down. From AD 30 to AD 64, 34 years.

Those dates are significant. It frames such a narrow window of time in which the apostolic preaching after the resurrection takes place. That means, as we saw so often from those passages in the book of Acts, the apostles were preaching to people who were either direct eyewitnesses to the facts of which they spoke, or they were speaking to an audience who knew by common knowledge, the common public knowledge, that these facts of Jesus were established and could not be refuted. And listen, to an audience like that, they could not begin to preach things that were fiction in the midst of the momentous claims that they were making about Jesus. The facts that they preached had to correspond with the facts that happened, or the audience would have rejected them and they would have been repudiated for preaching such an obvious falsehood. Now look, Jesus was a public figure, and the apostles were preaching publicly about facts about the life of Jesus Christ. If those facts, if what they were saying, the facts that they were asserting about the life of Jesus, his great and mighty miracles, his great and mighty words, his death on the cross and his resurrection, if that was not true, none of the audience would have received it.

The reason that they listened on a human level was because the apostles were telling them facts that they knew were true, and then under the power of the Holy Spirit, they were explaining the spiritual significance of the facts of this man and his life known as Jesus. This man, you know, you know what he did. You know what he said. This is established record, now let me tell you what it means. This Jesus is the Christ promised by the Old Testament. You see, the time frame forces us into a window of contemporary witnesses, and the very nature of humanity is that people don't embrace something that they know is not true, particularly when it is of such far-reaching consequence. I mean, people believe all kinds of lies today, but it's not based on things of historical fact that they know the difference between what's right and what's wrong. No one's going to believe that Bob Dole was president.

It's just impossible. Multiply that by infinity, given the eternal consequence and significance of everything that the apostles were preaching, and you realize how impossible their message was to have been something that they made up as a fiction. For an extended false narrative to be accepted as true, it has to be given to an audience that is remote from the time, remote from the events, that is not able to independently verify it. And you just come under a spirit of delusion and you believe something that's told to you about what happened 500 years ago because you don't know any better. But, beloved, that is not what happened with the gospel message. That is not what happened with Christianity at all. The events of which the apostles spoke and about which they wrote belong to a period that was familiar to their audience, to thousands and thousands of people. They appealed to recent public events.

They appealed to eyewitnesses. You're in the book of Acts. Go back to Acts chapter 1 verse 18 and 19. Dr. Luke, writing his account of the Acts of the Apostles, says in chapter 1 verse 18, referring to, he's quoting Peter as he spoke to the brethren. Peter is, there's a parenthetical comment about what happened to Judas. Verse 18, this man acquired a field with the price of his wickedness and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his intestines gushed out.

19. It became known to all who were living in Jerusalem so that in their own language, that field was called a keldama, that is, field of blood. Everyone in Jerusalem knew about what happened to Judas. Everyone knew it.

This was public knowledge. In the same way that we know who the recent presidents are, everybody knew the facts about what happened to Judas. So in verse 21 and 22, Peter goes on to say it's necessary.

They had to replace Judas in the office of apostle. Therefore it's necessary that of the men who have accompanied us, all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning with the baptism of John until the day that he was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection. There were men that were witnesses that had gone about and had seen the ministry of Jesus. They called upon a witness who had seen it with his own eyes, heard it with his own ears, touched it with his own hands, smelled things with his own nose. A man who had flesh and blood contact had to be a witness to be able to speak to these things.

Everyone knew about it. Under those circumstances, beloved, a make believe life of Christ utterly impossible. It's ridiculous to suggest the thought. The audience would have rejected something that they had not seen. And so one of the reasons that the apostolic message was so powerful, was so persuasive to that contemporary audience was that they knew the things of which the apostle spoke, and they were speaking things that were true to them. They knew if I came to you and I say, Bill Clinton was president and George W. Bush was president and Barack Obama was president. You know all of that to be true. I don't have to persuade you of the facts. The facts are uncontested. The significance of them interpreted by the preaching of the apostles. One last thing here on this point. So to speak, I'm beating this horse to death, but it's because there is so much to see and to understand and to grasp about this, that God didn't give us just a sliver of understanding about this.

This is so broad and so abundant that it cannot be refuted on grounds of truth. So that in Acts chapter 26 verse 26, Acts 26 verse 26, I'll give you a moment to turn there and we'll wrap this up. You'll remember that Paul was called before King Agrippa to give his testimony and to give his response to the accusations of crimes that had been made against him. In verse 25, Paul said, I am not out of my mind, most excellent festus, but I utter words of sober truth, for the king knows about these matters. And I speak to him also with confidence since I am persuaded that none of these things escape his notice, for this has not been done in a corner. So well known was this, so much a matter of public record, that Paul could appeal to the king's knowledge and said to a man who had criticized him, said, Festus, the king knows what I'm saying is true.

I'm not out of my mind. Your accusation that I am is ridiculous because even the king knows that what I'm saying is accurate. And then for the interpretation of those facts about the life of the man Jesus, Paul looks at the king in verse 27 and says, King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets?

I know you do. It's clear what the prophets told us to expect. It's clear what the life of Jesus was. So Agrippa, you know what the facts of Jesus are. Let's talk about the prophets.

Do you believe them? It brilliantly put the king in a corner. And all the king can do is sidestep the matter.

Deflect it. And Agrippa replied to Paul in a short time, you'll persuade me to become a Christian. And so, beloved, Jesus was a public figure known in surrounding lands, a fabricated life, a false story, a fiction about the life and crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ designed to fit the Old Testament prophecies, utterly impossible. And so what can we conclude from this review of history and this review of Scripture? What do we think as we approach the Lord's table?

Ian Murray puts it so well and so succinctly. He says the only credible explanation of all of this is that there is a perfect match between the Messiah of the Old Testament and Jesus Christ in the New Testament. It is a perfect match between the Old Testament expectation and the fulfillment in the man Jesus. And that is fully expressed in the two words, Jesus Christ. Jesus, the Christ. Jesus is the Christ.

You know what that means? You take all of this in, it tells us that God planned a way of salvation from before the beginning of time. God who knew the end from the beginning, who knows the end from the beginning, God greatly, sovereignly, directing the course of human history, the course of every genealogical line, the course of every national leader, the course of every sin of his people against him, God directing all of that, taking that massive direction of the world and all the details within it, sovereignly, perfectly, powerfully, masterfully, directing it all to a fulfillment and conclusion in the man Jesus, the incarnate Son of God. This is true. This is affirmed by history, this is affirmed by scripture, this is affirmed, I trust, by the very witness of the Holy Spirit himself to your heart and what we've seen from the Word of God today. Is Christianity true? You better believe it. You better believe it for, I mean, that's a loaded statement.

Yeah, you better believe it. God planned a way of salvation, he announced it beforehand in the Old Testament, and then Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, brought it to pass. He brought it all to pass with signs and miracles to verify its authenticity. It was all undeniable at the time. For those acquainted with the facts, it's undeniable now. The Gospel spread like a wildfire in the first century because it was true.

The fulfillment of all of these things, the climax of the price of redemption at the cross, the climax of redemption found in what we remember in these elements that we're about to partake of. That's Don Green with another powerful lesson from God's Holy Word here on the Truth Pulpit. Friend, if you'd like to share this important teaching with a friend or loved one, just send them to our website, thetruthpulpit.com. Once there, you'll find this lesson along with all of Don's teaching materials.

That's all at thetruthpulpit.com. Now, just before we go, here again is Don with a closing thought. Are your sins forgiven? Have you taken your sins to the cross of Jesus Christ and asked him to cleanse you with his shed blood? And if you don't know Christ in the way of which I'm speaking here today, Jesus said, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. Jesus Christ offers you free forgiveness of all your sins if you will come to him in a humble, repentant faith. You can receive him as your Lord and Savior and rest in him to be the one to carry you safely to heaven. Thanks, Don. And friends, we're out of time for today. We're thankful that you've chosen to spend some of your very valuable time studying God's Holy Word with us. I'm Bill Wright, and we'll see you on our next broadcast as Don Green continues teaching God's people God's Word on the Truth Pulpit.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-01 13:43:11 / 2023-03-01 13:51:28 / 8

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