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Jesus the Great I Am

The Urban Alternative / Tony Evans, PhD
The Truth Network Radio
November 19, 2021 7:00 am

Jesus the Great I Am

The Urban Alternative / Tony Evans, PhD

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November 19, 2021 7:00 am

When Moses asked God what name he should use to describe who sent him, the answer was, I Am. Join Dr. Tony Evans as he explains why that simple answer really isn’t so simple at all and talks about the incredible significance packed into it.


The sun doesn't have to look for fire to stay hot. And water doesn't have to look for moisture to be wet. It's built into the nature of the thing. Dr. Tony Evans says these things simply are what they are, just like the Lord. It's built into the nature of God to be who He is because He changes not. Celebrating 40 years of faithfulness, this is the alternative with Dr. Tony Evans. Author, speaker, senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, Texas, and president of the Urban Alternative. When Moses asked God what name he should use to describe who sent him, the answer was simply, I am. But that simple answer really isn't so simple at all.

Let's join Dr. Evans as he talks about the incredible significance packed into it. God is invisible in His essence. You can't see Him. But God wanted to be seen and known and experienced on a human level. And so the Word became flesh, according to John 1.14 and 12th among us, and the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father hath revealed Him, John 1.18. Jesus Christ is the revelation of God in human terms, made possible by the virgin birth. Today I want to talk to you about another name of Jesus, probably my favorite. The context is Jesus declaring that those who believe in Him would never die.

And they can't believe Jesus is talking like this, the religious leaders, and say, whose authority can you say that? I mean, they say, look at Abraham. He lived 2,000 years ago. He died.

All the prophets died. Who do you think you are? You're a demon. You're right from the devil, talking crazy like that. Jesus tells them, no, I ain't the crazy one.

No, it's not me. I know the Father. And if I said that He's not going to die, who believes in me, He's not going to die.

They say, but wait a minute. Abraham, our father died. You're not even 50 years old. He died 2,000 years ago. On what basis can you make such a crazy statement, such a demonic statement about death, and you're not even 50 years old? And that's when Jesus gives us our name for today, and it is a doozy. Jesus looks at them and says, He says to them in verse 58, truly, truly, show nuff, show nuff. I say to you, before Abraham was born, so we can skip the death part. I'm going to start off at the birth. Before Abraham was born, I am.

The name we're going to talk about today is the name I am. Before Abraham was born, I am. It says, when they heard him say that in verse 59, they picked up stones to kill him.

Why would you kill him for such a statement? Because they knew what he was saying. If he just wanted to talk about predating Abraham, then he would have said, before Abraham was, I was. But he doesn't say before Abraham was, I was. He says, before Abraham was, I am.

That sent them into the ionosphere of anger, so that they sought to kill him, because they knew what he was saying. You see, Jesus, in identifying his name, bypasses Abraham and jumps to Moses. To understand the phrase, I am, you have to go back to Exodus chapter 3, verses 13 and 14, because they knew that that is what Jesus was referring to.

So when you go back and let the Bible interpret the Bible, in Exodus chapter 3, verse 13, we read these words. Then Moses said to God, Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I will say to them, The God of your fathers has sent me to you. Now they may say to me, What is his name?

What shall I say to them? God said to Moses, I am who I am. And he said, Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, I am have sent you. So the reason they were throwing rocks at Jesus, when he declared his name to be I am, was because they knew that he was using the term God used to define himself to Moses at the burning bush in Exodus chapter 3. So they knew Jesus was declaring himself to be the God who actually talked to Moses, to which they were saying, You have lost your mind, because you are telling us that you are the one who was talking to Moses. Now, we've already dealt with Jesus' name, the Word of God.

He is the spokesperson for the Trinity. In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, and the Word was God. So in creation, the Bible says God created the heavens and earth, and then it says, and then God said. Well, when it says and then God says, it means Jesus was now talking, because he is the voice, the communicator, the Word of the Triune God. So what Jesus is saying in John 8 is when God was talking to Moses, I was speaking, because I am did the talking.

I'm coming. So the question is, what does I am mean? I mean, you ask somebody that name and they tell you, my name is I am, because that's what Moses said. What shall I tell them is your name? He says, you tell them I am, that I am have sent you.

So I know you're asking now, what kind of name is that? We call this in theology, the tetragrammaton. The tetragrammaton is a theological statement that simply means the four letters.

I am is made up of four letters. All four letters are consonants with no vowels, which made it unpronounceable. You couldn't pronounce it because it was all consonants with no vowels. It was God's use in identifying himself with four consonants that you could never say. So therefore, his name was viewed by Israel as the unspeakable name, because there was no way to recite the four consonants. In order to talk about God, what they did was they took vowels from the Hebrew word Adonai, which means boss or supervisor or manager, and they took the vowels and they put it with the four consonants, so that you could now say the word Yahweh. So Yahweh are the four consonants with the vowels from Adonai so they could speak the name. When the name Yahweh got translated into English, it is Jehovah. So Jehovah, God, is Yahweh Hebrew, which is the tetragrammaton four letters with some borrowed vowels. God has 85 names in the Old Testament, approximately 85 names. Each name is designed to describe a different element of who God is or what God does.

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. That's the name Elohim, the strong one, the creator God. When God wanted to relate to his creation, he gave a new name. That is the name Yahweh or the tetragrammaton with the vowels added to it, which we call Jehovah. Now, to understand what is going on here, God is now relating to man and using his name. So when you read your Bible and you see the name God, you have to look at the spelling to know which Hebrew word he's talking about. If you see G-O-D, that's generally Elohim, the creator God.

In the beginning, Elohim created the heavens and the earth. If when you read your Bible, you see capital L, small o, small r, small d, that is generally Adonai, boss, manager, supervisor, the one who's in charge. When you read your Bible and you read the letter, capital L, capital O, capital R, capital D, that is generally Yahweh, the covenant-keeping, relatable God. So when God wanted to relate to man, he took the name Yahweh, the four letters with the vowels giving us Yahweh from the letters that you couldn't pronounce, which we now say Jehovah, because God wanted to relate to man. So we should not be surprised that Jesus took God's relational name to explain who he was to people since he left heaven to relate to mankind.

Dr. Evans will come back in a moment to dig into the different uses and deeper meanings of the name I Am. First though, I want to tell you how you can bring the experience of one of Tony's Holy Land tours into your home. I'm talking about his beautiful photo book called Experiencing Israel. It's packed with full-color photos that will take you on a virtual guided tour of the Holy Land with insights from Dr. Evans about the geography, history, and people of the land. This beautiful hardcover book is something you'll want to keep on display, but it's also a tool that will bring a whole new dimension to your study of God's Word. If you contact us and request it right away, we'll send Experiencing Israel to you as our way of saying thanks for your contribution toward Tony's ministry. Along with it, we'll also include all 11 full-length messages in his current teaching series, Encountering Jesus' Names.

In this comprehensive dive into the many names of Jesus found in the Bible, Tony translates in-depth Scripture research into clear, relevant insights into what it means to be the Christ, the Lamb of God, the Great I Am as we've been exploring today and more. Just visit us at for details on this special double offer, or call our resource center at 1-800-800-3222, where friendly team members are ready to assist with your resource request. That's 1-800-800-3222. I'll have that information for you again a little later on after part two of today's message.

Let's pick up where we left off. Here's Tony. So, the question is, what does I am mean? First of all, I am is personal, I. So when you get a personal pronoun, that tells you that this is a person talking. So when God uses this name, He is saying to you, I want to relate to you person to person. I am not only interested in being the big Mahath way up there, I want to talk to you down here where you live, because you are you, and I'm an I.

In other words, we can communicate. Not only is He personal, but He's personal in the present tense. I am. Not I was, nor I will be.

I am. So let me tell you something about God's name. God has no past, and He has no future. He has no yesterday, and He has no tomorrow. Everything about God is now.

It's in the present tense. You and I can't relate to that because we live life linearly. That is, we go from 1 to 10, A to Z, beginning to end, first to last. That's how we live life, because we live life in time and space. But God lives outside of time and space.

Now you can't appreciate that now. You will be when you go to heaven, because if you're a believer and therefore you're going to heaven, then you're going. There'll be no night there. There'll be no need for the sun, the Bible says. You won't go to sleep.

There'll be no nighttime. There'll be no need to rest, because you have a new glorified body that'll never get tired, and everything for forever will be now. So you will live as God lives in an eternal now. Now, if something is in an eternal now, it's always fresh, because it's right now.

See, if it's yesterday, it's not fresh, because you've already been there. If it's tomorrow, it's just hope, because you haven't gotten there yet. But if it's now, you're going through it right now. So you can't imagine what God can have in store for you and me when now meets now and everything becomes an experience, because it's all right now. So you're going bam, bam, bam, because it's all happening now. All right?

So that is beyond our human comprehension. However, Jesus says, I am the I Am. Okay? So the first thing is He's a person. Second thing is He's present tense.

So everything is now. Now, the reason why I'll throw this in, the reason why this is important is that means whatever God has prophesied in the future, we're waiting on, He's not waiting on. That's why you can bank on anything that God says that has not happened yet that He declares will happen, because as far as He's concerned, it's now. So He's not waiting like we are waiting.

We are waiting for fulfillment of what is now in His reality, because we're talking about another reality. Of course, Jesus is saying, I am. Well, He doesn't just say, I am. He says, I am that I am. He talks about Himself twice in the I am signature. Why is He saying I am that I am? Number one, it means that He is who He declares Himself to be.

That's very important. I am that I am. In other words, I define me by me. I am that I am.

So why do you need to know that? Because what that means is I am not what you want me to be. I am not what you demand that I be. I am who I am. I is who I is.

Okay? What He is saying is I am self-defining. I define me by me.

I do not define me by every other. You ever have anybody in your life who tells you who you are? Who tries to tell you who you are? And you'll say in a minute, you don't know me.

You might even roll your neck. You don't know me, because they are giving their perspective on who you are, but they only know a portion of who you are. So in order to find out who God is, God must tell you, because He is who He is, He is not who you may want Him to be. And He says, no, I am who I am. Now, because He is who He is, and He's defined by Himself, and everything is now, that means He is who He is eternally, because He always lives in the same state, state of being. So He is an eternal being. Well, who did Jesus say He was?

He says, before Abraham was, not I was, I am. So Jesus Christ declares Himself to be an eternal being. He is an eternal being, because He is who He is, and the Bible says, and He changes not.

That's very important. He is not only who He is, He is consistently who He is. He is what He's always been, and He is what He always will be. That's why the Bible says Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever, Hebrews 13, 8. That's why the Bible says God does not change. In His nature, He cannot change, because He is who He is. Now, you can't say that.

I can't say that, okay? You can't say you are who you are, because you are not now what you used to be. You used to be a baby, now you're an adult, okay? You used to be this, and now you're that. You used to have hair, now you don't.

You used to look good, now you don't. I mean, you are in an ever-changing mode. God does not change, listen to this, because He does not need anything outside of Himself to keep Him going. He's self-generating. The sun doesn't have to look for fire to stay hot, and water doesn't have to look for moisture to be wet.

It's built into the nature of the thing. It's built into the nature of God to be who He is and to forever be that way, because He changes not. Now, somebody may say, but doesn't the Bible say God repented? That God changed His mind? Even though James 1.17 says, every good and perfect gift comes from above, it comes from the Father of light in whom there is no shifting shadow. He does not change, yet the Bible talks about Him changing His mind, or changing this or changing that.

Let me help you with that. God does not change in His essence, but He will change in His methods. That is, He doesn't do the same method, but He stays the same person even when He changes His methodology, okay? That's why He does some things in the Old Testament that He doesn't do in the New Testament. And one of the main things that affirms whether He's going to change or not are the changes we make.

That is, the adjustments we make will affect how He relates to us, not because He's changed, but because we've related to a different part of His person. The sun does not change. The earth rotates around the sun. The earth rotates around the sun. Half the earth right now is dark. Half the earth right now is light. The reason that half the earth is dark is not because the sun has moved, but because the earth is turning. And because the earth is turning, things look like they're changing.

When the sun is not budged, it is earth that has adjusted. So when people adjust to God, it may look like God is changing, but God has not changed. He's just responded to the fact that you have turned. That's why repentance is so important to experience God.

It means you've got to turn if you want to experience more of God, because if you're not turning right, then you're not experiencing the side of God that you want to experience. He says, I am who I am. I am defined by myself. I am self-defined.

I do not have to go outside of myself for anything. You are only you because there is a mother and a father. In other words, if there was nothing outside of you, you wouldn't be you. Let God take away the oxygen, you still won't be you, because you and I are dependent outside of ourselves to exist—food and clothes and breathing and living and houses and everything about you depends on something that's not directly you in order for you to still be you, because you are not self-contained. Therefore, you are not independent. That's why God hates independence. He hates independence because the moment you become independent, you're saying, I am self-contained and I'm self-sufficient, to which God says, no, you're a fool. The moment you develop self-sufficiency, which basically is pride and independence, you have now become an enemy of God because God knows better. Actually, you know better, but you don't want to admit it.

I know better too. He says, I am that I am, that it is my view of me that you should be dealing with. Dr. Evans will come back in a moment with a closing thought to wrap up our program for today. If you'd like to have a full-length copy of today's message to review on your own or to pass along to a friend or family member, including material we didn't have time to present on the air, just contact us for details on the title, Jesus, the Great I Am. Better yet, get it as a part of Tony's current teaching series, Encountering Jesus Names. As I mentioned, we'll send you the full-length versions of all eleven messages in this powerful series on either CD or instantly available digital downloads, along with Tony's impressive photo book, Experiencing Israel. They're our thank-you gift when you make a contribution in support of Tony's ministry here on the radio and around the world. Visit for details on this special double offer before time runs out, or call our resource center at 1-800-800-3222.

Team members are standing by 24-7 to help you. That's 1-800-800-3222. Well, on Monday, Dr. Evans will have more for us on the name I AM, focusing on seven different ways that name is used and what they tell us. Right now, though, he's back with a final comment for today. You're talking about the eternally created God who became a man, and His name is I AM, the eternally present One. The Alternative with Dr. Tony Evans is brought to you by The Urban Alternative and is celebrating 40 years of faithfulness thanks to the generous contributions of listeners like you.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-20 21:19:30 / 2023-07-20 21:28:00 / 9

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