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Who Is Jesus? (Part 2 of 6)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
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December 2, 2023 3:00 am

Who Is Jesus? (Part 2 of 6)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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December 2, 2023 3:00 am

Some people profess to believe in God but not in Jesus. Some are willing to say Jesus was a good man or a wise man but not God. Find out why those views aren’t viable as we explore Jesus’ claims about Himself, on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.


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Alistair Begg

There are people who say they believe Jesus was a good man or a wise man, but they don't think he was the God-man.

Today on Truth for Life Weekend we'll find out why none of these views syncs up with what the Scriptures teach. Alistair Begg is looking at what the Bible says about the indirect and direct claims Jesus made about himself. Concerning his ability to deal with the spiritual needs of men and women.

He made astonishing claims about his teaching. Thirdly, he claimed that he would be directly involved in all the major aspects of the end of the world. And fourthly, he made it clear that the reaction of men to him was an indication of their reaction to God.

Now, these are all indirect claims still. John chapter 12 and verse 44. Jesus addressing the Jews in their unbelief, preaching out of the Old Testament, showing how the Old Testament ties in with the New, speaking of Isaiah and so on. And these Pharisees, it says in verse 42, would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue, for they loved praise from men more than praise from God. They wanted it both ways, and they couldn't have it. And in verse 44, Jesus cried out.

The word there is a graphic word. He actually just came right out from inside of him, just an impassioned release from within him. He says, When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. When he looks at me, he sees the one who sent me. When a man believes in me, Jesus, he says, he doesn't believe in me alone. When a man sees me, he doesn't just see me. He sees the one who sent me. You have the exact same thing when he welcomes the children. In Mark's Gospel, and in chapter 9, Mark 9 and verse 36, he took a little child, had him stand among them.

Taking him in his arms, he said to them, Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me. So far, so good. Big deal, says somebody.

That's nice. Here comes the kicker. And whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me. And that, you see, is what the religious establishment couldn't stomach. And that is still what religious establishment cannot stomach. I don't expect you folks to read the books that reveal this or even to understand this, but I expect you to be sensible enough to be able to adjudicate on what I'm suggesting to you and to be able to go away and verify the facts. Believe me when I tell you that in pulpits all around us here, there are congregations sitting this Christmas time, deluded into believing that their pastor and their teacher affirms the orthodox view of Christianity because of the language he employs.

But in personal dialogue with him, he will be honest enough to tell you that he believes that the idea of an incarnate God is a mythology. And still they'll sing the carols, still they'll go through the thing, still they'll light the trees, still they will embrace, quotes, the faith, but there is no substance and foundation to the faith that they affirm. He who welcomes me doesn't welcome me, he says, but welcomes the one who sent me. Back into John chapter 5.

The flip side of it is also very clear. John 5 and verse 23. The Father judges no one but has entrusted all judgment to the Son.

Why? Verse 23, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. You find that hard to understand?

That's straightforward. So our friends come to us and say, Well, you know what? I am a believer. I believe in God. I believe in Jehovah. And I honor Jehovah. I just don't honor Jesus the Son. I don't actually believe that he is the incarnate Son of God.

I believe that to speak in that way is to speak about a square circle. But you can just leave me on my own, because I honor the Father. Well, what does Jesus say? He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.

Now, think this out, folks. So here we have very lovely Mormon people, really committed to the family, really committed to doing well in business, really strong in certain foundational principles. And in dialogue with us, they will say, We honor the Father. We do not honor Christ as the incarnate Son of God. Those who tell you they do are either deluded and have not understood the teaching or they're lying to you. But orthodox Mormonism does not honor Christ as the coequal, coeternal Son of God.

Okay? But, they affirm, we honor the Father. Okay, well then, let's put that against what Jesus says. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. So what, then, is the spiritual power which impels Mormonism? If it is actually impossible not to honor God the Father except in the righteous honor of the Son, then those who claim to honor the Father and ignore the Son do not honor the Father, therefore they must have spiritual power from somewhere.

Where? You see? And that'll get you crucified in the late twentieth century, talking like that.

Because the issue now is tolerance, not truth. And we start to put on our little cheery faces and say, Well, how could such a nice person possibly think it out? John 15 23. He who hates me hates my Father as well. See, I don't hate God. I just hate Jesus. I just hate anybody, says the individual who tells me that Jesus is God. Because nowhere does the Bible suggest that. And so therefore I resent it, and I find it very distressing.

Well, Jesus says, Well, let me just put it to you straight. You say you hate me? You hate my Father as well.

Why? Because anticipated in a verse to which we will not get this morning, verse 30 of John 10, Jesus says, I and the Father are one. You can't talk about me without talking about my dad, and you can't talk about my dad without talking about me. So don't say that you can love my dad and hate me.

And on a far more superficial level, it is an interesting thing that you can tell a lot about what people feel concerning you as the dad by the way in which they treat your kids. The Father looks from heaven, he says, You honor my son. You listen to his words. People say, No, we don't want to listen to his words, but we'd like to honor you. Jesus says, You can't honor the Father unless you honor the Son.

You hate me? You hate God. Now, you see, the Jewish people in Jesus' day, they couldn't stomach that. They said, Listen, we have Abram as our father. John chapter 8. We don't have to listen to this stuff, Jesus. We have Abram as our father.

We can go to the real source. Remember what Jesus said to them? He said, You've got the devil for your father. How to make friends and influence people.

Chapter 6, page 27. We have Abram as our father. We are nice, upright, religious people, Jesus. Don't you think that's nice?

Shouldn't you just say, Well, I know you don't really believe what we believe, but you know what? You're okay. You do have Abram as your dad, and that's fine.

We won't worry about it. Jesus says, You've got the devil for your dad. He was a liar, and you are liars, too. Who's gonna say that? A madman?

A bad man? Or the God-man? On the strength of those four indirect claims. I then, actually, in my notes, have six direct claims. So let's just turn this sermon into a series right now, officially. That'll allow you to relax a little bit. And let me turn just to two of the direct claims out of the six that I have in front of me.

I'll come back to them next week, all being well, which will create a sense of expectation in you, I'm sure. Six direct claims. Although Jesus never actually anywhere in the record of the New Testament says, I am God, he actually makes the staggering claim, albeit using other words.

Now let me show you where and how. John chapter 5 is the record of a healing which takes place at the pool of Bethesda, surrounded by five great covered colonnades and a number of disabled people, it says in verse 3, "...used to lie there, the blind and the lame and the paralyzed. And one who had been there as an invalid for thirty-eight years was healed by Jesus." It's interesting to ponder the response of established religion to his healing. You'll see it there in verse 10, the day on which this took place. That is, Jesus goes to the fellow, and he says, Get up, pick up your mat, and walk. And once the man was cured, he picked up his mat and walked. The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, and so the Jews said to the man who had been healed, It is the Sabbath. You're not allowed to carry your mat on the Sabbath.

What a nice bunch of people, eh? That's the appeal of the face of established religion so often. Here is a man who for thirty-eight years is laying on his back.

He is instantaneously healed. He picks up his mat, and he starts walking, and all the religion can say is, Hey, you're not supposed to carry the mat! It's Sunday! Well, you mean even though I've been lying on my back for thirty-eight years, I can't even carry the mat on a Sunday?

Lighten up, please! And that's exactly what Jesus says. They said, Who in the world told you you can do this? The guy says, I don't know, some guy, verse 11.

He says, Pick up your mat and walk. Incidentally, that must have been an event, eh? You've been lying there amongst blind, lame, paralyzed people for thirty-eight years of your life. You've heard it all. You've seen it all. You've met everybody. You've watched.

As long as your eyes work, as long as your ears work, you've heard it all. And then one day, a total stranger walks up to you, and he says, Hey, buddy, you just pick up that mat and you walk. The guy says, Well, let's try it.

He says, This is working. And just as you're going home to tell your mom or your brother, the guy says, Hey, you shouldn't be carrying that mat on a Sunday. Who told you to do that? The guy says, I don't know, a guy came up to me and said, Pick up your mat and walk.

So I just figured, Hey, might as well give it a try. I've been there for thirty-eight years, nothing happened. So I picked up my mat and walked. And he didn't know who it was. In verse 13, the man who was healed had no idea who it was.

This is great! Jesus said, Good morning. I am the incarnate Son of God, and I want to do a miracle. No, he just came up, said, Hey, get the mat. Let's go, buddy. For Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there. What a wonderful picture of ministry as well, just in passing in a self-focused world where we all want to get the attention.

Good night! We'd be standing up in the pulpit going, It was me! I did it!

I did it! But he looked for who did this, and he couldn't find him. He was gone through the crowd. And later, Jesus finds him in the temple, and he says, Hey, see, you're well again. Stop sinning.

Something worse might happen to you. And the man went away, and he told the Jews, he said, Hey, I met him at the temple. The guy who did this was Jesus. So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jews persecuted him. And Jesus said to them, My Father is always at work. He's always at his work to this very day.

And I, too, am working. So Jesus looks them in the eye and says, Listen, God is at work. He is not bound by your understanding of the Sabbath law. And I am working as he is working, and he works in me and through me, so I am not bound by your Sabbath law either.

So, a flea in your ear about the mat business, essentially. Verse 18. For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him. Not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

You see, they understood what was happening. They said, He is saying he's God! And Jesus does nothing to correct their interpretation.

Isn't that interesting? Later on in the Acts, when people come to Paul and his companion and begin to worship him because of a great miracle of healing that has taken place, and they begin to fall down before him and worship him, and they say, Oh, the gods have come down to us. Paul tears his clothes, and he says, Don't do this! He says, I'm not a god. We're not gods. There's only one God. Worship God! So the people come to Jesus, and they say, This guy is making himself equal with God.

If he was not, he would have said, Hey, you got it wrong. I'm not saying that. I'm just a good guy. I just got some powers. I don't know where they came from, you know? Funny things happened in Nazareth years ago. There's a lot of different things, you know?

That's what people wanted to say. But he's not prepared to. Now let me tell you one final thing, for this morning at least, in terms of a direct claim. Go to John chapter 8. Just turn forward to John 8. All the way through John's Gospel, twenty-five times or so, Jesus introduces statements with the words, Verily, verily, I say to you.

It doesn't come out in the NIV, which is a bit of a shame. Verse 56, Your father Abraham, he says to the Jews, rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day. He saw it and was glad. And you said, Hey, wait a minute.

You're not yet fifty years old. And you've seen Abraham? I tell you the truth, Jesus answered, Before Abraham was born, I am. Now, was he, as some have wanted to suggest, simply claiming to be over two thousand years old? In which case he must have been wearing particularly well, wouldn't you say?

Especially when they were able to identify the fact that he wasn't yet fifty years old. Was he simply just claiming to be older? Was he claiming simply to have been around before time existed? Was he simply saying that he was an angel or that he was a created being, which was the heresy of Arius in the fourth century and the heresy of every cult since?

No. The question which had spurred this response is in verse 53, Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died.

So did the prophets. Who do you think you are? It's a great question.

It's a great setup. Do you think you're greater than Abraham? Because the Jew could conceive of nobody greater than Abraham. In the economy of God, apart from God himself, Abraham was at the top of the list. He says, Are you greater than Abraham? They didn't ask him, Are you older than Abraham? And the kicker, which they got, is in this great statement, Before Abraham was born, I am. Now, what was the problem here?

Why did it hit them so hard? Well, because they knew that that was one of the key names in the Old Testament that God used to identify himself. Exodus chapter 3, God says to Moses, I want you to go to Pharaoh and say to him, Let my people go. And Moses responds, and he says, Well, you know, suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, The God of your fathers has sent me to you, and they ask me, What is his name?

Then what shall I tell them? And God said to Moses, I am who I am. This is what you're to say to the Israelites. I am has sent me to you. So he goes to the Israelites, and he says, I am has sent me.

God has sent me. So they say, Are you greater than Abraham? Jesus says, Greater than Abraham? Before Abraham was, I am.

Could mean only one thing. And the Jews understood it. At this they picked up stones to stone him. They weren't about to stone him on account of a claim that he was two thousand years old. They weren't about to stone him because he was an angel. But claiming to be God would be blasphemy, and the penalty was stoning.

If you think about it, it's very apropos to the world in which we live. This morning, men and women in secular America are not about to stone Jesus because he claims to have been around a long time. They won't crucify Jesus because he is propounded to be an angel. They won't crucify Jesus because he says that he has existed from before time began. And guess what? They won't crucify you or me for maintaining that. Because that's okay.

That fits in our New Age world. You go your way, I'll go mine. You believe what you believe, I'll believe what I believe.

Just don't confuse me with facts. Just let me experience it. My experience is as valid as your experience. Therefore, let's all have an experience. But don't ever come and try and maintain that Jesus Christ is human and divine, the incarnate Son of God, the only way to give heaven the only possibility of forgiveness. I am unprepared to accept that.

And let me tell you something. The two great issues of Christian faith in articulating the faith in our postmodern world are the resurrection and the incarnation. The resurrection is constantly denied as fact by those who propound to speak for Christianity. The incarnation is constantly denied as fact, e.g., the myth of God incarnate. Late twentieth-century Western culture has a place for Christ and has a place for the Christian, providing we do not affirm the resurrection and the incarnation. Untaught Christians are dangerous, and we will be responsible, if not careful, for ushering in a subsequent generation or two in the continental United States, where Christianity has long since ceased to be any kind of meaningful force, long since ceased to have any impact on our culture. Not because people were unprepared to affirm the validity and the benefits that accrue to us as a result of wanting to be these kind of people, but because we let go of essential territory and were backed into a corner by people telling us to suggest that Jesus is both human and divine is as illogical as asking me to believe in a square circle. You are sensible people.

Let us think it out together. You're listening to Truth for Life Weekend. That is Alistair Begg explaining why it's important for us to know the truth of God's Word and to be prepared to refute false teaching. It's our mission at Truth for Life to help you discern the difference between biblical truth and lies. It's why we teach the Bible every single day. And along with the daily Bible teaching, we also carefully select books we can recommend to you to help you better understand the Bible.

I don't know if you've ever read the works of the Puritans or other well-known historical Christian authors. If so, you know their insights are often remarkably deep. Reading their writing often makes you want to reflect on their words for a long time. Well, today we want to recommend to you some books written by authors who will leave you with these kinds of memorable takeaways.

Today we're offering a set of three small books that we bundled together. We call them short classics because each of these books contains a classic work from a theologian who has had a profound impact on believers for decades, even centuries. The first book contains an essay from J. I. Packer on the atoning work of the cross. The second is a book written by 17th century minister Henry Schugel.

It's called The Life of God in the Soul of Man. The third is by 19th century minister and professor Thomas Chalmers. These books contain three very powerful pieces of work that will have a lasting impact on anyone who reads them. Find out more about the short classics bundle when you visit our website at

I'm Bob Lapine. Thanks for including us in your weekend. There's a popular claim these days that God has many names but all religions are essentially just different avenues toward the same God. Next weekend we'll find out why true Christians will never make a claim like that. The bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-02 06:40:08 / 2023-12-02 06:48:58 / 9

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