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Who Is Jesus? (Part 6 of 6)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
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December 30, 2023 3:00 am

Who Is Jesus? (Part 6 of 6)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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December 30, 2023 3:00 am

The Bible makes it clear that Jesus didn’t come to earth to judge the world immediately or to abolish the Law and the Prophets, nor did He come to be served. So what was the purpose of His incarnation? Hear the answer on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.



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This listener-funded program features the clear, relevant Bible teaching of Alistair Begg. Today’s program and nearly 3,000 messages can be streamed and shared for free at tfl.org thanks to the generous giving from monthly donors called Truthpartners. Learn more about this Gospel-sharing team or become one today. Thanks for listening to Truth For Life!





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The Bible makes it clear that when Jesus came into our world he did not come to immediately judge the world or abolish the law and prophets, nor did he come to be served. So what was the purpose of his incarnation?

We'll find out today on Truth for Life Weekend. Alistair Begg is concluding a series he's titled, Who is Jesus? Let me give you one or two reasons as to why he did come. Number one, he came to do his Father's will. Secondly, Jesus came to fulfill the Scriptures.

This is another way of saying, essentially, the same thing. He was the one promised in the Old Testament. John chapter 6—and it's important to know the Gospel of John if we're going to speak meaningfully to our friends—John 6 14, after the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus did, they began to say, Surely this is the prophet who's to come into the world. He came then to do the Father's will. He came to fulfill the Scriptures. Thirdly, he came to make the Father known. He came to make the Father known. John 1 18, No one has ever seen God, but God the only Son who is at the Father's side has made him known. Has made him known. This is the great message of Christianity, you see.

It is not that Christianity, along with all the religions of the world, is involved in some great cosmic search for deity and for God. That is a good starting point, and we want to start there with our friends in the bookstores. I love to go in booksellers and just stand beside the people who are looking honestly, longingly, expectantly at all these books about angels and spirits and the future and all that, and I just want to stand there and say, Excuse me, you know, are you really interested in this stuff?

And it's wonderful, because they've given you little seats now where you can sit down and you can get coffee, you have to pay for it, but you've got the whole thing right there. And you go in and say, Hey, I don't suggest you do it with girls if you're a guy or vice versa. But there's an opportunity. They're not standing there by chance. There is none that seeketh after God, no, not one. And if they have an interest in spiritual things, we have an answer for their spiritual questions.

And if we're not bold enough to address it and to say, The reason that Jesus came was to make the Father known, then they will be left up the sidelines of all the literature that is available to them. I was listening on the radio this morning. Somebody was preaching a sermon, and in the course of the sermon, this individual says to the group, he says, And then by this means, he says, We will come to the fullness, the great fullness, which is the benefit of getting in touch with our own spirituality.

And so I've switched the radio off to think about that for a while, and also because I'd had enough of it. And I said to myself, What in the world does that mean, the great fullness which comes from getting in touch with our own spirituality? It's kind of high-sounding, isn't it? It appeals to the intellect.

It appeals to some kind of pseudo-intellectual visceral combination within us. It's sort of like Zen Buddhism or something. Well, I'm getting in touch with my spirituality. Yeah, but what does that mean?

Don't get me that in touch with your spirituality. Tell me what it means. I want to talk to you about it. I want to understand it. I want to find out about it.

Tell me! And when we've listened, then we can talk. But until we've listened, we shouldn't be so quick to talk. But when we talk, we're gonna tell him, the quest is not to somehow penetrate spirituality. The wonderful news is that in the baby in the manger in Bethlehem, God, the creator of the universe, has invaded our time-space capsule, and he has come looking for us.

And if you are really looking for him, boy, do I have a story for you. Fourthly, he came to save sinners. Now we're at the heart of the matter, you see. Matthew 1 21, you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. Paul sums it up to Timothy in 1 Timothy 1 15, he says, Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.

I like that. Cut to the bottom line. Give me the bottom line.

Here's the bottom line. Jesus came to save sinners. And because this was his purpose, he spent time with them.

And he spent time with them to the disgust of the religious establishment. And despite the fact that we have made of Jesus a kind of transcendent, blonde-haired, blue-eyed, nicely dressed sort of individual of our own creation, the projection of our own minds, and we have dressed him up and put him behind little curtains and way back up the chancel and deified him and draped him with lights and all these things, he breaks out of all of those molds. He's not staying in there. Don't look for him up there. He's not there. He was never there, and he ain't never gonna be there. What did they call him?

Read the evidence. This is what they called him. Hey, have you heard of Jesus? The religious people said this, Jesus of Nazareth is a drunk, a glutton, and he hangs around with bums.

That's exactly what they said. You check the gospel records. So any idea that we've got of Jesus sort of walking around with all the religious people, these kind of high sounding thoughts, it's just a fabrication.

We just made it up. 2000 years of religion is made of Jesus and nobody wants to meet. The average university student says, what's Jesus? You've got him a way back there somewhere. I wouldn't even get to him if I could. But if there's a Jesus that comes down here, do you mean there's a Jesus who would come and talk to me in the pub?

Yeah? That kind of scares some of us. We're never going to be called the friends of tax collectors and sinners, because we don't have any tax collectors and sinners as our friends.

We're so busy having little happy times for ourselves and scratching each other's backs while the world goes on its merry way. Jesus came to save sinners. And the only way you can do that is hang with sinners. Know sinners. Be nice to sinners. Meet them.

Greet them. Don't share with them in their sin. Identify with them in their need but not in their sin. That's what Jesus did.

And when we begin to put this together, you know, after Zacchaeus comes tumbling down out of the tree in Luke chapter 19, which is a great story for homework, as he comes tumbling down out of the tree, a notorious little man, all the religious people can say is, oh, man, he's gone to have dinner with a sinner. I mean, why couldn't he come and have dinner with us? I mean, we're nice people. We're religious people. We're reading the prophets. We're fasting. We're praying.

We're doing the whole belly-wake. And he keeps going in places like Zacchaeus' house. Now, what's the explanation?

Because he was fulfilling his purpose. The doctor doesn't go from house to house of well people. He goes from house to house of sick people. When the doctor does his morning rounds and the staff nurse in the British context at least carries the outline of things, she stands at the end of the bed, and she says to the doctor, this is Mr. So-and-so, and he's had a wonderful night. He's doing well, and he's probably going to be discharged within the next 24 hours. The doctor says, good morning, I'm glad to see you're doing well. And he just carries on.

There's no reason to spend a lot of time with this chap. He's over the hump. He's on his way. They go to the next bed, and the fellow's all tubed up.

They bring the curtains around them, and the doctor goes in, and he gives himself to them. That's what Jesus is doing. So, the people who say, well, Jesus was just some kind of high-minded reformer or he was a gentle philanthropist or he was some kind of altruistic social worker. No, he wasn't.

I'm sorry. No, he wasn't. And you can squeeze out of it by saying that he was, because he wasn't. And we have to point out that while people like to suggest that Jesus Christ came just to let us know that all was not well, or came down just to say, by the way, God cares, or came down just to provide us an example of how to do a little bit better, we have to say that all of those explanations, individualized or combined, fail to take into account the biblical evidence which says that Jesus Christ came to do ultimately none of the above. He came to do one essential thing.

He came to address the fundamental human problem, which is sin, and he came in himself by his death to provide the only cure. Now, at that point, you see, we have major disagreement. And it is at that point that we need to be most courteous, most kind, most careful, or we lose in that conversation, and we just blow our friends away. It is possible still to be tolerant without giving up the truth.

And so we must. We need to explain to people that what the Bible says is that we are sinners. We sin, sorry, because we are sinners. We are not sinners because we sin. That's a question in a theological paper. Are we sinners because we sin, or do we sin because we're sinners? What is biblical orthodoxy? Write 5,000 words on the subject.

The answer is, we sin because we're sinners. If you've ever done crown bowls, the bowling that Englishmen do in that green and pleasant land, from which I do not come, that was not any sort of… They have the grass and the crown bowls. If you've ever, as a ten-pin bowler, engaged in that, you know that that's an interesting exercise. And if you anticipated that in rolling the bowl it was going to do largely what it does for you in ten-pin bowling—namely, go down the gutter—namely, go straight, then you're in for a great shock. It is impossible for the thing to go straight, because the bowls are built with an inbuilt bias. They are biased.

They are built biased. And consequently, the skill in crown bowls is to be able to use the bias to take the bowl to its destination. It will come in from the left, or it will come in from the right, or you can turn it out the way or why you would want to. I would never know, because the thing you're aiming for is up the middle. But it will go this way, this way, this way, or this way, but one way it will not go. It's dead straight. See, you've just got to say to people, say, you know, look, you grew up in a nice house, your mom and dad were nice folks, they gave you nice meals, you pulled up your socks, you tied your shoelaces, you went to school. Why is it that you keep going up the left or up the right? Why can't you just go straight up the middle? Now, an honest person is going to say, you know what?

That is the $64,000 question. Why am I the way I am? Because culture is simply the expression, the cumulative expression of individualism. But we're living in a world which suggests that there is no such thing as sin. Let me ask you this question, believer and unbeliever alike. Do you believe that there is such a thing, such a state, or such a condition as being positively evil?

Do you believe there is such a thing as an individual being positively evil? Now, if you as a believer have not immediately marked a why against that question, it is a wonderful illustration of the phenomenal erosion that is taking place as a result of the impact of a secular world that believes that the issue is not concerning these matters an issue of morality but an issue of education. And the issue this morning, as we're told by our world, is not that a man is bad, it is just that he's not as good as he should be. That his problem is that he's ignorant. He's not sinful. It's just that he doesn't know. He doesn't know about the beautiful and about the pure and about the good. His problem is not that he chooses evil over good, but his problem is that he's unaware of the choice, and he needs to be educated. Isn't that what we hear all the time?

And that's, of course, our explanation all the time. The issue is shifted from morality to education. So we come to the question of premarital sex. The issue is not a moral issue anymore. It is an educational issue.

Therefore, we won't talk about right and wrong. We'll talk about educating people as to how they might accommodate this. The issue concerning AIDS. The one thing you cannot say about AIDS is to introduce the issue of morality to it. It becomes only a matter of education.

The question of the death penalty is not an issue of morality anymore. It is an issue of education. Go through the moral law of God, which is the moral law of God, and you realize that the culture in which we live has no possibility of coming to Christ as a savior, as a savior. For it is unprepared to admit the predicament of sin. And until a person understands sin, why in the wide world would you want a savior? So we need to labor to point out to people that if they're prepared to be sensible, to sift the evidence and to think, they have got to come up with an explanation as to why we are the way we are, and that we want to put it to them that the Bible gives as good an explanation as any that I've heard in a long time.

And we can start just from there. Don't you think that it's fairly reasonable to suggest that the reason we are the way we are on the outside is because of a problem that we have on the inside? So we live in manifold confusion. Ask your friends in the office when they give you this hogwash about, we just need education, say to them, listen, there's 150 people in this building today. Or if you're in a big building, you're in an organization, there may be thousands of people in it, and it's multiple floors. And you say to them when you're having coffee with them, do you really believe this morning that the adulterer and the thief and the wifebeater and the cheat and the gossip and the filthy-minded in our complex are just in need of a seminar? Is that what you're honestly telling me?

That all we need to do is get in and get educated? Don't be so jolly silly. No, you shouldn't say that. That gets them defensive.

Say, really? You see, that kind of approach denies the existence of conscience. And people want to deny the existence of their conscience. That's why they want a fancy name for adultery. So when they drive in their car, they don't want to hear it sounding in their conscience, adulterer, adulterer, adulterer, adulterer. They want to have it People magazine style.

They want it to be education, not morality. Or say to somebody, I don't like the diagnosis, it sounds cruel, it's unkind. Listen, it's the key to a lifelong cure. That's the last thing I want to say. I say to the person to whom I was speaking, you know, Jesus came to fulfill the Father's purpose. He came to reveal the Father. He came to die. And he came in order that we, in recognizing his death, may find life. The interesting thing is that in Mark 8 31, we read, For this very reason I came to this hour. Actually, that is John chapter 12.

Jesus, in looking at the cross, he says, For this very reason I came to this hour. You think about it, biographies don't spend a lot of time on their subject's death. You get a nine-hundred-page biography, there might be four or five pages that have to do with a person's death. I mean, what are you gonna say? You know, he was born here, and he lived there, and he went to this school, and he did all that, hundreds of pages, hundreds of pages, hundreds of pages, and he again said, and then he was seventy-four years old, and he died. Well, you're not gonna write a hundred pages on that, right?

I mean, what is there to say? George Bernard Shaw was right, the statistics are in. One out of one dies.

Big deal. But you turn to the biography of Jesus Christ, and thirty-three percent of his biography is given over to his death. A third of all the material written about Jesus has to do with his death. A third of the material has to do with the final six or seven weeks of his life. That's an interesting emphasis, is it not?

The evidence seems to suggest that it is vital. John Stott says, The hour for which Jesus had come into the world was the hour in which he left it. So we need to say to people, until we see this little cradle in terms of this cross, we'll never understand it.

Until we realize that Jesus on the cross was bearing sin, was taking our place, was suffering the punishment that was due us, because we are cheats and thieves, and because we have dirty minds, and because we go our own way, that Jesus on the cross was doing all of that, we never understood the Christmas story. Oh, says somebody, that's good. Fine. Thanks. Got it. Got it. Wrote them all down.

Got them all fine. Beautiful. I know four reasons why you didn't come, and I know five reasons why you did. Thanks for telling me that.

I actually believe that what you said is true, and I actually believe that it is very important. So, thank you very much, and we must have coffee again sometime. The person walks out of the place and says, Guess what? I'm a believer. I'm a believer. The guy hit me with nine things. Four reasons why you didn't come.

Five reasons why you did come. I bought every one of them. I believe every one of them. I'm a believer. Well, you're a believer in one sense. You've given intellectual assent to certain truths. You're a believer like the devil's a believer, because he is absolutely orthodox in his view of why Jesus came. He knows the four reasons why he didn't. He knows the five reasons why he did, and he's not in any doubt about any one of them. So is it sufficient to believe just the way the demons believe, simply to intellectually acknowledge it?

Absolutely not. So is there another step, the vital step? Alexander Fleming, a Scotsman, discovered penicillin. It was first used in Radcliffe Infirmary in Oxford.

It radically changed for all time the issue of blood poisoning. Imagine I'm in my bed and I have blood poisoning. Somebody comes and places a bottle of penicillin right here on my bedside table within arm's length of me and says, Listen, that's penicillin. And I say, I believe it. And the person says, Furthermore, the penicillin is the cure for blood poisoning which you know you've got. And I say, I believe it. But I'm gonna die of blood poisoning despite all of my belief, unless I personally take that which is held out to me as the cure for my predicament. You see, I don't think Sunday by Sunday I am laboring to convince a group of radical atheists that are coming within the walls of Parkside. I don't think that I am addressing a group of people who are, quote, unbelievers when it comes to assent to certain basic elements of the faith.

But I do believe that regularly I am addressing a group of people who will die in their sins at arm's length to the cure, because you have never, ever personally come to accept Jesus Christ and his offer of salvation. Some years ago in Edinburgh, when I was there as an assistant minister, a sixty-nine-year-old woman from the grass market in Edinburgh, which is a kind of seedy area where people hang out, the lady who essentially lived there as a bag lady was brought before the magistrate's court, and she was charged—she'd been charged many times before—as being drunk and incapable. The magistrate looked at her, and he said, In order that justice must be done, I have to fine you the statutory fine. The lady, of course, was penniless, and offering this information, which was no surprise to the magistrate, she then became the recipient of the news that in the absence of the finance she must spend the time in the cells, and she would be imprisoned. And so she was taken by the bailiff, she was taken out and down into the cells, and it was Christmas—this is true, this is not a fabrication for effect—taken down into the cells. Within an hour she was released.

The magistrate, when he conducted the business of the day and concluded, went down into the cells, having paid the woman's fine and made possible her release. In a far more wonderful way, Christ in his coming and in his death has paid our fine and made possible our release. Dear ones, why would you ever want to stay in bondage with such an offer of liberation? You're listening to Truth for Life Weekend. That is Alistair Begg challenging us to think about the cradle in light of the cross and to invite Jesus into our lives.

As Alistair pointed out in today's message, it's possible to die within an arm's length of the cure. So if you have friends or family members who may be religious but have never fully grasped the freedom of the gospel, you can put the cure right in their hands. We've put together a packet of three copies of the Gospel of John in booklet form. You can share these with three people you know who may not fully understand the real reason why we praise and glorify Jesus. The booklets are written in an easy to understand English standard version and at the end there's an explanation of what it means to be a Christian and a prayer that a reader can pray to invite Jesus into his or her life. Find out more about the three-pack of the Gospel of John when you visit our website at truthforlife.org.

I'm Bob Lapine. On behalf of all of us here at Truth for Life, I want to wish you a safe and joyful close to 2023 and a blessed and healthy welcoming in of the new year. We look forward to continuing our study of the Bible together in 2024. In our day there are people who wonder why we should study an archaic book in this day and age. Next weekend we'll begin a series that explains why the Bible is not only still relevant in our day, it's vital. I hope you can join us. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-30 06:22:36 / 2023-12-30 06:32:16 / 10

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