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Christianity Revealed
The Savior
 
April 8, 2005
 


 

Introduction

This chapter discusses the gospel of Jesus Christ, Christianity and the Christian Bible.  It covers both the Old Testament and New Testament covenants.  We explore the meaning of the Jewish Passover as well as the Biblical story of Jonah.  The concepts of  Christian faith, sin, spiritual types, the deity of Christ, the nature of Trinity, salvation and the propitiation for sins by the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, are discussed.  We explore the sacrifice Jesus made for us on the cross, that He descended into Hell (Hades) to take our place there, and then was resurrected to become Lord over all the earth.  The nature of trinity and Bible prophesy, the meaning of faith, water baptism and the concept of being "born again" are also covered.


Translations

First, it is important to understand that the Bible was originally written in three languages, primarily Hebrew and Greek with a smattering of Aramaic.  The NASB or "New American Standard Bible" translation is used as a reference here since it is familiar to the authors of this article and is highly regarded for its accurate translation of the original Greek and Hebrew texts.  Many people are under the impression that there is something spiritual about the King James translation.  In truth, the King James Bible uses old phrases and words that are difficult to interpret in 21st century America.  It is not the particular translation that is important, but rather that it be accurate.  Several other excellent translations of the Bible are available.

Quoting Encyclopedia Britannica, "The remarkable and total victory of the King James Version could not entirely obscure those inherent weaknesses that were independent of its typographical errors.  The manner of its execution had resulted in a certain unequal-ness and lack of consistency. The translators' understanding of the Hebrew tense system was often limited so that their version contains inaccurate and infelicitous renderings.  In particular, the Greek text of the New Testament, which they used as their base, was a poor one.  The great early Greek codices were not then known or available, and Hellenistic papyri, which were to shed light on the common Greek dialect, had not yet been discovered."


The Gospel

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the proclamation of the forgiveness of sin  which was preached by Jesus and the Apostles and is still preached after 2000 years.  The Gospel is the heart of Christianity and is most clearly expressed in the book of John, chapter 3, verse 16 (John 3:16): "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life."

John 14:6 "Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, and the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.'"

Here, Saint John explains why he wrote his Gospel.  John 20,30: "Many other signs therefore Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name."

Jesus' name holds the redemptive power and separates God's children from Satan's children.

Salvation is granted by God as a gift to you in recognition of your Faith, not because you are good or because you do good things.  If you can  sincerely say that Jesus was and is God and that you believe His teachings, then He will forgive you for your imperfections, and His Spirit will dwell inside you.  Romans 3:23:  "...if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved."

The presence of the Holy Spirit is what begins the transformation process whereby we become more and more aware that we need to change our behavior.  When the Holy Spirit speaks to your conscience it is called conviction.  

You may have heard the expression "born again Christian".  To be born again is the process whereby a person invites Jesus to be Lord of their lives.  When you ask God (pray) for this, the Holy Spirit will begin to transform you.  It is the beginning of a life-long construction project.  A person who has been reborn with Jesus is becoming a new person through conviction by the Holy Spirit.

John 3:3: "Jesus answered and said to him, 'Truly, truly I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God'".

A common fallacy is that you have to be "good" to be a Christian.  Christians are people who acknowledge that Jesus is The Lord of creation.  They are ordinary people with ordinary weaknesses.  The distinction between Christians and the rest of the world is that Christian people have been forgiven for their flaws.

People who acknowledge Jesus as God and invite Him into their lives are being changed or transformed for the better by the conviction of God's Spirit, the Holy Spirit.  Christian people are at different stages of development in God's construction project, some are just having the foundation laid, others have had one or more walls erected, and still others are working to remove old, condemned sin-structures.

When God looks at us without the covering of Jesus' name, no one can meet His righteous standards.  Romans 3:23: "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."


Jesus, Son of Man

Jesus repeatedly referred to Himself as "The Son of Man."  Matthew 16:27 "For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels; and will then recompense every man according to his DEEDS."

Indeed, Jesus came as a type of the complete man, Adam.  Adam was the first man, created perfect, but corrupted through sin.  Adam's wife, Eve, had been tempted by the serpent, Satan, in the Garden of Eden.  She was told a lie by the devil, that God was hiding something from her and that she could become like God by eating fruit from the tree of life, the tree from which God had forbidden her to eat.  She ate the fruit and also led her husband, Adam, into the same sin.  Both Adam and Eve and all of their descendants were were stripped of their pure God-likeness as a result, and were cast out of God's Garden.  Likewise, through Satan's crime, the tempting of Eve, all the earth and nature was similarly cursed by God.

Genesis 3:1-5:

1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, "Indeed, has God said, 'You shall not eat from any tree of the garden'?" 2 And the woman said to the serpent, "From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; 3 but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat from it or touch it, lest you die.' " 4 And the serpent said to the woman, "You surely shall not die! 5 "For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."

Genesis 3:14-19:

14 And the Lord God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this, Cursed are you more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly shall you go, And dust shall you eat All the days of your life; 15 And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel." 16 To the woman He said, "I will greatly multiply Your pain in childbirth, In pain you shall bring forth children; Yet your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you." 17 Then to Adam He said, "Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, 'You shall not eat from it'; Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life. 18 "Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; And you shall eat the plants of the field; 19 By the sweat of your face You shall eat bread, Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return."

In the same manner that humanity fell from God's grace because of Adam, humanity became reconciled to God through one man, Jesus, the Son of Man, a perfect man and a type of Adam. 1 Corinthians 15:22: "For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive."

Adam was God's Son who fell from grace.  Likewise, Jesus is God's Son, a human man born of a human woman, but without the curse of man, and having the full anointing of the Holy Spirit.  After death, Jesus was taken to a higher dimension, Heaven, the the place where God dwells, to sit at His right side as His only Son, and the redeemer for the sons of men on the earth below.


Jesus is God

Isaiah 7:14: "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel (Translation: "God with us").

In the following quote, C.S. Lewis, a Christian apologist, makes the point that Jesus was either a liar, a lunatic, or that He was and is the Son of God:

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: "I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God." That is the one thing we must not say. 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 a level with the man who says he is a poached egg--or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.1

more ]


Trinity, Three Gods in One God

(more to come here)


Jesus, The Rock of Salvation

A prophesy is a prediction of future events.  A prophet is a person who speaks of the future.  The source of prophetic ability is spiritual and can come either from God or Satan.  People filled with God's Holy Spirit or with Satan's spirit can both speak and write prophetically and not even be conscious that they are doing so.  

Here is an example of a prophetic verse from an Old Testament Psalm.   The original songwriter may have had no idea that it would prove to be prophetic.  Psalms 118:22: "The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief corner stone."

Many centuries after Psalm 118 was written, Jesus quoted it, recognizing it as having been written about Himself:  Matthew 21:42: "Jesus said to them, "Did you never read in the Scriptures, 'The stone which the builders rejected, This became the chief corner stone; This came about from the Lord..."

Jesus states in Luke 6:47-48: "Everyone who comes to Me, and hears My words, and acts upon them, I will show you whom he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation upon the rock; and when a flood rose, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built."

The rock is Jesus, the foundation of Christian faith.


Propitiation, The Lamb of God 

The Jewish people, the chosen people of God, had to sacrifice a lamb to God to atone for sin in their lives. This was required under the Law.  The Law consisted of the Ten Commandments and other statutes which had been given to the Jewish people through Moses by God.  Jews continue to celebrate Passover in remembrance of the arrangement God made to free them from their bondage to Pharaoh in Egypt.
 
Because of Pharaoh's steadfast refusal to allow the Jews to leave Egypt, God grew angry.  Ultimately, He assigned an Angel to kill all of the firstborn children who were not Jews.  The Jewish people, God's chosen race, were warned of the coming disaster by Moses, a prophet of God and the leader of the Jewish people. 
 
They were told to smear some of the blood of a sacrificial lamb on the doorpost of each house so that when the killing angel flew, he would "pass over" the houses of God's people.  As a consequence, no harm came to the Jews.
 
In the following quotation, God Himself speaks through Moses and tells us of His plans for judging Egypt.  Keep in mind that Pharaoh was cruelly enslaving God's chosen people, the Jews, against their will.  To this day in Christianity, Egypt is used as a metaphor for a place where false gods dwell, spirit-beings of this world who strive to deceive humanity.
 
Exodus 11:4-7: 4 And Moses said, "Thus says the Lord, 'About midnight I am going out into the midst of Egypt, 5 and all the first-born in the land of Egypt shall die, from the first-born of the Pharaoh who sits on his throne, even to the first-born of the slave girl who is behind the millstones; all the first-born of the cattle as well. 6 'Moreover, there shall be a great cry in all the land of Egypt, such as there has not been before and such as shall never be again. 7 'But against any of the sons of Israel a dog shall not even bark, whether against man or beast, that you may understand how the Lord makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel.'

Exodus 12:26-27: 26 "And it will come about when your children will say to you, 'What does this rite mean to you?'  27 that you shall say, 'It is a Passover sacrifice to the Lord who passed over the houses of the sons of Israel in Egypt when He smote the Egyptians, but spared our homes.' " And the people bowed low and worshiped.

Jesus became the Passover Lamb, a human sacrifice who continually atones for the sins of anyone who believes the eyewitness testimony of the Apostles, those who knew Him personally.  Jesus took the place of our "sin-self" when He died for us on the cross.  He became the propitiation for the sin of the world, a perpetual living sacrifice who has literally taken our place in hell.

1 Peter 2:24: "and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed."

What follows is a prophetic glimpse into the future, related by John, the apostle, while he was in prison on the island of Patmos.  This passage describes a time in the future, when Jesus will reign as King over all the earth:  Revelation 5:11-13: 11 And I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing." 13 And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, "To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever."

The Sign of Jonah

Everyone remembers the story of Jonah and the whale. As it turns out, that story is a prophetic Old Testament reference to the future death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Jonah 1:17: "And the LORD appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the stomach of the fish three days and three nights." Jesus said, long before he was crucified, that He would give the Jewish people only the sign of Jonah. Matthew 12:30 "for just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth."

God sent His Son, Jesus, to Hades for three days. That is why Jesus says "why have You forsaken Me?"  He was feeling the flames of Hell as he died.  Matthew 27:46: "About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ELI, ELI, LAMA SABACHTHANI" which translated means, "MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?". 

Jesus was resurrected on the third day following His death.  When Jesus walked out of His tomb, Satan was dealt a crushing blow and was stripped of his power over death. 


Spiritual Types

The Bible contains many symbolic or spiritual "echoes" of historical events which are to happen again in the future.  These similar events are called types.  John the Baptist, for example, was a type of Elijah, the Old Testament prophet. 

In the following scripture, Jesus refers to the true identity of John the Baptist, who had been beheaded by Herod.  Furthermore, Jesus states that Elijah will come yet a third time at some point in the future.  Jesus refers to Himself as the "Son of Man".  Matthew 17:11-12:  And He (Jesus) answered and said, "Elijah is coming and will restore all things; but I say to you, that Elijah already came, and they did not recognize him (John the Baptist), but did to him whatever they wished. So also the Son of Man (Jesus, speaking of Himself) is going to suffer at their hands."

In another example Biblical types, Jesus became a type of the high-priest, Melchizedek, of the Old Testament. 

In ancient times, the high-priest was the only person allowed into the Holy of Holies, the innermost sanctum of the Jewish Temple, where God's Presence resided.  The high-priest was the old-covenant bridge between God and the Jewish sinner who came for cleansing.  Similarly, Jesus became a new and better kind of bridge, a permanent bridge, between God and all the people of earth.  With Jesus, God granted everyone, not just the Jews, the chance to be forgiven and have eternal life.

Genesis 14:18: "And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; now he was a priest of God Most High."

Psalms 110:4: "The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind, "Thou art a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek."  This is another example of a prophetic verse, it was written about Jesus, who became the eternal High Priest and sacrificial Lamb.

Hebrews 6:20: "...where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek."


Old Testament Vs. New Testament Covenants

God told Abram, who became the Jewish patriarch, that He was going to make a nation from his descendants.  God imputed righteousness to Abram simply because Abram believed God's promise.

Genesis 15:5-6: 5 And He (God) took him (Abram) outside and said, "Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them." And He said to him, "So shall your descendants be." 6 Then he (Abraham) believed in the Lord; and He (God) reckoned it to him as righteousness.

Romans 4:3: For what does the Scripture say? "And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness."

The old-covenant (Abramic Covenant of circumcision) was the promise God made to Abram in Genesis, Chapter 17:1-5: 1 Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, "I am God Almighty; Walk before Me, and be blameless (obedient to the Law of Moses)2 "And I will establish My covenant between Me and you, And I will multiply you exceedingly." 3 And Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying, 4 "As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, And you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. 5 "No longer shall your name be called Abram, But your name shall be Abraham; For I will make you the father of a multitude of nations.

Later in his life, Abraham passed a very crucial test.  Abraham trusted God and was so faithful to Him that he was willing to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, in obedience to God.  As a result, God imputed righteousness to Abraham and his descendants because he had obeyed God's voice.  

Genesis 22:10-18: 10 And Abraham stretched out his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, and said, "Abraham, Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am." 12 And he said, "Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me." 13 Then Abraham raised his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the place of his son. 14 And Abraham called the name of that place The Lord Will Provide, as it is said to this day, "In the mount of the Lord it will be provided." 15 Then the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven, 16 and said, "By Myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens, and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies 18 "And in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice."

Notice that Abraham is a type of God, The Father.  Similarly, Isaac is a type of Jesus, the only Son of God.  Abraham was willing to give his son to God, and because of his faithfulness, God provided Abraham with a lamb in substitution for his son's life.  The lamb took Isaac's place, and the Lamb, Jesus, took our place on God's alter.

Jesus became a living sacrifice, highly valued by God, and more than sufficient to perpetually take away our sin, provided that we believe God and obey God in the same way that Abram did.


The Blood of Jesus

To God, The blood of a Holy sacrifice signifies purification, cleansing and propitiatory atonement for unrighteous behavior.  It is not, to God and Christian people, a thing to be associated with violence or gore, but rather of life through purification. Animal sacrifice should not be viewed as abhorrent. Humans kill other animals for food, but rarely witness the killing. The Jewish priests used the sacrificial animals for food. The animals were brought to the Temple during celebratory feasts and were used to feed the people.

God grew weary of the sacrificial method of atonement for sin, and made it clear that compassion and brotherly love were of more importance to Him than an animal sacrifice.  Jesus said at one point in Matthew 9:13: "But go and learn what this means: 'I DESIRE COMPASSION, AND NOT SACRIFICE,' for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners." (Note:  Here, Jesus is quoting Hosea 6:6 in the Old Testament.  The NAS Bible translates the Hebrew word checed  incorrectly as "loyalty".  In  Strong's concordance, checed (#2617) means "goodness, kindness or faithfulness".  The corresponding Greek word Elios (#1656), means "mercy".  The King James Version translates this correctly.)  Hosea 6:6 (NKJV): "For I (God) desire mercy and not sacrifice, And the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings."

When Christians say they are "covered in the blood of Jesus", it is a symbolic reference to the new covenant which came into effect when Jesus died on the cross.  God replaced the old Abramic covenant of circumcision with the new covenant in Jesus' blood.  Jesus willingly became a sacrifice for all of us, and the amazing thing is that Jesus is Himself God Almighty.  God gave His own life for us.

1 Corinthians 11:25: In the same way He (Jesus) took the cup also, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me."


Water Baptism

Our sinful-self is continuously being crucified (put to death) with Christ. The full-immersion water baptism is a symbol of this rebirth.  Just as Jesus Himself died and was resurrected, we too must die in order to be reborn.  The part of us that must die is the part that is corrupt. 

Baptism is important because Jesus Himself was baptized and believed that it was necessary.  Also, baptism is symbolic of Jesus' death and resurrection and it parallels our own spiritual death and rebirth in Christ.

 When Jesus died on the cross, He descended into hell.  On the third day, He came back up to this earth having stripped the keys to death and Hades away from Satan.  

John, in prison on Patmos island near Greece, quotes Jesus in Revelation 1:17-18: "When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. And He placed His right hand on me, saying, 'Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.'"


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1 C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York: Macmillan Co., Inc., 1943), pp. 55-56.