URBAN LEGENDS #1, Dr. Steve With – 8/30/2015

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Urban Legends #1

Well,  welcome  today  to  all  of  you at Impact,  as  we  begin  a  new series  called Urban Legends.  I hope you liked our video intro… Speaking of Mary Poppins.  I don’t think that is how you fly with an umbrella.  But it was a good legend and a good look at an Urban Legend.

Today,  though,  we  start  a  brand  new series,  and  of  all  the  series  that  we’ve  ever done  in  The  Orchard or Impact church,  I  would  say  that  this  one  has  potential  to  be  the  most  important.

Today, we will look at an urban legend that, in reality, all of our eternity’s hinge on the possibility of this being legend or being truth.  Very, very important.  Next weekend, I will talk  about  what  I  consider  to  be  the  most  dangerous  spiritual  legend  in  the  American church.    The  majority  of  Americans  believe  this  very  dangerous  teaching,  and  we  will talk about that next week.

Today we  are  going  to  look  at  one  of  the  most  common  world-wide  beliefs today.  You  can  see  this  on  talk  shows,  television,  radio,  you  can  see  your  favorite movie star talking about this, and in this very politically correct world, it is very common to hear that there are many different ways to God.

People will say as long as you are sincere, and  you  are  sincerely  seeking,  all  roads  lead  to  God. This  message,  it  feels good.  It is easy to believe, but the question is, is it an urban legend, or is it true?

What  is  funny  to  me  is,  this  is  different  than  years  past,  but  today,  you  can  talk  about God just about anywhere.  You can talk about God on Oprah.  You can  talk about  spirituality.   You can talk about faith… but  you  can’t  talk  about Jesus.  You talk about Jesus and everybody freaks out, I mean, even in public schools you can’t talk about Jesus.

I like the story of one fourth grade little girl that was trying to talk  about  Easter,  and  her  teacher  said,  “You  can’t  talk  about Christian  things  here  at school,” and the little girl said, “But it is Easter, and Jesus rose from the dead,” and the teacher said, “You Christians are so foolish. Jesus did not rise from the dead.”  And the little girl said, “Yes, He did.”  And the teacher said, “No, no, the Roman soldiers stole the body of Jesus.”  And the girl said, “No!  They didn’t.”  And the teacher said, “Prove it,” and the little fourth grade girl was frustrated.  She said, “I can’t prove it, but when I die and I go to Heaven, I’ll ask the Roman guards and they will tell me they didn’t do that.”  And the teacher said, “Yeah, but what if they are not in Heaven?” And the little girl said, “Well, then, when you die, you ask them.”  [laughter]

Are  there  many  different  ways  to  God,  or  is  Jesus  the  only  way?  Whenever  you  say Jesus  is  the  only  way,  people  tend  to  write  you  off  as  very  narrow  minded,  very judgmental, very  close  minded.

Is  it  legend?   Is  it  truth?    Let’s  look  at  the claims  of Jesus,  because  you’ve  got  to  admit,  almost  nobody  debates  the  existence  of  Jesus.  Even  Jesus’  detractors admit  Jesus  existed.  People  don’t  dislike  His  teaching.  How can you?    It’s  the  best  teaching  around.  Love  people.  Be generous.  So,  they  don’t debate  His  teaching.  They  don’t  debate  His  existence.   What  people  debate  is  His exclusive claim to be God, the Son of God, the only way to God.

Listen to a few things He says…

I. LISTEN TO JESUS 

John 14:6, Jesus, one time said,

6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”

“I am the,” what?  Jesus said, “I am the way.  I am the truth, and I am the life.”  And Jesus said, “Nobody gets to God, no one  comes  to  the  Father except,”  how?   He  said,  “Except  …”    There’s  only  one way,  Jesus  said.    That  brings  the  point  of  debate.   Is  He the only way?    Look at this passage…

John  10:30,  30 “The Father and I are one.” 31 Once again the people picked up stones to kill him. 32 Jesus said, “At my Father’s direction I have done many good works. For which one are you going to stone me?”33 They replied, “We’re not stoning you not for any good work, but for blasphemy! You, a mere man, claim to be God.” John 10:30-33

Again, the Jews picked up stones to stone Jesus, who also was a Jew, but Jesus said to them, “I’ve shown you many great works and miracles from the Father.  For which of these do you want to stone me?”  “We are not stoning you for any of these,” replied the Jews.  But for what?  We are stoning you for blasphemy, because you are a mere man.   You claim to be God.”

It is those claims that freaks everybody out.  Muhammad, Buddha, Confucius, the Dalai Lama, none of them claim to be God.  That’s what  separates  Jesus, and  that’s  what  offends  so  many  people.    Let’s  be  honest.

Deciding on the answer to this issue is one of the most important things that we could ever do.  Our eternal destination hinges on the answer.  Are there many ways to God?  Or,  is  Jesus  the  only  way?    If  Jesus  is  who  He  says  He  is,  the  Son  of  the  living  God, born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, and said, “You must deny yourself and follow me.”  If that is true, then we should surrender the rest of our lives, giving every bit, empowered by God’s Spirit, to pursue Him, to live for Him, and to live for His glory in every single way.

If, on the other hand, though, it is not true, you should never, ever come back here again.   You  should  never  waste  your  time  in  a  Christian  church,  because  we  are  just kidding  ourselves,  and  this  is  all  a  big  joke.    So,  let’s  explore  it  and  see.    Legend  or truth?  Where do we fall?

PUT HIM TO THE TEST

We are going to put Jesus to the test, and we are going to test a couple of things.  If you are taking notes, we will start off by…

1) Testing the Credibility of Jesus.

How credible was He, because  a  lot  of  times  when  you  get  closer  to  people,  you are  less  impressed.  From a distance, they may look impressive…seem impressive.  But when you get up close or dig into their life, not such a good picture.

Anyway,  let’s  look  at  some  things  about  Jesus,  and  let’s  test  His  credibility,  we will examine three things.

First of all, we are going to

  • Examine what People Said about Jesus.

Now, not  just  His  fans,  and  not  His  disciples,  but  let’s look  at  a  couple  of  people  who  had reason to not like Jesus.  The first one is Pilate, Pontius Pilate.  Now, if you know his story, he was under a tremendous amount of pressure to crucify Jesus.  And he wanted to find any sin, any fault, any excuse to give in to the crowd, so Pilate examined Jesus, and here’s what he said, John 18:38.  He said,

38 “What is truth?” Pilate asked. Then he went out again to the people and told them, “He is not guilty of any crime.”  John 18:38

What is truth, Pilate found Jesus not guilty…“Then, another version of the Bible, it translates it this way.  It says, “I find no fault in him.”  I mean, He hasn’t done anything wrong.  Try this.  The next time you think you are the Son of God, go ask someone if they find any fault in you:

Go to work and ask, “do I have any faults or do I ever do anything wrong”?

I asked my wife, Jill, “Do I have any faults?” she said  “I don’t want part of this talk so I am out, like shark tank”  …  My daughter Natalie chirped in that she would be able to write them down for me if needed.”

Okay? Pontius  Pilate,  who  was  looking  for something wrong, said, “This man hasn’t done anything wrong.  I can’t find any fault in him.”  Look at what people said about Him.  Look also at the centurion and some of his buddies  who  were  at  the  crucifixion  of  Jesus,  and  they  were  on  the  side  of  the  crowd who wanted  Jesus  dead.   If  you  know  the  story,  Jesus  gave  His  life  and  the  ground shook, the temple veil was ripped, and here’s what some other people said.

54 The Roman officer and the other soldiers at the crucifixion were terrified by the earthquake and all that had happened. They said, “This man truly was the Son of God!”  Matthew 27:54

Okay, they looked on and they said, “Wait a minute.  This has got to be the Son of God.  He is who He said He was.”

A second thing we are going to examine, if you are taking notes is, let’s

  • Examine what Jesus did.

He was well known and famous for His teaching and for His miracles.

They asked, “Where did he get all this wisdom and the power to perform such miracles?” Mark 6:2

Think about the miracles of Jesus.  What did He do?  Well, He opened blind eyes.  Impossible.  He healed deaf ears.  He caused the mute to speak.  Some guy with a  shriveled  up  hand was  healed.    He  cast  out  demons.    He

multiplied five loaves and two fish to feed 5,000 men, and probably their wives and kids there, as well.  He walked on water.  He calmed the storm.  He raised the dead.  And nobody,  not  even  the  Pharisees,  who  hated  him,  debated  the  validity  of  His  miracles. 

 

They just wanted Him to stop.  “Sure, He does miracles.  Just stop Him.”  Examine what others said about Him.  Examine what Jesus did, and also, if you are taking notes, let’s

  • examine  what  God  did.
  • If  there  is  any  one  thing  that  pops  out  of  scripture  that’s important  to  recognize,  it  is  that  scripture  claims  that  Jesus,  after  He  died,  was  raised back to life.  In fact, Peter, when he was at Solomon’s colonnade, was talking to some of the men at Israel, and this is what he is recorded to say.

You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. And we are witnesses of this fact! Acts 3:15

He  said,  “You  know what?    We  didn’t  just  hear  about  it,  but  we  saw  Him  when  He  was  risen.”    Now, admittedly,  there  is  a  lot  of debate.    No  one  debates  whether  Jesus  existed.    No  one debates the quality of His teaching, but what they do debate is, “Was He really raised from the dead?”  And some arguments to say He wasn’t, a lot of people will say, “Well, the  Roman  soldiers,  they  stole  the  body  of  Jesus,  and so  He  is  not really  risen.”    \

LET’s think  about  this.    The Roman  soldiers,  the Jewish leaders and other  enemies  of  Jesus  would have loved nothing more than to produce a dead body, to say, “Look, the disciples are full of it.  Here He is.  He’s still dead.”   They could have thrown Jesus’ body on a cart and wheeled it through town…but they had no body so the whole cart and wheeling thingy isn’t possible.

 

So, that argument seems to vanish pretty quickly.  Now, a lot of people will also say, “Well, the disciples stole the body of Jesus,” which is a  possibility,  if  you  can  imagine  that these  unarmed,  untrained  men  overpowered  the best  of  the  best  of  the Roman  guards,  who  were  kind of  like  today’s  UFC  fighter, maybe Rhonda Rousy, and you have to remember, too, that you would still have the testimony of the guards, who could  say,  “Well,  you  know,  we  weren’t  paying  attention,  and  you  know,  these  guys, they  were  really  tough,  especially  the  little  tax  collector  guy.    I  mean,  he  walked  up  to us, and just beat the tar out of us, and they stole the body.”

You still have the testimony of  the  guards.    Now,  think  about  this.    The  twelve  disciples,  Judas  took  his  own  life,  John died of old age.  How did the other ten die?  Well, the other ten died the death of a martyr.  After severe torture and persecution, they lost their lives for the cause of Christ.  Do you think that these ten men would really die for a lie?  Scripture tells us this.  Jesus was  spotted.    There  were  witnesses.  There  were  those  who  saw  Him  on  the  road  to Emmaus.  There were those who saw Him on the mountainside.  There were those who saw  Him  in  the  Upper  Room.

According  to  the  book  of  Acts,  there  were  over  500 people who saw the risen Christ. There were witnesses.  Think about this.  Ask yourself this.  Do you really expect any rational – thinking person to believe that eleven, ordinary, uneducated men devised the most grand scheme in the history of the world, pulled it off, and kept it a secret – with no personal motivation for self – gain, but quite the opposite.

They  pulled  off  this  elaborate  hoax  with  severe  personal  cost  and  lost,  being  hated, despised,  rejected,  abused,  tortured,  and  martyred, all  in  order  to  cheat  the  world  into being a better place.

Urban  legend.    There  are  many  ways  to  God,  and  honestly,  in  our  politically  correct world,  that  just  feels  right.    It  feels  safe.    It  is  not  offensive.    Yet,  Jesus  makes  a  very exclusive  claim,  and  He  says,  “There’s  no  other  way  to  the  Father but  through  me.”  Test the credibility of Jesus.

The second thing we are going to do is, we are going to,

2) test the character of Jesus.

Is He who He says He was?  Was He a man of God, a man of integrity?  John 8:46, Jesus asked  a  question.

46 Which of you can truthfully accuse me of sin? And since I am telling you the truth, why don’t you believe me?  John 8:46 

He  said,  “If  I  am  telling  the  truth,  why  don’t  you  believe  me?”    When  it  comes  to  the character of Jesus, we really have only one of three options.  Who was He?  If you are taking notes, option number one, we would could just assume that,

Jesus was a Liar

…like the  rest  of  us,  because  we  all  lie,  and  if  you  say  you  don’t  lie,  you  are  probably  lying when you say you don’t lie.

Maybe Jesus was a liar, and if He was, you’ve got to admit, He was dog gone good, wasn’t He?  I mean, He was so persuasive that He got these twelve guys, and He was like, “Hey, you know, starting this business.  You can get in on the bottom floor, and you know,  there’d  be  layers  under  you  and  you  can  retire.”   And  so,  He  talked  them  into leaving  their  families,  their  career,  their  jobs,  and  for  three  years, these  guys  followed Jesus,  who  you  could  say  was  lying.    At  some  point,  you  know  Jesus  had  to  sit  back and go, “Man, I had no idea I could pull this thing off.  I think it’s going to stick.  I mean, it could be like 2,000 years later, and people will still believe that I was the Son of God.  Dang!  This thing could work.”

Okay?  Now, if He was lying, you have to know, at some point,  He  would  break.   He’d  have  to.   So at  some  point,  and  I  don’t  know  when,  but  whenever  they  were beating Him in the face over and over and over again, you know, with their rings, over and over and over again, and His face became so disfigured, Jesus would have said I was just kidding, I am not really God I am not really the only way to heaven”

It could have been, when they stripped Him down naked, and they took a whip, and in the whip there’d be these little metal  balls,  and  there’d  be  sharp  bones,  they’d  beat  Him  again  and  again  on  the back,  and  at  first,  the  little  balls  would  cause  Him  to  bruise,  then  before  long,  they’d burst through the bruises and blood would splatter everywhere.

“Fellas, hold it a second, Jesus would have said, Those were just stories I was telling, I’m was just kidding.”

He’d  probably  break  then,  but  if  He’s  really stinking tough, He’d just continue going, “Yeah, I’m just fooling them all, still,” but about the time when they put His bloody back on the cross and take the stakes, and they’d be about to drive them through His hands, don’t you think about that point He’d say,

“Okay, sorry guys.  This was all a joke.  I’m just messing with you.  Okay?  I was bored as a carpenter.  Wood on Monday.  Wood on Tuesday.  Wood all week long.  I just thought I’d just mess with you.”  Don’t you think at some point He would have said, “Hey, let’s take our ball and go home.  This isn’t funny any more.”

Is He a liar?  The man who is known for His moral teaching was immoral, Himself?  The man who endured so much on the cross for you and I was lying about it all….It’s an  option.

Another  option  is,  He  was  crazy.    If  you  are  taking  notes,

Jesus is  a  lunatic.   You should lock Him up.  Put Him in a mental hospital.  I like the story about the  mental  hospital  that  was  surrounded  by  a  wooden  fence  to  keep  everybody  safe, and there was a hole in the fence with a sign on the outside that said, “Don’t look in the hole.”  And this guy was walking by, and he saw the sign, and he heard a guy on the other  side  of  the  fence  going,  “Thirteen,  thirteen,  thirteen,  thirteen,  thirteen,  thirteen,” and the guy was going, “What is that guy doing?  There’s a sign that says, ‘Don’t look in the hole,’“ and he, “Thirteen, thirteen, thirteen,” and finally, the guy just… curiosity got the best of him, so he looked in the hole and the guy on the other side poked him right in the eye and just started laughing.  He goes, “Aha.”  The guy on the other side of the fence is going, “Fourteen, fourteen, fourteen.”

Maybe, maybe Jesus was a lunatic.  He was crazy.  You think about David Koresh, Jim Jones,  Marshall  Applewhite,  and  others  who  had  kind  of  a  messiah  complex.    They believed  to  be  God,  or  the  messiah,  or  some  sort  of  deity.    They  all  had  a history  of disturbing behavior.  And, you think about Jesus, the most loving, most generous, most perfect person.  He was either a liar, or He was a lunatic.  

We have one option left.  If you  are  taking  notes,  and  that  is  this,

JESUS IS LORD.  He  is  the  Lord  of  all.    He  is  Lord  of  everything.  Why is it today that a lot of people don’t have a lot of respect or admiration, or worship for Jesus?

I think for one reason, is because a lot of people don’t understand who He was.  They think he was a wimpy guy who died on the cross.

Secondly,  they’ll  see  Jesus  as  kind  of  this  poor  Galilean  peasant.

I  want  you  for  a  minute  to  not  just  think  about  the pictures that we’ve painted of Him, but I want you to think about who the Bible says He is when He returns.  The apostle John, when he was exiled on the isle of Patmos, had a vision of  the  returning  Christ.   I  want  to  see  if  this  is  a  person  who  demands  your respect, more so, your reverence, more so your worship and your devotion.  Let’s look at how it’s described.

Revelation 19:11, John says of THE RISEN LORD

11 Then I saw heaven opened, and a white horse was standing there. Its rider was named Faithful and True, for he judges fairly and wages a righteous war. 12 His eyes were like flames of fire, and on his head were many crowns.  A name was written on him that no one understood except himself. 13 He wore a robe dipped in blood, and his title was the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven, dressed in the finest of pure white linen, followed him on white horses. 15 From his mouth came a sharp sword to strike down the nations. He will rule them with an iron rod. He will release the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty, like juice flowing from a winepress. 16 On his robe at his thigh was written this title: King of all kings and Lord of all lords.                 Revelation 19:11-16

One more time.  His name is “King of Kings and Lord of Lords.”  Think about Jesus, if you will, for a moment.  Think about the span of life.  His public ministry lasted three years, and even though His ministry was only three years, His very birth splits time in two.  Before Christ, BC   and those of you who are young and growing up in today’s politically correct education system, do not  buy  into  the  lie  that  you  are  being  taught.    A  whole  new  generation  is  coming  up, thinking that B.C.E. is the way it’s always been, before common error, and my children will  grow up with our  children  thinking  that’s  just  the  way  it  is  unless  we  teach  them, “No!”  For years and years and years, it has been accepted that B.C. stands for Before Christ.    His  very  birth  splits  time  in  two.

Scripture  says  that  there  is  one  name  that  is above every single name, and that is the name of Jesus, and you will, on this earth, bow and call Him Lord, or one day, you will be like everyone else, who will kneel down and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord of all.

III. WHAT ABOUT YOU?

Think  about  this.    Ever  see  anybody,  they  were  working  on something  with  a hammer…boom,  boom,  boom,  and  then they  miss  and  they  hit  their  thumb!  You ever hear anybody go thoommb, “Ah, Muhammad, Confucius, Buddha!”  But what do they say?  “Jesus Christ,” the name above all names, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  What do you believe?  What do you believe about Him?  Jesus asked His  disciples  one  time,  saying,

15 Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?”16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Matthew 16:15-16

“Who  do  people  say  that  I  am?”    “Oh,  you’re  all  these kind of people.  You’re, yeah, you’re uh Elijah, or you’re John the Baptist, you’re one of the prophets,” and then He looked at Peter and He said, “Peter, who do you say that I am?  Who do you say I am?”  Peter said, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Who  do  you  say  He  is?   Now,  listen  very  carefully.    Not  just who do you say He is with your lips, but who do you say He is with your life, because

there is a big difference.  Not just, “Yeah, I was a little kid, and I went to church, and I prayed this prayer, and you know, I got confirmed.  I was baptized,” or whatever, and, “Yeaaaahhh,  yeah,  yeah.    Yeah,  He’s my  Savior.”

32 “Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven.” Matthew 10:32-33 

1) This last seven days, just the last week, what  would  your  actions  say  you  believe  about  Jesus?

  1. You  sought  Him  through  His  word,  because  this  is  the  bread  of  life,  and  you were  in  His  word,  because  you  really  believe  it.
  2. You were praying like crazy, because you know that’s your direct access to the very throne room of God
  3. You were looking at  people  who  don’t  know  Him,  and  you  were  trying  to  figure  out  how  you  could  help them to know Him Let me tell you what you weren’t doing.

Truthfully,  when I look  at  my  actions, they often don’t really reflect the  Lordship  of Christ.  I don’t just want to say with my lips, but I want to live it  with my life.

Have  our  actions reflected the lordship of Christ?

  • Think about the words that we say.
  • Think about the attitudes  of  our  hearts.
  • Think  about  how  we  spend  our  money.
  • Think  about  where our minds drift.
  • Think about how we raised our children.
  • Think about how we spend our time.

Let’s live out the truth about Jesus in our Lives.  Since we know Jesus is Lord and not a Liar or Lunatic, let’s live for Him.  Let’s forget the legends and live for the real Lord, the real Savior Jesus Christ.

2) If you are a follower of Christ, have you taken time in the last month to share your faith with someone?  Maybe just say who Jesus is to me!!

Here’s who He is to me.  He’s my friend.  He’s my Savior.  He’s my Redeemer, my righteousness, my rock, my shelter, the bread of life, the gate, the door, my salvation, and my Lord, and the only way I have access to God, and if there had

been another way to get to God, then Jesus would have never  had  to  be  born  and never had to die.  It’s  because  of  that,  I  not  only  want  to confess Him with my mouth, but I want to confess Him with my whole life.

Who do you say that he is?  

Let’s Pray…“Father,  may  we  resist  the temptation  to  blend  in  to what is popular, cool, and easy, but may we do the homework for ourselves, and God, I, I believe that Your Spirit and Truth will reveal that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, and we have no access to You but through Him.”

While we are praying can I add something?

“There  are  those  of  you  who  are  being  drawn  to  the  things  of Jesus.

Pray: “Heavenly Father, I give You my whole life  as  Jesus  gave  His  life  for  me.    Because  You  died  for  me,  empower  me  to  live  for You.  Forgive me of my sins.  Make me new.  Make me like You.  Be my Savior, and be my Lord.  In every way, I give my life to You.  Thank You for new life.  In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen”

You call out on His  name,  and  the  scripture  says  you  will  become  a brand  new  creation.   God  has  brought  you  here  because  this  is  your moment.  Who do you say that He is?  A great man, a wise teacher, or the Son of the Living God, Who is Lord of all? Let’s all choose to live like we believe in Jesus this week.  Let’s be the church and let’s follow the one who is our only way to heaven, life, and hope.   Amen

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