How can Jesus be the Savior/King if the Jews rejected him? The rejection of Jesus as the Messiah of Israel has been historically a huge stumbling block to many, especially the Jewish people. If Jesus truly was the fulfillment of Jewish prophecy, wouldn’t He have been accepted by His own people? Put more negatively, if even Jesus’ own people did not accept Him, why should the rest of the world? The answer to this objection comes by understanding the prophecies about the Jewish Messiah. The prophesies stated that the Messiah was to be both rejected and accepted. Logically the rejection had to come first if His acceptance was to be permanent. For example, Isaiah 53 prophesies, “He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.” So Jesus will be accepted by the Jewish people ultimately, but He had to be rejected in the short term in order to fulfill the Jews’ own Scriptures. Due to their spiritual blindness and hardness of heart against their own God, the Jews would deliver the Messiah over to the hands of godless people who would put their king to death. This rejection had to happen, not only to fulfill Scripture, but so that Jesus could be presented to God as the sacrificial lamb for the sins of God’s people. The Jews celebrate their Passover with the slaughter of a male lamb without defect. In the Gospel of John chapter 1 Jesus was presented to Israel by John the Baptist as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. The Bible also teaches that God’s purpose for Israel’s rejection was so the rest of the nations of the world would be brought closer to God. In a strange irony the Jews’ rejection of their King brought salvation to the rest of the world. Paul captures this mystery best in his great epistle to the Romans, 11:25-26 “For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery — so that you will not be wise in your own estimation — that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; 26 and so all Israel will be saved;” Only after this vast harvest of Gentile souls would the nation of Israel understand its mistake, repent (turn from) of their sin and believe in Jesus in mass. So that day is coming! Another way to answer this question is to remind people that a very large number of Jews believed in Jesus as Messiah even way back in the first century. For example Acts 6:7 “The word of God kept on spreading; and the number of the disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith.” These were all Jewish converts to Jesus in the first century. These early Jews read the prophecies, considered the unparalleled life and vast miracles of Jesus, saw the strong evidence for his resurrection from the dead, and chose to follow Him as the Son of God despite persecution from their brethren. In fact since the church started in Jerusalem, all the earliest Christians were Jewish. John 7 gives us an insight into why some Jews of Jesus’ day believed in Him. Verse 31 reads, “But many of the crowd believed in Him; and they were saying, ‘When the Christ comes, He will not perform more signs than those which this man has, will He?’” Thousands of Jews believed in Jesus in the first century, thousands still believe in Him today and millions will believe in Him in the end times.
Aren’t Christians excessively negative about their fellow man? We live in a positive age – an age of self-esteem and belief in man’s abilities. Advances in technology have fed the belief that man is progressing into a new age of greatness. This spirit of the age influences people’s view of themselves. Surrounded by an ardent protection of man’s image and pride, people tend to have too rosy an outlook of themselves and humanity. This self-inflation is spiritually dangerous! When men evaluate themselves, their reasoning tends to be circular and biased. People erect their own standards of what constitutes “good,” then pronounce themselves good based on their arbitrary standards. Surely this is not the way to think. God must be the reference point outside of man by which all people must be judged. The important question is to know what God thinks of humanity not what we think of ourselves. It is true that in one sense God’s word and Christianity hold a more negative view of humanity than most, if not all, other major religions due to ubiquitous and undeniable disobedience. However this is only in one sense. Christianity also upholds the dignity of every human being, old or young, rich or poor, male or female, educated or uneducated, born or unborn. In this ardent defense of all human beings, it has a higher view of humanity than many other worldviews without inflating humanity unnecessarily. God sees man as both designed for greatness but sadly gone astray. Yet with God’s plan, there is incredible hope for mankind and a glorious future for millions of believers. The key to an accurate understanding of humanity is to understand the chronology of man’s state before God. The Bible describes mankind as created upright in character. We were made in the very image of our Maker. This image bestowed upon all humanity a dignity far above any other form of life. We were made to rule over all animals and other lifeforms on this planet. Then the Bible describes humanity as corrupting God’s way in sin (as we described in a previous post.) Humanity was created upright but twisted and perverted the good God bestowed upon the human race. So humanity corrupted itself and dishonored their Creator. With that corruption came all kinds of foolish and base actions. The Bible documents the full range of that destructive foolishness in man. The Bible’s willingness to “tell-it-like-it-is” is one reason you know Christianity is speaking truthfully to the world. Flatterers deceive to gain an advantage. Friends tell us the hard truths about ourselves because they love us. If Christianity was attempting to function like a smooth salesman, it would design a much more winsome and attractive message, such as, “You can be like God one day” or “You are fine the way you are and don’t need to change a thing.” There are religions which assert those messages. Christianity’s message is much more humbling than that of others. It does not flatter our egos. It tells us that unless we turn from our wicked ways we will perish in our sins. It tells us we should pick up our cross and follow Jesus in a life of service to others. In life we know that the best doctors are those who tell us the hard truths about our sickly condition. Likewise, the best faith will be the one which tells you the truth about the sinful condition of your soul. Ultimately Christianity is more positive than other faiths. For those who turn from their sin and believe in Jesus, it guarantees a permanent resurrection from the dead, an eternal kingdom, a personal relationship with God, and everlasting, blissful paradise. That’s not such a negative outcome for those who place faith in Jesus! Christianity always sees the potential in human beings as created for God’s glory without falsely declaring them self-sufficient gods and abandoning them to a false hope.
Doesn’t the Christian life restrict joy and fun? This may be one of the most persuasive reasons people choose not to become Christians. They just don’t think Christianity will be enjoyable and fulfilling. I know that many balk at the Christian life because they think about the beer they want to guzzle, the cussing they enjoy, the sexual sin they crave, the lifestyle they enjoy with their friends, and the proud posture they want to maintain before others. With this inner desires they reason that if they become a Christian they will have to give all that fun up. Yet they like living life the way they do, and they definitely don’t want to submit to God’s ways. They want to follow their own plans. This is such a powerful argument to many nonChristians, the whole discussion of religion stalls right here. In fact their intellectual arguments against the Bible hide their real intent – to deflect focus away from the way they want live. It’s hard to convince people who have never really experienced a relationship with Jesus that it is the best this present life has to offer. Evidence of this is in the lives of the believers themselves. If you were to ask most Christians who used to enjoy the party life or a lifestyle contrary to that of a Christian, “Do you feel like you are missing out on things because you are a Christian now?” they would invariably exclaim, “No!” Life is better as a Christian, and those who have tried both lifestyles testify that the comparison is not even close. The only restriction of fun we have following Christ is when our happiness and fun involves hurting others, practicing harmful things to ourselves, or bringing disrepute to our God. We don’t pursue drunkenness because it just cannot compete with the peace and joy we have in the Holy Spirit. Sexual perversion is far less satisfying than love and sex conjoined in marital fidelity and harmony. Faithfulness is fulfilling. A foul mouth brings nowhere near as much satisfaction as a clean and constructive mouth others wish they possessed but don’t have the power to muster. Christianity actually invests life with a zest and abiding joy. It is only the slander of the Christian life that discourages people from following because the way forward seems boring or too restrictive. Jesus taught in John 10 that He came to give His followers abundant life. Christians are able to enjoy everything to the fullest without foolishly getting life out of balance. We enjoy relationships, nature, work, family, church, food, recreation, and life at a level most people can’t even comprehend. Many are the Christians who used to live the nonChristian life in earnest, but would never turn back to it’s foolishness again. For in Christ they now know what they were blind to before — Christ is truth and real life!
Why do you worship Jesus as divine if He never claimed to be God? The premise to this question is incorrect. Those who examine Jesus’ claims are absolutely startled at what He declared. His claims are so amazing that one would have to be either a lunatic, a liar, or truly the Lord of Heaven to have said the kind of things Jesus repeatedly uttered. If any other person said the kind of things Jesus said without performing a whole host of miracles as Jesus did, we would relegate that person to the mental ward of the nearest hospital. Jesus claimed to be exactly who he is, the God-man. His claims to be human were not a denial of his deity any more than his claims to be God were a denial of His humanity. He claimed in John 8 to live before Abraham lived. Abraham happened to have lived 2000 years before Jesus was born. Jesus took the name “I am” for Himself in John 8, the very Hebrew name God gave himself in Exodus 3 when Moses encountered Him at the Burning Bush. Jesus claimed God as His own personal Father in John 5, a claim His enemies understood to equate him with God. Since a son has the same nature as a father, the claim to be the unique Son of God was a claim to have the very same eternal nature as God the Father. Jesus received worship from men who fell down before him and adored Him as God. Rather than shooing them away or telling them to stop, He gladly received the highest form of devotion from His disciples. Jesus even received the title of “God” when Thomas acknowledged His victory over death in John 20. Regularly Jesus claimed to have come down out of heaven and not originated on earth as other human beings. In Mark 2, He claimed to be able to forgive sins. The Jews considered it blasphemy because they knew only God could forgive sins. He also used other titles only God could bear such as Lord and Savior. The earliest Christians all worshipped Jesus as God and believed Jesus could answer all prayers, and be with them everywhere they went. He was omnipresent and had all power in heaven according to Matthew 28. The last book of the New Testament places these words in Jesus’ mouth, Revelation 1:17 “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, 18 and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.” So Jesus more than claimed to be God; He demonstrated He was God, talked as if he was God, and let people relate to Him as God.
Is there any proof Jesus actually lived? There is more direct, tangible and circumstantial evidence Jesus of Nazareth lived than any other figure of antiquity. It is interesting that in a day in which students are told without a measure of doubt that various ancient people, such as Cleopatra, Darius, Socrates, Archimedes, Alaric the Visigoth, or even Jerome, lived, that Jesus’ life would be questioned. The direct eyewitness testimony to his life is abundant and irrefutable. The written testimony comes very early after his life. Not only the very early (first century) accounts of his life in the New Testament, but also some key mentions of his life outside the NT make it abundantly clear, we not only know he lived but we also know much of the details about his life, death, and resurrection. The accuracy of the four gospels accounts about Jesus is being increasingly attested by the discovery of archeological finds. Many of the historical, cultural, and geographical markers of the New Testament gospels have been confirmed as accurate also. So it is fair to say that only a completely biased person would question the reality of the life of Jesus. Jesus lived, and those who doubt it are out of touch with fact.
Didn’t the Roman Catholic Church change the original documents of the New Testament? I am not a Roman Catholic, and I have no need to defend that church. They have their own apologists for that task. However this allegation is simply not true. Protestants, Catholics, and Orthodox Christians disagree about various interpretations of Christianity, but they do not disagree about the preservation of the documents of the New Testament. It is difficult to disagree with fact. Fortunately there are thousands of preserved Greek manuscripts, and even more manuscripts in other languages, and translations, which completely falsify this claim. It may be fashionable to criticize the Catholic church as responsible for changing the Bible, but this is patently and provably false. Those who have the facts about manuscript’s from early history, don’t advance this objection. The earliest Greek manuscript of the NT, the John Ryland’s Papyri, dates from around 120 A.D. Some of the writings of the church fathers go even earlier. There are hundreds of such papyri and codexes. They are regularly studied and compared with other copies to demonstrate in a scientific way the very accurate preservation of the New Testament text. As for the Old Testament, the Dead Sea scrolls certainly put to rest the idea that the Old Testament was changed. They range from about 100 B.C. to 200 B.C. predating the life of Christ by more than a century. Large portions of the Old Testament were uncovered in these discoveries at the caves of the Qumran community.
Where did Cain get his wife? This is one of the most asked questions about the Bible because the early records in the Bible speak of Cain, the firstborn son of Adam and Eve, going off and taking a wife for himself. The question immediately arises: Where did Cain get his wife, and who inhabited the city he is said to have built? This question goes to the heart of whether the Biblical records are meant to be comprehensive about man’s early life. Were Adam and Eve really the first human beings, and if they were, why does it sound like there were other people living from whom Cain took a wife? The answer is really not that hard. Adam and Eve are clearly described in Genesis as the first man and woman God created from whom all humanity descended. Cain was the first born son. However if you read the narrative in Genesis 1 & 2 carefully, you will note that Adam and Eve were supposed to multiply. God’s command to them immediately upon their creation was to be fruitful and multiply. The only way multiplication of humans could work from one original couple was for them to have children, both sons and daughters, and for those sons and daughters to marry and continue to procreate. Many today are repulsed by the idea of brothers and sisters marrying, but that was not only allowed, it was God’s plan from the beginning. The restriction of marrying a sibling was not imposed by God early in history, but came along much later. For example, even Abraham married his half-sister Sarah. We may speculate why God disallowed later what he allowed earlier, but the best answer probably has to do with God protecting the diversity in the gene pool. Man is also described in those early years as living much longer than he lives now. So there are clearly changes which have occurred in the human physical body through the millennia. So where did Cain get his wife? Since Adam and Eve had many other sons and daughters, and since Adam and Eve lived very long, much longer than people today, Cain would eventually have married one of his sisters. This not only was not immoral, it was expected. The simplicity of this answer points to the internal consistency of the Bible’s narrative.
How can Christianity be true if so many Christians live such poor lives? This is a fair question, and it has a good answer. One thing people have to keep in mind is that not everyone who claims to be a Christian is a true Christian. Christianity has permeated western society now for some 2000 years. There have been many branches of Christianity and many traditions which have ingrained our culture. People go to church, they celebrate Christmas, they go to a confessional booth, they baptize their babies, they say prayers at meals, etc… These rituals in themselves do not define who is a Christian and who is not. Many there are who are nominal Christians or what some might call cultural Christians but not Christians indeed the way the early church would define a true follower of Christ. That means that there are fewer true Christians than you might imagine. Many who do evil things, though they call themselves Christians, are not. Add to this the fact that Christians themselves are imperfect people being remade and retrained by God. From the moment they believe they still have their old habits to learn to undo. Some Christians are former drunks, drug addicts, prostitutes, angry violators or the like. Over time, as you watch them, their lives will change and reflect love, justice, hard work, submission to authority, and other good qualities. However even with growth, we never claim to be perfect. As we noted Christ is the only perfect life lived. Churches are filled with forgiven sinners. They still get angry, jealous, proud, and greedy at times. Yet overall as you watch the community of believers where the Bible is taken seriously and sin is exposed and confronted, the community of Christians is loving, truthful, and more obedient. In fact you won’t find a place on earth which has more loving, generous, and kind people than a church well taught in the Bible. The real question should be, how are Christians able to live such better lives than those around them even while they are being spoken against and mistreated? Therein is the power of the living Christ at work in them.
Why has so much evil been done in the name of Christ? Everyone knows that there is evil in the world, and there is evil done in every religion and among those claiming no religion. It really should not surprise anyone that people abuse good things, including Jesus and his teachings. There are sincere, humble, followers of Jesus, and there are those who capitalize on the power and prestige of the name of Jesus. Just because someone uses the name Jesus and puts a cross up front during a military battle does not mean Jesus approves of their actions. Jesus even warned us about those who would be false teachers within the ranks of his disciples. He told us how to spot them, by their fruits. Even one of Jesus’ 12, Judas, was a traitor who followed Christ for the money. When he figured out that he was not going to benefit financially from following Christ, he betrayed him for 30 pieces of silver. Fair people do not blame Jesus or true faith because others abuse something excellent.
Why are there so many denominations if Christianity is true? Some people have the idea that because Christianity is helplessly fractured into so many different denominations, it demonstrates that Christians can’t get along and therefore are not really of God. However, different denominations hardly prove that, and they are not necessarily bad. There are very normal reasons for the existence of different Christian organizations. Some Protestant denominations started because Christians spoke different languages and came from different countries. They grouped churches together and formed an organization. That is hardly bad. Other denominations were formed to allow Christians to practice their religion slightly differently (such as different views on baptism or beliefs on minor doctrines) but still work together with other denominations on weightier matters. In many cases various denominations and fellowships of churches work together on common Christian projects such as care for the poor, missions, or education. Every Christian denomination which follows the historic, biblical faith all agree on Jesus, God, the need for forgiveness, how to get to heaven, and how live to please God on earth. In a few cases some religious structures have completely left the historic and biblical faith and should not be considered Christian in the proper sense anymore. Here again denominations are helpful to distinguish the true from the false.
Isn’t Christianity old fashion? Christianity is old and has been around since ancient days. Yet it is ever fresh and vibrant in the modern world. Because Christianity passes all the commonsense tests of truth, you will see it is relevant to the modern world. Every generation who hears the message of Christianity understands it speaks to their generation powerfully and often with great penetrating insight about solving the needs of the day. Young people still flock to Christ because his message is never outdated. The antiquity of the faith reassures young people that what they believe is not stuff made up in the modern era, but God’s ancient wisdom. Messages which stand the test of time are preferred over those highly marketed but faintly tested. In a day and age when the latest modern gadget is considered the rage, everyone would do well to learn some of the wisdom which has been around a lot longer than anyone alive today.
Isn’t Christianity too heavenly minded to be any earthly good? That question could be turned around and asked, “Aren’t most people too earthly minded to be of any lasting good?” The truth is life will be lived for eternity beyond this world, and from that perspective life is extremely short in this world. Our entire lives, viewed from that end, will appear to be but a breath in the night. So preparing for eternity now is wise. However, Christianity is very practical for the here and now also. It has helpful teaching for family life, for labor and work, for celebration and joy, for worship and obedience, for food and drink, for exercise and self-control, for study and education, for politics and governing, and even for the care of animals. There is no facet of life the Bible does not teach adequately about. That is why Christians do a lot of earthly good. They are involved in medicine, education, construction, business, politics, fire & rescue, communications, engineering, law, the arts, transportation, and a host of other careers. They make great friends, and they keep their commitments on earth.
Since Jesus was killed as a criminal, why should we follow him? Because He suffered and died, not for his own crimes, but for yours and mine. We may not be criminals in this world, but before God’s law we are all violators of his high and holy law. Jesus came and suffered shame and pain to deliver us from eternal shame and pain. For this we should be infinitely grateful. Besides, his death as a criminal was all prophesied as part of God’s plan for Jesus’ life. The innocent one was to die on behalf of the guilty. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:21 “(God) made (Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” That was God’s way of buying us back from evil and sin. Even the people of Jesus’ day knew that his trials and execution were a sham. He never deserved the treatment he got. We should be impressed with Christ’s love for his enemies, and we would never know the depth of his character if he has not suffered so unjustly.