How do we know that Jesus was a real historical figure?

How do we know that Jesus was a real historical figure?

The historical writings of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul and Peter are among the best preserved and attested to of all ancient writings. However, for those who seek additional corroboration of the historical Jesus, one of the best sources is Josephus. This Jewish historian, who was born in Jerusalem in AD 37 and died in Rome in AD 97, mentioned Jesus by name and made many allusions to him in the book, The Antiquities.

Concerning Jesus, Josephus wrote: “Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was the Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men among us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again on the third day; as the divine Prophets had foretold these and 10,000 other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.” (Book 18, Chapter3)

Also paralleling the New Testament is a body of literature called the Apocrypha. While never included in either the Hebrew or Christian Bible, they echo similar evidences about Jesus and his times and his miracles at his teachings. Further there are the writings of Tacitus (ca. AD 56 – ca. 117) that also mention Christ, crucifixion by Pontius Pilate and other reports of the activities of Christians, followers of Jesus Christ. There is no doubt from the historical records that Jesus was a real person.

However, if you ask believers how they know that Jesus was a real person, your answer is likely the chorus from a favorite Christian hymn, “You ask me how I know he lives. He lives within my heart.” The hundreds of millions of followers of Jesus over the centuries is more than enough evidence in itself that Jesus is for real. Is Jesus a real figure for you? Do you know him personally as your Lord and Savior? God wants you to know him. (John 3:16) If you would like to learn more, please check out the answer to the question: How does one become a Christian?

Why am I afraid to share my Christian Faith?

Why am I afraid to share my Christian Faith?

Sharing your Christian faith involves risk and potential failure. Sometimes it could even be embarrassing. Yet there is an urgency about sharing your faith in Christ with those you care about because we don’t know who else might tell them. Without faith in Christ, if they die, they are condemned to eternal separation from God in a place where there is eternal pain and suffering.

The Bible is pretty clear:

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

John 14:6

If one is to remain silent and leave a person to his or her fate that doesn’t sound much like a friend. The better way is to ask God to give you the courage to take the bold step of communicating the gospel message of Christ in a loving and considerate manner. Remember, success is not dependent upon you. You have been commissioned to do the sharing and God’s Holy Spirit does the convicting and the saving. So, once you realize that you can’t do the saving, you’re more like the person tossing a life preserver to a drowning friend. That friend will be encouraged by the Holy Spirit to seize the ring, but ultimately the decision to take hold is the friend’s alone. Don’t feel as if you have to “make the sale.” all you have to do is start the conversation.

How Can I Share My Faith Without an Argument?’ is a free downloadable booklet in the RBC Ministries Discover Series that is a great resource for anyone wanting to let others in on the greatest news in the history of mankind.

When you recognize that you just have to be faithful and that the outcome is in God’s control the fear of failure is gone. God will give you the courage and the right words to share. The more often you share your story about how Jesus changed your life and how it will change others, you will discover that each time it becomes easier. Pray, trust and act. The world needs Jesus more than anything else.

If Jesus never sinned, how do you explain turning over the money-changers tables in the temple?

If Jesus never sinned, how do you explain turning over the money-changers tables in the temple?

We read about Jesus clearing from the Temple the money changers and sellers of sacrificial animals in all four of the Gospels.

John records the first instance shortly after he is baptized at the outset of his ministry.

When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!”
John 2:13-16.

The second incident was when Jesus entered Jerusalem prior to his arrest, trial and crucifixion. It was recorded by Mark and Luke as well as Matthew.

Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’”
Matthew 21:12,13

In both instances, Jesus did not display anger because he couldn’t get his way, but because the priests and merchants had turned the most sacred place of worship into a religious bazaar. The motivation for Jesus’s anger was pure, not out of pride or selfish ambition that is the typical root of anger.

Jesus may have felt that the transactions were usurious—that the merchants were getting rich exchanging common money for temple coinage required for the temple tax—but the text doesn’t say that. What we read was Jesus’ objection to the commercialization of God’s house.

Anger is one of many emotions that God built into the heart and mind of every human. Throughout the Bible we read about God’s anger. Clearly, then, anger is not sin. However, what we’re angry about most certainly can be sin, and when we don’t check the emotion of anger we often behave in a sinful manner.

If anger is something you deal with, talk to God about getting it under control. One way to do that is getting into a right-relationship with God and then petitioning him for help. If you are not sure where you stand with God, we encourage you to check out our blog post: How does one become a Christian?

Should Christians Celebrate Valentine’s Day?

Should Christians Celebrate Valentine’s Day?

While it is hard to argue against love, Christians should ask themselves, “what makes this day special?”

 

Modern society has so commercialized this day that people are often caught up in the “obligation” to buy something or act in some way as to show their love for someone else. People get hurt when they feel that they haven’t been sufficiently recognized or “loved” or when the object of their affections doesn’t reciprocate. Many who don’t have anyone with whom to share a love, end up feeling “left out” when they see those around them celebrating something they lack.

Are these reasons to not celebrate Valentine’s Day? Probably not, but as in everything a Christian does, he or she should ask, “Is what I’m doing honoring God?”

History is fuzzy with respect to how Valentine’s Day came to be a special day honoring love between a man and woman. Some suggest that a Christian Saint was tacked onto a Roman celebration of a god of sex. Others recall a legend that dates to the third century when Claudius, the emperor of the Roman Empire, banned the practice of marriage. He theorized that men sent to war would be less effective fighters if they were concerned for spouses they left behind. The edict of Claudius flew in the face of Christian teaching that saw marriage as a sacred vow between a man and woman that mirrored the covenant relationship between Jesus and his bride, the church. A Christian priest named Valentine secretly held marriage ceremonies for young couples. He was caught, tortured and killed for disobeying the emperor, but he is said to have sent a love note just before his death—the first “Valentine.”

Through the centuries, that priest was declared a saint by the church and his legend grew and became a reminder of the importance of the sacred institution of marriage. So, there is some justification for a Christian to celebrate Valentine’s Day, but God reminds us that loving him is more important than one’s love for any human. It is nice to send a card or bring flowers and box of chocolates on Valentine’s Day, but is vastly more important to show one’s love of God every day of the year.

God set the standard when he gave the 10 commandments to the Israelites after they left slavery in Egypt.

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.“You shall have no other gods before me.”

Exodus 20:2,3

This love as summarized by Moses in Deuteronomy:

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.

Deuteronomy 6:4,5

Jesus quoted these words, affirming the importance of love both of God and each other:

“‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

Matthew 22:37-40

If you would like to better understand how you can appreciate true and abiding love a love that so great that God sent his son Jesus to die in your place for your sins so that you can know a love that will last through eternity, we invite you to read our blog post: How does one become a Christian?

 

 

Why is there so much personal conflict these days?

Why is there so much personal conflict these days?

While the pandemic seems to have exacerbated interpersonal conflicts, they have been around forever. Once Adam and Eve turned their backs on God and sin entered the world, conflicts were inevitable, and it wasn’t long before Cain killed his brother.
Not all disagreements spiral out of control and end in a loss of life, but way too many lead to figurative, if not literal murder. This life is tough and the hardest things are relationships, especially when they aren’t healthy.
For the most part, we can control ourselves and our actions but we can’t (or shouldn’t) control others. People offend us and we will get hurt. There’s no hiding from that. Sometimes, it’s intentional and other times it’s not; sometimes they aren’t aware of how and when they have hurt us. In our polarized ideological climate, especially, people often say things that may be hurtful, if unintentional.
So, What can we do about these conflicts? Jesus lays out a clear strategy for dealing with conflicts among Christians.

“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”

Matt. 18:15-17

That strategy doesn’t necessarily work with people who are not part of the body of Christ. Since conflict arises where two people have differing ideas on how something should be, arguing the merits of one’s position is often not a winning strategy. But loving the other party even when you believe him or her to be wrong may break down barriers and at the very least, will help soften your own heart and allow you to extend, compassion, love and forgiveness where appropriate.
Conflict is not always bad. But de-escalating conflict is always wise. Sometimes that may require you to set aside your personal feelings and extend grace to the person with whom you are in conflict.
Remember, that each of us were (and often still are) in conflict with God, but his son, Jesus set aside his privilege and died for all of our sins. God’s grace and mercy extends to all, and should be passed through you to others. He offered forgiveness before before we even asked for it. It is forgiveness we will never deserve. Matthew records these words of Jesus:

“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.Jesus even told us He would forgive us our sins, as we forgive others.”

Matthew 6:14-15

Forgiving is hard, but necessary. It may not end tension between individuals, but it will give you peace to help you deal with the conflict without turning to bitterness. God’s Holy Spirit inside of believers enables us to forgive. That spirit will also bring you inner peace. Ask God for the power, wisdom and make the choice to forgive today; the feelings will come later.
Would you like to know how to embrace this true faith that brings forgiveness and peace? We encourage you to read our blogpost: How does one become a Christian?

 

 

What does it mean to have faith in God?

What does it mean to have faith in God?

The object of your faith reveals your heart, your earnest desire.  Faith alone is just a statement without substance.  You should want to trust in something or someone that is true and checks out with reality.

In the Christian faith, Jesus Christ is the object of a person’s faith. Jesus’ life teachings, miracles, death on the cross, resurrection and ascension into heaven are documented facts. They are truth. Therefore, when Jesus, the son of God, is the object of your faith you have the certainty that you can trust Him and believe all He said. Those who put their faith in their good works or other religions have false hope for eternal life because Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”( John 14:6)

Would you like to know how to embrace this true faith? We encourage you to read our blogpost: How does one become a Christian?