The Fundamentals of Our Faith;
What We Believe Sermon Series
“We Believe in Jesus”
We must continue to affirm the uniqueness and finality of Jesus Christ. For he is unique in his incarnation (the one and only God-man), unique in his atonement (only he has died for the sins of the world), and unique in his resurrection (only he has conquered death). And since in no other person but Jesus of Nazareth did God first become human (in his birth), then bear our sins (in his death), and then triumph over death (in his resurrection), he is uniquely competent to save sinners. Nobody else possesses his qualifications.
So we may talk about Alexander the Great, Charles the Great and Napoleon the Great, but not Jesus the Great. He is not the Great—he is the Only. There is nobody like him. He has no rival and no successor.
“Jesus is the second member of the trinity, and is described to us as the Son of God, who existed before the creation of the world, participated in creation, and became a human (Jesus of Nazareth), was given birth by a virgin, coming to earth to do the will of God the Father. He lived without sin, died for our sins, was bodily resurrected, ascended into heaven and will come again someday to judge sin and establish permanent righteousness on earth.”
1 Corinthians 15:1-5 “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.”
This passage says, “according to the Scriptures” – there is prophecy after prophecy that predicted Jesus’ arrival, and with very specific detail show Him to have fulfilled them. Some biblical scholars hold that there are close to 300 prophecies of the Messiah in the Bible. In we pull only eight and “The prospect that anyone would satisfy those eight prophecies was just 1 in 1017. In Science Speaks, he described it like this:
“Let us try to visualize this chance. If you mark one of ten tickets, and place all of the tickets in a hat, and thoroughly stir them, and then ask a blindfolded man to draw one, his chance of getting the right ticket is one in ten. Suppose that we take 1017 silver dollars and lay them on the face of Texas. They will cover all of the state two feet deep. Now mark one of these silver dollars and stir the whole mass thoroughly, all over the state.
“Blindfold a man and tell him that he can travel as far as he wishes, but he must pick up one silver dollar and say that this is the right one. What chance would he have of getting the right one? Just the same chance that the prophets would have had of writing these eight prophecies and having them all come true in any one man, from their day to the present time, providing they wrote using their own wisdom.”
As God in eternity, He existed before taking on human flesh and becoming human, yet He did not give up any of His divinity – yet he took on being human completely. He was fully God and fully man at the same time. One God, three persons.
In Philippians 2:5-8 “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
Remember last week we said that God is immutable (unchanging) – So Jesus as God does not change. Jesus did not cease to be God when he took on “the form of a servant,” so he was fully human (he grew tired, slept, was thirsty and hungry, expressed emotions, etc.) yet fully God at the same time.
The theological term we use here is kenosis or “emptied himself,” so this involves a voluntary nonuse of his divinity – Nonuse does not mean subtraction. For example, there are things that as the God-Man Jesus chose not to know (when He was coming back, parousia).
Also, there is apart of his kenosis that involves covering Jesus’ preincarnate glory. If we go to the transfiguration of Jesus in Mark 9:2-8 “And he was transfigured before them, 3 and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them.
But while fully God, Jesus was also fully man. “If Jesus had not been a man, he could not have died in our place and paid the penalty that was due to us.” Hebrews 2:16-17 says, “For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. 17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest pin the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.”
Propitiation; “the sacrifice that is an acceptable substitute for us.” The root meaning of this word is “to make the face of someone sweet or pleasant,” There has been an offense, what then is required to make things right again. We have offended God due to our sin, what must be done to propitiate the relationship? Justice demands death, the penalty for our sin is death. “Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect” Jesus had to be fully man, so that He could settle the offense of sin against God.
The Virgin Birth
Jesus became human in a very special way. His birth was a result of a miraculous conception. “In the womb of the virgin Mary, Jesus was supernaturally conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit. Luke 1:35 tells us what happened, “And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.” Jesus did not have an earthly biological father, Mary conceived as a virgin.
Why is the virgin birth important?
1) “It shows that salvation ultimately must come from the Lord.” Salvation will never have come from human self-effort, God had to step in and do something.
2) “It makes possible Christ’s true humanity without inherited sin.” Everyone inherits a corrupted sin nature from Adam, but because Jesus did not have a human father that was somehow interrupted. What About Mary’s inherited sin nature? Luke 1:35 “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.” In some miraculous way, the Holy Spirit kept the sin nature from passing on the Jesus.
3) “The virgin birth made possible the uniting of full deity and full humanity in one person. This was the means God used to send his Son (John 3:16; Galatians 4:4) into the world as a man.”
Savior of the World
Jesus lived a sinless life, “He had to be sinless or else His death on our behalf would have been worthless. Since ‘the wages of sin is death’ (Romans 6:23), meaning eternal spiritual and physical death, if Jesus had sinned He would Himself have suffered eternal separation and physical death. His death on the cross, then, could have done nothing for us. But because He was sinless, He did not deserve to die; and because He was God, His death could count for ours.”
“Adam served as our representative in the Garden of Eden, and through his disobedience God counted us guilty as well. In a similar way, Jesus was our representative and obeyed for us where Adam had disobeyed and failed.”
There is a parallel between Jesus’ temptation (Luke 4:1-13) and the time of testing for Adam and Eve in the garden (Gen. 2:15-3:7). Paul also discusses this parallel between Adam and Christ in Romans 5:18-19 “Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for fall men. 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.” This is why Paul calls Jesus the “last Adam.” There are no other Saviors coming, He is the ultimate and final sacrifice.
Humanity is separated from God because of sin, and unless one believes in Jesus, committing your life to Him, he or she will be separated from God forever. John 1:1, 12 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. . . But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, the gave the right to become children of God,”
His Teachings Were Astonishing
Jesus taught us, that nothing is more important than your soul, and what you do with it. Matthew 16:26 “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” Our greatest need is to do something about our sin – we need to be saved. Through Jesus we see that God is willing, because of His love for us, to give His one and only Son to be the payment that is required for our sin.
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” Jesus came to this reality (remember God is transcendent) and suffered as a man and died, so that His creation may be rid of sin.
Before we move on from Jesus’ teaching, I think it is helpful to look at a quote from C.S. Lewis,
“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 the 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.”
Jesus claimed deity for Himself in a way quite clear to His listeners. He said on one occasion, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). His decisive expression of deity led to his crucifixion” John 19:7 “The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has made himself the Son of God.”
The high priest expressly asked Jesus in Matthew 26:63-65 “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” 64 Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” 65 Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has uttered blasphemy. What further witnesses do we need?” In His claiming to be the Son of God, he said he had the authority to forgive sin, that He would come in future judgment, and that He had the authority to raise the dad.
His Actions Were Miraculous
To prove He was who He said He was, he did miracles. “Jesus performed miracles not to amaze or entertain people. He healed people out of a sense of compassion. He wept before raising Lazarus from the dead. Also, He performed miracles in order to help people believe what He was saying. For example, He claimed to be the light of the world, and then gave sight to a blind man. He claimed to be the bread of life, and He fed five thousand people with a few loaves. He claimed to the resurrection and the life, and He raised Lazarus from the dead.”
“Jesus demonstrated for all to see and hear the attributes which belong to God alone. He claimed omnipotence (all power) with the words, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matthew 28:18). During His life He demonstrated power over nature by stilling the stormy waves (Mark 4:39) and turning water into wine (John 2:7-11).”
His Continued Ministry For Humanity
When Jesus ascended into heaven He sat down at the right hand of the Father, indicating that His earthly task was completed successfully. Now, He intercedes for us in prayer. Romans 8:34 “Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.”
Also, Romans 8:24 says, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”
Do You Know This Jesus Today? Have you accepted His gift of His life as a substitute for your sin – His sinless life for yours? He wants you to give your life to him today – won’t you do it.
 The Radical Disciple: Some Neglected Aspects of Our Calling by John R. W. Stott Copyright (c) 2010 by John R. W. Stott. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com
 Max Anders, New Christian’s Handbook, Everything New Believers Need to Know (Nashville, Tennessee; Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1999) 24.
 Shortly after Jesus’ death some claimed that Jesus did not truly have a human body; He only seemed human. That was rejected at the Council of Chalcedon in AD 451. (Anders, 25)
 Grudem, 236.
 George Arthur Buttrick, Dictionary Editor, The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, An Illustrated Encyclopedia (Nashville, Tennessee; Abingdon Press, 1962) 920.
 Wayne Grudem, Bible Doctrine, Essential Teachings of the Christian Faith (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan Publishing, 1999) 230.
 Grudem, 230.
 Anders, 28.
 Grudem, 235.
 Paul Little, Know What You Believe, A Practical Discussion of the Fundamentals of the Christian Faith (Colorado Springs, Colorado; Cook Communications, 1999) 42.
 Anders, 42.
 Little, 43.