Summary: If you owned a bookstore and everything in it was classified as fiction or nonfiction, where would you put the Bible, in fiction or nonfiction? That is a fundamental decision everybody must make.
Open your hearts and open your minds for the next 25 minutes to receive this truth.
Romans 1:1-6. “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God.” Now, we’re going to be talking about the gospel. “The gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith. And you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.”
1. THE REALITY OF JESUS
(1) Do you believe Jesus really lived in the flesh?
I want to talk about the reality of Jesus Christ. I want to ask you three questions about Jesus and see if you can say, “Yes, this is what I believe.” Number one: Do you believe Jesus really lived in the flesh? Verse 3 is talking about his human nature and how he was a descendant of David. That means there was a man who lived in the flesh whose name was Jesus. That’s where you have to start. All of you have to decide if there was really an historical character named Jesus who was born in Bethlehem, grew up in Nazareth, had an itinerant ministry for three and a half years and was then crucified. Do you really think there actually was an historical character? There are still some today who insist Jesus never existed. It’s like Hercules or like Jack and the Beanstalk. He’s some mythological character, a fairy tale. When you start asking the question, “Was there really a Jesus?” you have to say, “Do we read about Jesus anywhere other than the Bible? I know you say it’s in the Bible, but I personally do not believe the Bible.” You have to consider the evidence. There are a number of extra biblical references to Jesus; it’s in other writers’ works. In the year 90 A.D. a Jewish historian named Josephus who was not a Christian, he was just writing history, wrote: “Now, there was a man named 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 truth that men received it with pleasure. He drew over to himself many Jews and many Gentiles. He was Christ, and when Pilate at the suggestion of the principal men among us condemned him to the cross, those who loved him from the first did not forsake him. For he appeared to them, restored to life For the divine prophets had foretold these and other wonderful things about him and the tribe of Christians so named for him are not extinct to this day.”
This Jewish historian says there was a man named Jesus who was crucified and his followers said he came back from the dead. Some of you who enjoy studying Greek literature will recognize the name of Lucian of Samosata. He was a Greek writer and he didn’t like Christians. In fact, he was hostile to Christians. About fifty years later, this is what he wrote in a letter: “The Christians, you know, worship a man to this day. The distinguished person who introduced their novel rights, and he was crucified on that account. It was impressed upon these Christians by their original lawmaker that they are all brothers from the moment that they are converted, and they deny the gods of Greece. They worship their crucified sage and live after his laws.”