As discussed in part one, the fall of Adam in the Garden of Eden left his relationship with his Creator broken. Not only that, but death was brought into the picture, not just for the human race but also for creation itself. Everything that had been perfectly created and designed to continue in perfection throughout the eons of time, now started to deteriorate and die. A question that many ask is, was God caught off guard by these developments? The Bible tells us that not only did God know what was going to happen, but he had already provided the plan for redemption and restoration from the very foundations of the earth. This redemption centered in the One that would become the Redeemer.
The Almighty GOD spoke through prophet after prophet, foretelling the story of the coming of this heavenly Redeemer. Hundreds of specific prophecies were given over the centuries. God saw to it that these prophecies were so specific in their detail, that there would not be any mistaking His arrival–at least for those who had ears open to hear and eyes open to see.
Many people believe that Jesus was just one of many great teachers or prophets that has come along to guide the human race. It hardly matters which religion you choose, most will have been started by someone who based their religion on their personal thoughts and writings. Buddhism is based on the teachings of Buddha, Confucianism on the teachings of Confucius, Islam on the teachings of Muhammad. Baha’u’llah started the Baha’i faith, Earl Blighton (or Father Paul) started the religious group by the name of “The Holy Order of MANS, and so on.
Jesus did not start a religion based on His teachings. Christianity is based on Who He Is!
Every other belief system has been written and taught by mere men. No man has the capacity to make his writings actually meet the ultimate need of humanity; neither can they guarantee anything they promise. They are all just men! Jesus Christ however has proven beyond a doubt that He was not, nor is He, just a man.
In looking into the extraordinary and unequaled credentials of Jesus Christ, we should look at His unique birth. There has never been a birth like the birth of Jesus. I read a quote by an anonymous writer who said it this way:
Christ’s birth stands alone in history. By the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit, God Himself took up residency in a virgin’s womb in embryonic form so that after a natural nine-month pregnancy, she gave birth to a son who was also God’s Son. He was the God-man Savior–not a God-indwelt man. He was both true and genuine humanity and undiminished deity united in one Person forever. No other birth was like this in fact or fiction.
This unique birth, which happened by means of a human woman and a divinely planted “seed”, must not be confused with the despicable acts committed by the fallen angels in Genesis 6. The account in Genesis 6 tells us that some of the “sons of God” (literally translated “angels”), saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; they chose those they desired, took them as wives, and had children by them. These became the “mighty men” of old, the Nephilim. This is where the giant races originated. The ancient prophet Enoch, the seventh from Adam, wrote about this event in great detail, saying that there were 200 of these fallen angels who met on Mount Hermon to plan their strategy. The early church had copies of Enoch’s writings including the account of the disastrous results of this angelic incursion. All of the Egyptian, Babylonian, Assyrian, Greek, and Roman (as well as other ancient cultures) mythology having to do with the mating of human women with lustful “gods”, or demons, producing the demi-gods, are based on these very actions recorded in Genesis 6:2. There is no connection, nor is there any resemblance between these unions and when God supernaturally planted the divine Seed of the Messiah within Mary’s womb.
One unparallelled outcome of this miracle birth was that man’s fallen nature was bypassed. All of Adam’s descendants, by God’s judgment, were born with a sin nature after Adam’s fall. Jesus did not carry the bloodline of Adam. This is very important to understand. Jesus, although totally man, carried the supernatural untarnished essence of the Eternal GOD. This is why He could irrevocably claim to be the only way. Death and the curse could only be reversed by the very Creator Himself!
Just as God required a perfect, spotless sacrifice in the Old Testament, the Messiah had to be perfect, sinless, and undefiled by the sin-nature that the human race was infected with. Yet, He must also be human in order to meet the requirements of Almighty GOD. This is why it is so important to understand that Jesus, the Messiah, was not half-man and half-God. He was all man and at the same time, all God. A passage in the Scriptures pointing the importance of this out is John 1:1-13:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man, but of God.
This passage speaks of Jesus as “The Word.” He was in the beginning with God because He was God. It also tells us that there is nothing that was made without His creative power. Then we are told that He is the source of all life. There is no one on this earth that can make such a claim. John the Baptist was sent ahead of the arrival of Jesus so that His arrival could be announced. The Baptist was His forerunner. The last few verses say that even though Jesus came to the world as the true Light, He was not recognized. That is still the case today. Most do not recognize Who He really was and is! But, to those who see and understand, they become the children of God.
There have been many false messiah’s over the centuries. Many of them claimed to be Jesus returned in the flesh, yet they died! There are even some alive this very day making the same claim, but they are also very, very human. There is only one GOD. This very God however chose to take the form of a man so that He could pay the price for sin and death that no prophet, no great teacher, or any other human could pay–no matter how holy he might think he is. All are born into sin and death! The remedy provided by the Messiah Jesus, is the only remedy that has an eternal guarantee! Again, this is why He said, “I AM the way.
Jesus was asked once what the greatest commandment was. He said, “Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, mind, soul, and strength. And, your neighbor as yourself.” What a contrast this is to so much of the hatred taught today in the name of religion! This is so important to understand in this day of so much chaos and war throughout our world. God poured His love out on His creation by being willing to bankrupt heaven in order to save the human race from its own rebellion and sin! What greater price could have been paid by God than by offering as God to step into the sandals of man, take mankind’s sin upon His own back, and then as the perfect Lamb of God pay the full price through His own sacrificial death? No other god, nor so-called prophet has paid, or could pay such a price. There have of course been many who have died in the name of religion. Some have even died in the name of peace. But, there has never been anyone who has died to pay the price for the sin of the entire world other than Jesus. No one else has the credentials to accomplish this and satisfy the requirements of a Holy GOD! He had to do it Himself. The Apostle Paul spoke to this very thing:
But now God has shown us a different way to heaven—not by “being good enough” and trying to keep his laws, but by a new way (though not new, really, for the Scriptures told about it long ago). Now God says he will accept and acquit us—declare us “not guilty”—if we trust Jesus Christ to take away our sins. And we all can be saved in this same way, by coming to Christ, no matter who we are or what we have been like. Yes, all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious ideal; yet now God declares us “not guilty” of offending him if we trust in Jesus Christ, who in his kindness freely takes away our sins.
For God sent Christ Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and to end all God’s anger against us. He used Christ’s blood and our faith as the means of saving us from his wrath. In this way he was being entirely fair, even though he did not punish those who sinned in former times. For he was looking forward to the time when Christ would come and take away those sins. And now in these days also he can receive sinners in this same way, because Jesus took away their sins.
But isn’t this unfair for God to let criminals go free, and say that they are innocent? No, for he does it on the basis of their trust in Jesus who took away their sins. Then what can we boast about doing, to earn our salvation? Nothing at all. Why? Because our acquittal is not based on our good deeds; it is based on what Christ has done and our faith in him. So it is that we are saved by faith in Christ and not by the good things we do. And does God save only the Jews in this way? No, the Gentiles, too, may come to him in this same manner. God treats us all the same, whether Jews or Gentiles, are acquitted if they have faith. Well then, if we are saved by faith, does this mean that we o longer need obey God’s laws? Just the opposite! In fact, only when we trust Jesus can we truly obey him.(Romans 3:21-31, Living Bible)
Hours of preaching and teaching can be done from this short passage, but here is what I hope we can see so we can understand, “Why Jesus?” The first Adam sinned and brought death and eternal judgment upon the human race. (I should add a comment here: There is not a one of us that would not have done the same thing under the same circumstances! We are no better than Adam.) But, after the first Adam brought God’s judgment down on mankind, the last Adam intervened in order to take Adam’s sin, as well as the sins of all of his descendants, upon Himself, and pay the ultimate price so that mankind can be set free. 2 Corinthians 5:21 tells us: “For He made Him who knew no sin to be made sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” We had a sin problem that we had no way to solve. God intervened by making Jesus “sin”, even though He knew no sin. This way He could be the perfect sacrifice and pay the heavy price needing to be paid in order for redemption to be possible. This is why it can only be Jesus!
This is also why none of us have anything to brag about. Salvation cannot be earned! Man’s religion teaches that we earn our salvation through our works. God shows us that our good works come about through the gift of redemption and transformation we receive. This comes from humbling ourselves and asking for forgiveness through the Blood of Jesus Christ. Then we become a new creation in Him. Because we become a new creation in Him, the Holy Spirit begins to work His works through us. This is the only way we can represent the God of love in a way that is acceptable to Him. How else can we fulfill the second part of the greatest commandment; to love our neighbor as ourself? This does not come naturally!
It is not the commandment of Jesus to kill those who do not believe. Jesus taught His disciples to love mankind into the Kingdom of God. Jesus command to His disciples just before He ascended back to His throne in Heaven, said this in Mark 16:15-18:
Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover. (NKJV)
As we read the life histories of the apostles, both in the Biblical narrative as well as in church history, we find that they fulfilled this commission to the letter. These men preached the Gospel around the known world. They healed the sick; they cast out demons, and even raised the dead. Paul was bitten by a deadly viper and shook it off into the fire and kept right on preaching without the bite having any effect on him. Some of the apostles were poisoned, but the poison did not have any effect because their God-commissioned task had not yet been completed. This has been the story for the last 2,000 years!
Where do we find the true followers of Jesus Christ killing any of those who did not accept their message? Never! To the shame of some religious institutions, many were murdered because they did not follow the man-made ordinances of corrupt institutions. The papacy murdered millions of true believers! Muhammad was just as guilty. He taught that it was the will of Allah that all infidels be tortured, enslaved, used, and murdered if they did not become Muslims. World history is full of other examples. The one that hates the human race is the fallen Lucifer; it is not GOD. God paid the price for man’s sin and taught His followers to love his neighbor–no matter what! Jesus made it clear that He required us to love our enemies. Anyone can hate their enemies. It takes the love of God to love them instead. True believers in Jesus Christ have been giving their lives for the sake of the good news of the Gospel of Christ for two millennia. More true believers in Jesus Christ have been martyred in the last century than in the first nineteen centuries since Jesus died and rose again! And until He calls us home, there will be many more.
Jesus’ life was unique. What he taught was unique. There is no other message like the one that Jesus shared with humanity when He walked the dusty roads of ancient Israel. His ministry and the unlimited power He demonstrated for the glory of God was also something no one had ever seen. The lepers were healed; the maimed were restored; the demon possessed were set free; the blind were made to see; the deaf were caused to hear; the dumb began to speak, and the dead were raised to life! Who else of all the billions that have lived on earth had done anything of the kind? Is it any wonder that even His own disciples said, “Who can this be” when He instantly stopped the violent storm that came upon them while out on the Sea of Galilee? How would you have reacted when seeing Him walking across the waves toward you? How would you have reacted if you had seen Him raise someone from the dead before your very eyes? Yet Jesus promised that His followers would do these things—and even greater things after He ascended back to the throne. These things have been happening for 2,000 years and they are happening in our day!
As we read about the infant Church in the book of Acts, we find that the Jewish Sanhedrin that incited the people to call for the crucifixion of Jesus and then called on the power of the Roman Empire through Pilate to pass the death sentence,wanted to crush the early Church before it had gained any significant strength. After thousands had become new believers in Jesus and many notable miracles had been done, the attacks on the apostles began in earnest. As the Sanhedrin met to decide on a plan of attack, Gamaliel, one of the Pharisees, gave a word of advice which reads:
Men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what you intend to do regarding these men. For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody. A number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was slain, and all who obeyed him were scattered and came to nothing. And this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census, and drew away many people after him. He also perished, and all who obeyed him were dispersed. And now i say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing; but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it—lest you even be found to fight against God. (Acts 6:35-39 NKJV)
Jesus had made a promise before He ascended back to the throne of God. He said that the gates of hell would never prevail against the Church. This has proven to be true through the many centuries since. There were some terribly black times, especially during the Dark Ages, but the true Church became stronger and stronger. The attacks have continued and will come to a crescendo soon, but the true Bride of Christ is nearly formed and will be called into the presence of her heavenly Bridegroom very soon. The day is coming when all of creation will bow before the KING of Kings and LORD of Lords, whether they want to or not. The Apostle Paul said this about the humbled and exalted Christ:
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
There are multitudes in our world who do not want to recognize the Almighty GOD who created us all, but there is even a much greater resistance to recognizing Jesus Christ as the true Messiah and God in the flesh. We find many passages of Scripture that tell us that God, through His judgments upon this rebellious planet will see to it that the world recognizes Who He is, even if they do not submit to His ultimate Lordship. This passage in Philippians tells us the same. The Jesus who came as a suffering Messiah is coming back, but when He does, the very sight of Him will cause the mightiest and most arrogant on this earth to beg for the rocks and mountains to fall on them to hide them from the face of the Omnipotent Messiah!
To be continued in Part 3