The Authentic Christ (Part 1)

The Early Church

In their trial before the Jewish leaders, Peter and John boldly proclaimed the authority of Jesus Christ for the works that they performed (Acts 4:1-12).

The Romans were polytheists and could tolerate another god added to their pantheon.

The Jews were given a pass by the Romans to worship their god as long as they did not attempt to spread the message abroad.

The persecution of Christians was based on two reasons:

1. The Christians drew the wrath of the Romans because they claimed Jesus was exclusively worthy of worship as God.

2. They drew the wrath because of their evangelism.

The Church Today

Two thousand years later, nothing has changed—exclusivism and evangelism will always cause conflict.

The ridicule of today is nothing new; even Jesus was mocked in many ways.

As Christians, we can take heart in the words of 1 Peter 2:20, “when ye do well, and suffer [for it], ye take it patiently, this [is] acceptable with God.”

In today’s media we see an increasing attack on biblical authority and creation.

This may be a reaction of fear to those who take the Bible seriously.

We cannot have a reliable salvation wrapped up in an unreliable history!

In the UK, 46% believe in creation, but very few believe in the true God.

The Jesus of History

National Geographic, in a program on the Gospel of Judas, concedes an early date for the authentic Gospels, but places them “long after the death of Christ.”

Evangelicals are watering down the gospel, suggesting that knowledge of Jesus Christ is not necessary to enter heaven.

German scholars in the pas suggested that the stories of Jesus were made up by the third century church; some of those ideas remain today.

The Jesus Seminar scholars have determined that only about 18% of what is recorded in the Bible was actually spoken by Jesus.

The Da Vinci Code is nothing more than old ideas in a new novel.

The large Soviet Encyclopedia identified Christ as the “mythical founder of Christianity.”

There are till people who claim that Jesus never lived, but those people are on the fringe.

Tacitus, a Roman historian, reports that Christus, the leader of the Christians, was executed by Pontius Pilate in the reign of Tiberius.

Josephus, in AD 93, also records Christ’s death and his identity as the Christ.

Many claim that Christians inserted these ideas into these works as a conspiracy, but there is no evidence for that claim.

Event he Talmud recognizes Jesus as a real man, though they interpret His life differently.

Jesus was a real figure in history!

The Jesus of Reality

Some liberals claim that the Bible is myth, but that the mythical ideas are still important since they communicate biblical truths.

However, Peter clearly refutes this claim in 2 Peter 1:16 and tells us he was an eyewitness.

1 Corinthians 15:3-4 records Paul’s recognition of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection “according to the Scriptures.”

Luke tells us that his eyewitness account was carefully investigated (Luke 1:2-4).

John testifies that he wrote his words as an eyewitness (John 21:24; 1 John 1:1).

These were all circulating in the first century.

The Gospels record details that are unheard of in ancient literature, giving them the mark of authenticity.

John recording that Jesus wrote on the ground with his finger is peculiar, and point to authenticity.

Jesus is called, “Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Jospeh” when Philip tells Nathanael about him. If this were an invented story, they would not have called Him the son of Joseph and they would have referred to Him as coming from Bethlehem.

The Jesus of Prophecy

The prophecies of Christ’s life are recorded hundreds of years before they were fulfilled—an impossible point for critics to overcome.

Even the most liberal critics admit that Micah was recorded over 100 years before the birth of Christ in Bethlehem, as Micah 5:2 predicts.

The virgin birth of Christ is prophesied in Isaiah 7:14, 700 years before its fulfillment.

Zechariah 9:9 predicts the Messiah would ride upon a donkey. This was deliberately done by Jesus to fulfill the prophecy—a prophecy acknowledge by the Jews.

Many more prophecies were fulfilled, but Psalm 22 is especially pertinent.

Christ may have spoken the first words of Psalm 22 on purpose, but the rest of the details were far out of His control.

The prophets were either liars and deceivers, or they were eyewitnesses!

Think About It

1. How did Peter and John present Christ to the Jewish leaders at their trial, recorded in Acts 4?

2. Why were Christians persecuted under Roman rule when Jews were not? Is there any difference today?

3. Historical documents seem to confirm that Jesus of Nazareth walked the earth. Why have many people in the past (and some today) claimed that Christ never lived?

4. How does Scripture approach the historical figure of Christ?

5. Prophecies of Christ’s life and death are present in the Old Testament. How can these be used to confirm the life and authenticity of Christ?