9. IMAGINE WHY BELIEVING IN JESUS CHANGES EVERYTHING
An excerpt from the book Imagine the Future You
E-book, paper and audible. Read or listen to first chapter free! Great narrator.
By Ada Brownell
Why we need Jesus
“Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before God made anything at all and is supreme over all creation. Christ is the one through whom God created everything in heaven and earth. He made the things you can see and the things we can’t see—kings, kingdoms, rulers and authorities. Everything has been created through him and for him. He existed before everything else began, and he holds all creation together” (Colossians 15:17NLT).
We only need to listen to or watch the news to know we need Jesus.
So many worrisome things are occurring, even beyond economic problems, unemployment, staggering national debt, terrorists’ bombings and nations who hate America accumulating nuclear bombs.
I worry about the spiritual state of our nation, where it seems everyone—even those who claim to be Christians—use the Lord’s name in vain for every emotion under the sun.
Furthermore, secularism (yes, it used to be listed among religions in encyclopedias) has become the religion of the United States, and freedom of religion is in danger.
Where will you fit in these perilous times?
The Bible describes the future this way:
“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God” (2 Timothy 3:1-4)
IMAGINE “BEAMED UP” WITH THE CHURCH
Do you love God? Do you believe Jesus will be involved in your future as prophesies about His catching away of the church and the second coming indicate?
From 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18: “For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain to the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
His first coming certainly impacted the world.
When I think of Jesus and his sacrifice to come to earth, I think of the big, husky evangelist who was a dinner guest at a home the same time we were eating there. The man piled his plate high with delicious food and then started devouring it.
“When you look at me now,” he said between chomps, knowing we all watched, “it’s hard to realize I was once helpless and flat on my back.”
“You were?” someone asked in amazement.
He grinned. “Yes. I was a baby once.”
It is even more amazing to realize the Lord Jesus Christ—who was there when the universe was created (the verse above and John 1)—gave up all his supernatural strength and wisdom to become a baby.
Last Christmas when I pondered with amazement the thought that He would become completely helpless—with his whole existence dependent upon humans—I realized it wasn’t so amazing after all. Jesus, as God the Son, downloaded the instincts and programmed parents’ brains so a baby’s cry would be so irritating they would do almost anything to stop the sound. They would offer food. They would change the diaper. They would hold the infant.
He also knew parents’ love is so deep they want to see their offspring tenderly and adequately cared for.
IMAGINE EVENTS THAT AFFECT YOUR LIFE FORETOLD
But how do we know Jesus was no ordinary baby?
If you have studied religion at all, you know many religions recognize Jesus as a prophet, but deny He is God. Only Christians recognize Him as God’s son and our Lord. Almost anyone will tell you He was a good man.
In his book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis proclaimed, "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 a man who says he is a poached egg--or he would be the devil of hell. You must take your choice. Either this was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool 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.”
Some religions try to give you another Christ, which the Bible calls an antichrist, a false prophet, and false god. But the Bible says, “There is no other name given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
One way we know Jesus was no ordinary baby is God the Son fulfilled prophecy written hundreds of years before He came.
IMAGINE EVIDENCE THAT IMPACTS YOU
Josh McDowell, in his book Evidence That Demands a Verdict, states that the Old Testament contains over three hundred references to the Messiah that were fulfilled in Jesus, and all of these prophecies were written at least 250 years before Christ was born.
Among these prophecies are his virgin birth, his ancestry, his birthplace, his presentation of gifts from the East, the massacre of infants by Herod, his name, the flight into Egypt, a messenger would precede his ministry, his ministry would begin in Galilee, he would teach in the temple, he would teach in parables, he would enter Jerusalem on a donkey, he would be a stone of stumbling to the Jews and light to the Gentiles, he would have a Resurrection, and he would ascend into heaven.
The events of his trial and events preceding his death were foretold. He would be sold for thirty pieces of silver and betrayed by a friend. The money would be thrown in the house of the Lord. The silver would purchase a potter’s field for burial. False witnesses would accuse him, and he would not answer them. He would be mocked, wounded, bruised, smitten, and spit upon. The weight of the cross would be too much for his beaten body.
His manner of death was foretold, as well as the piercing of his hands, feet, and side, but no bones would be broken.
Here is the scripture from the Old Testament about the piercing: “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son” (Zechariah 12:10).
When John related the story of the Crucifixion and Resurrection, he wrote, “But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break His legs. But one of the Roman soldiers pierced his side with a spear and immediately blood and water came out.…For these things were done that the scripture should be fulfilled, ‘Not one of his bones shall be broken.’ And again another scripture says, ‘They shall look on him whom they pierced’” (John 33:37NKJ).
When the soldier decided not to bother to break his legs, he had no idea he fulfilled prophecy.
The darkness that fell over the land at noon when Jesus died also was foretold by prophets hundreds of years earlier. The burial in the rich man’s tomb was predicted.
But was Jesus actually the Son of God and God the Son?
IMAGINE JESUS BLESSING PEOPLE TODAY
Emilie Griffin, in her book Turning, tells how she came from atheism to accepting Jesus Christ as Lord of her life. After realizing there had to be a Designer, she wondered whether a genuine relationship was possible between God and man.
“I wanted to know who Jesus was, what he actually said, and how that made people willing to die for his sake,” she explains. Her own starting point was whether one might believe God acted in history and Jesus was in any real sense His Son.
She read the New Testament and saw the Gospels had a firmer historical validity than she had been led to believe. The Book of Acts and the Epistles opened her eyes.
“Paul lived at the same time as others who knew Jesus,” she writes. “Paul was acquainted with men and women who witnessed the events of the Crucifixion and who insisted upon the fact of the Resurrection. I began to feel these letters were either a true account—or the most extraordinary fabrication ever concocted.
“By this time I was reading straight through the New Testament, and it was affecting me deeply. I could not get over the conviction that Jesus was real.”
Those who study the New Testament soon see Jesus claimed to be God, his claims were confirmed by others, and other indirect claims say He is God the Son.
WHAT A FUTURE! IMAGINE NEVER DYING
Who do you say I am?” Jesus asked Peter at Philippi.
“You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God,” Peter answered.
“You are blessed, Simon, son of John,” Jesus told him, "Because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being.”
Jesus claimed to be God at other times in his ministry. When Jesus told the Jews that if they kept His sayings, they would not see death, they were outraged. (He spoke of our souls and spirits living forever.)
“Now we know you are possessed by a demon,” they said. “Even Abraham and the prophets died, but you say that those who obey your teaching will never die? Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? Are you greater than the prophets, who died? Who do you think you are?”
Jesus answered, “If I am merely boasting about myself, it doesn’t count. But it is my Father who says these glorious things about me. You say, ‘He is our God,’ but you do not even know him. I know him. If I said otherwise, I would be as great a liar as you! But it is true—I know him and obey him. Your ancestor Abraham rejoiced as he looked forward to my coming. He saw it, and was glad.”
“You aren’t even fifty years old. How can you say you’ve seen Abraham?” the Jews asked.
Jesus answered, “The truth is, I existed before Abraham was even born!”
Then they took up stones to throw at him.
Later, at his trial, Jesus acknowledged his divinity.
“Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?”
“I am,” Jesus said.
Jesus showed his claim to being the Messiah and His divinity in other ways also. In the entire Bible, Jesus is the only person who accepted worship from others.
Jesus made other indirect claims to his divinity. He forgave sins. He said He was the Giver of Life. Judgment has been assigned to him by the Father, according to the teachings of Jesus.
The claims made by Jesus were substantiated by others. John the Baptist proclaimed Him to be the Messiah. Peter confirmed that he believed Jesus to be the Son of God. Stephen preached that Jesus was the Messiah and testified he saw Jesus sitting at the right hand of God. Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” as he lay dying after he was stoned.
The apostle Paul (previously called Saul) was one of the Jews who stirred up the people who killed Stephen. But soon Paul also became a believer and proclaimed Jesus as the Son of God. Paul was imprisoned and given the death penalty because of his faith in Jesus Christ.
IMAGINE DEMONS TREMBLING
Demons even acknowledge knowing Jesus, and they tremble.
To the Jews He proclaimed that He would rise from the dead if they destroyed Him. He also taught His disciples in private that He would be killed and after three days rise again. The disciples would not listen to such teachings, though.
After Jesus died and buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, the chief priests and Pharisees asked Pilate to guard and seal the tomb. They said, “We remember that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, ‘After three days I will rise again.’”
Despite the guards and the seal, the Lord Jesus Christ did walk out of that tomb, alive forevermore.
Yet, Easter still is a mystery. From a purely physical point of view, if there was no Resurrection, what happened to Christ’s body? And if he didn’t come out of the grave triumphant, why would the disciples, who were so wishy-washy before his death, suddenly become strong enough to give their lives for their faith in Jesus?
Josh McDowell, author of Evidence that Demands a Verdict, wrote great in-depth studies on the Resurrection and other historical evidences for the Christian faith. He said people will die for a religious leader they think is equal to God, but if Jesus had not risen from the dead his disciples would have known it, and people will not give their lives for belief in a person they know is a fraud.
According to the Bible, history, and tradition, all of the twelve disciples of Jesus except Saint John and Judas were martyrs. John died a natural death while imprisoned on Patmos, where he wrote the Book of Revelation. Judas, who sold Jesus for 30 pieces of silver, committed suicide.
Jesus’s resurrection is an amazing fact. But so is the wonder of life’s origins.
 Mark 14:61–62
 Matthew 8:29; James 2:18–20
 John 2:18–22
 Matthew 16:21
 Matthew 27:63
 Josh McDowell, Campus Crusade for Christ, Here’s Life Publishers, Inc., 1979
 There is only one God, but in three persons known as the Trinity—God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, and they are eternal with no beginning and no end. Jesus said He and Father are one and if you know Him, we also know the Father. See John 14:5-12.
 San Bernardino, CA: Here's Life Publishers Inc.
 Emilie Griffin, Doubleday, 1980.
 Matthew 16:16–17
 John 8:51–58
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