Forensic faith: Who is Jesus?
'Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen ... by faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.'
The crucifixion of Jesus Christ was clearly God's redemptive plan for us
-by W. Keith Sloane
Who is Jesus? '
This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to him.' -Matthew 17:5
The Bible says:
"Jesus cried out with a loud voice: 'My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?'" -Matthew 27:46, Mark 15:34 (circa A.D. 30).
Two of the four gospel writers report that as Jesus Christ was nailed and hung onto a Roman cross, he cried out the first verse of Psalm 22, written one thousand years earlier by King David.
"My God, my God why have You forsaken me?" -Psalm 22:1
Of all the prophetic messianic texts in the Old Testament, why did Jesus quote the first line of Psalm 22?
Why did Jesus cry out, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?"
Though is is not stated in the Bible why Jesus cited Psalm 22:1, we can surmise from biblical texts discribing the crucifixion that Jesus was experiencing the very verse prophetically penned for him.
And perhaps Jesus was guiding witnesses of his crucifixion and future generations to biblical prophecy as to who he was -- and is.
With biblical forensic evidence, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ was clearly in God's redemptive plan.
Note prophetic forensic links in Psalm 22:
"They pierced my hands and my feet ... they look, they stare at me ... they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots." -Psalm 22:16-18
And compare the New Testament record:
"And when they had crucified Him, they divided up His garments among themselves by casting lots." -Matthew 27:35 (circa A.D. 50 - 70).
"So they said to one another, 'Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, to decide whose it shall be'; this was to fulfill the Scripture: 'They divided my outer garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.' Therefore the soldiers did these things." -John 19:24-25 (circa A.D. 50 - 90).
And again, prophecy in Psalm 22 states:
"All who see me sneer at me; they separate the lip, they wag the head, saying, 'Commit yourself to the Lord; let Him deliver him; Let Him rescue him, because he delights in him ... they open wide their mouth at me ...'" -Psalm 22:7 - 13.
Compare that to:
"So they cried out, 'Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him!'" -John 19:15.
"They spat on Him, and took the reed and began to beat Him on the head. After they had mocked Him, they took the scarlet robe off Him and put His own garment back on Him, and led Him away to crucify Him ...
"And those passing by were hurling abuse at Him, wagging their heads and saying, 'You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself!. If You are the Son of God come down from the cross.'" -Matthew 27:30, 31, 39, 40.
The eyewitness accounts of the Passion reported in the New Testament are in line with prophecy from Psalm 22 written approximately A.D. 1000 -- predating the first known method of crucifixion by nearly 500 years.
And the recorded life and purpose of Jesus Christ in the New Testament matches with messianic prophecy written in Isaiah chapter 53 nearly seven centuries before:
"Surely our griefs He himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him." -Isaiah 53:4-6 (circa 701 - 681 B.C.).
"By oppression and judgment He was taken away; and as for His generation, who considered that He was cut off out of the land of the living for the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?" -Isaiah 53:8
"His grave was assigned with wicked men, yet He was with a rich man in His death, because He had done no violence, nor was there deceit in His mouth." -Isaiah 53:9
"But the Lord was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief, if He would render Himself as a guilt offering ... as a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; by His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities ... because He poured Himself out to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet He Himself bore the sin of many, and interceded for the transgressors." -Isaiah 53:10-12
All of the above passages from Isaiah 53 depict the life and purpose of Jesus Christ as detailed in the four gospel accounts.
Jesus Christ even interceded for his executioners:
"Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing." -Luke 23:34.
And some 30 years later, the apostle Paul, a converted former persecutor of the church, writes to the church in Colossae explaining the purpose of Jesus' crucifixion:
"He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of degrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross." -Colossians 2:13, 14.
These are only a sample of the biblical prophecies Jesus Christ fulfilled. There are also time, place and family line prophecies.
Our purpose here was to focus on biblical prophecies regarding Jesus' crucifixion.
Therefore, based on Old and New Testament forensic evidence, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ was not a random act -- but the prophesied act of ransom:
"For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." -Mark 10:45.
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An Evidence-based Faith
Other sources regarding the historicity of the crucifixion of Jesus:
1. "Jesus Outside the New Testament: An Introduction to the Ancient Evidence," by Robert E Van Voorst, published by Wm. B Eerdmans, 2000. ISBN 0-8028-4368-9.
2. "Josephus, the Essential Works (a condensation of Jewish antiquities) and The Jewish War," Flavius Josephus; Paul L. Maier, 1995, p 284 -285. ISBN 0-521-21043-7. See pages 284-285 for references to Jesus. See "Antiquities of the Jews" ch 18, 20.
3. "Sacrifice and Redemption," edited by S.W. Sykes, 2000, Cambridge University Press ISBN 0-521-04460-X. Pages 35-36 state the theories of the nonexistence of Jesus are "a thoroughly dead thesis."
4. Tacitus, "The Annals," book 15, ch 44, circa A.D. 116. "Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hand of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilate, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out in Judea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. Mockery of ever sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as nightly illumination, when daylight had expired."
5. Church History of Eusebius/Book I/Chapter 11 (written 4th century). Testimonies in Regard to John the Baptist and Christ: "The same Josephus confesses in this account that John the Baptist was an exceedingly righteous man, and thus agrees with the things written of him in the Gospels ... he relates these things in the eighteenth book of the Antiquities ... he makes mention of our Savior in the same work:
'And there lived at that time Jesus, a wise man, if indeed it be proper to call him a man. For he was a doer of wonderful works, and a teacher of such men as receive the truth in gladness. And he attached to himself many of the Jews, and many also of the Greeks. He was the Christ.
'When Pilate, on the accusation of our principal men, condemned him to the cross, those who had loved him in the beginning did not cease loving him. For he appeared unto them again alive on the third day, the divine prophets having told these and countless other wonderful things concerning him. Moreover, the race of Christians, named after him, continues down to this present day.'
"Since a historian, who is one of the Hebrews themselves, has recorded in his work these things concerning John the Baptist and our Savior, what excuse is there left for not convicting them of being destitute of all shame, who have forged the acts against them?"
Note: Eusebius is referencing "Antiquities of the Jews," by Flavius Josephus, the Jewish historian, written circa A.D. 93 - 94.
6. Wikipedia: search "Jesus Christ" and "Josephus on Jesus" for references.
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Books to 'Kick Against the Oppression'
- 'How Do You Kill 11 Million People? -- Why the Truth Matters More Than You Think,' by Andy Andrews
- 'Life Together,' by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
- 'My Utmost For His Highest,' by Oswald Chambers
- 'Boundaries,' by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
- 'Perspectives on Your Child's Education,' Edited by Timothy P. Jones
- 'Mere Christianity,' by C.S. Lewis
- 'The Screwtape Letters,' by C.S. Lewis
- 'Raising Your Children for Christ,' -Andrew Murray
- 'Abuse of Language, Abuse of Power,' by Josef Pieper
- 'Between Two Worlds,' by John R. W. Stott
- 'The Annotated Pilgrim's Progess,' Edited by Warren W. Wiersbe
- 'Barne's Notes on the New Testament,' by Albert Barnes
- 'The Trinity,' by Edward H. Bickersteth
- 'The Cost of Discipleship,' by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
- 'Institutes of the Christian Religion,' (2-vol) by John Calvin
- 'Cambridge History of the Bible,' (3-vol) Cambridge Univesity Press
- 'Dictionary of the Christian Church,' J.D. Douglas, editor
- 'The New Bible Dictionary,' J.D. Douglas, editor
- 'The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah,' by Alfred Edersheim
- 'The Christian in Complete Armour,' by William Gurnall
- 'Early Church Fathers,' (38-vol) Hendricksen
- 'Studies in the Sermon on the Mount,' by Martin Lloyd-Jones
- 'The Interlinear Greek-English New Testament,' by Nestle & Marshall
- 'Kingdom of the Cults,' by Walter Martin and Ravi Zacharias
- 'Calvary Chapel Distintives -- The Foundational Principles of the Calvary Chapel Movement,' by Chuck Smith
- 'Study Guide on the Holy Spirit,' by Chuck Smith
- 'Systematic Theology,' by Augustus Hopkins-Strong
- 'Word Studies in the Greek New Testament,' (4-vol) by Kenneth Wuest
- 'The Early Christians,' by Eberhard Arnold
- 'Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners,' by John Bunyan
- 'Fox's Book of Martyrs,' by John Fox
- 'Billy: A Personal Look at Billy Graham, the World's Best-loved Evangelist,' by Sherwood E. Wirt (OP - order Amazon, E-Bay)
- 'Mover of Men and Mountains,' by R.G. LeTourneau
- 'George MacDonald -- novelist and Victorian visionary,' by William Raeper
- 'When the Wicked Seize a City,' by Chuck & Donna McIlhenny w/Frank York
- 'Confessions of a Twentieth Century Pilgrim,' byMalcolm Muggeridge
- 'Baptised into Wilderness: A Christian Perspective on John Muir,' by Richard Cartwright Austin
- 'Confessions & other Religious Writings,' by Leo Tolstoy
- 'A Severe Mercy,' by Sheldon Vanauken
- 'Selling Satan: The Tragic History of Mike Warnke,' by Mike Herenstein & Jon Trott
Search: Christian Books.com, Cambridge University Press, Amazon.com, Noah's Ark Book Attic (rare and antiquarian books), Noah's Ark (Temecula), Christian Classics Ethereal Library (electronic), eBay.
Make the Bible your primary read. Immerse yourself in God's Word. Read several versions. When purchasing a Bible, choose a translation you can't put down. We recommend looking into New King James, New American Standard, English Standard Version and Living Bible translations for starters.
Purchase several translations for critical comparisons, and include at least one Bible with a cross-referencing system, a concordance and maps for home study.
Speaking of study, it's important to get into a home bible study with an evangelical church or group for fellowship, discipline and to encourage the Holy Spirit in you -- and the group.
Built-in notes are helpful, but can lead to lazy study (just reading the notes). Develop your own notes by critical and consistent reading.
The Protestant Bible has 66 books, and as a tapestry is woven together, so are the Old and New Testaments woven together by the hand of God.
For starters, we suggest reading Ecclesiastes, Proverbs, Matthew (especially the Sermon on the Mount), John, Romans, Genesis and Revelation.
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Part I: Parts originally published front page for easter 2014, received over 200,000 internet hits. Here we show a few of the passages that reveal there is a plurality within the Godhead of the Bible, i.e. a trinity - one God, yet in three distinct persons.
For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on his shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. - Isaiah 9:6 (written circa 701-680 B.C.).
Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness." - Genesis 1:26-27 (written circa 1446-1406 B.C.).
Then the Lord God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever." - Genesis 3:22.
"Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, so that they will not understand one another's speech." - Genesis 11: 7.
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?" Then I said, "Here am I. Send me!" - Isaiah 6:8.
"I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty." - Revelation 1:8 (written circa A.D. 95).
"When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. And He placed His right hand on me, saying, 'Do not be afraid, I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.'" - Revelation 1:17, 18 (written circa 95 A.D.).
Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and His Redeemer the Lord of hosts: "I am the first and the last, and there is no God besides Me." - Isaiah 44:6 (written circa 701 - 680 B.C.).
I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed me these things. But he said to me, "Do not do that. I am a fellow servant ... worship God." - Revelation 22:8, 9.
"Behold, I am coming quickly ... I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end ... I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the beginning and the end ..." - Revelation 22:12-16.
Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!" - John 20:28.
Part II: [Parts originally published front page easter season 2014; received over 200,000 combined internet Hits.]
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God ... all things came into being through Him." - John 1:1-3 (written circa A.D. 70 - 85).
"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth." - John 1:14.
"Who has ascended into heaven and descended? Who has gathered the wind in His fists? Who has wrapped the waters in His garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is His name or His' son's name? Surely you know!" - Proverbs 30:4 (written circa 715 - 686 B.C.).
"Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, for His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all those who take refuge in Him." - Psalm 2:12 (written circa 1000 B.C.).
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