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Watch 2022 online sermons » Craig Smith » Craig Smith - The Problem of God and Jesus

Craig Smith - The Problem of God and Jesus


Craig Smith - The Problem of God and Jesus
TOPICS: The Problem of God and..., Jesus

Welcome to all the locations on this first weekend after Easter. And speaking about Easter, I just need to say a huge thank you to all of you who call Mission Hills your home. We asked you to be on mission with us by coming to Easter Saturday which I realize is not really a thing, but we asked you to come on Saturday, so we’d have room for all of our guests on Sunday. And you guys did that, the 3:30 and the 5:00 on Saturday were packed out, and that meant that there was space. We kind of filled almost every seat in almost every service, and we have actually had…we had record attendance this past year or this past week by almost 2000 people more than we’ve ever had on Easter, which is incredible. It is awesome. Thank you, thank you, thank you. But maybe the best part of it was all those extra guests got seats in the main worship center because you guys were on mission and made room for them by coming on Saturday. So, we’re so grateful for that and I think it was partly because of that that we had a ton of people say yes to Jesus and give their lives to Jesus. So, can we just say thank you to each other for being on mission with Jesus in that way? That’s fantastic.

So, hey, we are launching or really I should say we are relaunching a series today that we began back in January after Christmas called “The Problem of God and [blank]”, where we’re talking about some of the biggest questions that people have, the biggest issues that are really problems that are obstacles that keep people moving forward in faith. And so, we’re gonna be doing that for the next few weeks. Really looking forward to that series. Before we get into the content for the day, let me remind you of a couple thing that we said back at Easter when we did part one of this series. And the first one so, so important is this, we all have questions. Okay. If you have questions, I want you to know you’re not alone and maybe you’re a follower of Jesus, and you’re embarrassed that you have questions, I want you to know that every follower of Jesus has questions. Maybe you’re not a follower of Jesus and you’re like, “Is it okay for me to have these questions? These questions are keeping me from having faith, is it okay?” It’s totally okay. We’re glad you’re here. We all have questions. That you’ll be thinking about it, almost all of us fall somewhere on a spectrum and you can might ask yourself the question, where am I on the spectrum? Zero would be no faith, no questions.

So, you don’t believe in God, you don’t have faith in Jesus, and you don’t have any more questions about it. You’ve answered all the questions, and you’ve answered it in such a way that says, “No. God is a lie, Jesus is a joke, religion is a farce,” and so, no faith, no questions…That would be zero, 10, the other opposite in the spectrum would be all faith no questions. You have all the faith and you have none other questions. You’ve answered all your questions. They’re all gone. They’re all taking care of you. You haven’t had questions in a really long time. You don’t have any questions right now. You probably will never have any questions and honestly you’re little insulted that the preacher is suggesting you could possibly have questions, ‘cuz you have all the faith, but you got none of the questions. Now, where are you on that spectrum? And if you’re zero, if you’re no faith no questions, or if you’re 10, all faith no questions, you’re done. Go, you can leave, we’ll wait. And nobody is moving. Okay. Well, that means that we’re all somewhere in the middle which means we all have questions.

So why don’t you just look at somebody next to you and say, “It’s okay, I have questions too.” All right. We all have questions. And this series is about dealing with answers to those questions. But I also want to remind you of this and it’s so, so, so, important. We are going to be doing with answers to these questions but understand that these answers aren’t weapons. They’re medicine. The answers are not weapons, they’re medicine use them to help don’t hurt with them. Okay? The answers are intended to help you, and to help you be on mission, to help others, take a step closer to faith in Jesus by dealing with the things that are tripping them up. This is not ammunition. So, if you get someone answers in this series and you’re like that’s what I needed. And I know who I’m gonna use that on. Okay. You’ve completely missed the point of this series. Okay? These are not weapons. This is designed to be used in love to help people move forward past things that are tripping them up on their way to faith. And maybe to be used even in your own life to move deeper into faith. Okay? So, they’re not weapons, they’re medicine and we just need to remember that.

Now the content for today that we’re gonna be dealing with is the question of the problem of God and Jesus. And some of you might go, “How is Jesus a problem?” Well, he is. Jesus has always been a problem. He’s always been a problem. Can I share with you my all-time favorite description of Jesus? Comes from a man named Josephus, he was a Jewish historian, and he wrote about, he probably wrote this somewhere around about 94 AD. So just a little while after Jesus lived. And this is what he says about Jesus, he says, “Now there arose at this time a source of further trouble in one Jesus.” Is that not the best description of Jesus you’ve ever heard in your whole life? A source of…I love that. Jesus the troublemaker. I really think we need some new worship Songs. “Jesus maker of trouble. Oh, the overwhelming trouble making…” I don’t know, I’ll let our worship team figure that one out, but I think that would be awesome. Jesus the troublemaker like, how fantastic is that? I want to follow a troublemaker. I really do. I want to follow somebody who’s not okay with the status-quo and who messes, but I love it, Jesus the troublemaker. But the real question is okay, why does Josephus call him a troublemaker? And why have so many people throughout history called Jesus troublemaker. Why have they called him a problem? And Josephus actually identifies two things, he says this. “Now there arose at this time a source of further trouble in one Jesus, a wise man who performed surprising works. And a teacher of men who gladly welcomed strange things.” He’s got two things there.

The first one he says that Jesus performed surprising works. And what he’s talking there are miracles. And I want you to understand, Josephus isn’t a fan of Jesus, he’s not a follower of Jesus, he’s a critic of Jesus. You can catch the edge even to what he says here about Jesus. He’s not a fan’s, not a follower, he’s a critic. But notice that even the critic says, not he claimed to perform. Josephus doesn’t say other people claimed that he performed. Josephus says, he performed surprising works, he did miracles. And this is something we need to understand, it’s a historical fact, everybody in the ancient world, everybody agreed Jesus did miracles. Nobody disagreed with that. Everybody agreed Jesus did miracles. They disagreed about how he did them. They disagreed about how he did them. Jesus said, he did him by the power of God. His Jewish opponent said, he did him by the power of the devil, that he was in league with Satan. The nations surrounding him said, he did it by the power of magic. We have records from as far away as Alexandria, Egypt as early as about 50 AD where people are calling him a great magician. Everybody agreed Jesus did miracles. They disagreed about how he did them.

And this is the first source of trouble in Jesus, that he did miraculous things. And you may go, why is that a problem? Well, because here’s the thing. Here is a good spiritual principle. What we do is an extension of who we are. Okay? What we do is an extension of who we are. We sometimes wish that weren’t true. We do things that we’re not proud of. And we’d like to be able to say, “Well, that’s somehow foreign to me, it’s not anything to do with who I am. That’s not me”. But the reality as it is, there’s still something in us that is being expressed in those things we’re not proud. I mean, just this past Friday, I had a conflict with my oldest daughter, and I realized after the fact, like I did not treat her with respect. I said some things and I said in some ways they were just were not respectful. And I had to go back and say, “I’m sorry. I didn’t treat you respect; would you forgive me?” And then she did. But you know, I felt bad about it afterwards. And I would love to be able to say, “Yeah, yeah, but that’s okay, because it’s not who I am. I’m not someone who’s disrespectful to anybody.” Yeah, I am. I wouldn’t have done it if I weren’t that. There’s part of me that Jesus isn’t finished with yet. There’s part of me the Holy Spirit’s still working on. The good news is it works the other way around too, that sometimes especially as the followers of Jesus, when we do the right thing, and the reality is that’s an extension of who we are too. It’s an extension of what God’s doing in us and what we’re becoming.

And so, it’s not a reality that means that we have to live in constant despair, but we have to be honest with ourselves. What we do is an extension of who we are. And when it comes to Jesus, what he did was miracles, and what that means is that his doing miracles forces us to wrestle with who does that mean about who he is. Who is he to be able to do these things? Who is he that these miracles are an extension of? And so, Jesus doing miracles caused problems and it continues to cause problems. But that’s honestly not the biggest source of the problem. The biggest source of the problem is Josephus identifies it is, that he taught strange things. He taught strange things. And when we ask the question, what is he talking about? What strange things did he teach we need to understand, he’s not talking about his words of wisdom.

Jesus taught a lot of wise things that he’s famous for. A lot of non-believers loved what the wise things that Jesus said. He said things like, you know, the Golden Rule, ” Love your neighbor as yourself,” there’s a lot of wisdom in that. He taught us the parable of the Good Samaritan, there’s a lot of wisdom in that. We even have Good Samaritan laws in this country because of the wisdom that we find that he taught. Wisdom like, you know, “Hey, don’t try to be taking a speck out of your brother’s eye when you got a stinking log, sticking out of yours.” There’s a lot of wisdom in that. And none of his words of wisdom are the source of the problem. That’s not what Josephus is talking about. As we said at Easter, you know, a lot of wise teachers have said similar things. A lot of wise teachers have come along and said, “Yeah. We should love one another. We should honor God. We should take sin seriously. We should look at ourselves first before we look a…”

I mean, a lot of wise teachers have said that there’s been a lot of wisdom that we see in Jesus. That we see in other things. But here’s the problem. Jesus didn’t claim to have some wisdom. Jesus claimed to be the source of all wisdom. That’s the problem. He didn’t claim to have some wisdom like other religious teachers. He claimed to be the source of all wisdom. He claimed to be God Almighty himself. He claimed to be the one who invented everything and invented the wisdom in terms of how to live in the creation that he’s made. The problem is not that he had some wisdom. The problem is that he claimed to be the source of all wisdom. That he claimed to be God. And sometimes, I’ll have people kind of push back ” I’ve actually read the Gospels. I read the four accounts of Jesus’ life that we have in the Bible. And I don’t see anywhere where Jesus said, I am God. I don’t see it.” And then my answer to that is then you’re looking through the wrong lens. And I understand it because Jesus spoke in the context of his day.

He spoke in the language of his day and he spoke through the lens of the culture of his day. And sometimes if we don’t understand that context, we might miss the starkness, the clarity with which he claimed to be God. But we need to make sure that we understand that this isn’t something that Christians have said later on, this is the heart of Jesus message itself. Once you…if you’ve got a Bible, why don’t you go ahead and grab it, and make your way to the Gospel of John. The Gospel of John is one of the four accounts of Jesus’ life. You’re gonna find it if you’re…if you’ve got a physical Bible and you’re not familiar with it, it’s about here. Go to that last quarter or so. Find Matthew, Mark, or Luke, just go a little bit further if you use some kind of a digital thing, just type in the word John. Super easy, right?

One of the four accounts of Jesus is life. Now, this is what Jesus said. Here in John 17:1, After Jesus said this, and he’s talking about what he’s been teaching up to this point. He’s been telling his disciples he’s about to go away. “After Jesus said this, he looked towards heaven and he prayed. And listen to his prayer. He said, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.” He said, “Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.” And there’s two things we need to understand here. The first is this. Jesus is calling himself the Son of God. He’s calling himself the Son of God. And then of people go, “Well, is he? ‘Cuz he didn’t say glorify me your Son. He said, glorify your Son. He’s maybe he’s talking about somebody else. Maybe the Son of God is some other person that he’s thinking.” Well, no, if you skim down just really quickly to verse 5, I want you to notice in verse 5. He says almost the same thing, but there he does say me. He says, “Now Father glorify me in your presence.” Verse 1 says, “Glorify your Son.” Verse 5 he says, “Glorify me.” It’s clear in verse 1, he’s still talking about himself. He’s calling himself the Son of God. Now, you might go, why is he talking about himself in the third person? ‘Cuz that’s weird. Right? Yeah. But it’s interesting when, you know, we do that even today

Some people do it and in the right context people do it. Who talks about themselves in third person? People with authority. Moms and dads do it. We do. Especially to young children we’ll say something like, “Okay, you need to listen to Mom,” which is really you need to listen to me. “Hey, Dad is talking now, listen up. I’m talking.” We sometimes as parents we talk about ourselves in the third person, ‘cuz what we’re doing is we’re stepping back from me as just another human being. And when we’re pointing people’s attention to the authority that’s inherent in our position. Right? That’s what’s happening when we do the third person. We have presidents who talk in the third person about themselves occasionally. It’s about authority.

And in the ancient world, the people who talk about themselves in third person were kings. It was a king who could say, “Your King commands you.” Instead of, ” I command you.” It’s pointing out the authoritative position. When Jesus talks about himself as the Son in the third person, there’s a sense in which he’s pointing to his authority as the unique Son of God. This is not just a kind of relationship that everybody has with God, because God’s the Father and he’s, well, all his children, no, no. He’s talking about a unique relationship and the authority inherent in that. So, he’s claiming to be the Son of God. The second thing I want you to notice though, is that he’s claiming the right to be worshipped in the same way as God.

What does he say? He says, “Glorify your Son. Glorify me.” Now, to glorify something means to lift it up, to exalt it, to draw attention to it and ultimately to draw worship to it. And throughout the scripture that command glorify is almost always used with God as the object. Glorify God. Lift God up. Exalt God. Draw worship to God. There’s only one exception actually in the whole Bible and in that particular exception something entirely unrelated is happening with every other instance when somebody says glorify, it’s glorify God. And here Jesus says, “Glorify me. Lift me up. Glorify me as I’ve glorified you. As I’ve drawn worship, do you draw worship to me?” Understand, Jesus is claiming the right to be worshipped in the same way as God. And nobody missed it in those days. There’s no way we should miss it either.

He’s not done. He goes on and he says this, he says, “For you have granted him, you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those that you have given them.” You’ve granted him authority over who? Over all people. Who has authority over all people? God has authority of all. Only God has authority over all people. I mean, even the Roman emperors with authority over so many people, they didn’t have authority over all people, they had authority over their people. People within their borders, people within their nation, but Jesus says, ” I have authority over all people, over all nations, it doesn’t matter what your borders are, it doesn’t matter which king is, I have authority over all people”. And that’s a God claim right there. Jesus claims don’t miss this, Jesus claims to have God’s authority over all people. And what does he do with that authority? He says, “You granted him authority over all people so that he might give eternal life to all those that you have given him.” He’s gonna give eternal life. And look how he defines eternal life; this is so interesting. Verse 3, “Now this is eternal life,” this is what it looks like. This is how you get it. “That they know you, the only true God.” That they know you. Underline that word “Know.” See it’s not about religion, it’s not about do these things, don’t do these things. No, it’s about a relationship. It’s about knowing God, being in a relationship with God. He said, “This is your life that they know you God.” But then notice what he does, he sticks himself right in there. ? This is eternal life that they know you, the only true God and Jesus Christ.”

Me, this is eternal life that they know God, that they know me, whom you’ve sent? Right? He’s right there with God. This is a God claim. And understand, Jesus isn’t saying that he knows the secret. He’s not saying that he, you know, “I can get you there, that if you just followed my advice, if you follow my words, I know the secret to eternal life”. He’s not saying he knows the secret to eternal life. He’s saying, he’s the source of eternal life. Right? He’s not saying he knows the secret to eternal life. He’s saying, he’s the source of it. He says, “Eternal life comes to you because you have a relationship with me, it flows from me. I am the wellspring. I am the source of eternal life. Your relationship with me is where eternal life comes from.” He’s not saying he knows the secret to eternal life. He’s saying, he is the source of eternal life. That’s a God claim. There’s no way to miss that. He says this, he says, “I have brought you glory on earth, I’ve lifted you up, I’ve drawn worship to you Father, by finishing the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me, lift me up draw, worship to me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.” Did you catch that?

He’s not asking for new glory. He’s asking for a return of the glory that he already had with God before the world began. In other words, he’s not saying, you know, ” I’ve served you faithfully and now I’ve become worthy of being glorified.” No, no, no. He’s not asking for new glory. He’s asking for a return of the glory that he had before God made anything. And let’s be very clear what Jesus is claiming here is this. Jesus claims to be pre-existent. He claims to be pre-existent. He claims to have existed before anything else except God existed. Before God made the universe, before there was a world to worship Him, Jesus was there, and he was worthy of worship. He was worthy of worship before there was a world to worship him. The glory that I had that was already mine because of who I am, before we made anything. Jesus is claiming to be pre-existent. That’s a God claim. No way to miss that. You boil everything down here and it’s very simple, Jesus is making too profound claims. Jesus claimed to be co-equal and co-eternal with God. To be co-equal with God, to be worthy of worship, to have the same authority. Co-equal with God. And also, co-eternal to have been around for all of eternity with him because he is God. That’s the claim. That’s the claim. And it’s not just here, these two claims which really is the one claim to be God himself, to be God Almighty in the flesh, that claim is the heart of the Bible.

It’s the heart of the Gospel accounts. Everything that Jesus is reported to have said and did ultimately circles around to these claims. Around this claim that he is God. And you might go, “Okay. Well, are we sure that Jesus actually made that claim? I get it, that’s in the Bible. But are we sure that Jesus actually made that claim? Maybe, maybe John invented that claim, maybe Matthew, or Mark, or Luke, or Paul, or Peter, or James, or the other writers of the Bible. Maybe they put those words in Jesus’ mouth after the fact to make him something that he never claimed to be. Maybe that’s what Christians claimed to maybe that’s not what Jesus claimed.”

Interesting theory. It just doesn’t fit the facts. Because it’s not just a claim that came from his fans, it’s a claim that came from his critics. Let’s go back to Josephus, shall we? What did he say? “Now there arose of this time of source of further trouble in one Jesus, a wise man.” Not a problem. He says, I’ll give him credit where credit’s do. “Who performed surprising works and a teacher of men who gladly welcomed strange things.” He’s a teacher of strange things. What strange things? He claimed to be co-equal and co-eternal with God. It’s not just the words of his fans, it’s also the words of his critics. This is why Jesus was executed. Let’s not mistake that. We talked about this last week. This is why Jesus was put to death. When we looked at the trial last week in Luke 22, Luke who looked into all these things, he investigated carefully, and he records the words of this trial that he must have gotten from some of the people who were there. And here’s what they said, they all said to him roughly translated, “So then, you’re saying you’re the Son of God.” Let’s just be clear about this. You’re really making that claim, right? And Jesus answered, “You’ve said it.” You nailed it. You got it. That’s exactly right. And they went…well we’re done here then. They said, “Well, what more do we need? We’ve heard it from his own lips.” This is the claim.

Listen. Both his fans and his critics agree, “Jesus claims to be co-equal and co-eternal with God.” The question is not whether or not he claimed this. The question is whether or not he’s right. That’s the question. And as followers of Jesus, one of the things that we have to help people do is to deal with that claim. There’s no question that he claimed it. The question is whether or not he’s right and we have to help people get to that point of considering Jesus in light of his own claims about himself. ‘Cuz what’s interesting to me is that throughout the centuries, there been a lot of people who have said, “No. He’s not God.” But they continue to want to lift him up and somehow keep him on a pedestal as something that’s worth paying attention to, as someone who’s worth following, as somebody who’s worth admiring and respecting. And this is where the problem comes and I talked to a lot of people who say, “I like Jesus. I admire Jesus. I respect Jesus. I just don’t believe he’s God. “And I don’t know that you can do that. Jesus didn’t really leave us this option. I don’t know how you like, and admire, and respect him, and deny his claim about himself. I just don’t see how they work. I mean, Buddhism says, “No. Jesus isn’t God. He’s an enlightened teacher.” But that’s not what Jesus said about himself. He didn’t say that he was someone who possessed some wisdom. He said that he was the source of all wisdom.

Hinduism says, no. He’s not God. He’s a manifestation of the divine in the same way that all of us are to some extent.” That’s not what Jesus said about himself. Jehovah’s Witnesses say, “Oh, he’s not God, he’s the Archangel Michael.” That’s not what Jesus said about himself. Mormonism says, “You know, he’s not God, he is a man who became God in the same way that all of us have the potential,” but that’s not what Jesus said about himself. It’s not what Jesus said about himself. And so, interesting, the people want to go, “He’s a good teacher, I just don’t believe he’s God.” How does that work? He’s a good teacher, but I deny his claim that he’s God. You know, if C.S. Lewis years ago, who coined what he called “The Trilemma.” he said, “There’s really only three ways to think about Jesus, and his claim to be God. He’s either a liar, or he’s a lunatic, he’s insane, or he’s Lord” He’s a liar, he’s a lunatic, or Lord. And the thing is, he’s a good teacher, but he’s lying about being God. Well, then, he’s not good, is he? Well, he’s a teacher, he’s a great teacher, but he’s a lunatic. He thinks he’s God. Then he’s not a teacher or at least not one we should be listening to.

Here’s the thing. We can accept his claim, or we can reject his claim, but we cannot ignore his claim. We can accept his claim, we can reject his claim, but we can’t ignore it. And that’s what so many people want to do. They don’t want to deal with the claim and that’s why Jesus is a problem. But we can accept it, we can reject it, but there’s no question that he made it, so, we cannot ignore it. Now as for me, I accept it. I do. I have for a very long time. And if you ask why, I’ll tell you because I honestly believe that it is the only theory that fits the facts. What kind of facts?

Well, one of the facts that’s important to me is the rise of the early church. I don’t know how to explain the rise of the early church apart from Jesus’s claim to be God. I don’t know how to do it. Keep in mind as we talked about at Easter, you know, Christianity didn’t come into existence. It wasn’t birthed because Jesus built up such huge momentum that there was no way to stop it, that they just kept going, and going, and going after his death. No. Jesus had his biggest crowds at the beginning of his ministry, but they got smaller and smaller as the people realized he’s not going to be the Savior that we were looking for. He’s not gonna fight against Rome. By the time that Jesus was executed by them, he was arrested in the garden, there was just a handful of people that were there with him. He didn’t have an army behind him. He just didn’t.

And when they buried him in the tomb as we said at Easter, they buried their faith in him with him. They said, he’s not who he said, he was he’s not the Son of God, it’s over. It’s done. ‘Cuz if he was who he said he was, he wouldn’t be in the grave. And as we saw, none of them were expecting an act two. None of them were expecting a resurrection even when they were confronted with the empty tomb. Their immediate and natural reaction was somebody stole his body. Why on earth are we here 2,000 years later? Why on earth did Christianity ever get started given those facts? How on earth did the very people, the very small group of people who were with him in the garden, who scattered when they arrested him. Peter, the leader of that ended up telling people, “I don’t even know who he is. No, I’m not with him.” He denied even knowing who is…How did that guy go from running scared and lying about his association with Jesus. How did he become someone who said, “Yeah, I know Jesus, and you need to know Jesus. And let me tell you what I know about Jesus. And if you don’t like what I’m telling you about what I know about Jesus, you can kill me, but I can’t shut up.” How does that happen?

One of my favorite stories in Acts, they were telling people about Jesus, the apostles were telling everybody that they had met the risen Jesus, they explained that’s the reason for the transformation, ‘cuz we met him after the tomb. We met him after the grave. We met him alive, and well, and risen, and Lord. And they were telling everybody, and the Jewish leadership brought him in and they said, “You need to shut up. Shut up about Jesus.” And they went out and they did not shut up. They kept talking about Jesus. And so, the Jewish leadership brought them back in and they said, “Which word did you not understand? Was it shut or up?” Where did the communication breakdown happen? And what they essentially said was, “We can’t, we can’t stop talking. We can’t stop telling. We can’t stop speaking the truth about what we know about Jesus now. You’re gonna have to kill us.” How do you explain that transformation? How do you explain the birth of the early church in that context? And my answer is the only theory that fits the facts is, those people met Jesus after the tomb. They met the risen Christ.

And I can’t explain the resurrection apart from the power of God. And I cannot explain the power of God moving in the life of a liar or a lunatic. And so, the rise of Christianity made us who he says he is. Or we could talk about the persistence of the early church. Because you understand that the Church, it was birthed in an incredibly hostile context. The Jewish people wanted them to go away. The Roman Empire jumped on board. They wanted the Christians to go away. Everybody was against to the early movement of Christianity. They hunted them down and they killed them in large numbers. And yet, it continued to grow, it continued to flourish. So much so, that over the course of the next couple hundred years, the Roman Empire who had killed Jesus, the Roman Empire became followers. You understand that? The official religion of the Roman Empire became Christianity. A few centuries after that same Empire killed its founder. How on earth does that happen? Because the power of God was at play. And I don’t understand the power of God at play in a liar or in a lunatic. But I do understand the power of God at play in the Son of God, and those who met him.

And that’s probably the third piece of evidence we have to consider, it’s the experience of Christians throughout history. Of people who have put their faith in Jesus, who’ve come to believe, now believe is not faith, but they’ve come to believe, I think he used to he said he is they’ve taken a step of faith, they’ve decided to trust. To move forward in that belief, to put their lives in his hands, to invite him into their hearts and say, “I want you to be my Lord and Savior. I trust you.” And they’ve experienced the power of God in their lives. They’ve been transformed from the inside out in ways that cannot be explained any other way. Those experiences have to be paid some attention to. You know, history is filled with the stories of people who thought they were gonna disprove Christianity. And found themselves becoming Christians when they were conferring with the evidence. People who what I would call, “The Accidental Christian.” All right?

Now, one of the more famous recently as a man named Lee Strobel, you may have seen his book, “The Case for Christ.” He’s an investigative journalist. His wife became a Christian. It bothered him so much, he set out to prove his wife wrong. The dream of so many husbands. Right? Can use my professional skills to prove that I was right. And when he collected the evidence, he became convinced that Jesus was actually God. That the resurrection did actually happen, and he became an accidental Christian. Biggest mistake he made, trying to disprove Christianity. How do we explain that apart from the power of God? And maybe you have your own evidence of the power of God working in your life. The transformations that have been accomplishment, I can certainly speak to those as well.

I said yes to Jesus when I was 12 years old. It wasn’t because of a miracle; it was because I believed. I’d come to the point of believing I’d answered some questions that I had. And I believed Jesus was God. And I took a step of faith. You know, I talk a lot, and I use this analogy, it’s like a frozen lake. You can stand on the edge of the lake and you can really believe that that ice can hold you, and you can really want to step out and see what it’s like out there in the middle. But until you actually step out, you don’t trust the ice. You can believe it with all of your mind, but until you step out you’re not actually. Or we can talk about marriage. There was a moment in my life where I believed that Coletta was the woman I want to spend the rest of my life with. I believed she was God’s gift to me. I believed that. But until we actually stood in front of our pastor and we said ” I do” to each other, we weren’t married. There’s a difference between belief and faith. I made the decision when I was 12 and I’ve experienced the power of God as confirmation of that over, and over, and over again. And honestly, in some fairly miraculous ways.

When I was 18, I was at a retreat and God spoke to me. I don’t have a lot of experiences. I know a lot of pastors say that all the time. “Well, God spoke to me this week.” And I think that happens, but it’s usually fairly subtle ways. This was an unusual one. God spoke to me. I thought it was actually an out loud voice, but I looked around and nobody else is looking. So, I guess it was just me, but he said the weirdest thing, he said,” I want you to go into music ministry.” And that was funny because my mom tried to teach me piano until I was 12 and then she’s like, “Okay. We can stop.” And I had a guitar in high school, but I wasn’t really any good at it.

And I had this moment where I said…I felt God said, “Go into music ministry.” And my response back to him was, “Okay. But have you heard me?” And there was no response, but I went home, and I sat down on the piano and I hadn’t sat there in years, and I wrote a song. It was like, huh, interesting. So, I shared it with the pastor of the church I was going to and he said, “Oh, you wrote a song great. You should sing it on Sunday.” And I was like, “Do you want to hear it first?” I mean, as a pastor that’s not really…that’s not what I would call wisdom. He’s like, “No. I’m sure it’s great.” All right

So, I played it and there was a convention of…I called it a convention of little old ladies. I don’t know exactly why they were, but there were from lots of other churches and they happen to be in that church that morning. And they came up to me and they’re like, “Hey. Love that song. Would you come to our church and do some songs?” I was like, “Well, you know, I just… I have the one song.” They’re like, “You could do like two or three.” I was like, “No. You don’t understand. That’s it. That’s the only song I know.” But I got the opportunity to go and to sing that song and God gave me some other stuff and that evolved into music. And that’s really how God drew me into vocational ministry

I don’t know how to explain what happened apart from the power of God. Or you know, few years ago we started a ministry called “Shepherd Project” to help people deal with intersections of faith and culture. And we realized that a particular year few years ago, that it was a powerful year because it was the 150th anniversary of Darwin’s birth. And it was the hundredth anniversary of his publication of the book, “Origin of Species” that launched the naturalistic evolution that says that everything’s an accident and unguided processes ultimately lead to everything that we see. And we said, “You know what? We want to speak into that.” We want to invite some scientists, not even just all Christian scientists but even some non-Christian scientists who don’t believe that’s true, who and look at the evidence and go, “No the evidence says there’s an intelligent designer.”

We wanted to look at science and have those conversations and we said, “We want to do this conference.” And when we sat down in the middle of the week as a team, when we went, “We think you’re gonna need about $50,000 to pull this off.” We did not have $50,000. Oh, and that’s the number. And so, we had prayer, and so, we started praying. And I think we prayed for two days. And I went to church on Sunday, and a guy came up to me said, “God really laid on my heart this week that Shepherd Project has something that they need to do, and you’re gonna need some money to do it.” And so, he gave me a number in here and I open it up and as a check for $50,000.

We hadn’t shared with anybody that we wanted to do the conference. Let alone what it was gonna cost. How do you explain that? Chance? Well, maybe but then a couple years later we decide to do a conference on the reliability of the historical accounts of the Gospels. And so, we said, “This conference is gonna take about $30,000” and that when God let us pray for literally half a day. And that evening a man from California called and said, “God put it on my heart that, that Shepherd Project has a need and he gave me a number, and so, I’m sending $30,000.” What? And my life’s not littered with these kinds of things, but if you see something you say something. I’ve had these experiences that I can’t explain them apart from the power of God. So, yeah, I believe. I believe that Jesus is who he said he is. You can accept this claim, you can reject this claim, but you cannot ignore it. And as for me. I believe it. It’s the only theory that fits all the evidence. So, what about you?

Let me give you three questions. Question number one, if you’re a follower of Jesus, if you say, “Yes. I believe it.” Then here’s the question for you. Who do I know that needs to know what I know about Jesus? And I know there’s a lot of knows in that. But who do you know that needs to know what you know about Jesus? What are you gonna do about it? Maybe you invite him to come back next week as we continue this series of dealing with the questions. Maybe you go out to lunch with them afterwards and you have a conversation. “So what did you think, and what questions do you still have?” Maybe that’s how you do it. Maybe you share the broadcasts or the podcast of this. Maybe you just invite somebody to coffee, or you sit, and you have a conversation with a neighbor. And you go, “Can I share with you what I believe and why I believe it?”. Maybe that’s what God’s calling you to do.

Second question. If you’re not a follower of Jesus, we’re so glad that you’re tuned in to this. We’re so glad that you’re with us. But if you’re not a follower Jesus, here’s the question. “What questions need answered to help me decide what I believe about Jesus?” If you’re not sure where you stand with Jesus, what questions need to be answered so you can move forward? And what step are you gonna take to get answers to those questions? It’s too important to just leave it for tomorrow, or for next month, or next year, or the next season of life. There may not be a tomorrow. There may not be a next season. You may not have that opportunity. You need to decide here and now what you think about Jesus. So, what questions need to be answered and what are you gonna do? What step are you going to take to get those questions answered?

Maybe, maybe it’s that you take advantage of a great opportunity we offer at Mission Hills it’s called “Discovering God.” It’s a 12-week series where you come together with other people who have questions. You’re all together in that. And there’s some people who guide the conversation and share some of the evidence and the answers to specific questions. It’s not a lecture, it’s a conversation designed to get at truth. It’s a fantastic program. We offer an online version, as well as versions at all of our campuses. Maybe you go to Discovering Mission Hill or you go to missionhills.org and look for “Discovering God,” and you sign up for that. Maybe that’s what you do. Or maybe you buy that book that I mentioned, “The Case for Christ” by Lee Strobel, the Accidental Christian. Maybe you buy that book and you read it. Or maybe you just look to somebody who can give you some answers. We set up a system here at Mission Hills, if you text the word question and your question, that’s really important, don’t just text the word question, Okay? Text the word question, that’s the keyword, and then here’s the question, do that to 888111 and we’ll get you answers, we’ll commit to that. Maybe we’ll do some videos, maybe we’ll deal with them in some messages that are upcoming, but we’ll get answers to your questions. But if you don’t ask the questions, you’re never gonna get the answers.

And then third question maybe is this, “Do I have enough faith to take or do I have enough answers to take my step of faith?” Maybe you’re here today and honestly you came in here, and as you listen to this you realize; I actually do believe Jesus is who he says he is. I believe that he’s the Son of God, but you heard maybe for the first time that belief is not the same thing as faith. And then maybe you’ve never said “Yes” to a relationship, never have you invited him into your life. Or maybe you’re here and you came in and you went, “When I walked in here today, I didn’t believe that Jesus was God, but something happened today.” That’s the work of God in your life, that’s the Holy Spirit working in your life when you realize that I didn’t believe. But honestly, if I’m honest with myself, I do believe now that he’s the Son of God. Maybe you’re not even sure how that happened or maybe you got an answer to a question. I don’t know. But if you’re here today and you’re like, “I didn’t start out believing, but I actually do believe now.”

Do you have enough belief to take your next step of faith? To begin that relationship because that’s what he wants. And there’s no reason for you to leave today without that relationship. So, I wanna give you the opportunity today. But before we do that, can I just ask everybody to just join me in prayer. And as the followers of Jesus, let’s just all say to our Father. Together:

God, thank you for loving us so much, that you gave us your own Son. Jesus, we worship you. We exalt you. We give you glory that you’re due because you are God in the flesh. We worship you as such and we love you.


Now, if your follower of Jesus, would you just begin praying right now for the people that are around you, the people who watching online and I want to speak to those of you who are joining us right now that would say, in all honesty, that you don’t have a relationship with Jesus. Maybe you have a religion, maybe you have belief, but you don’t actually have faith. You’ve never said yes to him personally. And if that’s you, but you do have enough belief to take that next step of faith, and if you’re ready to take that next step of faith. If you’re ready to say yes to Jesus, could you just slip your hand up right now? It’s awesome. Fantastic. If you’re watching online, just click the button right below, I mean, wherever you are, in your own heart you just had this conversation with God, and you say this. Say:

God, I’ve done wrong and I’m sorry. I’ve sinned. And I know my sin separates me from you. Jesus, thank you for coming and dying for my sin. Thank you for paying the price for my sin on the cross. I believe you rose from the dead. And I believe that right now you’re offering me a relationship. A relationship that brings with it forgiveness, freedom, family, adoption into the very family of God. The right to call God, my Father. Lord, I want that relationship with you. And so, right here, right now, I’m saying yes to you Jesus. Come into my life, be my Lord and my Savior. I’m yours for now and forever. Amen.

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