An Unavoidable Reason: The Christ of the BiblePastor Lutzer | November 9, 1997
Selected highlights from this sermon
Many people refuse to trust the Bible, especially the accounts regarding Jesus in the Gospels. But Jesus Himself believed in the Scriptures.
Jesus consistently quoted the narratives of the Old Testament as fact. He respected the Scriptures, and we must do the same.
Will we pick up the Bible and let it make up our minds instead of reading the Scriptures with our minds already made up?
Whenever I see a picture of Jesus Christ on the cover of Time Magazine or Newsweek, I always am apprehensive and a little sad. I always buy the magazine if I don’t have it, and read it, but I’m grieved because I know that the Jesus that is presented there will not commend our worship. He will not qualify to be a Savior. He will be stripped down by scholars, chewed to bits, dissected, analyzed, discussed. He will be a “no frills” Jesus, and at all costs, reduced to a historical figure.
Some time ago Time had an article about Jesus in which they quote Stephen Mitchell who says, “We can’t be sure of anything that Christ said.” Then they quote Rudolph Bultmann: “The Gospel accounts are so unreliable that we can know almost nothing concerning the life and the personality of Jesus.” Now that doesn’t build faith in the lives of many people, does it?
You’ve all heard about the Jesus Seminar, which has gained a lot of publicity, because when the Jesus Seminar began they deliberately said, “We want to get this to the media. It’s time that we took what the scholars are doing and we were to spread it around the country for the common person.” In California a number of different scholars sit together and then they have plastic beads that they drop into a dish. And that’s the way in which they vote on the sayings of Christ to see how many believe He said this, and how many believe He said that (or didn’t say that). If you drop a red bead into the bowl that’s Jesus. That’s Jesus! Pink means, “It sounds like Jesus.” Gray is “Well, maybe.” Black is, “Well, there’s been a mistake. Jesus would never have said that.”
Are you surprised that only eighteen percent of the words of Jesus found in the Gospels are believed to have been actually said by Him? And of course, none of the miracles, the resurrection, the loaves and fishes, all of the miracles that Jesus did on the pages of the New Testament are immediately cut out, excised, thrown away as being unauthentic. So what you have left are these few sayings of Jesus, and we can’t even be sure about that, they say. In fact, we can be sure of nothing that Jesus Christ did or said. Does that trouble you when you read about that? The reason that I grieve is because I know that tens of thousands, millions of people, read these magazines and others like them, and they actually believe that if that’s what the scholars are saying, this must be true.
Now I look at it very differently. When I read remarks like that my heart absolutely swells with thanksgiving and praise and faith as a result of what the scholars are saying. I see it as nothing but faith building. But I look at it a little differently. You have to understand why the scholars are saying the things that they are saying. And when you understand that, faith is generated in your heart, and you say, “Lord, this is awesome. This is wonderful.”
You need to understand. Here’s what has happened. Let me give you a little bit of history. Alright? For the last couple hundred years, scholars have wanted to find the historical Jesus. What they wanted to do is to separate the historical Jesus, who lived in space and time, from the Christ of faith, as they call it. The historical Jesus was a mere man who went around doing wonderful things. The Christ of faith is the legends and all of the myths that developed around the historical Jesus. So what they wanted to do is separate the two to find this real historical Jesus, who He really was, shorn of all of the miracles and all of the statements regarding His divinity in the New Testament. Now that’s been the quest. It dates back to Germany. It’s been going on for hundreds of years.
The problem is that scholars today basically have given up on that. And the reason is because they learned a couple of things. First of all, they learned the only way that they can separate the historical Jesus from the Christ of faith is by their own subjective bias against the miraculous. They understand that. In fact, when the Jesus Seminar came out with a book, in the introduction of the book it says, “Jesus Christ can no longer command our respect and belief in Him since we have now been able to see the stars through Galileo’s telescope.”
In other words, “Because of the fact that we are modern people, we just can’t believe these miracles.” So that’s presupposition number one. But number two, here’s what happened. As various scholars wrote their own biography of the historical Jesus, they came up with so many contradictory accounts. These accounts were basically the biographies of the scholars because it told us what the scholars could or could not believe. Some people said that the Jesus they came up with was a counter-culture kind of hippie. Others said that He was a Jewish reactionary. Some said that He was a charismatic rabbi. Others said that He was a homosexual magician.
You know, we sometimes honor Albert Schweitzer, that great humanitarian. Well, I know some details about his life that most assuredly are not worth honoring, but anyway, he wrote a book on the historical Jesus, and said in the introduction that Jesus was essentially insane. He believed that Jesus made those statements regarding His divinity, and said that only an insane man would do that. So Albert Schweitzer’s Jesus is essentially demented. So now the question is whose portrait are we going to believe? And as I mentioned, it is not so much a portrait of Jesus. It is a portrait of the scholars.
I have in my library Spong’s book—Bishop Spong, in which he said that Jesus was conceived when Mary was raped, and he’s got all of these theories in the book. And he says, “I love my Bible, and I want to keep it from the fundamentalists, and it was not written in order to be taken literally but to inspire faith.” I read that and I say, “Faith in what? If the thing is full of lies, in exactly what sense is it going to inspire my faith?”
Now, here’s the point, and I don’t want you to miss it. What’s happened in the minds of these scholars is finally they have concluded something, that the portrait of Jesus in the New Testament is a whole piece of cloth. They could not find the seam that would separate the historical Jesus from the Christ of faith, the Christ with the miracles, so in light of the fact that they came up with this welter of contradictions and subjective opinions, many scholars now throw up their hands and they say, “We don’t know anything about Him at all. We don’t know anything.”
You see, they were faced with this thing. Either you accept the portrait in the New Testament as it stands, or else, you simply toss the whole thing out and say, “We don’t know anything about Him.” And that’s why you have scholars saying, “We don’t know anything about Jesus.” It’s not because there isn’t evidence. The New Testament’s got all kinds of things in the manuscript. Evidence for the New Testament is excellent, but if you’re going to say, “I’m not going to accept a miraculous Christ, no matter what,” the best thing you can do is to simply say, “You know, when it comes to Jesus, we don’t even know whether or not He lived,” because that’s the only place for you to go once you’ve rejected the whole thing. Either accept it all or you reject it all.
You see, friends, when you look at quotations like that, and you read about these scholars who get this press, remember something. This has very, very little to do with scholarship. It has everything to do with unbelief–unbelief and fundamental unwillingness to grant Jesus any miraculous qualities. And so that’s what you end up with, and that’s actually why I, in my heart, when I read scholars saying that, I say, “Well, of course! Of course! If you’re not going to accept Him, all that you can do is to toss everything out.” But, of course, if you’re a scholar, you’ll be quoted widely when you do that.
Now, folks, let’s just talk about reality. Okay? Let’s pretend that this is not a message. This is actually just a classroom for a moment. Just for a moment! You need to understand that if you evaluate the manuscripts of the New Testament (and do so like you do any other historical document), and you put it through the tests of reliability and consistency, and you take it through the most scholarly and the most rigorous evaluation that you want to give it, you come to a miraculous Jesus, because the documents of the New Testament are proven to be very reliable—very reliable. And that’s what you come to.
So we have nothing to fear from scholars who want to do analysis. You know, it says in the Bible that this was not done in the corner, and when Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15 that Jesus Christ was raised and that many people saw Him, He said, “If you don’t believe me, ask those who are still living who remember Him.” In other words, we’re talking about actual historical realities. And when you analyze the New Testament like that, we discover that it has the marks of authenticity, of accuracy and historicity. That’s where it’s at. And then we come to a miraculous Christ. There He is, and we accept Him. We accept Him.
Now, what I’d like to do in the next few moments is to ask a question, because as you know, this is a series of messages entitled Seven Reasons Why You Can Trust the Bible. I gave an introductory message, and then other messages. This happens to be now the fourth reason why I believe the Bible is God’s Word, and that is because of Christ.
You see, having come to Jesus in the New Testament, we now ask the question, “What does Jesus think of the Old Testament?” What was His opinion of the stories that many scholars tell us didn’t happen? That becomes a very important issue for us. If Jesus is our Savior, is He also our teacher? Is He also one whose opinions are valuable to us? Well, I hope so.
Just look at this. He believed in the historicity of the Old Testament to its details. For example, in Matthew 19… And in order to preach this message I can’t help but turn to a number of different passages because what we’re looking at is Christ’s opinion of the Old Testament. So I begin with Matthew 19, and if you want to follow with me in your Bibles, in a moment we’re going to be in Matthew 24. But what about the story of Adam and Eve, for example? And by the way, next time in the next message I’m going to deal with the supposed conflict between the Bible and science. But you know that many people believe that we just came up through the animal world, and we are really products of it, and therefore femininity and masculinity just happened as nature began to evolve. Well, what does Jesus think?
In Matthew 19:4 the issue at hand actually is divorce, but this is what Jesus said: “He answered, ‘Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh?”’” Now, He doesn’t mention Adam and Eve, but obviously He believed in their existence, and He’s quoting from the second chapter of Genesis.
So many people say, “Well, I can’t accept the first eleven chapters of Genesis.” Well, I’m sorry that you can’t because it seems very clear that Christ did. In Matthew 24 here we have a story that has often been neglected and debated, and that is the flood. Do you actually believe that a flood encompassed this entire world? Listen, I want to tell you that there are certain things that the flood would explain regarding geology that no other event or calamity could ever possibly explain. In fact, some of the best explanations of the kind of fossil record that we have, which oftentimes is so haphazard, is because there was the flood that caused many, many different changes in the world. But this is what Jesus said. Verse 37: “For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.”
Now did Jesus actually believe that there was a flood? Did He believe that there was an ark? Did He believe in Noah? Well, the answer obviously is yes. Of course He did. And notice what it says in verse 35. (chuckles) Boy, this takes your breath away. No wonder the scholars say, “It’s just best if we say that we know nothing about this guy,” because look at what He says in verse 35: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” What are you going to do with Him? You either worship Him or you say, “We don’t know anything about Him.” That’s about your only choice.
Now, let me take another one, and there are dozens, but let me take one that is often ridiculed. You know the story of Jonah. Do you actually believe that Jonah was swallowed by a fish? Well, look at Matthew 12, and we’ll begin at verse 39. There are two things about the book of Jonah that are difficult to accept. One is that Jonah was swallowed by a fish. The other is that he preached to Nineveh. And he wasn’t a very good evangelist because he just kept repeating the same words: “Repent or in 40 days you’re going to be overthrown.” He wasn’t very happy. You know, he was really upset that God was so merciful. Jonah isn’t your typical… You know, if you had candidates for the pastor of a church, probably Jonah would not be the kind of man that you’d like to have. You wouldn’t like him as an evangelist. And he preaches and everybody repents. And the king even says, “Let beasts put on sack cloth.”
Can you imagine? He’s got a revival on his hands, and even the animals are repenting. And some of you know that there are animals that should. We had a cat that certainly should haves repented. (laughter) But, you know, you read that and you say, “Well, my word, did this happen?”
Notice it says in Matthew 12:38 and 39: “Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, ‘Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.’ But he answered them, ‘An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign. (Verses 40 and 41) For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.’”
You say, “Well, I just can’t believe that Jonah was swallowed by a fish. I can’t believe that he preached and Nineveh repented.” Well, you know, what are you going to do, you fence sitter who can’t believe? What are we going to do? Are we going to go with Jesus, or are we going to go with you? I mean, that’s the problem that I’ve got. And here Jesus believed it.
You look at all of these stories. Do you have trouble with God’s judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah? You don’t believe that it happened. Jesus did. What about Lot’s wife? Do you believe that she looked back and was turned into a pillar of salt? You say, “No, I don’t believe that. I know somebody who was driving a car and looked back and turned into a light pole, but (laughter) I can’t believe that she turned back and turned into a pillar of salt.” Well, Jesus believed it. Jesus believed it. I could point to the text. It’s just that there are too many texts to turn to, but it’s all there. So what are we going to do with Him, and what are we going to do with His view of the Old Testament?
Now, of course, He believed in the historicity of the Old Testament. He agreed with the ethical teachings of the Old Testament. We don’t have time to turn to this, but in Matthew 22, a young lawyer comes to Him and says, “What shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” What are the great commandments? And what does Jesus do? He strings two commandments together from the Old Testament. “Thou shall love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy mind, and with all thy soul, and thy neighbor as thyself,” says Jesus, and He quotes the Old Testament. And Jesus believed that the Old Testament was true and reliable and not disconnected from the New. You know the old liberal idea that in the Old Testament God is an angry god who judges, and in the New Testament God is a kinder, gentler one with a sunny disposition who lets us get by with all kinds of things that He winks at now but judged in the Old Testament? That, of course, is nonsense. It is a total misreading of the Bible. It is a mindset that comes to the Bible without the willingness to understand the unity. Jesus here showed the unity of it.
You take, for example, the respect that Jesus had for the Bible. Take Luke 18 for just a moment. And I think you should turn there just so that you see that even Christ’s death on the cross was a fulfillment of the Old Testament texts, and the high regard that Jesus had for the Old Testament prophets. You’ll notice in Luke 18:31 it says: “And taking the twelve, he said to them, ‘See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished.’”
You know that little word must. I preached a message on it a couple of years ago. Just the little word must! And you look how often Jesus said, “I must die that the Scriptures would be fulfilled,” and “The Son of man must go, as it is written of Him,” because Jesus believed that the Old Testament law, and the Old Testament predictions would happen to the exact descriptions that would be given. They would be fulfilled.
And when He confronts Satan, what does He say three times? He says, “It stands written. Be gone. It is written.” And for Jesus that was the end of the debate. I don’t know how I could put it any clearer but to say that for Jesus, if the Scripture said it, God said it. That’s how clear it was.
Now, what I’d like to do, because I must of necessity limit this… Take your Bibles and turn to two other passages. And one is the fifth chapter of the book of Matthew. Matthew chapter 5! I just want you to see the extent to which Jesus Christ was willing to lay His reputation on the line for the accuracy of the Scriptures.
He said in Matthew 5:17: “Do not think that I came to abolish the law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but fulfill.” Verse 18: “Until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law until all is accomplished.” When He says, “the smallest letter,” that’s the way our translators have tried to get at the idea that it is really the dotting of an “i.” It is the smallest letter. In Hebrew there is a letter that is about the size of our comma, though it does not occur on the bottom of the line but rather near the top of the word. But that is what Jesus is referring to, and He’s saying that or a stroke… If I could put it into English equivalence, it’s the crossing of a ”t” or it’s the line that separates the letter P from becoming an R. All that you need is a stroke. And Jesus is saying that none of this will be tossed out. None of this will be annulled until it is all fulfilled.
You know, even in evangelical circles today… You know, by the way, that we here at The Moody Church are a bit of a minority. I don’t think we’re a persecuted minority, but you just need to understand that not everybody is with us on this, because even in evangelical circles there are those who say, “Well, you know, I don’t think the words are inspired. I think just the thoughts are inspired.” And some of us, you know, who like logic, struggle with that. We say, “Sure, the Bible is the thoughts of God. We grant that, but the thoughts of God were given in words, and therefore, if we’re going to have an accurate representation of the thoughts, we have to have an accurate representation of the words.”
I mean, could you imagine a contract that you have, and you sit down with this contract, and your attorney reviews it, and you go over every single word? And if you know anything about contracts, you know that all of those words should be read carefully by people who are smarter that we are so that they can tell us what the words say. And you go over it, and then at the end of the day, somebody wants to break the contract because they say, “Well, you know, I’m not going by the words. I just thought that I signed on the dotted line regarding the thoughts and not the words.”
You see, games like that, that we would never tolerate in real life, are being forced upon the Scriptures today to get away from that word that people don’t like, and that is the word inerrancy. That is to say that it is without error in the original manuscripts. Now, as manuscripts have been copied there have been some changes, and I hope to comment on that in more detail in a future message, but the point is that the original manuscripts are inspired by God right to the dotting of the “i” and the crossing of the “t.” Now Jesus believed that. Jesus believed that. And by the way, when I say that there are changes, I just mean that there are variations in some of the copies. We have a very reliable text.
But notice what Jesus believed about the Bible. Now one last one, and this is all that I shall have time to show you though, of course, this message could be much longer than many of you would ever want it to be. In John 10 Jesus is using some Rabbinical argumentation. And I mention this text because folks who come to your door sometimes in twos like to also use this text to try to convince you that Christ isn’t God. And so take up that challenge. In John 10:31 the Jews took up stones to stone Him. Now the reason they did that is because… Well, in fact, the reason is given. It says in verse 32: “Jesus answered them, ‘I showed you many good works from the Father. For which of them are you stoning me?’ The Jews answered him, ‘For a good work we do not stone you but for blasphemy because you, being a man, make yourself out to be God.’”
They got the message. That’s exactly what Jesus wanted them to conclude, but in order to needle them a little bit, He used a form of argumentation that was sometimes used in Medieval times. He says in verse 34: “Has it not been written in your law I said you are gods?”
Three times in the Old Testament people are referred to as gods. Judges are referred to as gods, and it is not because they are god—like God. It’s just that they represent God, so it says, “You are gods.” That’s what it says in Psalm 82 where Jesus is quoted. And so, His point is simply this. He’s saying, “In light of the fact that your own law says that judges can be God, you really don’t have any right to accuse me of blasphemy because I say I am God.” In other words, He was buying himself a little bit of time, using this form of debate. It isn’t that everybody is God obviously, or that Jesus was denying that He was God, a very God, but Christ is simply making that argument for the purpose of the discussion as it is happening here.
But I want you to notice something. He says in verse 35, “If he called them gods to whom the word of God came (and now this little parenthesis, and the Scripture cannot be broken), do you then say of him whom the Father has sanctified and sent into the world that you are blaspheming me because I am the son of God?” What Christ is saying is, “If human judges can be called God, how then can you accuse me of blasphemy since I am the one who has been sent into the world by the Father as His Son, and I am calling myself to be God?”
But the point that I want to emphasize are the words, which in my Bible are in parenthesis, “The Scripture cannot be broken.” The Scripture cannot be broken! Now to break a Scripture means that you annul it, you ignore it, you do whatever you like, but Jesus said that the Scripture cannot be broken. And He’s not just talking about that one Psalm. What He’s saying is that the Scripture generally cannot be broken.
You say, “Did Jesus have the same Old Testament as we do today, the same books?” Yes, and if you continue in this series of messages when I speak on the Canon, which is a message that’s coming up, I will show you a text that proves that the Old Testament that Jesus had, had the very same books as our Old Testament today. And for Jesus all of it was Scripture. All of it was Scripture.
Now I need to bring this to a very quick conclusion because I have not been able to share all that I have in my notes today. But let us make three concluding observations very quickly.
Number one, Jesus believed in the infallibility (Now, there’s another good word) of the Old Testament. That is to say, it was without error. To be fallible means mistakes. To be infallible means that it was absolutely trustworthy. It could not be broken right to the jot and right to the tittle, right to the crossing of the “t” and the dotting of the “i.”
Now, Jesus knew that the authors of the Bible had all kinds of frailties. But when they wrote under the inspiration of the Spirit, they wrote the words of God. When I was in college I was part of a group of people in a secular university that was something like Intervarsity, and we were trying to have Bible studies. And there was a liberal minister who was in charge of this, and he was very, very upset with me because he wanted it to be more broadminded. He didn’t want us to hold to the inerrancy of Scripture, so one day when I was discussing with him original sin, I said, “Well, you know, David said in Psalm 51, ‘In sin my mother conceived me,’” And this liberal said to me, “If you don’t agree with everything that David did (and you don’t, do you?) then why do you agree with everything he wrote?” Well, that was pretty good for a liberal, and at that time I was kind of just stunned and I just let it pass. I knew that he was wrong but I didn’t know exactly how to respond to him.
Well, you know what the answer is? Of course, the writers of the Bible were humans and they were very fallible in their individual lives, but we already learned in the first message that when the Holy Spirit of God inspired them, though they wrote using their own styles, they wrote infallibly the Word of God.
Now I have to ask you who are doubting today. I have a question for you, and it is simply this. If Jesus believed in the infallibility of the Old Testament, that it was the Word of God, why are you struggling with the infallibility of the Old Testament? If He believed it, isn’t that good enough for you? Do we really know more about God and science and history than Jesus did? I don’t think so. So that’s the first conclusion. He believed in the infallibility of the Old Testament.
Secondly, our confidence in Christ determines our confidence in the Scriptures. Right? You have confidence in Jesus as your Savior. You have confidence in Jesus as your teacher. I don’t know about you, and I don’t want to be naive, and I don’t want to be accused of being non-intellectual or whatever, but to me, if Jesus said it, I believe it. If He is the Word of God, if He came from the Father and He gives us all kinds of evidence that indeed He did, then of course, whatever Jesus believed, I want to believe. I just wish I knew more about what He believed so that I would know more of what I should believe. And that’s the confidence that we have in Him. I mean, what are you going to do with this Jesus, you folks who may be here still doubting whether He is what He claimed to be?
Just think of it. You know, Hitler made some fantastic claims, but he never had the nerve to say, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father but by me.” Lenin said that if Communism came to Russia there’d be enough bread for everyone, but he never had the nerve to say, “I am the bread of life. He that comes to me shall never hunger, and he that believes on me shall never thirst.”
Mohammed said that he descended from Abraham, but he never said, “Before Abraham was, I am.” Freud believed that someday psychiatry would actually help people. It seems kind of funny today that somebody believed that, but Freud actually believed that. But yet he never said, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give unto you. Not as the world gives give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled. Neither let it be afraid.”
I mean, who would have the nerve to say such things? New Age people say that they are going to be reincarnated. Well, I don’t think that they are, but they have never said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He that believes on me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. And whosoever lives and believes on me shall never die.”
What do we do with this man who is called the Christ? And I ask you today to make a decision about Him. And if you make a decision about Him, you make a decision about the whole Old Testament. So our confidence in Christ is determined by our confidence in the Scriptures.
And finally, you either read the Bible with (what shall we say?) your mind made up, or you read the Bible in order to make up your mind. You read the Bible with the intention of letting it make up your mind. It’s the difference between supernatural religion or natural humanistic religion. That’s the bottom line, and the bottom line is we always go back to the Bible because if it is a revelation from God, it (with an explosion) explodes all the other books in the world. And there is no other book like it. And it just shatters everything else because if God has spoken, if the words of the Bible are God’s words, what a treasure we have.
Some people have asked, “Why are you preaching this series of messages?” You know why I’m preaching this series of messages? It’s because I want everybody at Moody Church, associated with Moody Church, and as many people beyond Moody Church as possible, to be proud of the Bible. I want you to be proud of Jesus. I want you to be proud of the Bible. I don’t want you to be working in your office and your factory and hiding it, and saying, “Oh, I wouldn’t want anybody to see that I have a Bible here,” so you bury it under some other books. I want you to take this book and put it where some people can see it and let it sit there. That’s what I want you to be able to do. (applause) You know, what we need to do is to keep coming back to the book, the book, the book!
Now, a long time ago I told you this story. I always like to witness to somebody who is sitting next to me on the plane. I always pray that God will lead me to the right person. In fact, I think it happened just the other day, but let me tell you about one man. I like them especially if they are a little bit on the cocky side. Those are the kind… I pray, “God, send me someone who thinks he knows it all.” And one day, God answered my prayer. (laughter)
So I asked this man if he were to die, you know, and God were to say, “Why should I let you into heaven (and so forth)?” what would he say? He was very, very self-assured and he said, “Well, I’ve done the best I can, and of course, God would let me in.” That was about the essence of his answer, and I said, “Well, what if God demands more than that?” And he was quite confident that God wouldn’t. And he said that there was just no doubt in his mind that all that you do is the best you can, and you’ll get to heaven.
And I said to him, “Well, you know, if what you are saying is true, that’s obviously a message that we have to get out. I mean we have to preach it far and wide because it’s very important.” I said, “I write books.” I said, “I’m on the radio. I could help you actually get this message out to as many people as possible, but,” I said, “before we do, I do have a question to ask you. Mainly, how do you know?”
“Well,” he said, “that’s my opinion.” And just for fun I kind of flipped my pen in the air and I kind of laughed and I was shocked. I mean, can you imagine that? It’s his opinion. Like I’ve said many times, you get 20 people together and you’ve got at least 30 opinions, and here a man is telling me his opinion. And I said to him very lovingly (much more lovingly that this will probably come across), “Don’t you realize that you are just speaking in God’s behalf when you said that all that you needed to do was the best you can?” I said, “The only way that you could possibly know that that’s the way to get to heaven is if God were to reveal that to you, so I thought that you were going to tell me that God revealed this to you, that you could authenticate the revelation, that it could be investigated, that indeed it was a revelation from God, because how else could you know about God’s mind about such intricate matters unless He showed it to you?”
Well, there was a little pause, and then, being a typical American (Oh Americans, Americans!) he said, “Well, okay, then what about your opinion?” You know! (laughter) And I said, “Don’t you realize that my opinion is of no more value than yours? I mean, aren’t we all like ants on a Rembrandt painting, seeing only the color of the canvas beneath our feet and the roughness of the canvas, but not understanding the picture?” I said, “We need to bring into this discussion somebody whose opinion is trustworthy and reliable, somebody who has the qualifications to speak on behalf of God.” And I said, “There is somebody like that, and His name is Jesus Christ.”
And you see, once I begin there, then I can talk about all the qualifications of Jesus, all of the reasons why His opinion is so much better than ours. And I face this in my discussions with unbelievers all the time. I always say to them lovingly, you know, whenever they say, “Well, no matter what you believe you’ll go to heaven,” I always say, “I am faced with a decision. Do I believe you or do I believe Jesus?” And frankly (laughter) the decision isn’t as tough as it might appear to be. (laughter)
I don’t know about you folks, but I’m going with Jesus. If Jesus said it, I believe it, and that settles it. (applause)
And so I close today by asking, “Are you all going with Jesus? Are you all going with Jesus?” Are you saying, “If He said that it’s God’s Word, it’s God’s Word? I’m going with Jesus.” I hope you are.
And if you’ve never believed in Jesus, if you’re still one of these people who think, “Oh, if I do the best I can, I’m going to make it,” I’d say you’re not going with Jesus. Jesus said, “Unless you believe in Me, giving up all hope to be saved in any other way, to trust Me alone, unless you do that, you’ll be lost.” He that believes on the Son has everlasting life. No wonder the scholars don’t like this. Listen, he who believes on the Son has everlasting life. He that believes not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him. What are you going to do with Him? Either believe Him or get quoted in Time Magazine and say, “We know nothing about Him.” That’s the choice. That’s the choice.
Father, we pray that You might stimulate within us a great sense of admiration for the fact that You have given us Your Word, that Christ has spoken. We pray, Father, that Moody people might be witnessing people. We pray that they may be people unashamed of the Gospel, unashamed of their Savior. We pray, Father, that they might be able to openly, lovingly and sweetly defend Him, and to be able to speak well of Him, and to openly acknowledge Him as being their Savior, their Lord and their God. Grant us that kind of tempered courage and boldness. And we pray that even those listening to this message who still don’t know what to do about Christ, we pray that they might believe on Him and be saved. In Jesus’ name we ask, Amen.