Evangelism: Defend The Faith: Your Savior

Matthew 28:19
Go into all the world and make disciples of every nation.

1 Peter 3:15
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.

Evangelism is the promotion or act of publicly preaching the Gospel with the intention of spreading the message and teachings of Jesus Christ. Christians who specialize in evangelism are often known as evangelists, whether they are in their home communities or living as missionaries in the field. 

We Christians have the gift of eternal life and can share that gift with our relatives, our friends, and our neighbors. May the Lord Jesus fill us with His great love as we pray for people and witness to them about our wonderful Lord and Savior.

Is Jesus real?

Jesus is a real person. He is one of the most complicated, discussed, and revered of historical figures. Most scholars, Christian, non-Christian, and secular alike, believe that there was a historical Jesus. The evidence is overwhelming. Jesus was written about by ancient historians, including Josephus and Tacitus. From an historical standpoint, there is hardly any question: there really was a man named Jesus who lived in first-century Israel.

The Old Testament predicted the Messiah, a real person who would deliver Israel from their enemies. The Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2), of the tribe of David (Genesis 49:10). He was to be a prophet akin to Moses (Deuteronomy 18:18), a herald of good news (Isaiah 61:1), and a healer of maladies (Isaiah 35:5–6). The Messiah would be a godly Servant who suffered before entering His glory (Isaiah 53). Jesus is the real person who really fulfilled these prophecies.

The New Testament contains hundreds of references to Jesus Christ as a real person. The earliest gospel may have been written within 10 years of Jesus’ death, and the earliest of Paul’s epistles was written about 25 years after Jesus’ death. This is important because it means that, as the gospels were circulating, there were plenty of eyewitnesses still alive who could verify the truth of the gospel accounts (see 1 Corinthians 15:6).

The manuscript evidence for the authenticity of the New Testament is overwhelming: there are about 25,000 early manuscripts of the New Testament. In comparison, the Gallic Wars written by Caesar in the first century BC, only has 10 early manuscripts existing—and the earliest one of those was written 1,000 years after the original. Similarly, Aristotle’s Poetics only has five early manuscripts in existence, dating to 1,400 years after the original. Those who doubt that Jesus is real must also question the existence of Julius Caesar and Aristotle.

Outside of the Bible, Jesus is mentioned in the Quran and in the writings of Judaism, Gnosticism, and Hinduism. Early historians considered Jesus to be real. The first-century Roman historian Tacitus mentioned the followers of Christ. Flavius Josephus, an ancient Jewish historian, refers to Christ in his Antiquities of the Jews. Other references to Jesus exist in the writings of Suetonius, chief secretary to Emperor Hadrian; Julius Africanus, quoting the historian Thallus; Lucian of Samosata, a second-century Greek writer; Pliny the Younger; and Mara Bar-Serapion.

No other historical figure has had as much impact on the world as Jesus Christ. Whether one uses BC (Before Christ) or BCE (Before Common Era), the whole Western dating system is measured from one event: the birth of Jesus, a real person. In the name of Jesus have been founded countless orphanages, hospitals, clinics, schools, universities, homeless shelters, emergency relief agencies, and other charitable organizations. Millions of people can give personal testimonies of Jesus’ continuing work in their own lives.

There is overwhelming evidence that Jesus is real, both in secular and biblical history. Perhaps the greatest evidence that Jesus existed and that He did what the Bible says He did is the testimony of the early church. Literally thousands of Christians in the first century, including the twelve apostles, were willing to give their lives as martyrs for the gospel of Jesus Christ. People will die for what they believe to be true, but no one will die for what they know to be a lie.

We are called to have faith—not a blind faith in a make-believe story—but genuine faith in a real Person who lived in a real place in a real time in history. This Man, who proved His divine origin through the signs He performed and the prophecies He fulfilled, died on a Roman cross, was buried in a Jewish tomb, and rose again for our justification. Jesus is real. “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29).

Are God and Jesus the same person?

The answer to the question “are God and Jesus the same person?” really depends on what is meant by the same person.

If this question means to ask “Is Jesus really God?” or “Is Jesus God in the flesh?” then the answer would be “Yes—Jesus is fully divine. He has all the attributes of God” (see Colossians 2:9).

However, the question could be interpreted another way, which would require a different answer. Theologically speaking, Jesus and the Father are different Persons of the Trinity. They are one in nature and essence, but they are different in personhood.

There is an ancient heresy called modalism (and a more modern variation called Oneness theology), which teaches that God does not exist in three co-equal, co-eternal Persons, but only one. According to modalism, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not three individual Persons but simply three modes of revelation: sometimes God reveals Himself as the Father, other times as the Son, and still other times as the Holy Spirit. If the question is asked, “are Jesus and God the Father the same person?” the modalist would answer “yes,” but biblical Trinitarians would answer “no.”

The doctrine of the Trinity is the best explanation for all of the biblical evidence. There is only one God, but He exists as three co-equal, co-eternal Persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. This is different from the teaching of three individual gods because of the interdependency and unity of the three Persons of the Trinity. There is one God who exists as three individual Persons sharing the same essence or nature. Thus, the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God; however, the Father is not the same person as the Son, nor is the Son the same person as the Holy Spirit. This is sometimes complicated by the fact that God the Father is often simply called “God” in the New Testament.

The first three verses of the Gospel of John give us an idea of how this works out:

John 1:1. In the beginning was the Word . . . (We know from verse 14 that the Word is Jesus. In the beginning, He was already there.)

. . . and the Word was with God . . . (At least two Persons are in view here: one called “God” and one called “the Word.”)

. . . and the Word was God (The Word is distinct from God, yet He is also called “God.” The Word is divine in His essential nature.)

John 1:2. He was with God in the beginning (After the essential identification of the Word as God, once again the distinction is emphasized—He was with God when it all began.)

John 1:3. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made (Here, we see that the Word is actually the Creator. He made everything. In the Old Testament, we are told that God created everything—Genesis 1:1.)

It is this kind of biblical information that led to the formulation of the doctrine of the Trinity. When “God” is spoken of in the Old Testament, most people probably think of God the Father, but it would be more accurate to think of “God the Trinity.” In the New Testament, we see how each Person of the Trinity assumed different roles in the redemption of lost humanity, but the different Persons are always in complete agreement, acting as one.

Jesus is God, but Jesus (who is God the Son) is not the same Person as God the Father or God the Holy Spirit.

How is Jesus different from other religious leaders?

In a sense, asking how Jesus differs from other religious leaders is like asking how the sun differs from other stars in our solar system—the point being that there are no other stars in our solar system!

No other “religious leader” can compare to Jesus Christ. Every other religious leader is either alive or dead. Jesus Christ is the only one who was dead and is now alive. Indeed, He proclaims in Revelation 1:17–18 that He is alive forevermore! No other religious leader dares make such a claim, which, if not true, is utterly preposterous.

Another important difference between Jesus and other religious leaders is found in the very nature of Christianity. The essence of Christianity is Christ, the One crucified, resurrected, ascended into heaven, and returning someday. Without Him—and without His resurrection—there is no Christianity. Compare that with other major religions. Hinduism, for example, can stand or fall entirely apart from any of the “great Swamis” who founded it. Buddhism is the same story. Even Islam is based upon the sayings and teachings of Mohammed, not upon the claim that he came back to life from the dead.

The apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:13–19 says that, if Christ were not raised from the dead, then our faith is empty and we are still in our sins! The truth claims of Christianity are based simply and solely upon the resurrected Jesus Christ! If Jesus did not, in fact, come back from the dead—in time and space—then there is no truth to Christianity whatsoever. Throughout the New Testament, the apostles and evangelists base the truth of the gospel upon the resurrection.

One other significant point is the exceedingly important fact that Jesus Christ claimed to be the “Son of God” (a Hebraism meaning “characterized by God”) as well as the “Son of Man” (a Hebraism meaning “characterized by Man”). In many passages, He claims to be equal with the Father (see, for example, John 10:29–33). To Jesus are ascribed all the prerogatives and attributes of Deity. Yet He was also a man, born of a virgin (Matthew 1:18–25; Luke 1:26–56). Having lived a sinless life, Jesus was crucified in order to pay for the sins of all men: “He Himself is the satisfaction of God’s wrath for our sins; and not for ours only, but for those of the whole world” (1 John 2:2), and then He was resurrected from the dead three days later. He is fully God and fully Man, the theanthropos [from the Greek for “God” (theos) and “Man” (anthropos)]; yet He is one person.

The Person and Work of Christ poses an unavoidable question: What will you do with Jesus? We cannot simply dismiss Him. We cannot ignore Him. He is the central figure in all of human history, and if He died for the sins of the whole world, then He died for yours as well. The apostle Peter says, “There is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). If we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior from sin, we will be saved.

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