In this Easter message, the Rev. Canon J.John highlights a few of the reasons Christianity is attractive - its historical accuracy, the opportunity to be forgiven and the fact that the Christian faith really works. (Part 1 of 2)
John Fuller: Today on "Focus on the Family," British evangelist J.John explains some of the basics of the Christian faith.
Rev. Canon J.John: The word “Christian” has got the word “Christ” in it. If you remove the word “Christ” from the word “Christian,” you’re left with I-A-N, Ian isn’t gonna help you. (Laughter and Applause)
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John F.: And as you may have noticed, there's going to be some humor in the mix, as well. Your host is Focus president, Jim Daly and I'm John Fuller.
Jim Daly: As we head into Easter weekend, we wanted to encourage you with this message from J.John, who certainly does have a way with words. I love the accent. This is a unique look at why the Christian faith has validity and I'm sure you're gonna enjoy it. That's a good combo--validity and enjoyment.
As we said, J.John is an evangelist and he's in great demand around the world. He has traveled to almost 70 countries and has authored several books. J.John lives in Hertfordshire, England with his wife, Killy and they have three grown sons and one daughter-in-law.
John F.: Well, here is J.John, speaking at an Easter service in Australia, on today's "Focus on the Family."
Rev. Canon J.John: Whenever I get asked, “J.John, what do you do?” it’s always very difficult to know what to say, because if I say to them that I’m a Reverend, which I am, that conjures up certain images in people’s minds. So, I often like to be a little bit creative in telling people what I do. I sat next to this woman on an airplane at Heathrow Airport in London and I said, “Hello.” And she said, “Oh, hello.” (Laughter) I said, “Where are you going?” She says, “I’m going to Singapore.” She said to me, “Where are you going?” I said, “I’m going to Australia.” I said, “What do you do?” And she told me. Then she said, “What do you do?” and I said, “Well, (Laughter) I work for a global enterprise.” (Laughter) She said, “Do you?” I said, “Yes, I do.” I said, “We’ve got outlets in nearly every country of the world.” (Laughter)
She said, “Have you?” I said, “Yes, we have.” I said, “We’ve got hospitals. We’ve got hospices. We’ve got homeless shelters. We’ve got orphanages. We do marriage work. We’ve got feeding programs. We do justice work.” I said, “Basically, we look after people from birth to death and we deal in the area of behavioral alteration.” (Laughter and Applause) She went, “Wow!” like really loud. People all turned round and look at us. She said, “What’s it called?” I said, “It’s called ‘The Church.’ Have you heard of it?” (Laughter and Applause)
If you are a visitor, you’re someone who’s not yet a follower of Jesus and you’re here tonight. You have seen something of what the church is. This is the church, what you’re seeing and feeling here tonight. (Applause)
Now I’m going to explain what Christianity is. Now when I conclude, if you would like to say “Yes,” ‘cause you’ve never said ‘yes’ before or you used to be a Christian, but you’ve kinda strayed away or you’re not quite sure what it’s all about, but you’d like to begin that journey, I’m going to ask you to stand up. Now I’m telling you now, so when I tell you later, you’re not gonna be surprised. (Laughter) It’s like, “Oh, yes, he told us that.” (Laughter)
Now (Laughter) the way I’m gonna explain it to you tonight is, I’m going to tell you why I am a Christian, okay? I’m gonna give you four reasons why I’m a Christian. In fact, I could give you more reasons, but I’m kind of, with the time that I’ve got, I’m gonna give you four reasons why I’m a Christian, four reasons why you should be a Christian.
Now, there’s a very famous verse in the Bible located in John’s Gospel, chapter 3, verse 16. It says this: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” That little one sentence kind of captures the essence of what Christianity is all about.
But a lot of people’s understanding of Christianity is a misunderstanding. Someone said to me, “I can’t believe in anything I don’t understand.” I said, “Really?” They said, “Yes.” I said, “What do you do?” He says, “Well, I’m involved in agriculture.” I said, “Oh.” I said, “Well, tell me this. How is it possible for a black cow to eat green grass and produce white milk?” (Laughter)
You see, there [are] a lot of things we don’t fully understand. You see, there are a lot of people who think that Christians don’t think and they think that Christians don’t think, because Christians don’t think like
But we do, so the beginning of the verse, “For God,” God, G-O-D, what does that mean? Did you know that when the first Russian astronaut returned from space, [the] first interview, first question, “Did you see God?” He said, “No, I did not.” The Soviet Union heralded this as proof that God did not exist. (Laughter) When the first American astronaut returned from space, [the] first interview, fourth question, “Did you see God?” He said, “I would’ve seen God, had I stepped out of my space suit.” (Laughter and Applause) Two completely different understandings of the word “God.”
There was a little girl that said to her mommy, “Mommy, is God in the house?” The mother thought about it and said, “Yes, yes, He is, dear.” And the little girl said, “Mommy, If God’s in the house, is He in the kitchen?” And the mommy thought, “He’s in the house, yes. Well, He’s gotta be in the kitchen. Yes, He is, dear.” The little girl said, “Mommy, if God’s in the house and He’s in the kitchen, you know the marmalade jar without the top on it, is He in the marmalade jar?” (Laughter) What do you reckon? What do you think? Do you think He’s in there? So, when the kettle’s boiling, He’s in there having a sauna. (Laughter) No, it’s just good to know what you believe, isn’t it? (Laughter) So, the mother thought, “He’s in the house; He’s in the kitchen.” “Yes“ and thought about the marmalade jar, “Yes, He is, dear.” And the little girl went. (Sound of clap) “I’ve got Him.” (Laughter) You see, a lot of people do that and a lot of people feel that they want to say, “This is God.” God is “unboxable.” (Cheers). You can’t box God (Applause) in.
It’s only as we come humbly to God that we can begin to fathom and understand who God is. If you and I could fully fathom and understand God, He would be the same as our little minds, therefore He wouldn’t be worth believing in. (Audience response) You see, too many people today ask the wrong questions and if you ask the wrong questions, you can never get the right answers.
Now the first reason why I’m a Christian is because Christianity is true. Here’s the good question to ask. Has God revealed Himself? Has God spoken? Has He? Well, in the Bible, we have an account of how God has revealed Himself. God spoke in Creation. There is enough in Creation for us to encounter the Creator. But most people who like Creation, aren’t interested in the Creator.
God has spoken through history, but God’s greatest revelation of Himself for all people, for all cultures, for all times was in Jesus Christ. Now here’s a really good question. How do we know Jesus was the One? That’s a good question. I agree.
Now the Bible, you got two testaments in the Bible, the Old Testament, the New Testament. The Old Testament begins with a book called Genesis. It ends with a book called Malachi. The New Testament begins with a book called Matthew; it ends with a book called Revelation.
Now between the last book of the Old Testament—Malachi—and the first book of the New Testament—Matthew—there are over 500 years of silence when God does not speak and nothing is communicated. In the Old Testament of the Bible, there are what are called “Messianic Prophecies.” These prophecies tell you about the arrival of the King of Heaven on earth.
I’ve got lots of friends in the Middle East, because I’ve done a lot of work there in the Middle East and I’ve got lots of rabbi friends. I said to one of my rabbi friends, I said, “Rabbi,” I said, “let’s hang out for a morning in a coffee shop.” And I said, “Listen, let’s just read all the Messianic prophecies.” I said, “Rabbi, how many are there?” He said, “Three hundred.” I said, “Well, actually 322.” He said, “Yes, of course; yes, of course.” (Laughter) So, I said, “You read one; I’ll read one; you read one; I’ll read one; you read one; I’ll read one. When we’ve read all 322, I’ll just say to you, ‘Rabbi, does that remind you of anyone?’” (Laughter)
The 322 prophecies tell you where He’s gonna be born, how He’s gonna be born, how He’s gonna grow up, what He’s going to say, how He’s going to die. You’ve even got the number of coins that will be used to betray Him. Do you know what the mathematical compound probability is of 322 prophecies being fulfilled in one man at one moment in time? It is one over 84 with 100 zeroes. In other words, it doesn’t happen every day.” (Laughter and Applause)
John F.: You’re listening to British evangelist J.John on “Focus on the Family.” And you can get a free audio download of this presentation to listen to again or share with a friend, when you visit www.focusonthefamily.com/radio. Let’s continue now with J.John on today’s “Focus on the Family.”
End of Program
J. John: But it’s not just based on Jesus fulfilling these prophecies. It is not just based on His teaching. It is not just based on His life. It is not just based on His death. It is based on His resurrection, (Audience response) His resurrection. In the 18th Century there was a man called Gilbert West, who he didn’t like it that a lot of his friends were becoming Christians, so he decided that he would write a book to disprove the resurrection, because if you can disprove the resurrection, you can disprove Christianity.
So, he started researching. He started writing the book. Halfway through the book, he met Jesus, so he wrote his book the other way round. I’ve got one of the original copies that he wrote in the 18th century. In the 19th century, there was a very famous atheist in America called Ingelsoll. He didn’t like it that Christianity was growing. He had a great friend who was a very famous general called General Lew Wallace. He said to his friend, “Lew, you’ve gotta help me out. Let’s damage Christianity. Let’s damage the church. Why don’t you write a book to disprove the resurrection?” So, Lew Wallace began to write his book. Lew Wallace actually had a wife who was a Christian, so she was praying while he was writing. He got to chapter four. He met Jesus, so he wrote his book the other way round. His book is called Ben Hur. (Audience Murmur)
In the 20th century, there was a lawyer and a journalist called Frank. He decided that he would shatter Christianity and he’d write. The only way you can do that is to disprove the resurrection. So, he’s a journalist. He knows how to, you know, research, but he’s also a lawyer. He knows how to play around with the material. But (Laughter) he got so much evidence, halfway through the book, he met Jesus, so he wrote his book the other way round. His book is called Who Moved the Stone? So, if you’re in a hurry to meet Jesus, try and write a book to disprove the resurrection. (Laughter and Applause)
If you’re walking down a street, you get to the end of the street and the street branches into two. You don’t know which way to go, left right? I don’t know. There are two men lying there. One’s dead; one’s alive. Which one would you ask for directions? (Laughter)
The first reason I am a Christian is because Jesus Christ is alive. His resurrection authenticates (Applause) everything that He said, everything that He did. After Jesus rose from the dead, He spent 40 days before His ascension into heaven. During the 40-day period, He taught. He neither withdrew, not added anything that He had taught the previous three years. That is why we can believe Jesus about the past, about the present and about the future. I am a Christian because Christianity is true. (Audience response) (Applause) That’s why you should be a Christian. Do you know, I’ve got three more reasons why I’m a Christian, but in fact, that is so good (Laughter), you should become a Christian now. (Laughter) But wait, wait, wait, wait.I’ll give you a few more reasons.
The second reason why I am a Christian is because I need forgiveness. I need forgiveness. A mother said to her husband, “Darling, look after Annie for me,” their daughter. So, the father said, “Okay,” but he thought, what could he do to occupy his daughter? He’s flicking through a magazine. He sees a map of the world. He says, “Annie, watch what I’m going to do. He cut the map of the world into small squares and he muddled them all over the floor. He said, “Annie, I want you to put the squares back together again to make the map of the world. When you’ve done that, come and find me.”
So, the father thought, “Good, that’ll keep her busy.” A couple of minutes later, she said, “Daddy, I’ve done it.” He thought, “She couldn’t have done it.” [He] went to have a look. All the squares were put in exactly the right place. He said, “Annie, how did you know where to put all the squares?” She said, “Well, when you were cutting the map out, I looked on the other side and I saw a picture of a man and a woman and I thought, if I could put the man and the woman back together again, I could put the world back together again.” (Laughter and Applause)
The heart of the human problem is the problem is the human heart. Repeat.
J.John and Audience: The heart of the human problem is the problem is the human heart.
J.John: You should say that to somebody tomorrow. Did you know (Laughter), the heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart.” And they’ll go, “Wow!” (Laughter) It’s at the heart; it’s the heart; it’s there in the heart. Now let me explain it to you in a slightly different way.
Just imagine you passed out of this life (Sound of a clap) now. This is just an analogy. (Laughter) You woke up in a gigantic theater. In front of you is a huge screen. All of a sudden, the doors open; an angel flies in, comes up to you and says, “Welcome to the Theater Of Judgment. Relax.” (Laughter) “Watch the screen.”
There on the screen you see your life, everything you ever did here on earth, everything you ever said here on earth and everything you ever thought. Those are what are called the sins of commission. But then you proceed to watch the sins of omission, all the things we should’ve done, but we didn’t do. At the end of the film, as you’re recovering (Laughter), the angel comes back and says, “Relax, there’s going to be a second showing. All the people who were featured in the film of your life are all waiting outside. We’re just gonna let them in, to come and view your life a second time.”
How would you feel if your life were judged on that basis? That is exactly how God judges us (Sound of a snap), in an instant. I don’t know about you, me, or who would not want a private viewing, let alone a public viewing of my life. I do not need convincing that I had thought, said and done things that I shouldn’t have. And there are things I should’ve done, but I didn’t do.
And what a lot of people don’t realize is, all that stuff on the film has the consequence of disconnecting us from God and it works a bit like an overdraft in a bank account. If you have an overdraft, I have an overdraft, you can’t help me. I can’t help you. The only one who can help us is someone in credit. But a lot of people won’t admit and acknowledge that. So, what do a lot of people do in the world? They kind of deflect it. They go, “Oh, now, it wasn’t my fault. Wasn’t my fault. No, not my fault. It was the parents. You know, the teachers, no, not me; not me.” They try and kind of deflect it on somebody else.
Others deny it. Other people feel so uncomfortable with it, they try and drown it. Listen, if you are guilty in the sight of God, you cannot deny it. You cannot deflect it. You cannot drown it. The only way you can get rid of it is to dissolve it in the blood of Jesus. (Audience Response and Applause)
I am a Christian because I need forgiveness. I need forgiveness. I gave a whole series of lectures at Oxford University and after my final lecture, it’s like, I must have given about 16 lectures and a student comes up to me and he said, “I’ve listened to all your lectures and I’ve enjoyed them, dah, dah, dah.” And I said, “Yeah, yeah, yeah,” you know. And then he goes, this is what he said, “But personally I believe Christianity is a crutch.” And I looked at him and I thought, “I hope you break your legs.” (Laughter) Random thought, random thought, random thought. (Laughter)
And then I said to him, “Listen, if you broke both of your legs, would you appreciate the use of a wheelchair to get around?” He said, “Yes, I would.” I said, “If you broke one leg, would you appreciate the use of crutches to get around?” He said, “Yes, I would.” I said, “I am broken person. So are you. I’ve never met a person who isn’t broken and I’m so pleased I can lean on Jesus while He’s putting me back together again.” (Applause)
John F.: That’s where we’re gonna have to press pause for this message from British evangelist J.John and you’ll hear the conclusion of his message next time.
Jim: What a powerful message and what a great way to celebrate Easter weekend. I love hearing stories about atheists who set out to disprove Christianity and end up becoming believers in the process, just like we heard a moment ago. How awesome is that and isn’t it incredible to see that God seems to reveal Himself to at least one atheist for each generation. I’m sure there’s more, as J.John pointed out in the last three centuries with Gilbert West, Lew Wallace and Frank Morrison.
God cares that much about us to inspire one of our peers to carry His message to our own generation and I’d really like everyone who’s listening today to be able to get a copy of this message from J.John, especially if you can’t be with us tomorrow. So, let’s make the audio download available for free. Get a copy for yourself or maybe you could share it with a friend.
John F.: That’s a great idea and you can get the download at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio.
Jim: And let me just remind you, as a non-profit organization, we rely on your donations to pay the bills. Focus on the Family is here every day to help strengthen your faith, your marriage, your parenting skills, but we can’t do it alone. We really need your partnership. Every day we get letters like this one from Mark. Let me read it.
“Thank you, Focus on the Family for bringing me back to Christ. I grew up in a Christian home, but as I got older, I fell away from the faith, but I felt guilty about how I was living. One day I was fed up with my usual music radio station and changed the channel, stumbling upon ‘Focus on the Family.’”
How often does that happen, John?
John F.: A lot, we hear.
Jim: We hear that a lot.
John F.: Yeah.
Jim: He goes on to say, “I started listening faithfully and really appreciated Jim’s caring heart.” Well, I hope that’s the Lord that you’re seeing. That’s what I want. He says, “It was your program that brought me back to the Lord.”
John F.: I love that, Jim.
Jim: (Chuckling) Isn’t that good?
John F.: I mean, who knows who we’re talking to right now that needed to hear J.John’s message or someone like Mark, who had kinda wandered from his faith.
Jim: It’s true and that’s the kind of response that we love to see. So, join us as a financial partner and be a part of the effort God is using to help families thrive in Christ.
And hey, if you enjoyed this message from J.John as much as I did, I’d encourage you to seriously consider attending our 40th anniversary cruise, because we’ve got two great, I’d say “outstanding” Bible teachers—Ray Vander Laan and Del Tackett—joining us as we cruise the Bahamas, November 13 to 17. And we’ve featured both of them on this radio program several times and they really have a knack for making the Bible relevant to our daily lives.
And this cruise is gonna be special. We chartered the entire ship, the Disney Dream. It was voted the Best Cruise Ship for Families, featuring spacious family-friendly staterooms. Jean and I and the boys were able to go on the cruise last year. It is awesome.
This cruise ship has mini-golf. It’s got a basketball court and of course, the pool and something they call the “AquaDuck” and it’s a water coaster. In fact, it takes you out over the ocean (Chuckling) and back onto the ship. I rode it three times.
John F.: I think we’ve got a video of that online.
Jim: And there is a video, I think. I don’t know why I said yes to that, but (Laughter) we do have me screaming through the AquaDuck. It’s not scary, but it is fun. We’ll also be celebrating the 30th anniversary or birthday of Adventures in Odyssey with a live stage show, plus nightly bedtime stories--I can’t wait to go to bed; that’s gonna be fun--from all your favorite Odyssey characters. Join us for the best family vacation that I think we’ll ever be a part of. And that’s again, November 13 through 17.
John F.: And look for the link at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio. We’ve put together a great cruise web page, where you can see all the fun that we’re planning to have on board and we mentioned earlier that AquaDuck water coaster. See the video of Jim riding that and then book your statement. We’re filling up fast, so check it out today.
And while you’re online, look for that free audio download of today’s program featuring J.John and give generously to this ministry.
You can also get resources and donate when you call 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY.
And then finally, if J.John’s message about the truth of Christianity has inspired you to learn more about the faith, let me recommend an e-book. It’s called “Coming Home: An Invitation to Join God’s Family.” It’s free and we have it at our website.
Now as we reflect on 40 years of ministry here at Focus on the Family, we’d love to hear how Focus has touched your life. Be sure to mention that when you get in touch and visit our Facebook page. Maybe leave a post.
Next time we’ll have more from J.John, as he continues to explain the four reasons why he is a Christian.
J.John: You and I cannot alter the past, but we can bring the past to the altar of God. (Audience Response) And we can be cleansed and set free. I’m a Christian because Jesus died on the cross for me, to purchase for me forgiveness from the past.
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John F.: That’s next time on “Focus on the Family.” Thanks for listening. I’m John Fuller and on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, be with us next time, won’t you, as we once again, help you and your family thrive in Christ.
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J.John is an evangelist, minister, social activist and a popular public speaker who has addressed audiences in 69 countries on six continents. He has authored numerous books, of which there are more than a million copies in print in 13 languages. J.John resides in Chorleywood, Hertfordshire. He and his wife, Killy, have three sons. Learn more about J.John by visiting his website: www.canonjjohn.com.