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Reasons to Believe in Jesus (Part 1 of 2)

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Reasons to Believe in Jesus (Part 1 of 2)

The Rev. Canon J.John highlights a few of the reasons Christianity is appealing – its historical accuracy, the opportunity to be forgiven and the fact that the Christian faith really works. (Part 1 of 2)

Original Air Date: April 13, 2017

Today's Guests

Episode Summary

The Rev. Canon J.John highlights a few of the reasons Christianity is appealing – its historical accuracy, the opportunity to be forgiven and the fact that the Christian faith really works. (Part 1 of 2)

Original Air Date: April 13, 2017

Episode Transcript

Excerpt:

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)

End of Excerpt

John Fuller: Today’s guest on Focus on the Family is British evangelist J.John with a compelling message about why he believes Christianity is true and, as you may have noticed, there will be some humor in the mix as well. I’m John Fuller and your host is Focus president and author Jim Daly.

Jim Daly: John, I want to make sure people heard that. “Ian isn’t going to help you…”

John: (Laughter) Yes.

Jim: “…Christ will.” I love that. You know, in times of national crisis like we’re in, people tend to consider questions of faith much more seriously. It’s because it’s right in front of us. What are we here for? What is this about? Will I die? And those are good things to consider, actually. It changes the course of many people’s lives and they live differently. We saw that after the events of 9/11 and we’re seeing it now as the coronavirus pandemic continues to effect families and businesses in both the areas of health and finances. And let me just say, if you have lost someone to the coronavirus, we at Focus are very sorry and our hearts are heavy for you. But in spite of these losses, it is encouraging to see how God can work during these times of trial and when people suddenly become more interested in their eternal destination. In fact, our friends at Tyndale House Publishers tell us that they’ve seen a 50% jump in the sales of their two major editions of the Bible. So, more people are reading.

John: That’s really encouraging, and I hope people know that, uh, we’re here to help with any faith related questions they might have.

Jim: Always. Today we’re providing a unique look at why the Christian faith is something you can have confidence in. And I’m sure you’re going to enjoy the message as well. As we say, J.John is an evangelist and he’s in great demand around the world. He’s traveled to 69 different countries and has authored several books. J.John lives near London with his wife Killy. They have three sons, one daughter-in-law and two grandchildren.

John: He is a great speaker and here now is J.John as he was addressing an Easter service in Australia on today’s episode of Focus on the Family.

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?” So, 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 – 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 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’s 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 they think. They think we don’t think at all. (Laughter)

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, 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, 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 complete 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 – 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, He…yeah… “ 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 in. (Applause)

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. 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, the Bible – 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, what will – 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: You’re listening to British evangelist J.John on today’s episode of Focus on the Family. And a quick reminder, you can get a CD of this entire presentation for a gift of any amount to the ministry when you call 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY. 800-232-6459. Or donate and request that CD at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. Let’s go ahead and hear more now from J.John.

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. 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 Ingersoll. 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.

In the 20th century, there was a lawyer and a journalist called Frank Morrison. He decided that he would shatter Christianity and he’d write – and 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) – but 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 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. (Applause) It’s – that’s why you should be a Christian. Do you know, I’ve got three more reasons why I’m a Christian, but that’s – in fact, that is so good, you should become a Christian now. (Laughter) But 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 says, “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.” 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 is 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 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 – they kind of deflect it. They go, “Oh, no, wasn’t my fault. Wasn’t my fault. No, not – 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. (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:  And that’s where we’re going to press pause on this great message from British evangelist J.John and we’ll have his conclusion next time.

Jim: John, what a powerful presentation and what a great message for these challenging times. I love hearing those stories that J.John shared about people who didn’t believe in God who actually set out to disprove Christianity and ended up becoming believers. How awesome! And isn’t it incredible to see that God seems to reveal Himself to at least one atheist leader for each generation…

John: Hmm.

Jim: …As J.John pointed out with the lives of Gilbert West, Lew Wallace, and Frank Morrison. God cares that much about us to inspire one of our peers to carry Him message to our own generation.

John: And just recently, of course, our listeners heard stories from John Burke. He was a skeptic about Christianity but ended up becoming a believer in Christ after researching near-death experiences and, uh, ultimately wrote the book Imagine Heaven. Then there was Lee Strobel a good friend of this ministries, author of The Case for Christ who admits he was an adamant atheist and journalist before he began researching the claims of Jesus as Messiah. It really is fascinating to see how a true faith can come out of that really intense study.

Jim: Yeah, and it makes their message probably the most powerful witness, the most powerful example that we have. And here you’ve got somebody who is dead-set against God and then they start digging into it to do damage or harm. Who does that sound like? It’s sounds like the Apostle Paul.

John: Hmm.

Jim: And you know, he was determined to stop the Jesus followers, to rid the world of this sect called Christianity that was doing damage to the Jewish orthodoxy. And then Jesus Christ appeared to him on the road to Damascus and Paul heard a voice saying, “Why are you persecuting Me?” And he became an evangelist to the entire non-Jewish world. And boy, John, evangelism is our main purpose here at Focus on the Family. To be able to provide the channels and the conduit for the Gospel message to go out around the world, literally. Many of our listeners don’t realize that Focus on the Family programs are heard almost 600 radio stations in 55 countries around the world. And we also have podcast listeners and people who access our YouTube channel from all around the globe. Basically, we’re having a big impact. And you know, every day we get letters like this one from Mark where he said, “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 station and changed the channel, stumbling upon Focus on the Family.”

John: Yeah, how many times, Jim, have we heard somebody say, “I accidentally tuned-in to your broadcast.”

Jim: All the time. And Mark went on to say, “I started listening faithfully and really appreciated Jim’s caring heart.” And I hope that’s the Lord you’re hearing. It doesn’t matter what Jim Daly says. I want you to hear what God has to say and I think that’s what he was saying. “It’s your program that brought me back to the Lord.”

John: And I am so grateful for those opportunities we have to see God using what we do here in these studios to impact somebody for eternity.

Jim: Well, it’s the response we love to see.

John: Yeah.

Jim: So, let me remind you to support Focus on the Family if you can. You’re part of this. And I know times are hard right now for many families, but if you’re in a position to help us, and really help others, that’s the key, we’d appreciate it. And when you make a donation of any amount, we’ll send you a CD of this great message from J.John so that you can listen to it again or share it with a friend or family member who might be ready to consider a relationship with Jesus Christ. And we’ve made a special version of the CD that won’t include all these extra comments. So, call us or request that CD online today.

John: You can reach us by calling 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY. 800-232-6459. Or donate online and request this message from J.John on CD at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. And if you’d like to learn about becoming a Christian, we have a really informative booklet. It’s called Coming Home: How to Know God. Ask for a free copy when you get in touch. You can also download that booklet from our website in PDF form. That’s focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. Next time, more from J.John as he continues to explain why he’s a Christian.

Teaser:

J.John: You and I cannot alter the past, but we can bring the past to the altar of God. And we can be cleansed and set free. I am a Christian because Jesus died on the cross for me to purchase for me forgiveness from the past.

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