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Reasons to Believe in Jesus (Part 1 of 2)

Original Air Date 04/13/2017

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In our most popular program of 2017, 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)

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Episode Transcript

Opening:

Excerpt:

Canon Rev. 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)

End of Excerpt

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

Jim Daly: John, this is the program that got the greatest response in 2017 and you’ll hear why in just a few minutes. Here in the month of December, we’re gonna share our very best programs from the entire year based on your responses. So if you’re only an occasional listener to Focus on the Family, now is the time to become a daily listener because you’re gonna hear the best. Just download our Focus on the Family broadcast app-- it’s free and you’ll be able to hear the best of what we had to offer each and every day in December.

John: Yeah, you can find it at the Itunes store or on Google Play.

Jim: Well, today’s message from J.John is a unique look at why the Christian faith has validity and I love that, John! I’m sure everyone is gonna enjoy it. As we said, 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 in Hertfordshire, England with his wife, Killy. They have three grown sons and one daughter-in-law.

John: Well, here now is J.John and we aired this just before Easter weekend in April and he was speaking at an Easter service in Australia. It’s our Best of 2017 on Focus on the Family.

Body:

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 … 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, [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 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 (Applause) in.

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)

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.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)

Program Note:

John F.: British evangelist J.John on Focus on the Family and this broadcast is available in our Best of 2017 CD collection. We’ll send that entire CD collection to you for a gift of any amount today when you call 800-A-FAMILY. That’s 800-232-6459 or support the ministry and request that CD set at focusonthefamily.com/radio. Let’s return now to J.John.

End of Program Note

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 18thCentury 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 18thcentury.In the 20thcentury, there was a lawyer and a journalist called Frank Morrison [pen name; real name Albert Henry Ross]. 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) … 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 calledWho 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 that 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) It’s (Applause) … 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 (Laughter), 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 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.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 have 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 andde …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)

Closing:

John: And that’s where we’re gonna have to press pause on this dynamic message from British evangelist J.John. And we’ll hear his conclusion tomorrow.

Jim: John, what a powerful presentation and what a great way to anticipate Christmas, the birth of Jesus Christ, our ‘crutch’ as J.John was referring to there. 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! That is awesome! And isn’t it incredible that God seems to reveal himself to at least one atheist leader for each generation? God cares that much about us to inspire one of our peers to carry his message to a new generation.

John: Yeah and in recent years we’ve heard similar stories-- I’m thinking of Lee Strobel-- he was setting out to disprove the resurrection. He wrote the book,The Case for Christ. And then, of course, Josh McDowell, who’s been here on this broadcast before, another guy that set out to disprove Christianity. It’s interesting how God says, I’ll take you on.

Jim: Yeah- it makes their message probably the most powerful witness, the most powerful example that we have when somebody is dead set against God and then they start digging into it- to do damage, to do harm- who does that sound like? The Apostle Paul!

John: I was just thinking that, yeah.

Jim: You know, when he was dead set to straighten these Christians out, to rid the world of this sect called Christianity that was doing damage to the Jewish Orthodoxy. And then God appeared to him and he heard that voice: “Why are you persecuting me?” It’s exciting. And, John, that’s really the reason why Focus on the Family is here, to be able to provide this kind of gospel message to get around the world, literally. Many listeners don’t know our program basically goes out to just about every country in the world. We’re having an impact together.

You know, every day we get letters like this one. I want to read it from Mark, 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.” I love that, ‘stumbling upon.’ How many times have we heard that, John?

John: It’s so fun to hear people say, I didn’t mean to, but I started listening to you! (chuckling)

Jim: Yeah and he goes on to say, “I started listening faithfully and really appreciated Jim’s caring heart.” And I would just say I hope that’s the Lord that he’s hearing and that you’re hearing-- that’s what I want. He says, “It was your program that brought me back to the Lord.” Praise God!

John: That is wonderful! I’m so glad to be a small part in that man’s spiritual journey and of course, Jim, every person that prays for and contributes to Focus on the Family- they have a role in that kind of outreach.

Jim: Absolutely they do. And we just want to see that continue. And you can be a part of this effort by joining us as a financial partner you can do ministry through Focus. And right now is an especially good time to give-- your gift to Focus on the Family is tax-deductible and as Christmas is approaching, we think about giving gifts. And by donating a gift to this ministry, you are helping us give the gift of family, the family of God, to others who need it. Like the young man who wrote that letter.

And when you donate today, we have special friends of the ministry who are going to match your gift dollar for dollar so that your donation will be twice the impact. So if you can give $50, it’s gonna be $100 gift. It’s exciting!

John: It really is and it’s a special time of year, a special opportunity for you, so we do hope we’ll hear from you today. And Jim, we still have a moment or two before we close off the program today. Let me just share some of the broadcasts coming up this December so you can be sure as a listener to tune in for what we might call our ‘greatest hits’ (chuckling) based on your responses. We’ve got Kim and LeRoy Wagner later this week discussing how he was passive and she was so strong-willed and it almost ruined their marriage. But God stepped in and transformed the relationship. And then Wednesday and Thursday of next week, Kim Meeder is our guest again. We love Kim’s ability to inspire with stories-- she had us in tears telling us about how God puts together abused horses and hurting children and forms friendships that heal and restore both the horses and the kids.

Jim: It’s always-- I love hearing from Kim, John. And then December 18th is going to be Dr. David Clarke, one of our, wonderful guests on the topic of marriage and it’s about how to improve your communication skills. Always a winner from David Clarke. And then December 26th, we’ll hear a two-day conversation with Dr. Rosaria Butterfield on the unique insights she’s gained as a former homosexual who found Christ through the love and patience of some Christian friends. She is powerful!

John: Yeah. So some great programming coming up in December reflecting some tremendous interviews that we’ve had along the way and I’m sure you are going to appreciate listening in as much as you can during the month of December.

Jim: (laughing)I’m just laughing, John, we’re giving people so much information! If you really want to be able to hear all of these Best of 2017 programs or you’re thinking of a friend or family member who needs to hear them, why not get the entire collection on a CD set? We have that available. We’re making our Best of 2017 collection available as our way of saying thank you for your support of the ministry.

John: Yeah, this is a 12-CD set, it features 15 programs, it’s our, as you said, Jim, ‘greatest hits’ of 2017. It’ll make a great Christmas present and we can get it to you in time for Christmas if you call or donate online today. Our number is 800-A-FAMILY. 800-232-6459 or donate and get the CD set at focusonthefamily.com/radio. And remember, during this special time of year, we have some generous friends who are going to double your gift and so, please, call or go online now.

If J.John’s message about the truths of Christianity inspired you to maybe check out the claims of Christ and find out more about what the Christian faith is all about, we have a little e-booklet online calledComing Home: An Invitation to Join God’s Familyand it explains the basics of the Christian faith. You’ll find that at the website.

Now next time, be sure to tune in as J.John continues to explain four reasons why he is a Christian.

Teaser:

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.

End of Teaser

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Guest

J.John

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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, and following him on Twitter @canonjjohn.