In this fifth episode of Hoi Polloi, Abidan Shah interviews Dr. L. Scott Kellum, professor of New Testament and Greek at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest. In this episode we discuss the issue of the New Testament Canon. In recent years the view that has found much publicity is that the NT canon developed much later and after a process of great struggle. Is this historically true? This episode will cover this and related issues. If you have any questions or topics you would like to be discussed, tweet them to @hoipolloiradio.
JESUS: MYTH OR MASTER by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson
We’re in a series called, “CHRISTMAS: CHRISTIANITY’S GREATEST PROOF” and this morning we are in the last message in this series called – “JESUS: MYTH OR MASTER.” Jesus is always making the news, especially during Christmas time. Prior to the Newtown tragedy the big news about Jesus was the Billboard set up by the Atheists in Times Square that read – “Keep the Merry, dump the Myth.” But since the Newtown tragedy, Facebook has been filled with posts about the children being in heaven with Jesus and pictures depicting Jesus holding little children. Like it or not our world is not through with Jesus. S.M. Lockridge (Pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, San Diego, CA) once said, “Jesus – You can’t get Him out of your mind. You can’t get Him off of your hands. You can’t outlive Him and you can’t live without Him.”
John 1:1-5 1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
John 1:9 That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.
Overall Background: Anytime someone comes to know Christ, we give him/her a Bible and tell them to start in John. Why John? Because the Gospel of John is simple and clear. It is easy to understand—even a child can get it. That is all true but, even though the Gospel of John is simple, it is not simplistic. There is a big difference between simple and simplistic. As a matter of fact, next to Romans, John is probably one of the most studied and written about books in the New Testament. Someone has rightly said, “John’s Gospel is like a shallow pool that a child could wade in. On the other hand, it is deep enough for an elephant to drown.”
The passage we just read is simple enough for a child to understand but deep enough to drown the most educated person. Unlike the birth accounts in Matthew or Luke, John through the Holy Spirit does not focus on Joseph or Mary or the shepherds or the wise men. Instead, he begins with the identity of Jesus before He ever came into this world.
Listen to verse 1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
Right there is a huge stumbling block for the skeptic – “the Word was God.”It would be so much easier to swallow if Jesus was just a good man, a great man, a godly man, a man in whom was God. It is so much more difficult to deal with the idea that Jesus was God. The lost world does not know what to do with all that. So they claim that Jesus was just a legend or a myth – something borrowed from some ancient pagan cult.
“As Christians around the world now prepare to celebrate Jesus’ birth, it is worth considering that much of the “common knowledge” about the babe in Bethlehem cannot be found in any scriptural authority, but is either a modern myth or based on Gospel accounts from outside the sacred bounds of Christian Scripture…. Christians throughout the Middle Ages were rarely interested in historical accuracy; they loved stories and reveled in their meaning, especially stories having anything to do with the appearance of the Son of God in the world.”
Hundreds of people responded negatively to his article and Ehrman actually enjoyed the response. Listen to what he said on his blog:
“I appreciate the animosity that people feel: I would have felt the same way in my late teens and early twenties when I too was a Bible believing, born-again, conservative evangelical who thought that Scripture was the inerrantly inspired Word of God. But education sometimes has its effect, and it certainly did on me.”
Even a 16-year-old girl confronted Ehrman about his article. Listen to Ehrman’s statement to her on his blog,
“What I told this earnest 16-year-old was that I appreciated her concerns and that I hoped she would continue to seek the truth, and be willing to follow the truth wherever it leads her, even if it leads her away from what she now thinks is true. If truth is from God, then there is nothing to fear from it. And if following the truth means rejecting your former beliefs, that’s the price you have to pay for being true both to the truth and to yourself.
That is what our young people are up against. We need to be able to give them an answer that is clear and confident and correct.
There are 3 things that John tells us about Jesus that you need to make a decision about:
I. JESUS IS EXTRA-ORDINARY
1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
There are several things that are extra-ordinary about Jesus:
1. HE WAS ALWAYS THERE.
In the beginning was the Word,
– John uses the word “logos.” The meaning of that is “spokesperson.” Why did John go through all that trouble? Why not just say “In the beginning was Jesus?” He is pointing back to Genesis 1:1-31In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. 3Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. Every time you read in the Bible “God said” or “the Word of the Lord came,” guess who is being referred to? Jesus!
2. HE WAS WITH GOD
and the Word was with God,
– Some people are puzzled over this one. What does that mean? Literally, it means that Jesus was not man’s Word but God’s Word.
– For e.g. We say “Your word is your bond” or “You are only as good as your word.” Jesus was God’s Word. There are no lies in Him.
3. HE WAS GOD
– The Jehovah’s Witnesses translate this verse as “the Word was a god.” The reason they do that is because there is no definite article in from of God. So they stick an indefinite article “a” there. When the definite article is used, the emphasis is on the individual but when there is no definite article, the emphasis is on the nature of the individual. So the translation could be – “The Word was of the nature of God.” Furthermore, there are plenty other references in John where Jesus is called God.
Frankly I understand why people have a problem with Jesus.
– On one hand, He entered this world at a particular time and place but, on the other hand, He existed before time and place.
– On one hand, He is someone who was made like us, but, on the other hand, He was nothing like us.
– On the one hand, He was fully human, but on the other hand, He was fully God.
Application: This morning you need to examine your hearts. What do you make of Jesus? It did not take hundreds of years for the legend to develop. John lays it out right in the beginning. Those who are too proud to acknowledge Him, call Him a myth or legend. But, those who are humble enough to acknowledge Him, call Him Savior and Lord.
1. Jesus is extra-ordinary.
II. JESUS MADE EVERYTHING
2He was in the beginning with God. 3All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.
Background: Every time in Genesis when God said, it was Jesus who was creating everything. He is the one who –
– Created the blue heavens above.
– Created the space between the earth and the sky.
– Scooped the seas, rivers, and lakes and filled them with water
– Flung the sun, the moon, the stars in their orbits. By the way, you know how vast this universe is? The astronomer uses a yardstick called a “light year” – distance light travels in one year. Light travels at the speed of 186,273 miles per second. Our sun is only 8 light minutes away. Through high powered telescopes they are seeing suns and stars 8 billion light years away. They are capturing pictures through a Dark Energy Camera. Can you imagine that?
– Made the earth with flowers and grass and trees.
– Made the fish to swim; animals to roam; and birds to sing.
– And, made man and woman in His image.
We take so much pride in our scientific advancements in America/West. Did you know that prior to the Middle Ages, there was no scientific advancement in the West?There were only barbaric tribes that worshipped the sun and trees and performed human sacrifices. They feared lightning and thunder. Now there was progress in architecture, mathematics and medicine; but, science (as one writer says) was at a “standstill, a stillbirth.” (Stanley Jaki, “The Savior of Science”).
Modern science came out of the Middle Ages when Western Christians began to see their world as a rational, ordered cosmos. They realized –
– The world is not an illusion, it is real and it can be studied.
– The sun is not a god to be worshipped; it’s a burning star that gives light and energy.
– The nature is not something to fear, it has laws that can be probed, harnessed and improved.
– The human body is not just shell and a husk, it is fearfully and wonderfully made.
Application: Isn’t it sad that we have taken the blessings of Christianity and now we want to throw out Christianity? Western civilization advanced because of Christ. You take away Christ and we will become just a dot on the radar of history.
1. Jesus is extra-ordinary; 2. Jesus made everything.
III. JESUS CAME INTO THIS WORLD
4In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
John 1:9 That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.
Background: Sin brings darkness.
For e.g. Back in the summer the power went out because of a storm and it was pitch dark. I had to get the light from my phone to find the flashlight on the other side of the house.
The whole world was sitting in darkness waiting for the light to come. The author of life came into this world according to the determined purpose of God. He brought with Him the Light of men. But when He shone in this world, the darkness of sin did not comprehend it.
Listen to John 1:12-13 12But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
To this day Jesus is giving light to countless millions every day.
For e.g. Some days I get discouraged when I face the lostness of people. I ran into an Indian man at a restaurant. We began to talk about life in India and at one point he said – “the people in West stole our wisdom. They studied our Holy books and then implemented that wisdom and became successful.” His chronology was way off. The west began to advance because of Christianity back in the medieval times – 12th – 13th centuries. I listened to him. Europeans did not encounter Indian culture until the 16th – 17th centuries. I thought to myself “how sad.”
The same day a friend of mine Facebook saw one of my messages and wanted to share it on their profile. This friend is not a Christian.
The words of Adrian Rogers came to me – “People say ‘what is this world coming to?’ and I say ‘It’s coming to Jesus.’”
Application: The world is coming to Jesus. Do you know Him? He will change your life. He will change the way you live in this world.
For e.g. Man in train, every few seconds would remark “Wonderful! Wonderful!” The man sitting across asked why. His answer – just this morning the doctor removed the bandage from my eye and I can see. What is ordinary to you is extra-ordinary to me.”
When you receive Him, the ordinary will become extra-ordinary.