Sunday, November 24, 2013

Jesus Christ is the Answer

Jesus Christ is the Answer

By Micah Yoder; 11/11/2004
This world is full of problems of which people are desperate to find solutions. What few realize, however, is that the answer is right under our noses! The God who created the universe has a Name by which anything is possible! Look at how Paul describes Christ's position:
For by him [Jesus] all things were created, in the heavens and on the earth, things visible and things invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things have been created through him, and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things are held together. He is the head of the body, the assembly, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For all the fullness was pleased to dwell in him; and through him to reconcile all things to himself, by him, whether things on the earth, or things in the heavens, having made peace through the blood of his cross. (Colossians 1:16-20)
Yes, He is above all. Above all of your needs and above all of your problems. Let's take a look at some specific ways in which He can lead us to victory!

Jesus Christ: The Answer for Meeting Your Needs

Therefore don't be anxious, saying, "What will we eat?", "What will we drink?" or, "With what will we be clothed?" For the Gentiles seek after all these things, for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first God's Kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore don't be anxious for tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Each day's own evil is sufficient. (Matthew 6:31-34)
This is a promise from Jesus that if we seek God's kingdom, of which Jesus Christ is the head, He will supply our physical needs. Seeking first His kingdom, however, does not merely mean "asking God for a cookie." It means that following His commandments will be the single top priority in your life. As Paul said, it involves making Him preeminent in all things.
Empirical evidence (that is, anecdotal stories) confirms this. First, let's look at what David observed in his day:
I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his children begging for bread. (Psalm 37:25)
I've seen the same thing today. I can't even count the number of times I've heard about families struggling with impossible financial situations, but when they decided to put God first and give to Him anyway, things somehow worked out.
If you read about missionaries and their adventures with finances and basic needs such as food, you'll likely see a trend. God tests their faith, but as they continue to seek His kingdom first, He always comes through with what they need. Accounts like this can be seen from the great missionaries such as George Mueller to the first time young adult missionary with an organization such as Youth With a Mission.
As a missions worker myself, I can confirm this. My story isn't as dramatic as some, but I am amazed at how my financial needs have been met. During my support raising, it didn't seem like I had many opportunities to share what I was doing. Everyone I talked to said that their church was either only interested in supporting those from their congregation or not terribly enthusiastic about missions in general. However, somehow, the finances that I needed came through, and now I am reasonably well supplied.

Jesus Christ: The Answer to Physical Sickness

Jesus healed people when He was physically on the earth because He had compassion on them and because He wanted to prove Himself. Nothing has changed; the same is true today. He still has compassion on the suffering and He still wants to confirm that He is God.
The first indication of Jesus' healing ability comes to us through one of the great Messianic chapters in the Old Testament:
But he was pierced for our transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities. The punishment that brought our peace was on him; and by his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5)
As surely as His separation from God through death made it possible for us to be made right with God, the wounds He received made it possible for us to receive physical healing. This will be universally true in heaven, the New Creation. Every single sickness and physical deformity a follower of Christ has on earth will be completely gone after he or she passes into His presence.
However, it goes beyond that. Christ's death makes it possible for us to be right with God by faith today, His suffering allows us to receive physical healing by faith today.
Before I continue, I should say that we cannot expect every single request for physical healing to be granted. God is completely sovereign, and His plan is different than ours. It should also be realized that death is a part of His normal plan for humans, as a way of taking us to be with Him. For that reason, we would not want Him to heal us every time!
However, healing certainly does happen today. Let's take a look at a few relevant Scriptures:
Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the assembly, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith will heal him who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. If he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your offenses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The insistent prayer of a righteous person is powerfully effective. (James 5:14-16)
Here is a pretty broad recipe for healing. We are to confess our sins and pray for each other. Calling for the leaders of the church and annointing with oil may help, but that is not a consistent requirement for healing in other relevant Scripture.
Ananias departed, and entered into the house. Laying his hands on him, he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord, who appeared to you on the road by which you came, has sent me, that you may receive your sight, and be filled with the Holy Spirit." Immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he received his sight. He arose and was baptized. (Acts 9:17-18)
It should be noted that Ananias was likely not a leader in the church. At least there is no Biblical evidence that he was. He was a man like us, but who was obedient to God's call. The healing of Saul's eyes was accomplished through the laying on of hands.
Most certainly I tell you, he who believes in me, the works that I do, he will do also; and he will do greater works than these, because I am going to my Father. (John 14:12)

He said to them, "Go into all the world, and preach the Good News to the whole creation. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who disbelieves will be condemned. These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new languages; they will take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it will in no way hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.(Mark 16:15-18)
Here are two pretty clear statements of Jesus saying that anyone who believes should be able to see divine healing miracles. Here is a somewhat startling observation by Jack Deere, in his excellent book Surprised by the Power of the Spirit:
Most of the people I talk with who have never seen a miracle are people, by and large, who never take the trouble to go and lay their hands on sick people in believing prayer. Conversely, I have yet to find anyone who regularly lays hands on the sick in believing prayer who doesn't see at least some miraculous healing.
Are you laying hands on the sick in believing prayer? It was pretty important to the early church:
Therefore leaving the teaching of the first principles of Christ, let us press on to perfection -- not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works, of faith toward God, of the teaching of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. (Hebrews 6:1-2)
Here we find evidence that the laying on of hands, presumably for healing, was a basic, fundamental teaching of the early church -- right along with baptism and eternal life! Does anyone else get the impression that most of our modern churches have drifted from this somewhat?
Here's one interesting example that I have personally seen. I had a college friend who suffered from Attention Deficit Disorder. We were in the same accounting class, and he was failing miserably, despite hiring tutors and trying very hard. We were also in the same cell group and worked in the same office. In the cell group we layed hands on him and prayed for healing from ADD several times. Nothing appeared to happen. Then one night we were both in the office. He was working on accounting and I was in the next cubicle working on a computer project for the school. All of a sudden I hear "Yeeehaaaaaa Micah, I'm healed!" I don't know exactly what happened, but apparently there was a near-instantaneous change. I do know that he did a lot better in accounting from then on, and even went on to the next semester!
So don't give up. The Bible is clear that God honors persistence.

Jesus Christ: The Answer for Overcoming Evil

Overcoming evil was the primary reason why Jesus came to earth:
To this end the Son of God was revealed, that he might destroy the works of the devil. (1 John 3:8b)
Here we see that even those under the earth, meaning evil forces, must submit to Jesus Christ:
Therefore God also highly exalted him [Jesus], and gave to him the name which is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, those on earth, and those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phillippians 2:9-11)
Certainly, this will be a universal event in the future, when literally all creation will acknowledge Jesus as Lord. But it has already started! Demons were already submitting to Jesus when He was on the earth:
Jesus rebuked him, the demon went out of him, and the boy was cured from that hour. (Matthew 17:18)

Jesus rebuked him, saying, "Be silent, and come out of him!" When the demon had thrown him down in their midst, he came out of him, having done him no harm. (Luke 4:35)
As far as we are concerned, our part of the job of overcoming evil is to love our (human) "enemies" and let God do the rest.
But I tell you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who mistreat you and persecute you, that you may be children of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust. (Matthew 5:44-45)

Don't seek revenge yourselves, beloved, but give place to God's wrath. For it is written, "Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay, says the Lord." Therefore,
"If your enemy is hungry, feed him.
If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
for in doing so, you will heap coals of fire on his head." (Romans 12:19-20)
I've heard lots of stories about people doing the illogical thing to those who have caused them grief -- showing extreme kindness to the person. Such as the WW2 soldier who was held captive in Germany. His wife sent him meals, which his prison officer always ate, while mocking the soldier. Once released, the soldier and his wife took a holiday meal to the officer, to show him Christ's love. The officer was shocked that anyone could treat him like that, and came to know Christ as his Savior.
Sometimes vengeance and "overcoming evil" doesn't quite work like we expect. Actually, that is a good thing. Having an "evil" person come to Christ is the best possible way to overcome that evil! However, at least some evil will remain until the very last days of the world's existence. That evil will be brutally and supernaturally crushed, and evil will exist no more. This is the ultimate fate of all evil which does not submit to Jesus Christ.
And after the thousand years, Satan will be released from his prison, and he will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to the war; the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. They went up over the breadth of the earth, and surrounded the camp of the saints, and the beloved city. Fire came down out of heaven from God, and devoured them. The devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet are also. They will be tormented day and night forever and ever. (Revelation 20:7-10)
Other Scripture to ponder:
[B]ut you shall fear Yahweh your God; and he will deliver you out of the hand of all your enemies. (2 Kings 17:39)

But I desire to have you wise in that which is good, but innocent in that which is evil. And the God of peace will quickly crush Satan under your feet. (Romans 16:19b-20a)
In Psalm 110:1, Jesus is promised that all His enemies will be made His footstool. But here we are told that Satan himself will be crushed through us at our obedience to Christ.

Jesus Christ: The Answer for National Prosperity

If you follow the history of Israel in the Old Testament, you will notice a clear trend. When the people were truly following God, they prospered in all they did. When they fell away and worshipped false gods, they suffered humiliating defeat at the hands of their enemies.
Here is one very popular promise that is the basis for some great prayer movements. It applied to ancient Israel, and there is no reason why it would not apply to us as a nation (any nation) today.
If my people, who are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)
Note that it is referring to God's people. That is all that's required! We needn't expect the enemies of God in our nation to humble themselves and pray. If God's own people commit to doing it, that is enough! The rest will then fall into place.
Now, let's move from a relatively well known verse to a relatively unknown, but fascinating, prophecy in Zechariah:
It will be, that whoever of all the families of the earth doesn't go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, Yahweh of Armies, on them there will be no rain. If the family of Egypt doesn't go up, and doesn't come, neither will it rain on them. This will be the plague with which Yahweh will strike the nations that don't go up to keep the feast of tents. This will be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all the nations that don't go up to keep the feast of tents. (Zechariah 14:17-19)
I believe this prophecy is being fulfilled today, in the Church Age. "Jerusalem" is in the New Testament equated to the true Church of Jesus Christ. "Rain" is a symbol of God's blessings. With that in mind, here are a few scenarios to consider:
  • The United States was founded as a Christian nation, with its Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and laws based largely on the Bible. It grew to become the greatest nation in the world.
  • Over the past few decades, the USA has largely tried to push God, and especially Jesus, out of the picture in the name of "tolerance." What has that bought us? Exponential increases in crime and the national debt, for starters. And loss of jobs to countries such as India (which, by the way, is in many ways openning up to Christ).
  • Uganda's AIDS rate 10 years ago was over 25%. In the last few years, the country has been committed to Christ. People are changing their ways and God is moving. The AIDS rate today is under 6%.
  • North Africa was once a breadbasket of the Roman Empire. There was much Christian influence in the area, including the great theologian Augustine. Since then, however, Islam has spread throughout the land -- and the Sahara Desert has spread with it! It's interesting that the prophecy specifically mentions Egypt, which of course is in North Africa.
Coincidence? You decide.
Do you want your nation to prosper? Then get as many citizens of that nation as possible to confidently proclaim that Jesus Christ is the answer!

Jesus Christ: The Answer for World Peace

It might be noted that if everyone on earth simply obeyed the commands of Jesus, world peace would instantly be achieved! People would pray for their enemies instead of attack them. No one would try to use force to take power for greedy reasons. And no wars would be fought over religion (which is the cause of most wars).
In fact, that is exactly what will happen some day.
But in the latter days, it will happen that the mountain of Yahweh's temple will be established on the top of the mountains, and it will be exalted above the hills; and peoples will stream to it. Many nations will go and say, "Come, and let us go up to the mountain of Yahweh, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths." For out of Zion will go forth the law, and the word of Yahweh from Jerusalem; and he will judge between many peoples, and will decide concerning strong nations afar off. They will beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, neither will they learn war any more. (Micah 4:1-3)
This will happen in the latter days of Earth's history, when the kingdom of Christ has spread throughout the world. For more Biblical support on this, please see Daniel's vision in Daniel 2, which includes a statue representing earthly empires which are superceded by a large rock that grows to fill the earth; the ever-expanding River of Life in Ezekiel 47, a beautiful prophecy that forshadows the gushing of living water from within us (cross reference to John 4:14); and Jesus' parables about the Kingdom growing to be a large tree and as yeast spreading throughout the entire meal in Matthew 13:31-33.
It will happen, and the more we obey the commands of Jesus, the sooner it will be fulfilled!
Many people, even well-meaning Christians, have other ideas for accomplishing world peace. Some participate in candlelight "peace vigils." Some will withhold part of their taxes to protest government spending on war. Some hold war protests. Some insist that diplomacy can solve all our problems. Some pray (and that is always a good thing). But I'm sorry to say that none of that will accomplish squat if we do not commit to obeying the commands of Jesus Christ and lifting up His name!
For the time being, unfortunately, world events can justify some wars, even involving the righteous (see Deuteronomy 20). But the heart of God clearly favors peace, and in the New Testament He gives two specific blessings to peacemakers:
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God. (Matthew 5:9, Jesus speaking)

Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. (James 3:18)
Also notice that peace is one of the fruits of the Spirit. When we exalt Jesus Christ, we are filled by the Spirit, producing these fruits within us:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)

Jesus Christ: The Answer for Eternal Life

Here we finally get to the meat of what this is all about.
We humans were originally created to be in the presence of God forever. That is what the Garden of Eden was all about. But humanity since then has chosen sin over a rewarding, eternal relationship with God. That choice has separated us from God.
For all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23)
Because of this, and because God is so intensely holy and perfect, He cannot grant us this eternal life in His presence because our sin would "contaminate" it. His character alone would totally destroy any sinful man in His presence. The only option is to send the sinner to the place He created for the spiritual forces that rebelled against Him, the place we call Hell.
We are told that our sinful condition will lead to death, that is, hell, but that Jesus Christ is the answer.
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
The prophet Isaiah prophesied this long ago. Isaiah 53, which we looked at in the healing section above, is talking about Jesus Christ. After his suffering and death, he was to rise again in glory. This resurrection guarantees our own resurrection.
After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light and be satisfied. My righteous servant will justify many by the knowledge of himself; and he will bear their iniquities. (Isaiah 53:11)
The Bible could not possibly be more clear that there is exactly one solution to the problem of sin that separates us from God. Many people try to "bridge the gap" with things like going to church, trying various religions, or doing good works.
"[B]e it known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, in him does this man stand here before you whole. He is 'the stone which was regarded as worthless by you, the builders, which has become the head of the corner.' There is salvation in none other, for neither is there any other name under heaven, that is given among men, by which we must be saved!(Acts 4:10-12, Peter speaking)
That's it. The name of Jesus and His shed blood can cover up all your sins and your shame and your guilt. He and He alone can bridge the gap to the throne of God and eternal life in His presense. And what a reward! King David had glimpses of God's glory and here's what he wrote:
For a day in your courts is better than a thousand [elsewhere]. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness. (Psalm 84:10)
Paul (almost certainly speaking humbly of himself here) also had a glimpse of this.
I know a man in Christ, fourteen years ago (whether in the body, I don't know, or whether out of the body, I don't know; God knows), such a one caught up into the third heaven. I know such a man (whether in the body, or outside of the body, I don't know; God knows), how he was caught up into Paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. (2 Corinthians 12:2-4)
And he (Paul) made some other comments as well:
But as it is written, "Things which an eye didn't see, and an ear didn't hear, which didn't enter into the heart of man, these God has prepared for those who love him." (1 Corinthians 2:9)

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will bring fruit from my work; yet I don't make known what I will choose. But I am in a dilemma between the two, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Yet, to remain in the flesh is more needful for your sake. Having this confidence, I know that I will remain, yes, and remain with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith (Philippians 1:21-25)
Notice that the only reason Paul chose to remain living was for the work of God that he still needed to do in the body! The same is true of us. Heaven is so infinitely better than anything imaginable on earth that once we belong to Christ, the only reason to remain on the earth is to do His will! For more thoughts on that topic, please see my article Thoughts on the Great Commission.
If you have not yet made that choice, it is time. You don't know how much longer you have on earth. When you die, the chance to choose is over. Plus, the sooner you choose the sooner you can start storing up treasures in heaven!
If you are skeptical, that is understandable. It would be foolish to accept a religion with no evidence! Fortunately, there is plenty of evidence. For a good case for the truth of historical Christianity, you may want to read the book The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel. For scientific evidence that the God of the Bible was behind the formation of the universe and of life, see Creator and the Cosmos by Hugh Ross and Origins of Life by Fazale Rana and Hugh Ross. Most importantly, desire God, and decide to seek Him.
You shall seek me, and find me, when you shall search for me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:13)
God will not disappoint someone who really wants Him! If you are ready to make that choice, simply pray sincerely to God something like the following, in your own words: "Jesus, I now realize that You are above all things. I realize that You are the answer to my, and the world's, problems. I believe that You are God's unique, begotten Son, that You lived a perfect life on earth, were crucified for my sin, and bruised for my healing. I accept that this was done for me. Now, be my Lord and show me how I can live in victory in You! In Jesus' name, Amen!"
Upon praying that sincerely, you are now guaranteed the wonders of heaven! But don't become complacent and stop there. You need to study the Bible for all it's worth and pray for God's leading. You cannot truly see Jesus prove Himself the answer in any of these areas until you do!

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