Rated: E · Non-fiction · Religious · #1330733
What is 11:11? What is the 11:11 Bible story? Who is Jesus...I mean really?
Table of Contents
Chapter One Why this Book?
Chapter Two Does the Bible say Jesus is Number One?
Chapter Three 11:11 for Every Book in the Bible? [not included here]
Chapter Four Focusing Icons? [not included here]
Chapter Five Why put Jesus First?
Part 5A - If I’m Good, God Will Let Me Into Heaven, Won’t He?
Part 5B - We Can’t Make It On Our Own, We Will Fall Short
Part 5C - Is Jesus really God?
Part 5D – What will Happen if I do put Jesus First in my Life?
Bible Translations used in my Bible Verse References:
NASB – New American Standard Bible
LBCEV – The Learning Bible, Contemporary English Version
NIV – New International Version
KJV – King James Version
God is number one in the entire universe! He is the beginning and the end, the alpha and the omega, the all in all. God is the omnipresent omnipotent power and creator of all that is and the creator of the physical laws that hold it all together.
I am asking you to read this book supporting “the Truth”, that you should give Christ Jesus the preeminence in your life above all things and above all people, even those closest to you. Why you should do this is found in the pages of the Bible. This book will present to you what the Bible says about the importance of Jesus and the fact that He is number One above all throughout the whole Universe. And though I have taught an Adult Sunday School class for some 30 years and have some level of understanding of the Bible, this book is not intended to become an intellectual defense of the Bible; the Bible, God’s Holy Word, can defend itself. The Bible has held up to tremendous intellectual scrutiny for many many centuries. Many a skeptic, in attempts to debunk the Bible, have found themselves convicted by it’s Truth, altered forever by it’s power and truth to become believers themselves. For me, I say that it is very clear that Jesus Christ is fully God (and fully man), and that the earth and the whole Universe were created by Jesus Christ, along with the physical laws that hold the Universe together. Though we do not deserve it, nor have we earned it, our sins are forgiven and our fallen state has been reversed by Jesus, which allows us to be held blameless before God. We were created in the image of Christ Jesus and through Him we have earthly life, and by His blood and sacrifice we have life everlasting.
Based on all this, you can draw only one conclusion and this book presents it: Jesus Christ is number One in the Bible, number One in the world, number One in the Universe and number One throughout heaven! Four number ones! You must give Jesus the preeminence in your life, that is, put Jesus first above all things and all people; to do so will make you a better person, a better friend, a better husband or wife, a better parent, and a better Christian. This is what the real meaning of being “a new creation” is…it is not just some slogan passed around Christian circles. In the first creation, God created man and said “it is good”…we messed it up, and so God provided a way back for us. When we put Jesus first by giving our lives to Him, and letting Him into our hearts, dedicating our lives to Him, we are then newly created again by God. God rejoices to have us back in relationship with Him, and says “it is good”. To become a new creation is to hand over your life to the One that gave you life everlasting, Jesus the Christ, and become “a child of God” and a joint heir to the very Kingdom of God.
Blessings to you,
Haven D. Mankin, author
Why this Book?
Coincidences! Do you believe in them? Just random events you say? Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary says a coincidence is the occurrence of events that happen at the same time by accident but seem to have some connection. Have you ever had a reoccurring event that after you decided the event was in fact “reoccurring”, you began to think that the event was trying to tell you something? Or better yet, that God was trying to tell you something, and then you started “listening”, watching and waiting for something else to happen. You need something else to happen so you’ll know…you’ll know that it is not a coincidence after all, but a word from on high.
Before I was a teenager, I had some amazing dreams! Some started out in color and ended in black & white. Some were good and some were bad. Some dreams came back over and over again; one such reoccurring dream was particularly bazaar. This dream happened so many times, and always ended up the same way with me crashing my bike, that during the dream, I remembered my past dreams of this dream and so, decided to have it end differently. Nope, I still crashed my bike, but the point is that we do in have reoccurring details and events in our lives; and it takes a while before we realize the these events and details are in fact, reoccurring and thus start to pay attention.
We all look to clocks to tell us what time it is, no big deal; clocks are all around us and most of us don’t wish to be late for appointments, so we pay attention to them. For several years in my random glances toward clocks, I kept seeing 11:11. It happened so often I began to take note. Second to 11:11, I often saw at a random glance, 1:11, but not near the frequency I was seeing 11:11. I didn’t seek it out, but 11:11 just kept appearing over and over again…and again…and again. Was God trying to tell me something?
Of course, if God wants me to know something, He can speak to me directly from the heavens for I am in good company: Abraham, Moses, Noah, Elijah, Job, Jonah, Jeremiah, David, Samuel, Solomon, and Ananias, all had direct conversations with God. But no…something else is going on here…but will I notice and even more importantly, will I understand? Was this reoccurring 11:11 a test? Would I pay attention? How observant am I, really? Is my focus on God or on me? Is it on God or on the world? Will I pawn this off as some simple coincidence and go about my business never to learn anything by it, or will I pay attention to “a sign”?
A sign…A sign? There we go again, talking about receiving a sign; I, for one, am tired of hearing Christians talk about wanting to receive a sign. I know Christians that refuse to do anything until they receive a sign. How lazy! The Apostle Paul didn’t wait for a sign to go on his missionary journeys; he just went, of course God did alter his path a few times in the direction of those journeys but that was after Paul had decided to go. Please allow me a slight diversion…Christian discipleship is not about sitting around waiting for God to get around to using you. No! The way it works is, you decide to do something “you” think will please Jesus and if you are on the right track He will bless the effort and empower you to do it. A pastor friend of mine, Bill Hanna, told a story of a woman in his congregation that said, “Pastor, I don’t think I have the Holy Spirit within me…what must I do to receive the Holy Spirit?” Bill asked the lady, what are you doing for Jesus? The lady replied, “Nothing, I’m waiting to receive the Holy Spirit.” Bill replied, “You don’t need the Holy Spirit, you’re not doing anything.”
Yes, there are signs all through the Bible. We see in Genesis 9:12+13 (LBCEV), His [God’s] rainbow was given as a sign of an unconditional covenant. “The rainbow that I have put in the sky will be my sign to you and to every living creature on earth. It will remind you that I will keep this promise forever.” And in Isaiah 7:14 (NIV), the Bible tells us, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call Him Immanuel.” (Immanuel = God is with us).
Hey, Mary received a sign, a thirteen-year-old girl; why, if she can receive a sign then surely I…a mighty adult Sunday School Class teacher for thirty years…also deserve a sign after all.
What baloney, no one “deserves” a sign; maybe you can be “blessed” with a sign by the grace of God, but neither you nor I “deserve” a sign…no matter what. I could teach for another 30 years and still have no right to a sign from God; what arrogance to think you do. But still, I just could not help but think, how could 11:11 be a sign for me? What does it mean anyway? There I go again, wanting a sign; I must be lazy! Please God, just go-ahead and tell me “it’s a sign” so I don’t have to question myself, or work at anything, or maybe even go along with that dreaded phrase…”just have faith”. Come on, slap me around, You can get my attention. After all, doesn’t everybody just want good old basic ”personal assurance”?
Okay, I give, you win Lord…I believe this seemingly constant presentation of 11:11 on all my digital clocks…even on my Harley…is nothing more than what I’ll call “a focusing icon”. I’ll discuss focusing icons more in chapter four, but for now, focus on what? Nothing but questions! Three college degrees and I don’t know which end is up…but you know…God has got me to thinking, and that “ain’t bad”!
Jesus said to come to Him as these little children; what does that mean? How do little children believe? Simply. It is we adults that try to analyze things to death, picking apart every aspect, researching the life out of things, and trying to explain every detail. First of all, God cannot be understood, analyzed or explained; would we want a God that could be? How limited that would be! A God limited by my understanding could hardly create the whole universe or save my soul by forgiving my sins. A deity based on my learned imagination and description would not be…well…God. I believe in a God far more superior to all the limitations (no matter how great they are) that any human understanding would impose. This is believing as the little children…to believe without NEEDING anything else.
When I see 11:11, I am reminded that Christ Jesus is number One in my life, number One in the world, number One in the Universe, and number One in heaven; four number ones…11:11. He is the beginning and the end, the alpha and the omega, the all in all. God is the omnipresent omnipotent power and creator of all that is. I’m reminded by seeing my “focusing icon” 11:11 that I place the Lord Jesus Christ above all things in my life, including my own life.
The idea of 11:11 is fun. I actually get excited when I see it on my digital clocks and on my office telephone display. Whatever I’m doing at the time, I stop and focus on Jesus! I give Jesus the praise and thanks for first loving me, for acting first in my life, for first forgiving me before I can forgive myself, for first knowing me before my Mom did at birth, and for first believing that I was worth dying for! Seeing 11:11 helps me to focus on giving Jesus the preeminence in my life and that is very exciting because Jesus is my Lord and Savior.
I also began to think about 11:11; what else is cool about the number 11? The eleventh month is, of course, November…I wonder what has happened in world history on November 11th?
Probably the most interesting was the ending World War I; check this out. At the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month, the “war to end all wars” ended in 1918, a day we used to call “Armistice Day”. This great First World War left 9 million soldiers dead and 21 million wounded; it also created the death of 5 million civilians by resultant problems in the form of disease, exposure and food shortages. On a side note, history revisionists speak of the peace treaty to end World War I in 1919, the Treaty of Versailles, as producing forced punitive terms on Germany that laid groundwork for World War II…what? I seem to remember a crazy man named Hitler that twisted his country around, produced controlling policies, sought to create the master race, and arrogantly forced his violent agenda onto the people of Europe. “Punitive terms on Germany”, what baloney! Why do people want to blame themselves for the evil in others? That topic will have to wait for another book…back to the 11th day of the 11th month, 11:11.
What else happened on November 11th? Washington became our 42nd state in 1889; Kate Smith first sings Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America” in 1939; Brian Epstein and Ed Sullivan sign the Beatles to a 3-show contract in 1963; the great President Ronald Reagan became the first US President to address Japan’s legislature in 1983; and the Church of England’s General Synod voted to ordain women as priests in 1992, just to name a few events. The Reverend Martin Luther King Sr. died in Atlanta at the age of 84 in 1984. Oh, speaking of clergy, here is a historical story of interest; on November 11, 1831, Nat Turner, an educated minister of the gospel, was hanged in Jerusalem, Virginia. He was a former slave that led a violent revolt thinking God wanted him to free the slaves. During the next 2 days Nat and 75 followers killed around 60 whites until approximately 3,000 state militia stopped the largest slave revolt in US history.
Just look at what you are learning in this little book! Now, I’ll bet you’re wondering…who was born on November 11th? Well, among the millions, we have Henry IV, the Roman Emperor in 1050; “Old Blood & Guts” General George S. Patton in 1885; Mafia gangster Charles “Lucky” Luciano in 1896; football quarterback, the great Vinnie Testaverde in 1963; and the crazy actor Leonardo DiCaprio in 1974.
Of course, none of this “fun stuff” really is to the point of this book; I only provide it here to make you think about the number, the icon, 11:11, a little more. Seeing these 11:11 events doesn’t help me to focus on giving Jesus Christ the preeminence in my life, but you’ll have to admit, it was a fun little diversion. Certainly a more worthwhile adventure would be to ask what does the Bible say about my 11:11 icon; that is, what does the Bible say about Jesus being number one in my life and yours?
Does the Bible say Jesus is Number One?
We all have a tendency to say things, mainly because we believe they are true, and launch into various arguments to defend or support that belief. How many times have you realized that what you thought was the truth actually turned out to be a half-truth or worse, untrue all together? I have asked you to read this book supporting “the truth” that you should give Christ Jesus preeminence in your life above all things and above all people, even those closest to you. Maybe we should look to see what the Bible says about the importance of Jesus and if in fact He is indeed number One above all through the whole Universe. Let’s see if what I am presenting to you is indeed the Truth. Read all the text (not just the underlined portions); at the end of the Bible verses I will be asking you to participate in an exercise involving the underlined portions.
“In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days He [God] has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, and through whom He made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful word. After He [Jesus] had provided purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.” (Hebrews 1:1-3 NIV)
“But what about you? He [Jesus] asked, Who do you say I am?”
Simon Peter answered, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthews 16:15-16 NIV)
“He [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rules or authorities; all things were created by Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. And He is the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything He might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things to heaven, by making peace through His blood, shed on the cross.” (Colossians 1:15-20 NIV)
“They [Israel’s forefathers] all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them [as they crossed the wilderness in the Exodus], and that rock was Christ.” (1 Corinthians 10:3-4 NIV)
“Christ was truly God. But He did not try to remain equal with God. Instead He gave up everything and became a slave, when He became like one of us. Christ was humble. He obeyed God and even died on a cross. Then God gave Christ the highest place and honored His name above all others.” (Philippians 2:6-9 LBCEV)
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He [Jesus] was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of men.” (John 1:1-4 NIV)
“He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him [Jesus], the world did not recognize Him.” (John 1:10 NIV)
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14 NIV) pre-incarnate Jesus, the Logos, the Word, became flesh and walked this earth; many thousands participated in His ministry and hundreds were eye-witnesses to His resurrection…to reject Jesus is purely your own fabrication.
“For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made Him known.” (John 1:17-18 NIV)
“Theirs [Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and his sons] are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.” (Romans 9:5 NIV)
“Jesus Christ never changes! He is the same yesterday, today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8 LBCEV)
There are surely many verses that I have left out, but you have the idea I presenting, don’t you? You can clearly see what the bible is saying about who this Jesus really is.
As we read above, John 1:1 and 14 clearly say Jesus Christ is the Incarnate Word of God, and we see God’s Truth revealed in Jesus. “For the Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12 NIV)
We see Jesus present at the creation of the earth, the Universe and of the first man. In Genesis 1, we see the plural name for God, Elohim, used and plural forms of other words. The Trinity, God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit is creating. “Then God said, Let us make man, in our image, in our likeness,” (Genesis 1:26 NIV). The pre-incarnate Jesus created you in His likeness! If that isn’t worth dedicating your life to Him and making Him number one in your life, then I don’t know what is.
Let’s take things another step.
Hagar, the Egyptian maidservant of Sarai, Abram’s wife, is visited by “the angel of the Lord”, who announced her pregnancy with Ishmael. Hagar called the angel of the Lord, God…God in the form of an angel (Genesis 16:13). This might be supported by another event, Moses and the burning bush. The angel of the Lord appeared to Moses (Exodus 3:2) in the flames of the burning bush; then in just 2 verses we read that God called Moses from the burning bush (Exodus 3:4). There are many more places where the angel of the Lord reveals Himself leading many a scholar to say the angel is the Lord Himself. Now comes Jesus as He is talking to the Jews about God and Abraham says “Though you [the Jews] do not know Him [God], I know Him [God].” (John 8:55 NIV). Then Jesus went on to say “before Abraham was born, I am!” (John 8:58 NIV). Jesus is claiming to be “Lord”. Could it be that every occasion where “the angel of the Lord” appeared throughout the Old Testament, that it was Jesus the Christ?
Though I have taught an Adult Sunday School class for some 30 years and having some level of understanding of the Bible, the book you are reading is not intended to become a intellectual defense of the Bible; the Bible, God’s Holy Word, can defend itself. The Bible has held up to tremendous intellectual scrutiny for many many centuries. Many a skeptic, in attempts to debunk the Bible, have found themselves convicted by it’s Truth, altered forever by it’s power and truth to become believers themselves.
Please go back through the above underlined Bible verses in this Chapter and reread those underlined portions two times. The first time, read the underlined portions quickly, running from one to another, quickly so that it all melts together; now reread again, slow this time, concentrating on each word, slowly, let there be some time for God to talk back to you…listen…what is God is saying to you as you reread these underlined portions?
You should be able to now answer the original question for yourself; does the Bible say Jesus is number One? For me, I say that it is very clear that Jesus Christ is fully God (and fully man), and that the earth and the whole Universe were created by Jesus Christ, along with the physical laws that hold the Universe together. Though we do not deserve it nor have we earned it, our sins and fallen state have been reversed by Jesus, which allows us to be held blameless before God. We were created in the image of Christ Jesus and through Him we have earthly life, and by His blood and sacrifice and conquering death himself, we will have life everlasting.
In the book of James, chapter 4 verse 14 we see James, the brother of Jesus, asking: What is your life? And then answering, you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. A mist! You and I are a mist! A mist isn’t much. A mist doesn’t last long in the hot Oklahoma summer sun! That’s it? Are you feeling of no consequence…not so fast…let’s read Psalm 56:8 (LBCEV) “You [God] have kept record of my days of wandering. You have stored my tears in Your bottle and counted each of them.” Wait a minute, let’s get things straight here…I’m nothing but a mist and yet God cares enough about me as an individual to count each and everyone of my tears? How can this be? There is only one answer for this one…God really really loves me! I’m a child of God and thus I’m of tremendous value to God.
Based on all this, you can draw only one conclusion; Jesus Christ is number One in the Bible, in the world, in the Universe and throughout heaven! You must give Jesus the preeminence in your life, that is, put Jesus first above all things and all people; this is what the real meaning of being “a new creation” is…it is not just some slogan passed around Christian circles. To become a new creation is to hand over your life to the One that gave you life everlasting, Jesus the Christ, and become “a child of God”, a joint heir to the very Kingdom of God.
“The Lord and the Spirit are one and the same, and the Lord’s Spirit sets us free. So our faces are not covered. They show the bright glory of the Lord, as the Lord’s Spirit makes us more and more like our glorious Lord.” (2 Corinthians 3:17+18 LBCEV)
Giving Jesus the preeminence in your life, how can there be any other response once you realize this Truth?
All of this is energized afresh within me when I see 11:11 on my digital clocks. I don’t worship the number…the number on the clock is nothing more than a reminder, like tying a string around your finger to remind yourself of something to be done. No, I am reminded that Christ Jesus is number One in my life, number One in the world, number One in the Universe, and number One in heaven; four number ones…11:11.
11:11 for Every Book in the Bible? [not included here]
Focusing Icons? [not included here]
Why put Jesus First?
Part – 5A
IF I’M GOOD, GOD WILL LET ME INTO HEAVEN
In the early sixties, a song came out by J. Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers, entitled “The Last Kiss.” The song is about a couple out on a date that get into a car accident. The girl dies in her boyfriend’s arms. He mourns her death singing:
“Oh, where, oh where, can my baby be,
The Lord took her away from me,
She’s gone to heaven so I’ve got to be good,
So I can see my baby when I leave this world.”
This song sums up the attitude of a lot of people. They think if they can live a good life, if the good works they do outweigh the bad, then they will have earned their way into heaven. The major world religion, Islam, is steeped in this philosophy; in fact, it is actually okay to do something bad as long as you can offset it by doing a couple of good things. Just make sure your ledger tips toward the positive, good side before you die.
This kind of thinking is all about “yourself”; this is “me” thinking and it is killing our world. It deals with questions like:
• What can I get out of this relationship?
• I am not satisfied with this relationship.
• I want to do what I want to do.
• This relationship is holding me back.
• As long as it doesn’t hurt anyone, I can do what I want.
• I want out.
• I’m not happy.
I want, I want, I want, I want…
Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!
Where is the “relationship” in this type of “me thinking”? What if Jesus refused to go to the cross on our behalf? Oh, you don’t think that was possible? Go back and read your Bible. God took a big gamble with His Son in this area. There would be no love between Father and Son if there were no option on the table. Jesus would have been a prisoner, a captive puppet if there were no option to not go to the cross. To have “love” is to also allow “free-will” to make decisions on what you will and will not do; God showed this love to Adam & Eve in the Garden of Eden, but then that’s a whole other story. Jesus fervently said in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Father, take this cup away from me!” Part of the amazing sacrifice of Christ Jesus is that He did not want to go through with it!
First of all, think about what we Christians believe, namely, that Jesus Christ was “fully God and fully man”. To put more emphasis on “the God” side over “the man” side or vice-versa is to do much damage to the real Truth (with a capital “T”) in who Christ Jesus really is. The duality of Jesus is hard for most to understand, and let me make this perfectly clear…nobody fully understands this duality…”for we know in part and we prophesy in part” (1 Cor. 13:9 NIV).
The “fully man” part did NOT want to go to the cross; a most awful form of execution, who would ever “want” to do this? To reduce the “man part” and inflate the “God part” is to diminish His sacrifice! He had fear, real fear, just go and re-read how He prayed in the Garden and what He said about His support group that couldn’t even stay awake with Him through this turmoil. There is a reason we talk about the passion of Christ. It was, in fact, the immeasurable love Jesus has for us, and His will to do what the Father wanted Him to do, that allowed Him to overcome His fear and get beyond it.
So we see Jesus Himself getting past His own “me” thinking and look beyond to true relationship. Jesus put God the Father first, and so Jesus put us first, so how are we now going to respond? Will we then respond by putting Jesus first in our own lives? After all, we are talking about saving us from tragic sin, moral sin, and our own separation darkness of relationship. Jesus who was without sin, took our sins upon Himself so that God could look upon us again, and allow those of us accepting Christ as Savior to get back to walking with the Lord in the Garden as was the original plan.
This gift from God is something we did not earn, did not buy, nor did we even have a right to it; it is freely given to those who will accept it. This is called “salvation”. The response on how we act after salvation, is called “discipleship”, and has nothing to do with the salvation act itself.
TRY ON THIS IDEA: It doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you are a good person, you will be accepted in Glory.
Oh really? Whose definition of “good” are we talking about? What if you are “a good terrorist”?...shall we stick to the “it doesn’t matter what you believe” nonsense?
Based on these simple truths of God’s love and gift of unearned salvation, what is your response? Oh, you can complicate it, or water it down, or qualify it by your own made-up criteria adding non-existent “human structure” to God’s love, etc. etc. I say your ONLY response should be to put Jesus Christ first in your life above all things, above all family & spouse, above all agendas, above the church, above yourself, ABOVE EVERYTHING!
Jesus is number one…in the case of this book, Jesus is four times number one! One, One, One, One or 11:11 (is this all starting to make sense to you?).
Part – 5B
WE CAN’T MAKE IT ON OUR OWN, WE WILL FALL SHORT
There is a great story in the Old Testament at the time of the Judges, around 1200 B.C. about the judge Gideon who came after the wonderful judge, Deborah. Gideon came from the weakest clan in Manasseh and felt of little use; perfect pickings for God to use.
After arguing that there was no way that he [Gideon] was able to save Israel from the Midianites; the Lord says “you can rescue Israel because I am going to help you! Defeating the Midianites will be as easy as beating up one man.” (Judges 6:16 LBCEV). The bad guys had an extremely large army, there were so many it would be easier to count the grains of sand on a beach than to count their camels (Judges 7:12 LBCEV). Here comes Gideon with his measly army of 32,000, but God stops him and says he has too many soldiers; so there is a process to reduce Gideon’s army and he reduces his troop level down to 300. Now these are not “crack troops”, oh no…just faithful followers…a “smart soldier”, relying on his military ability and force, would say the effort was suicide and leave to regroup and fight another day.
Gideon needed men of faith and not the best fighters that would rely on their own ability. It was clear what God had in mind; no one would ever assume Gideon was going to defeat all the eastern nations with their mighty army so vast it could not counted, with 300 less than “crack troops”. So the stage is set.
You know, there is something you should keep in mind, God plus one is always a majority! Gideon and his faithful 300 blow their trumpets, break their jars, hold up their torches, and God delivers to them a great victory! Is there any question who brought victory? Is there any question who had a greatest power? No, and that’s the point of the story; this was God’s victory and not man’s! So, let me ask you this question: When “the bad guys” rise up against you, be they men or cancer cells, do you think you can make it on your own? I believe you will fall short without Jesus on your side.
Another way this can be illustrated is by the following example, not of my invention, but from an unknown source. Out in Southern California, there is an island off the coast called Catalina, twenty-six miles from the pier at Newport Beach. I actually had relatives go this island every year to vacation, a beautiful place that will call you to it. Suppose that one day three men are standing on the end of the pier.
One is an alcoholic, grubby, sick, living in the streets. The second is the so-called “average American”, and the third is a fine, upstanding, pillar-of-the-community type of person.
All of a sudden, the alcoholic leaps off the edge of the pier five feet out into the water. The other two yell, “What are you trying to do?” The man in the water yells back, “I’m jumping to Catalina!”
The second man, the so-called average man on the street, says, “Watch me. I can do better than that!” He proceeds to jump, landing ten feet out, twice as far as the alcoholic. The third man, let’s call him Mr. Great, a very moral, upright, being the truly outstanding person that he is, laughs disdainfully at the two men in the water.
He moves back about fifty yards, takes a running leap and lands twenty feet out, twice as far as Mr. Average, and four times as far as Mr. Alcoholic…a little short of the 26 mile goal.
The Coast Guard comes along, fishes them out of the water and asks what do they think they are doing? To which all three reply, “We are jumping to Catalina”! Mr. Average boasts of his beating Mr. Alcoholic, and Mr. Great boasts of his accomplishment in beating both of them.
The Coast Guard officer could only shake his head and exclaim, “You fools! You are all still twenty-six miles short of your mark.”
Although modern man considers himself better than, or at least as good as others, he is still far from the target God has set for us. It is impossible for anyone to jump from the pier to Catalina, and it is impossible for anyone to reach heaven by his own deeds and apart from Jesus Christ.
This comment is a mouth-full, and of course, it will be disputed by anyone from any other religion except Christianity. The P.C. police will say that this “Jesus is the only way” stance is a problem because it is argumentative and inflexible, and that is what’s the matter with you Christians…you have no room for other opinions. Can’t we all just get along; what makes you think you are correct?
Why would anyone want to water-down real Truth, just to get along with others who are going down the wrong road? Jesus didn’t back down from the religious leaders that disagreed with His Truth at the time He walked this earth…of course they crucified Him for it, but we disciples are called to do the same…pick up your cross and follow Him.
Among the religious leaders who have attained a large following throughout history, Jesus Christ is unique in the fact that He alone claimed to be God in human flesh. A common misconception is that some or many of the leaders of the world’s other religions made similar claims, but this is simply not the case.
Buddha did not claim to be God; Moses never said that he was Yahweh; Mohammed did not identify himself as Allah; and nowhere will you find Zoroaster (a Persian prophet for which the Iranian Religion “Zoroastrian” is named) claim to be Ahura Mazda (the Persian God). Yet Jesus, the carpenter from Nazareth, said that those who had seen Him [Jesus] has also seen the Father (John 14:9).
Confucianism is a set of teachings; Confucius himself is not important. Islam is the revelation of Allah, with Mohammed being the prophet, and Buddhism emphasizes “the principles of the Buddha” and not Buddha himself. This is especially true of Hinduism, where there is no historic founder at all. However, at the center of Christianity is the person of Jesus Christ…the very person of Christ, who created the Universe and walked this earth and defeated death Himself by His resurrection. Jesus did not just claim to be teaching mankind the truth; He claimed that He was the truth (John 14:6).
With Christianity being the ONLY WAY to God, as I believe, and realizing that no other religion is going to agree with that point of view, this would lead a person to refute the common held belief that all religions are ultimately the same, and that they all worship the same God. I am certainly not knowledgeable enough to know if all religions worship the same God or not. I would never be so arrogant to assume I know this information, but I do know that for me, Jesus is the only way, as the Bible so clearly states. Other religions can deal with themselves and their relationships to God in their own way; they certainly don’t need me to be involved.
On one business trip to Denver, I was returning back to Denver International Airport in one of those blue vans. The driver was a very nice Muslim man. Being very kind, he shared his faith with me and was very direct and inflexible with respect to it’s doctrine. I actually found his discourse interesting and I learned directly what his belief actually was; so often people make assumptions as to what a different religion’s dogma is…I was getting Islam direct from a caring Muslim…actually very interesting. I shared my faith, though it was a little hard to get a word in edgewise; he certainly disagreed with me about who Jesus was/is and about Jesus being the only way. At the end of the van ride, standing beside the vehicle, he removed my bag and we actually hugged each other in friendship. While we shared our thoughts, neither one was changed in our beliefs. There were no sharp hateful disagreements, as I see among my liberal brethren. With this Muslim man, we experienced a nice exchange and I felt Jesus would agree with the way I handled myself…don’t bend as a reed in the wind but in all things, love. In order to be calm and loving with those who disagree with you requires your preparation. You have to know what it is you believe in and be solid enough in that belief that there is no erosion of your theology. When you feel erosion is when you feel attacked; then the defense mechanisms set in and blood pressure goes up. This type of preparation will only come to you by you giving Jesus the preeminence in your life; put Jesus first and you will be supported like no other.
Part – 5C
IS JESUS REALLY GOD?
We Christians are accused of being narrow-minded because we assert there is no other way to get to God than through Jesus Christ. We believe people who say Jesus is not the Christ are liars, plain and simple, the Bible says so in 1 John 2:22 (LBCEV), “And a liar is anyone who says that Jesus isn’t truly Christ.” This is a hard stance to take these days when everyone around you says “can’t we just all get along?” Again, way should I water-down my faith to include false teachings just so someone who is “off track” will like me? Jesus said, “If the people of this world hate you, just remember that they hated Me first. If you belonged to the world, its people would love you. But you don’t belong to the world. I have chosen you to leave the world behind, and that is why its people hate you.” (John 17:18+19 LBCEV). We Christians are also ridiculed for extending our belief in Jesus Christ to include the fact Jesus is really fully God in the Trinity.
To look at this question: Is Jesus really God?, let’s look into the Scriptures for some help. These Scriptures have stood the test of intellectual microscopes and scrutiny; they have withstood many difficult but solid translations, and they have withstood the test of time over five thousand years to become solid Christian Orthodoxy, written by the Holy Spirit, part of the Godhead in the Trinity.
He [Jesus] existed before Abraham (John 8:58)
He [Jesus] was equal with the Father (John 5:17, 18)
Jesus claimed the ability to forgive sins (Mark 2:5–7) which the Bible teaches was something that God alone could do (Isaiah 43:25)
The New Testament equated Jesus as the creator of the universe (John 1:3)
He [Jesus] is the one who holds everything together (Colossians 1:17)
The apostle Paul says that God was manifest in the flesh (I Timothy 3:16, KJV)
John the evangelist says that “the Word was God” (John 1:1)
Not only did His friends notice that He claimed to be God, but so did His enemies as well. There may be some doubt today among the skeptics who refuse to examine the evidence, but there was no doubt on the part of the Jewish authorities when Jesus walked this earth.
When Jesus asked them why they wanted to stone Him, they replied, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God” (John 10:33, NASB). The religious leaders talked to Him face to face, looked into His eyes, saw His manner and the way He handled Himself…a lot more intimate and direct of an encounter than you or I have had…and they believed that He believed His claim that He was indeed God incarnate…so much that it scared them to death. They felt threatened that they would lose position in society. As a self indulged religious leader thinking more of your own position than actually seeing the longed for Messiah standing before you, you simply cannot allow a transient minister to gain a foothold in “your city”.
Yes, Jesus claimed to be God. Why should anyone believe it? After all, merely claiming to be something does not make it true. Where’s the evidence that Jesus is God?
The Bible gives various reasons, including miracles and fulfilled prophecy, that are intended to convince us that Jesus is the one whom He said He was (John 20:30, 31). The main reason, or the sign which Jesus Himself said would demonstrate that He was the Son of God, was His resurrection from the dead.
Anyone wishing to refute the case for Christianity must explain away the story of the resurrection. Therefore, according to the Bible, Jesus proves to be the Son of God by coming back from the dead (Romans 1:4). The evidence is overwhelming that Jesus did rise from the grave, and it is this fact that proves Jesus to be God.
Roughly 500 people saw Jesus resurrected…they were eye witnesses! What else do you need? Come to Jesus as a child believing in Him, for He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life!
Part – 5D
WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF I DO PUT JESUS FIRST IN MY LIFE?
When you think of Jesus, what are the qualities that come to mind? He is pleasant, kind, loving, supportive, truthful, helpful, forgiving, friendly, playful, sensitive, compassionate, intellectual, accurate, a historian, a visionary, and He can cook fish on an open fire on a sandy beach…it just doesn’t get any better than that! If you were going to mimic anybody, wouldn’t you think it impossible to ever find any one person that would have every one of these qualities and more? Jesus is the very best person you could ever find; the only perfect person to walk this earth!
So, what do you suppose the results would be should a person chose to follow in the footsteps of such a man?
On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the highest possible, most complete score), where do you rank on this scale in the matching up to the qualities of Christ Jesus? Obviously, less than 10…right? Are you up to five? I guess it is safe to say, we all fall short (see Part 5B again); we all have room to improve our own qualities, and yet there are people around who love you! Inspite of your shortcomings, you are loved. You may be loved as a spouse or mate, a father or mother, a son or daughter, a brother or sister, even if you are a hermit with no interaction with other people, there is probably an animal that loves you because you’ve been kind in some way. Yes, if you look around you, shake off any self-pity, you will find someone or something that loves you for who you are. But…didn’t we just establish the fact that you come up short in the perfection column?
We see that inspite of our current less-than-perfect situation, we are loved; and we also agree that we have room to have higher and greater personal qualities. So the point then is this: If you could gain those higher and greater qualities by your relationship and closeness to Christ Jesus, then how much more would you be pleasant, kind, loving, supportive, truthful, helpful, forgiving, friendly, playful, sensitive, and compassionate?
Do you suppose if you were more pleasant, kind, loving, supportive, truthful, helpful, forgiving, friendly, playful, sensitive, and compassionate, that you would become a better husband or wife, a better brother or sister, a better son or daughter, or a better friend? The answer has to be “yes”, you would be a better person.
So, we have established that you and I could use help to become better people; and we have also established that a relationship with Jesus would be the help we need. We have also established that if we had even higher and better qualities, we would become better people to which those around us would like and appreciate. Therefore, it makes sense to follow Jesus and learn all we can from Him. Christians call this “walking in the footsteps of Jesus”. We try to “walk the walk”. This is what is behind the WWJD (what would Jesus do) movement. If I can mimic perfection and though I fall short, I will be better than I was before I tried to follow Jesus’ example.
Therefore, we see now that giving Jesus the preeminence in your life, putting Jesus first in your life, making Jesus your example to follow and mimic, and placing Jesus before all things will make you a better person. Placing Jesus before your wife will make you a better husband. Placing Jesus before your husband will make you a better wife. Placing Jesus before your mother or father will make you a better son or daughter. Placing Jesus before your brother or sister will make you a better brother or sister. Placing Jesus before yourself will make you a better disciple.
Having already said we need help and fall short, there is another benefit to putting Jesus first in your life, and that is this: we get a helper. This helper is the Third Person in the Trinity, part of the God Head…the Holy Spirit. You may be saying, Haven, I can’t do this; you don’t know me nor my checkered past. Listen, if you have ever asked for forgiveness from God, then later God is going to tell you “what past?” What are you talking about?…and so, I will do the same…forget your past…I already told you that though you fall short of the whole goal, taking a couple of steps forward is certainly better than standing still where you are right now! We all carry excess baggage of our own making; following Jesus will bring us rest from our heavy burdens, (Matt. 11:28 LBCEV). So stop with all the excuses; God knows that you and I need a helper! Besides receiving help from those caring folks around you, the Holy Spirit will always be there to help you, to carry you, and to dust off your butt like a mammy, to send you along your way.
So you see, we have an example in Jesus Christ, and we have a helper in the Holy Spirit, and now you have been exposed to good things that will happen in your life if you will put Jesus first. Won’t you give Jesus the preeminence in your life? Make Jesus number One in your life, number One in your world, number One in your Universe, and number One in your heaven…. remember these four “ones”…11:11…and listen for God’s wonderful voice.
Amen and Blessings to you!