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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
- Marc Heinrich

His posts are either funny or challenging. He is very friendly and nice.
- Rose Cole

[He has] good posts, both the serious like this one, and the humorous like yesterday. [He is] the reason that I have restrained myself from making Canadian jokes in my posts.
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This post contains nothing that is of any use to me. What were you thinking? Anyway, it's probably the best I've read all day.
- David Kjos

Daniel, nicely done and much more original than Frank the Turk.
- Jonathan Moorhead

There are some people who are smart, deep, or funny. There are not very many people that are all 3. Daniel is one of those people. His opinion, insight and humor have kept me coming back to his blog since I first visited earlier this year.
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Monday, January 25, 2010
Who do men say that I am?
I have probably read a few dozen articles on this topic alone, and though I cannot recall a sermon on the topic, I am sure I have heard the topic brushed upon or perhaps even stood upon in many sermons, and (if you have been a Christian for any length of time with access to biblical teachings) you have also heard many times the texts surrounding this question exposited.

I doubt therefore that I will add much to this body of work in anything I bring to the table today, but I am inclined never the less to repeat what others have said with greater clarity and eloquence, and if by way of reminder I might in doing so provide the Spirit some opportunity to edify another, I shall (in any case) have some joy for myself.

After I graduated from grade twelve I moved out and got a job. Over the course of seven years I had many room-mates. In the seventh year I was living in a five bedroom house with five other guys in the heart of Winnipeg, two of us were working for a living, the other four attended a nearby university, and all but one of my room mates I would have considered close friends prior to our living together. It was one of those idealistic scenarios that most young men dream of - renting a place with four or five of your closest high school chums - no need to call one another and get together anymore: we all lived together!

But the situation was about as far from ideal as imaginable. In our dining room one of our room-mates had set up his ample stereo and computer. Suddenly they were public property, which at first was nice, but in a few weeks became a source of perpetual (if mild) strife in the house. The same room mate had an excessively fussy palate, and loudly complained each week that the communal pool from which we purchased groceries was being used to buy things he personally didn't want to eat. Why should he have to pay for "junk" he wouldn't eat? Pretty soon we each were buying our own food - and only getting together to purchase such staples as milk, bread, and condiments. That didn't last very long before some were considered to be abusing even this arrangement. So and so never had milk for his coffee because the other fellow was drinking milk like a camel every day. Who used all the sugar to make peanut brittle? etc.

In a short while, I found that was as offensive to others as they were to me. Certain things I did, and took for granted in doing, annoyed others, and again, things they did I regarded as over-the-top, wasteful, unnecessary (at best) or even harmful (at worst). Even though we were only six people, we were organized into opposing camps on different issues, and not always the same camps either. I sided with these fellows over the food, and set them aside when it came to the bills. There were some whose personalities were fun until you lived with them, then their personalities because liabilities to our companionship.

However high my opinion of my friends had been prior to our living together, it was sharply revised by our co-habitation. I learned that one friend was an insufferably arrogant pansy, another a spineless yes-man, and still another a lech and a pervert. I learned how each of these handled adversity, and I learned that selfishness was pretty universal. Some were better than others, even (notably) better than myself - yet all of us were flawed.

Each one of us wanted to be thought well of by the others, as was illustrated time and again when conflicts found us. We looked around for support from one another - looking for co-conspirators to come alongside us to validate our sense of indignation and self-righteousness. We strived, each of us, for approval from one another in all we did, and yet not one of us escaped being a jerk at times. Not one of us can claim that in every situation we were in the right, and above reproach.

One of the reasons marriages fail today is because cohabitation requires the kind of humility and compromise that fewer and fewer are willing to pursue. Why should I humble myself when my spouse is the one with the problem? He or she ought to change, and until they do I have nothing to say to them.

It is evident, therefore, that living in close quarters with anyone for even a few months, is sufficient time for us to learn what kind of person they really are.

It is incredible then, that the Apostles, who lived day in and day out with Jesus, even as they quarreled amongst themselves, never once found any similar flaw in Him.

The word "HOLY" - comes to mind. Separate. Alien. Not-like-us. The "other-ness" of Jesus Christ would have been noticed almost immediately. We are all better in public than in private - we are all inconsistent when pressed. Consider the unspoken testimony of the impeccable character of Jesus Christ, and its impact on those who lived with Him.

Had Jesus been selfish or self serving it could not have been hidden. Had Jesus been like every other man on earth, three years or so of living with the apostles would have revealed it. He would have been regarded as a great teacher perhaps, but any claim to His divinity would have come tumbling down had there been even one crack in the character of Christ. Just one instance where He, "let His guard down." - but instead there was no "guard" to let down. In three years, Christ's character testified as clearly as His own testimony, that He was not merely a messenger, but was in fact the Message itself.

Listen: If I lived for three years with a guy who claimed to be God, and I saw (after living with Him) that He was just like everyone else - striving to attain a moral goal, but failing to do so on account of the same fallen humanity that causes me to fail - I would not proclaim, "You are the Christ, the son of the living God!". I might acknowledge you a prophet. I might say that you were a good man, or even a great man - but I would NOT declare you to be something that transcends the human experience. I certainly wouldn't forsake my religion (Judaism) to exalt anyone above what I knew them to be, and I would certainly not do so if doing so would cost me dearly.

Most people believe that Jesus was whom He claimed to be because, above all, Jesus performed miraculous signs. I mean, if no one has ever caused the blind to see, and a man comes along and claims to be the Christ, and opens the eyes of the blind, and raised the dead to life again - we can conclude that His claims carry some persuasive weight, and most of us are satisfied to rest our certainty that Christ was who he claimed to be because no one else performed such signs and wonders.

Today, all I hope to do, is remind you that those who were closest to Christ, would never have preached that this man was the Son of God if they had seen anything in His life to suggest that He was a man like everyone else. Had he merely been an especially pious sinner - one whose flaws are so few they were easily overlooked, they would surely have believed Him to be a prophet, or God's anointed messenger - but they would never have preached the man as spotless, sinless, and perfect. They would believe Him to be a sinner because living with Him would have proven that.

The fact that those who were closest to Christ were the first to recognize His divinity should speak volumes to anyone who honestly examines the facts. If Christ were a sinner, these men would not only have recognized it, the very fact would have prevented them from pledging their lives to preach Him the spotless Lamb of God. The strength of their testimony is not that they saw miracles and believed, but that they saw the impeccable character of Christ and concluded that this man was not like other men - not just a pious person trying His best to do more good than evil - but a man who never did a single thing that wasn't godly.

How can anyone soberly deny the divinity of Christ in the wake of such an obvious testimony? The fact that He lived with His disciples for years on end and not had ever in that time seen the man sin. Even Judas, in returning the blood money said that this came from -innocent- blood. No one could charge Christ with sin. Given what you know of your own heart, and how no matter your best intentions, you always give in at some point to self interest - how can anyone deny the divinity of Christ given the positive testimony (He was without sin) and the lack of any testimony to the contrary - even amongst His detractors and critics - how can anyone rationally claim that Jesus was just a man?

His detractors were sore that he claimed to be God, calling Himself the Son of God, and using the covenant name of God ("I AM") to refer to Himself. They charged Him with blasphemy - a charge that is only valid if He wasn't God. They claimed He was a glutton and a wine-bibber, because He didn't fast as a matter of religious ritual (consider the Pharisee who exalted himself in prayer before God by claiming he fasted twice a week, presumably every week, as though God regarded ritual starving for the sake of starving to be a pious thing), at his trial they hired liars to give false testimony about Him, but their testimony was so inconsistent that nothing they said had any teeth in it. Eventually, they condemned Him, not for anything He did, but because they refused to believe His testimony about Himself.

There was no one in His day that could charge Him with sin. Not those who knew Him, not those who hated Him. Anyone who knows themselves to be a sinner, will learn from this that Jesus while being fully human, was by no means like any other human who had ever lived since Adam's fall cast the whole of the human race into damnation and sin.

Consider therefore, the holiness of Christ, that is, the "other-ness" how it was recognized both by those who knew Him and those who hated Him - and see that whatever else we think of Jesus, we cannot say (at least not with any intellectual integrity) that Jesus was just a prophet, or just a pious man, or worse, deluded. The testimony of those contemporaries who knew Him, whether in private (as friends), or in public (as enemies), testifies that Jesus not only believed He was who He claimed to be, but He lived a life that only could have been lived the way it was, if His claims were legitimate.
posted by Daniel @ 11:09 AM  
8 Comments:
  • At 11:11 AM, January 25, 2010, Blogger Daniel said…

    I have been reading John Stott lately, and have been moved by the straight forward nature in which he lays out such arguments as the one I have done a poorer job laying out above. Very good reading.

     
  • At 3:45 PM, January 25, 2010, Blogger JIBBS said…

    Well, I think you did a fine job laying it out! This is a great point, similar to something I read by Josh McDowell after I first became a Christian. It also reminds me of the "Lunatic, Liar, or Lord" argument developed by C.S. Lewis. Truly, this is a powerful evidence for unbelievers to consider about the claims of Christ and the corresponding witness testimony to the TRUTHFULNESS of those claims. What are the odds that the apostles would be so willing to DIE for their testimony about Jesus of Nazareth IF they knew what their testimony was a LIE??? It is one thing to be willing to die for something you BELIEVE to be true; it is quite another to die for something you KNOW to be a lie. Great post, Dan!

     
  • At 4:05 PM, January 25, 2010, Blogger JIBBS said…

    BTW,

    I can't believe how many hits you get on your article about selling your soul to the devil!

    Usually they are from google searches where people are actually looking for information on that.

    And there is always at least one in your feed whenever I come by. I assume you get dozens a day.

    Amazing.....

     
  • At 4:56 PM, January 25, 2010, Blogger Daniel said…

    I am on the first page when you google, "how to sell your soul to the devil" or any such thing.

    It generates the occasional email, but it was a good post I think.

     
  • At 6:54 PM, January 25, 2010, Blogger JIBBS said…

    Yeah, it was very interesting. I guess I am just surprised at how many people search for that every day.

    I mean, what causes that? Does someone say, "Hey, I could use some extra cash. I wonder if the devil will buy my soul?"

    It blows my mind.

     
  • At 7:04 PM, January 25, 2010, Blogger Daniel said…

    I find there are about four common reasons why people search for that. The first is fear. They are afraid they may have inadvertently sold their souls, a surprising number of obsessive compulsives suffer from that sort of fear. The next would be those who are just trying to find out if it is bunk or not - that is, they aren't interested in selling their soul (as if that could be done), they just want to know what it's all about. The third would be those who have a strong opinion one way or the other, and are just looking for something to cut and paste, or looking for somewhere they can repeat themselves "at" other people. Finally there are those, and these seem to be either the rarest, or the least noisy (I can't really tell), who are just looking for a get rich quick recipe.

    Sad really. I wrote the post because I know how a lot of people in our day and age are biblically clueless. They think the stuff they see in movies is founded on the bible, etc. My post was just to point out that you don't need to sell your soul to be certain of hell - all you need to do is continue on as you have, in rejecting Christ.

     
  • At 11:49 PM, January 25, 2010, Blogger JIBBS said…

    Yeah, that makes sense, and is fascinating to me.

    "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?" Matthew 16:23

    Just to note, it seems that Jesus places a very high value on the soul of man. I would assume he thinks it is the most valuable thing in the created order, since he implies there is nothing valuable enough to purchase it back once it has been forfeited.

    For what it's worth, I think what Jesus is really doing here is obliterating the concept of works righteousness.

    To go along with what you said, Daniel, we are by nature children of the devil already; so even if he could purchase a soul, he has no need to. Personally, I think the idea is just a ploy to make man think he is beyond redemption if he does something so heinous. However, not even that level of depravity is beyond the reach of God's arm of grace for he can have mercy on the ignorant (Acts 3:17).

    Basically Jesus is saying, "Look. You are guilty of sin and payment must be made to expiate your guilt. All of you are guilty and therefore have forfeited your souls. And nothing you do can get them back again. That why My Father sent me."

     
  • At 5:32 PM, January 26, 2010, Blogger Jim said…

    "Personally, I think the idea is just a ploy to make man think he is beyond redemption if he does something so heinous."

    Excellent point Jibbs, we either think we have blown it and cannot be accepted by Christ, or we think we are not that bad and still have some righteousness of our own; both missing our need for grace.

     
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